Transcript: Pandemic as a Historical Turning Point | Mar 27, 2020

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a white shirt and a spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Covering sports in a pandemic."

Steve says IT'S SAFE TO SAY THAT NO ONE ALIVE TODAY HAS SEEN ANYTHING LIKE WHAT THE WORLD IS SEEING UNFOLD RIGHT NOW. THAT MAKES IT HISTORIC, FOR SURE. BUT WILL HISTORY ALSO NOTE THIS AS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR OUR WORLD? TO CONSIDER SUCH A BIG QUESTION, LET'S TURN TO: DOUG SAUNDERS, A RICHARD von WEIZSAECKER FELLOW OF THE ROBERT BOSCH ACADEMY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS COLUMNIST FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL AND - HE'S IN BERLIN, GERMANY, JOINING US VIA SKYPE...

Doug is in his forties, clean-shaven, with short dark hair. He's wearing a gray suit and a checkered blue tie.

Steve continues ALSO VIA SKYPE, IN WASHINGTON, DC: YASCHA MOUNK, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF THE PRACTICE, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES...

Yascha is in his late thirties, with short brown hair and a stubble. He-s wearing glasses, a gray suit and a blue shirt.

Steve continues AND IN WATERLOO, ONTARIO, VIA FACETIME: ANN FITZ-GERALD, DIRECTOR OF THE BALSILLIE SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS AND A PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT WILFRED LAURIER UNIVERSITY...

Ann is in her forties, with long straight blond hair. She-s wearing a black blazer.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO HAVE THREE FAMILIAR FACES BACK ON OUR PROGRAM. I'M GOING TO START BY JUST READING SOMETHING THAT ANDREW SULLIVAN RECENTLY WROTE IN A PIECE, AND IT GOES LIKE THIS...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "How big a change?" The quote reads "All plagues change society and culture, reversing some trends while accelerating others, shifting consciousness far and wide, with consequences we won't discover for years or decades. The one thing we know about epidemics is that at some point they will end. The one thing we don't know is who we will be then."
Quoted from Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine. March 20, 2020.

Steve says YASCHA, LET'S GO TO YOU FIRST. WHAT DOES YOUR GUT TELL YOU ABOUT WHETHER THIS PANDEMIC HAS PLACED US IN THE MIDDLE OF AN HISTORICAL BREAK WITH THE PAST?

The caption changes to "Yascha Mounk. Johns Hopkins University."

Yascha says WELL, THE FIRST LESSON THAT ANDREW SULLIVAN DRAWS VERY WELL IN THAT PIECE AND THAT PANDEMIC ISN'T ALWAYS OBVIOUS. HE WAS WRITING IN PART ABOUT HIV-AIDS PANDEMIC. AND OF COURSE AT THE TIME IT WOULD HAVE BEEN EASY TO IMAGINE THAT IT WOULD LEAD TO MORE CONDEMNATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY, MORE BIGOTRY TOWARDS LGBTQ PEOPLE, AND IN FACT WE NOW KNOW IT DID THE OPPOSITE. BECAUSE OF THE TERRIBLE SUFFERING WITHIN THAT COMMUNITY AND THE ACTIVISM THAT CAME OUT OF IT, TODAY WE HAVE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE ON THE BOOKS IN A LOT OF COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD. SO I THINK WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT SOME OF THE PRONOUNCEMENTS THAT PEOPLE ARE MAKING RIGHT NOW, SAYING THIS WILL BE THE END OF GLOBALIZATION OR SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SELL THE SAME SOLUTIONS THEY'VE BEEN PEDDLING FOR THE LAST 25 YEARS. IF PEOPLE THOUGHT WE SHOULD ABOLISH ALL INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS. THEY'RE SAYING, SEE, THE PANDEMIC PROVINCE IT. THEY WANT TO ABOLISH CAPITALISM AND INSTITUTE A VERY DIFFERENT ECONOMIC CONDITION, THEY'RE LOOKING AT THE PANDEMIC AND SAYING NOW THAT PROVINCE IT. BOTH APPROACHES ARE NAIVE. THERE IS NO GOOD PRECEDENT FOR WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. BUT IN TERMS OF THE LAST MAJOR TURNING POINT WE'VE SEEN IN OUR POLITICS, I WOULD LOOK TO 9-11. WHAT HAPPENED AFTER 9-11 IS VAST CHANGES IN PARTICULAR AREAS OF OUR LIVES AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND THE SURVEILLANCE STATE. VERY IMPORTANT CHANGES. THE LAST PART OF OUR LIVES CONTINUED MOSTLY UNCHANGED, UNLIKE WHAT PEOPLE THOUGHT IN THE WEEKS AFTER 9-11, THERE'S STILL BIG SPORTING EVENTS. A LOT OF OUR LIFE HAS GONE ON THE SAME AS IT DID BEFORE. AND I IMAGINE THAT SOMETHING SIMILAR WILL HAPPEN TODAY. RADICAL CHANGES IN SOME AREAS, PROBABLY INCLUDING PUBLIC HEALTH. PROBABLY FEWER CHANGES THAN WE MIGHT BE IMAGINING RIGHT NOW IN A LOT OF OTHER AREAS.

