The Myth That Democracies Bungled the Pandemic

Davvero i paesi autoritari funzionano meglio delle democrazie ?
La centralizzazione statalista senza alternanza democratica tende a sviluppare familismo e lotte per la conservazione del potere. Accade spesso anche con certi burocrati.

Source: MSN

The Myth That Democracies Bungled the PandemicThe idea that dictatorships get things done while democracies dither has an ancient provenance and enduring appeal. When times were tough in the ancient Roman republic, the Senate appointed a strongman with virtually unlimited powers (but a temporary term of office) to tackle the crisis. Abraham Lincoln, the savior of American democracy and the Great Emancipator, suspended the writ of habeas corpus and arbitrarily jailed dissenters to maintain the Union’s resolve to win the American Civil War. The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini supposedly “made the trains run on time”—democracies cannot always do the same.
The argument that authoritarian governments outperform democracies in a crisis has found new life during the coronavirus pandemic, especially within the Chinese government. The Global Times, a newspaper published by the Chinese Communist Party as an arm of the People’s Daily, stated bluntly that Western countries “failed to prevent the virus from spreading in their countries … as a result of their governance systems” and that “the West cannot have a government that is as powerful as China’s.” Indeed, China’s reported deaths from COVID-19 are remarkably low, just under 5,700 in a country of more than a billion people. In case the implication is too subtle, the paper has also directly said that “systematic advantages, including top-down effective governance and ability to mobilize social resources” are behind China’s success. Meanwhile, the United States—the world’s most powerful democracy—is well into its fourth wave of mass hospitalizations and deaths; more than 660,000 Americans are dead of the disease as of this writing. A recent article in Foreign Policy (hardly a bastion of authoritarianism) argued that nations with “collective discipline, deference to authority, and faith in the state” are the ones that have succeeded in confronting this public-health crisis, even though democracy itself is not to blame. Similarly, Francis Fukuyama thinks that it is not necessarily democracy but “whether citizens trust their leaders, and whether those leaders preside over a competent and effective state,” that is crucial to defeating a pandemic.[Zeynep Tufekci: How the coronavirus revealed authoritarianism’s fatal flaw]The idea that top-down societies have handled COVID-19 better may explain in part why governance around the world has become more autocratic since the start of the pandemic: People crave decisive action. Those in democracies who resist decisive action, such as vaccine mandates, often appeal to their right to personal freedom, despite the fact that vaccine mandates are both ethically and historically compatible with democracy. Meanwhile, Western news outlets announce that “America has failed at collective action” or that “the U.S. has failed to persuade Americans to get vaccines.” Even Francis Collins, the director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said that the U.S. is “failing” on COVID because of low vaccination rates. The pressure this criticism creates for democratic governments to be more forceful must be immense. Still, in 2020, most countries that had been designated as “free” by Freedom House stayed that way: Reductions in political rights and civil liberties were most marked in dictatorships and hybrid regimes.Should the world turn to dictatorship to beat back the pandemic and the many other challenges we face? Even if dictatorships were better than democracies at fighting the pandemic, that wouldn’t be reason enough to replace presidents with politburos and parliaments with juntas. Freedom, equal representation, and civil rights are more important than ruthlessly enforced public-health measures. Nevertheless, the bold, resolute governance that autocracy supposedly offers may be tempting. The glamour of that dark path conflicts with the fact that, despite the negative publicity they have faced, democracies are at least as effective at vaccinating their citizens as non-democracies. Our World in Data, a collaboration between researchers at Oxford University and the Global Change Data Lab, provides up-to-date information on the proportion of each country’s citizens who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, as well as on their GDP per capita. Experts from the V-Dem Institute at the University of Gothenburg classify regimes on the basis of their adherence to free elections and protection of individual rights, making it possible to compare the performance of democratic regimes with that of autocratic ones. At the same level of economic prosperity, democracies are on average comparable to or slightly better than their autocratic counterparts in terms of how much of their population has been vaccinated. Some democracies have underperformed their peers, but others have overperformed. The same is true for dictatorships.Figure 1: Worldwide vaccination rates by regime type. Each point represents a country; the lines are

Source: The Myth That Democracies Bungled the Pandemic

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