Učinek korona krize: Deglobalizacija in družbena dezintegracija?

Branko Milanović je narisal črn scenarij, če bi se boj proti korona virusu zelo podaljšal na nekaj let. Dva ključna učinka. Prvi je deglobalizacija, saj bi se globalno gospodarstvo počasi dezintegriralo na manjše nacionalne entitete, države pa bi svoje oskrbovalne verige organizirale znotraj nacionalnih meja. Drugič pa je socialna dezintegracija v smislu boja za omejene resurse (preživetje) med posamezniki, kar bi poskušale nadzorovati vojaške in paravojaške enote. Dobimo svet iz grdih katastrofičnih filmov, vendar brez happy enda.

Jaz sem sicer manj črnogled, ker verjamem, da bo v določeni točki boja proti širitvi virusa prevladal racionalni premislek političnih voditeljev v trade-offu med številom potencialno umrlih na eni in uničenjem gospodarstva ter družbenih in meddržavnih odnosov na drugi strani. In čas za ta premislek bo prišel v roku meseca in pol ali največ dveh, ko se bo pokazalo, ali je v državah, ki niso Kitajska, širjenje virusa sploh mogoče popolnoma zaustaviti.

In takrat bo prišel na vrsto Plan B. Toda do takšne odločitve mora priti po naravni poti in sprejeta bo na mednarodni ravni. Na nas pa je, da naredimo vse, da čim bolj zaustavimo širjenje virusa, v vmesnem času pa pospešeno izgradimo zdravstvene kapacitete ter protokole zaščite najbolj ranljivih skupin prebivalstva, da se lahko učinkovito soočimo s scenarijem kolektivne imunitete.

The world faces the prospect of a profound shift: a return to natural—which is to say, self-sufficient—economy. That shift is the very opposite of globalization. While globalization entails a division of labor among disparate economies, a return to natural economy means that nations would move toward self-sufficiency. That movement is not inevitable. If national governments can control or overcome the current crisis within the next six months or a year, the world would likely return to the path of globalization, even if some of the assumptions that undergirded it (for example, very taut production chains with just-in-time deliveries) might have to be revised.

But if the crisis continues, globalization could unravel. The longer the crisis lasts, and the longer obstacles to the free flow of people, goods, and capital are in place, the more that state of affairs will come to seem normal. Special interests will form to sustain it, and the continuing fear of another epidemic may motivate calls for national self-sufficiency. In this sense, economic interests and legitimate health worries could dovetail. Even a seemingly small requirement—for instance, that everyone who enters a country needs to present, in addition to a passport and a visa, a health certificate—would constitute an obstacle to the return to the old globalized way, given how many millions of people would normally travel.

That process of unraveling might be, in its essence, similar to the unraveling of the global ecumene that happened with the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire into a multitude of self-sufficient demesnes between the fourth and the sixth centuries. In the resulting economy, trade was used simply to exchange surplus goods for other types of surplus produced by other demesnes, rather than to spur specialized production for an unknown buyer. As F. W. Walbank wrote in The Decline of the Roman Empire in the West, “Over the whole [disintegrating] Empire there was a gradual reversion to small-scale, hand-to-mouth craftsmanship, producing for the local market and for specific orders in the vicinity.”

The movement to natural economy would be driven not by ordinary economic pressures but by much more fundamental concerns, namely, epidemic disease and the fear of death. Therefore, standard economic measures can only be palliative in nature: they can (and should) provide protection to people who lose their jobs and have nothing to fall back on and who frequently lack even health insurance. As such people become unable to pay their bills, they will create cascading shocks, from housing evictions to banking crises.

Even so, the human toll of the disease will be the most important cost and the one that could lead to societal disintegration. Those who are left hopeless, jobless, and without assets could easily turn against those who are better off. Already, some 30 percent of Americans have zero or negative wealth. If more people emerge from the current crisis with neither money, nor jobs, nor access to health care, and if these people become desperate and angry, such scenes as the recent escape of prisoners in Italy or the looting that followed Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 might become commonplace. If governments have to resort to using paramilitary or military forces to quell, for example, riots or attacks on property, societies could begin to disintegrate.

Thus the main (perhaps even the sole) objective of economic policy today should be to prevent social breakdown. Advanced societies must not allow economics, particularly the fortunes of financial markets, to blind them to the fact that the most important role economic policy can play now is to keep social bonds strong under this extraordinary pressure.

Vir: Branko Milanović, Foreign Affairs

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