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The World after Corona

The Corona backward forecast: How we'll be astonished when the crisis is over

by Matthias Horx (www.horx.com or www.zukunftsinstitut.de)

At the moment I am often asked when Corona "will be over" and everything returns to normal. My answer: never. There are historical moments when the future changes direction. We call them bifurcations. Or deep crises. These times are now.

 

The world as we know it is dissolving. But behind it comes a new world, the formation of which we can at least imagine. For this I would like to offer you an exercise with which we have had good experiences in vision processes at companies. We call it the RE Gnose. In contrast to the PRO Gnose, we don't look into the future with this technology. But from the future BACK to today. Sounds crazy? Let's try it:

 

The re-gnosis: Our world in autumn 2020

Let's imagine a situation in autumn, let's say in September 2020. We're sitting in a street cafe in a big city. It is warm and people are moving on the street again. Do they move differently? Is everything the same as before? Does the wine, the cocktail, the coffee taste like it used to? Like before Corona?

Or even better?

Looking back, what will we be surprised about?

 

We will be surprised that the social sacrifices that we had to make rarely lead to isolation. On the contrary. After an initial shock of shock, many of them were even relieved that the many races, speeches, and communication on multi-channels suddenly came to a halt. Waiver does not necessarily mean loss, but can even open up new possibilities. Some have already experienced this, for example trying interval fasting - and who suddenly enjoyed the food again. Paradoxically, the physical distance that the virus forced also created new closeness. We met people who we would never have met otherwise. We contacted old friends more often, strengthened ties that had become loose and loose. Families, neighbors, friends have moved closer and sometimes even solved hidden conflicts.

 

The social courtesy that we previously increasingly missed increased.

 

Now in autumn 2020 there is a completely different mood at football games than in spring when there was a lot of mass rage. We wonder why this is so.

 

We will be amazed at how quickly digital cultural techniques have suddenly proven themselves in practice. Teleconferencing and video conferencing, which most colleagues had always resisted (the business plane was better), turned out to be quite practical and productive. Teachers learned a lot about internet teaching. The home office became a matter of course for many - including the improvisation and time juggling that goes with it.

 

At the same time, apparently outdated cultural techniques experienced a renaissance. Suddenly you got not only the answering machine when you called, but real people. The virus spawned a new culture of long phone calls without a second screen. The "messages" themselves suddenly took on a new meaning. You really communicated again. No one was allowed to wriggle anymore. Nobody was held out anymore. This created a new culture of accessibility. The commitment.

 

People who never came to rest because of the hectic pace, including young people, suddenly went for long walks (a word that was previously a foreign word). Reading books suddenly became a cult.

 

Reality shows suddenly seemed awkward. The whole trivia trash, the infinite soul garbage that flowed through all channels. No, it didn't completely disappear. But it was rapidly losing value.

Can anyone remember the political correctness dispute? The infinite number of cultural wars about ... what was it all about?

 

Crises work primarily by dissolving old phenomena, making them superfluous ...

Cynicism, this casual way of keeping the world off by devaluation, was suddenly abundant.

The exaggeration fear hysteria in the media was limited after a short first outbreak.

 

In addition, the infinite flood of cruel crime series reached its tipping point.

 

We will be surprised that medications that increased the survival rate were found in the summer. This lowered the death rate and Corona became a virus that we just have to deal with - much like the flu and many other diseases. Medical progress helped. But we also learned that the decisive factor was not so much the technology, but the change in social behavior. The decisive factor was that people could remain solidary and constructive despite radical restrictions. Human-social intelligence has helped. The much-vaunted artificial intelligence, which is known to be able to solve everything, has only had a limited effect on Corona.

 

This has shifted the relationship between technology and culture. Before the crisis, technology seemed to be the panacea, the bearer of all utopias. No one - or only a few hard-boiled people - still believe in great digital redemption today. The big technology hype is over. We are again turning our attention to the humane questions: What is man? What are we for each other?

 

We are astonished to see how much humor and humanity actually emerged in the days of the virus.

 

We will be amazed at how far the economy could shrink without something like "collapse" actually happening, which was invoked before every little tax increase and every government intervention. Although there was a "black April", a deep economic downturn and a 50 percent stock market slump, even though many companies went bankrupt, shrank or mutated into something completely different, it never came to zero. As if economy were a breathing being that can also doze or sleep and even dream.

 

Today in the fall, there is a global economy again. But global just-in-time production, with huge branched value chains, in which millions of individual parts are carted across the planet, has survived. It is currently being dismantled and reconfigured. Interim storage facilities, depots and reserves are growing again everywhere in the productions and service facilities. Local productions are booming, networks are being localized, and crafts are experiencing a renaissance. The global system is drifting towards globalization: localization of the global.

 

We will be surprised that even the loss of assets due to the stock market crash does not hurt as it felt at the beginning. In the new world, wealth suddenly no longer plays the decisive role. Good neighbors and a blossoming vegetable garden are more important.

 

Could it be that the virus has changed our lives in a direction that it wanted to change anyway?

