“Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”
― Milton Friedman
Commentator on the dangers of extreme capitalism, Naomi Klein, used this quote to alert us that we do not have to go down the usual script of the Shock Doctrine or Disaster Capitalism where in times of crisis, policy makers exploit our disorientation to enable the wealthiest (and often, most ecologically harmful corporations), to become even more wealthy and polluting whilst the class divide becomes greater with greater consequences.
We can use the coronavirus crisis to put pressure on governments to create a new “New Deal” - the New Deal being Roosevelt’s deal with the American public during the 1930s to provide relief, reform, and recovery from the Great Depression. For example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez developed the idea of the Green New Deal where governments bail out businesses and corporations that will help us land more safety into the future rather than current no-strings attached bail outs for the wealthiest and most polluting corporations.
What we are seeing in the coronavirus crisis around the world is the devastating impact of extreme capitalism fuelled by free market thinking which has eroded societal safety nets, like accessible health care, education, job security, ecological care, and all the values that go toward a civil society. Instead, we are seeing price gouging on hand sanitisers in America and a frenzy of behaviours that are all about what I need.
Let’s use this time of crisis to feel and to face our anger, sadness, loss, fear, sense of injustice, and our past helpless acceptance of unacceptable levels of uneven wealth distribution where 1% of the 1% own most of the world's wealth. Let's, begin to digest and to understand what is underpinning the coronavirus crisis to make real and meaningful changes in policy. Personal changes are good but it's not enough to make the world a better place for everyone rather than a few.