“As the coronavirus spiders across the planet, I’ve been thinking about the illness as a very expensive stress test for the global order — an acute, out-of-nowhere shock that is putting pressure on societies at their weakest points. Some nations, like Iran and perhaps Italy, are teetering under the threat; others, like South Korea, are showing remarkable resilience. The best ones will greet the crisis as an opportunity to build a more robust society, even better prepared for a future unseen danger. The worst will treat it as a temporary annoyance, refusing to consider deeper fixes even if they somehow stagger through this crisis.
… What we’re learning is that our society might be far more brittle than we had once imagined. The virus has laid bare our greatest vulnerability: We’ve got the world’s biggest economy and the world’s strongest military, but it turns out we might have built the entire edifice upon layers and layers of unaccounted-for risk, because we forgot to assign a value to the true measure of a nation’s success — the well-being of its population.”
I’m less optimistic. I think countries like Britain and America will “stagger” through this pandemic, congratulate ourselves for surviving despite the odds and then have a justification for another decade or more of austerity and further cuts to public services.