Natural calamities are devastating but they also bring an opportunity for some positive socio-political and economic changes. Calamities provide a roadmap for future policies. Yet humans often fail to learn from them. Instead of making structural changes that are needed, they rely on temporary fixes and lose the opportunity to bring positive change in society.
Today the whole world is fighting a pandemic that has claimed almost thousands of lives and numbers seem to be increasing. The outbreak of the pandemic and its devastating effects on the world has exposed the unpreparedness of the global leadership in the face of crisis.
The impacts of the pandemic on both developed and developing countries is almost the same, and this exposes the structural frailties inherent in the capitalist system. It has also highlighted that the current economic order is unsustainable.
The health sector, a vital part of any state, was ignored even by ‘developed’ countries. In America, land of the free and home of the brave, hospitals are finding it hard to store bodies of all the people dying of the pandemic and have begun loading the bodies in trucks. Its people are still fighting for a free healthcare system. It is not that America does not have a health budget, it is that most of this money is going to insurance companies which exclude the majority from gaining access to healthcare. This is why Bernie Sander’s campaign resonated with so many young Americans – they all agreed that the current system needed to change.
In our own country, the situation is far worse. We lack necessary equipment to cope with the pandemic. There is a shortage of medical kits, ventilators, masks and other equipment in hospitals. This raises questions about the seriousness of the state concerning public health.
Over the years, the state of Pakistan spent more and more money on defence spending and neglected public health. Now the people of Pakistan, and indeed even its rulers, are defenceless against a virus.
The economic downturn caused by the pandemic is being described as even worse than the 2008 financial crisis. Companies are laying off workers, who fear that they will die of hunger, if not from the virus. It shows that capitalism survives as long as it generates profits but now when consumption has come to the halt, profits seem to be shrinking. In order to save the system, capitalist bosses are getting rid of their workers. The contradictions of capitalism are surfacing one by one at a broader level as well. There have been many events in the past, such as the economic crisis of 2008,which exposed how unsustainable the current capitalist order is. But no efforts were made for reforms.This crisis is another opportunity for us to take the important steps needed for a just and equal world.
There are some important lessons to learn from the experience of this pandemic to create a better post-pandemic world. Post covid-19 world should ensure proper healthcare facilities to its inhabitants and this should be able enough for any kind of emergency at any time. The healthcare system should not be used as a private good, but as a public service. The goal should be human development, rather than profit generation. The present world dominated by capitalism does not bode well for the future. If the world continues in the same way then the world has another crisis ahead which will destroy the humanity as a whole i.e. the climate crisis.
Climate is changing at a fast rate due to over-production and consumption. It is the most serious threat posed to the world today. We may contain the pandemic but it seems unlikely that we can tackle climate change without making the necessary structural changes.
Today, the world is standing at a point where we have a choice between a peaceful livable world and the world destroyed by greed for profits and individualism. It is still in our hands to choose.