The development of the epidemic in the above-mentioned countries has once again highlighted a problem. For a serious public health event such as the new crown pneumonia epidemic, what kind of social management capabilities can play an effective role?
By comparing the epidemic prevention and control experience of developing countries such as India and Brazil and developed countries such as the United States and Europe, the author believes that the following factors are crucial:
First, the willingness for crisis prevention and control. Looking back on the situation since the outbreak of the epidemic, it is not difficult to find that not all countries and societies can form a unified and strong will to fight the epidemic. For example, in the United States, epidemic prevention and control is affected by electoral politics, factional politics, religosity, and different ideologies. In fact, different politicians and political factions are torn apart on the issue of whether the country has to do its best to fight the epidemic. In certain areas of India, due to political considerations and disregard of facts, lawmakers announced in advance that they had overcome the epidemic. This behavior actually weakened the premise of political unity. If a unified will cannot be formed, the effectiveness of the fight against the epidemic will be greatly affected.
Second, the basic institutional capabilities. Fighting a large-scale epidemic is not only a public health issue, but also involves economic production, social security, public safety, material supply, and even education, people’s livelihood, mental health, etc., which requires the state to allocate resources, maintain social stability, and coordinate the economy. Powerful institutional capabilities such as production require the state’s basic power to effectively organize and intervene in primary space organizations, and such capabilities are not “a day’s work.” The epidemics in India and Brazil, in addition to their willingness to fight the epidemic, have a lot to do with their lack of these basic capabilities.
Third, the social conditions and atmosphere in crisis prevention and control. Comparing countries with the same basic capabilities, you will find that different countries also have great differences in the anti-epidemic strength, which is mainly affected by the form of social organizations and popular beliefs. For example, in Germany, no matter the basic medical supplies needed to fight the epidemic, the legal resources for social control, and the policy resources for economic adjustment are relatively sufficient, some anti-epidemic measures lack the social conditions and atmosphere for implementation. On issues such as whether the government should take strong measures to control the epidemic, some people are affected by historical baggage and memory, and worry that strict control measures will increase the degree of centralization of the government. These political and social concepts have weakened the government to a certain extent. Motivation to take necessary measures. In some highly industrialized and modernized countries, concepts such as the supremacy of personal freedom and religious extremism are also relatively influential. Life style choices are infinitely wide while people’s basic right to survival is ignored. The epidemic prevention and control process is even subject to the unending influence of and hijacking by special interest groups.
Finally, the central government and its special role play. How to integrate the willingness, ability, and social concepts of fighting the epidemic under specific time and space conditions to achieve the best overall effectiveness depends on a strong and prestigious central government. Whether it is in forming a unified national will, formulating a national rescue plan, effectively deploying medical resources, carrying out the most extensive social mobilization, or even avoiding regionalism and preventing social disorder, the role of the central government is very critical. For a special crisis such as the epidemic, the central government’s unified coordination role is also to prevent short-term effects, avoid major loopholes in epidemic prevention and control, and prevent the occurrence of some secondary disasters.
Now that the total number of infections of the new corona epidemic in the world has exceeded 28 million, how to better utilize the comprehensive effects of social governance capabilities to meet the challenges of the epidemic is a question worthy of further in-depth research and discussion.
(The author is a researcher at the Institute of Political Science, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)