COVID-19: Is this the End of Western Liberalism?


As China comes out of the quarantine and other strict measures, most of the factories, shopping-marts, transportations, restaurants, and tourist spots are back to normal. In contrast, the death tool and novel infections in the western world continue to rise. Under such circumstances, the part of governance and the role of capitalism are to be questioned in the interim. Long ago, especially after the devasted World War 2nd, Scholars from Political Sciences and International Relations have argued that liberalism is the most effective way for good governance. At the same time, neo-liberal suggested that capitalism is considered one of the effectual ways to control an economy.

Needless to say, these assumptions are little more than a caseless mantra or a biased idea spread by the wealthy-class through different mediums in order to preserve their status of beingthe bourgeoisie – who are indeed considered themselves the masters of capitalism. According to the social science literature, there seems to be a positive relationship between any natural calamities, increased national political views. Such situations are somehow experienced in the western world – opposing the ruling party and accusing them of not handling the condition appropriately; nevertheless, such state of affairs will have direct effects on upcoming elections. In the same vein, one must also distinguish the truth that relying on a political system (political ideology) in crisis can kill more than expectation, as mostly ideology does not matter in crisis.

Fundamentally, the efficient response of the government does matter in crisis. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, people have witnessed the responses of all most every state around the world. China has a population that far surpasses that of all the western nations combined. However, its death rate is far less than that of which has experienced in the western world.

So, let’s cut to the chase here, China, with a population of 1.4 billion witnessed 4,633 death so far, on the other hand, the US with a population of no more than 400 million have seen 69,925 death so far, as of May 5th.  In the same vein, Italy witnessed 29000 deaths, UK 28700, and France 25200 deaths, with a population of 60 million, 66 million, and 67 million, respectively. Thus, if we compare the statistics come out of China with the western world, we have no choice to doubt them; it is somewhat crystal clear that the response of China (anilliberal state) has for more affective and pivotal than that of the western liberal world.

So far, the world has learned a lot from the two outcomes – Beijing was not only able to implement the lockdown and other vital measures that save thousands of lives but also paved the way for Beijing diplomacy and keenness to help other infected states. So far, Beijing has sent medical experts and millions of dollars value of materials to more than eight-five states in order to confront the health crisis. Nevertheless, the leading power not only failed internally to challenge the crisis, but their delayed in decision and self-interests are responsible for the spread of the virus in their citizens. The billionaires and the bankers who influence the policy of the state to secure their broad interests put the workers’ lives to risk. It is not an exaggeration to say that the failure of the state and the rich-class (who up to most significant extent control state policy) to implement lockdown is the leading cause of the immense spread around the world.

The central lesson people have learned and immensely exposed by the COVID-19 that the liberal world order is in deep trouble. The plates are moving away from each other, and very little can thru to repair the damage; indeed, the seeds of destruction were seeded by the elite themselves. The fall of the liberal order will genuinely dismay the western elites who are since long time have benefited from the so-called “Egocentric Order.” After the end of the cold war, these elites incessantly said and believed that this order was [is] a vital force for political stability, peace, security, and prosperity around the world. However, the coronavirus, COVID-19, has exposed the fallacy of the liberal order. Nevertheless, the current liberal order and the COVID-19 accelerated China rise than ever before, which helped to transform the order system from the unipolar world to multipolar. 

Even if the western leaders work hard to limit the COVID-19 outbreak’s temporary outcome, eventually, it will mean little to strengthen the liberal democratic system from within. Further failure in their policies will leave the West vulnerable to China, which precisely showcases its model of handling difficulties. If liberal policies and strategies are providing results weaker than illiberal, then the liberal must revise not only its policy against COVID-19 but also broader their strategies and their assumption about human nature.

Asad Ullah
Asad Ullah
Majoring International Relations at Shandong University, Shandong Qingdao China


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