Coronavirus Revealed America Was Already Broken
By Nour Rida
COVID-19 seems to open a new horizon before the world, and a new post-COVID world order and reality is probably emerging as we speak.
This pandemic opened new gates of communication and has allowed people to exchange human experiences in the different societies and medical communities. Geographical boundaries, coalitions, and political constraints will witness changes. Presidents of EU countries are talking to the media about nationalism already. At the beginning, people were struggling to accept the extent of this crisis. Many say they read the news, registered the numbers, followed the lockdown rules, but they were in denial about this continuing for more than a few weeks. The same rhetoric could be heard at different gatherings and places; “this will be over soon.”
One significant thing COVID-19 has done is it has revealed many realities; among which is the reality of America and its neoliberal dream.
American journalist and columnist George Packer writes “The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken.”
According to Packer, Chronic ills—a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public—had gone untreated for years in the United States.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is consumed with his re-election and personal interest. In Packer’s words; Trump collaborated with the invader and abandoned his country to a prolonged disaster.
Expressing the discomfort of Americans from the US administration and the attitude of the elite, Packer noted that this pandemic should have been a calamity that brings people together, however from the start, its effects have been skewed by the inequality that Americans have tolerated for so long. The columnist touched on the sad experience American citizens had to go through. Ordinary people with fevers and chills had to wait in long and possibly infectious lines, only to be turned away because they weren’t actually suffocating while the president’s conservative allies—were somehow able to get tested, despite many showing no symptoms. With such an elite attitude that ultimately creates mistrust, it does not seem surprising to hear stories of Americans stockpiling toilet paper, medicine, and food that have been in the news for weeks, which, in some instances, has required stores to start rationing supplies.
The latest COVID-19 events bring us to think about theories of social sciences. For decades, intellectual endeavors to convert Liberalism into an ideology was aimed at the continuation of Liberal notions in fear of collapsing, as happened to the socialist system after the fall of the Soviet Union.
With this materialistic mind of state, the powerful often try to seize more power in a crisis and the rich seek more riches while the powerful make it seem like it is an adequate price that the poor and working class bid farewell to their loved ones who die from the epidemic or die themselves.
Liberal values and institutions are coming under considerable stress. Democracies, principally Western ones, have appeared incompetent and in confusion as they have struggled to keep Covid-19 at bay.
The ‘end of history’, ‘clash of civilizations’ and ‘there is no alternative’ are three unfortunate ideological theses advanced to established market led liberal democracy that come to an end with the arrival of the pandemic.
The narratives of Francis Fukoyama, Samuel Huntington and their fellow-theorists were constructed and spread to make people believe that capitalist world order is the only available alternative. COVID-19 was successful in showing the limits of capitalism and its tool of globalization.
Crisis has been there since long years, in the health and economic sectors; but it was underlying and surfaced as the pandemic hit hard. In the US, the coronavirus pandemic associated with economic crisis reveals terrible economic and political system that treats human lives as disposables; it is okay for tens of thousands to die and its okay for the elderly to be left without treatment or care. The elderly are not part of the state capital of human resources anymore, why keep a burden!
Capitalism under the “Neo-liberal” definition or practice of it has for the most part been a failure, as we are witnessing in the US right now.
The capitalist and liberal school of globalization offers humans to choose between: Laissez-Faire and Laissez Mourir.
The view point of Packer and others is a matter of consent among Muslim scholars to a great extent.
On November 3 2018, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Imam Ali Khamenei said that “liberal democracy has proven to be the ruin of Western nations who have based their government and social system on liberal democracy. It has led to social rifts, lack of social justice, the destruction of the family unit, comprehensive and epidemic corruption, and excessive and extreme individualism. Now, with the emergence of that man (meaning Trump)– the current eerie and strange US President – he is selling all their values at a cheap price: he has, in fact, destroyed the remainder of American reputation and that of liberal democracy.
In Mid-February 2020, Imam Khamenei noted “The Americans spice things up and keep up appearances in order to deceive some and intimidate some others in the world. However, their grandeur is shallow. I have written this down in my notes: as the grandeur and the glory of the well-known ship, the “Titanic”, did not prevent it from being sunk, the grandeur and glory of the US will not prevent it from being sunk either. America will sink!”
Recently, Secretary-General of the Lebanese Hezbollah Resistance Movement Sayed Hassan Nasrallah said that the war against coronavirus is in fact a world war, adding that countries such as the US and the UK are following the issue with inability and confusion.
"What we are facing now is more important than the first and second world wars," he warned, adding, "We don't know whether the EU and the US will collapse or not."
He stressed that the situation and fate of liberalism and capitalism are unclear. He underscored "The crisis of the arrogant world order is deepened by the collapse of US and international stock markets, and by the confusion and powerlessness of the American economy. This reflects the height of the structural crisis of the model of capitalist arrogance. Therefore, it can be said that we are in the midst of historic transformations that foretell the retreat of the USA as a hegemonic power, the disintegration of the unipolar hegemonic order, and the beginning of the accelerated historic decline of the Zionist entity."
He also pointed out that "The barbaric capitalism has turned globalism into a means to spread disintegration, to sow discord, to destroy identities, and to impose the most dangerous form of cultural, economic, and social plunder. Globalization reached its most dangerous phase, when it was transformed into military globalization by the owners of the Western hegemony enterprise, the greatest manifestation of which was evident in the Middle East, from Afghanistan to Iraq, to Palestine, and to Lebanon.”
Both leaders are critics of capitalism, believing that it causes injustice and does not do mankind good.
American liberal democracy is faced with a moral crisis and the American people are served injustice.
Of course it is very difficult to predict what the post-COVID-19 world would look like, but what is imminent is that it will never be the same again. It remains to be a question whether the masses will speak for themselves and decide to stand up for their rights in face of so-called democratic, liberal and capitalist governments or not.