World has changed a lot in last several weeks. Roads are empty and quiet. Traffic is gone.
Pandemic fear and social distancing frenzy are still in full swing. A lot of countries are struggling, few countries are succeeding to a degree (enough to build a positive hope), few countries are just signing up for the pandemic ride and so far, only one has allegedly recovered, The Republic of China. It’s not clear whether recovering form virus has been a good or a bad thing for them. They are being stigmatized around the world. First, this problem was born there and second, they are coming out of the period while the rest of the world is half-way or just entering the cycle.
So let’s address first dark thought – Did China do it deliberately?
China has been an aggressive player in copying. Every iPhone launch has been followed by similar looking and poorly copied phones from Chinese market. They can copy any product at a lighting speed, you could be thinking of securing funds to build your product and they can be selling it on AliExpress at the same time (At lower cost than what you thought you’d sell at!).
This does not mean they lack innovation. Presence of ‘Just in time’ manufacturing infrastructure is an innovation in itself. Strongest examples of their innovation are: Paper, Printing, Compass and Gunpowder. In a way, they created a means to create conflicts (Written agreements), scaled it and provided means to resolve conflicts (Gunpowder) and pointed the rivals to each other (Compass). (Boy, I could compete Steve Jobs at connecting dots!)
Answer to the question – I have no clue. Their history provides the proof of caliber to invent something that can change the course of history; however, their present actions does not reflect the caliber. (If your great grandfather was a royal chef, but you can’t make a proper tea, and then one day you come up with a delicious dessert, people are going to get confused on whether you cooked it or not.)
COVID-19 is probably the most significant discovery after gunpowder. This could be a pilot run of the means to get power and dominance over other countries. Let’s take a moment to think what’ll happen in terms of geopolitics after this pandemic is over. Economies will be crashing and recovering for few months or years. Reaction of affected countries for China will be similar to the reaction of Ross Geller from Friends TV series when he finds out his wife is pregnant with his kid and she is a lesbian. (No wonder Ross was confused and introvert throughout 10 seasons).
While he found his happiness somewhere else, it’s unlikely that same will happen with countries like the USA or Europe. Some have already started to put numbers together to calculate how much China owes their country due to the pandemic. The cost to the UK may be, as a Henry Jackson Society report now suggests, over £350 billion
Is it going to turn even more ugly after pandemic? I guess so. Remember December 7, 1941? A date that lives an infamy. Empire of Japan thought it was wise to destroy American fleet units in Pearl Harbor to prevent their interference with Japanese conquest of the Dutch East Indies and Malaya. They thought this act will help them conquer southeast Asia without interference among other reasons. It did not go well.
What happens when the USA and Europe recovers from economic and social trauma. Are they going to go about their lives and forget about the cause and effect of this whole circus? Have they been able to do so in past? I hope they do but history suggests otherwise.
Aftermath of Pearl Harbour attack observed relocation of 110,000 Japanese-Americans to avoid negative social and cultural consequences. After COVID-19, it’ll be Chinese businesses and products that will face the social stigma. A business headquartered in China, or selling Chinese products in the USA or Europe is unlikely to survive and recover from the economic depression of COVID-19 at the similar speed of non-Chinese company.
Companies dependent on Chinese labor may have less impact, as labor is often not the selling point, audience can be distracted with features of a product. Love for Teslas and iPhones will increase with better features and more reliability, it doesn’t matter where they are assembled.
What is the most likely consequence of this disaster? Let’s assume a scenario or a propaganda if you will. A country succeeded in separating out one of the weakest member of the coronavirus family for experiment. A weak virus that has minimal impact on human immunity. It’s similar to viruses that cause cold, cough, fever and pneumonia. Situation got out of hand and a lot of people got infected. People with average immunity fought back and recovered. People with weaker immunity and co-morbidness. Co-morbidity means existing health liabilities such as diabetes, asthma, stupidity, wait…stupidity is not that fatal, it’s just equally potent to create dire consequences. All this happened in 2019, so the virus was named COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease – 2019)
Anyways, the exponential growth of infection scares the shit out of people. World is scared of the exponential growth because healthcare infrastructure cannot support it. The quick fix here is to stop infection. Stopping infection is one of the biggest challenge. We don’t know who is infected and who is not till the time they are in advanced stage of the infection. It takes around 2 weeks to get to advanced stage, and number of people we can meet and greet in 2 weeks is apparently impossible to trace. It’s about time we learned that we are connected to each-there in such a fucked up way that the only solution to break connections is to lock ourselves up. This led to countrywide lockdown situations. Word lockdown should be a strong candidate for new entry to oxford dictionary. I wonder if there’ll be movies, monuments and even kids named after or around this event. Imagine a girl name Corona or a boy name Covid, they’ll have pretty interesting lives. Everyone around the world would know what their names mean. They’ll be relevant around the globe, we could possibly study cultural responses to virus outbreak by sending them on a global tour. Especially when Covid turns 19!
Coming back to scenario, lockdown leads to economic depressions. Recovery is slower than typical financial meltdowns because this time around, people are scared along with being broke. Recovery also forces countries to re-evaluate their strengths and means to maintain dominance. Is supporting a complex military infrastructure a wise choice or should a country be focused on developing antidotes of known and infectious viruses while experimenting with another member of coronavirus or other such family, this time a slightly more potent virus that can address population between 30-50. While the world has learnt to react to exponentially growing outbreaks, winning point would be to increase mortality rate. It sounds like a sinister thought. I think reality will be more comfortable if and when we reach there. After all, lockdown sounded a dumbass and terrible idea, but we survived it.
Einstein’s prediction looks relevant now, next war will not be fought with guns or bombs, neither it is going to be about who has a bigger gun. It’s going to be about who has stronger immunity and who can survive on fewer resources.
So far, we heard that AI and other technologies will render a lot of jobs meaningless people must adopt to smarter skill-sets to support smarter tomorrow. The thought of massive unemployment sounded dreadful. With 16 million jobs gone from US economy in past three weeks, future has already knocked on our doors. Let’s deal with it by applying best of our minds and least of our manias. More on that later…