Competition, Open Social Democracy, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

In the March 21st edition of the magazine The Spectator, the British journalist Matt Ridley, who blogs on science, the environment, and the economy, wrote “Never once in my six decades did I expect to be back in a 17th-century world of social and physical distancing as a matter of life and death … Many people will die prematurely. Many will lose their jobs. Many businesses will go under … The only question is how many in each case. We are about to find out how robust civilization is. The hardships ahead are like nothing we’ve known.”

The on-going medical crisis is particularly challenging for two reasons: first, it develops while we do not know the rules of the game to organise neither a proper defense (vaccine) against it nor a proper social protection through an impossible general distancing, and second it shakes the very foundational factors of our strong long term socio-economic growth, indeed of our civilisation. As for the developing economic crisis, which the medical crisis and our best response to it are generating, it has two prongs: first, the lost jobs and failing firms and suppliers-businesses-customers networks, and second the attacks against our economic institutions and organisations by sorcerers’ apprentices and fake intellectuals. The latent discourse against markets, competition, economic freedom, and globalisation, will likely amplify in the coming months. 

The ability to trade, especially with strangers, is a distinguishing characteristic of humans. This ability is unique to us and far exceeds the simple reciprocity observed in other animals, where it is typically limited to individuals of the same clan or family—frequently involving goods of the same undiversified kind received or consumed within a relatively short period of time.


This article is part of a Special Concurrences On-Topic dedicated to "Competition law and health crisis".

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