Steve says LET'S GET THE VIEW FROM A COUPLE OF HOURS DOWN THE 401. ANN, ARE WE AT A MOMENT IN HISTORY WHERE DECADES FROM NOW, PEOPLE ARE GOING TO LOOK BACK AND SAY, "WOW, THIS IS THE WAY THINGS WERE BEFORE COVID AND AFTER COVID."

The caption changes to "Ann Fitz-Gerald. Balsillie School of International Affairs. Wilfrid Laurier University."

Ann says I WOULD AGREE WITH YASCHA'S COMMENTS BUT I WOULD ALSO COMMENT THAT WHAT PEOPLE WILL LOOK BACK AND RECOGNIZE IS THAT THIS IS SOMETHING UNPRECEDENTED INASMUCH AS IT HAS AFFECTED EVERY SINGLE CITIZEN AROUND THE WORLD AT RELATIVELY SIMILAR TIMES AND AT SIMILAR PACES, AND AS A RESULT, WE'RE SEEING A GLOBAL BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE MOVING FORWARD AT THE SAME TIME. AND THIS ISN'T NORMAL. YASCHA DREW ON SOME EXAMPLES LIKE GAY MARRIAGES. WE COULD EVEN LOOKING AT DRINKING AND DRIVING. AND OTHER ISSUES THAT WE HAVE SEEN TAKE ROOT IN DIFFERENT SOCIETIES AT DIFFERENT TIMES AND AT DIFFERENT PACES. BUT IT REMINDS US THAT THE INTERCONNECTIVENESS OF THE WORLD HAS NEVER BEEN MORE PRONOUNCED THAN IT IS NOW. SO I THINK WHAT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE IS A RESULTANT ATTITUDE AND BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES.

Steve says DOUG, YOU'RE A LONG WAY AWAY FROM US. WHAT'S YOUR SENSE OF THE HISTORIC NATURE OF THE MOMENT AND WHETHER IT REALLY IS A BREAKING-OFF POINT TO WHAT COMES NEXT?

The caption changes to "Doug Saunders. The Globe and Mail. Robert Bosch Academy."

Doug says WHAT MAKES THIS DIFFERENT FROM AN EVENT LIKE SEPTEMBER 11th IS, WHILE I AGREE WITH BOTH OF THE PROFESSORS THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE EXTRAPOLATING FROM THE EMERGENCY MEASURES THAT WE'RE TAKING RIGHT NOW TO ASSUME THAT SOCIETY IS GOING TO CHANGE SOME WAY TO PERMANENTLY TAKE THE SHAPE OF THESE TEMPORARY EMERGENCY MEASURES, ONE THING THAT WE WILL COME OUT OF THIS WITH... THAT WILL HAVE CHANGED US IS THAT THE DEMOCRACIES OF THE WORLD WILL HAVE UNDERGONE A LARGE-SCALE MASS PROJECT, THE LIKES OF WHICH WE HAVE NOT ENGAGED IN SINCE THE TWO WORLD WARS. WE'VE HAD GOVERNMENTS OF DEMOCRACIES ASK HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TO CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOUR, CORPORATIONS TO CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOUR, IN WAYS THAT ARE NOT TO THEIR SELF-INTERESTS AND THAT ARE VERY DRAMATIC, AND BASED ON WHAT FOR MOST PEOPLE IS STILL AN ABSTRACT THREAT. MOST PEOPLE DON'T KNOW ANYBODY WHO HAS DIED OF THIS. AND ALTHOUGH WE IN THE MEDIA HAVE PAID OUR ATTENTION TO THOSE WHO ARE SHIRKING OR BEING IRRESPONSIBLE, I THINK ON THE WHOLE WHAT'S HAPPENED IS THAT HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE HAVE GONE ALONG WITH THIS. SO WE'VE HAD A MASS MOBILIZATION ON A SCALE THAT WE HAVE NOT SEEN IN CLOSE TO A CENTURY. AND IT'S BEEN LARGELY SUCCESSFUL. WE'RE NOW SEEING THE DEPLOYMENT OF TRILLIONS OF PUBLIC SECTOR DOLLARS TO KEEP THE ECONOMY ALOFT IN A WAY THAT HASN'T HAPPENED SINCE THE SECOND WORLD WAR. IT MAY BE WE WILL RETURN AFTERWARDS TO SOMETHING VERY CLOSE TO WHAT WE HAD BEFORE AND I SUSPECT WE WILL NOT WANT TO DO THE THINGS THAT CONSERVATIVES LIKE ABOUT THIS, WHICH IS SHUTTING DOWN IMMIGRATION. WE WILL NOT WANT TO COMPLETELY DO THE THINGS THAT PEOPLE ON THE LEFT LIKE OF THIS, WHICH IS MASSIVE BASIC INCOME REDISTRIBUTION SCHEMES AND SO ON. BUT WE WILL KNOW THAT WE ARE CAPABLE, WE HAVE THE LEVELS OF SOCIAL CAPITAL AND SOCIAL TRUST, WE HAVE THE CAPACITIES OF STATES TO DO VERY LARGE-SCALE THINGS WITH MASS SUPPORT, AND THAT LESSON MAY BE SOMETHING THAT IS PICKED UP AFTERWARDS.

