In this weird, lonely and suspended state, we long for a return to “normality”. At the same time, there’s a growing sense that we don’t want (or possibly can’t even have) a return to “normality” as we have known it. We are suspended in time right now between two worlds and that creates opportunity for reflection and change. As the quote says “never let a good crisis go to waste“.
I’ve been analysing hundreds of online comments discussing the economic ramifications of Covid-19 to try to gain a sense of the language and the mood at least in some circles. Admittedly these are circles where people were uncomfortable already with the way our Western neo-liberal society was headed and the values and politics driving it. So, this is not necessarily representative of the wider population.
However, whatever one’s views, there are certainly much garlanded sacred cows which, whilst not being slaughtered outright, are certainly having their value and importance questioned.
To name a few: economic growth (built on consumption and debt), GDP, the market, and paid jobs for all.
The following are some patterns I am seeing emerging (conceivably because I want to!)….
An acknowledgement that we got ourselves in this mess. It was inevitable given the way we had structured our society and its priorities for the past 50 years.
An aversion to “going back to “normal” because “normal” is what got us in this mess.
An ideal that, post Covid-19, we need to evolve a new economic model with many of the following characteristics:-
- it protects our planet and recognises that we humans are part of it not magically separate from it,
- it doesn’t rely on growth based on endlessly buying and consuming material stuff,
- it isn’t fuelled by debt,
- it redistributes wealth more equitably,
- it recognises and pays well those people whose work and skills are most critical for the common good – e.g. nurses, carers, cleaners, drivers, shop assistants, etc
- it prioritises public spending on that which benefits the common good – the environment, NHS, Social care, education, infrastructure, housing, community and creative and cultural activity,
- it reduces people’s dependence on a wage in order to live,
- it acknowledges death as part of the natural cycle of life.
These are reflections from my particular Covid island. For a much more thorough analysis of our economic choices going forward, I recommend this article.