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Preparing for a post-pandemic world

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Politics, people and markets are similar in how they respond to crisis, from natural disaster, to financial slump, to the onset of war. The instinctive response is fear and uncertainty; followed by mitigation; followed ultimately by the search for renewal in the wreckage of calamity.

While countries around the world roll out emergency measures to respond to COVID-19, and with an estimated 50 million people in lockdown, few are actually prepared for what a post-pandemic world will look like - the demands it will make of the societies left to populate it, and the extent to which it will blunt the confidence and hyper-individualism that has characterised the 21st century thus far.

At the end of World War II, the need for a global framework based on shared values and interdependence rallied political and policy elites to the cause of a liberal international order. In the 70-odd years that followed, that framework was gradually eroded by the combined forces of globalisation, poverty and the unresponsiveness of mainstream political parties to local discontent.

Until a few months ago, it seemed almost certain that the resurgence of the political right from Brazil to Hungary, and India to the United States would unambiguously come to define the remainder of the 21st century. Autocracies would consolidate. Exclusion and xenophobia would dominate election promises; and events such as the European migrant crisis would further the logic for nativism and tougher rules on immigration and protectionism.

But will the pandemic, the deadliest since the Spanish influenza, change all that? Or will the neo-authoritarian character of the last two decades, culminating dramatically in Britain's exit from the EU, be immune to........

© Al Jazeera