varoufakis74_ANGELOS TZORTZINISAFP via Getty Images_athens covid Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP via Getty Images

The Seven Secrets of 2020

This year has resembled a rapidly receding tide, forcing us to confront submerged truths. One lesson we learned in 2020 is that national governments had been choosing not to exercise their enormous powers so that those whom globalization had enriched could exercise their own.

ATHENS – A house of cards. A set of lies we have unconsciously accepted. That’s what our certainties seem like during profound crises. Such episodes shock us into recognizing how unsafe our assumptions are. That is why this year has resembled a rapidly receding tide, forcing us to confront submerged truths.

We used to think, with good reason, that globalization had defanged national governments. Presidents cowered before the bond markets. Prime ministers ignored their country’s poor but never Standard & Poor’s. Finance ministers behaved like Goldman Sachs’s knaves and the International Monetary Fund’s satraps. Media moguls, oil men, and financiers, no less than left-wing critics of globalized capitalism, agreed that governments were no longer in control.

Then the pandemic struck. Overnight, governments grew claws and bared sharpened teeth. They closed borders and grounded planes, imposed draconian curfews on our cities, shut down our theatres and museums, and forbade us from comforting our dying parents. They even did what no one thought possible before the Apocalypse: they canceled sporting events.

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