Pandemic Police States
Originally published in Peace Economics, Peace Science and Public Policy
The COVID-19 outbreak prompted governments around the world to employ a range of emergency methods to combat the pandemic. In many countries these emergency measures relied heavily on police powers, which refer to the capacity of governments to forcefully regulate behavior and impose order as defined by those in control of the state apparatus. Throughout the world police powers have been used to limit free association through government-imposed stay-at-home orders, impose social distancing rules, close non-essential businesses, and impose lockdowns. State orders have been enforced through various forms of direct monitoring, indirect surveillance, and in some instances, violence. We discuss the theoretical foundations of the troubling aspects of pandemic police states. We then catalog some pandemic police state activities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. We conclude with the implications for peace studies.