Much has been written about how life will be after we are done with COVID-19 – some of it sensible, some of it mere hyperbole but one of the more thoughtful pieces I have come across is this one by Paul Kedrosky a venture capitalist who jotted down some thoughts in one of his in a letter to investors.
“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.” That is Lenin’s line, and it has felt right in every way and, likely, in almost every country in the world these last eight weeks. And people—investors, in particular—are falling all over themselves trying to understand what it means. We all want to try to explain something this wrenching, and to explain how it feels.
In particular, we want to believe that we just lived through weeks where decades happened, as Lenin said. Except Lenin didn’t say that; and as near as anyone can tell, he never said anything like it. The first example of the phrase only appeared a few decades ago, and it has caught on since, partly because it’s well put, but mostly because it captures how we feel about what it’s like to have something explode into our consciousness and force us out of our usual amniotic now. We want an explanation, we want to believe something has changed, and we want it to explain where things go from here.
The reality, however, is that wildness has always lurked just beneath the surface. A combination of willful blindness, homeostasis, wishful thinking, and luck have let us skate past the holes in modernity’s ice and pretend nothing lurks beneath it. We have been making bets on smooth, thick ice for decades, and we stopped noticing, even if cracks open anytime in the thickest ice. Pandemics are a crack in our preferred reality, but they are nothing new, even if many countries, like the US, lack recent experience with them, and so pandemics hit harder and longer.
More here – Paul Kedrosky