Abu Ghazaleh : The World after Corona

28-04-2020 11:00 AM

AMMONNEWS - By Talal Abu Ghazaleh -Alexander the Great, conqueror of the old world, was struck down by a bacterium that took him to his death bed on which he expressed his final wishes: "I want my open coffin to be carried by the human arms of the best doctors who failed to save me, then all the treasures that I have acquired (silver, gold, precious stones…) are scattered all the way to my grave, and that my hands remain in the open air, swaying outside the coffin in the sight of all so people can see that with empty hands we arrive in this world and with empty hands we leave, while the most precious treasures of all are Legacy and Time".

This is reminiscent of today’s concerns about time and timely measures. Time is perhaps the most precious value given to us, imposing on us an injunction to be ready when the need comes to face the inevitability of fate. Never in human memory has a virus so quickly destabilized so many sectors of human society as the current corona pandemic. Time was of the essence before proper measures were imposed, and the swift development of a vaccine is of paramount importance. All attempts by the “big powers" to reach the remedy have proved heretofore ineffective.

Our world leaders, like Alexander, are scurrying to build more empires and accumulate more wealth to achieve leadership. Yet, in their neoliberal system to attain such supremacy, our mother Earth, geared by its Creator to protect itself, sent them a tiny virus of a few microns that succeeded in stopping the effects of their devilish machines on their environment. According to the satellite images provided by NASA, a drastic reduction in pollution over China and the USA is now apparent, partly due to the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus. Researchers at the space agency attributed this to the closure of factories and asking people to stay home, which led to a sharp in the consumption of fossil fuels, one of the main causes of the climate crises, among other pollutants.

My earlier predictions:

When I predicted and announced back in 2017 that 2020 would be a year of crises, I was taken aback by many whose opinion I respect. I will continue to tell what I believe to be the truth because I carry a believable message. Telling the truth is not pessimism, as knowing the facts is the right road to pursue proper treatment. I always addressed the elite knowing that they possess knowledge and truth because they are charting the future. I forgave those who insulted me and respected those in disagreement with me. Yet, I always declared that the Chinese economy, based on the PPP, is the greatest economy in the world. I had discovered the importance of China for more than three decades during which our working relationship with China was explicit and exceptional. It is true America has led the world for seven decades, but even truer, before the pandemic, that China was manufacturing and the world was buying.

How China Plans to Recover from the Pandemic:

China was hard hit by the coronavirus peak that now does not seem to have passed. In early March, Chinese authorities were quick to report that cases of contamination were starting to decrease as of March 12. Chinese media portrayed Xi Jinping’s tour as an "inspection tour," meeting doctors, some patients and local politicians. He visited, in particular, the prefabricated hospital built in ten days On March 11, declaring that “After two months of stopping, reviving the Chinese economy is an imperative necessity, and now comes the time to accelerate the establishment of an economic and social order compatible with the control and the prevention of the pandemic." For the moment, the Chinese authorities are highlighting this in and outside China. They sent experts carrying 250,000 masks to Iran, and disease screening kits to Pakistan and Italy. Nine Chinese doctors and technicians who fought the coronavirus are now in Rome.

Despite the Confinement, Fractures are still present:

We know that confinement is the only therapy - apart from a possible vaccine or even the resurrection of an old drug to prevent the progression of the virus. History reports cases of illustrious men forced into confinement such as Isaac Newton and Albert Camus who worked in their homes during times of epidemics. It was a good example to unite society. It may have caused the “herd instinct” to resurface. It is for the moment the withdrawal that makes everyone reorganize and contemplate.

There were several scenarios regarding this pandemic. We would not only be individuals wandering in our rooms with haggard eyes, we are experiencing something new and unifying. We have seen videos of the Italian people singing on their balconies while their country, quarantined by its fellow European partners, suffers fatalities by the thousands as their voices of national cohesion filled the space. Yet, it also exposes the appearance of another societal fracture: the fundamental divide between people who are in confinement and those who are not. In the “steps”, we can cite the employees of Amazon, supermarket cashiers, among social employees within the same company where executives can work from home and workers come to work. It is as if this virus, far from bringing us together, intensified our consciousness of social inequalities.

