COVID-19: Death of Neo-liberal Edifice!

Greater Kashmir

Corona virus has turned out be a paradoxical equaliser with the deadly pandemic wreaking havoc along the elite latitudinal extant of globally constructed imaginaries of ‘prosperity’ and the African spatial positioning considered somewhat as buffer for the same. Is this a time when capitalists know the meaning of the term ‘crash down’ in their face and this is a homecoming show for them now. With the patterns of transmission of global consciousness in league with virus infection incidence this is creating a beautiful tapestry of rich finding their social controls in complete disarray.  Corona virus pandemic has serious political and economic effects. The capitalist countries and their bourgeois democratic system are in deep crisis since the outbreak of corona pandemic. Since then, in the advanced capitalist countries instability and disorder in all parts of the world is at peak.

After the onslaught of Covid-19 medical alertness continues in the form of physical distancing, the meta economic  structures are under fallout, economic crisis are rising, world economic agencies have gone into reverse. The covid-19 crisis has brought to the forefront two fundamental questions: what will happen to Global capitalism? What happened to neo-liberal economic models? This has put serious limitations on us and compelled our leaders to go for lockdown, thereby seriously damaging economy. It further exposed the fallouts of neo-liberal edifice and its hollowness in terms of preparing the world for such a catastrophe. Instead the neo-liberal strategies proved to be devastative and in fact pushed the world for crisis. It has headed the global economy towards ICU where it is breathing its last on a lockdown ventilator. In other words we can say capitalism and capitalistic projects created the conditions of the epidemic it has been an incubator for the continual spread of the corona virus. Incidentally and much to discomfort of the hitherto neo-liberal consensus the Corona Crises exposed and revealed various critical questions and unexposed discourses. Therefore the microscopic virus has opened new ways to understand and identify the discourse of capitalism.

The corona virus came up with loud alarm bells ringing for turning our attention towards more social analysis of health and well-being. Especially this should be everyone’s concern to overcome healthcare inequalities as the crisis revealed the inadequacies of the current capitalist global health system in addressing the epidemics. It should be the responsibility of every nation to wake up immediately to stop war industries and the business of global armament trade and instead prioritize the safety of people and the process of neutralizing the immediate threat. Only a human centric and not capital centric approach can act  as a  successful weapon against such crisis.

When World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, China’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Wuhan province provided the road map to entire world with an opportunity to prepare. But unfortunately capitalist nations, particularly America, derided the virus as a “hoax” and ramped up anti-Chinese and racist rhetoric by constantly referring the pandemic as a ‘China Virus’. Even the United States refused to collaborate internationally. The tests and treatment developed by Chinese and Cuban doctors are not being utilized. The United States insists on going at it alone by developing its own medical technology despite evidence of the effectiveness of the tools already being used elsewhere. Contrary to its arrogant claims, the US government is not prepared to deal with this type of pandemic, and the rapid growth of COVID-19 cases is exacerbated by the government’s refusal to stop the cogs of the capitalist machine.

Corona virus is a different kind of threat. Because of the covid-19 threat, people are shutting down their businesses units across the globe. The diffusion of virus has disrupted the global economic institutions as countries implement strict border controls, massive city-wide lockdowns and quarantines in order to contain the virus. The corona virus will strengthen nationalism, albeit not ethnic nationalism but a type of territorial nationalism. In TV reports and in governments’ announcements one can see that co-nationals travelling from corona-infected areas are as unwelcome as any foreigner. To survive, the government will ask citizens to erect walls not simply between states but between individuals, as the danger of being infected comes from the people they meet most often. It is not the stranger but those closest to you who present the greatest risk.

After the crisis, there will be a shift in economics, politics and sociology, the dominance of the certain countries may shift rapidly, which in its turn, will change the whole picture of the world economics. This gives a huge field for studying and makes a world-systems theory interesting and useful for the effective development of the economics, society and the world in general. Eventually worldwide economic crisis will be reached and the capitalist world-system will collapse, opening the way for revolutionary change.

From time to time scholars, environmentalists and scientists predicted the fragility of environment. They warned us of super storms, and widespread misery. In response to predictions, most of the capitalist nations have done almost nothing to address this growing crisis. Much like climate change, scientists and health experts have warned us for months of the magnitude of the COVID-19 outbreak. The bourgeois democrats of capitalist nations have done very little to address this pandemic. The crisis of Covid-19 exposed the anti-life nature of the capitalist system. Developed nations with inherent capitalist traits are more concerned about the stock market than the death toll.

The world is on ventilator as the microscopic virus is travelling without passport and visa. The intensity and over energetic character of this virus is that it has put the world in crisis. The bourgeois democrat like Donald Trump is still prioritising the interests of corporate over the public. Most of the democrats are concerned about their masters – capitalists. On the other side of the story, there is a lack of welfare policies and protective measures for survival of working class people. The question is, do leaders think only about market failures. Is it that the democratic leaders forget that what governance is for? This requires a serious thought, all thanks to corona that exposed governments who are exclusively involved in shaping and creating markets.

Where is inclusive growth? Has it become the causality of the deadly pandemic or the quintessentially exploitative and circumscribed capitalist growth. The answer lies in the accidental outbreak of Covid-19 that exposes the incompetent nature of governments who are turning into pro capitalistic and anti public in such times of crisis.

Where are those capitalists, who were producing weaponry for the market. Where are those capitalists who were running war industries, why they can’t provide ventilators, medicine? Why they are not doing even an iota to make any difference. So, without suspending our scepticism, we can still appreciate what this pandemic does offer us. Even the capitalist “solutions” are deficient and aggravate the crisis, meaning more sickness and more death. The crisis can even additionally escalate the already resurgent socialism versus capitalism discordant. The post Covid pandemic order had to deal with the sticky situation of winner/loser dilemma.

Suheel Rasool Mir Researcher, Department of Sociology, University of Kashmir