Everything has changed. Changed utterly, to paraphrase WB Yeats.
Has the coronavirus, Covid-19, broken capitalism? Perhaps.
Business and financial experts argue that we must keep the show on the road: Reduce interest rates to almost zero; Print money; Keep everyone spending; Save the airlines, the motor car, tourism, roads, cruise ships, and continue to burn oil.
Spend, spend, spend. Shore up the economy. We mustn’t fall into a depression.
But why would we want to return to the flawed system of the last century?
The hamster wheel of growth is harming the planet, the air we breathe, and our psyches.
Post-coronavirus, we each need to think about how we contribute to the social good (or how we ‘add value’, to use business speak).
Most of us have lost the ability to understand the difference between what we need and what we want and so we prop up all sorts of derivative, but inessential, businesses that come loosely under the sectors of gambling, entertainment, narcissism, addiction, and greed.
They play on our desire for a thrill, our need to celebrate ourselves, our fears about the future, and our avoidance of boredom.
Imagine, post-coronavirus, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland coming together, using citizens’ assemblies to advise on how to become a green island; how to provide a universal income; how to introduce random selection (like jury service) for being a political representative: an MP or a TD, a councillor, a member of the Senate or House of Lords.
The island of Ireland could be the first joint nation to fully harness tidal energy (our coastline is a resource waiting to be exploited), wind energy, and solar energy; we could embrace recycling, re-using, up-cycling, and swapping our surplus goods by expanding local markets, replacing cars with people, and putting the community at the centre of the urban environment.
Bring back the Forum — there is a reason it worked well for the Romans.
This pandemic has made me pause. What do I need? Really need?
Food, shelter (a home), electricity, health, public transport, clean air, clean environment, information, love, family, touch; and, for my soul, I need books, art, music, gathering together in community; a feeling of belonging; a feeling of contributing to the social good.
Some would call it communism. I’d call it fair.