The Indian economist Amartya Sen insisted on democracy as a universal value (in a Journal of Democracy reader, left). He also observed that democratic governance is the best antidote to the destructive effects of famine in developing countries. In a similar vein, democratic governance should — ideally — immunize us against the devastatingly unequal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, notes Cécile Laborde, Nuffield Professor of Political Theory at the University of Oxford.
Some radical thinkers, such as the influential Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, have recently claimed that states of emergency are the permanent condition of modern political life, regardless of regimes. This, however, ignores the difference in the quality of freedom between democratic and authoritarian states, she writes in Liberty in the Time of Corona.