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The Pandemic Will Accelerate History Rather Than Reshape It

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We are going through what by every measure is a great crisis, so it is natural to assume that it will prove to be a turning point in modern history. In the months since the appearance of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, analysts have differed over the type of world the pandemic will leave in its wake. But most argue that the world we are entering will be fundamentally different from what existed before.

Some predict the pandemic will bring about a new world order led by China; others believe it will trigger the demise of China’s leadership. Some say it will end globalization; others hope it will usher in a new age of global cooperation. And still others project that it will supercharge nationalism, undermine free trade, and lead to regime change in various countries—or all of the above.

But the world following the pandemic is unlikely to be radically different from the one that preceded it. COVID-19 will not so much change the basic direction of world history as accelerate it.

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