Epidemic prevention and Article 35 of the Constitution / Sheng Hong

Recently, there have been many criticisms of excessive epidemic prevention, which can now be ignored. Just one point is enough to show that excessive epidemic prevention is wrong. That is, excessive epidemic prevention must be associated with violations of freedom of expression. Two years ago, when Wuhan was blocked down, the writer Fang Fang wrote A Diary of Blocking the City. In my opinion, it was very gentle, but it was suppressed and attacked by the authorities. A number of people who reported the truth about Wuhan were also banned or arrested. A few days ago, when Xi’an was closed, there were some voices telling the truth and calling for improvement, but they were also deleted or suppressed. I once criticized it in the article “The uglier if covering up the scandal, ridiculed when boasting”, saying that “the act of suppressing exposure of the scandal is uglier than the scandal itself”. Freedom of expression is a constitutional right of citizens, which is clearly stated in Article 35 of the Constitution. Constitutional rights are fundamental rights, embodying the lessons of blood and tears from the rise and fall of ancient and modern times, at home and abroad. They can not be limited or denied under any excuse. Of course, the “epidemic prevention” is no exception.

Freedom of expression is not only the natural right of individual citizens, but also the best principle to form the best public decision-making from the perspective of epistemology. A society is composed of many individuals, and the quality of public decision-making depends on the number of people who agree with it; the best public decision is the decision agreed by all citizens; Of course, in practice, in order to reduce the voting cost, the majority principle and representative system are adopted. If you want to know how many people agree with a decision, you first need them to express it. Voting in the legislative stage, hearing in the policy-making process, and speaking in daily life. If the freedom of expression is restricted, the will of citizens cannot be fully expressed, and it is impossible to make public decisions that fully absorb the opinions of the majority. Epidemic prevention policy is also a kind of public decision-making. It should be made based on scientific research and analysis on the basis of full expression of public opinions and a comprehensive and true understanding of the costs and benefits of epidemic prevention. If citizens’ freedom of expression is restricted, the epidemic prevention policy will have no basis and go wrong way, resulting in great social losses.

Violations of freedom of expression should add the word “more” in Shanghai today. The two articles I wrote about the epidemic situation in Shanghai, the articles referred to in “It can’t ‘prevent epidemic’ by killing people intendedly” and “The mistakes of ‘Zero Covid'” were deleted in a very short time. In particular, the “list of deaths of epidemic prevention in Shanghai” recorded the names and causes of death of people who died in Shanghai due to excessive epidemic prevention, but it was chased and killed by the Shanghai authorities, posted and deleted repeatedly. Shanghai people still keep it on the Internet. So far, more than 180 dead people have been recorded. Among them, 9 people jumped from the building, 4 people were cut off due to oxygen supply, 4 people were not provided with enough dialysis equipment, 12 people were not treated in time for heart disease, and 4 people had cerebral hemorrhage originally. An ordinary government should apologize and mourn for the abnormal death caused by its improper measures. However, the Shanghai authorities did not apologize and regret at all, but wanted people to forget that these people died. Its direct motive is to cover up mistakes, but this is not only a direct violation of Article 35 of the Constitution, but also a great insult to the dead. When the body is dead, do you want the name to die?

It should be said that these vicious events are encouraged by the violation of free expression. For a long time, many local governments in China have regarded monitoring citizens’ speech and suppressing free expression as routine work, which is in violation of the Constitution and the Police Law. The property rights of private enterprises have been infringed, the houses of residents have been illegally demolished, women have been kidnapped and raped, children have been disabled due to vaccination, and all citizens whose rights have been infringed want to complain and criticize, they have their posts been deleted, or “admonished” by the police, or even arrested. Therefore, the violations of citizens’ rights by the local government have been sheltered, not corrected, but worse. Shanghai is not much better than other places. In fact, two years ago, the police forced an old man to be isolated from home at 2:00 in the middle of the night. The old man was tossed into a cerebral hemorrhage on the spot and later died. His son’s information published on social platforms for many times has been deleted (List of deaths of the epidemic prevention in Shanghai, 2022, No. 109). The Shanghai government and police are used to this, but it is only this time that the scope involves the whole of Shanghai that attracts people’s attention.

