Mansoor Ahmed Kataria
The Covid-19 has taken over the world suddenly, giving no time to governments to fight back in an organized manner. The more the virus spreads, the more the conspiracy theories came out. The blame-game between America and China continued until the pandemic completely crippled the States under its vexing shade. America called it the ‘China Virus,’ while China accused America of spreading it in Wuhan where military exercises were going on. Despite advancements in technology, the true reasons will be unearthed after decades.
The pandemic has stunningly devastated the most stable health systems. First Europe became the epicenter and then America. However the origin of the virus, China, pushed back in an amazing manner. Except China, no state in the world could handle the situation which resulted in long term lockdowns in hard-hit states. More than 170,000 people have died to date and 2.5 million have been affected. The pandemic has completely overwhelmed global systems and the head of World Health Organisation is warning that the ‘nights full of fear’ are yet to come. So fasten your belts.
The shifts in centers of power in the world also became a topic of debate. Many observers think that devastation of the economy will tilt the balance of power of power towards China even more, enabling it to supersede America. Others say that the status quo will prevail.
The fall in oil prices has given developing countries an opportunity to stabilize, while the backbone of America seems fractured by this historic fall. Saudi Arabia, while battling Russia, also seems to be in a difficult situation. The only economically-stable ally of America in Middle East has got a tough time signaling red for America’s hegemony in the region. While the only American enemy in the Middle East, Iran, is just as bankrupt as it was before. So loss will be for those who had something.
With the collapsing capitalist system, socialist ideas are once again making space in discourse. In Vietnam, the socialist state handled the pandemic with great wisdom. The state announced a lockdown after six cases, and provided food and health facilities free of cost. Till now 185,000 tests have been conducted done by the state free of cost. The number of pandemic-hit patients and deaths is minimal. But there was nothing but chaos in capitalist states. South Asian and African states have wholly demonstrated the collapse of capitalism as states have failed to provide any secure health assurances to their people in this time.
In the current situation, capitalism provides only two ways out of this pandemic. The first suggests saving the economy by letting working people die, and the second suggests letting the poor die from hunger. These options have left a deep imprint in the minds of masses and are compelling them to rethink the system.
The free market, once praised as the best option, has left laymen hopeless. The shift in ideological blocks is a very possible thing. Pakistan, one among the many developing countries, is battling the pandemic but alas! Along with the health system, the education system is rough and tough. The start of online classes was a huge fiasco. Pakistan, with its 65 percent rural population, cannot provide internet services to its people. This has made education even less accessible for students from rural and peripheral backgrounds.
Only the elite and upper class can benefit from online classes. Like the working class, students with nominal economic backgrounds are victims of this system. One can easily deduce that downtrodden working classes and students are left with very little options. The notion of this blunder, online classes, doesn’t even make any sense in a country like Pakistan. Students have beaten the drums many times to improve the education in campuses but all the noise has fallen on deaf ears.
Like the Spanish Flu of 1918, COVID-19 can also lead the states to loosen the grip on occupied territories. Indian-occupied Kashmir is the best example of this. The 1918 pandemic helped Indians accelerate the freedom movement against British rule and history is evident that British couldn’t lock the masses for too long.
Cutting a long story short, there are strong chances of worldwide change. The change in systems, beliefs and ideologies are very much expected once this pandemic is over. The states will survive and will never be failed though but the system (capitalism) has failed, thanks to the pandemic.
The writer is an LLB student at Punjab University.