The beginning of an ongoing destabilization:

Countries around the world are taking drastic measures to contain the pandemic. Will the virus bring the neoliberal system and the oligarchy to its knees? The economy and finance are already severely affected worldwide, and things are certainly still in their infancy. Thursday, March 12 witnessed a historic stock market crash; should we already think of stimulus policies? And what are the related social issues? Are we witnessing the collapse of the world or the emergence of a totally different new one? While several European countries, including Germany, are at a standstill, both economically and socially, the question of collapse arises. For more than half a century, we have been told that our system is not sustainable. The 1972 Meadows model put forward the danger for the planetary environment of the demographic and economic growth of humanity.

Small disturbances small social changes; the big ones change life for good. If our near future resembles what is currently happening in Italy, with complete closure of all business, except for food shops and pharmacies, then it is an exceptional break from the normality awaiting us. Practically, all activities involving or facilitating physical human interactions seem to be in the middle of a debacle. Universities, now with their empty campuses, had never before deployed distance education to such an extent. To a degree, we have the answer: the current daily virus grind. The pandemic will kill people, strip economies and scuttle habits, but it will pass. There are, however, real reasons to believe that things will not return to the normalcy we experienced just two months before writing these words.

The Beginning of the Expected World:

The West, headed by the USA, aiming to be an unsurpassable trailblazer sensed the decline after having exhausted all questionable methods to keep planetary supremacy. It all started with the Bretton Woods agreements which allowed the American Dollar to format the world economies. This succeeded wonderfully for the American Empire and its European partners for a period of thirty years. In France, the name given to this period of growth and prosperity was the "glorious thirty” during which France enjoyed 30 years of prosperity mainly within the tourism industry. With the fall of the Soviet Empire, the American Empire surged to what it believed would be for eternity. Yet cracks were felt during 2019 with the main reason being the relinquishing of NATO by President Trump. The planet became leaderless and something else had to be found to maintain supremacy in a multipolar world with a neoliberal economy running out of steam. Some Pentagon ideologues proposed a new strategy: PNAC or Program for American New Century, supported by Condoleeza Rice. Chaos reshaped the Middle East to the advantage of Israel to gradually dissolve the Palestinian issue and ultimately redraw new borders to replace the century old Sykes - Picot agreements.
Then came the misdeeds of globalization rolling mill transforming the Arab Middle East into Nation-States consumers. This coincides with an American Empire swaying economically first with the subprime crisis of 2008. The negative effects or misdeeds of globalization-rolling mill added fuel to the fire, creating Nation-States without cap, but potential consumers holding the ingredients of a new chaos, which gave respite to the short lived neoliberal system.

Corona and the defenders of globalization:

Despite this convulsion, the neoliberal system has always had its supporters. These devil's advocates are mostly found among the needy and the destitute. Yet globalization software continued unabashed spreading its rolling mill to capture consumers. The gap widened between the producer who owns all the initiatives and the consumer who lost them all. The pandemic surged to havoc to globalization and exposed it to unprecedented and timely criticisms. Certainly, the opening of borders for people, goods and capital has had positive consequences: with the epidemic underway, globalization became bad for health and economy! With this new situation, people looked for a correction, the only answer being more harmonious global growth including the developing countries to a deeper international cooperation that should be widened beyond trade policies to include taxations, regulations and infrastructure. This won’t be a de-globalization but, on the contrary, more of a globalization that takes another form based on international cooperation. The promoters of such neo-globalization that benefits everyone would be humanity’s concern following the Corona demise.

Socialism versus capitalism:

Capitalism proved to be the best way to manage risk, stimulate innovation and spur productivity. However, these systems are not perfect. In the United States and the United Kingdom, the gap between rich and poor created social instability resulting in mass demonstrations. Brexit created an ever-increasing polarization striking the doors of capitalist economies, and is now throwing much past progress into jeopardy. Contemporary socialism is difficult to define besides being the total ownership of capital by the state. In Europe, social democracy refers to the nationalization of many economic sectors and a very generous welfare state. Inaccessible services are becoming more and more available and are changing the very nature of work, often for the better. It’s the capitalist systems that produced such gains, because they encourage invention to make the cake bigger. These opportunities never really mesh with the promises of the “American Dream” unless instabilities are stemmed and where political and economic leaders ensure that everyone has at least a chance to win the lottery.