Steve says WELL, YOU MENTIONED CONSERVATIVES, SO THIS FEELS LIKE A GOOD TIME TO QUOTE CONSERVATIVES, ONE OF THEIR ANYWAY FAVOURITE ECONOMISTS, CERTAINLY RONALD REAGAN'S FAVOURITE, WHO MUSED ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF A CRISIS. 60 YEARS AGO, HE HAD THIS TO SAY. MILTON FRIEDMAN SAID...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "New possibilities." The quote reads "Only a crisis -actual or perceived- produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable."
Quoted from Milton Friedman. "Capitalism and freedom." 1962.

Steve says OKAY, YASCHA. PICK UP ON THAT. THIS IS SORT OF... I GUESS HE SAID IT BEFORE ROD EMMANUEL DID, OBAMA'S FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, WHO SAID YOU NEVER WANT TO LET A GOOD CRISIS GO TO WASTE. DO YOU AGREE THAT THERE ARE SOME POTENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES THAT THIS CRISIS PRESENTS, AND IF SO, WHAT MIGHT THEY BE?

The caption changes to "Yascha Mounk."

Yascha says LOOK, YES, I AGREE THAT THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES THAT CRISES PRESENT. I DO THINK IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE REMEMBER WHAT WE PREFACE THESE CONVERSATIONS WITH AN AWARENESS IS THAT THIS CRISIS ITSELF IS WHAT MATTERS RIGHT NOW. THAT IS TO SAY THERE ARE A LOT OF POLITICAL CAUSES THAT I DEEPLY CARE ABOUT THAT I THINK CAN IMPROVE PEOPLE'S LIVES, MAKE OUR SOCIETIES BETTER, MORE JUST, MORE FAIR, MORE BEAUTIFUL. BUT RIGHT NOW THE RIGHT OR THE WRONG MEASURES IN THE COMING WEEKS AND MONTHS WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE GLOBALLY BETWEEN MILLIONS OF PEOPLE LIVING AND MILLIONS OF PEOPLE DYING. SO I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO ADJUST OUR WAY OF THINKING ABOUT THIS IN ORDER TO BE SURE THAT WE'RE NOT FORGETTING ABOUT THE MOMENTOUS CHOICES WE'RE FACING RIGHT NOW BECAUSE WE'RE SO INTERESTED IN ALL THE CAUSES THAT WE INVEST ENERGY IN (INDISCERNIBLE). HAVING SAID ALL THAT, I DO THINK THERE ARE OPPORTUNITIES THAT FLOW FROM THAT. I THINK ONE OPPORTUNITY IS THAT SOME OF THE DEEPLY UNJUST POLICIES, ESPECIALLY IN THE UNITED STATES WHERE I AM RIGHT NOW, ARE FINALLY REMEDIED. THAT PEOPLE HAVE PROPER SICK PAY. THAT PEOPLE DON'T FEEL AN OBLIGATION TO GO TO WORK IF THEY ARE UNWELL. THAT WE IMPROVE ACCESS TO THE HEALTH SYSTEM, BECAUSE THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE UNINSURED WHO DON'T GO TO THE DOCTOR WHEN THEY MIGHT NEED MEDICAL CARE BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT SURE THAT THEY WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE RENT IF THEY DO SO. I HOPE ALL OF THOSE THINGS WILL IMPROVE AND THAT WILL MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE. I ALSO WONDER WHETHER THERE CAN BE TWO POLITICAL LESSONS FROM THIS PERIOD. THE FIRST POLITICAL LESSON IS THAT, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE LIKE ME HAVE BEEN WARNING ABOUT THE DANGERS OF POPULISM FOR A LONG TIME, AND OFTEN THOSE WARNINGS SEEM RATHER ABSTRACT. IN GOOD TIMES, IT'S HARD TO EXPLAIN TO PEOPLE WHY IT'S SO DANGEROUS, WHY IT'S SO HARMFUL WHEN EXPERTS AREN'T BEING LISTENED TO, WHEN POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS BECOME SUBJECT TO POLITICAL WILL AND POLITICAL WHIMS, WHEN PRIME MINISTERS AND PRESIDENTS LIE SO MUCH THAT PEOPLE CAN'T TRUST THE GOOD INTENTIONS. WELL, THE UNITED STATES IS PAYING A VERY HEAVY PRICE FOR ALL OF THOSE THINGS RIGHT NOW. THE SAME IS TRUE IN BRAZIL. THE SAME IS TRUE IN MEXICO. THE SAME IS TRUE WHEREVER POPULISTS WHO ARE RIGHT-WING OR FOR THAT MATTER LEFT WING. HOPEFULLY PEOPLE WILL LEARN THE LESSONS THAT THESE WARNINGS
[indiscernible] PRECISELY BECAUSE OF MOMENTS LIKE THIS. AND THE LAST THING PERHAPS...

