We live in the Age of Uncertainty. Black swans lurk that can change everything from one moment to the next. The coronavirus is one of them, it came to change us. And not only in daily life, in which we go from one moment to another to a massive house arrest, but in customs, an organization as a society, the economy, culture. All. We will not be the same. The world is not going to be the same. What is happening to us will change the human being and the environment. And nobody knows if it will be for better or for worse.
Coronavirus is not like the financial crisis of 2008-09. This is not about putting money in banks. Rather it is a war, and like any war, you know how it begins, but never how it ends. As in any armed conflict, it is not just job loss, insecurity, hunger. It is a very fine line between life and death. And when a person is walking along that narrow path, his world view, his principles and his morals can change radically. The priorities that I had until then, no longer exist. A wide and novel world appears in which we are going to move from that moment. What has been lived will remain in memory, in the collective unconscious. The experience will go down generations. And the degree of these changes will depend, above all, on the time it takes to control the pandemic and find a vaccine. The more time passes, the more changes will take place.
What will be the long term impacts of Coronavirus Pandemic?
The coronavirus pandemic will affect everything from the way we work and earn money to the operation of industries and businesses; from the meaning of free time to the type of housing we are going to prefer; from the discussion of a universal salary to the type of government organization. The scientific and technological revolution that we are going through is going to accelerate. We will have to rethink ideologies and government organizations. It will be necessary to determine if we are going to a more participatory type of society or a more authoritarian one. And if this change can successfully cope with the most serious consequence of globalization: the extraordinary accumulation of wealth in a very few hands.
Yuval Noah Harari's views on Advanced Global Surveillance
The historian Yuval Noah Harari, author of a series of best sellers on scientific changes, believes that the alternatives for exiting the crisis are extremely opposed. “Or we are going towards a society of massive totalitarian surveillance or the empowerment of citizens; of nationalist isolation or global solidarity,” he says. Harari believes that we are heading for further losses of individual freedoms after those imposed after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. “There will be mass surveillance. Health certificates will be required to travel. And if until now we had surveillance "on the skin" every time we entered an Internet site, we clicked or sent messages; we will have surveillance 'under the skin' measuring the fever or the pressure to our feelings. And he gives as an example, the massive temperature detectors that were placed in airports, train stations and other places of mass concurrence. "These meters have various capacities. With a relatively simple software change, you could detect other feelings beyond fever or blood pressure. For example, joy or anger. Can you imagine this instrument in the hands of the dictator of North Korea being able to detect who is happy and who can be a potential dissident? "
What will be the Economic Transformations after Coronavirus Pandemic is Over?
Regarding ideas and economic transformations, sociologist William Davies wrote in The Guardian that the closest thing to this coronavirus crisis is what happened in the 1970s with the increase in oil prices and inflation. That crisis exemplified how a historic breakdown can put an economy and a society on a new path. "This period marked the collapse of the post-war system of fixed exchange rates, capital controls and wage policies, which were manifesting with uncontrollable inflation," explains Davies. "It also created the conditions by which leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan emerged, with his theories of the free market. They brought a new and bitter medicine of tax cuts, interest rate hikes, and destruction of workers' organizations. A production model was imposed that persists to this day”.
Davies recalls that during that time there was a movement of capital that remains almost intact until today. "The money left its iconic industrial fortresses in the north of England and the Midwest of the United States, and with the help of the State, it went to the financial and business districts of elegant global cities, such as London and New York," comments. And 40 years later, that Thatcherism continues to stain global economic policy. The 2008 global financial crisis did not bring about a fundamental change in political orthodoxy. After the initial outbreak of public spending that rescued banks, the free-market worldview became even more dominant in the United States, Asia, and Europe. The crisis that started in December 2019 in Wuhan would seem to be strong enough to make that economic orthodoxy more flexible and lead us to other more humanistic or savage forms of capitalism.
Is this the Biggest Recession ever?
This coronavirus crisis feels closer to a war than a recession. Ultimately, government policymakers will be judged in terms of how many thousands of people die. Life and death issues cause more drastic policy changes than economic indicators. "Instead of seeing this as a crisis of capitalism, it could be better understood as the type of world event that allows new economic and intellectual beginnings, " says sociologist Davies.
