The British are, on the whole, law abiding. The stringent measures [against COVID-19] have worked quite well, and it reminds me of what the British historian A.J. P. Taylor said about British discipline. It is a little-known fact that during the war Britain evolved, voluntarily, a far more comprehensive state-directed society than was the case in Hitler’s Germany, or anywhere else for that matter.
The old Romans chose a dictator for a limited time when the country faced a crisis. The British chose Churchill. The dictator was given unlimited powers but could at any time be deposed by Parliament. Every aspect of life was state-directed: manpower, the economy, use of housing, agriculture, industry, compulsory female conscription, public health services, welfare – everything, everything within the life of the community. Even my mother, a concert pianist, had to join the WAAF – Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. And all the nation’s town-dwelling children sent off to the country.
No country in the industrialised world had ever seen the likes of this total war mobilisation. Hitler quite simply could not risk imposing such restrictions on the German people, the restrictions, duties and self-denials which the British willingly accepted. When peace came this entire state-run apparatus was dismantled and the so-called full mobilisation left no lasting impression on society.
I am not sure we have all been dutiful and self-denying, but the results are there.
She has given up much of what formerly gave her life value and meaning. We’d met on a Northwest Passage cruise in 2019, for example. and she is a champion skier within her age group. She never married, has no children, and lives alone; quarantine/lockdown means solitary confinement. What is it that convinces her that the sacrifice was effective? It can’t be the numbers. The UK is near the top of countries ranked by COVID-19-tagged deaths (though masked-and-shut-for-10-months Massachusetts has a yet higher death rate).
Could it be the sacrifice itself that makes her think that the sacrifice was worthwhile?
and Oliver Cromwell, who never met an epidemiologist: “A few honest men are better than numbers”. But maybe he predicted American politics: “No one rises so high as he who knows not whither he is going.”
The cry that one is a victim of injustice, oppression, intolerance, or any of the myriad reasons why people believe they are prevented from getting what they want in life has echoed loudly through the ages. It remains so today. … we propose that claiming victim status, an act we refer to as victim signaling, also allows victims to pursue an environmental resource extraction strategy that helps them survive, flourish, and achieve their goals in situations that are responsive to their claims. By resource extraction we mean that resources are transferred from either individuals or larger institutions (e.g., the state, organization) to the person who signals victimhood.
The obligation to alleviate others’ pain can be found in most of the world’s moral systems. It also appears to be built into the structure of the mind by evolution, as evidenced by the human tendency to feel distress at signs of suffering. It is therefore not surprising that many people are motivated to help perceived victims of misfortune or disadvantage
The Immorality Lab was created in 2009 at the campus of the University of British Columbia in affiliation with Sauder School of Business and the Faculty of Psychology. The purpose of the lab is to unite a virtual community of international scholars who study the many ways people mistreat one another and contribute to the sum total of misery and unhappiness in the world.
The head of the lab describes himself as “A Leader who sets no example and “High School Graduate (w/o honors)”.
On a recent WhatsApp video call, a friend in Ireland expressed concern over the disastrous wave of deaths washing over the United States. He’d scanned newspaper headlines and had processed that coronaplague infections were at an all-time high in the U.S. He inferred from this that Americans must be dying in larger numbers than back in April, for example.
I checked the front page of the New York Times while we were chatting. Sure enough, plague is worse than ever here:
Unlike my righteous neighbors in Maskachusetts, he does not pretend to care about all humanity. So he hadn’t clicked down and scrolled through five screens to get to the following chart:
I.e., if this chart were on the front page, we might think that the plague was on its way out! (and we would, I hope, attribute this to our faith in the Church of Shutdown and the Sacrament of Masks!)
According to this BBC article, a UC Berkeley study finds that personality can improve with age. This might be construed as evidence against the theory, presented here just a couple of days ago, that undergrads are happier than old people.