Deleting the information of the dead and suppressing all kinds of criticism is tantamount to expressing an attitude that is, refusing to admit and correct mistakes. Therefore, the vicious events that have occurred cannot make the Shanghai authorities moderated. When Nurse Zhou Shengni lost her life due to delayed treatment due to nucleic acid restriction, the Shanghai authorities received a lot of criticism. I also wrote an article that “closing the emergency room” is tantamount to deliberately killing people, which is tantamount to personal homicide “(2022). The Shanghai authorities will not be unaware of this truth. However, despite the Shanghai authorities’ statement that “it cannot be closed”, after that, 16 people died due to delayed treatment due to “epidemic prevention” obstacles such as nucleic acid (List of deaths of the epidemic prevention in Shanghai, 2022), which is “intentional killing”. They can tie the critically ill old people out of his home in the middle of the night, but they can’t be swift and resolute in treating emergency patients. It’s obviously just perfunctory. Therefore, violating the right to freedom of expression means adhering to the evil policy of “epidemic prevention”. This “epidemic prevention” must be wrong if it is associated with the violation of free expression.

Violation of freedom of expression, deletion and suppression of cries for help, information of the dead, and criticism, is to refuse social feedback. A good epidemic prevention policy should be synthesized and refined after absorbing information from all aspects of society and listening to the opinions of various experts; And in the implementation process, it is constantly adjusted with the change of parameters and implementation results. Without social feedback, there can be no correct policy. For every ordinary person, he or she knows where the life danger comes from, whether it is the current basic disease or the Covid-19; whether at home or in the shelter is better for his health; Especially for some elderly people, when they judge that isolation from home will be more likely to hurt their lives, their refusal is the feedback of reasonable information. This kind of information is also valuable for policy makers and implementers. If they really want to protect people’s lives, respecting these individual judgments will minimize the social loss of lives. Ignoring these feedback from specific individuals will inevitably lead to greater loss of lives. The best state of social epidemic prevention is the balance of the game between the government and the people, rather than the government enforcing what it considers “correct”.

The official propaganda we have seen only talks about the “COVID-19”, not about other life losses, as if its entire task was to eliminate novel coronavirus. When they say “life is supreme”, it seems that this “life” has nothing to do with the above “Deaths of epidemic prevention in Shanghai”. It can be heard from the official tone, as if the voices of the people of Shanghai for help, their mourning for the death of their loved ones, and the petitions and suggestions of elites from all walks of life on epidemic prevention had never happened. This is not just a matter of arrogance, but also blocking the conditions for correct decision-making. This is to put the single goal of epidemic prevention in the “overriding” position, which destroys the normal social feedback mechanism. It does not regard these 180 non-Covid-19 dead as mistakes caused by this excessive epidemic prevention, so there is no need to correct or adjust existing policies and measures, but it goes to extremes retaliatorilly. For example, the official responsible person said that “four should and four done” and “there is no discount and no exception”, which is more stringent than before, and there are no “exceptions” for old age and serious illness. After April 18, due to these “policy changes”, the 94 year old who could still be isolated at home was suddenly doorbroken and tied away in the middle of the night (Shengdiya go, 2022), and a 73 year old hemiplegic died suddenly when he was forcibly transferred (Luhuo Media, 2022).

Officials are less concerned about how these non Covid-19 deaths. They are not normal deaths, but deaths in extreme pain, despair and anxiety. Due to the shutdown of oxygen plant in Shanghai, the supply of oxygen cylinders for 40000 users was cut off. In a nursing home, “three old people died slowly because they couldn’t keep up with the oxygen.” “Fingers and toes slowly blackened, breathing faster, and finally died.” (List of deaths of epidemic prevention in Shanghai, No. 151) Nurse Zhou Shengni and another old man died of asthma. Dyspnea before death should also bring great pain. Moreover, it is also a great deathbed pain for the elderly to isolate them from family due to nucleic acid positive and die without family around. Another thing we should pay attention to is the mental trauma. The daily harassment and pressing of excessive epidemic prevention bring spiritual torture to people; More “do not pass over overnight” and forcibly tie people away from their homes in the middle of the night; the “hard isolation” of buildings with iron nets, the prohibition of market supply, leading to hunger, are bringing a climate of terror, and so on. The suicide of nine people is the extreme result of this state. Therefore, we can’t simply look at the list of the deaths. It contains more pain before death.

