Peace and prosperity beyond the Covid 19 crisis: neither rearrangement nor restart, but restore!
Peace and prosperity beyond the COVID-19 crisis: neither rearrangement nor restart, but restore!
Dear friends, all people of good and free will: The world after the coronavirus crisis might be different. But what will be different? Everyone has a different idea.
In my opinion, we don’t need to rearrange or restart the world; we need to restore it. We need to restore the values that helped us make postwar Europe into a better place for life and can make the whole planet a better place for life, if we hold onto them. I am talking about peace and prosperity – the fundamental goals of the former European Coal and Steel Community; I mean values that can protect our freedom.
These values were good for our ancestors seven decades ago. These values allowed us to reunite Europe and ensure its security and prosperity after the devastating war. These values are certainly good enough for us after the COVID-19 crisis. If the world needs to change, let it be a change in the way of returning to peace and prosperity, which ceased to be considered as fundamental goals for many of us—some because they lost faith in these goals, others because they considered that these goals had been achieved and secured definitively. Both approaches are wrong. Peace is threatened, prosperity is irretrievably gone, and freedom is reduced slowly but surely at the end of the day.
Prosperity and security are values that for many people today seem too narrow-minded, too obsolete, too “conservative,” and that's why we supposedly should be more visionary, more ambitious, more progressive. Above all, we now must fight for climate, racial, gender and cultural rights. However, peace and prosperity are not outdated, overcome and granted. I am afraid that this substitution of priorities is a fatal mistake. The coronavirus crisis has only emphasized it.
In reality, large groups of the West’s citizens feel threatened by globalization, mass migration, terrorism and the economic crisis. They are afraid of losing a historically unique accomplishment of Western civilization that has been achieved thanks to the Marshall Plan, the European Coal and Steel Community, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the U.S. presence in Europe. For the first time in history, the civilization machine was able to provide real prosperity and real security to everyone, not only to a small group of elites.
Right now, even the middle class is uncertain and afraid of losing the achievements of the second half of the 20th century. The majority of the world still have not achieved those. The Great Recession and the ongoing coronavirus crisis are only deepening those fears and uncertainty. I dare to say, it is most important to assure a worker in Detroit that he will keep his current status and give a sorghum farmer in Kenya real hope that he also will achieve a similar status soon. Peace and prosperity are basic human needs, and we have to guarantee them. If people lack these basic needs, it would be rude to submit to them some others.
It is not fair and it is not wise to force on the people a high price for “noble” goals selected by the liberal elites, without previous and deep discussion with them first. Liberal elites are trying to misuse the fear of infection to push through new ideologies leading to the loss of freedom and to dependence. Nevertheless, while politicians, journalists, academic scholars and representatives of multinational corporations benefit from globalization, hundreds of millions of people have worries and hardships. On the other hand, only prosperous and secure societies have the necessary resources, potential and interest to care about the environment, the status of racial and sexual minorities, women´s rights and humanitarian aid.
Let’s take the West back to the road that was taken in the postwar era, and also let’s encourage the rest of the world to walk that path side by side with the West. Let’s provide people with the basic needs, and they will take care of the noble goals themselves, just as they did 70 years ago.
Let’s not desire a rearrangement or a restart, but let’s desire a renewal of the old virtues instead.
Let’s desire a free trade without free riders such as China, which only exploits the free market in order to protect its own market.
Let’s desire a strong NATO, which will ensure global security and peaceful development.
Let’s insist on human rights and not allow anyone to profit from the violation of those rights.
Let’s desire a new environmental consensus based on innovations and not ideology; based on protecting the environment for life and not on jeopardizing life for environmental reasons.
Let’s desire to remove fundamental decisions about the future from the hands of unelected elites and return them to democratic public decision-making, just as it used to be.
The coronavirus destruction can’t be equal to the destruction in World War II. We are much stronger, richer and have bigger capacities than our ancestors in the ’50s. But I feel that in comparison to them, we lack faith, will, self-confidence and the ability to distinguish between the substantial and the unsubstantial. Nevertheless, I hope that we are still able to walk toward the goal of peace and prosperity worldwide. There is no restoration without preservation. Let’s preserve the good from the past, let’s avoid well-known mistakes, and we will not lose the future. Your lives matter!