This does not mean the world must inevitably re-run the ordeal of the populist-nationalist 1930s.
However, there will be no shortage of populists blaming innocent scapegoats for undoubted misfortune. There will be no shortage of people in difficult circumstances seeking others to blame.
To ensure that the post corona crisis future does not belong to the populist-nationalists will require changes of direction to public policy and, in particular, a re-birth of the moderate centre-right.
Some entrepreneurial icons of our age seem to understand the scale of what is now at stake.
Bill Gates has been pitch perfect, offering to spend billions of dollars of his own money to help to vaccinate every person on the planet.
As he may have discerned, there would be a heavy price for future generations to pay if the West rested on its laurels having mitigated the coronavirus crisis at home while being insouciant as it ravaged the developing world.
To prevent a wider collapse in global trade which populist-nationalists (even if not those of the British variety) can be relied upon to demand, prudence and a responsible recognition of public opinion will require modest shifts of production, for example in pharmaceuticals, to offer more regional security, even at the cost of marginally reducing long term rates of economic growth.
With the bigger state here for some time to come, the art will be to secure maximum benefit for the many, minimum loss of freedom for all.
Public policy will need to be seen to attach a higher weight to justice including, for example, inter-generational justice and justice between different parts of the world.
And domestic western politics will need normative change.
The EU’s centre-right is uniquely well placed to project politics recalibrated for a new era, more respectful of the human soul, less obsessed on national-populist bread and circuses for people seen only - and despised - by mediocre rulers as economic instruments.
Quantitative easing, qualitative decadence
After the global financial crash, it was a socialist political leader - the UK’s Gordon Brown - who led the way to saving the world.
At a more micro level, he rescued the world’s middle classes - and of course the very wealthy - with his pro-active leadership culminating in the programme announced at the 2009 G20 London summit.
His was superlative statesmanship: it prevented economic depression and political collapse when these outcomes were far from certain.
A return to inter-war, deflationary, beggar-thy-neighbour error was explicitly averted through significant international cooperation and coordination.
Quantitative easing (“QE”) prevented the instant poverty that would otherwise have immediately confronted hundreds of millions and perhaps billions of people.
But there is a distinction, too casually overlooked, between life-saving injection and drug addiction.
QE became a habit.
Official addiction to that habit generated yet another round of asset inflation about which too many policy makers were too complacent.
One side effect was to exacerbate the perception that the real and immediate cost of economic constraint had fallen on those least able to afford it.
Capital seemed to prevail over people.
As the rich - too often the manifestly undeserving rich like ostentatious beneficiaries of oppressive cronyism in countries such as Russia - became even richer, vastly more people suffered acute economic deprivation. This was fertile soil for the qualitative decadence of populist-nationalism.
Before the coronavirus crisis, elected populist-nationalists - in the USA, UK and elsewhere - were able to deliver for their elite supporters.
The USA, for example, saw spectacular market gains under the Trump administration.
However, notwithstanding overblown populist-nationalist rhetoric - reliably appealing to the worst rather than to the best of human nature - real prospects in broad terms further deteriorated or were stagnant for the genuinely aggrieved.
The potential for populist-nationalism to generate a vicious cycle of ever more inapposite rhetoric and ever greater under-performance remains a grave danger on all continents.
But this tide can be turned.
The coronavirus crisis and the UK’s populist-nationalist coup
Before the coronavirus crisis, the UK had experienced a coup d’état, no less acute or real for being substantially concealed from and misrepresented to the public or, indeed, for not even being noticed by the public.
The Conservative Party - historically the world’s most formidable political survivor but riven with internal philosophical contradiction - had been decisively captured by populist-nationalists.
It had avoided this fate even in the 1930s when some of its adherents were relatively sympathetic to Mussolini and Hitler, whom they saw as effective anti-Communist winners.
Today, behind an essentially fake facade of continuity of branding and institutional continuity, populist-nationalists have transformed the Conservative Party.
What had once been a disagreeable if vocal minor faction within the party has now secured a hostile takeover of the party. This takeover was consolidated by a ruthless purge in late 2019.
Although it did not suit many people to see this at the time (after all, Cameron then looked to many like a winner), it was a decisive symbolic and substantive moment when Cameron removed the Conservative Party from the mainstream, moderate centre-right political family of the EPP European People’s Party in 2009.
A core Tory instinct through the centuries has been magnetic attraction to power. By this measure, to quit the EU’s leading political force and to create in its place a marginal political freak show was by definition a profoundly un-Tory act.
Cameron’s apologists claimed he was appeasing those who now control the party.
Even if that were true and Cameron was not in fact simply doing what he wanted to do - which is at least as credible - as predictably as night follows day, Appeasement ended badly for Cameron and for Britain as it had for Baldwin and Chamberlain.
Also, previous Tory leaders would have turned in their grave as Cameron instead forged formal party alliances with Putin, Erdogan, AfD and others. Dictates of foreign policy were one thing for Tory realpolitik but formal party political alliance with freedom’s opponents, and in some cases even with Hitler’s political heirs, was extreme qualitative decadence.
