ROME — "Curiouser and curiouser!" the famously ungrammatical exclamation from Alice in Wonderland in the 1865 Lewis Carroll classic. The current situation created by the pandemic is certainly not wonderful, but it is quite curious, and grows stranger and stranger with every passing day.
We are caught between the willingness to continue the social distancing measures, as that is the only way to defeat the virus, and the desire to start living again, because only in that way will we be able to move to a better place, beyond just ensuring our physical wellbeing. We are in a sort of indescribable limbo, with the number of positive cases still rising, but the speed of this growth decreasing, putting us on the apparent cusp of a shift from a medical to an economic crisis.
We are caught between the willingness to continue the social distancing measures, and the desire to start living again.
Businesses in Italy, especially large and medium-sized ones, have until now managed to stay afloat, albeit with increasing difficulty. Supply chains have held up, and, although it may be challenging, this could go on for another few months without grave consequences for them. The lockdown has lead to an unexpected increased civic awareness, both inside and out of the hospitals. All the while this has become increasingly unbearable on the schooling of children and the pocketbooks of adults (and business).
Grass and flowers grow in the cracks of the pavement in Plebiscito square, in the city center. — Photo: Salvatore Laporta/IPA
On one hand, there are factories eager to turn their conveyor belts back on to preserve their bottom line — and indeed, to hope have a future at all; on the other hand, there are individuals who risk having no future at all without the availability of a respirator or a bed in the ICU. We are stuck in between the necessity to stay safe today and to be flexible to what tomorrow may bring — all with the European Union negotiating how and how much they will help us.
It is hence not a battle between capital and labor, and for that reason it is difficult to draw up a strategy. Our traditional ways of conceptualizing society have become outdated — it is no longer a battle between winners and losers, but rather the necessity to reconciling different interests — and to do so quickly.
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