Archive for April 30th, 2020

The pandemic has brought the most technologically capable generation in the history of civilization to its knees..

April 30, 2020

Joschka Fischer (Former German Foreign Minister) in this Proj Synd piece:

The COVID-19 pandemic has mercilessly exposed the weaknesses of institutions upon which the overwhelming majority of the world’s people rely. That includes both national governments and the international order. Neither is likely to survive in their current form – nor should they.

Long before clever commentators proclaimed the arrival of “the Anthropocene” – a geological epoch defined by humankind’s command over nature – it was a truism in advanced industrialized economies that the world was eminently under our control. Then along came a microscopic organism, and with it a global shock. Despite all our scientific knowledge and technological capabilities, COVID-19 has the upper hand, at least for the time being.1

Compounding the irony, the world’s most advanced and powerful countries were among the least prepared for the pandemic. Having spent hundreds of billions of dollars on research and development, they have the world’s most powerful technologies and the strongest militaries, but they did not take seriously the risk that the next big threat might come from nature. We now know that this was a mistake of historic proportions. The seemingly implausible has come to pass; the mother of all black swans has landed.

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Looking ahead, the traditional nation-state – even one as powerful as the US or China – will not be able to manage an interconnected world of more than eight billion people. The nation-state’s horizon of interests is simply too narrowly defined. The Anthropocene inevitably will place a growing emphasis on humankind’s shared interests, not least the question of its continued survival. The COVID-19 pandemic, which ultimately will require international coordination, is demonstrating that national interests eventually will have to recede into the background. The looming crises wrought by climate change will be much larger, and their consequences irreversible.

While nation-states will remain indispensable in providing good governance and contributing to global efforts, the principle of nationalism will only exacerbate future systemic crises. The pandemic must be followed by a new age of international cooperation and a strengthening of multilateral institutions. This applies to Europe, in particular.

Now more than ever, we need to reclaim the spirit of 1945. We need the twenty-first century’s two superpowers, America and China, to set the example, by burying their rivalry and uniting all of humankind around a collective response to the current crisis, and to those that await us. As COVID-19 has taught us, the old international system can no longer guarantee humankind’s safety and security. We cannot afford to be taught that lesson twice.

The 1918 influenza did not kill the US economy

April 30, 2020

Efraim Benmelech and Carola Frydman in this voxeu piece:


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