However perverse, the geopolitical component of the populist-nationalists’ agenda - detachment from Europe, economic and cultural re-alignment towards the Five Eyes intelligence alliance of the anglosphere and the vanity of new bilateral relationships with rising powers - was relatively transparent.
Even so, when it suited them, the populist-nationalists untruthfully claimed they wanted the UK to stay in the EU’s single market and/or customs union when of course they had no such intention.
The populist-nationalists’ purported economic agenda was an enhanced social market - for example, strengthening the National Health Service - but this too was spectacular dishonesty.
As was very well understood in Paris and Berlin - and also, from a different perspective, within the current administration in Washington DC - their strategic objective was radically de-regulated neoliberalism.
Economic, environmental and social protection - the “failing” EU social market model - would all be reduced.
This model could also work only if there was to be a significant further transfer of resource from wages (and also consumption) to capital: a fundamental truth almost wholly absent from public debate.
What was essentially a billionaires’ charter, nonetheless also had potentially populist components.
For example, safe food from the EU could theoretically be replaced (assuming the USA could if necessary be relied upon to ensure sterling did not collapse) by cheap food, albeit unsustainably produced, from other jurisdictions.
While the populist-nationalists promised to “bring back control” in the event of Brexit, the wider public at best understood - or, less charitably, chose to understand - only very selectively indeed what this meant.
The populist-nationalists were - and are - keen to liberate the British executive from the constraints - some real, some wilfully misunderstood - of the European Convention on Human Rights.
ECHR of course underpins much of what British people have in recent decades seen as the British way of life, for example rights of women and people from minorities.
ECHR is an effective constraint on governments seeking to abuse and to bypass legislatures and judiciaries.
The authoritarian former Conservative leader Theresa May, while relatively nuanced about leaving the EU, unambiguously wanted to exit from the constraints of direct applicability and enforceability of ECHR.
Antagonism to ECHR is a reasonably clear indicator of the authoritarian and hierarchical post-Brexit populist-nationalist vision.
More happily, and in the circumstances following the 2017 General Election, the one positive feature in British politics had been the re-assertion of effective parliamentary control over the executive (“the Crown”) and also of Parliament over political parties.
Parliament was becoming stronger than at any time since at least the First World War after which the emergence of socialism shifted the balance of power in favour of the main political parties.
That positive trend of Parliament’s renaissance was instantly killed and reversed by the December 2019 General Election, which was immediately followed by extreme and sustained displays of unprecedented hubris from the Prime Minister’s own office.
Even before the coronavirus crisis, far from associating Brexit with democratic re-birth, more power for the British Parliament and other elected bodies throughout the UK, and also de-centralisation of the British state, the Conservative Government had covertly secured - without anything like effective media or parliamentary scrutiny - massive transfers of power to the executive arm of central government.
With the support of only 28.5% of the UK’s electorate (and in Scotland, for example, only 17%) a populist-nationalist government has surreptitiously transferred so much power to the executive arm of central government that those who framed the 1688 settlement underpinning the British constitution might now fear the worst.
Conservatives like Theresa May might claim that by shifting the Conservative Party’s ground, their party had neutralised even more nationalist-populist protagonists like Nigel Farage. There is truth in that assertion, as is evidenced by the collapse in the December 2019 election of non-Conservative populist-nationalist votes.
Better too, such Conservatives might also self-servingly say, UKIP’s/Brexit Party’s measures implemented by the Conservative Party than these measures implemented by UKIP/Brexit Party.
But at what tipping point does the internal cancer of populist-nationalism within a mainstream political party stop being capable of treatment?
It took a succession of the Labour Party’s leaders - Kinnock, Smith, Blair - sufficiently to cleanse that party of a more transparent but perhaps lesser infection.
The reality is that the coup within the Conservative Party was meticulously planned over a long period of time and has infected nearly all the party’s vital organs.
The Conservative Party’s centre of political energy is, especially after Johnson’s purge of late 2019, firmly within the populist-nationalist camp.
The result of the December 2019 election, secured with the UK’s distorted electoral system, at least for the short term made the Conservative Party’s leader the dictator of an over-centralised state controlled by one party and with excessively compliant media.
But the coronavirus crisis may infect this new order.
That Johnson deliberately staffed his Cabinet with mediocrities - presumably to minimise threat to his own position - was a sort of political memento mori immediately after his election triumph. In comparison, the calibre of the Blair Cabinet of 1997 was stellar.
Unlike Labour, the Conservative Party has always been ruthless about removing under-performing leaders and Mr Johnson inevitably now faces a period of personal uncertainty after which he may or may not prevail.
He will be astute enough to know that the gratitude Conservative MPs felt to him on being elected in December 2019 is a diminishing and fragile asset.
There will also be increasing mismatch between the daily experience of British citizens and populist-nationalist rhetoric of the governing party.
Reflecting dogmatic obsession with an extreme version of Brexit, his regime relentlessly pumps out populist-nationalist rhetoric however absurdly inapposite the context.
But as a wiser Conservative Prime Minister - Harold Macmillan who invested huge political energy in preparing the UK for membership of the EC/EU - observed, governments were always vulnerable to Events, dear boy, events.
