The universal Stay at Home order is without precedent. Over the past decade, American foreign policy experts have strategised nuclear war and a Brady-less Super Bowl instead of probable pandemics in a post-SARS world. Striking shots of Rome reveal a city which, in all likelihood, has never before been so deserted. Global government responses are faltering - clapping for health workers has become legitimate government expenditure and melodramatic air force flyovers have distracted from meaningful healthcare support. Even as personal protective equipment finally becomes mainstream, lockdown masks a generational time bomb of mental health trauma.
The virtues of quality personal time under lockdown are being heralded everywhere we look, but risk patronising a hastily rediscovered essential workforce and the vast majority who do not have the luxury of binging Tiger King or scrolling through TikTok. The aspirations of young and old lie in tatters as mass job losses and firm bankruptcies decimate a global economy void of competent furlough schemes and reasonable debt restructuring. The new status quo is like the wild west without Kirk Douglas, or a role model competition without Dominic Cummings. It is appalling.
In 2020, the only thing we thought would be certain regarding Sino-American relations was that people would continue to pronounce Huawei suspiciously. Today, Donald Trump criticizes China for being Asian and the World Health Organization for being global. On the side, he is either promoting the consumption of bleach or demanding the liberation of state’s following his own administration’s guidance on lockdown measures. He may be a toddler, but his immaturity has been normalised and incoherence rationalized by allies on both sides of the Pond. You could not make any of this up: in fact, even Contagion - a remarkably accurate 2011 film about the response to a global pandemic - got it wrong when casting the savvy conspiracy theorist (spoiler) as the deliberate peddler of useless virus treatments. The writers could hardly have expected such chaos would come from the President of the United States.
A pandemic has widened the scope for catastrophic decision-making to the point where the wealthiest country on the planet has had more cases of coronavirus than the six next most devastated countries, combined. Despite this, like several other nations, the US has already got to work lifting lockdown restrictions, committing untold thousands to their deaths.
Because impeachment seems to have more value on a fruit farm, a corrupt demagogue is likely to retain hold of the presidential office for another four years. Global cooperation is necessary to fight global crises, and re-election would hamstring effective responses; from Coronavirus and the climate emergency, to racism and unprecedented inequality. That we choose to ‘fight’ certain crises but not others exposes political priorities as much as it muddles meaning.
Some are having to consider for the first time that life does not seem fair: even the most privileged ivory towers are not immune to this disaster. Our world is in a state of flux. Although it is tempting to look comfortably out of the living room window, yearning for normalcy, the last thing people or the planet can afford is to carry on as before. There is too much at stake. We hope this edition will bring refreshing new perspectives as CRXSS explores the thought-provoking intersections of a global pandemic.