The COVID-19 pandemic is widely seen as a potential turning point after which almost everything could be different. Margaret MacMillan, the eminent historian, has compared this crisis to the French and Russian revolutions – points at which the river of history changed course. And it’s almost certain that as a result of this crisis there will be big changes: expectations of the state’s ability to look after its citizens will be higher; the public and financial markets may be more accepting of government borrowing; government will be expected to manage the labour market to provide a minimum level of security for vulnerable workers. It will be a far cry from the free-market, small state policies of the 1980s and 1990s. Yet it is far from obvious that this crisis, even one that is deep and severe, will lead to a turning point of the kind that MacMillan suggests.Charles Leadbeater
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A pelican suspected to have died from H5N1 avian influenza on a beach in Peru in December.Credit…Ernesto Benavides/Agence France-Presse, via Getty Images
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The first thing to overcome with the coronavirus is fear.
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