Por Alfredo Fernandez
HAVANA TIMES – Recently, critical theorists are searching for an answer to the COVID-19 crisis, and they are doing this with the same urgency as a group of experts who are examining the flight recorder on an airplane that has just crashed in the middle of the Atlantic.
After the Berlin Wall was torn down, Francis Fukuyama published that heated essay, “The End of History and the Last Man”, which sparked a great debate everywhere in the world of intellectual thought.
Explaining transcendental events, like that, or the possible path(s) that lie before humanity, became an obligation for social essayists after the end of World War II.
If I remember correctly, the same thing happened after the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001. At that time, the theorist Samuel Huntington cast a light on what he thought would occur in the coming years for humanity, with his concept of “The Clash of Civilizations”.
Right now, there are rivers of ink that are running all over the world, speculating answers to this unusual quarantine, pretty much everywhere. Everyday life has been turned on its head like never before, for a month already. Photos of the world’s most important cities and ports with deserted streets and bays are astonishing, and in quite a few places, animals who normally live stuck in forests or sea beds, and are normally afraid of any human trace, are making an appearance.
It’s interesting to note that while we still don’t know when this quarantine will end, there are many intellectuals throwing out countless theories about what will happen afterwards. For example, the amusing Slavoj ZiZek, who is used to seeing the end of capitalism in every dawn that breaks, has spoken up again and has more or less said that once quarantine ends, not only will deadly COVID-19 finish, but that capitalism itself will also succumb, which he says is incapable of handling such a crisis.
ZiZek’s well-established optimism has been met by the restraint of Byung-Chul Han who believes that “capitalism won’t collapse because of a virus, but because of a human revolution”, which is something that I, as the author of this article right now, believe is far from happening.
A less intellectual speculation, but just as valid given it is a human one, is that there could be positive effects after this crisis. It has been reported that Mr. Jeff Bezos, owner of the online company Amazon, has had to employ a hundred thousand new employees, because of a spike in online sales. On the other hand, many companies have sent employees home with all of the work they can do from there, so they can respect social distancing measures, and affect production as little as possible.
Prenatal omens are announcing a baby boom at the end of the year, a result of home confinement, just like what happened at the end of World War 2. The reality is that after all of this, new information and communication technologies will be the ones that come out of this crisis winning, and nobody will be able to imagine their lives offline anymore.
Will the world be different after this crisis? I don’t think so… at least not for the worse, as humanity has lived through just as traumatic experiences in the past and life: that is to say, love, friendship, passion for building, have always come into play after these events.
Very few remember that around 1920, when the planet had a much smaller population, the “Spanish flu” killed over 50 million people, and even so life was able to carry on. This is the way it has always been, so I very much doubt things will be different this time.