Emmanuel Macron: The pandemic ‘will change the nature of globalization’

Emmanuel Macron: The pandemic ‘will change the nature of globalization’

The Financial Times reports:

Unlike other world leaders, from Donald Trump in the US to Xi Jinping in China, who are trying to return their countries to where they were before the pandemic, the 42-year-old [French president] Mr Macron says he sees the crisis as an existential event for humanity that will change the nature of globalisation and the structure of international capitalism.

As a liberal European leader in a world of strident nationalists, Mr Macron says he hopes the trauma of the pandemic will bring countries together in multilateral action to help the weakest through the crisis. And he wants to use a cataclysm that has prompted governments to prioritise human lives over economic growth as an opening to tackle environmental disasters and social inequalities that he says were already threatening the stability of the world order.

But he does not hide his concern that the opposite could happen, and that border closures, economic disruption and loss of confidence in democracy will strengthen the hand of authoritarians and populists who have tried to exploit the crisis, from Hungary to Brazil.

“I think it’s a profound anthropological shock,” he says. “We have stopped half the planet to save lives, there are no precedents for that in our history.”

“But it will change the nature of globalisation, with which we have lived for the past 40 years . . . We had the impression there were no more borders. It was all about faster and faster circulation and accumulation,” he says. “There were real successes. It got rid of totalitarians, there was the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago and with ups and downs it brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But particularly in recent years it increased inequalities in developed countries. And it was clear that this kind of globalisation was reaching the end of its cycle, it was undermining democracy.”

There is a realisation, Mr Macron says, that if people could do the unthinkable to their economies to slow a pandemic, they could do the same to arrest catastrophic climate change. People have come to understand “that no one hesitates to make very profound, brutal choices when it’s a matter of saving lives. It’s the same for climate risk,” he says. “Great pandemics of respiratory distress syndromes like those we are living through now used to seem very far away, because they always stopped in Asia. Well, climate risk seems very far away because it affects Africa and the Pacific. But when it reaches you, it’s wake-up time.” [Continue reading…]

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