Steve says FORGIVE ME.

Yascha says IS WHEN WE COMPARE THE CURRENT MOMENT TO WORLD WAR I, TO WORLD WAR II, THOSE OTHER MOMENTS OF MASS MOBILIZATIONS, THE WORLD HAS SOLIDARITY, THE WORLD HAS AN ABILITY TO TRANSCEND THESE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THESE CRISES...

[AUDIO DIFFICULTIES]

Yascha continues I MAY BE TOO OPTIMISTIC, BUT PERHAPS THERE WILL BE A MOMENT OF SOLIDARITY LIKE THAT AFTER THIS CRISIS WHICH MAKES OUR SOCIETY, OUR POLITICS, OUR DAILY LIFE TOGETHER A LITTLE LESS DYSFUNCTIONAL THAN IT HAS BECOME
[indiscernible].

Steve says ANN, IF I MAY, LET ME GET YOU TO PICK UP ON ONE OF THE ANGLES YASCHA JUST PURSUED THERE, AND THAT IS I SUSPECT MANY PEOPLE HAVE HEARD OF TIM NICHOLLS' VERY GOOD BOOK "THE DEATH OF EXPERTISE." AND I'M WONDERING IF THIS MOMENT IN TIME IS ONE OF THOSE MOMENTS WHERE WE'RE GOING TO REALIZE ACTUALLY A LITTLE BIT OF EXPERTISE RIGHT NOW IS ACTUALLY A REALLY GOOD THING AND MAYBE THIS REPRESENTS, IF NOT A DEATH KNELL FOR STUPID MINDLESS POPULISM, AT LEAST A BIT OF A SETBACK. I DON'T KNOW. WHAT'S YOUR THOUGHT ON THAT?

Ann says NO, I WOULD STRONGLY SUPPORT THE OPPORTUNITY THAT'S PRESENTED THAT APPRECIATES THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY MORE GOING FORWARD. BUT I WOULD GO BEYOND THAT AND ALSO SAY THAT WE SHOULD APPRECIATE SCIENCE THAT IS NOT SETTLED. SCIENCE IS NEVER SETTLED. AND SETTLED SCIENCE BECOMES POLITICAL SCIENCE. SO IT'S NOT JUST DRAWING ON SCIENTIFIC EXPERTISE, IT'S DOING THIS IN A CONTINUOUS WAY. AND WE HAVE TO HAVE THE RIGHT STRUCTURES IN ORDER TO DO THAT AND MOVE AWAY FROM KEEPING SO MUCH RESEARCH CAPACITY PERHAPS IN GOVERNMENT AND GENERATE NEW STRUCTURES THAT ARE TWO-WING IN NATURE. CIVIL SOCIETY... IDENTIFY WHAT KIND OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS THAT WE NEED AND HOW GOVERNMENT WILL WORK WITH THOSE CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS GOING FORWARD. WE NEED TO BE... THERE WILL BE ANOTHER BLACK SWAN PUNCH THAT WE WILL GET SOMETIME DOWN THE ROAD. IT MIGHT BE A CLIMATE CHANGE BLACK SWAN PUNCH. AND SO WE NEED TO BE MORE BLACK SWAN ROBUST AND INVEST IN THINGS SUCH AS OFFICES OF NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISORS, OFFICES THAT HAVE BEEN WORLD WIDE, VERY UNDERFUNDED AND VERY UNDERRESOURCED FOR YEARS. SO I WOULD SAY THAT THAT'S THE BIG OPPORTUNITY THAT PRESENTS ITSELF HERE. AND IF I CAN TAKE IT ONE STEP FURTHER, WE NEED THESE COMPLEX AND WICKED PROBLEMS REQUIRE MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACHES. YOU KNOW, AS SOCIETIES, EVEN IN HIGHER EDUCATION, WE'RE STILL NOT TOTALLY WELL-KITTED OUT TO SUPPORT MULTIDISCIPLINES. IT'S NOT IDENTIFYING THE CIVIL SOCIETIES WE NEED, THE PEOPLE WHO RAISE MONEY, THE PEOPLE WHO LOOK AFTER THE POPULATION IN TIMES OF CRISIS, THE PEOPLE WHO USEFULLY INFORM GOVERNMENT POLICY, IT'S PUTTING THE STRUCTURES IN PLACE, AND IT'S BRINGING IN LEADERSHIP AT EVERY LEVEL OF SOCIETY: GOVERNMENT, CIVIL SOCIETY, AND THE POPULATION ITSELF.

Steve says DOUG, SINCE YOU WRITE FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL, I SHOULD PUT A RECENT GLOBE AND MAIL EDITORIAL HEADLINE TO YOU AND GET YOU TO COMMENT ON THAT. THE HEADLINE WAS: "WHEN A VIRUS STRIKES, THE WORLD NEEDS AN OUTBREAK OF GOOD LEADERSHIP." AS YOU SCAN THE GLOBE FROM THERE IN BERLIN, GERMANY, ARE YOU SEEING EXAMPLES OF IT?

