Oddly enough, despite the unprecedented prosperity of mankind, the past few years have been extremely alarming, overwhelmed by gloomy predictions and talk about the destruction of the old world order and the emergence of some new one. And now all the fears, all the negative dreams have come true: the coronavirus is everywhere. Will it be able to play the role of the creative destruction necessary for the emergence of a newly-arranged world? And is it also necessary to understand whether the coronavirus is socio-political or biological in nature?
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about the destruction of the old world order and the need for some new one, with a new common discourse that no one, alas, could determine. Even the sages of the ‘x.0’ industrial revolution – 2.0, 3.0 or even 4.0, and all the prophets and sponsors of discussions on this subject in Switzerland or China could not have predicted anything except comics with food delivery by quadcopters.
One point, however, was based on the fact that all previous, relatively stable world “orders” arose as a result of great wars, destruction, victimhood and trials, as a result of the tormented world, which, desperately fighting for its survival, gained the ability to overcome the egoism of the elites, the unlimited thirst for power of their leaders, and the fear and hatred that generally curse mankind, and came to some kind of temporary agreement. This happened after the Thirty Years’ War and the Westphalian Peace; it happened after the Napoleonic Wars and the Vienna Congress, and finally, it happened after the 1945 Yalta Accords.
After the destruction of the Soviet system, various utopian illusions about a happy new world order arose briefly; however, they were quickly dispelled by time. And we keep discussing that new world orders appear, alas, only after devastating wars, as a result of fatigue from the exorbitant price of conflicts, and from the inability of the elites of individual countries to cope with the world and its problems as a whole.
The impression is that the coronavirus seems to be something that has been awaited or implicitly desired. With all the horror of what is happening, it seems that there was even a sigh of relief: here it is, it all began, the horror has arrived. It is possible to declare mobilisation, impose quarantines, send hundreds and thousands of nurses and soldiers to restrain and arrest people, prohibit flights and stop rail travel, neglect rules and rights. What an epidemic! Excited politicians, flustered mayors and governors, alarmed WHO officials and other leaders of the sanitary-epidemiological institutes are competing to introduce ever direr warnings and introduce increasingly stringent measures. Unhappy citizens are for some reason buying tonnes of toilet paper and pasta, sweeping away everything from the shelves, to the delight of retailers.
In fact, I have two suspicions: the first is that the coronavirus played the role of a trigger, an occasion to defuse global tension. The second thing is that coronavirus will be the most important means of de- or re-globalisation.
But something is alarming, especially if you think in terms of a global solution.
So far, the level of coordination of global efforts is extremely low. There are no visible agreed-upon statements from the leaders of the most powerful countries, although joint action is needed. Even more frightening is the fact that even at the EU level, coordination is more likely to erode. The leaders of the leading countries have obviously begun to do their own thing, without any regard for anyone else, including policymakers in Brussels. By the way, it will be very interesting to see the NATO summit in a few days. The Czech Republic is independently closing its borders with other countries. Spain has actually forced planes loaded with passengers to turn away, and no-one can reach Austria anymore.
In general, everyone is operating at the “save whom you can” level, but can such tactics be strategically successful?
I am not assessing the actions of the authorities. It just seems to me that the coronavirus works as a trigger for a very unpleasant future – an isolationist, closed, selfish one. As a result, global inequality will only increase, and conflicts will increase. And all this came as a result of – in my opinion – a rather weak coronavirus, which is a limited threat, even given the darkest scenario. What would a real plague be like? It’s scary to even think what the world would become.I repeat once again, coronavirus may have revealed the weaknesses of some health care systems, but even more, it revealed the complete lack of global governance, the incredible weakness of international cooperation, and the weakness of the world elites. Perhaps its consequences will make people think about how our interdependent world should be structured, and how to regulate it in favour of the people living in it. But for now, it seems, we are more likely to see a breakdown of ties and an inability to coordinate the simplest action.