The Covid-19 pandemic has unlocked new chapters of a philosophical debate in the West about the value of liberalism, democracy, and science as well as their mutual relationships. Are civil liberties and personal freedoms absolute? If not, who decides when and how to abridge them? What constitutes a state of emergency? What degree of legitimacy can science provide to political decisions, when scientific knowledge is circumscribed by time-limits and mere circumstances? These are all valid discussion points that require rational and meticulous examination.

Nevertheless, the discussion about state responses to the pandemic was shrouded by a moralistic dilemma with ideological overtones. Lockdowns and other restrictions on individual freedoms became idealised as the ‘right thing to do’, a matter of belief in social ideals and the ‘higher good’. After that point, scrutinising scientific data or political decisions, or both, was the shortest way to being branded as irresponsible, insensitive, and even ‘fascist’.

In this sense, the pandemic put pressure on the decision-making process and the very fundamental values that underlie liberal democracy in the West. In addition, the Chinese response to the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan influenced public policies in Europe. Here, the uncomfortable truth is that European liberal democracies copied from the playbook of a totalitarian, dictatorial government that required complete subservience to the state. Are these policies here to stay? Will the pandemic have long-term consequences on the fundamental idea of liberty in the West?

Moderator: Dr Antonios Nestoras, Head of Policy and Research, European Liberal Forum

Speakers include:

The panel is based on ELF publication ‘Corona Economics: The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse’.

Corona Economics The Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse

ELF will organise two panels at LibertyCon Europe 2022. Learn more about the ‘Cannabis liberalisation in Europe: towards a legal, but also a free-market solution’ panel.

Check out photos from the event on Flickr.

An event organised by the European Liberal Forum (ELF). Co-funded by the European Parliament. The views expressed herein are those of the speaker(s) alone. These views do not necessarily reflect those of the European Parliament and/or the European Liberal Forum. 

whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London