By Fareed Zakaria
Medical experts are trying to map out the health effects of coronavirus. Economists are estimating its economic fallout. Yet predicting its broader political consequences is likely to be the biggest challenge of all.
The historian William McNeill once tried to understand why the natives of the Western hemisphere so rapidly adopted the religion and customs of the Europeans. He speculated that viruses played a central role. When the native inhabitants saw that diseases like smallpox killed them but left the foreigners unscathed, they assumed that the Europeans had a culture and religion they should adopt.