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Coronavirus teaches us that family and nation will always trump globalism: political scientist

People return to the basics in a crisis, not “global solidarity quotas” says Gábor Megadja

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: András Rácz, Dávid Lehoczki

In an essay on literary blog Hajónapló, Hungarian political scientist Gábor Megadja offers alternatives to Israeli historian and writer Yuval Noah Harari’s recently much-publicized view promoting globalism in the post-pandemic world.

In an article published in Financial Times on Match 20, Harari, who wrote the popular yet heavily criticized book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”, posits the following two fundamental choices:

“In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity,” Harari writes.

With regard to the globalized world envisioned by Harari, Megadja wrote that in every crisis situation family, nation and home will always take precedence over an imaginary “global solidarity quota”. The same will apply for the world after coronavirus.

On the topic of global solidarity vs. nationalist isolation, Megadja writes that practice is more important than theory.

“Although global solidarity is intellectual bullshit [Megajda uses the English word in the interview], cooperation does indeed exist. Only recently, Hungary received a large shipment of medical equipment from China,” he writes. “Just as people talk to each other, so do governments. We don’t have to build an intellectually fashionable global utopia to have that.”

Megadja, while speaking about a globalized world, refers to Scottish author J.M. Barrie’s fictional “Neverland”, which was translated into Hungarian as “Nowhere Island”.

“Only those don’t understand this, who thought ‘the whole world is our home’ and in this world we can find the ‘common values’ that will unite ‘humankind,'” wrote Megadja. “But the ‘whole world’ is just as intangible as any other utopia and can be found exactly where [Barrie’s novel says it is]: nowhere.”

On the topic of totalitarian surveillance, Megadja writes that while China’s growing attempts at full control of its citizens is undeniable, commercial ventures are already doing much of the same.

“The databases on humans of the Western technology giants probably already exceed those of the governments. And while Facebook, Google and Amazon may not yet have the biometric data, Harari speaks about their sophisticated algorithms that have quite refined data on consumer choices and people’s interests,” Megadja writes. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel nor do we require a pandemic. Totalitarian surveillance is already being accomplished on the ‘free market’ by domineering tech giants with increasing efficiency and fewer limitations.”

He said that the dilemma of security versus freedom cannot be fully resolved, but there is no predefined answer to this either, and a balance must always be struck in light of any given situation or threat.

Herari is a historian and professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” has been popular with the public, but anthropologists and scientists have pointed that it is full of sensationalism and inaccurate information.

Evolutionary anthropologist Avi Tuschmanin wrote in the Washington Post that problems arise in the book when Harari’s “freethinking scientific mind” conflicts with his “fuzzier worldview hobbled by political correctness”.

Christopher Robert Hallpike, also an anthropologist, wrote the book offered no “serious contribution to knowledge” and said the book is “infotainment” that often gets the facts wrong. He described it as a “wild intellectual ride across the landscape of history, dotted with sensational displays of speculation, and ending with blood-curdling predictions about human destiny.”


Title image: Auval Noah Harari (L) and Gábor Megadja (R). (collage by Dénes Albert)