Sunday, 31 May 2020

E Editorial

The Pandemic and the World Order

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The coronavirus epidemic seems to be transforming the world.  Regional conflicts have been frozen, and the UN secretary general is trying to formalize that development.  Governments are in panic, concerned about possibly large-scale economic crisis and, as its consequence, social explosions.  Simultaneously, and without coordination, new formats for the regulation of education and employment are being organized.  The planet has turned small in a way, and states have been compelled to cooperate more closely, at the same time closing borders in front of each other.  Everyone agrees that the world is changing, but we can only suggest scenarios as to the directions in which we might move.

The European Union, which constituted the symbol of globalization and was the godfather of that greatest project of the 20th Century, is turning out to be, it seems, coronavirus’s most probable victim or, more correctly, the symbol of globalization’s decline.  While those considered globalization’s enemies, such as the most influential Trump and Putin, together with Britain (Brexit is one of the most blatant anti-globalist initiatives), have become the beneficiaries of none other than the coronavirus.

During one of the debates in the EU parliament on the struggle against the virus, many would note that the main fighters were the nation-states because the international bodies were not effective.  The Estonian president suggested that, against the backdrop of the pandemic, the EU was unable to carry out its main mission—to facilitate the work of a united market, to secure a union of national governments.

It is noteworthy that throughout history during epidemics the role of local governments increases.  In particular, as a result of the 14th Century’s great plague, during which many say Europe lost more than half of its population, the role of the Catholic Church (the EU of the time) began to weaken and the significance of the local authorities started to rise.  That was also a strong signal aimed toward the future “Reformation” against the Catholic Church.

At the present moment, as fate would have it, as a result of the virus, Turkey’s blackmail connected with sending refugees to Europe completely failed.  Now there is a convincing reason to shut down the frontiers, at once solving the refugee knot.

The borders are being closed, the common market is crumbling, a string of rights (expression, movement, etc) is being restricted, hopefully temporarily.  However, any temporary limitation has the power of inertia, especially when many “threaten” that similar plagues can recur more frequently.

In a word, as with the medieval plagues, today’s epidemics change our mentality, value system, economic structure, and so on.

But the main thing is: are we capable of keeping up with the world and also changing, becoming a more prudent society, and transforming our state policy?  In such cases, the winners are those nations which presage the pulse of the time and, before the others, orient themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies

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