Pandemics are not something new. They have been there throughout human history. With the advancement in science, technology, medicine, and bioengineering the adverse effects of infectious diseases are more likely to be controlled. For example, better medications and health facilities mean lesser deaths. Currently, the world is right in the middle of the pandemic, the novel coronavirus pandemic which has affected millions of people. Before this coronavirus pandemic, there has been a whole long record of pandemics emerging and diminishing. We have always been such vulnerable to pandemics. Some countries are even under the second wave of COVID. According to World Health Organization, as of October 27, 2020, the virus had infected forty-three million three hundred forty-one thousand four hundred fifty-one people while costing the life of one million one hundred fifty-seven thousand five hundred nine individuals. The numbers are changing rapidly. Due to globalization, the presence of the virus can be seen in all the regions around the globe.
COVID-19 is caused by a newly identified coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. It caused the worldwide pandemic of respiratory illness. The first case appeared in China in November 2019 in the Hubei province but went unrecognized. It was treated as pneumonia. Eight more cases with the same symptoms appeared in December with researchers pointing to an unknown virus. During the first half of March 2020, the World Health Organization announced the COVID-19 virus as the pandemic.
Pandemics put the governance of the states to test. Different states react to pandemics differently. In the case of COVID-19 as it was spreading aggressively and majorly due to the contact between the healthy and the infected individuals. So to contain the viral disease there was the need to minimize the contact between individuals which means a lockdown. This pandemic is not just a health crisis but it also affected the economy, society, and environment. COVID-19 is the first pandemic of the 21st century with the potential to challenge the state system and governance. The response by states varies depending on the type of government. Communist and capitalist states both responded intending to contain the virus. But the success rate to cope with the crisis vary.
China is a communist state which means it has better control over its health sector. Not just over the health sector but also over the economy. At the same time, people don’t have much liberty and they are almost under constant watch. On the other hand, liberal democracies like the United States of America prioritizes individuals. Other than this the capitalism is mostly in favor of the bourgeoisies which are only a small fraction of the total population. For the benefit of the bourgeoisies, the health and security of the proletariats are likely to be compromised sometimes.
Since the cold war ended, it marked the victory of the capitalist world with the US as the leader of the capitalist block. Many scholars were of the view that the conflict between communist and capitalist ideologies has finally ended with the demise of the Soviet Union. The political scientist Francis Fukuyama came up with his text “the end of history”. According to which the end of the cold war was the end of the ideological conflict and the universalization of capitalism, the liberal democracy. At that time the United States emerged as a superpower.
Things were going well but then the pandemic erupted which challenged the dynamics of the liberal democracy. Liberal democracies were not better able to cope with the pandemic. They have a higher death rate because they failed to impose active lockdown. Lockdown was not favorable for the bourgeoisie and the banks as it will put a pause on their profit. They did not let that happen. When it comes to crisis response Beijing had a clear win. The disciplined population and centrally controlled government also played a vital role.
China gracefully survived the pandemic while helping other states with medical aid and assistance. US is still facing the surge in the COVID positive cases. The failure of the capitalist system in response to the pandemic made the west even more vulnerable to rising China.
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Ullah, Asad, and Shariful Islam. 2020. “COVID-19: Is This The End Of Western Liberalism?”. Modern Diplomacy. https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/05/07/covid-19-is-this-the-end-of-western-liberalism/.
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