 

RE-Gnose: coping with the present through a leap into the future

Why does this type of "from the front scenario" seem so irritatingly different from a classic forecast? This is related to the specific properties of our future sense. When we look “into the future”, we mostly only see the dangers and problems “coming towards us” that pile up to insurmountable barriers. Like a locomotive out of the tunnel that runs over us. This fear barrier separates us from the future. That's why horror futures are always the easiest to depict.

 

On the other hand, re-gnoses form a loop of knowledge, in which we include ourselves, our inner change, in the future calculation. We connect internally with the future, and this creates a bridge between today and tomorrow. A "future mind" is created.

 

If you do it right, something like future intelligence is created. We are able to anticipate not only the external "events", but also the internal adaptations with which we react to a changed world.

 

That feels very different from a forecast that always has something dead, sterile in its apodictic character. We leave the stiffness of fear and return to the vitality that belongs to every true future.

 

We all know the feeling of successfully overcoming fear. When we go to the dentist for treatment, we are worried long in advance. We lose control on the dentist's chair and it hurts before it hurts. In anticipating this feeling, we increase ourselves in fears that can completely overwhelm us. However, once we have survived the procedure, there is a feeling of coping: the world looks young and fresh again and we are suddenly full of zest for action.

 

Coping means: coping. Neurobiologically, the fear adrenaline is replaced by dopamine, a type of endogenous drug for the future. While adrenaline leads us to flee or fight (which is not really productive in the dentist's chair, nor in the fight against corona), dopamine opens our brain synapses: we are excited about what is to come, curious, foresighted. When we have a healthy dopamine level, we make plans, we have visions that lead us to the forward-looking action.

 

Surprisingly, many experience exactly this in the Corona crisis. A massive loss of control suddenly turns into a veritable intoxication of the positive. After a period of bewilderment and fear, an inner strength arises. The world "ends", but in the experience that we are still there, a kind of being new arises inside.

 

In the middle of civilization's shutdown, we run through forests or parks, or across almost empty spaces. But this is not an apocalypse, but a new beginning.

 

This is how it turns out: Change begins as a changed pattern of expectations, perceptions and world connections. Sometimes it is precisely the break with the routines, the familiar, that releases our sense of the future again. The idea and certainty that everything could be completely different - even in the better.

 

We may even be surprised that Trump will be voted out of office in November. The AFD shows serious fraying phenomena because a malicious, divisive policy does not fit a corona world. The Corona crisis made it clear that those who want to incite people against each other have nothing to contribute to real questions about the future. When things get serious, the destructive that lives in populism becomes clear.

 

Politics in its original sense as the formation of social responsibilities got this crisis a new credibility, a new legitimacy. Precisely because it had to act "authoritarian", politics created trust in the social. Science also experienced an astonishing renaissance in the probation crisis. Virologists and epidemiologists became media stars, but also "futuristic" philosophers, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, who were previously on the sidelines of the polarized debates, regained their voice and weight.

 

Fake news, however, rapidly lost market value. Conspiracy theories also suddenly looked like shopkeepers, even though they were offered like sour beer.

 

A virus as an accelerator of evolution

Deep crises also point to another basic principle of change: the trend-countertrend synthesis.

 

The new world after Corona - or better with Corona - arises from the disruption of the megatrend of connectivity. Politically and economically, this phenomenon is also called "globalization". The interruption of connectivity - through border closings, separations, foreclosures, quarantines - does not lead to the abolition of connections. But to reorganize the connectomes that hold our world together and carry it into the future. There is a phase jump in the socio-economic systems.

 

The world to come will appreciate distance again - and this will make connectedness more qualitative. Autonomy and dependency, opening and closing, are rebalanced. This can make the world more complex, but also more stable. This transformation is largely a blind evolutionary process - because one fails, the new, viable, prevails. This makes you dizzy at first, but then it shows its inner meaning: what connects the paradoxes on a new level is sustainable.

 

This process of complexation - not to be confused with complication - can also be consciously designed by people. Those who can, who speak the language of the coming complexity, will be the leaders of tomorrow. The hope-bearers. The coming "Gretas".

 

"Through Corona we will adapt our entire attitude towards life - in the sense of our existence as living beings in the midst of other forms of life." - Slavo Zizek at the height of the corona crisis in mid-March

 

Every deep crisis leaves a story, a narrative that points far into the future. One of the strongest visions left by the corona virus are the Italians making music on the balconies. The second vision is sent to us by satellite images that suddenly show the industrial areas of China and Italy free of smog. In 2020, human CO2 emissions will drop for the first time. That fact will do something to us.

 

If the virus can do that - can we possibly do it too? Maybe the virus was just a messenger from the future. His drastic message is: Human civilization has become too dense, too fast, overheated. It is racing too much in a certain direction in which there is no future.

 

But it can reinvent itself.

System reset.

Cool down!

Music on the balconies!

This is how the future works.

Let me, Christian Kremer, add: "Now we humbly stay home, read, think and maybe watch a film. But once - hopefully very soon - the situation is under control, we'll take the movies outside again!"