An unprecedented global event is unfolding before our very eyes in recent weeks. As we are an integral part of this event, and because it is unfolding at top speed, it is difficult for us to comprehend it and its lasting implications. After more than three decades of working, step by step, to reach globalization, in only three weeks, we have gone wholly deglobalized.
From the vision of a global citizen living, traveling, working, and consuming goods and services without consideration of borders, overnight borders became hermetically sealed. Under the veil of the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, one after another, countries shut down their sky, sea, and land borders. People worldwide rushed to return to their homelands, and foreigners were pushed out. Now, each country is busy converging further and further into itself.
The globalization process can be traced back to the late 1980s, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the breaking down of the barriers between East and West. The European Union expanded across the continent and absorbed more countries. This approach matched perfectly with the revolution that followed and took the world by storm: the communication technology revolution. The first decade of this century saw internet infrastructure reach every corner of the world. The decade that followed saw the globalization revolution reach its zenith.
Under the auspices of companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba, and Netflix, the physical location and ethnicity of the global citizen became negligible. Goods traveled freely between countries, a third of the worldwide population communicated via Facebook, and tens of millions of people were exposed to new cultural content via platforms such as Netflix. The last decade saw the global village become the global metropolis, and the tech giants began overseeing more and more of the day-to-day of the global citizen.
The massive impact technology companies have on consumers' lives has troubled many governments around the world in recent years. The basis of the struggle between these two forces, the governments and the tech giants, is, of course, financial. Under the surface, many governments began sensing the erosion of their control over their citizens. Citing the need to protect human rights, prevent terror, and hold tax evaders accountable, many governments had been successful in curbing the influence of tech giants. They did so by enacting local regulations and signing global conventions.
And then, one morning in January 2020, the coronavirus came rushing into our lives, riding the globalization formed over decades and using it to spread to more and more carriers. Open borders and skies led the coronavirus almost anywhere in the world in a matter of days, forcing countries into self-confinement. In this war, it is every country for itself and its citizens. The crisis may be global, but handling it is done solely on a national level.
In their wildest fantasies, governments could not even fathom a better opportunity to reassert their authority on civilians. Not through malice or intent to abuse this ultimate power, governments in the most democratic of nations managed to seed fear and horror in citizens and, as a direct result, physically control their movements. Now, we are seeing excessive control over civilians, with the sole purpose being to cover for failure to supply the most basic services offered by sovereigns to subjects—health and stability.
A sovereign state can withstand thousands of death cases a year, and that has been the case of all countries for decades. On the other hand, a sovereign state cannot afford being perceived by civilians as unable to provide them with the most basic protection. We are not talking global conspiracy here, more like an amazing opportunity for states to practice regaining their hold over citizens—both conceptually and physically.
The world is still in the most volatile stage of the coronavirus storm and, yet, even the most pessimistic scenario does not foresee the end of humanity or even the fall of democracies. In a few months, a vaccine will be invented, lessons will be learned, the economy will return to its flourishing self, and the borders will reopen. However, the manual for gaining absolute control over civilians is being written as we speak. The state already knows what to do, the citizens are well practiced, and the only thing left to do is come up with another excuse to reinstate the policy of closed borders, civilian confinement, and complete control over citizens' minds.