The world after the coronavirus will be different – it’s not alarmism and not hysteria. It is not so much the pandemic itself as the response of humanity to it that indicates that an extremely globalized world will not emerge from the crisis as it entered it. What changes are waiting for international relations and what trends will now gain strength?
The main novelty of the coronavirus is that the world is watching its spread in live broadcast mode. When SARS raged in 2003 and swine flu in 2009, humanity was still not so United: the spread of the Internet was not almost universal, and life online was not the rule for a large part of The world’s inhabitants.
Now, both the outbreak itself and the reaction to it are monitored by all mankind and leads to an increase in panic among a part of the population, which in turn affects the behavior of everyone else and the actions of the authorities. Quarantine and restrictive measures, in turn, exacerbate the decline of the world economy, which has already begun but has not yet become irreversible. Countries are closing themselves off from each other, and some curse globalization, while others consider it the only panacea for the epidemic. In any case, the crisis will end after a while. Let’s imagine that by summer the pandemic will have subsided – and countries will begin to draw conclusions from the lessons they have learned in the fight against it.
It is already clear that globalization, the crisis of which has long been discussed not only by its opponents, but also by some of its supporters, does not cope with the real threats to humanity, but only worsens them. And it’s not just the speed of the spread of coronavirus around the world by air passengers, but the fact that there is no global plan to combat it.
But the main advantage of globalization, according to its adherents, is that it allows us to unite the forces of all mankind in the fight against threats and challenges – hunger, disease, war (alien invasions – add to taste). A unified world government, the power of the wise or the most developed part of humanity in the form of the West-no matter what, but this superstructure should, according to the globalist idea, lead humanity through storms and trials to a bright digital multicultural post-humanistic future.
We have not seen any of this in recent months. Even the vanguard of globalization, its author-the Atlantic West not only split within itself (the States closed off from Europe), but also questioned its own integration: the European Union disappeared, giving way to the actions of national governments.
It is clear that from the point of view of supporters of globalization, this happened not because it is bad or weak, but because it is not enough and it is still imperfect. But for the majority of people living in the West now, the conclusion will be the same: only the national state can do something to protect citizens from harm, all supranational structures are fictitious and freeloaders.
As a result, the impact of nation-state supporters will grow as they emerge from the pandemic.
In same Europe, the issue of deepening European integration will be practically removed from the agenda.
In the rest of the world, the attitude to integration will be about the same – why do we need these supranational bodies if they are not able to do anything during the crisis?
At the same time, you can expect a reverse campaign. Supporters of globalization will use the lessons of the pandemic to convince everyone that all the problems are due to the fact that we had “little socialism”, that is, globalism, and it is necessary, on the contrary, to make all of humanity truly United.
Few people will agree with this. But the rise in popularity of nationalists across Europe will be quite predictable. Given that they have already been gaining points in recent years against the backdrop of refugee crises, discontent with European integration and the erosion of national identity, the current influx of sympathies may accelerate their rise to power. And where this is not yet possible, such as in Germany, to worsen the crisis of the ruling parties.
Nationalists were already taking power in an increasing number of key countries around the world. Now the shares of national-oriented politicians will go up everywhere.
The second conclusion from the crisis is also on the surface: the so-called authoritarian systems have proved more effective than the so-called liberal ones. It is clear that China was the source of the coronavirus, but it was its state and social structure (in fact, much less Communist than it seems, and much more national) that allowed it to quickly block the spread of the virus. At the same time, it is important not only the level of organization of a particular people but also the socio-economic structure of its state.
State control, state ownership, a state organization of medicine – this is what will pay attention to those who have previously had enough of tales about the invisible hand of the market. This will lead to an increase in the popularity of socialists as supporters of public control and public property.
A separate topic is the huge release of panic and conspiracy “information”. Everyone received an object lesson in information warfare: how to accuse another country or secret forces of spreading or even inventing “biological weapons”. Although the natural origin of the coronavirus does not raise questions, when public opinion polls are conducted in the world, it will turn out that the majority (or a huge part) of citizens in all countries of the world are confident in the artificial nature of the virus.
This not only shows the mythological nature of human consciousness but also gives an idea of the state of minds of today’s humanity, which is well prepared (not only by mass culture and the media) for the fact that it will face terrible trials. This provides huge opportunities for managing and manipulating world public opinion – through threats, real or imaginary, of a new pandemic.
The virus will also affect the global balance of power, primarily because of its Chinese origin. Attempts to use the pandemic to fuel sinophobia are not particularly successful. Yes, at first, there was a growing fear of the Chinese in various countries, but then, as the world saw that thanks to unprecedented measures, China was able to “lock” the virus in Wuhan and successfully treat patients, these fears subsided.
But respect for the power and capabilities of the Chinese state, for the organization of Chinese society, has grown, especially against the background of the belated reaction of the European authorities and problems in the same Italian medicine. In General, Europe, which has demonstrated the weakness of European unity within the EU, will lose its global weight, and China will increase its influence. In the States, the positions of trump’s anti-globalist nationalists will strengthen, which will ensure the current President’s even more confident re-election in November.
Closing borders, as well as stopping many different industries in China, which has become a “world factory”, will convince all the real world powers of the need to review the security threshold in the direction of its increase. At the slightest opportunity, they will try to move the production of vital goods in a crisis situation (and this is not just about medicines) to their own country. This will not kill the global division of labor, but it will make the iron tread of globalization much less certain.
Before the current crisis, globalization faced mainly political problems – the discontent of the population or elites, with the opposition of countries-civilizations (not ready to play under the guidance of the Atlantic conductors of the United world), but it retained the impression of its economic lack of alternatives. Well, what you want, capital goes where it is profitable – from Europe to Asia, from Asia to Africa.
No one cares where jeans are made, in Ethiopia or Bangladesh. But everyone is now concerned about where drugs and medical equipment are developed and manufactured. But this is science and high-tech industry – what determines the status and strength of any truly great power. Along with control over their own borders, the monetary system, and food security (i.e. self-sufficiency).