Last year I wrote that Covid won’t end unless we act on the climate and end capitalism. That prediction has proven to be pretty accurate unfortunately. The problem we’ve seen more and more is that people get tired of the restrictions and measures. Maybe most people will take the vaccines, but many wont. You could get around that if people were all willing to keep wearing FFP2 masks, distancing, working remotely and so on. But in almost every society, we see that people eventually get frustrated and give up fighting the virus. And governments inevitably decide that economic growth is more important than lives and long covid misery. And this whole process is expedited when the restrictions are half-hearted and ineffective, which you see more in countries with the furthest right wing leaders.
Take Australia or Japan for example. They did such a good job for so long in keeping cases and deaths low, but eventually many of the good people who always followed the rules to look after everyone else as well as themselves got fed up and gave up. And the cases skyrocketed. Of course it’s going to happen when normality as we’ve known it is the target, and you slip back after making slow progress for months. Why would you keep going when the illusion of normality is within touching distance? Unless you obsessively follow the latest terrifying science as a tiny minority of people like me do, you wouldn’t.
When the virus of stupidity has taken control of the world, the majority of people are incapable of thinking “let’s go for one last push with tough restrictions so we can come out the other side of this pandemic”. Instead they think “fuck these restrictions, I want to live!”; even though a rational person would realise that’s a counterproductive strategy after thinking about it for any significant length of time.
So with that said, clearly we have to stop making the end goal to return to how things were in 2019. We’re effectively trying to make a fad diet work rather than making a permanent lifestyle change that we can maintain. It’s not just about ending capitalism and economic growth, but that’s certainly a great starting point. If we change the way society works to a degrowth style model, we can eliminate covid without any restrictions as we know them. We wouldn’t be trying to return to a previous time. We’d be moving forward with a better system for humans and all other life on Earth.
That just leaves the problem of trying to convince people that a degrowth economy is in their best interests, and that’s where selfishness and individualism come into play. The rich will presumably not want to give up their luxuries; but really, that’s our only choice now. We’re not going to return to how things were pre-pandemic by vaccines and restrictions. It’s going to either be continued chaos, new variants, endless boosters, and prioritising growth over lives or long covid misery for millions; or a new system that benefits all of us and gives us some chance of a future on this planet as an added bonus.
Degrowth may not be enough to stop human extinction. Certainly Prof. Guy McPherson doesn’t think so (barring the rapid deployment of the MEER mirror system for reflecting heat away from the planet). But it’s the only economic system which at least gives us some chance. Continuing with our current insanity as usual model is not an option. But regardless of what happens with the climate, I’d like to experience a covid-free, fair, friendly and logical society before the apocalypse comes, if it comes.