Doug says I'M SEEING IT HERE IN EUROPE, AND I'VE GENERALLY BEEN IMPRESSED WITH THE WAY CANADIAN GOVERNMENTS AT BOTH THE FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL LEVEL HAVE EXERCISED LEADERSHIP. EVEN THE MORE POPULIST-MINDED PREMIERS IN CANADA HAVE RALLIED TO THE CAUSE AND BEEN RESPONSIBLE AND SO ON. I THINK DURING THE LAST DECADE THERE WERE A NUMBER OF WHAT ARE OFTEN CALLED POPULIST LEADERS, ANGRY RIGHT-WING LEADERS, WHO WERE ELECTED IN COUNTRIES LIKE THE PHILIPPINES AND BRAZIL AND THE UNITED STATES, BASICALLY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FEARS, RATIONAL OR OTHERWISE, FELT BY THEIR VOTERS, AND I THINK THOSE LEADERS HAVE PROVEN TO BE THE ONES WHO ARE RESPONDING IN THE MOST HESITANT AND, FRANKLY, FRIGHTENING WAYS, THAT THREATEN TO MULTIPLY THE DEATH TOLL OF THIS. AND NOT ONLY THAT, THERE'S A SECOND SET OF PROBLEMS, WHICH IS THAT WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO MAINTAIN THE ECONOMY AND PEOPLE'S LIVELIHOODS DURING THIS CRISIS, HOWEVER LONG IT LASTS, NOT JUST FOR ITS OWN SAKE, NOT JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE NEED TO BE ABLE TO HAVE THE DIGNITY OF LIFE AND EMPLOYMENT AND KEEP PAYMENTS ON THEIR HOUSES AND SO ON, BUT BECAUSE THERE'S A REAL RISK THAT WE'LL COME OUT OF THIS WITH A PERIOD OF ECONOMIC DECLINE IF WE DON'T DO THAT. IT'S VERY HARD TO GET AN ECONOMY BACK GOING AGAIN IF YOU'VE ALLOWED PEOPLE'S EMPLOYMENT PATTERNS AND HOUSING PATTERNS TO BE DISRUPTED. AND I'M HOPING WE WILL SEE GOVERNMENTS RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS, THE IMPORTANCE OF RISKING LARGE LEVELS OF DEBT, LIKE WE SAW IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR, IN ORDER TO KEEP THE ECONOMY GOING. BECAUSE, AS DR. FITZ-GERALD SAID, THERE'S A RISK THAT WE WILL BE VULNERABLE AFTER THIS TO OTHER CRISES THAT ARE EQUALLY DEADLY. WE HAVE A LOOMING CLIMATE CRISIS THAT'S WITHIN A COUPLE OF DECADES OF COSTING LIVES AND WELL-BEING OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. WE NEED TO HAVE REALLY STRONG ECONOMIC GROWTH TO BE ABLE TO PAY FOR THE CHANGES IN HOW WE PRODUCE ENERGY AND SO ON TO BE ABLE TO MAKE OURSELVES RESILIENT AND GET TO A CARBON NEUTRAL ECONOMY. IF WE PRODUCE AN ECONOMIC DEPRESSION BECAUSE OF SHORT-SIGHTED RESPONSES TO THIS CRISIS, WE COULD BE MUCH MORE VULNERABLE AND LACKING IN INVESTMENT AND RESOURCES THAT WE NEED TO RESPOND TO THE NEXT BIG GLOBAL CRISIS.

Steve says HMM. YASCHA, LET ME ASK YOU, SINCE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT CRISES HERE, ABOUT A POTENTIAL CRISIS THAT DEMOCRACY FINDS ITSELF IN RIGHT NOW. WHEN YOU SEE THAT IN HUNGARY VICTOR ORBAN IS ABOUT TO GET A LEGAL MANDATE TO RULE ESSENTIALLY BY DECREE, NO SUNSET CLAUSE, NO PARLIAMENTARY OVERSIGHT, AND I WONDER WHETHER YOU WORRY ABOUT THE CRISIS OF LIBERAL DEMOCRACIES TURNING INTO ILLIBERAL DEMOCRACIES, WHETHER THIS PANDEMIC SETS THE STAGE FOR MORE OF THAT?

