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Those idealistic at heart may have thought that in a world connected as never before, the arrival of a common enemy of humankind would unite us as never before.
You know, like in the Independence Day movie when the aliens attack, we rally together, led, of course, by the USA, to smash those pesky extraterrestrials.
The real-life “enemy” we currently face, covid-19, isn’t actually a living thing by most definitions but it attacks indiscriminately, albeit it’s far more lethal on certain members of society than others.
Nonetheless, the collateral damage it is causing us, pretty much all of which is self-inflicted in a bid to check the virus’ spread, is resulting in widespread harm across the globe. So if ever we should work together as a species, it would appear now is the time.
Self-isolating Uncle Sam
What is actually happening, though, is more of a retreat into our tribe.
OK, some of this is down to what are seen as necessary “wartime” measures. The free movement of people will only spread the virus and as the majority of our decision-makers are unwilling to contemplate herd immunity — there are experts who believe it to be the quickest way to defeat our fiend — it was inevitable that old borders would be re-erected, both between countries and inside national territories.
The question is, will we smoothly return to the kind of free movement we had before? If we do, it’s sure to take some time.
‘The immediate fallout from this pandemic will be a facemask-wearing population in a more divided world.’
Other current manifestations of this inward retreat were obvious before coronavirus reared its crowned head.
The United States of America, for example, the country that Hollywood has been telling us for decades will lead us to salvation in the event of an existential threat, has been anything but united of late. Its internal divisions appear to have only deepened during this crisis.
What’s more, and unsurprisingly considering what President Donald J. Trump has been telling us ever since he announced his attention to run for the White House, it’s very much America first. Global leadership isn’t a priority.
It is, to state the obvious, the USA’s prerogative to pursue this course of action. I, for one, have no qualms in this regard. The problem is, its leaders don’t always stick to it.
Then there’s the European “Union”. The Italians, not for the first time, have decried the lack of solidarity from EU member states. It would seem they have fair grounds for complaint. Of course, in recent years they’ve been getting quite cosy with the Chinese (we’re terming this courting Chitaly), much to the chagrin of Europe’s powerhouses France and Germany.
Speaking of the Chinese, from the outside (trying) to look in, it’s a case of following the accepted script. Are they deliberately pursuing a divide-and-conquer strategy? Or are we overestimating them?
Regardless, considering coronavirus emerged from within its territory together with the general mistrust of the information emanating from there, the suspicion with which China and many of its citizens are viewed by some in the West is only going to deepen.
Thus, the immediate fallout from this pandemic looks set to be a facemask-wearing population in a more divided world coupled with greater state control and curtailment of previous “freedoms” we once enjoyed.
Government-controlled utilitarianism one could call it. We’ll be told what the greatest good for the greatest number is. Exciting times lie in store.
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