Charles S. Maier
Covid-19: Reflections on Crisis What is a crisis? What do crises do?
What is a crisis? What do crises do? The term is Greek and indicated the turning point in a serious disease following which the patient either died or recovered. Thucydides recognized its applicability to political events as he discussed the onset of the plague in Athens. The plague was a metaphor for Athenian democracy and its ills, somewhat like the plague was a metaphor for fascism for Albert Camus. But the plague becomes a crisis only as it enters the domain of human choice – choice not only of appropriate social policy (quarantine, lock-down, or return to work), but of personal courage and generosity versus selfish behavior.