Like all pandemics that Humanity has ever known, the consequences of COVID 19 are not only purely health related. Its impact is not limited to a death rate or a pressure on the national health system. Its consequences can in fact be so profound that they will only be discovered after centuries, during historical studies on the evolution of morality for example.
To illustrate my point I will take only one famous example: the black death. The consequences of this particular pandemic are numerous and many of them are obvious, but one of them seems to escape us when we think about it: the end of the spirit of Christian Charity. Indeed, the famine and the horrors of the plague encouraged people to protect themselves first, and not to give anything to others. The result was the extraordinary enrichment of the following centuries for certain individuals, which was the basis of the Renaissance and of Capitalism.
So what will be the unintended consequences of COVID 19 ? No one will know for a long time. But one thing is clear to me: COVID 19 has the immediate effect of accelerating the problems that are already in the making. I can cite among them the proliferation of conspiracy theories, the radicalization of political ideas or even religious fanaticism and the weakening of prosperity and of liberal democracies.
All these problems were already foreseeable and I intend to deal with them in a more detailed manner soon (I also intend to take up the famous column of my previous blog entitled “XXI” for those who remember it). But what struck me with the current pandemic is that these serious problems that I expected for the 2030s or 2040s are here today at the start of this decade.
In this sense, COVID 19 has played the role of a boost for problems for which we would have had time if it were not for the explosion of this pandemic. We must therefore mobilize as quickly as possible.
The pandemic has excited spirits and deepened the inequality gap while destroying growth and confidence. Mistrust against the existing order could destroy our civilization while failing to build better. Think about it, during the French Revolution, enlightenment ideas were savagely crushed by fanaticism, demagoguery and massacres when the situation became untenable and rage took hold.
Can't you see that's what's coming now? The rise of authoritarianism, religious fanaticism, and extreme ideas have returned since the turn of the century, but today they are reinforced and all the while the center no longer holds. The consequences can be absolutely catastrophic.
I don't know if it is possible to stop the rising wave. But I have come to the conclusion that it is no longer possible to wait and hope. We must now commit and build. As with the previous article, COVID 19 forces us to change but also to react where we were passive. The warned have no excuses.
George Orwell's 1984 must remain a fiction, and not become a program!