Time For Conscious Uncoupling With China

Time For Conscious Uncoupling With China


Step back.
Photo: Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock

Of all the lessons that plagues teach us, surely the most valuable one is humility.

Look around you. The most advanced, sophisticated, and wealthy civilization ever to exist on planet Earth — our glorious, multinational, globalized, technological miracle — has now been brought to a screeching halt by a pathogen so tiny no one was able to see their complex structures until the last century. For all our unparalleled wealth and knowledge, our streets are empty; our businesses for the most part are suspended; and our efficiency and technological mastery have been mocked by a speck of nature. This minuscule organism that isn’t even technically alive could, all by itself, generate a global depression unlike any since the 1930s.

All our carefully maintained, just-in-time supply lines have crashed in a matter of days. Our addictive elixir, economic growth, has evaporated. Global trade has been put on ice. We have no vaccine — and, barring a miracle, we won’t until next year. We have no effective treatments, although that may, with any luck, change. We have only very porous defenses — social distancing — which amount to a drastic, utterly unsustainable shift in how we live from day to day. And that’s it. We don’t know how contagious this virus is, how exactly it may mutate, how widespread it already is in the population at large, and even if it can reactivate in those who have recovered from infection.





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