Fareed Zakaria, Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World (New York: W.W. Norton, 2020), 307pp.
Any book by Fareed Zakaria (PhD Harvard), a weekly columnist for the Washington Post and host of his own show called GPS on CNN, is an automatic read for me. He really has few peers as a scholar with an amazing depth and breadth of knowledge about our contemporary world, who nonetheless writes with eloquence for a general audience. In past years I have reviewed two of his previous books: The Future of Freedom; Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (2003), and The Post-American World(2008). Zakaria may or may not be prescient about our future, but he's always provocative in a non-partisan way.
This book is not about the COVID pandemic, but rather what our world will look like after the pandemic, based upon the choices we make. The pandemic has changed most everything about our society: economics, politics, science, education, health care, and travel. What happens next depends on human agency.
I know this will be a spoiler, but here is what Zakaria sees for our future.
1. The international world always has been and always will be unstable.
2. What matters is not the quantity of government but the quality.
3. Markets are not enough. We need a social contract that benefits everyone.
4. People should listen to the experts, and the experts should listen to the people.
5. Life is digital.
6. Aristotle was right — we are social animals, which is to say that we must co-operate.
7. Inequality will get worse.
8. Globalization is not dead.
9. The world is becoming bipolar (think China and the USA).
10. Sometimes the greatest realists are the idealists. We should repudiate cynicism and pessimism.
These, says Zakaria, are "the forces that are gaining steam." But he categorically rejects fate. We have many possible futures, all of which depend on our choices. Human agency matters. Nothing is set in stone. Countries can and do change (think of China and the former Soviet Union). So, we need to make wise choices.
Dan Clendenin: firstname.lastname@example.org