Yascha says WELL, CERTAINLY THERE ARE SOME POPULIST LEADERS WHO ARE ALREADY EXPLOITING THE CRISIS IN ORDER TO GIVE THEMSELVES POWER AND VIKTOR ORBAN WHO IS THE SHREWDEST ENEMY OF DEMOCRACY THAT WE'VE SEEN WITHIN THE WESTERN DEVELOPED DEMOCRACIES. HE WROTE THE PLAYBOOK FOR HOW TO START UNDERMINING INSTITUTIONS WHEN HE WAS ELECTED ABOUT A DECADE AGO. HE HAS SUSPENDED PARLIAMENT. HE HAS BASICALLY DECREED THE LAWS OF THE COUNTRY AND HE HAS EVEN INSTITUTED MEASURES AGAINST, QUOTE, UNQUOTE, FALSE RUMOURS ON SOCIAL MEDIA WHICH ALLOWS THE GOVERNMENT TO JAIL NOT JUST ANYBODY WHO SAYS WRONG THINGS BUT MOST LIKELY PEOPLE WHO CRITICIZE THE GOVERNMENT. THERE IS A VERY REAL DANGER THAT GOVERNMENTS AROUND THE WORLD WILL FOLLOW THAT LEAD. SO AT THE SAME TIME WE ARE OF COURSE IN A MOMENT WHERE SOME EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES REALLY ARE NECESSARY. IT REALLY MIGHT BE NECESSARY FOR GOVERNMENTS TO ENSURE THAT PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH COVID OR WHO ARE SUSPECTED TO LIKELY DEVELOP THE DISEASE BECAUSE OF CLOSE CONTACT WITH SOMEBODY WHO IS INFECTED NEED TO STAY HOME BECAUSE IT'S ONLY BY QUARANTINING THAT WE CAN GET IT UNDER CONTROL AND FOR EVERYBODY TO HAVE FUN AND EAT OUT IN RESTAURANTS AND BE PRODUCTIVE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. I THINK PEOPLE WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THE STABILITY OF OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM NEED TO BE DOING NOW IS TO AVOID THE TEMPTATION OF RESISTING ANY KIND OF GOVERNMENT MEASURE. EVEN PEOPLE WE HAVE REASON TO MISTRUST, LIKE DONALD TRUMP, JUST BECAUSE IT'S UNPRECEDENTED, BECAUSE SOME OF THOSE REALLY ARE NECESSARY. BUT WE ALSO HAVE TO INSIST THAT THOSE MEASURES BE TEMPORARY AND THEY BE STRICTLY TAILORED TO THE ACTUAL NEEDS OF THE PANDEMIC. SUSPENDING PARLIAMENT, RULING BY DECREE, LOCKING UP PEOPLE WHO SAY THINGS GOVERNMENT DOESN'T LIKE ON SOCIAL MEDIA DOES NOT FALL UNDER THAT CATEGORY.

Steve says ANN, I WONDER IF I COULD GET YOU TO FOLLOW UP ON THAT. I'M GOING TO STRESS, EVEN BEFORE I ASK THE QUESTION, I'M GOING TO THROW AN EXAMPLE OUT HERE THAT I DON'T WANT IN ANY WAY ANYONE TO INFER THAT I'M COMPARING TO WHAT VIKTOR ORBAN IS DOING WITH WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THIS COUNTRY RIGHT NOW. I MERELY MAKE THE COMPARISON THAT, DOUG FORD HAS BEEN ACTING MORE LIKE A PRAGMATIC MODERATE CONSERVATIVE RATHER THAN THE BOMBASTIC CONSERVATIVE HE GOT ELECTED TO BE AND JUSTIN TRUDEAU CAME UNDER CRITICISM BY INTRODUCING MEASURES THAT WERE MUCH MORE AS YOU LOOK AROUND THE WORLD OR AS YOU CONSIDER THIS ISSUE, HOW CAREFUL DOES THE POPULIST HAVE TO BE RIGHT NOW TO ENSURE THAT GOVERNMENTS DON'T OVERSTEP AND TAKE ADVANTAGE AND EXPLOIT THIS MOMENT?

Ann says WELL, YOU KNOW, IF YOU LOOK AT COUNTRIES THAT ARE USING SLIGHTLY MORE DICTATORIAL MEANS, I THINK THE POINT THAT YASCHA MADE ABOUT THE TEMPORARY NATURE OF OUR MEASURES IS AN IMPORTANT ONE. WE STILL HAVE SPECIAL POWERS ACTS. WE STILL HAVE MILITARY AID TO THE CIVIL AUTHORITY. BUT THESE ARE USED AS TEMPORARY MEASURES. AND ALSO I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT DIFFERENT SOCIETIES AND GOVERNMENTS HAVE DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS OF PRIVACY AND WILL EXERCISE AROUND THAT DEFINITION IN VARIOUS WAYS. NOW, WE'RE HEARING A LOT ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE EAST AND THE WEST APPROACHES, AND I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT EAST AND WEST ISN'T ALL JUST ABOUT GEOGRAPHY, RIGHT? IT'S ABOUT CULTURAL IDEOLOGY. MANY OF THESE EASTERN COUNTRIES THAT WE REFER TO ARE... OBSERVE CONFUCIAN CULTURE AND NATIONAL DISCIPLINE, A SENSE OF HIERARCHY AND HARMONY ARE DEFINING FEATURES OF NOT JUST THAT CULTURE BUT ALSO THE HOMOGENEOUS SOCIETY. AND AS A RESULT, THEY COME TOGETHER AND RALLY AROUND THE COLLECTIVE GOOD AND THEY PRIORITIZE RALLYING AROUND THAT. AND WE'VE SEEN HOW IMPORTANT NATIONAL DISCIPLINE IS DURING TIMES OF CRISIS. AND MORE INDIVIDUALISTIC SOCIETIES, I THINK IT HAS TO BE RECOGNIZED THAT INDIVIDUALISM CAN POSE A WEAKNESS IN TIMES OF CRISIS. SO NATIONAL DISCIPLINE IS IMPORTANT. WE'VE SEEN HOW THESE BENEFITS HAVE PLAYED OUT IN COUNTRIES LIKE CHINA, WHICH HAD A ROCKY START BUT HAS STEPPED UP, NOT JUST IN TERMS OF HELPING OTHERS BUT ALSO IN TERMS OF OPENING SCHOOLS AGAIN AND PUTTING THE RIGHT HEALTH CARE PROVISIONS IN PLACE. COUNTRIES LIKE SINGAPORE, TAIWAN EVEN BETTER, EVEN THE NATIONAL DISCIPLINE THAT WE SEE IN GERMANY AT THE MOMENT.

