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Imagining A New World on the Other Side of the Pandemic

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At the Nation, Atossa Araxia Abrahamian has a provocative piece that imagines how future historians may come to write the story of the Covid-19. The speculative history takes the form of a “best-case” scenario that serves as both a challenge and a salve, an inspirational fantasy to help balance out the more easily imagined dystopias with a tantalizing vision of a civilization transformed.

In Abrahamian’s telling, every aspect of society ends up being made better by the current crisis, including deliverance of the long-sought goal of world peace.

“[All] wars’ [were] put on hold thanks to a unanimous resolution in the UN Security Council,” writes Abrahamian from this imagined future. “Iran reached a détente with Israel after medical researchers banded together to develop a treatment that saved the life of millions.” In place of weapons, military contractors “started churning out medical supplies; soldiers mobilized to build homes and hospitals; unemployed workers pledged to build small-scale local green infrastructure.”

Austerity? “[A] distant nightmare of the past.

Carbon emissions? [D]ropped dramatically. Demand for oil dried up, too.”

Many of the future scenarios laid out in the piece already have toeholds in reality. Air pollution is dropping. Talk of austerity is out the window, replaced by massive stimuluses. ICE is taking a break from its awful work. Keeping these green shoots alive and helping them flower into alternative systems will require attention and work — even and especially as the crisis begins to abate, whenever that comes to pass. But as Abrahamian so vividly makes clear, the potential rewards could be massive indeed.

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