It seems that the official is not unaware of the problem of excessive epidemic prevention, just doesn’t want to know. A video shows that a citizen shouted to the leader who came to inspect, reflecting the problem of material supply. As a result, he was arrested by the police. This is the most intuitive example of officials cutting off information communication between citizens and the government. Even in traditional China, this is the crime of “blocking the way of speech”. This directly shows that the official thought that by eliminating the voice of complaint and criticism, it eliminated its mistake The reason used to prove that the excessive epidemic prevention is “right”, is not whether it has fully absorbed information and opinions, but whether it comes from the mouth of leaders. I saw an article criticizing Zhang Wenhong in an arrogant tone, saying “a doctor shouldn’t think he is the Secretary of the municipal party committee”, as if the Secretary of the municipal Party committee was automatically superior to others. In fact, we cannot prove that officials are smarter than the people, and higher officials are smarter than lower officials. When we say “political leaders are more important”, we mean that they can make decisions with the help of mechanisms that fully collect and absorb all kinds of information in society, including the principle of “free expression”( Sheng Hong, 2017). The author’s logic is that what is endorsed by power is “correct”.

On the other hand, with its advantage in office, the official used the official propaganda machine to criticize the complaints of the people, politicized with the big hat of “class struggle” the criticism of excessive epidemic prevention, and raised the different models of epidemic prevention to the game of great powers. An article entitled “Shanghai wake up, this is a war” more clearly compares this “epidemic prevention” to war (Leng Ru, 2022). This obviously deconstructs the official declaration of “life first” epidemic prevention motivation. When the reason for “dynamic Covid zero” doesn’t make sense, it can also be said to be “a test of wartime system under the pretext of epidemic prevention”. This is even more absurd. First of all, there is no need to test the results of abandoning the market and replacing it with the administrative system. The experience and lessons of mankind for thousands of years have told us, and mature economics has proved it countless times. Do we have to prove it again with a lot of life, health and material losses? Moreover, if we do not hesitate to hurt a large number of people and cause hundreds of abnormal deaths for the sake of wartime system test, the war in preparation is not to defend life and rights, so it is not a just war. Nor should we prepare for such a war.

The article also pretended to be surprised to accuse Shanghai that “in more than two years of the epidemic, Shanghai unexpectedly has not yet had a mature wartime supply system” (Leng Ru, 2022). It seems that the author of this article doesn’t know the history of China’s planned economy. During more than 30 years of implementation, tens of millions of people were “unexpectedly” starved to death. Until the end of the Cultural Revolution, most people were still struggling for food and clothing. Once such a planned economy is implemented, it will inevitably be inefficient and full of flaws. If the administrative system wants to achieve one ten thousandth of the market, it even cannot maintain it. In the period of planned economy in mainland China, the State Planning Commission can only formulate plans for more than 400 products, which are often in shortage or surplus. Today, Jingdong alone has 40.2 million kinds of goods (2014). It’s not an order of magnitude at all. This is a philosophical impossibility. This is because the market is a mechanism for thousands of people to express their wishes dispersedly. Through competition or reference, the price gradually converges to an equilibrium price. This price system guides people’s behavior and allows them to make simple calculations. Therefore, the market is also a mechanism of free expression. The planned economy or “wartime system” is a mechanism to block free expression and replace people’s expression by people who call themselves “super genius”.

