PATRICK BULGER | Caught between unpopular Covid truths and winning local elections

Political parties will no doubt manipulate the pandemic’s impact to suit their own agendas

16 September 2021 - 20:38

Covid-19 dominates elections around the world, amplifying voters’ distrust and shining an unflattering light on incumbents and those in opposition. The pandemic has forced a rethink about individual rights versus society’s rights and ignited debates over lockdowns and curfews. In their eagerness to argue individual rights are not always sacrosanct, the pro-vaccine lobby has brought the English utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill to a new generation who hadn’t yet enjoyed him in paperback.

Many go much further than Mill would ever have done, though, and hold up China’s authoritarian government as best-suited to the challenges of a world that will be living with Covid-19 well into the future. It has the obvious command structures, it demands total obedience at the risk of terrible sanction, and it comes with the necessary logistical aptitude. Most importantly, it doesn’t rely on voter approval. Democracy by contrast is deemed unsuitable to the task, too clumsy and permitting of dissident viewpoints to allow for the smooth operation of government...

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