The Plague Brought the Renaissance. What Could COVID-19 Bring?


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Mon, 06/08/2020 - 10:00am to 11:00am
Protesters fill Burnside Bridge June 2, 2020

This past week we are witnessing the confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic collapse and unprecedented widespread, militant demonstrations expressing anger and grief over the death of George Floyd—the most recent manifestation of the systemic racism that permeates the United States. This confluence is a reminder that the reach of disastrous events is long and unpredictable, both for better and for worse. Alan Durning, director and founder of the Sightline Institute in Seattle, recently wrote: "The bubonic plague, according to historian Barbara Tuchman, hastened the Renaissance. The Great Depression gave birth to both the social safety net in the West and to fascism in Europe." 

On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with Alan about three hypotheses he puts forth in his article, and his hope that the long-term effect of the coronavirus pandemic will be to strengthen the importance (at least in North America) of competence, science, and solidarity. And we'll look at how the events in the wake of George Floyd's murder may determine a different outcome from the three he outlines in his article last month.

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