“The modern world-system, as a historical system, has entered into a terminal crisis and is unlikely to exist in 50 years. However, since its outcome is uncertain, we do not know whether the resulting system (or systems) will be better or worse than the one in which we are living, but we do know that the period of transition will be a terrible time of trouble.”
So predicted the social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein in his 1999 book, The End of the World As We Know It. Two decades on, we contemplate such a possibility with the post-COVID world: it will surely not just be life as usual. Pandemics have more than once changed the course of history. No less than The Wall Street Journal proclaimed on April 26, “Coronavirus means the era of big government is…back.” The question is: in which direction will the present pandemic, and our response to it, take us? Better or worse?