In Depth

Instant Opinion: If Sweden succeeds, ‘lockdowns will all have been for nothing’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Monday 27 April

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Daniel Hannan in The Daily Telegraph

on outliers

If Sweden succeeds, lockdowns will all have been for nothing

“The resentment aimed at Sweden reflects an uneasy sense that the rest of us may be condemning ourselves to years of needless poverty. Sweden is like the control in an experiment. If it succeeds, the lockdown enthusiasts will never be able to claim that, but for their measures, things would have been even worse. No wonder they sound so tetchy.”

2. Nesrine Malik in The Guardian

on holding power to account

If 'now is not the time' to commit to a coronavirus inquiry, then when?

“In the end, the facts alone will not determine how this government is judged. It is an axiom of liberal thinking that with enough debate and discussion, the truth will eventually win out – that in the marketplace of ideas, the truest arguments eventually prevail over the loudest or most popular. But there is no discourse that is immune to the workings of power. And for now, this is still a powerful government: from the size of its majority to the circulation of its loyal partisan press. It has been the beneficiary of a stilted press briefing format that prevents follow-up questions, and it had the good luck to face a defeated opposition leader whose criticism of the government was largely ignored.”

3. Albena Azmanova in the Financial Times

on taxing the rich

Precarity, not inequality is what ails the 99 per cent

“‘Tax the rich’ has become the progressive battle cry — and not merely on the fringe. The scourge of economic inequality is celebrity politics, voiced by Nobel prizewinners and international policy chiefs alike. Yet this slogan did not deliver the electoral victories the left hoped for. The reason is that economic instability, not inequality, is what ails the 99 per cent. Inequality is one symptom of instability, to be sure. But to focus on inequality alone is a diagnostic error. And the cure is not simply redistribution of purchasing power, but more radical: to build a more stable, secure and sustainable society. The Covid-19 pandemic drives this point home.”

4. Helen Thompson in the New Statesman

on China

The lack of global political order is making an unprecedented economic shock even greater

“Most governments want to end manufacturing supply chains in pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and medical equipment, and revert to national production. This instinct is likely to spread to high-tech sectors, and it means taking away production from China. But whatever Covid-19 has done to Xi Jinping’s world-view, it will not have convinced the Chinese leadership to abandon its long-term pursuit of ‘the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation’. Its concern will be how to prevent foreign manufacturing competition from disrupting its ambitions. For all the newfound strength of Chinese consumer demand since the 2008 crash, China still has much to lose. To negate the Made in China 2025 strategic plan will seem an intolerable sacrifice. It will be easy for the Chinese leadership to presume that Western economies cannot adapt quickly enough to renewing manufacturing competition or to higher prices. That may well prove wrong. But China’s political response to an external economic shock will accentuate the consequences of discarding the post-Cold War assumption that economic interdependence can underpin geopolitical order.”

5. Tom Hodgkinson in UnHerd

on doing nothing

The joy of lockdown laziness

“No one is saying that being a nurse is not a difficult and important job — now and at all times. And I am more grateful than ever that the dustmen come and take away our rubbish. But we cannot ignore the people for whom the crisis has led to a questioning of what a good life is all about. And a little less work all round would be good for key workers too. It is instructive as to the mutable nature of morality, that a few weeks ago, being very busy was considered morally good, and now we are being told to indulge in its precise opposite. Do nothing, save lives.”

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