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  • Author or Editor: Boaventura de Sousa Santos x
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In this paper I argue that the new coronavirus pandemic has brought to light some of the contradictions and paradoxes of our time, namely the contrast between human fragility and the technological hubris linked to the fourth industrial revolution (artificial intelligence); and the contrast between the TINA ideology (there is no alternative) and the sudden and extreme changes in our everyday life caused by the virus, thus suggesting that there are indeed alternatives. I then analyse the main metaphors that have been used in public discourse concerning our relations with the virus: the virus as an enemy; the virus as a messenger; the virus as pedagogue. I prefer the last one and explain why, and in what sense the virus is our contemporary.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has called into question many of the political certitudes that seemed to have been consolidated over the past forty years, especially in what is known as the Global North. The main certitudes were the following: capitalism’s final victory over its great historical competitor Soviet socialism; the primacy of markets in regulating not only the economy but social life as well, with the consequent privatization and deregulation of both the economy and social policies and the reduction of the state’s role in regulating collective life; the globalization of the economy based on comparative advantages in production and distribution; the brutal flexibilization (read precarity) of labour relations as a precondition for an increase in employment and economic growth.

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