Quinn Slobodian in The Guardian:
When coronavirus crept across the world in early February, talk of how different nations were dealing with the virus came to resemble the Olympics for state capacity. Which country had the authority, the supplies and the expertise to “crush the curve”? A balance sheet of national progress marked out a bleak race to the horizon, enumerated in case numbers and death figures.
Although the focus over recent months has remained on leaders in crisis mode and the central agencies delivering forecasts and quarantine measures, local authorities have also played a prominent role during the pandemic. Chinese mayors, US governors and Indian chief ministers have coordinated local responses, taking responsibility for populations and even locking horns with national politicians.
Most people would read the pandemic as a sign that populations and nation states should band together, and for the people “at the head of the rope” to pull even harder, to use the metaphor favoured by the French president, Emmanuel Macron. But there are others who see matters quite differently. They spy opportunity in the crisis, and wager that we might be able to ride the wave of the pandemic into a new tomorrow, where the virus shatters the global map – and undermines the power of democratic nation states.