The pandemic is a quintessential feature of the Planetary Phase of Civilization. The massive expansion of human activity has degraded ecosystems, exposing us to novel pathogens, and the rapid global movement of goods and people accelerates transmission. Most unsettling, the world itself is a failed state, lacking mechanisms for effective, coordinated response. In late January, when China imposed the largest quarantine in history, the virus outbreak seemed contained—for a bit. Now, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide have been infected and thousands have died, and the curve still slopes upward. The pandemic spotlights the fragility of the underlying system as laid-off workers are unable to pay bills and years of austerity hamstring governments’ ability to respond. With economies based on debt-driven consumerism at risk of a nosedive, short-term emergency measures are essential. But the saving grace of this crisis is that it may spark a deep critique of economic and social structures and the meaning of human well-being. From universal basic incomes to stronger labor protections to greater global public health coordination, we need to ensure resilience against pandemics to come.