As for whether the epidemic prevention model is regarded as a competition related to system, civilization or “national foundation”, there is no positive conclusion. If there is no free expression, many personal information will not be known, so it cannot be combined and integrated into a good epidemic prevention policy, but it will be deceived by artificially manipulated false information and eventually fail. More generally, freedom of expression is one of the core principles of civilization, system and national foundation. At all times and in all countries there is no prosperous civilization which is without voice of people. On the contrary, freedom of expression is the fundamental principle of social prosperity and national strength. Due to the freedom of expression, the competition of different ideas will form an idea market, and innovative ideas will emerge one after another; The full expression of individual will provide public opinion and information basis for public choice; Only when the wishes of many individuals are absorbed into public decision-making can the government obtain the support of the people and form a sense of political identity and cohesion; Such a society will have the characteristics of innovation, justice and unity, and will be truly powerful. The suppression of freedom of expression will stifle innovation, blaspheme justice and distract the people. Who can win in the competition with the principle of freedom of expression by the rule of suppressing speech?

The “theory of national foundation” and the “theory of war” complement each other, suggesting that there must be a war in the “competition” of peace. Recently, the authorities compared epidemic prevention to war and used many war terms to describe epidemic prevention, such as “general attack”. Such words are exaggerated when used for viruses. Once exaggerated, it loses its seriousness. However, this is to attack people by attacking the virus. It seems that when it comes to war, “people” are gone, and their rights are gone. Only invisible viruses are left, and they can fight people. Kidnap the frail old people who are still isolated at home; the deaths caused by delay, insufficient equipment and insufficient hospital beds due to excessive epidemic prevention is also legalized. It turns out that the target of the “general attack” is people. According to the tone of the authorities, these people are only virus carriers, not people. Therefore, in order to eliminate the virus, their loss and pain is the “minimum cost”. The information sent by them can be deleted and ignored. The war nature of epidemic prevention is reflected in the cruelty to these people. Doesn’t the word “general attack” mean that it regards them as enemies? Why should the people support the “war” against themselves?

The “correctness” of “leadership” comes from unobstructed and sufficient information, from the ability to correct errors according to social feedback, not from the persistence of errors. I once said that people are inevitable to make mistakes, but it is an absolute mistake to persist mistakes and not correct them. If the facts have shown that a certain policy is wrong, insisting on mistakes can only make the mistakes bigger and more difficult to hide, and cannot prove the wisdom of “leadership”. Throughout ancient and modern times, it is not “always correct”, but “dare to admit mistakes” and “correct once you know your mistakes” are the most valuable qualities of leadership. “Zuo Zhuan” said, “King Yu and King Tang admitted their mistakes, and their prosperities were rising rapidly, while the King Jie and King Zhou blamed mistakes to others, their states were suddenly died.” A country will suddenly collapse if it whitewash its mistakes; only by taking responsibility bravely can civilization rise. If you have the spirit of “admitting mistakes of yourself”, you are not afraid of freedom of expression. I understand that officials hope to have a “epidemic prevention victory” worthy of boasting. But I said that only the victory under Article 35 of the Constitution is worth boasting. Because first, it is much more difficult for the epidemic prevention to follow the Article 35 of the Constitution than to ignore it; second, if we suppress freedom of expression and criticism, how can we know that other people’s praise is true?

Therefore, I suggest that the Shanghai authorities should learn to govern under Article 35 of the Constitution. Have the courage to face up to their mistakes, show the sincerity to the public, stop blocking the List of Deaths of Epidemic Prevention in Shanghai and relevant criticisms, frankly admit that they have their own responsibility for those deaths, sincerely apologize to the families of the dead and the Shanghai people, and choose an appropriate day to hold a public sacrifice ceremony for them. It may not be too late to do it now.

Reference:

Leng Ru, “Shanghai, wake up,  this is a war”, People’s Livelihood Culture, April 18, 2022.

Lu Huo Media, “73 year old hemiplegic died in transit: how many lives should be the ‘minimum cost’?” Tencent News, April 22, 2022.

Shengdiya go, “94 year old grandma, 93 year old professor couple, 92 year old paralyzed couple… Were all pulled to the shelter”, Wechat public account Shengdiya go, April 20, 2022.

Sheng Hong, “Can’t ‘prevent epidemics’ by deliberately killing people”, Professor Sheng Hong, March 31, 2022.

Sheng Hong, “Leadership is an institution”, which was launched simultaneously by FT Chinese website and Zhongping.com on September 26, 2017.

Author: flourishflood

Economist, Confucianist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: