Over the past year and a half all countries charged with managing that central question of politics and economics – how the state interacts with the individual – have had it reposed in unerringly challenging and chimerical ways. How best to coordinate the masses to get past this set of virological, political and moreover economic minefields?
First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
Throughout this pandemic, there has been no shortage of attempts to discern which political systems or leaders are best or worst suited to deal with such a situation. One thing has become clear, however: there is no clear answer.
Those democratic leaders who started off well and were widely lauded for their handling of the initial stages of the pandemic – take Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand and Angela Merkel of Germany, for example – have both suffered recent flagging approval ratings owing to problems over vaccination campaigns. Meanwhile, the draconian approach of autocratic China may have worked in 2020 to get the virus under control, but problems – viral or otherwise – persist. In early August, Wuhan – the original epicentre of the pandemic – was ordered back into lockdown. Hong Kong, meanwhile, shuts…