Particularly if Germany continues to be seen to have managed the coronavirus so much better than has the UK, the British public is likely to become increasingly sceptical about both the populist-nationalist direction of travel in general and also the Government’s repeated emphasis that the post-Brexit transition deadline cannot be extended.
Even the fanatical Brexiteer Isabel Oakeshott now expressly recognises that, faced with the coronavirus crisis, the UK’s Brexit transition deadline must be extended. Unlike the Government, she has had political insight to sense acute political danger.
Despite the nominal size of Mr Johnson’s majority in Parliament, the very fact of its weighting towards populist-nationalists and away from more traditional Tories could through hard times make it potentially a less stable majority even than, for example, John Major had in the 1990s.
It will prove increasingly difficult to hold together the geographical alliance of constituencies currently held by the Conservative Party.
And does Mr Johnson want to be remembered as the Prime Minister during whose premiership the UK split into different countries? If he does indeed want to remain as Prime Minister and to keep Scotland and Northern Ireland within the UK during his term of office, that will require a mastery of detail, energy and statesmanship which has so far eluded him.
To misquote Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell, for one Bullingdon Club Prime Minister to lose membership of the EU may be regarded as a misfortune, for another Bullingdon Club Prime Minister to lose Scotland and Northern Ireland looks like carelessness.
And Labour’s new leader looks much more like the type of Labour Prime Minister the British from time to time can be persuaded to elect.
Starmer's forensic skills as a lawyer will be a nightmare - as and when Parliament is eventually allowed to sit - for a Prime Minister characterised by a casual, under-prepared, unreflecting style.
The coronavirus crisis has also now undermined the feasibility of the covert neoliberalism behind the British populist-nationalist agenda.
It has created a new direction of travel for economic management: having to be paid for over the longer term but appearing more immediately to validate a wider range of expectations about the public sector.
Taxes - already very high by historic standards in the UK - will rise further, not fall.
Huge expansion of public spending and borrowing will lead to enhanced and renewed involvement of government - whether as shareholder, regulator and otherwise - in private enterprise.
The balance between private enterprise and nationalisation will tilt a bit to favour the latter, with public opinion ever less tolerant of overpaid directors of under-performing privately owned utilities.
The UK’s populist-nationalist government will fail to conceal the incompetence which will have led to higher than necessary death and disruption from the coronavirus crisis.
The generations who are or should be in work - and who will see both even less of what they earn in their pay packet and also even higher indirect tax - will require a credible New Deal.
Given their incumbency in the UK, populist-nationalists would not seem to be the most probable authors and deliverers of such a deal.
All three main British political parties started by being heavily influenced by various strands of Christian thought.
All three to a greater or lesser extent became captive to marxist-materialist calculation, conceiving of politics in amoral economic terms whether on behalf of workers or of capital.
On 9 April 2020, the British Government responded to a petition asking it to extend the period of transition on leaving the EU so it could focus on the coronavirus crisis. Its language is much more revealing than they would have wished.
In its final sentence, the Government claims it will continue to be guided by scientific advice about what is right for our workforce.
Putting to one side the incontestable fact that, months ago, the Government failed to be guided by the WHO’s scientific advice, the term our workforce unambiguously evidences the marxist-materialist contagion of this populist-nationalist administration.
The phrase is both authoritarian and also defines people overwhelmingly as economic agents: it reveals the governing party’s qualitative decadence.
It implies thinking much closer to that of Mussolini, couched in populist-nationalist terms, or of Stalin, couched in both populist-nationalist and class terms, than to that of those who developed democracy or of earlier Prime Ministers.
More positively, there is now some reason to hope and believe this nightmare marriage of marxist-materialism with populist-nationalism may now have run most of its course both in the UK and elsewhere.
Renewal of the centre-right is crucial.
The EPP European People’s Party is fortunate to have a new President, Donald Tusk, who acutely understands this, no doubt in part because of his exposure to both marxist-materialism and then to populist-nationalists within Poland.
He knows that the EU must now deliver, not simply talk.
Happily too, he is not alone.
A number of US centre-right think tanks are evolving policies in ways that may prove complementary.
The centre-right can and must re-assert for our times the essentials of liberal democracy: the rule of law, freedom of religion and expression and so on.
Beyond that, it must offer a coherent, credible and positive alternative to both populist-nationalism and marxist-materialism.
Again, the philosophical basis underpinning the EPP’s political family is uniquely well-placed to do this.
Ordoliberalism not neoliberalism can again sustainably deliver strong economic performance.
The social market - offering sustainable economic, environmental and social justice - can and must be re-defined for our times as a civilised, effective and harmonious organisation of society.
And re-assertion of the unique spiritual value of each person - the EPP family’s USP - is the ultimate antidote to marxist-materialism, creating a new sense of well-being and worth, giving life a purpose way beyond being what mediocre nationalist-populists call our workforce and offering every person a balanced relationship with society.
Curing the contamination of the coronavirus crisis must be the opportunity also to cure the body politic of both marxist-materialism and populist-nationalism.
Leader, UK EPP