Publication Date



This Article has a twofold purpose. On the one hand, it offers comparative materials for an informed discussion of COVID-determined emergency law in China and Italy by assessing its normative implications and political genealogy. On the other hand, it explores the essential contiguity between the ‘state of exception’ triggered by the pandemic and the possible geopolitical shifts in global legal hegemony in the actual phase of surveillance capitalism which is witnessing a decline of law as a form of social organization and its replacement by the predictive models elaborated by technology. In this respect, the traditional Western iconography has long described the Chinese legal tradition as a “law without law”, a despotic regime with intrusive population surveillance whose distance from the Western paradigm is deemed almost unbridgeable. And yet the legal response to coronavirus both in Europe and in the U.S. somewhat replicates the allegedly distant Chinese model in terms of restrictions and surveillance mechanisms which are being deployed to counter the crisis in the face of a formal commitment to the rule of law. This Article concludes that the emerging pre-eminence of the “rule of technology” over the “rule of law” in a critical event of historic proportions like a pandemic should and will set the future agenda of comparative studies in a double direction. On the one hand it calls for a truly critical reconsideration of role of law in society which in turn impels to rethink the hold of the liberal constitutional model and the obsolescence of traditional legal taxonomies. On the other hand, it might point to the emergence of an unexpected Chinese legal leadership, determined by the progressive undoing of the Western legal and political narratives whose backbone has been relentlessly eroded by decades of neoliberalism and populism.

Document Type


Publication Title

Global Jurist