Fear is on the march. All over the world citizens have surrendered basic freedoms to the state in order to be protected from Covid-19. Good government has become not just important but a matter of life and death. But the assumption that Western governments have any advantage over the rest of the world is questionable: ask yourself, where would you feel safer today – in Los Angeles and Barcelona or in Singapore and Seoul?
The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the West, argue bestselling authors John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, and it is accelerating a shift in the balance of power to the East. While Western democracies have been consumed by in-fights such as the battle over Brexit or partisan showdowns in Congress, countries such as South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, as well as China, have been stealing a march economically, technologically and, arguably, politically in recent years.
In October 2020 Micklethwait and Wooldridge came to Intelligence Squared to talk about the themes of their new book, The Wake Up Call. What are the lessons to be learned from the pandemic? Should we recognise, as many on the Left maintain, that big government is back for good and should be expanded permanently to deal with other global crises? Or should a balance be struck between collectivism on the one hand, and freedom and entrepreneurialism on the other? And how can the West respond creatively to the pandemic, reverse decades of decline, and ensure that China does not overtake the US in the struggle for global leadership?
Can the West rise to the challenge posed by the greatest crisis since the Second World War?
‘You will read no more interesting book on the political consequences of the pandemic than this.’ – Professor Niall Ferguson
‘A masterful analysis of Western failure, and a clear program for the future.’ – Anne Applebaum
The Wake Up Call: Why the Pandemic Has Exposed the Weakness of the West – and How to Fix it by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge is available to buy from Primrose Hill Books (with free UK P&P).
Speakers are subject to change.