T2B44: Viden 3

Two quick points today about how COVID spurs the evolution of the state.

Viral Authoritarianism

What’s the most basic function of a state:

  1. Prosperity?

  2. Freedom?

  3. Security?

Of the three, security seems most visceral. If a state can’t prevent you from being bombed or worse, it conducts the bombing, it destabilizes people’s lives in an unacceptable manner. Conversely, states that ensure there’s bread on the table can get away with greater ‘unfreedoms.’ More generally, states use the threat of external or internal aggression to increase their power over people’s lives.

Authoritarianism finds a fertile field in times of fear, anger and insecurity and COVID provokes all three. Which is why its possible that a) Trump got defeated because of the virus and b) there’s increased support for his authoritarian moves because of the virus.

Trump will not be able to carry out a successful coup, but he has established a permanent base for authoritarian politics. The virus has caused his defeat in the short term but may have institutionalized Trump’s instincts.

How much will it cost?

Looks like Uncle Sam will be out > $ 4 Trillion by the time the crisis is over. That’s over ten thousand dollars per person, which is an unbelievably large sum of money. But spending that kind of money that fast is a hard problem - how do you hand out large sums of money real fast in a manner that:

  1. Increases economic activity without

  2. increasing inflation and without

  3. increasing inequality

Looks like we are in for a two stage shock and awe treatment of a massive stimulus followed by a massive vaccination operation. Does it mean the state is back and a managed market economy is a possibility even in the heart of capitalism?

Just as this crisis establishes a base camp for authoritarianism, it also opens up the possibility for an expanded state.