Coronavirus: the aftermath of a mistaken globalization
It is quite difficult to write about the coronavirus and the situation created since it is not easy to try to say something original. Perhaps, saying something new is a vice of our times as a result of competitiveness levels that dominate us, since it can be much more useful to refresh concepts and information that have already been said and to think about whether there is any way to avoid or to create the necessary conditions for the same not to happen again in a few years.
It has become somewhat common to repeat the idea that a Black Swan has arrived and, while the theory of uncertainties developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is entirely correct, it should not apply to this case since, like previous events (Ebola, SARS, etc.), they have no degree of unpredictability as long as the current conditions of the world are maintained.
The new cycle of globalization that sees as one of its origins the fall of the Berlin Wall, as a symbol of one world no longer divided into blocks, was supposed to evolve into a real international community.
This would not be the universal panacea, but it would lead to the establishment of rules of conduct that would allow for coordination between countries in a climate of interrelation that would channel disagreements, and a certain logic regarding attitudes and criteria to regulate the differences.
This globalizing process should be accompanied, on the one hand, by an attitude of tolerance towards those who by language, religion or skin color would differ from us, since the characteristics of this globalization would lead us to greater degrees of connection and interactivity and, while differences would not cease to exist, everyone should be given a voice therefore respecting diversity. On the other hand, the capitalist system, which appeared as the winner of the bipolar world, would have to provide economic replies, especially to emerging countries.
The idea of globalization was based on two pillars: democracy and the market, that is, a capitalism that allowed for political freedom that socialist countries had not been able to implement, as it had been posed in the post-war period. What happened instead?
What took place is that capitalism developed its most voracious forms, surpassed and denied the powers of Nation-States and even, in the name of globalization, began to question their validity as political instruments. In addition, democratic practices were undervalued because the increase and concentration of economic powers made the possibility of them being controlled useless and, at the same time, the money injected into electoral campaigns made it useless as a form of political organization.
This led to what Bertrand Badie masterfully defines as the world of humiliation, where not only some of them, because of their differential nature, but the great majority remained in that situation.
None of the ideas promoted since 1919 as the basis for the construction of an international community were taken into account, and this was articulated regarding the relocation of industries where wages were lower, of financial organizations based on lending funds to countries in trouble in exchange for adopting neoliberal policies that would contribute to deepening their social problems and extending these precepts as the absolute truth, regardless of their usefulness in the countries to which it was applied as a medical prescription.
This led to an excessive world, where the wealthy do everything in excess without taking into account whether nature is affected, or whether it leads the poorest nations to lose a good part of their traditional resources and must, to survive, impact negatively on the environment even more.
There is no surprise in the fact that in a world where half the population is destitute, a plague manifests. There are no Black Swans in this but simple and logical consequences, which is why we have been through three plagues before the end of the first twenty years of this century alone. Why was there no concern for an in-depth analysis of the situation after the emergence of SARS and Ebola? Perhaps because most of the victims came from neglected social sectors and regions? Today we face this plague that makes everyone equally vulnerable. Will this force us into rethinking at least some things?
These are some of the questions that will define international politics in the coming years. The State, which has been criticized and placed at the center of the problem of economic development, appears, as in all extreme situations in modern history, as the institution to be strengthened both to face this pandemic, as it will surely be for the reconstruction of the international and national economy, and fundamentally to ensure social protection. The international credit organizations, which were so important in the post-war periods, and which later became defense tools for a model, as we have already said, must also review their policies, their objectives and their forms of implementation.
Aníbal Jozami, Argentinian sociologist and teacher specialized in International Relations, is President of the Foro del Sur Foundation and President of the National University of Tres de Febrero (UNTREF).