Four Scenarios for the Post-Corona World

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By by Philippe Pochet, General Director of the European Trade Union Institute:

"The post-crisis EU (if it survives) could indeed have very different foundations. But in which global environment? I see four possible scenarios here.

a possible return to neoliberal orthodoxy

The first – and contrary to what I wrote before – is a possible return to neoliberal orthodoxy. A bit like the previous crisis (2008 - 2013) where we reverted even more radically to neoliberal fundamentals after a more or less green recovery in 2009. In my view, this scenario is unlikely (but nevertheless not to be ruled out) for this crisis. Moreover, it would seem that we have learned our lessons from the previous crisis and its poor management. It’s difficult to see an austerity policy being applied to the public sector in one or two years’ time.

we move towards a more authoritarian state monitoring

The second scenario is the Chinese (or Hungarian) hypothesis, under which we move towards a more authoritarian state monitoring a country’s population via new means based on artificial intelligence, with (sometimes fundamental) freedoms being restricted in exchange for a feeling of protection (of a country’s territory). The fact that this health crisis could be recurrent opens up possibilities for more authoritarian governments to assert themselves as the guarantors of their citizens’ safety and security. This scenario goes hand in hand with global fragmentation and radical “deglobalisation”.

a return to growth at any price (Belle Epoque)

The third scenario is a return to growth at any price, with unfettered catch-up consumption without any consideration for the environment leading us out of the crisis. Reminiscent of the Belle Époque, this would be nothing less than an end-of-the-world party. While it would obviously have a positive impact on traditional economic indicators and would reduce bankruptcies and unemployment in the short and medium term, it would have major long-term consequences. The calls of certain governments or players to forget the Green Deal underline the strength of this scenario.

accelerating the ecological transition and a rapid rethinking of our growth model

The final scenario involves accelerating the ecological transition and a rapid rethinking of our growth model, returning public services, common goods and solidarity to the heart of the economy and social affairs. We are seeing the seeds of this in the current situation. But this would take place against a backdrop of high unemployment and a major economic crisis, making the transition very complex. The reduction of working time is undoubtedly a key point in this respect.

Obviously, these scenarios are not mutually exclusive. They can be combined and developed in parallel in different regions of the world. They could even lead to a second deglobalisation (after that experienced at the beginning of the last century)."


Discussion 2

These 3 scenarios are proposed by the Great Transition project (no url):

Conventional Worlds

Will globalized capitalism recover after a pause, or is the neoliberal Market Forces scenario now dead? Will a more cooperative, precautionary, and regulatory Policy Reform world come to dominate, and will it be enough to save corporate capitalism—or avoid collapse?


Will the stoking of fear and xenophobia feed resurgent nationalism and authoritarianism, presaging some form of Fortress World? Is there a danger of rampant conflict, loss of institutional order, and chaotic descent into Breakdown?

Great Transition

Will the traumatic encounter with the borderless virus etch our connectedness, shared risk, and need for global cooperation and governance into public consciousness? Can the emergency behavioral changes—working remotely, reduced travel, social distancing—foster sustainable consumption and economic degrowth, moving us past the dominant model of development? Have new opportunities opened up for mitigating climate change, protecting wild places, localizing economies, and taking action on other fronts?"