Culture notes: Is tyranny better for our health?

Catherine Fieschi argues that solidarity has passed its Covid test

The World Today Published 3 December 2021 2 minute READ

Catherine Fieschi

Director, Counterpoint

Covid has made us all more aware of a whole host of inequalities. But one Covid inequality that remains underexplored is institutional inequality. As one person put it to me very early on in the pandemic: who will fare better in this crisis, autocracies or democracies?

Some argued that such a crisis would prove that authoritarian governments and their various ‘authoritarian-lite’ populist manifestations would be once and for all exposed for incompetence and greed.

Others argued that, while there are few silver linings to authoritarianism, such regimes would be better suited to impose the sort of discipline needed to vanquish the virus.

A year down the line, it looked as though Trump, Bolsonaro, and Orban had settled the argument. The pandemic ripped through the United States, Brazil and Hungary while their respective leaders continued to deny the existence of the virus or to minimize its impact.

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