Coronavirus: New Challenges, New Solutions

By Tomás Arreche.

Again, Humanity faces another crisis. It should not necessarily be considered as “alarmist” to reflect on how this type of crisis throughout history has exposed the fragility of social relations as a whole. Understanding the comprehensiveness of the factors that make up the system under which we live, is already a moral imperative.

It is an imperative, because I consider it necessary to understand the historical causes that mark us, the economy that numbers us, the politics that determine our life, the culture that defines us and society as a whole, whose purpose is none other than to generate certain regulatory framework for our conduct.

It is well known that SARS-CoV-2 represents a real threat to the lives of all people, especially those who are in the groups most at risk of contagion. It is also necessary to clarify that in addition to this unquantifiable health risk, we are facing a crisis that has enough power to put the global economic system on edge. It would be extremely irresponsible not to think about the damage that the Coronavirus can cause in the productive structures in the world, especially those dependent on foreign capital and with little industrial base, such as Argentina.

Now, my goal is not to write an essay that addresses all of these concepts. It is important to know that we must take the time to think in a broader context, a social context in which we are hyperconnected, in an increasingly globalized society.

I want to highlight, above all, the following message. In personal terms, with each passing day I observe even more this interdependence that goes unnoticed on an ordinary day, on a “normal” day. In another blog, perhaps the next one, I will talk about this question of normality. What I want to say now is that through this unfortunate pandemic situation we have discovered that the ties that unite us go beyond what is imaginable. We discovered that hugs are no longer possible, because at least for these moments they do not transmit love, but disease; that everyday life is transformed, and that necessarily hits us; that no economic plan foresees crises like this; that politics serves, and is an instrument of transformation; that individuality never, under any circumstances, promotes the common good; that the lack of solidarity and the will for social progress is, above all, the cause (of origin or extension) of the vast majority of the problems that humanity faces.

This pandemic even shows that developmental labels momentarily disappear. It is no longer of special interest if the country from which one comes belongs to the first, second or third world, because this very complex disease has made us know that there is only one world, and it belongs to everyone and nobody at the same time.

I am not trying to personalize the Coronavirus, or to pose it as a lesson that the planet gives us in reference to our behavior, our “culture of waste”. I hope I am allowed to be skeptical on this issue. What I do think is that this pandemic must be interpreted, with all the pain that that entails, as an opportunity to rethink ourselves. As an opportunity to lay the foundations for true development, which is sustained by social inclusion and the protection of the disadvantaged. Even in relation to the economy, for Argentina and for so many other countries, the pandemic represents a totally different reality in terms of debt restructuring. Will creditors accept our country’s offer to postpone payment and withdraw interest? Will the Argentine Republic have the capacity to face the adversity imposed by this new international scenario? Will the global productive economic system be restored, or will we privilege the financial one again?

These are questions that do not have a clear answer yet, since the global context is not yet clear enough. This is easily evident: the United States has the highest number of unemployed people since the Great Depression (20.5 million people lost their jobs last April); the total debt of the European Union has increased by 20%; The states of the world (especially those that can, of course) face the need to increase their expenses historically, subsidizing services and creating numerous State aid plans for the most disadvantaged sectors.

There is another much more painful reality, those countries that see their health systems overwhelmed, whose death toll amounts to tens of thousands; dead who do not have the possibility of being buried in a dignified way, since it was necessary to create species of common graves; families who suddenly lost the right to see their loved ones for the last time.

It is true, then, that societies should prepare for scenarios of this type in the near future. The states must adapt their tax legislation, be more present not only in the economy, but in public health.

Well, I have no doubts, we are facing a rarely seen scenario, in which states will increase their spending and stop worrying about the deficit in public accounts to worry about the human deficit; that large percentage of people who are on the margins of society and are not even seen.

All this possible insofar as we seek to put solidarity before egoism.

The Coronavirus has allowed us to see that new challenges merit new (and effective) solutions. The real question is, are we ready?

Thank you.

By Tomás Arreche

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