After the coronavirus: how will our lives change?

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What, how and how much will our lives change as a consequence of the epidemic? Ten thinkers – historians, writers, sociologists, philosophers … – talk about how this pandemic can transform us, what values ​​we will give priority to in the future, how the economy will evolve, or how relationships between people and societies will change. . At an extremely complex time, opinions are also very diverse: there are pessimistic and there are hopeful, but among them it prevails that our society will be
more supportive
, or should be, and that the policy will be truly renewed. Or should I. An impression, however, is widespread: we are in historical terms, at a turning point, in a sharp curve at the end of a long straight.



The writer Fernando Aramburu graphically define that change. “Right now we can see the little importance that what dazzled us yesterday begins to have,” he says. Or the political analyst Michel Wieviorka, which alludes to “the accelerated metamorphosis imposed by the virus”. The question, then, is where this turn will take us. The philosopher Victoria Camps points out a possible path that may already be perceived, because, he says, we are discovering things such as the value of scientific knowledge or that of a good health system and that, individually, telework in the world of employment, and reading or listening to music, at leisure, are options that come to the fore. “Changing priorities is possible he points out. You just have to want to do it. ”


The crisis may lead to a more cohesive and mutually supportive society, but not everyone trusts it.

Perhaps the most repeated destination for these changes among those consulted is a more supportive world, although not everyone trusts that it will become a reality. For Wieviorka, “The epidemic is also a source of renewed citizen or association activities, of solidarity, at the scale of a property, a neighborhood or a city, or on a much broader level.”

The same level that the writer claims Agustín Fernández Mallo noting that, in a moment of withdrawal of the states on themselves, “if we lost the universalist consciousness that has characterized us, it would be a mistake, a loss of the ideas that we inherited from the Enlightenment.” Wieviorka resumes his reflection, explaining that “it is necessary to think globally, but the epidemic could weigh on globalization itself, not necessarily to end or limit it, but to transform it and incite political actors to curb its strongly neo-liberal character “



Solidarity also with apparent contradictions: in an individualistic world and now even more because of the obligation of confinement and of keeping distances, the historian Timothy Snyder He believes that “if we show great solidarity in times of extreme separation, we will not only be survivors of the pandemic but, hopefully, we will contribute to a kinder policy than we are supporting now.”

Keith Lowe doubts that today’s society has learned the lessons of 1945
(Keystone / Getty)

Confidence in a future political renewal? Not everyone is optimistic. The historian Keith Lowe Despite wanting to be one, he does not have much faith in such a change. There are a number of lessons that Europe learned in 1945, after the war, who does not believe that they are now taken into account. “I suspect that we are not as wise as our grandparents -it states-. We will count the dead and regret the devastation of our economies. But then we will return to austerity, inequality of wealth, and infinite resentment towards our neighbors. As usual”.



Nor is he especially optimistic Adela Cortina, because “the future is prepared by cultivating the present and attitudes in the midst of crisis remain the same”. However, the Valencian philosopher claims that this change in attitude is essential: “We should be learning from this experience, unprecedented for many of us, that vulnerability and fragility constitute us, that we are radically interdependent.”


The current health crisis reveals us, due to our fragility, as radically interdependent

At a time when, from the point of view of the peak of the disease, a certain horizon of improvement is beginning to appear, concern grows about the future of the economy, but the Italian Emanuele Felice He clarifies that “this crisis is already teaching us something: there are more important things than the economy.”

Felice adds that although at the beginning of the epidemic there were those who gave priority to not stopping the economic system, they had to change their minds. “You can affirm,” he adds, “a principle that would mark a inflection point Compared to the last decades: we can put the economic system at the service of fundamental human rights, such as the health of citizens or education, at the service of the environment; instead of the other way around. ” A relevant statement, considering that it comes from an economic historian.




Thimothy Snyder, historian

“A friendlier policy than the one we are enduring now”

“Modern life, with its individualism and complexity, with our personal desires and our infinite network of relationships, already revolved around separation and solidarity. Illness brings the paradox home. Can we take care of ourselves by taking care of others? Many of us will survive. How we will regret and how we will celebrate afterwards will depend on what we do in the coming months. If we show great solidarity in times of extreme separation, we will not only be survivors, but, one can hope, contributors to a kinder policy than the one we are enduring now. ”


Keith Lowe, historian

“We are not as wise as our grandparents”

“As optimistic as I am, I hope we learn from this crisis. Maybe our politicians will stop fighting and start singing from the balconies. Perhaps we will learn to properly value key workers: those who put food on the shelves, those who care for the elderly and the sick. That is the kind of lesson Europe learned in 1945, after a crisis greater than this. But I suspect that we are not as wise as our grandparents. We will count the dead and regret the devastation of our economies. But we will return to austerity, income inequality, and eternal resentment toward our neighbors. As before.”




