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Why does Western pandemic policy have support across the political spectrum, when its social impacts conflict with ideology on both right and left? During the pandemic, the Left has agreed that 'following the science' with hard lockdowns is the best way to preserve life; only irresponsible right-wing populists oppose them. But social science shows that while the rich have got richer, those suffering most under lockdown are the already disadvantaged: the poor, the young, and--most overlooked of all--the Global South. The UN is predicting tens of millions of deaths from hunger and warning that decades of development are being reversed. Equally, why have conservatives backed lockdowns and other major interventions, creating the big state that they usually abhor? These contradictions within the great consensus of Western pandemic response are part of a broader crisis in Western thought. Toby Green peels back the policy paradoxes to reveal irreconcilable beliefs in our societies. These deep divisions are now bursting into the open, with devastating consequences for the global poor.
Toby Green, formerly a journalist and travel writer, is Professor of Precolonial and Lusophone African History and Culture at King's College London. His 2019 book 'A Fistful of Shells' won the British Academy's Nayef Al-Rohdan Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, the American Historical Association's Jerry Bentley Prize in World History and the Historical Writers' Association Non-Fiction Crown.More About Toby Green