Why we must resist the New Normal


Time and time again you hear politicians, pundits, and pundits talking about the new normal. Although they rarely say what it is exactly, their message is clear: the way we live and work in the post-Covid world will be very different from the way we live and work in the pre-Covid world.

There are many versions of the New Normal. For example, the work involved has changed the way people work, with many people expected to continue working from home. The environment implies reduced international travel and lower consumption levels. And that of education involves replacing, in part, the old-fashioned face-to-face teaching with online learning.

It can often seem like the New Normal is a way for certain sections of society to advance their pre-existing visions of how things should be. For some economists, for example, the New Normal means the restructuring of capitalism. A World Bank blog affirms that multinationals will have to take “greater responsibility” for the environment and adopt a “greater focus on sustainability and green initiatives”. Decarbonization is projected here as a product of the new normal.

This is a perspective advocated by the globalist oligarchs of the World Economic Forum, in the form of its so-called Big reset. This is the WEF’s attempt to put a positive spin on the new normal. He claims that the application of new technologies under the benevolent guidance of technocratic experts will create a more just world.

The political New Normal shares certain aspects with the vision of the WEF. Like the WEF, those who advocate New Normal politics want to subordinate democratic decision-making to technocratic expertise. In particular, they believe that public health experts should have a much bigger say in the management of the company.

This technocratic view, however, lacks even the technological optimism of the Great Reset. Instead, public health experts see the new normal as a way to continue the restrictions and public health management of the past 18 months. From their perspective, it is not humans who determine the future of society, but a virus.

And here, perhaps, we are approaching what lies at the heart of these various New Normal visions – tremendous fatalism. A virus does dictate our future to us. Public life has been reduced to little more than an exercise in public health. The overarching goal of the new normal life comes down to little more than avoiding risks – or, as it was once called, tempting fate – and trying to stay safe.

This brings us to the dominant themes of the New Normal storyline – human passivity and helplessness.

Indeed, both are continually promoted by advocates of the New Normal. For example, the Guardian‘s report on her favorite risk-averse company, New Zealand, is titled: “No ‘return to normal’ expected in post-pandemic New Zealand – and locals say that’s fine.” Overall, he says, the feelings of “New Zealanders” towards Covid-19 were “passive”. Almost half – or 44% – felt neutral emotions around Covid-19, and three-quarters felt the country was heading in the right direction.

The passivity of New Zealanders in the face of Covid and the resulting restrictions highlight a dramatic loss of agency. If this report is correct, it suggests that New Zealanders are gripped by a strong sense of fatalism. And they don’t seem to be alone. Across the West, many seem ready to accept that there is nothing else they can do. The virus decides their future for them.

This is a dangerous step backwards for humanity.

Mankind has, of course, long submitted the idea of ​​fate to philosophical and scientific debate. The Ancients often expressed a powerful belief in the potential of people to exercise their will and shape their future. With the ascendancy of the Enlightenment and the dominant influence of science and knowledge, belief in the creative and transformative potential of humanity flourished. When US President Franklin Roosevelt said in 1939: “Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds,” he echoed the belief that people possessed the power to make their own way. in the world. That Roosevelt was able to express such a positive view of the human condition in the dark days of 1939 indicates an admirable refusal to leave it to fate.

The representation of humanity in the West today is much less flattering. Human helplessness and vulnerability are emphasized in virtually all cultural fields. People are deprived of the ability to make conscious decisions about their lives. Indeed, even the idea that human beings are capable of reasoning, judging and acting on their own has given way to the dogma that people lack the moral and intellectual resources to cope with a crisis – in the occurrence of a pandemic.

This tendency to portray humanity as being at the constant mercy of events beyond its control, be it viruses or climate change, resembles the ancient practice of conjuring up fate as a terrifying force and unstoppable. Yet even though many Elders were in awe of fate, they still explored the possibility that individuals could influence their futures.

The Romans, for example, worshiped the goddess Fortuna, giving her great power over human affairs. But they still believed that his influence could be contained and even overcome by people of true virtue. As the saying goes: “Fortune favors the brave. The belief that the power of fortune could be limited by the effort and will of man is one of the most important legacies of the humanist tradition – a tradition that came to life in the Renaissance and flourished. in the Age of Enlightenment. Indeed, this tradition affirmed the belief that, under certain circumstances, mankind could free itself from necessity and influence its own future.

But that was then. Today, the optimistic belief in the ability of humanity to overcome the challenges it faces has been replaced by a strong sense of fatalism.

However, we do not have to accept the dogma of the New Normal. The old normality encouraged humanity to see itself as the subjects and not the objects of history. We must reclaim the democratic and forward-looking spirit of the Age of Enlightenment. It is not for the experts sitting in their labs to decide what is normal and what is not. Through democratic debate, it is up to citizens to determine which future they wish to inhabit. Beware of the New Normal hawkers.

Frank Furedithe last book of Democracy Under Siege: Don’t Let Them Lock It Down is published by Zer0 Books.

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