Since the 1990s, globalization has been heralded as a means whereby humans would achieve a higher quality of life and greater prosperity. Of course we know that such claims were greatly exaggerated as globalization, as a process, has produced profoundly uneven benefits–allowing vast accumulations of wealth for the global elite while simultaneously producing desolation and dispossession for others. Culturally, it has produced manifold complexities and contradictions in the lives of people the world over.
One consequence of globalization, one which we have had to face increasingly since the 2000s, is that an interconnected world is not necessarily a more resilient world when such connections have been built upon the bedrock of avarice and plunder. This process has accelerated the transmission of financial instability, pathogens, invasive species, resource shortages, and other challenges–leaving in its wake global and domestic communities whose post-crisis responses have often failed to either eradicate the core causes of crisis (global capitalism itself) nor put into place a foundation for greater security in the future (a human-centered economy). In short, globalization has also augmented our collective vulnerability, especially when the aftermath of these crises has been even baser forms of accumulation–disaster capitalism.
As we shelter-in-place, catching restless sleep as our minds swirl with fears of infection, with our heads resting on packs of toilet paper, stumbling in the night on pallets dry goods, we should remember that crises’ greatest potential is their capacity to spur us to act with determination to bring about their ultimate resolution. That is, we should create a world where the threat of global pandemics is mitigated by robust health care systems and abundant resources to ensure the well-being of workers, families, and others; a world where, rather than rushing to “save the oligarchs”, we hasten ourselves to save the citizenry who are the true foundation for society; a world where political leaders are chosen for their integrity and their commitment to what Dr. Anderson Thompson termed the African Principle, that is the greatest good for the greatest number; a world where the twins of alienation–want and avarice–are banished in favor of care and generosity. What I am describing is not the world as it is, but it is the world that must be if we are to eradicate the bases of the crises which continue to ensnare us.