Friday, January 15, 2021

the last book I ever read (Anne Applebaum's Twilight of Democracy, excerpt fourteen)

from Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism by Anne Applebaum:

Throughout history, pandemics have led to an expansion of the power of the state: at times when people fear death, they go along with measures that they believe, rightly or wrongly, will save them—even if that means a loss of freedom. In Britain, Italy, Germany, France, the United States, and many other places, there was a consensus that people needed to stay home, that quarantines needed to be enforced, that police needed to play an exceptional role. But in a few places, fear of disease became, alongside the other unsettling aspects of modernity, inspiration for a whole new generation of authoritarian nationalists. Nigel Farage, Laura Ingraham, Mária Schmidt, and Jacek Kurski, along with the trolls who work for Vox in Spain or the alt-right in America, had already prepared the intellectual ground for that kind of change—and so it came to pass. At the end of March, Viktor Orbán in Hungary enacted a law allowing himself to rule by decree and allowing his government to arrest journalists and jail them for five years for criticizing official efforts to fight the virus. There was no need for these measures, and they did not help the Hungarian hospitals that were also overburdened, as in Poland, by lack of investment and emigration. The point was to use the measure to shut down debate. Opposition politicians who objected were jeered by the state media as “pro-virus.”

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