Steve says WELL, DOUG, I SHOULD ASK YOU ABOUT THAT THEN. DO YOU THINK ASIAN COUNTRIES HAVE PROVED THEMSELVES TO BE SUPERIOR TO WESTERN DEMOCRACIES AT THIS MOMENT? I MEAN, ANN IS QUITE RIGHT. CHINA, EVEN THOUGH THIS THING STARTED THERE, IF THEY ARE TO BE BELIEVED, SEEM TO HAVE A HANDLE ON THIS THING RIGHT NOW. SOUTH KOREA IS GETTING PLAUDITS ALL OVER THE WORLD FOR THE WAY THEY'VE HANDLED THIS THING AND PLANKED THEIR CURVE RIGHT AWAY.

Doug says KEEP IN MIND THIS WOULD NOT BE A GLOBAL PANDEMIC IF NOT FOR THE FACT THAT THE CHINESE REGIME HAD COVERED IT UP AND KEPT IT SECRET AND TRIED TO PREVENT IT MOVING FOR THE FIRST TWO MONTHS. WHEN WE LOOK AT VERY RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOUR FROM CHINA, WE'RE LOOKING AT WHAT THEY DID AFTER TWO MONTHS OF HIDING IT AND LETTING IT SPREAD AND SO ON.

Steve says GREAT POINT.

Doug says EVERYTHING WE'VE SEEN ABOUT HOW PANDEMICS SPREAD SUGGESTS THAT WELL-RUN DEMOCRACIES ARE BETTER AT CONTROLLING INFECTION RATES AND SO ON THAN AUTOCRATIC COUNTRIES ARE, REGARDLESS OF THEIR CULTURE OR REGION. JAPAN HAS DONE VERY WELL. SINGAPORE HAS DONE VERY WELL. I LOOK OUTSIDE MY WINDOW HERE AT THIS PARK IN WHAT IS NORMALLY A VERY CHAOTIC CITY OF BERLIN, AND I SEE PEOPLE FALLING INTO LINE AND STAYING MANY METRES AWAY FROM EACH OTHER AND SO ON. ON THE OTHER HAND, YES, THERE'S BEEN SOME IRRESPONSIBLE LEADERSHIP IN DEMOCRACIES THAT WORRIES ME A LOT. HAVING THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES ENGAGE, EVEN AT THIS LATE HOUR, IN CONSPIRACY THEORIES OR DENIALISM ABOUT THE SCOPE OF THIS PANDEMIC IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. SO I DON'T THINK WE CAN DRAW ANY CONCLUSIONS YET ABOUT WHETHER CERTAIN CULTURES OR CERTAIN FORMS OF GOVERNMENT ARE SUPERIOR FOR FIGHTING THESE THINGS, BUT IT HAS BEEN REFRESHING TO SEE THAT IN PLURALIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIETIES, HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, AS I SAID EARLIER, HAVE COME IN LINE BEHIND GOVERNMENT INSTRUCTIONS THAT ARE AGAINST THEIR OWN INTERESTS. SO FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE WORRIED ABOUT TRUST IN DEMOCRACIES AND SOCIAL CAPITAL AND SOCIAL COHESION, WE'VE BEEN SEEING A LOT MORE OF THAT THAN ITS OPPOSITE.

Steve says WE'RE DOWN TO OUR LAST FEW MINUTES HERE AND I WANT TO READ ONE MORE THING. THIS IS THE ECONOMIC HISTORIAN ADAM TOOZE WHO HAD THIS TO SAY AND IF I COULD GET YOU TO GIVE VERY BRIEF RESPONSES COMING OUT, WE'LL GET EVERYBODY IN FOR ONE MORE ROUND. ADAM TOOZE WROTE IN THE WASHINGTON POST...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "It doesn't look good." The quote reads "We are where we are because we were too slow, because we allowed the virus to overwhelm us, because the resources of our government have been gutted and because our politics are dysfunctional. In our circumstances, historical analogies can easily become a form of dangerous nostalgia.
This isn't 1914. It isn't 1941. It isn't even 2008. It is 2020. So expect all hell to break loose."
Quoted from Adam Tooze, Washington Post. March 25, 2020.

