Something has changed in the relationship between the individual and the state. Something is changing. Little by little, day by day, with every new incursion on liberty, however minor, with every new support program for every business category and demographic group, always justified by extraordinary times and circumstances, the balance of power is shifting. The problem, of course, is that there is always something out of the ordinary, some crisis, some threat, that can be deployed in the name of expunging all risk and variability from daily life. Somehow, this always turns out to require an expansion of government control.
Daniel Hannan, who served as a member of the European Parliament for two decades, worries that the pandemic, and the fearful political response it has engendered, will kill the liberal order. “Things won’t get back to normal,” he writes at the John Locke Institute. “The political and psychological impact of Covid-19 will last for decades. The world into which we emerge will be poorer, meaner, more pinched, more authoritarian.”