This pandemic will also accelerate the commercial confrontation for the leadership of the scientific-technological revolution between the United States and China. Whoever stands out best will be the dominant power in the coming decades. It will be measured whether Chinese authoritarianism or western democracy (not so clear at this time of the Trump Administration) was more effective in the fight against the virus. Chinese leader Xi Jinping is already taking advantage of the "advantage" that gave him the earlier start with the pandemic and the deaths to get rid of the "guilt" of the tragedy. Chinese state media is "cleaning the face" of the fact (not yet scientifically proven, but there is enough evidence) that the pandemic broke out after someone in Wuhan City consumed the meat of a wild animal. And they reverse the mirror. They speak of "the irresponsibility and incompetence" of Washington's political elite against "the firm resolution" to solve the problem by the Chinese government. And as a more effective propaganda action, it is sending respirators and other equipment, as well as doctors who have already gained extensive experience in the pandemic, to Iran, Italy and various African countries. Paradoxically, if this propaganda campaign is effective, China can emerge strengthened from a crisis initiated within its territory and system.
Did China intentionally create COVID-19?
In China, most of the essential elements to combat the pandemic are also produced. There are the world's largest respirator factories. Half of the global production of N95 masks (chinstraps), as well as a good part of the protective suits for health and safety personnel, are also made. And most of the active ingredients to make the antibiotics that fight the side effects of Covid19. Also, its scientists would be taking an advantage in creating a vaccine (if this is not another propaganda account of the Chinese Communist Party). If Beijing succeeds in developing a method of removing the lethal power of the coronavirus, it will fill the void left by the United States in that field. If the two powers work in parallel and succeed at the same time, the war between them will be without a quarter.
In any case, globalization has already been hit hard by other sides. With the closing of the borders, the restrictions on the transit of people and the cancellation of flights, there is a natural return to economic self-sufficiency. If the crisis continues, as expected, for much of this 2020, many countries will have to start manufacturing essential products for its operation that until now were imported from Asian markets. There will also be a shortage of essential raw materials for the operation of many industries. The post-globalization that was already insinuating, is now going to take shape.
Millions of Hungry & Displaced People
The other obvious thing, which nobody dares to mention at this moment of so much anguish, is the breakdown of social cohesion. If the needs of the displaced, refugees and starving people around the world are not met, upheavals of unpredictable consequences can occur. Fear leads to despair and despair leads to violence. We only have to remember the looting of 2001 in Argentina or those that took place in New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In any case, this scenario still seems distant. Humanitarian crises also generate solidarity attitudes in peoples that are not seen at other times. This also extends between countries. The best positioned send aid to those most in need.
Work from Home, the New Trend?
There will be fundamental changes in the forms of labor organization. All those who get used to working remotely and their work remains an efficient solution for companies and organizations, will not want to make long trips every morning and night to fulfill a job they can do at home. And no businessman who discovers that in this way you can save a lot of money - office rental, licenses, electricity expenses, etc. - will be willing to spend it. Teleworking will prevail in almost all industries and services. And with this, there will be a faster technological evolution. The 5G data transmission system will be implemented in much less time than expected.
The Rise of the Digital Age
Certain industries will also be consolidated and others will disappear. We are likely to be closer to the final extinction of the print media and its entire distribution chain. Theaters may also lose followers. Public transport will have to adapt. After months of looser travel, who will want to return to livestock treatment? Everything digital is going to be consolidated. There will be no trace of the analog. It is likely that we will return to repair more things and consume less superfluous products. These days it is better to get down to business than letting in a plumber or gas worker who can bring the virus into your toolbox. It will revalue outdoor life and avoid any large crowds. Mass rallies are likely to cease to be so popular.
The word "pandemic" means "all the people." The virus does not understand physical or social or generational borders. And, in this case, "the people" is humanity. Nationalism does not count here. It is a virus that unleashed a global crisis and, therefore, requires a global solution. “In the face of the virus, we are all effectively equal; In the face of the virus, human beings are nothing more than that, human beings, that is, animals of a certain species that offer a host to a mortal reproduction for many ”, wrote the German philosopher Markus Gabriel. And to repair this situation and come out stronger, Markus Gabriel says that "when the viral pandemic passes, we will need a metaphysical pandemic, a union of all peoples under the common roof of heaven from which we can never escape. We live and will continue to live on earth; we are and will continue to feel mortal and fragile. Let us, therefore, become citizens of the world, cosmopolitans of a metaphysical pandemic. Any other attitude will exterminate us and no virologist can save us. ”
We may come out of this situation stronger and better. Perhaps more aware that we also have to find "a vaccine" against global warming, the concentration of wealth, hunger and digital illiteracy. A vaccine for uncertainty.