Staunton, April 6 – If the pandemic lasts six months, Vladimir Pastukhov says, “we will live in a world which will be different but more or less recognizable. But if it goes on for 18 months, it will be a world which we simply will not be able to recognize at all.” But there are certain features of the future that are clear.
First of all, the London-based Russian scholar says, past pandemics provide some lessons that need to be learned now: “Those who suffered the greatest economic losses but preserved their populations, as things turned out, saw their subsequent growth be more rapid” compared to those who made the alternative choice (echo.msk.ru/programs/year2020/2617917-echo/).
Second, a disaster like the current pandemic among other things highlights all the problems that this or that society has tried to avoid or not solve in the past and creates demands for rapid resolution of them, sometimes tilting the political field toward those who are prepared to use the most radical means even if those ultimately prove destructive.
Third, a pandemic like a war has very different impacts on technology and on society and politics. With respect to the first, any struggle leads to progress often radical in technology. But at the same time, it leads to regression in social and political affairs, creating a disjunction which sometimes makes unresolved problems even more difficult to solve.
Fourth, after the pandemic passes, the world will enter “an era of new etatism, an era in which the state in general will play the essential role.” Indeed, “a serious strengthening of the role of the state awaits us. God willing, this will be socialism with a human face. Socialism will spread but whether it will have a human face is a big question.”
And fifth, people will want certainty, something that will make the development of authoritarianism more likely and that of democracy less so precisely because “today, people are suffering not simply from the virus but from complete uncertainty.” That demand for certainty while understandable is potentially very dangerous.