PANDA co-founder and Chairman Nick Hudson received his first award for freedom of expression, decentralisation, and an evolutionary approach from the Free Market Foundation on Wednesday (June 23).
PANDA (Pandemics Data & Analytics) is a politically and economically independent organisation, established by a group of multi-disciplinary professionals in April 2020 who perceived the global reaction to Covid, and lockdown in particular, as overwrought and damaging to the point of causing a great tear in the fabric of society.
According to its website, PANDA aims to promote open science, human agency, and courageous societies by empowering the public with accurate information. This enables individuals to exercise freedom of choice, preserve human liberties and a free society.
Hudson, an actuary with broad international experience in finance, who has settled into a career as a private equity investor, spoke to BizNew’s Alec Hogg about what the award means to him and the rest of the PANDA team.
Among other things, Hudson commented on Covid censorship and the oppression of free speech:
“From the start, this whole response to Coronavirus has adopted a decidedly technocratic securicrat surveillance-type tone with oppression of free speech, with all sorts of impositions on liberties and rights that are considered the norm in democratic societies.”
“We’ve been promised time and time again that it was just temporary and that it was two weeks or three weeks or until the vulnerable had been vaccinated or until whatever. The goalposts just keep moving. It should be clear to any thinking person that what we are seeing is an assault on liberal values and it’s not done in the interest of public health. It’s not about a virus” he said.
“I think the thing that’s not entering the public discourse nearly enough is the extent to which our institutions of media and public health have been captured by a handful of entities, with the effect that neither the journalists nor the scientists could even speak out if they disagreed with the policies or conventional narratives of the times. And that is just becoming more and more evident by the day. Editorial policy is not free and scientific opinion is not free. So we are entering, I think, very dark times. And this is one of the hushed-up stories.”
At the award ceremony, Hudson also spoke about the crumbling foundations of the COVID-19 lockdown narrative:
“We stand at a crucial junction in history. Down one road lies a painful repeat lesson from history – that technocratic centralisation and surveillance deliver only stasis and gross inequality. Down the other lies an opportunity to cast off the yokes of woke critical theory, concentration of power and safety culture, and to reassert the generativity afforded only by personal agency, freedom of expression, decentralisation and an evolutionary approach to knowledge and economy.”
(In the video above you can view the award ceremony)
Martin van Staden, member of the FMF’s Executive Committee and MC at the award ceremony, said that the FMF Award is meant to recognise those individuals and groups who advocate effectively for freedom both intellectually and practically. “There are inventors who make government less relevant in our daily lives, there are advocates who effectively push back against encroaching authoritarianism, and there are intellectuals who make fresh cases for liberty; but they rarely receive recognition for their efforts. We at the FMF hope to begin a new trend of recognising those who advocate for liberty as the best solution for the problems that plague the world,”
Robert Vivian, Deputy Chairman of the FMF’s Executive Committee, reasons the award to PANDA as follows:
“The West has lost a great deal of freedom and that freedom will only be regained if people have the courage to stand against bigotry, which is what PANDA has done. Unlike other state interventions, the COVID intervention abridged the liberty of individuals to work and the end of the ability to work is the end of the free market and economy. PANDA was also one of the first, if not the first, to attempt to objectively assess the impact of the state intervention on the economy. Not surprisingly, PANDA has been subject to attack but remains unbowed.”
The Free Market Foundation (FMF) is an independent, non-profit, public benefit organisation, created in 1975 in South Africa by pro-free market business and civil society national bodies. FMF promotes and fosters an open society, the rule of law, personal liberty, and economic and press freedom.