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Covid-19 and global systems: Capitalism vs. Socialism
5/29/2020 12:03:42 AM
Dr. Rajkumar Singh

After the pandemic is over, we should expect a return to normal, especially in the context of the economic crisis. The international community can mitigate the consequences of COVID-19 only through cooperation and by strengthening the institutions of multilateralism. There are many examples of how, under quarantine, ordinary people have tried to help each other. Now it’s up to the leaders of the states. This pandemic has sparked a wave of predictions about a new world order. Many prominent politicians and scholars, including Henry Kissinger, believe that the pandemic will result in a global economic downturn, the worst since the Great Depression, which in turn will affect the system of international relations that developed after the end of the Cold War. Characteristic features of this system were liberalism in the political field and globalisation in the economic field. Although the problems with the value system of liberalism and globalisation appeared before the COVID-19 pandemic, the so-called “coronavirus crisis” only exacerbated the political and economic situation, which was already under stress due to conflicts, defaults, trade wars, and so on. Undoubtedly, the world expects an economic crisis, and depending on how deep it is, it will influence the “behaviour” of the masses, governments and states.
Capitalist vs. Socialist system
After the Second World War, two camps were formed in the world – a capitalist one and a socialist one. The latter was based on a strictly centralised non-alternative power, a command economy and closed borders. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the reforms in China that symbolised the end of the Cold War – events that the American scientist Francis Fukuyama called “the end of history,” demonstrated the bankruptcy of the command economy and closed borders. The capitalist world did not develop according to a single model. Conventionally, it represented two models – a classical liberal or “neo-liberal” one (laissez-faire, such as in the USA) and another based on the ideas of social democracy, which prevailed in most European countries (a welfare state). In the thirty years that have passed since the end of the Cold War, the world has faced two serious economic crises – in 1997–1998 and in 2008–2009. Most experts previously expressed the view that extreme liberalism negatively affects the economic well-being of citizens, the power of large industrial and financial corporations must be limited, and the market should be periodically regulated by the state. Against the background of a demographic transition, environmental degradation and the rise of the middle class, calls were made for a revision of the open trade system, in which more and more production capacities left the developed countries for the developing ones. In the international arena, the situation has deteriorated over the past thirty years due to the intensification of manifestations of nationalism and ethnic and territorial conflicts caused by this phenomenon. The threat to the values of liberalism and globalisation also came from the search for identity, including religion, which was reflected (in its extreme form) in the activation of ISIS in the Middle East.
Nation -states and Covid-19
In addition, the pandemic also exposed the weaknesses of nation-states, in the field of healthcare. In the context we all are of the opinion that centralised authorities were able to more effectively respond to a large-scale challenge. In this regard, the reaction of China and Singapore can be compared, on the one hand, to that of the United States and Italy, on the other. It is believed that the outbreak of COVID-19 may lead to the introduction of a system where citizens may be totally monitored by the state, thereby creating a threat to human rights. Supervision is a characteristic feature of every modern state, including both democratic and authoritarian ones, which make use of constantly-evolving technologies. The market economy, with its credit cards, mobile phones, applications and social networks, which hundreds of millions and more use completely voluntarily, is pushing for this. In increasingly complex societies, the role of the state inevitably intensifies. Whether we like it or not, in the near future and in connection with the impending economic crisis, it is precisely the bureaucratically and administratively effective state that will be able to provide a minimum standard of welfare for its citizens. The idea of a universal minimum wage also arose not only in connection with crises, but due to the automation of production and resulting job cuts. Most of the systemic changes in the world have arisen due to the transformation of economic relations and related political values. Wars were often the result of a systemic crisis. In the 20th century, after two world wars, mankind came to the realisation that it was existentially necessary to regulate international relations. This is how the modern “international community” with the UN and international structures appeared.
Today, disputes about how best to respond to these and other global challenges are being fought between adherents of the liberal order and supporters of centralised power. Most countries of the world which enjoy a high standard of living have adopted the liberal model. However, it is obvious that attempts to replicate it, especially in regions such as the Middle East, can lead to devastating consequences, as has already happened in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan. The migration flows caused by these conflicts and the intensification of radical movements ultimately threaten the same liberal countries which promote theses values. In the near future, none of the above parties is unlikely to be expected to win. During the Cold War, the word “coexistence” was in common use among politicians. Obviously, it is time to introduce this concept back into modern international relations.
Shape of things to come
Today, Governments of the world are struggling to fine-tune a balance between saving lives and the Economy, the US and Europe did not lose time to up the ante with China. China stepped up its relief operations and was quick to send relief material across the globe. India too has reached out to China for COVID 19 related PPEs, blood test kits and KN 95 masks. This is the time when international relationships will be reset. While the US is reportedly paying for its manufacturing industry to shift base back to the US, India needs to step up its diplomatic efforts in reaching out to Germany, USA, Japan and South Korea as a viable alternative to China with a minimum cost of relocation. The Chinese will continue to be belligerent with its modernised armed forces, creation of Marine Expeditionary Forces self-contained, for interventions in the prominent sea lanes of communications. The creation of bases in the region has not been challenged. The naval forces of the region to include India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand along with the US needs to create a viable challenge to Chinese domination. The US has its presidential elections, the Corona Pandemic and the re-election has shifted the US attention from the Global Superpower to its domestic politics. The Chinese and the Russians will use this opportunity to gain space in the international arena to gain their dominance in the Middle East and Africa. OBOR will have to be contested by the US and its limited allies like the US President’s yoyo approach to issues from seizing moments of opportunity for political gains. All of these propositions about the international system are being tested in real time, so we shall see how reality conforms to different preferences and expectations.
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