The pandemic as an antidote to populism: Punishment, immobilisation, and COVID-19

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Słowa kluczowe

populism
Covid-19
immobilization
punishment
security
populizm
ograniczenie mobilności
karanie
bezpieczeństwo

Jak cytować

Pratt, J., & Lutyens, D. (2022). The pandemic as an antidote to populism: Punishment, immobilisation, and COVID-19: Pandemia jako antidotum na populizm: karanie, unieruchomienie i COVID-19. Archiwum Kryminologii, (XLIV/1), 283–311. https://doi.org/10.7420/AK2021.15

Abstrakt

The contemporary rise of populism across much of Western society – especially the Anglosphere countries that are the main focus of this article – has threatened many of the protections and freedoms provided by the post-1945 commitment to a democratic political order: guarantees of human rights, adherence to the rule of law, and a media that is free to criticise governments and hold them to account. Populism has also come to be associated with a very different penal programme from that which, for several decades after 1945, characterised a given society’s commitment to democracy. That pattern of justice – largely based on reason, liberalism, and expert knowledge – was significant beyond its operational boundaries. It symbolised the Western democratic order, standing out as a beacon of humanity against totalitarianism. The rise of populism, however, has helped to fashion a very different penal programme, associated with historic rises in imprisonment levels and the immobilisation of those who pose risks to public well-being – even if, in so doing, the foundations of criminal justice in the democratic world are undermined by the strategies employed. It might thus be supposed that governmental reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic pose a further threat to democracy and its criminal justice processes. Additional forms of immobilisation have been introduced to combat the spread of the virus: restrictions on freedom of movement in public spaces or stay-at-home orders equivalent to house arrest – controls which now cover entire nations rather than just individuals at risk of committing particular crimes. As such, this kind of ‘rule by decree’ might seem to be a blueprint for would-be autocrats wishing to subvert democratic processes and forms of accountability altogether. However, the article also argues that the pandemic provides very different possibilities of governance to populist authoritarianism. Indeed, the virus acts as an antidote to populism. COVID-19 has laughed in the face of populist demagogues. It shows them to be nothing more than incompetent, though usually malevolent, charlatans with some of the world’s highest infection and fatality rates in their societies. Instead of their empty populist blustering, the pandemic can only be eliminated by science and expert knowledge, acting in conjunction with a strong but accountable central government amidst forms of immobilisation to which the general public have largely acquiesced – strengthening rather than weakening social cohesion in the process in many instances. As the virus has eaten into the support for populism, the dangers which the latter posed to democratic order have also been pushed back. Previous pandemics have been followed by dramatic social and economic changes. Such changes post-COVID-19 may now sever the links between populism and penal development, allowing for a different and more restricted penal framework.

 

Współczesny wzrost populizmu w znacznej części społeczeństw zachodnich – zwłaszcza w krajach anglosaskich, na których koncentruje się niniejszy artykuł – zagraża wielu prawom i wolnościom wprowadzonym po 1945 roku do demokratycznego ustroju politycznego, w tym: gwarancjom praw człowieka, przestrzeganiu praworządności oraz swobodzie krytykowania rządu przez media i pociągania go do odpowiedzialności. Obecnie populizm zaczął być kojarzony z zupełnie inną polityką kryminalną, niż ta, która przez kilkadziesiąt lat przed 1945 rokiem charakteryzowała się zaangażowaniem społeczeństwa w demokrację. Ten wzorzec sprawiedliwości – w dużej mierze oparty na racjonalizmie, liberalizmie i wiedzy eksperckiej – miał znaczenie także poza granicami jego obowiązywania. Symbolizował zachodni porządek demokratyczny, wyróżniający się jako wzorzec przeciwko totalitaryzmowi. Jednak wzrost populizmu pomógł ukształtować zupełnie inną politykę kryminalną, związaną z historycznym wzrostem orzekanych kar pozbawienia wolności i izolacją tych, którzy stanowią zagrożenie dla dobrobytu publicznego – nawet jeśli obowiązujące strategie podważają taki sposób postepowania w sprawach karnych w demokratycznym świecie. Można zatem przypuszczać, że reakcje rządów na pandemię COVID-19 stanowią kolejne zagrożenie dla demokracji i procesów karnych. W celu przeciwdziałania rozprzestrzenianiu się wirusa wprowadzono dodatkowe ograniczenia mobilności: ograniczenie swobody poruszania się w przestrzeni publicznej lub nakaz pozostania w domu równoznaczny z aresztem domowym – a zatem kontrole, które obecnie obejmują całe społeczności, a nie tylko osoby mogące popełnić przestępstwo. Tego rodzaju rządzenie dekretami, pomijające parlamenty i oddające w ręce rządu władzę do przedłużania sytuacji wyjątkowych, mogą stanowić wzorzec dla niedoszłych autokratów, chcących całkowicie obalić demokratyczne procesy i formy odpowiedzialności. Jednak, jak wynika z niniejszego artykułu, pandemia daje również zupełnie inne możliwości rządzenia niż autorytarny populizm. Wirus działa jak antidotum na populizm. COVID-19 wyśmiał populistycznych demagogów, pokazując, że są tylko niekompetentnymi, choć zwykle wrogimi, szarlatanami, którzy jednak przyczynili się do jednych z najwyższych na świecie wskaźników zachorowań i zgonów w swoich społeczeństwach. Pandemia może zostać wyeliminowana nie dzięki ich pustym, populistycznym hasłom, a dzięki nauce i wiedzy eksperckiej, działającej w połączeniu z silnym, ale poddanym kontroli rządem. Będzie on decydował o ograniczaniu mobilności, jednak w sposób, na który zgodzi się ogół społeczeństwa, co w wielu przypadkach przyczyni się do wzmocnienia, a nie osłabienia spójności społecznej. Ponieważ wirus osłabił poparcie dla populizmu, zagrożenia, jakie ten ostatni stwarzał dla porządku demokratycznego, również zostały zminimalizowane. Po poprzednich pandemiach nastąpiły drastyczne zmiany społeczne i gospodarcze. Takie zmiany po COVID-19 mogą zerwać powiązania między populizmem a rozwojem polityki kryminalnej, pozwalając na wprowadzanie innych, bardziej ograniczonych ram dla tej polityki.

https://doi.org/10.7420/AK2021.15
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