For having, for a very long time, announced that humanity would soon return to its founding nomadism, after a sedentary interlude that lasted ten millennia, many events today seem to contradict this hypothesis:
First of all, the pandemic, of course, which confines a very large number of people, at best to their country, at worst to their homes, which reduces business travel to nothing, which nails almost all planes to the ground, which has almost bankrupted the entire tourist industry, which has made people understand the importance of having the means to produce the most essential goods nearby, and which has made them understand that many meetings can take place at a distance, that many business trips are unnecessary.
Then, even supposing that it will end soon, many predict that we won’t be able, however, to regain the freedom of movement of ancient times, because of the new constraints imposed by the fight against global warming: in all cities, or almost, we are already chasing cars; we praise the “quarter-hour city”, which would like to make us find everything we need to live within pedestrian distance; we denigrate faraway tourism and the consumption of exotic products.
The pandemic has shown us the futility of many trips. Global warming imposes nomadic frugality on us.
Finally, even without a pandemic or global warming, the frenzy of certain movements was doomed to slow down: even without a pandemic, Venice, or Paris, will never be able to receive the hundreds of millions of tourists who will soon want to go there every year. And even without global warming, developed countries will never want to welcome the hundreds of millions of desperate people who will want to come from the South.
Progressively, humanity could stop; people could take root in their territories, close themselves off from each other, and barricade themselves.
This rest, if it goes too far, would have catastrophic consequences in the long run. Economic, cultural, geopolitical. We can already see them coming: populism on the one hand, confinement in an identity on the other, both participate in the same refusal of exchange, of mixing, of hybridization, of renewal; a refusal which has always been the extreme flaw of sedentary life.
Conversely, many predict that, as soon as the pandemic goes away, we will all want to see the world, for pleasure or for business. We will then travel more than before, to make up for lost time. And the poorest will continue to rush to the richer countries. The pandemic will then have been only a parenthesis in the long trend towards the return of nomadism of humanity. Moreover, technologies will soon make us discover the tremendous potential of virtual travel; far beyond the current means of remote meetings. The journey of holograms, participating in distant meetings or visiting tourist places, themselves virtual, or even real. Here again, subject to the availability of enough clean energy to make this three-dimensional virtualism possible. One day even completed by the remote transmission of smells and touch. It will come.
All this, badly conceived, would lead to a humanity increasingly divided between a few million luxury nomads, who would still have access to all the realities of the world, a few hundred million virtual nomads, who would only have the right to the ersatz of reality, and billions of nomads of misery, condemned to move incessantly, even by a few kilometres, to find something to survive.
We have no interest in the immobility of the world, nor in the frenetic agitation of its inhabitants. At a time when the worst of nomadism and the worst of sedentary life are likely to combine, we must do everything we can to try, on the contrary, to preserve the best of both
It won’t be easy. For each one of us, it means remaining open to the world, curious about others, not refusing to travel or to be welcomed, and doing everything to make travel increasingly environmentally and socially sustainable. So that the destruction of nature can be replaced by the virtues of hospitality. So that humanity may obey a common rule of law that respects the rights of all forms of life.
Until humanity, at peace with the rest of the living, finally realises one day its ultimate dream, which is to escape from its abode, and also to go and to live elsewhere.