This week, a case will go before Ireland’s High Court. It will be the most important in the history of the country and will set a precedent for similar cases in other constitutional republics—including America.
The litigants are John Waters and Gemma O’Doherty, two journalists who have been among the small numbers of people who are questioning the trampling of constitutional norms in Ireland in the face of mass hysteria regarding COVID-19. Waters has written eloquently for First Things on why he is taking this case before the Court.
Most of the Irish people see Waters and O’Doherty as dangerous radicals. Most still believe that the government acted to save 85,000 Irish souls. Given the recent evidence of the failure of the predictive models and the results of the serology tests, it is unlikely that the more intelligent and literate among the elite still believe the narrative. Hard scientific evidence—something lacking when Western societies whipped themselves into a frenzy over COVID-19—is difficult to ignore for any extended period.
The saga is reminiscent of the Irish property bubble. Then, too, the Irish people, their leaders, and their media concocted fantastic stories. The difference is that the stories of infinite property valuations were driven by greed and optimism; the stories that have accompanied lockdown, by contrast, are driven by fear and paranoia. Both are the delusions of a decadent society given to mania.
The result will be the same: economic collapse and public rage against the machine. If the American GDP numbers released this week are anything to go by, this could be less a recession and more a depression. Ireland remains tied to Maastricht spending criteria due to their membership of the single currency, and so they will have less room to offset the collapse by increasing spending, as other countries are.
Ireland has also seen, under the custodianship of a man who is now a senior figure in the European Central Bank, a reflation of their property bubble. This will amplify the economic devastation wrought by the lockdown. Austerity will surely follow. The Irish hospital system, already on the verge of collapse due to the previous round of austerity, will fall to pieces. The irony that all this was done in order to “flatten the curve” of the disease and protect the hospital system should be lost on no one.
When these chickens come home to roost, it is likely that skeptical voices who have questioned the lockdown will become more prominent. After the collapse of Ireland’s housing bubble, public ire was directed at bankers and their enablers. This time, public policy wonks and perhaps the whole Irish political establishment will be in the crosshairs.
I have written elsewhere about the fragility of the Irish political situation. Today, it is almost impossible to form a government. The Irish people have been told that, over the past decade, their country has been undergoing a cultural revolution. The truth is that it has been undergoing total cultural destruction. This has generated distrust of institutions and made the Irish people unable to govern themselves. These facts are as clear as day, but they are eclipsed by media cheerleading for fringe cultural issues that most people do not care about. This is the soil in which the poison plant of mass hysteria and lockdown was nurtured.
This situation is going to explode. When people emerge from what many see as an extended holiday from work and find themselves unemployed and destitute, they will be forced to see the truth: that there is no one really in charge in Ireland; that the country’s leaders did not think through what they were doing; that their leaders are decadent, overgrown, childish narcissists, obsessed with how they are viewed on the world stage. This will instill an incoherent rage in the Irish people.
This is the backdrop against which the constitutional case will take place. Waters and O’Doherty may not realize it now, as they are being treated as pariahs in the streets, but public opinion could shift rapidly. When the revolutionaries of 1916 launched their doomed coup against the British, the public spat at them. When the British shot them as they lay wounded in wheelchairs, the public mood shifted. We could well be about to see something similar as the lockdown ends and the economic depression sets in.
Ireland is a perfect microcosm of the modern liberal project. It has aggressively secularized in the past few decades. It is a petri dish in which proponents of globalism and cultural liberalism have experimented with their drugs. The fruits of the experiments are now coming ripe.
I wish Waters and O’Doherty well. They have lit a fire that could spread widely. Personally I would prefer to be in their shoes right now—shunned by the public and harassed by the police—than in the shoes of the incontinent public officials who destroyed the Irish economy because they were shown a model-projected graph by a silly little man from a university. I suspect that the smarter of the latter are looking on from behind the barricades in envy.
John William O'Sullivan writes from Dublin, Ireland.