The Wuhan coronavirus is a metaphor for two political ideas that are incompatible with the realities of the modern world: The Communist Party of China and American isolationism.

We now live in a world in which everything travels everywhere all the time. People, products, ideas and data have become uncontainable. Centuries-long attempts by authorities to control their populations are ending.

The internet phrase “going viral” implies minimal controls over flows of information and a phenomenon that is by no means benign. Malicious software code that spreads quickly and is difficult to treat is called a computer virus. The coronavirus itself jumped from a “wet” meat market in Wuhan to other countries. All these modern viruses inevitably migrate to the U.S.

The most familiar photograph in the news this week is of crowds of Chinese people in antibacterial face masks. Is this the way we want to live?