The Real Pandemic: Withering Human Rights or Human minds?
So it turned out that the inalienable human rights that the “west” flaunted with so much proud and arrogance and shoved over the rest of the world were not so inalienable as they were made to appear. We may not have made it to the concentration camps yet but constitutions appear to have been quarantined indefinitely. In the age of corona, it seems as if we are living in a human rights-less era. Millions of Citizens are under house arrest due to a lockdown and are living under the fear of uncertainty. The champions of free enterprise are confronting a dilemma of how and what to buy from empty shelves of supermarkets.
In a strange paradox, it’s as if a democratic virus came out of “nowhere” that started effecting every one evenly in an unbiased way- without distinguishing between rich and poor-for us to give up on our beloved democratic rights. But this explains only half of the paradox. At the same time the usual suspects are seizing more power while those at the lower and mid-level of hierarchy are becoming more powerless- at the mercy of hijacked states.
Also Read: Pieces of Broken Humanity: Bombs Vs. Breath
Pankaj Mishra in one of his recent essays apprehended his fears that, “the leviathan is back in a stunning revolution, in a stunning revolution hardly anyone foresaw it.” But the leviathan existed long before we started to feel its presence. It was in place in the shape of the “permanent political class“. The leviathan that existed has had the head of states acting only as spokesperson for the permanent political class. Barry Eichengreen described this phenomenon persuasively in these words:
The nation state has fundamentally lost control of its destiny, surrendering to anonymous global forces.Barry Eichengreen
Individualistic model based on personal singular perceptions may have its short-term benefits but is deadly for the foundations of a society in the long term. In the grand scheme of things, we are all non-entities yet we matter but not in the sense of hyper individualism as we are led to believe. The absurdity of the presumption of rational individual is clearly manifested in this age of corona in the shape of the surplus of behavioral stupidity that we are seeing all around us, and that is spreading more rapidly than the viral virus. The irrational longing of people for order and stability at the cost of everything else is a dangerous precedent.
All of this is not happening by chance. It took decades to foster such a behavior of zombified individualism. There is a method to the madness of the so called modern and civilized world. When actions are predicated on fear then reason and faith no longer hold sway over humans.
The other day I came across a good joke that superbly alluded to the panic syndrome of people infected with pandemic capitalism. The joke goes like this:
Q: What is the Philosophy of Late Capitalism?
A: Two hikers see a hungry bear on the trail ahead of them. One of them takes out his running shoes and put them on. “You can’t outrun a bear,” the other whispers. “I just have to outrun you,” he says.
Humanity spent so many decades in a globalized world of competition that they have forgotten about the essence and importance of co-operation in a healthy and balanced society. Anthropologist Margaret Mead, when asked about the first sign of a civilization, opined that the first sign was a broken thighbone of human that healed; unlike the other species of animal kingdom that are going to probably die under same circumstances. That the thighbone healed is a proof of the fact that someone was taking care of the patient and providing him with food and security.
Competition or Co-operation?
Globalization is in retreat. Those who are still pinning their hopes on it are running after its casket only, but seldom do they realize. Poverty, homelessness, unemployment will rise exponentially with the lockdown. In just three weeks USA jobless claimed soared to 16million. To put it in perspective during 2008 financial crisis, the jobless claims peaked 6 million in 18 months. In spite of the abundance of everything people are dying of lack of food and medicine. It was Marx who said:
There must be something rotten at the very core of a social system which increases its wealth without diminishing its misery.Karl Marx
We are entering unchartered waters. We have had enough of competition now we need co-operation. Facing adversity with grace is the hallmark of a sober society rather than the greedy few con artist elites who possess the arcane knowledge of profiting from depressed stocks in times of distress.
A self-taught American economist, Martin Armstrong, illustrated the same idea with a different description. The following passage is quoted from a letter he wrote to President Trump:
Communism failed because it broke the bonds of civilization and made every individual suspicious about their neighbors and the government. I went behind the Berlin Wall before it fell. I saw how it functioned with my own eyes, and not from academic theories.Martin Armstrong, In a letter to President Trump
The veil of civilization is extremely thin and has historically come undone in less than 30 days. Using current methods, the only way to prevent civil unrest is to turn the country into a police state and that leads to what we saw under communism
Focusing our attention solely on the dire effects of corona on health of individual who number in thousands or hundreds of thousands and ignoring the long term political, economic and social effects on our societies at large is a good illustration of missing the forest for the trees. It is not the dearth of testing kits that should be feared most but the paucity of thinking minds and abundance of fearmongers permeating all spheres of our life that should be feared.
The “Thought Police” work for “Big Brother” and should not to be trusted with the job of doing the thinking for us.
By allowing ourselves to be overcome with fears we allow others to manipulate us. Fear is too small a box for the massive fact of life to hide in. Death is not a binary choice. It is bound to happen, with or without the pandemic. We have to face it no matter how hard we try to avoid it. What we do have is the option to choose courage over fear, cooperation over competition, hope over tragedy, freedom over slavery and love over hate.
Perhaps is it not a time to imagine a new social system without breaking our bonds with the past?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are authors own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Reader’s Review.