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Ana Marta Gonzalez Gonzalez, Professor of department of Philosophy and Researcher of Institute for Culture and Society at the University of Navarra.

Coronavirus, a turning point in globalization

Thu, 02 Apr 2020 10:40:00 +0000 Published in El Norte de Castilla

The pandemic we are suffering has profoundly altered our lives; it leads us to wonder to what extent our vital coordinates depend on a certain social normality, and leads us to speculate on the changes that will necessarily take place after this crisis. Some changes that we are experiencing on the occasion of the confinement will surely become new habits, which will nurture a different social normality: from daily practices such as greeting, to the reinforcement of teleworking in those sectors that admit it. Also the understanding of the "socialdiscipline " as a form of solidarity will leave its mark on the collective conscience.

But, in particular, the coronavirus crisis may constitute a turning point in the way we face the globalization of markets and communications; it makes us think about the ambivalent meaning of globalization, and the need to review our social model and development. Although attention is now focused on dealing with the crisis and its immediate economic consequences, we cannot avoid this reflection.

For the time being, the mobility of people that a globalized world has brought about has constituted an accelerating element of the pandemic, on which we should reflect. We have been living at an accelerated pace in all spheres for some years now, insisting on traveling all over the world to meetings where we could be present virtually. We should consider why we do not choose this option in the first place, considering that technology puts solutions at our fingertips. It is worth remembering that people do not travel as easily as capital and goods. In fact, they impose different conditions: following the pandemic, Donald Trump banned entrance for a month for people from the European Union, but not for goods; now it is China that has taken a similar measure. The globalization of markets should not forget this asymmetry between people and things, which is also at the root of many other economic and social dysfunctions.

Global interconnectedness alone does not bring solidarity or humanity. The pandemic highlights a tragic irony of fate: the borders we have unfortunately erected in Europe against immigrants, arguing that our health and labor systems could not cope with their arrival, have been easily breached by a virus; even now, in the face of the pandemic and its economic repercussions, Europe is still tempted to erect borders, internal and external, undermining its already shattered moral credibility in the eyes of its own and strangers.

However, the need to prevent future pandemics that cause similar stress on our health system will force us to carry out profound reforms in our economic and social model that will only be as effective as expected if they are global in scope. In this approach, the strengthening of healthcare and research must play a central role. Gro Harlem Brundtland, former president of the WHO, has been calling for nothing else for years, most recently in a article published in October 2019, significantly graduate "Preventing the next pandemic", which is worth knowing.

If until recently pandemic prevention did not occupy the top positions in the diary of politicians, the panorama is now quite different. The social legitimacy to introduce the necessary reforms exists: one of the issues that is being most highly valued at the moment is the care that the health care staff is providing to the sick, and the discipline and dedication with which they are carrying out their work work. This recognition hides an invitation to imagine a social model that more clearly reflects the crucial importance of these jobs, whose value is not adequately measured with money; jobs that enhance the sense of identity and solidarity; a social model that does not rest so exclusively on a vision of work modeled on the productive work , more or less replaceable by machines, and that instead emphasizes values such as creativity or solidarity, which now shine with special force in the work of the healthcare staff . Ultimately, it is a matter of realizing that there is a currency other than money in circulation, and of promoting a social model that emphasizes the more specifically human values of work.

However, if there is one thing that a pandemic highlights, it is that it is of little use to have an excellent health system if your neighbor has a poor quality one. Precisely that condemns you more than anything else to live confined within your own borders. Now more than ever we realize that, not only at the individual level, but also at the international level, self-care and care for others are two sides of the same coin. Commitment to the development of the other is the other side of development.