Steve says YASCHA, BRIEFLY, WHEN YOU IMAGINE ALL HELL BREAKING LOOSE, WHAT ARE YOU SEEING?

Yascha says WELL, I MEAN, CERTAINLY THE WORST CASE SCENARIO, FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE UNITED STATES, IS THAT DONALD TRUMP IN A WEEK OR SO FROM NOW DECLARES THE CORONAVIRUS FREE
[indiscernible] AND WOULD START SPIRALLING IN EXPONENTIAL FASHION AGAIN. HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS WHICH ARE ALREADY AT BREAKING POINT IN CITIES LIKE NEW YORK RIGHT NOW WOULD BECOME COMPLETELY OVERWHELM. YOU WOULD SEE DEATHS ON A CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE OF MORE THAN A MILLION PEOPLE WHICH IS MORE THAN THE UNITED STATES LOST IN THE CIVIL WAR AND WORLD WAR I AND WORLD WAR II COMBINED. ON TOP OF THAT IT WOULD BE AN INCREDIBLE LOSS OF PUBLIC TRUST AS PEOPLE ARE UNABLE TO ACCESS DOCTORS FOR WHAT NORMALLY WOULD BE QUITE ROUTINE EMERGENCIES AS PEOPLE ARE CLAMOURING TO GET TREATMENT AND, YOU KNOW, ENGAGING IN CONSPIRACY TREATMENTS AS TO WHO GETS TREATMENT, WHY. THIS COULD INDEED END VERY, VERY BADLY. I'M SO HOPEFUL THAT THAT'S NOT GOING TO BE THE CASE. THAT WE CAN AVOID ALL HELL BREAKING LOOSE. BUT THE DANGER IS CERTAINLY THERE.

Steve says ANN, WHAT DO YOU SEE?

Ann says RIGHT. I'LL GO FURTHER AFIELD AND PERHAPS DRAW ON THE START OF CASES APPEARING IN COUNTRIES LIKE SYRIA. THE FEAR OF OTHER COUNTRIES HOSTING HUGE REFUGEE POPULATIONS, SUCH AS BANGLADESH, ETHIOPIA, SOUTH SUDAN, OTHERS. ETHNIC VIOLENCE IS AT RISK HERE, PARTICULARLY IN DIVERSE SOCIETIES WHERE THE POTENTIAL SPREAD OF THE VIRUS MAY AFFECT SOME GROUPS MORE THAN OTHERS. AND WE MAY EVEN SEE, BASED ON THE WAY THAT SOME OF THESE INSURGENT GROUPS LIKE AL-SHABAAB, THE TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN, THE ISLAMIC STATE WILL HAVE THEIR POWER REASSERTED IN SOME CASES AND POSSIBLY UNDERMINED IN OTHERS. AND WHILE I WON'T ADD ANY MORE ON THE UNITED STATES, WHICH IS SUFFERING FROM A MORAL LEADERSHIP DEFICIENCY FOR SURE AT THE MOMENT, RUSSIA WILL BE THE INTERESTING CASE TO WATCH HERE BECAUSE OF THE SAUDI PRICE WAR ON OIL THAT THEY'VE BEEN HAVING, THEY WILL BE TREMENDOUSLY ECONOMICALLY STRAINED, AND THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE TO THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS WILL DICTATE THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE UPRISING MAY BE EQUAL TO EVEN MORE OF THE CURRENT UNREST THAT WE'RE SEEING NOW...

Steve says LET ME JUMP IN. I'M DOWN TO MY LAST 30 SECONDS. I WANT TO GIVE DOUG SAUNDERS A CHANCE TO GET IN. DOUG, WRAP IT UP FOR US, IF YOU WOULD?

Doug says WE'RE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION AT A MOMENT BEFORE THE REAL TRAGEDY HAS OCCURRED. THE MAJORITY OF DEATHS, HOWEVER MANY THEY TURN OUT TO BE FROM THIS CRISIS, ARE GOING TO OCCUR IN THE FUTURE AND STARTING IN THE NEAR FUTURE. SO I THINK ANY CONCLUSIONS, OPTIMISTIC OR PESSIMISTIC, THAT WE DRAW ABOUT HOW THE FUTURE WILL BE SHAPED, HAVE TO BE PAINTED AGAINST A BACKDROP OF THE FACT THAT WE WILL BE IN DEEP MOURNING OF A GREAT MANY LIVES LOST. WE DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHERE OR EXACTLY HOW MANY. BUT THAT IS GOING TO PUT THIS IN A VERY DIFFERENT CONTEXT STARTING IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

Steve says YASCHA MOUNK FROM THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, DOUG SAUNDERS FROM THE ROBERT BOSCH ACADEMY, ANN FITZ-GERALD FROM THE BALSILLIE SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS. REALLY GOOD OF ALL YOU TO JOIN US ON TVO TONIGHT FOR A VERY IMPORTANT AND TIMELY CONVERSATION. BE SAFE YOU THREE AND THANKS FOR JOINING US.

Ann says THANK YOU.

Yascha says THANK YOU.

Doug says THANK YOU, STEVE.

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