As Phil Hearse states, at the moment, September 2020, the hard conservative right (Patel et al) is ramping up anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric; it appears as if some more moderate conservatives and some right wingers (such as IDS) are resisting lockdown; and it also appears as if Johnson and Cummings are resisting lockdown too.
However, the apparent resistance to lockdown by the hard right may be an illusion. It is possible that J/C and their backers are hungry for power for power’s sake, and make policy on an ad hoc basis, arbitrarily buffeted by a) their perceptions of acceptability by political consecutive opinion; as well as b) public acceptability; alongside c) legal, military and civil service expectations. That is to say they are not self-consciously really being concerned about the harms of a lockdown, and may even welcome crises that make full lockdown unavoidable. It is quite possible that J/C and others of their populist right wing and authoritarian ilk, may be quite happy to see another lockdown being ‘forced’ upon them. They would/could blame elements of the public at large, the alleged freedom loving nature of Britons, and allegedly misleading scientific advice. A demand for lockdown, followed by lockdown could lead to civil unrest, just as the NHS and other public services such as the police could be overwhelmed, all of which may appear to justify draconian governmental emergency powers and further loss of civil liberties. This could put J/C as the figureheads of a fully fledged fascist state, providing them and their backers with what looks like omnipotent political power and scope for nationalist myth making and racist scapegoating.
The failure of pragmatist neoliberal capitalism.
Part of the reasons why the UK government is yo-yoing between one policy disaster after another in relation to the Covid 19 pandemic (for example the furore over discharging older people with coronavirus from hospitals to care homes leading to many avoidable deaths, and the u turn over the school examination results) is because of a deeply rooted and unconscious faith in the ideology that combines a) (USA borne) radical empiricism (or pragmatism) and neoliberal capitalism, with which so-called western liberal democracy is fast approaching its final destination: totalitarianism.
Radical empiricism in effect, devalues the idea of objective empircal evidence and instead values human thoughts based on perceptions as more valuable as sources of truth to guide action. Radical empiricism subverts or distorts scientific evidence and legitimises elitist group-think as sufficient effective truth to guide political policy and law-making as long as these can be rendered, one way or another, publicly acceptable, or at least practically speaking, literally irresistable. This is authoritarian and makes unconditional demands on the public for obedience, that is, regardless of apparent individuality or individual liberties. The fantasy here is that the elite in power are omnipotent and know what is best for humankind.
At the same time neoliberal capitalism also has a fantasy, that consumption of commodities will being happiness and limitless wealth to all, also making unconditional demands to exploit labour-power (the workers), to discount surplus labour as of any human value, to consume at the expense of others and to aggressively compete, also negating social relations of care or love.
Today, September 2020, with Brexit and the Covid pandemic, the UK’s govt. polices and u- turns illustrate an accelerated and magnified version of the way political decisions that affect all areas of our lives have been for several decades decided (by pragmatic neoliberal capitalist systems) to ‘solve’ specific ‘problems’ with commodifiable ‘solutions’, without any regard to collateral harms or unintended consequences. This is based on an unspoken belief (or philosophy) based on something called radical empirical pragmatism, itself based on an optimistic humanistic view that politically based and publicly acceptable policies are necessarily socially progressive and for the ultimate good of mankind – a kind of Social Darwinian perspective. Today, with the spectacular failures and u turns we are witnessing the dramatic failure of this political philosophy: radical pragmatist neoliberal capitalism.