There is a growing possibility that the COVID-19 crisis will mark the end of the growth model born four decades ago with the Reagan-Thatcher revolution, China’s embrace of capitalism, and the demise of the Soviet Union. The small government, free-market template suddenly looks terribly outdated. Instead of regarding growth as the ultimate solution to inequality, advanced economies will need to tackle distributional issues head on. It is to be hoped that they will be spared the convulsions that often accompany structural and policy changes of such magnitude.Read more
The COVID-19 crisis will not produce a dramatic and enduring increase in global governance or significantly higher levels of international cooperation. Instead it is likely to reinforce divisive trends; to accelerate a retreat from globalization, raise new barriers to international trade, investment, and travel, and give both democratic and non-democratic governments greater power over their citizens’ lives. The post-COVID-19 world will be less open, less free, less prosperous, and more competitive than the world many people expected to emerge only a few years ago.Read more
Confronting the dramatic trends taking place in the rates of global warming, destruction of the environment, extinction of biodiversity, and global social injustice urgently requires unprecedented societal and economic transformations. Can major democratic economies overcome the combination of disillusionment with government and distrust of experts, and position themselves to bring about the transformations these crises demand?Read more
The number of people who are governed poorly and less democratically is increasing worldwide, and rule of law and political freedoms are being eroded in an increasing number of democracies. Restricted freedom of expression, a gagged press or disempowered constitutional courts – as a rule, these are characteristics of autocracies. But our latest Transformation Index shows that the rule of law and political freedoms are also being eroded in an increasing number of democracies. TheRead more
The Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) has produced a disturbing report on what it describes as the “deliberate political undertaking in which political actors use the consequences (both real and imagined) of the previous government as justification for the complete capture of the state’s institutions” in Serbia. At a time when the EU is struggling to live up to its core political values, the Serbian government’s commitment to the rule of law and separationRead more
Should US presidential hopeful Joe Biden prevail in November, the grounds will have been laid for Donald Trump to cry foul – with the potential for a crisis of political legitimacy. Australian policymakers, struggling with balancing the economic relationship with China and the security relationship with the US, should be following domestic trends in America with nervous apprehension.Read more
By Mike Scrafton | For the moment, reducing reliance on overseas supply chains appears to be a big lesson out of the COVID-19 pandemic. But reluctance to regulate corporate and commercial activity has been a hallmark of governments across the world. Are neoliberal governments capable of reversing the direction they have been taking for three or four decades?Read more
Yuval Noah Harari writes that ”[i]n this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.” Professor Harari thoughtfully examines the issues around the rush to put in place technological surveillance-based responses to COVID-19 pandemic management, and governments’ pivot to nationalistic solutions to problems which are essentially global in nature.Read more
In government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, Evgeny Morozov sees a ‘feast of solutionism’ being unleashed. [W]e can see two distinct strands of solutionism in government responses to the pandemic. “Progressive solutionists” propose that timely, app-based exposure to the right information could “nudge” people to behave in the public interest, while “punitive solutionists”, by contrast, want to use surveillance infrastructure to monitor and manage daily activities. The risk, he argues, is that the pandemic will supercharge the solutionist state, … creating an excuse to fill the political vacuum with anti-democratic practices.Read more
The current crisis tells us some important things. The flaws in the neo-liberal model have been exposed. Democratic politics have been stressed to breaking point. The shocks to the economic, social and fiscal systems required to avoid dangerous climate change are shown to be unfeasible.
Denial, delay, and deflection over the climate science by democratic governments immersed in neo-liberal fantasies has set the world an unachievable target if dangerous global warming is to be avoided.
The extraordinary steps imposed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic are what is needed on a sustained basis if a limit of 1.5°C of global warming is to be achieved. And yet this period of lock-down, self-isolation, social-distancing, and commercial and industrial dormancy has already shown that the measures responsible are imposing on whole societies costs which cannot be borne for long.Read more
In an article in The Guardian, David Runciman shows how the pandemic has removed “one layer of political life to reveal something more raw underneath”. He writes, “As Hobbes knew, to exercise political rule is to have the power of life and death over citizens. The only reason we would possibly give anyone that power is because we believe it is the price we pay for our collective safety. But it also means that weRead more
Published by Transparency International on 19 March 2020, this article looks at the importance of transparency as governments around the world face shortages of medical supplies, prioritising of access to medical services, and allocation of relief funds. It is essential that transparency, openness and integrity are maintained and extended across the health sector. It is vital that emergency powers are exercised only for the purposes for which they were granted. Since many normal oversight andRead more
The Thodey Review of the Australian Public Service is set against a backdrop of four simultaneous and momentous crises before which modern democracies seem impotent; global warming, population growth, wealth inequality, and a dangerous geostrategic shift. Is the APS as reformed by the Thodey Review going to be up to the task of supporting ministers facing this level of overwhelming uncertainty and risk management?Read more