The Covid Consensus
The Global Assault on Democracy and the Poor—A Critique from the Left
Now available in a new & updated paperback edition.
The most comprehensive critique yet of the devastating ‘War on Covid’, showing how to ensure it never happens again.
During the first years of the pandemic, the political mainstream agreed that ‘following the science’ with hard lockdowns and vaccine mandates was the best way to preserve life. But social science reveals the true human cost of this policy.
The Covid Consensus provides an internationalist-left perspective on the world’s Covid-19 response, which has had devastating consequences for democratic rights and the poor worldwide. As the fortunes of the richest soared, nationwide shutdowns devastated small businesses, the working classes and the Global South’s informal economies. Gender-based violence surged, and the mental health of young people was severely compromised. Meanwhile, unprecedented health restrictions prevented participation in daily life without proof of vaccination.
Toby Green and Thomas Fazi argue that these policies grossly exacerbated existing trends of inequality, mediatisation and surveillance, with grave implications for the future. Rich in human detail, The Covid Consensus tackles head-on the refusal of the global political class and mainstream media to report the true extent of the erosion of democratic processes and the socioeconomic assault on the poor. As the world emerges from the pandemic to confront new modes of monitoring and control, this left-wing reappraisal of global Covid policies exposes the injustices and political failings that have produced the biggest crisis since the Second World War.
Table of contents
A CHRONICLE OF THE POLITICAL MANAGEMENT OF THE PANDEMIC
1. The Origin-of-the-Virus Debate
2. The Lockdown Nightmare Begins
3. The Rise of a Single Narrative of ‘The Science’
4. The Development of the Covid-19 Vaccines
5. Vaccinating the World Against Covid–By Any Means Necessary
Conclusion: Omicron–The End of the Story?
THE SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, AND POLITICAL EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC MANAGEMENT
6. Did Lockdowns Save Lives?
7. The Social and Economic Effects of the Pandemic Management
8. And the Weak Suffer What They Must: The Old and the Young
9. The Ethics and Practice of Authoritarian Capitalism
‘As Toby Green and Thomas Fazi note in their book, The Covid Consensus, the idea of entire countries being placed in lockdown was something entirely new… As they note, an aggressive form of authoritarian capitalism resulted in poor people everywhere suffering enormous losses while rich people everywhere became immeasurably richer.’ — Larry Elliott, The Guardian
‘Desperately needed.’ — Front Porch Republic
‘[A]n outstanding history of the present, one that no other historian or journalist has written up to this day.’ — African Arguments
‘An important book.’ — The Critic
‘Green and Fazi challenge the consciences of the progressive laptop classes… The Covid Consensus is not a dry analysis of the data, it’s also a critique of our collective societal response to dangers.’ — Perspective
‘[A] meticulously supported and cogently argued pandemic must-read… by far the most coherent and thoroughly supported account of what the global pandemic response was, in addition to an incisive analysis of its impacts on various populations.’ — Brownstone Institute
‘[Navigates] a path through the scientific thickets, to reveal the socio-economic and cultural factors that shaped the pandemic response.’ — Cassandra Voices
PRAISE FOR THE FIRST EDITION
‘Whether or not the reader is persuaded by [this book’s] arguments against lockdown, it is undeniable that such restrictions have disproportionately affected the young and poor. [This] unique take explores how these groups, often lacking the facility for remote work and with their education severely limited, are likely to experience staggering inequalities for years to come.’ — New Statesman, ‘The Best Books About the Covid-19 Pandemic’
‘Brave, measured, essential.’ — El País
‘A bracing anti-lockdown polemic.’ — London Review of Books
‘A meticulously referenced, shocking catalogue of Western hypocrisy and the destruction wrought by global lockdowns on the poorest nations … [A] depressing tale of hubris, mindless groupthink and cynical power grabs by bureaucrats and governments, taking advantage of a “health crisis”’ — The Australian
‘A refreshing and eye-opening read to the impacts of the response to the virus that have been carefully omitted from daily media coverage.’ — Keele Law Review
‘A thoughtful analysis of the forces and attitudes that unleashed lockdowns upon the global poor, with harrowing descriptions of the consequences.’ — Sunetra Gupta, Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology, University of Oxford, and co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration
‘An excellent book at a critical time. Pandemics breed hysteria, to which the only cure is reason. This book is a masterly dose of reason, challenging, questioning and sceptical in the best sense of the word.’ — Simon Jenkins, author and columnist
‘Nuanced and rigorous. This is not a thoughtless polemic, but a reasoned plea for progressives to put social inequality at the centre of pandemic responses.’ — Labour Hub
‘This rigorously researched book lifts the veil on the disastrous effects of lockdowns worldwide and raises more questions than it can answer given the continuing global crisis. It is a much-needed left-leaning critical intervention in the prevailing political consensus characterised by a totalitarian merging of Big Tech, Big Pharma, media corporations and government. Read it, weep (it is harrowing in parts), then read it again.’ — Left Lockdown Sceptics
‘[The Covid Consensus] is the best hope yet of an antidote to the Covid lobotomy, performing the near impossible task of detailing … the great horrors that government lockdowns have brought to bear on populations in the Global North and South, without once betraying the kind of outrage that causes those who believe in the Covid narrative to close their ears and shut their eyes, both to fact and to feeling.’ — Lockdown Sceptics
‘As [this book shows], the strategy judged to be the best for dealing with Covid-19 in the rest of the world is badly adapted and in fact counter-productive on the African continent.’ — Le Monde
‘Even in the face of viruses and death, some humans are still “more equal” than others. This book demonstrates it abundantly while challenging conventional wisdom on the pandemic and how to confront it.’ — Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations, SOAS University of London
‘In a grave pandemic, what is the acceptable level of mortality risk relative to the damage to society, economy and poor countries from lockdowns? [This] searching scrutiny and anguished analysis of this dilemma is a much-needed corrective to simplistic slogans.’ — Ramesh Thakur, former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations
‘An intellectual treat for critical thinkers who are watching the sunset of reason and feel that all that is essential is invisible to the eyes of many. This book sheds light on reason and makes the invisible visible.’ — Yossi Nehushtan, Professor of Law and Philosophy, Keele University
‘[The Covid Consensus] brilliantly picks apart the underlying incongruities which allowed Covid-19 to upend democratic, scientific and international norms. From the loss of thousand-year-old traditions to the effective re-colonisation of sub-Saharan Africa, these changes should concern us all.’ — David Bell, independent consultant, and former medical officer, World Health Organization
‘An admirably measured description of 2020’s immeasurable destruction, charting the shocking fallout from governments’ virus-suppression policies in the Global North and South. The Covid Consensus should be read by everyone who still believes that lockdowns save lives.’ — Sinead Murphy, Lecturer in Philosophy, Newcastle University
Toby Green is Professor of African History at King’s College London, and author of A Fistful of Shells.
Thomas Fazi is the author and co-author of several books on economic and political issues, including Reclaiming the State. His article with Toby Green for UnHerd, ‘The Left’s Covid Failure’, was translated into ten languages.