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Political cultures must be more accepting of experimentation

Joe Corcoran


After the Covid-19 pandemic, a new social contract must be drawn up between expert institutions and democratic society

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'Steve Bannon, along with many other early adopters of Trumpism - though ironically not Trump himself - were among the first westerners to seriously identify Covid-19 as a threat to the system back in January.' Photo: Getty Images

'Steve Bannon, along with many other early adopters of Trumpism - though ironically not Trump himself - were among the first westerners to seriously identify Covid-19 as a threat to the system back in January.' Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

'Steve Bannon, along with many other early adopters of Trumpism - though ironically not Trump himself - were among the first westerners to seriously identify Covid-19 as a threat to the system back in January.' Photo: Getty Images

Historically, international shocks on the scale of Covid-19 have been accompanied by the rise and fall of grand governmental systems. World War I collapsed imperial monarchies from Prussia to Persia, the Great Depression triggered a global wave of fascism, World War II set the stage for a decades-long battle between democracy and communism, and the fall of the Soviet Union ushered in our current American-led liberal international order.

This time, however, none of the competing models on offer have distinguished themselves clearly. China has done its best to make hay out of western disorder, noisily shipping off masks and ventilators to states whose normal trading partners can or will not supply them. China points to its radical recovery in March and insists that its ability to move mountains administratively through tight centralised control of government makes it more capable of dealing with the pandemic than disorganised, markets reliant powers of old.

However, multiple governments who purchased supplies from China, including Ireland, have since declared that they did not meet quality control standards and are therefore an endangerment to the public. We will never be able to compare China's true virus statistics to those of other states because it is obvious they are lying about them. It is not just the absurdly low death rate that tells us this, but the cliff-like dive in reported infections that occurred the moment a mirage of competency became politically expedient. Even if we ignore its current domestic situation and look only at the culture of systematic secrecy which allowed the disease to spread from Wuhan in the first place, it is clear that China is not the answer governmentally, but the primary problem.