This article originally referred to the Coronavirus Covid-19 as Chinese Flu, not as a political statement but as a geographic indication of origin. The text has been edited to reflect the WHO designation of Covid-19 and colloquial use of Coronavirus.
The making of the new normal
Mass hysteria in the Western world has reached a point that some are wondering whether or not there will be a ‘day after’. Of course, there will be after a rather long night and humankind will survive. But, for the first time in our lifetimes, it has to go through a crash test.
In this process, new leaders will emerge to build and drive people to the new normal. At the same time, citizens will learn that in this world, in order to survive, you have either to lead or to follow or you get out of the way. They will also learn that discipline is not only the key to success but also to survival.
In this process, the emerging political leaders are taking the upper hand over ‘the administration’, which is being limited in its ability to execute orders. In this way, the dictatorship of administration, which was gradually imposed on the West after the collapse of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the East, is being de facto abolished and power is now returning to democratically elected politicians.
Europeans are by now under “house arrest”. Whether such isolation was an absolute or relative necessity and to what extent remains to be seen. Once this becomes clear, we might have a vague idea what kind of world all of us will find when we are finally let out of our current domestic incarceration and come face-to-face with the new normal.
In any case, it seems that the socio-economic changes will be both deep and structural, and by the time people return to the streets, these changes will be already in force. Citizens, just released from “detention” will feel relief and will sense a feeling on freedom that they had taken for granted and will suddenly realise that in this life nothing should be presupposed.
As many were forced to consume less while their movements and daily habits were seriously restricted, they will realise that minimalism and moderation is not only a method to survive, but a way of life which is not at all bad, after all. Therefore, the average citizen – the one who, in addition to their shopping centre trips and classic Saturday night dinner in a restaurant, also did their standard duty of taking part in a demonstration against the government – will find himself facing a new situation that will be too late to question.
The Covid-19 pandemic will be a catalyst for resetting relations between China and the West. That may vary from a radical reduction of Chinese expansionism to its total isolation. It is likely that in a world that emerges from this latest adventure, China will be much less influential. Isolation is also most convenient for the Communist nomenklatura as President Xi Jinping is facing serious criticism from within the Chinese Communist Party which may go as far as to orchestrate his overthrow.
Covid-19 will restructure our way of life. To what extend is difficult to say, as it is not clear as at the moment how much of the virus question is political and how much is real.
For the time being, one element should be seriously taken into consideration. French President Emmanuel Macron, the emerging leader of the European Union, in his national address on March 16 informed the French people that the social reform changes, which were started under pressure from the “Yellow Vest” (Gilets Jaunes) movement, have been stopped.
See the series of Coronavirus columns here.