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To borrow and paraphrase Fyodor Dostoevsky’s famous quote about prisons, you can tell a lot about a society by its response to epidemics of infectious disease. 

Plagues put a mirror to the societies they afflict.

A pandemic will expose the failures of a government that does not invest in the health of its constituents or address the collective risks that arise when vulnerable groups lack health protections. For such a society, taking those lessons and applying them to reduce the risks of future contagion is surely the better of two possible outcomes.

The Plague Makes the State

The historian Mark Harrison has argued that starting with the first major Black Death epidemic in the fourteenth century, the need to control plagues helped create the modern state. Otherwise, predatory elites were compelled to assume greater responsibility for their constituents’ lives and well-being in order to protect themselves and their workforces.

The quarantine and isolation measures

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