A historic opportunity to change:

It is hoped that solidarity will be “reborn” in our social relationships, our behaviors, our collective conscience, our society and values. When the pandemic has disappeared, the period of containment lifted, drastic change will happen in all societies. This is truly a historic moment when the time of confinement will force us to change: this crisis comes with an important context denoting that societies have never been as divided as they are today which constitutes the foremost political stake. People at the moment, question themselves from different perspectives that is up to us to keep this unity going after the crisis. This experience will profoundly change the pattern of their thinking.

The period of confinement is shared by everyone and this is where common ties are forged, mostly through social media. This provides immense opportunity for future innovation, to learn to understand ourselves and focus on the essentials for the future. It is our opportunity to move from speech and words to facts and to question ourselves. It is a societal introspection resulting from confinement and presents an opportunity for once to take our time with the means available to us.

The output of this planetary ordeal:

History teaches us that humanity only evolves significantly when it is really in fear. Today, nothing is more urgent than to control the health and economic catastrophes, which have befallen the world. Each major pandemic, for the past thousand years, has led to essential changes in the political organization of nations, and in culture that underpinned this organization. For example, we can say that the Great Plague of the 14th century, (which we know reduced by a third the population of Europe) participated in the radical questioning, on the old continent, to readopt religious feelings and the establishment of the police, as an effective form to protect people's lives. In modern states endowed with scientific spirit, they are beset by both religious and political authorities incapable of saving lives, and even of giving meaning to fate. The same was true at the end of the 18th century, when the doctor replaced the policeman as the best bulwark against death. We have therefore moved in a few centuries from an authority based on faith, to a more effective authority based on respect of science and the rule of law.
Such a situation could definitely tip our civilizations into the height of individualism, of the savage struggle for life. In the cracks of these threatening catastrophes, we notice some indications of a possible better world. The most important actions are clearly visible: on the one hand, act massively on the most direct elements of the crisis: we need more individual and collective hygiene; more doctors, nurses, hospital equipment, intensive care facilities; more means of basic and applied research. Finally, we need to regulate the financial systems and undo the crazy debt pyramids that have taken us where we are today.
On the other hand, to make the most of the new practices that this crisis, whatever its severity, will have imposed on us: respect ourselves, wash ourselves, watch ourselves; spend more time with family, friends, and nature; cook and spend time at the table; the most useful trips; discover the virtues of teleworking; really use these new technologies to listen to music, to inform, to teach and diagnose. It did not take long for Wall Street to group some of these companies into a new index, the so-called Stay Home index, where we find, alongside Netflix, 33 US companies directly benefiting from this crisis, this will teach us to take seriously the only thing in the world that is really as rare as Alexander said: Time. The good time of our lives that should not be lost in futile activities, but extended by devoting more resources to it.

How about our Arab world?

The Arab world must overcome the coronavirus crisis in the face of a drastic in oil prices. This is an example of how the pandemic is moving from a natural disaster to a planetary war. This crisis is set to last till 2021. The shaken Arab world will never be as it was before with its impact on the whole world. Petrodollar countries will not rush to help their destitute “brothers” as they did previously. We must all unite and contribute more than ever to repair the link that unites us as much as we can. If the pandemic rises in its phase three, millions of Arabs will not be able to access care and famine is likely to spread, particularly in remote areas. Until now, most people protect themselves and those around them by strictly following the instructions of the health authorities. The pandemic is there to remind us that we are all inhabitants of a single planet and that we all share the same fate. We must thank heaven for this sacred Union facing danger. We will all go up the slope together and all our ambitions and dreams will come true in the end.

The last word:

After accounting for all human and economic losses, we are surely heading towards a reconstruction. The world before Corona has lived despite all dire attempts but nothing will be as it was before except our heritage. It is now disintegrating in front of a tiny microbe that is more fearful than the long-term climate changes. Maybe this time we could get out of energy intoxication and engage in a new globalization on a gentle slope. Despite the futility we experienced in our neoliberalism which ignores human dignity, let us arm ourselves to save our civilization as we have known it, from quickly disappearing.

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