The underlying political driver of the current tensions in the global order is the actual or potential failure of economies to deliver social outcomes that are politically sustainable. This is not just a phenomenon that brought about Brexit and Boris Johnson in the U.K. or Trump in the U.S. This has been and is the drama of developing economies for decades, the source of social unrest in Eastern Europe, the fear of the Communist Party of China, and the discontent of Europeans with the strictures of the EU. It is global and deep seated; sweeping and systemic.
Populist nationalism is on the rise and authoritarianism is increasing as a result. The easy road for politicians to take today is to appeal to national strength and rally their publics around the flag. The hard road to take is to seize on this moment of hyper-interconnectivity revealed by the COVID-19 crisis and realize that strong multilateral cooperation and coordination are essential for global health and economic recovery in the short run and systemic transformation in the medium and long run.
The urgent necessity is for governments, societies, and firms to realize that there is no going back to normal, that systemic crises require systemic change and that social priorities and people-centered policies are vital to restoring confidence in markets and governance.