There has been a notable strain of idealistic and even utopian predictions about human society after the ravages of the virus. At the heart of these is a sense that war (as happened in the 2nd world war) brings people together in a more caring and unified society. Related to this is a sense that those who want to reduce the size of the state in our economic lives are being routed. Who would have thought of that a Conservative government would be devoting truly huge sums of money to paying wages and rescuing collapsing companies? We are effectively semi-nationalised. I would love to think that society will be transformed for the better. But I think all the signs are pointing in the other direction.
- The great global semi-monopolies – Amazon, Google etc – will emerge even more dominantly, consolidating their hold on markets and fortifying their unaccountability to local political regimes.
What is to stop the mega-companies merging to form huge controlling entities resembling the state of affairs in Orwell’s 1984. The difference is that Orwell’s mega-entities were the product of conventional politics, power and wars. He did not, unsurprisingly, see that the totalising would be achieved through the electronic society.
- The mega-companies will drag along political regimes and governments by their coat tails. The exception might be China, which will act as if one of the mega-companies. That so many people are resorting to buying things online (by necessity) is going to feed the mega-companies, while the more modest local business will already be out of business or seriously crippled. I do not see this as being reversed.
- One obvious positive is that employers and employees may find great advantages working from home – scrap the rush hour, enhance family life etc. etc. My view is that an employer should pay somebody on the worth of the job done, not on the basis of being in the office 9–5.
- The draconian powers being introduced to control the citizenry suite those who aim to stifle dissent and unapproved behaviour on a longer-term basis.
- The arts will be more than ever necessary in the face of the totalisation for their assertion of human values and interaction.
- People will forget.