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Special Series

The Oxford University Politics Blog hosts special series on topics ranging from Scottish independence to violence and the state in central Africa, from constitutional issues to sociology.

We are facing, not a simple trade-off between liberty and public health, but a more complex challenge to maintain liberty as non-domination, despite the erosion of liberty as non-interference.   The coronavirus pandemic has led to the severe curtailment of civil liberties and the lockdown of billions of people worldwide. Some states’ reaction to the pandemic has been seen as more effective than others. In particular, authoritarian governments, such as China, boast about their efficient management of the crisis and are now providing support and advice to European and other nations. Consequently, many citizens are questioning the purported advantages of democratic governance. As both democratic and authoritarian states have imposed exceptional measures restricting political and civil liberties, there is a nagging …

The past five years have been deemed a “Golden Era” in Britain-China relations, with the two countries promoting bilateral trade and investments. However, as the Coronavirus pandemic marches on, this relationship seems to be souring. Voices in Britain, especially in Conservative environments, have raised need to rethink or reset the nation’s relationship with China, who is accused of misinforming and mismanaging the pandemic. While Coronavirus is exacerbating tensions, it would though be incorrect to blame it fully for the chill in relations. A distancing from China was already occurring prior to the pandemic.  The foundations of the “Golden Era” were established during the Conservatives’ return to government in 2010. Chinese investments in the United Kingdom were seen as a key source …
Man walking along in fog against backdrop of a cityscape.

In 2013, as two Fellows at New York University, we embarked on an “eruv tour” of Manhattan. Created through almost invisible strings attached to poles that envelope part of the city, this imaginary enclosure serves to delineate a religious space in which it is permissible to carry out the Jewish Sabbath. Today, we contemplate this almost invisible boundary running down Sixth Avenue with new appreciation of the insights it may yet bring to our current predicament as a pandemic of unprecedented proportions forces us to reinvent our common space, the boundaries which define it and the ways we can and should interact within it. The eruv was introduced in Roman Palestine around 50AD for a Jewish community where many of …
Image of stethoscope tugged in one direction by red strings and in other by blue strings.

Since the 2018 midterm election, Democratic socialists have been leading voices in the Democratic Party, a trend that was all the more evidenced by Bernie Sanders’ resounding primary victories in states like Nevada, Colorado, and among others California. If anything, these voices have successfully brought poverty and social justice to the forefront of the Party’s politics as issues like child poverty, wages, housing and education dominated the primary debates. This was especially the case in Iowa on 14 January as protests by the Poor People’s Campaign took place outside the debate venue. The organisation represents the interests of the poor with a name referencing a series of demonstrations for economic justice organized in 1968 under the leadership of Martin Luther …

It has become a recurrent point for commentators to propose that we are living in the remnants of an old and dying world order with a new one waiting to take over. Namely, they predict that the US and the West is on the verge of losing its global hegemony to Asia. Even before Covid-19, many predicted that a Chinese-led world order was imminent, as evidenced by a photo in 2018 of US-China trade discussions. Philosopher Antonio Gramsci described such a period as an interregnum where “a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” The divergent world responses to Covid-19 have been viewed as evidence of these symptoms. Commentators have continuously compared the inertness of Western governments with the efficiency of China, South …

COVID-19 is expected to have far-reaching social effects on globalisation. Many have argued that the pandemic will lead to intensified nationalism, causing countries to turn from the global community. However, we argue that the pandemic will set the stage for a potentially unprecedented era of global cooperation.   Short-Term Social Impact of COVID-19  Crises in general tend to strengthen national sentiments. Citizens put their trust in their nation-state, which has the “financial, organisational and emotional strengths that global institutions lack.” This is reinforced by the absence of the notion of community and belonging at the global level. Patriotic symbols and a sense of immediate kinship do not exist in international institutions.  This has become particularly clear within in the European Union, one of the most integrated …

The global Covid-19 pandemic has led an alarming transformation of the world’s social, economic, and political life. In that context, it is important to understand how the pandemic has added momentum to India’s inertial slide into a full-fledged Hindu majoritarian state. In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government has seized upon this public health emergency as an opportunity to strengthen its hold on Indian society. In this article, we examine how the Covid-19 pandemic has provided Modi’s single-party national government with fertile ground for advancing its Hindu nationalist project.  Vigilante Blame Culture  The global spread of Covid-19 has provided Hindutva organisations, which seek to merge Hindu and Indian identities, with a fresh target for their nationalist propaganda. In line with …
Supporters holding signs that read "Bernie or BUST".

The #BernieOrBust slogan was widely adopted in the 2016 Presidential Elections by ardent supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders. These devotees insisted that they would not vote for any candidate (namely Hillary Clinton, the eventual Democratic Party nominee) in the eventual general election showdown with Trump. Four years later, the slogan has resurfaced as a credible threat directed toward what many perceive to be a recalcitrant Democratic Party establishment. In what follows, I do not claim that “#BernieOrBusters” are morally justified (all things considered), but merely offer a possible defence for why some #BernieOrBust advocates are behaving in a rationally justified manner.  I grant two premises amenable to most critics of #BernieOrBusters: first, Trump is a highly problematic candidate in his actions and dispositions; second, whilst not …