Given Beijing’s dislike of protests of any kind, this seems unlikely. However, Hu raised a question concerning all the countries ravaged by Covid-19. Where’s the rage, the public outrage? Faced with the inability of incompetent governments to protect them, why have people not stood up, erected figurative scaffolding and guillotines, and set fire to the established political order?
In other words, when does the revolution start? Employees of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose except your supply chains.
Considering the history of the last century, today’s politicians, democratic or authoritarian, left or right, may consider themselves fortunate not to experience violent reactions. This may be in the making, once people have regained their composure. Many countries have attended small events related to Covid. However, overall, the insurgency has not yet gone viral.
And despite a consensus among business leaders, scientists and experts that the world will never be the same again. A watershed has been reached, they say. Most older people are currently suffering, but millions of young generations are at risk of having their lives turned upside down for years. Like it or not, a second age of the revolution is rising.
So the real question is not whether, but how the revolution is to take place. Will it be the uncontrollable and ideological variety of the 20th century associated with Marx, Mao, Guevara and Castro? Or will it take the form of a non-violent yet rapid and profound change in the way a more consciously interdependent world functions? Much depends on how the shockwaves and the aftermath of the pandemic are directed and shaped.
The main elements of political revolutions have not changed much since Aristotle identified them more than 2,300 years ago. Whatever the purpose, he writes in Book V of Politics, inequality is the main cause of the revolution. Justice and equality are “the fundamental basis of any state” and inequality, which is a kind of injustice, is a powerful reason to challenge that state. “The least rebel to be equal, the equal to be greater. These are conditions predisposing to revolution, ”said Aristotle.
In the midst of epidemic uncertainty, two things are clear. First, the virus is universal and ubiquitous – a threat to all of humanity. Second, its impacts are profoundly unequal, determined decisively by social class, race, ethnicity, income, nutrition, education, living conditions and geographic location, as well as by gender and age.
It follows that the great unjust social inequalities found both in rich and developing countries, and ruthlessly exposed by the virus, are just as powerfully insurgent today as when Aristotle first envisioned them. times or when Marie-Antoinette told the hungry peasants to eat cake.
The czars of modern American capitalism recently debated the danger that entrenched inequality poses to the hope of surviving the Covid storm without chaotic upheavals. “This is our chance to do the right thing,” by reducing income disparities, said lead investor Mark Cuban. Ray Dalio, a billionaire hedge fund, described inequality as a national emergency.
“If you don’t have a situation where people have opportunities, you not only succeed in exploiting all the potential that exists, which is not economic, you threaten the existence of the system,” said Dalio. JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimon called the pandemic “a wake-up call … for business and government to think, act and invest for the common good.” It almost sounds socialist.
A groundbreaking program for the post-pandemic world also includes significant measures to tackle poverty and the North-South wealth gap, more urgent approaches to the crises related to climate, energy, water and to mass extinction and, for example, the adoption of the so-called donut an economy that measures prosperity by counting shared social, health and environmental benefits, not GDP growth.
It may seem like a pie in the sky. But the same holds true for the idea of millions of people working from home and interrupting road and air travel, until it happens almost overnight. Whether recognized as such or not, it is a revolutionary manifesto which, if pursued – as a growing number of opinions believe – will demand the total transformation of current political behavior and organization .
In the United States, the growing anarchy of the Trump plutocracy, coupled with its authoritarian pandemic response, has highlighted the inadequacy of the democratic checks and balances created more than 200 years ago. What is needed now is a second American Revolution – and a new constitutional convention that demolishes anachronisms such as the electoral college, makes democracy work for all and refocuses on constructive global engagement.
In Great Britain, centralized mismanagement from top to bottom of the pandemic has highlighted a crisis of representative governance and national cohesion. To survive as a United Kingdom, an insurgent moment similar to the Great Reform Act of 1832 is necessary. In Europe too, the EU old regime must rebuild or risk being overthrown by populist nationalism sans-culottes.
Neither can authoritarian oligarchies such as China and Russia, weaned from a violent rebellion, continue on their almost imperialist, self-expanding path if we are to avoid further conflagrations. To forge the consensus necessary for this new born world, it is time to restart the United Nations, rekindle the idealism of the founding conference in San Francisco in 1945 and rekindle this transformative vision of humanity working together to overcome common evils.
As Aristotle might have said, the revolution begins here.