There’s nothing like a crisis to bring people together – or to drive them apart. The critical difference between the two may give us an insight that will last longer than the pandemic. Those people who find that they feel closer to one another – whose concern and sense of shared responsibility come into play almost instantly in the face of danger – generally belong to communities with existing bonds of family, friendship or culture.
538prom精品视频在线播放This is, in effect, the meaning of the word community and it is the very thing that has been undermined and consciously discredited by the great internationalist moves of the second half of the last century.
Globalisation and its little siblings, the federated, multinational blocs which now dominate the world economy, have deliberately sought not simply to displace the old order of self-governing nations but to condemn them as... you know the epithets: xenophobic, backward, inward-looking and racist. To seek to preserve a cohesive society in which there are more or less reliable expectations of behaviour, a set of loosely defined but widely understood common values, and a collective history, has been trounced in the modern wisdom.
This was, Europe constantly reminds itself (and us), precisely the mentality that ended in the terrible atrocities for which the 20th century will be remembered. What you call “community cohesion”, they say, inevitably ends in racial purity and hatred of the outsider.
It doesn’t, of course – except under the most aberrant circumstances and with uniquely wicked orchestration. But that’s another argument. What needs to be observed during the present emergency (if that is what it is) is how differently and distinctively those supposedly extinct national communities – and their political leaders – have responded, and how those responses have been regarded by their own countrymen.
Italy, which I know well and love, was characteristically chaotic and insouciant, distrustful as always of government pronouncements because it holds its political class in benign contempt, until finally the government had to resort to authoritarianism – which its population accepted.
In the United States, Donald Trump began in his bizarre egomaniacal way with an announcement that managed to be gratuitously offensive, wildly misjudged and horrendously damaging to his own economy. But was it a million miles away from the general American view of what he called a “foreign” virus? There is considerable historical precedent for the US blaming alien intrusion when it is facing trouble.
The British position, as personified by Boris Johnson and the two principal non-politician advisors on medical and scientific matters who are his constant companions on the public stage, offers another exemplar. The gradualist approach of the UK Government is defended with impressive expert testimony that is, at once, pragmatic and persuasive. This is also largely in tune with the attitude of the British public which poses, with occasional irony, a good many pointed questions.
With my own innate disinclination to accept doomsday scenarios, I offer two examples: why, when the number of cases in the UK is, thus far, lower than that of a bad seasonal flu, and the death toll far lower than for either flu or sepsis, are we in the midst of an official crisis that requires shutting down major, morale-boosting events? And why, if deaths are overwhelmingly occurring among the economically inactive elderly, is this epidemic creating such havoc in the markets?
I should not have to say this, but given the scope for malicious misinterpretation, I will: this is not meant to make light of such deaths, just to observe that this virus, unlike the 1918 Spanish flu, is not taking a cohort of young workers permanently out of the economy.
I get the fact that this is a new viral infection to which there is, as yet, no immunity which makes it exceptionally infectious. But it is difficult not to conclude that it is the actions of governments that have produced these enormous economic repercussions, rather than the disease itself. So the approach of the British (Government and people) strikes me as basically well-judged.
538prom精品视频在线播放Yes indeed, there are grounds for seeing the behaviour of elected leaders as being expressive of what might be called, unfashionably, national character. The tendency for such predilections to cohere even harder during difficult times may be a damnable nuisance to globalists and federalised blocs but it is, I’m afraid, one of the things that makes us recognisably human. Quite simply, it is much easier for a group to join in a sympathetic collective effort to cope with an urgent problem if they are of like mind and communicate in a mutually understood social language.
O538prom精品视频在线播放f course – and, again, I should not need to say this – it is, thankfully, possible to show compassion and generosity to strangers in another land. But that is virtue, not instinct. The evolutionary imperative to join with familiar companions to defeat a threat is overwhelmingly strong and it tends to illuminate differences between communities rather than eliminate them.
538prom精品视频在线播放The recognition of this awkward truth will (or should) have important consequences for dealing with the political future. What was supposed to have been the impregnable solidarity of the EU with its relentless march toward an ever-closer centralised abolition of national identities, has been blown away for the indefinite future – as has probably the Schengen agreement on open borders.
The Italian economy is going to tank with far greater consequences for the eurozone than the impoverishment of Greece. Hence the EU is going to be in a far weaker position in its negotiations with a departing UK.
But there is a larger truth here that must not be lost. At the end of Albert Camus’ novel, The Plague (in which a pestilence devastates the Algerian city of Oran), a character observes people exclaiming to each other, “We’ve had the plague here!”. “But” he asks, “what is the plague538prom精品视频在线播放? It’s just life that’s all.” This is life – as it is really lived, not as ideologues might wish it to be.