Medical Imperialism and the Fate of Christmas

By | 14th December 2020

No English government has tried to regulate the people’s Christmas since 1655 and 1656 – and that did not go well.
After the English Civil War, the country was divided into regions administered by Major-Generals – religious zealots who thought Christmas should be a time for sobriety and reflection rather than joy and celebration. Their suppression of traditional entertainments and gatherings was deeply unpopular…

…medical imperialism has never really gone away. The emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic created the conditions for it to re-emerge as politicians deferred to ‘the science’, which, at the time, was almost exclusively medical science. We now have a situation where the medical response to Covid-19 is becoming a means of pursuing other goals…We must start to think in terms of tolerable risk, as we do in other areas of health and safety, rather than zero-risk.

The government would do well to remember the fate of the Major-Generals. Their obsession with imposing a Puritan life on a country that valued its traditional celebrations of family and community crashed and burned in the month after Christmas 1656.

A Social Science Space blog

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