On 24 June, Professor Shalini Randeria, Director of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy, discussed authoritarian responses to COVID-19, as part of an online public event hosted by the London School of Economics on “The New Authoritarianism: COVID-19 and the challenges facing democracy”. The event considered a recent report that argued that COVID-19 is accelerating global trends towards authoritarian populism, supported by state-dependent capitalism. Placing the report in comparative perspective, Randeria drew on both postcolonial experiences – especially in India – and European ones to argue that COVID-19 is reshaping politics in specific ways. First, it is not simply bolstering authoritarian populism, but a specific form of it – “soft authoritarianism”, which is marked by a commitment to democratic procedures but not to liberal democratic values. Second, it is generating a resurgence in territorial nationalism, which is most concerned with the role of the state as an insurer of welfare (as opposed to, say, a prohibitor of migrants). Through this combination of effects, COVID-19 is making the question of institutionalised domestic inequality salient to contemporary politics in ways that past crises have not.
The podcast and video are available at:
Read also Shalini Randeria's interview published in Die Süddeutsche Zeitung "Die Corona-Krise wäre eine Chance, unseren Lebensstil umzugestalten":