Posts tagged ‘WH Auden’

After The Plague

Here’s the little I know about The Black Death in the 14th Century – it changed everything. After it had killed 30-50% of the population of Europe, the Peasants decided that life could not resume as it was before. So they revolted. Later, the Renaissance blossomed in a surge of creativity. I’m sure historians can elucidate on my ignorance.

It’s very likely that we will have the same experience: Deaths, revolution and creativity. After the Virus has died out, the Establishment will try to reinstate social and economic life as it was before. It may be broken, but it’s all they know. But we, the peasants, will want to see a drastic change. Life will have to be different.

Given that we were already under serious threat from climate disruption, and our environment was being degraded at an alarming rate, this change would have been forced on us in the very near future. But the virus is a really smart virus. It came along just in time to force us to stop, and take account of where we are going and how we live.

The loss of species, the degradation of animals and their environment is the background to this virus being able to jump from bats to pangolins and into humans. If we don’t want to replay this Viral lockdown scenario in another few years, it’s time now to think about the future.

Remember that Pharaoh had to contend with 7 plagues. We have so far had 5: HIV, Ebola, Sars, Mers and Covid-19. Do we really want to have to endure another 2? There are 5000 viruses available in the world. The odds are against us not having another outbreak. Look at Bill Gates’ Ted Talk warning in 2015. He predicted all this, as did others. We were not ready for it but can we ever really be ready for an invisible and smart killer ?

If I was Keir Starmer I would put together a virtual group of eminent experts and scientists who could begin to track for him the social, psychological, economic, technical and scientific changes that are already happening to us and which will continue to evolve through this plague year. When it all ends that should give him the information he needs to craft a new policy for Labour, one that chimes with the peasants. It will have to be green, it will have to reduce inequality, and it will have to bring more joy and satisfaction into our lives.

WH Auden’s line “We must love one another or die” was prescient. He later renounced it, but history has proven him a prophet. If we don’t care for each other and create a society that has compassion and concern for all of us, then we are likely to perish from the earth. And Gaia will just breathe a sigh of relief and say Good Riddance.

March 31, 2020 at 9:22 am Leave a comment


The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.

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