Agustín Fernández Mallo

“Beware of the loss of Enlightenment ideas”

“I think that, first of all, when we see the importance of the Network and its social subnets and different information channels, the benefits of telematic connectivity between people will be reinforced, to the detriment of the hitherto possible damages caused by globalization. The apocalyptic of global technology in this case they will not have many arguments. ”

On the other hand, I suppose that fear of leisure travel will appear for a time, and that community ties will be strengthened both between the neighborhoods of the different cities and on the world macro-scale. If we stayed only on the idea of ​​reinforcing the local and lost the universalist consciousness that has characterized us, it would be a mistake, a loss of the ideas that we inherited from the Enlightenment. The European Union perhaps he has his last chance here to revalidate himself as the cohesion imaginary of his different nations. Let’s hope he doesn’t miss it. “


Emanuele Felice, economic historian

“The lesson is that there are more important things than the economy”

“Some epidemics have had decisive consequences for human history. Most scholars believe that 2nd and 3rd century plagues were the main cause of the decline of Roman civilization. More than a thousand years later, the great plague of the fourteenth century marked, for much of Western Europe, the definitive abandonment of feudalism, unlike in Eastern Europe: small differences, a slightly greater development of the cities of the West, led to a clear divergence in terms of development.



“Today? Predictions are difficult to make. But perhaps this crisis is already teaching us something. There are more important things than the economy. All over the world, those who argued that the economic system should not stop had to back down. In this way, a principle can be affirmed that would mark a turning point compared to the last decades: we can put the economic system at the service of fundamental human rights, such as the health of citizens or education, at the service of the environment ; instead of letting it be the other way around. “

Companies, such as this one in Castellón, have started to produce masks by solidarity initiative

Companies, such as this one in Castellón, have started to produce masks by solidarity initiative
(Domenech Castelló / EFE)


Victòria Camps, philosopher

“Changing priorities is possible. You just have to want “

“The question I ask myself is: What do we miss since we are confined? We miss freedom of movement. But to do what? Let’s stop to think if everything we routinely did, by convention, because it had to be done, was worth it. We are discovering the value of scientific knowledge, that of a solid public health system well endowed with resources, that of a true policy that leads us to cooperate and not fight. We discovered that teleworking can be very efficient, that reading or listening to music is a non-disposable option. Changing priorities is possible. You just have to want to do it. ”


Adela Cortina, philosopher

“The strongest do not survive, but those who lean”

“It will change very little, I’m afraid, because the future is prepared by cultivating the present and attitudes in the midst of crisis remain the same. Health personnel go out of their way to save lives, citizens care for themselves and their own, there are admirable displays of solidarity and repulsive examples of baseness. For his part, hepoliticians continue to seek votes, and the poor and immigrants still do not exist, let alone the people of the most disadvantaged countries. ”

“The present does not augur a much better future. And yet, we should be learning from this experience, unprecedented for many of us, that vulnerability and fragility constitute us, personally and socially, that we are radically interdependent. As the old anarchists well said, the strongest, the supremacists, those who provoke conflict and polarization do not survive in the fight for lifebut those that reinforce that sacred value that is mutual support. ”


Michel Wieviorka, sociologist

“The future exists, we cannot abandon ourselves to presenteeism”

“It is necessary to think globally, even for minor and localized issues or problems. But the epidemic can weigh on globalization itself, not necessarily to end or reduce it, but to transform it, and perhaps in particular to incite various political actors to stop accepting its neoliberal side

“Hopefully, there will be more weight for reason, seriously harmed by fake news and post-truth: Who, apart from religious sects, would reject the prospect of a vaccine against the Codiv 19 family viruses? On the other hand, the irruption of the unforeseen, with its enormous consequences, is a historical phenomenon that reminds us that great ruptures are still possible: the future exists, we can’t go on living alone in the presentWe cannot abandon ourselves to presenteeism ”.


Saskia Sassen, sociologist

“This is different”

“The first reaction is, as we say in English:”What the Hell is this …” There is a kind of transversality that comes into play with this global virus, marked by an invisibility that is unfamiliar to us. Those of us who travel a lot feel more or less comfortable in any region of the world. But this is different: a mixture of invisibility who manages to paralyze city after city, never showing his face. The challenge is that this “invader” so to speak, sails our planet in a way that is unfamiliar to us and this is difficult for us to handle. All he wants is a little extraction from our lungs, just a little bit. ”


Fernando Aramburu, writer

“There will be an economic and social before and after”

“I will refrain from venturing prophecies. I think there will indeed be a before and after economic and social of the current pandemic if it continues over time. My great fear is that if it lasts long the social pact will break and behaviors dictated by the crude desire for survival will emerge. I hope we do not go to such extremes. I do not rule out that the catastrophe will deal a brutal shock to the cultural canon. Right now you can see the little importance that begins to have what yesterday still dazzled us.

“The pandemic will have its winners, since every collective phenomenon is associated with the possibility of doing business, be it dirty or clean. Buried dead, virus neutralized, oblivion will begin its relentless task without delay and it is possible that for a time the genre of comedy will boom. ”


Moisés Naím, political analyst

“There will be adjustments in the structure of the organizations”

“It depends on how long the pandemic lasts. If a vaccine and a cure are obtained in the coming months, it is likely that in a few years there will be no further changes in our lives as a result of this crisis. But a change that will last is the number of people who work from home. Many of these labor arrangements, which are now transitory, will become permanent and, in turn, will motivate adjustments in the structures of the organizations and the way they work. ”

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