Liberty in the Wake of Coronavirus
By Aris Trantidis
ñever before has ‘freedom from’ so worryingly related to ‘freedom to.’ Nearly three billion people currently live under lockdowns enacted by governments. In these uncertain times, most of us remain confined to our homes and accept these unprecedented restrictions as a temporary but necessary sacrifice in the fight against a deadly virus. We understand that lockdowns are part of a short-lived trade-off between liberty and safety. But how comfortable are we with the idea that this state of emergency could last long enough to leave a permanent imprint on the social, economic and political fabric of our communities? What could be the institutional aftermath of this pandemic?
History tells us that a crisis could become a critical juncture opening the possibility for radical change in the institutions governing society.1在流感大流行，社会越有可能接受他们的自由行动严格限制。风险在于，社会可能会成为习惯于一些限制。作为大众大规模死亡和发病率从病毒会退潮，并在未来几个月内流的恐惧，人们可能会问，这些限制被延长。但最严重的风险，在我看来，就是经常性的危机像这样的会导致现状的不加选择的批评和变化，将变成对自由和民主的负面开辟道路。
专制政权已经开发出这种能力没有一个公共健康危机的借口。在这些制度中，公民都已经交代政府，而不是周围的其他方法。What is unique with contemporary authoritarianism is that today’s technology allows them to not only to repress protests and opposition but also, by supervising each node in the social network, to pre-empt the very genesis of dissent and repress its original source: a video by a medical doctor, a posted comment by a student, even the private expression of dissatisfaction by a member of the ruling party can be identified and neutralized before it can spread and have an effect on others. Capable of supervising and disciplining each individual agent, authoritarian governments can now arrest subversive activities before their escalation thanks to advanced technology. As each agent can be monitored individually, unelicited information cannot flow to trigger a collective response. If this accidentally happens, any interactions necessary for the flow of subversive information can be successfully blocked.
在民主国家，类似的控制的基础设施能够在危机时期扩大和保持在该位置之后。在紧急状态延长状态，民主国家很容易受到群众监督。lockdowns的性质可能是太严格使社会将自愿选择监督机制。八十年前，弗洛姆在写Escape from Freedom，心理和社会条件可以推，在不确定性，面对社会几乎自愿本身服从法西斯主义。五People will be willing to give up their freedoms for the sense of security promised and later imposed on them by an authoritarian government. Take the case of Hungary. In 2015, the Orban government declared a state of emergency in response to increasing migratory flows and has now passed legislation to allow the Prime Minister to rule by decree until further notice and to jail people who, in its judgment, spread information deemed to be fake news.
What prevents this dystopian scenario from happening in liberal democracies is, at the first level of analysis, the presence of constitutional checks and balances. Liberal democracy mediates the tension between political power and society’s relative freedom. In a recent article inThe Guardian大卫朗西曼写道，lockdowns说清楚什么政治的本质始终是：有些人会告诉别人做什么。民主是部分恢复的治理者和被支配的关系有些平衡的系统。一个政治组织必须赢得选举，必须在划定的一组自由的公民受宪法保护的范围内行事。在一个民主政体，宪法规定保护到什么政府可以在正常时期和危机时期做的基本自由和描出限制。
Liberal democracy allows us to hope that these restrictions will be temporary. We put faith in democracy’s checks and balances to be effective restrictions of arbitrary power. Once the crisis is over, our society will claim back its rights and freedoms. Even during the present crisis, we can recognize how liberal democracy favors knowledge generation and communication. Both scientists and the public can freely say what they believe, and societies can ask questions and learn from mistakes. The epistemic qualities of democracy may seem to generate a cacophony of views, but they safeguard transparency and accountability.
However, institutional checks on political power are a necessary but not sufficient condition for the preservation of a relatively free society, particularly when the response to recurrent crises threatens to undermine their socioeconomic foundation: pluralism. In our contemporary societies. democratic resilience to autocratisation depends on the actual state of civil society. I have argued that the foundation of democracy is the capacity of societal actors to contest the government, adding that political contestability depends on how autonomous and empowered society remains against the government.6
Liberal democracies are entangled economic and political systems. In that system, multiple nodes are able to hold political power accountable thanks to their relative autonomy from government, which stems primarily from their capacity to autonomously obtain resources and achieve social status. Our socioeconomic autonomy bestows some bargaining power against the state. In that landscape, some agents have more resources than others. A realistic view of liberal democracy is that of relative and asymmetrical pluralism. Asymmetrical pluralism has historically sustained liberal democracies. It developed into a system of ‘societal checks and balances’ that keeps sustaining the formal checks we identify as bills of rights and constitutions. Contemporary democracies are an extension of the medieval systems in which barons had the resources to be able to constrain the power of the monarch and institutionalize their right to a parliament. In that environment, the monarchs had to listen to those who had the collective capacity to bargain, and, in need for their resources, allowed them a sphere of freedom under the rule of law. This settlement later included commercial and industrial actors as well as the collective organizations that emerged with growing commercialization and industrialization, and eventually covered the whole adult population.
