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Building Back Together

The world is confronting three great ruptures: the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital revolution, and climate change. Unfortunately, it is confronting them with the nation-state, which is no longer fit for purpose.

BERLIN – Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to envisage a future much the same as the past, so we cling to familiar tools, approaches, and perspectives, even as the world changes. But, at this moment of profound social, political, and economic transformation, we must take care not to permit our habits to lead us astray.

Historically, major transformations – such as that following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact at the beginning of the 1990s – have not made societies collectively wiser, or even more skeptical. Instead, they have generally been met with the expectation that everyday life will remain largely the same – or at least return to “normal.”

This tendency has been apparent during the COVID-19 crisis, which is often regarded as a temporary, if dramatic, disruption. In fact, the pandemic is a watershed moment – and it is not the only one we are facing today: the digital revolution and the imperative of rapid decarbonization are similarly consequential.

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