State Not Society
"How China Beat the Covid Crisis," in this piece for the NYRB I look at the deeper reasons for China's ability to control the virus.
The simple answer is it's just the power of an authoritarian state, but I think the government also exhibits a bureacratic élan missing in many western countries, as well as a savvy use of civil society. This will help China as it faces the likely catastrophes brewing this century, especially climate change. It will be able to moblize expertise and resources in ways that may be hard in open societies.
But will this be enough to keep China's authoritarian government in power? I look at the implications in this essay.