A Brave New World 

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I wonder where we will be as a society this time next year, what the future holds for my children, or for my vulnerable friends and family.

How will things be after this strange new normal? Is there a chance that our economic system and values will change after this world crisis? Will our daily lives be transformed? Can the world be rebuilt differently and yield a more humane economy?

Human nature and our civilisation will probably remain the same. Conservative voices are rising in Switzerland accusing Mr Alain Berset, our head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, and the government of damaging our economy with the successive confinement orders designed to save lives by reducing our mobility, and therefore the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Once again, our human nature pushes us to search for the culprit, the guilty action, the criminal.

Yves Petignat explains this behaviour in his editorial “Demain: le monde d’hier” published in Le Temps:

Ainsi, parce qu’il nous est insupportable qu’à la souffrance ne corresponde pas la faute de quelqu’un, notre premier réflexe est de chercher des coupables.
Thus, because it is unbearable for us that suffering does not correspond to someone’s fault, our first reflex is to look for culprits.

Tim Harford describes this same behaviour in episode 3 of his podcast Cautionary Tales “Lala Land: Galileo’s Warning” - jump in at 05:48.

Charles Perrow in his book “Normal Accidents” explains that the human nature always blame the operator and inevitably look for someone to blame.

Is it wishful thinking to imagine that tomorrow’s world could be based more on a global well being and caring than on mass individualism? Solidarity versus speculation? Let’s allow people to work more slowly and with less pressure.

Simon Mair in an insightful article for The Conversation, points you that,

You have to reduce people’s dependence on a wage to be able to live.

Remember the revenu de base inconditionnel?

« la Confédération veille à l’instauration d’un revenu de base inconditionnel », revenu qui doit « permettre à l’ensemble de la population de mener une existence digne et de participer à la vie publique »
« The Confederation shall ensure the introduction of an unconditional basic income », which shall « enable the entire population to lead a dignified existence and to participate in public life ».

The initiative was refused in 2016, but it is still very much alive and could bootstrap the discussions on how to reinvent our economy.

These past weeks of global slow down have led me to believe it’s possible, but that is just me wishing that some kind global awareness will unionise us. If it happens, it will come from the base, rather than from our governments.

Just look at how fast the different EU governments have fought for medical gear, closing their borders, ignoring past agreements and loosing sight of the global picture. Austria even declared that “[their] goal now is to get out of the crisis faster than the others”. The principle of speculation is still very much anchored at the core of our economy.

Fabien Fivaz reported an editorial in the Centre Patronal’s newsletter which stired up a controversy by calling to “avoid getting used to” the return of clean air and “a simple life”.

Its author, Pierre-Gabriel Bieri, explains himself in Le Temps.

In the meantime, a petition has been launched to express our will to imagine a different future : Appel du 4 mai « Pour un redémarrage humaniste local et durable ». The parlement reopens on May 4th. Express your desire of a different future.

A Brave New World awaits us – or not.

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