In the Battle Against Coronavirus, Humanity Lacks Leadership | The World After Coronavirus

Time | By Yuval Noah Harari | March 15, 2020

AYuval Noah Harari - In the Battle Against Coronavirus, Humanity Lacks Leadership | The World After Coronavirus Leaderless World

Today humanity faces an acute crisis not only due to the coronavirus, but also due to the lack of trust between humans. To defeat an epidemic, people need to trust scientific experts, citizens need to trust public authorities, and countries need to trust each other. Over the last few years, irresponsible politicians have deliberately undermined trust in science, in public authorities and in international cooperation. As a result, we are now facing this crisis bereft of global leaders that can inspire, organize and finance a coordinated global response.

During the 2014 Ebola epidemic, the U.S. served as that kind of leader. The U.S. fulfilled a similar role also during the 2008 financial crisis, when it rallied behind it enough countries to prevent global economic meltdown. But in recent years the U.S. has resigned its role as global leader. The current U.S. administration has cut support for international organizations like the World Health Organization, and has made it very clear to the world that the U.S. no longer has any real friends – it has only interests. When the coronavirus crisis erupted, the U.S. stayed on the sidelines, and has so far refrained from taking a leading role. Even if it eventually tries to assume leadership, trust in the current U.S. administration has been eroded to such an extent, that few countries would be willing to follow it. Would you follow a leader whose motto is “Me First”?

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The void left by the U.S. has not been filled by anyone else. Just the opposite. Xenophobia, isolationism and distrust now characterize most of the international system. Without trust and global solidarity we will not be able to stop the coronavirus epidemic, and we are likely to see more such epidemics in future. But every crisis is also an opportunity. Hopefully the current epidemic will help humankind realize the acute danger posed by global disunity.

To take one prominent example, the epidemic could be a golden opportunity for the E.U. to regain the popular support it has lost in recent years. If the more fortunate members of the E.U. swiftly and generously send money, equipment and medical personnel to help their hardest-hit colleagues, this would prove the worth of the European ideal better than any number of speeches. If, on the other hand, each country is left to fend for itself, then the epidemic might sound the death-knell of the union.

In this moment of crisis, the crucial struggle takes place within humanity itself. If this epidemic results in greater disunity and mistrust among humans, it will be the virus’s greatest victory. When humans squabble – viruses double. In contrast, if the epidemic results in closer global cooperation, it will be a victory not only against the coronavirus, but against all future pathogens.

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Harari on the world after coronavirus

In-Cyprus | Bouli Hadjioannou | March 21, 2020

In an  article, the world famous Israeli author ofSapiens’, ‘Homo Deus’ and ‘21 Lessons for the 21st Century’ weighs in on the coronavirus pandemic, focusing particularly on the issue of individual rights as governments ratchet up efforts to stop the spread of the virus, as well at that of global cooperation.

“Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture. We must act quickly and decisively. We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions,” he writes.

In taking decisions, the world should ask not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes. “Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive — but we will inhabit a different world,” he adds.

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In this time of crisis, the world faces two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.

And he concludes:

“Humanity needs to make a choice. Will we travel down the route of disunity, or will we adopt the path of global solidarity? If we choose disunity, this will not only prolong the crisis, but will probably result in even worse catastrophes in the future. If we choose global solidarity, it will be a victory not only against the coronavirus, but against all future epidemics and crises that might assail humankind in the 21st century.”

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