The COVID 19 Catalyst: How the Virus Will Change the Way Human Beings Live, Work and Nurture Future Generations

Peter Harvey

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Jeremy Rifkin has optimistically anticipated a world and social structure in which humans might move beyond the hitherto competitive, hard edged approach to capital and economy to a more collaborative and cooperative society that no longer relies on the driving energy of raw capitalism as we have come to know it. He calls his new world a ‘collaborative commons’ in which humans re-think the way they live and work together to improve life for all and create a more sustainable, long-term vision for society, but is he being too idealistic? His is not a new idea to be sure, as many thinkers and innovators over time have advocated more equitable approaches to life and living, but it may be an idea for our time. Some societies have managed to create classless and collaborative living environments for their people and vastly less polarised societies than we have today. Many attempts to re-engineer societies to ensure a more equitable distribution of opportunity and wealth have proliferated across the world; Plato’s Syracuse, Indigenous Australia, Christianity in Rome, Socialism in Europe and Maoism in China, for example, so we have precedents for such change. The question for the twenty first Century is, however, more about what mechanisms might be needed to bring about more equitable outcomes for human being at a time when the opposite trend is emerging. If, as we have seen, more equal societies are happier and healthier places to be, how might we create these societies against the odds and against the additional threat of the new COVID 19 virus? Recent events world-wide in relation to the explosion of the COVID 19 virus present a rare opportunity for us to rethink and re-design our social and economic structures without the need for a Marxist, Maoist, Cuban or Sudanese revolutions. The virus, some suggest, will lead to a transformed society and it could do so for the better, leading to the emergence of new, sustainable economies, new approaches to healthcare, teaching and nurturing our young people. It could be a catalyst for creating the Collaboratively Commons or, alternatively, it may serve to widen our current social divisions and inequities and validate the status quo.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1004
Number of pages5
Journal Science Forecast Journal of Medicine and Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2020


  • Covid-19
  • Change


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