Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Sloppy Toppy Prof. Of Globalization Ian Goldin Self-Glazes As Embarrassingly As Karl W. Smith...,

voxeu |   Despite the tragic deaths, suffering and sadness that it has caused, the pandemic could go down in history as the event that rescued humanity. It has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset our lives and societies onto a sustainable path (Schwab and Malleret 2020, Zakaria 2020). Global surveys and protests have demonstrated the appetite for fresh thinking and a desire not to return to the pre-pandemic world. 

Rescue offers no guarantee of a better life, but it does make it possible. Like refugees whose rescue from a cataclysmic fate allows them to envisage a better future, we now have the potential to create a better world. First, though, we have to traverse a no-man’s-land; we are leaving the old pre-pandemic world but have not yet entered into a new one. This will naturally create anxiety and a desire to return to familiar territory. This is the greatest danger, and recalls the words of Jay Gatsby in Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby: “Can’t repeat the past? Why, of course you can!” Set in the Jazz Age of the Roaring Twenties, the depiction of the exuberance following from the devastating pandemic of 1918 and WWI could well be repeated, as the pent-up desire to socialise and spend creates a roaring 2020s. A century ago, that ended in tears, with the Great Depression, the rise of fascism and WWII.

Bouncing back is bad

In a recent book (Goldin 2021), I argue that that returning to ‘business as usual’, or ‘bouncing back’, means we would be heading in the same direction that brought us to the catastrophe we are in today. Other widely used expressions are similarly worrying. ‘Bouncing forward’ implies we are leaping ahead along the same tracks which lead over a precipice. A Great Reset, as called for by the World Economic Forum, or ‘reboot’, another popular phrase, can suggest that we should go back to what has already been programmed, when what is needed is a different operating system. ‘Building back better’ – the slogan used by the Biden–Harris presidential team – is more encouraging but still worrying; if there is one thing that Covid-19 has taught us, it is that our system is built on shaky foundations. Building back on unstable foundations guarantees future collapse. To prevent future pandemics, which could be much more deadly than Covid-19, and to stop catastrophic climate change and other crises, we need to change direction. Is this possible, and in what way?