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8 - Emergency, Democracy, and Public Discourse

from Part II - Knowledge

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 November 2020

Miguel Poiares Maduro
Affiliation:
European University Institute, Florence
Paul W. Kahn
Affiliation:
Yale University, Connecticut
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Summary

Not all emergencies pose a surprise. Hurricanes, though devastating, are common and predictable. The bombing of Aleppo by Russian and President Assad’s forces caused a grave emergency to its inhabitants, but given the past brutal conduct of the Syrian Civil War, it came as no surprise. Not all emergencies evoke menacing uncertainty; in many of them, we have a clear sense of what they entail. The nature of the threat, its duration, and its impact are more or less predictable. The COVID-19 pandemic caught us unprepared; it appeared as a surprise (though we should have known better), and its future ruinous path is unknown to us. The conjunction of emergency, surprise, and uncertainty formed a perfect, unsettling, ominous storm. Unprepared and uncertain, we seek ways of responding to the pandemic. The effectiveness of our response to the threat and our capacity to weather its devastating impact rest on the strength of our public institutions and the quality of our political discourse.

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Chapter
Information
Democracy in Times of Pandemic
Different Futures Imagined
, pp. 115 - 121
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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