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Did the pandemic draw us closer together – or pull us further apart? | Jan-Werner Mueller

Early on, we were told we were all in the same boat. Is that true? The answer has important implications for our politics In spring of last year, when the full severity of the pandemic began to get clearer, it became common to claim that we were all in the same boat (as Madonna also explained to us from a video taken in her bathtub, since deleted). Today, conventional wisdom would suggest that the Covid crisis has actually demonstrated the opposite: the stubborn persistence of inequalities. Rather than all of us being in the same boat, it turned out that some quickly drowned, some have been rowing frantically just to stay alive, and some were never in our boat to begin with; instead, we watched them sail off on their luxury yachts. It is notable that few leftwing parties seem to have been strengthened by the pandemic. In Germany, where federal elections with likely far-reaching implications are scheduled for September, Social Democrats are languishing in the polls; their rivals to the left, Die Linke, are actually declining. Perhaps people just want to forget about the whole Covid nightmare as quickly as possible. It may be that voters take the return of some kind of day-to-day normality as reason to re-legitimate the old political regime: if I can go on holidays this summer, or so the reasoning might go, I just won’t vote for any radicals. Continue reading...
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