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A Historian Looks Ahead At A Transformed Post-Pandemic World


So what will the world look like after the great 2020 pandemic? We are changing the way we work, live, communicate and what we expect from our governments in response to this crisis. And we're joined now by author, historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari, from his home near Jerusalem, who has some thoughts.

Welcome to the program.

YUVAL NOAH HARARI: Hello. It's good to be here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You have said we are right now involved in a vast social experiment during this pandemic. Tell me what you mean.

HARARI: Well, there are experiments everywhere. Like, my university just moved into all its courses online, which it thought of doing for years but never did anything. And now we have this huge experiment. What happens when you move an entire university online? Similarly, you know, there have been talk about universal basic income for several years. And now the U.S. government is going to do it. What happens when hundreds of millions of people start working from home, instead of going to the office or to the factory? So all these are basically social experiments on a massive scale that will change the world. We can't predict what will happen because the main thing is that we have so many choices. It's not like there is just one predetermined outcome to this epidemic.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I mean, we've seen these massive fissures in society that we've always known were there but have been exposed now. The sort of have and have-nots, the gig workers, those who have no protections devastated by the fallout from this pandemic in this so-called modern economy.

HARARI: Yes, I think, again, that this crisis can to result in the destruction of organized labor completely. Or we can just reverse the trend and people realizing the importance of having a social safety net, of having a government-sponsored health care system. It can go either way. This is the most important thing people need to realize is that we have a lot of choices. And very important decisions are going to be taken in the next month or two. It's a short window of opportunity when history is moving into - in fast forward. It's accelerating. Governments are willing to experiment to try ideas which previously would have sounded crazy. And once this is over, the order will solidify again.

Read entire article at NPR