We are still in lockdown, although little by little the measures of opening back up are being implemented.
From a ghostly city, without cars or people, we have come to see some traffic and above all, there are already children, running and screaming through the streets. The parks are still closed, oblivious to the children’s hustle. I guess that when we can return to them they will have become almost forests with abundant vegetation.
What is most noticeable, what still distances us from our usual “normality,” is that the bars and restaurants are still closed. For the people of Madrid, but also for the tourists, the bars are part of our daily idiosyncrasy, they are our daily form of socialization and with them closed, the “social” distance between the people of Madrid seems to widen beyond the two meters of physical distance that the health standards impose on us.
This week we have begun to experience a new phase in the process, with the entire population walking, at different times, according to an age scale, through the streets. It is what they are calling around here a “new normal,” which is actually usual normality with priced movement. But, even if it is in the (physical) distance, we will be able to see friends (those who have their residence close to ours).
As an academic, I follow working “online” with my teaching and research projects. But many of us are negatively affected by confinement in our ability to concentrate on intellectual tasks. It is not the same for me to work in my individual office, as it is to be forced to do it without the relaxation of walking or eating and drinking aperitifs with my colleagues in a bar or restaurant, going to the theater or visiting a bookshop. I hope that in a couple of months we can return to our “old normality.”
It is interesting to see how some writings proliferate on the radical changes that stemmed from the pandemic for the future of our lives and, particularly, of our political and social organization. In my opinion, those good intentions of a radical change in our way of life is a chimera, or if you want an desirable utopia, fixed in the goodwill minds with a desire for social transformation. But in reality, the future that is set in the majority of the population for the post-pandemic is to be able to walk through the neighborhood shopping center again and enjoy compulsive shopping weekends. This is what a newspaper recently narrated about a group of Chinese young people in Wuhan, before the imminent end of the situation of confinement in this Chinese city, the origin, apparently, of the pandemic that is now plaguing the whole world. There will be no change in the socioeconomic paradigm, in the best of cases a slight correction in the management of the path that our socio-economic model that has been traveling for some centuries.
On this, we can debate to infinity, but there will be a few profound changes to the socioeconomic model.
Santos Ruesga (Network M and SASE/RISE organizer)