Paul Kingsnorth: why I changed sides in the vaccine wars
Freddie Sayers speaks to Paul Kingsnorth.
Paul Kingsnorth sees the vaccine wars as symptomatic of a bigger division between two fundamentally different world views: he calls them “thesis” and “antithesis.” When it comes to Covid, “thesis” is the establishment viewpoint: that lockdowns are needed to contain the virus, masks work, vaccines are safe, and people who question them are wrongheaded or worse. When Covid-19 first struck, Kingsnorth took the “thesis” viewpoint.
But over the last few months, his perspective changed. As he writes in today’s UnHerd, the crystallising moment arrived when he woke up to the news that the Austrian government had ‘interned an entire third of the population’. This move, he writes, sent a ‘chill down my spine’.
The “antithesis” view can be summed up as: lockdowns are not needed, masks do not work, the safety and efficacy of the vaccines are being oversold, vaccine passports will not only fail but further segregate society, and in the near future we can expect Giradian scapegoating of the unvaccinated. In other words, we are positioned on the precipice of a slippery slope that leads towards increasingly draconian biopolitical control measures, the grip of which is unlikely to release even once the pandemic is over.
In a conversation with Freddie Sayers on this week’s UnHerdTV, he explains this division and the bigger epistemological divides it reveals. “People are arguing about vaccines,” he says, “but they’re really under the surface arguing about what kind of person you are if you have taken these things, whether you’re a good or a bad person, or clean or unclean one”.
In Kingsnorth’s view, each of us has a line that cannot be crossed. And his has now been reached.