A report that has been newly released by the National Intelligence Council expresses some deep concerns about the sorts of social trends that have been kicked off by both the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdowns that have issued in its wake around the world.

Every four years, the National Intelligence Council releases a report in which it examines what it takes to be some important global sociopolitical trends and then tries to tentatively predict what the future might look like on that basis. The idea is to help give policymakers a heads-up about what they can expect going forward.

In short, the NIC’s most recent prognosis is very grim. “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic marks the most significant singular global disruption since World War II, with health, economic, political and security implications that will ripple for years to come,” the report says.

A Dark Future in the “New Normal”

To really understand the report, you have to take account of growing populist movements around the globe. The fact that political leaders and other elites everywhere have shown themselves to be almost universally opposed to such movements — fearing, as they do, the threat to their power that the movements pose — should make you read this latest NIC report with a careful eye.

For instance, in one passage, the report says that “[t]he response to the pandemic has fueled partisan polarization in many countries as groups argue over the best way to respond and seek scapegoats to blame for spreading the virus and for slow responses.” This, the report complains, has contributed to declining trust in political institutions.

When the elite bemoan “declining trust in institutions,” they are really complaining about the fact that their hold on power is slipping. When political leaders prevent their people from living their lives and essentially treat them like rats for more than a year, all because of a virus that is only dangerous to those who are already old or infirm, those political leaders should not expect to be trusted.

It’s also clear to anyone who knows how the elite think that the reference to “political polarization” is a veiled jab at Donald Trump and anyone who supports him.

Also, while wealthier countries like the U.S. have certainly felt the economic pain brought by lockdowns, in poorer third-world countries, nationwide lockdowns can and have triggered mass starvation.

The report also complains — as is, again, customary in elite circles — about climate change and also says such ominous things as “[p]rivacy and anonymity may effectively disappear by government mandate…”

Considering how worried governments are about populism and anti-lockdown protests, that statement could easily be a self-fulfilling prophecy.