The Covid Consensus
The Global Assault on Democracy and the Poor—A Critique from the Left
Why does Western pandemic policy have support across the political spectrum, when its social impacts conflict with ideology on both Right and Left?
During the first years of the pandemic, the Left agreed that ‘following the science’ with hard lockdowns 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 both for the Global South and for the poor and disadvantaged in Western societies. As the fortunes of the very richest soared, nationwide shutdowns caused small and medium enterprises to disappear off the map; violence against women to spike; and tens of millions of children to have their education disrupted.
Toby Green and Thomas Fazi argue that lockdown policies have continued and exacerbated existing trends of inequality, mediatisation and surveillance, with grave implications for the democratic future. Rich in human detail and evidence, The Covid Consensus tackles head-on the refusal of the global political class and mainstream media to report the true extent of the socioeconomic assault against the poor and of the erosion of democratic processes. 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 global crisis since the Second World War.
‘Whether or not the reader is persuaded by [Toby Green’s] arguments against lockdown, it is undeniable that such restrictions have disproportionately affected the young and poor. Green’s 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…Green’s book is 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 Toby Green shows in this book, 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? Toby Green’s 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
‘Toby Green 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.