This month, at least two experimental vaccines have proved over 90% effective against Covid-19. The collective sigh of relief is almost audible. Many people are starting to see some light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that has been 2020.
The pandemic has definitely altered much, so much so that we are now calling these changes wrought by Covid-19 the “new normal.” With the impending roll-out of a cure for the virus, however, some people are anticipating the return to the “good old days” before Covid-19 caught us all flat-footed.
This. Is. Frightening. Nothing is more frightening than returning to the good old days of vast economic and social inequalities. Nothing is more frightening than returning to the good old days of unabashed privatization of public lands and goods and continuous slashes in budgets for health and other social services. Nothing is more frightening than returning to the good old days of unrelenting exploitation of natural resources and continued environmental destruction. Nothing is more frightening than returning to the good old days of profiteering by big business, where the world’s billionaires own more than 60% of the world’s population. Nothing is more frightening than returning to the good old days dominated by a world economic system rigged to perpetually benefit the rich and disadvantage the poor.
It is not a good world to return to.
The devastation wrought by the pandemic showed us how broken our society is, but it has also presented us with an opportunity to do a reset, to “build a better world.” The challenge is to break up the power of the economic elite and redistribute this power to the people. The challenge is to dismantle the neoliberal economic system that has reinforced gross inequalities. The challenge is, precisely, to throw out of the window the things that previously made our world a sad place to be in.
We must not go back. A better world is possible. We just need to make sure we build it.