OK, when I started this blog years ago I vaguely remember signing up to Terms of Service which demanded, among other things, a post at the start of the year with good wishes, optimism, hope etc. incorporated.
I frankly couldn’t motivate myself to write something over the last few weeks (what’s the point?) but here is the obligatory New Year’s post anyway.
First, the obvious. The world is changing. There is no going back. There is no back to go back to. It was changing anyway, but the virus had massively accelerated the process. The dying days of the neoliberal order, already few, have become even fewer. It is effectively dead but it doesn’t realise it yet.
Then the less obvious.The virus is not a traditional challenge to be overcome. We are going forward, not back, but we don’ t know where to. The world of (say) 2025 will be unlike the world of today in ways that we cannot yet imagine. Some parts of the economy (mass tourism, international airline travel) will never come back. But what about concerts, bars, clubs, libraries, museums? How may of them will still be solvent? How many will still be open in a year’s time. If you shut restaurants on and off for several years, where will the staff come from if you re-open them? Would you want to train as a chef in the current climate? What kind of life will we lead as a result?
Then the speculative. This marks the return of government. the countries that do best over the next few years will have the strongest and most capable governments. Those countries that have spent decades destroying government will have to endure the consequences. Some countries (the US?) won’t survive at all. It’s not the disease as such, for all that it is destructive, it’s the capacity to change and modify, to innovate and plan for the longer term. Some countries can do that and others can’t. We are at a turning point in history, although it’s hard to know where we are turning to.
I hope you have the New Year you merit.