Keep calm and don’t carry on

Catherine Fieschi looks at how authority is imposed during the pandemic.

The World Today
2 minute READ

Catherine Fieschi

Director, Counterpoint

The coronavirus is reshaping our world: calling into question our capacity for social cohesion and testing the competence of our governments and the robustness of our financial institutions. It is also forcing us to ask questions about the nature of authority and obedience.

No one was surprised by the measures taken by the Chinese government, or by their success. We expected Chinese citizens to be disciplined and compliant.

We were more reserved in our expectations when the Italian government decided to impose confinement on their delightfully boisterous compatriots – and frankly surprised when Italians obeyed. Sure, they sang from their balconies but, overall, they stayed on their balconies.

Asked to do the same, the French took to parks and beaches, drawing the anger of their president who pretty much told them they had been very naughty, and he would have to ground them. But he would help by unleashing billions of euros on the French economy.

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