Constricting Social Cooperation

The COVID-19 pandemic and, especially, the actions governments have taken in response to it have been, both directly and indirectly, enormously destructive of life, liberty, and wealth. But another tremendously significant aspect of these terrible events has been the lapse into what we might call ideological insanity on both sides of the lock-down divide.

The two camps, with some exceptions on both sides, of course, have largely taken leave of their good sense and well-balanced judgment and allowed themselves to speak and act almost entirely as their ideological appraisals have dictated. In short, the pandemic and the governments’ policies in response have both reflected and magnified ideological fanaticism.

Because such an ideological change is unlikely to simply appear and then soon disappear, its long-term consequences may remain in place, constricting social cooperation and slowing economic development for years to come.

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Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute and Editor at Large of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, the University of Economics, Prague, and George Mason University. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation.

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