mogherini3_FABRICE COFFRINIAFP via Getty Images_worldhealthorganizationcoronavirus Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Listening to the Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity to call some of the political mistakes of recent years by their name and adjust our trajectory according to the compass of reality. Seizing it will require people around the world – starting with institutional and political leaders, but, ultimately, all of us – to put reality first.

MILAN – As of a few weeks ago, no one would have disputed that the most relevant and evident trend in the global politics of our times is “go national.” Unilateralism and “zero-sum game” logic seemed to be the new normal: “For me to win, I need you to lose” and “Me first.”

These phrases seemed to be the unequivocal and almost uncontested trademark of this century. Moreover, it was a trademark that had almost no limits in terms of geography and ideology: you found it in many different shades, but on each and every continent, in each and every political orientation (including many varieties of unlabelled political movements), across a wide range of institutional systems, and even within some international organizations. This trend seemed to consolidate by the day, with very few voices trying to argue for a cooperative international approach, multilateralism, win-win solutions and a search for common ground, and community-based policies rather than a purely individualistic vision of society.

Today, as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the entire world, putting at risk so many of our lives and shaking the foundations of our everyday way of life, we need to ask if this paradigm is likely to remain the predominant one. Is the pandemic going to strengthen it, or are there lessons we will learn?

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