一波又一波的激进的干预措施来管理一个紧急情况ency economy can usher in a structural transformation of state-society relations. The risk to liberty comes from a perpetual state of economic management under a simmering perception of recurrent crisis. Justified as benevolent interventions for the economy of perpetual emergency, the state can put in place a structure of incentives ripe for political exploitation. With massive and recurrent bailouts, government can co-opt actors, including the ones occupying key positions in institutional checks and balances or in civil society organizations, and can elicit the loyalty of business and collective organizations which, in a competitive democracy, could bargain with political authority rather than succumb to it.
How state-society economic relations will develop in the coming years will determine the extent to which society can keep a relatively independent status against political power. I am apprehensive of those who see the crisis as an opportunity to strengthen the economic power of the state. Several prominent public figures call for a paradigm shift towards a more activist role for the state in the economy, claiming that the status quo simply could not continue. Margaret O’Mara, a professor of history at University of Washington recently wrote:
Classical liberalism warns against the universal assumption of government benevolence and omniscience. It is risky to presume that government power will be used to promote a version of public interest. Increasing the power of the state to distribute sizable benefits to selected social and economic actors will increase the degree of their dependency on government. The discretionary powers of the state to choose winners could undermine the relative autonomy of those key actors who thus far acted as important checks on authoritative power, even at the moments in which some of them were colluding with them. A citizen co-opted by the government will not protest, contest, and dissent.
这就是尼克·考恩和我在我们的文章认为“哈耶克与特朗普。”8哈耶克的畅销书通往奴役之路被解释为反对国家对经济的干预一般警告。9But our addendum makes a distinction between forms of state intervention that could threaten personal and political freedom and those less likely to do so. Partial-discriminatory interventions are coercive in the sense described by Hayek in自由的宪法，10通过给国家的权力，限定他人通过造成损害的威胁，以满足一个人的意志。相比之下，公正的分布和法规，如医疗保健的规定，可以在普遍适用的规则工作。这减轻胁迫的风险。
With partial-discriminatory allocations such as bailouts and other protectionist measures, governments gain the capacity to allocate resources and elicit loyalty and complacency in return. A politicized economy changes the network of government-society relations to a pyramid-shaped structure where the central node submits all other nodes to relationships of dependency. Without exit to spheres of economic activity relatively autonomous from government, the socio-economic foundation of political contestability could vanish, and the formal structure of checks and balances could be equally eroded. A new authoritarianism can emerge, one that nominally respects the formal structures of democratic politics but succeeds in curtailing the autonomy of its agents through a command-and-control management of the post-crisis economy.
我是那么害怕疫情本身的管理。社会将恢复自由，只要社会能够要求它，将免费为推动它。我深深地担心对经济体制的影响。现代货币理论告诉我们，政府可以打印出的钱分发给企业的补贴和投资的庞大计划。民权主义者称赞政府的大力进攻和机构的作用，结合ad hocostracization withad hoc保护主义。业务要求采取贸易保护主义措施，以渡过危机的财政压力。与此同时，监控的技术比以往由于在控制论和遗传学的进展更加复杂。该锁定可以是苛刻的，足以把我们推到了前所未有的接受生物识别监控的水平只是为了让我们的隔离出来。经济痛苦将是沉重足以让我们许多政府寻求帮助。我们将接受被监控和中央机关的自由裁量权从属于资源分配给我们。
This mixture raises the risk that governments could grasp this opportunity to monitor activity, dictate outcomes, select winners, and signal their strength to reduce their exposure to political contestation. In dictating who gets what, political elites reassert a form of control that trespasses formal checks on power. It neutralizes political contestation in the electoral process and erodes the autonomy of formal institutions that are supposed to check its authority. Coupled with an unprecedented mechanism of surveillance, the current system of checks and balances on power will be ineffective to prevent further autocratization.
The 21st century will either be the age ofbiodemocracy或年龄biodictatorship。biodemocracy的机构将是什么在复发性危机面前政府权力的随意运动保护公民社会。
I see biodemocracy as a neo-Madisonian project that responds to the contemporary challenges of biopolitics through constitutional reforms that safeguard the socioeconomic underpinnings of liberal democracy. Its underlying premise shall be the acknowledgment there can be no liberal democracy without a pluralist society and economy. A pluralist socioeconomic structure sustains democracy’s structure of checks and balances and government contestability. Change the former and the latter collapses.
乔治·阿甘本，State of Exception.（芝加哥大学出版社，2005年）。
Erich Fromm,Escape from Freedom（开口道媒体，2013年）。
*阿里斯Trantidis是在国际关系和林肯大学政治，社会和政治科学学院讲师。他以前是马克斯·韦伯研究员欧洲大学学院（EUI），博士后研究员经济学在乔治·梅森大学部和客座讲师和助教在政治经济系，在伦敦国王学院。阿里斯是这本书的作者侍从和经济政策：希腊危机（Routledge, 2016). Aris holds degrees from King’s College London, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the Universities of Surrey, Thessaloniki and Athens.