Populism and the crisis of expertise
A commentary on Rogers Brubaker’s essay
The Covid-19 pandemic created an extraordinarily challenging environment for people to
make sense of the world. As the coronavirus was spreading in devastating ways, fundamental
institutional weaknesses were exposed even in well-endowed welfare democracies. The credibility of governments was tested as healthcare systems were placed under immense pressure, and authoritative medical expertise itself appeared to be collapsing. Public health officials who had rarely been in the limelight were brought to the center of public attention and scrutiny, and their expertise became viewed as political – tied to the political interests of the regime that hired them or of political groups that wanted to undermine incumbents.
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