22 March 2020

Will Covid-19 save the planet?

What is the greatest threat to humanity? Covid-19 or Capitalism? Since the late1700s, Capitalism has turbo-charged population growth, consumption and exploitation of natural resources. Just before the advent of the Coronavirus, sections of the global population were signing up to Greta Thunberg's message which was, roughly, consumption/waste are the issues and we need to stop both. Greta isn't the first individual to propose this message but it's fair to say that she is the first to have energised a national or international movement and debate. But all of that is in the past now since Coronavirus has rewritten the front pages of every media.

Joke about loo paper.
Shopper: Oh, there's no bog paper
Me: Don't worry, get a copy of the Sun or the Mail
Shopper: Good suggestion but there's so much shit in them already!

So now, we need to consider just why Coronavirus is having such an impact. Firstly, humanity's lifestyle made it possible. Air travel spread it around the world extremely effectively. Secondly, individual governments were slow to respond, believing, I assume, that it couldn't happen here (wherever here might be). Thirdly, whilst it originated in China (an authoritarian society) it has gained a stronger grip in capitalist democracies which are less able to invest in future proofing (because there's no profit in it).

So the Coronavirus is tearing through organised societies, aided in large part by population levels and density and a cultural resistance to considering the good of wider society over the demands of the individual. And this gives me an opportunity to remind everyone that, "I blame Margaret Thatcher" and, by implication, her progeny in the Austeritory Party.

Thatcher, rather than believe in society, believed in the individual. And now we face a challenge that cannot be met by the individual and can only be faced by society as a whole. To do that we have to see ourselves firstly as a society and secondly as individuals within society. But, looking at the supermarket shelves, that is an ability that has withered in the years since Thatcher here, and Reagan in the USA, spread their poisonous, greedy and self-interested view of the world.

But don't worry, Coronavirus is proving that capitalism is no match for Mother Nature, where society might be.