Crisis breeds crisis. This is also true for pandemics like Spanish flu, Bubonic plague while including all other pandemics which wreaked havoc throughout history. Apart from health crisis and fatalities, they had an appalling effect on socio-political and economic systems around the Globe. Spanish flu killed almost one third of population of world, reduced the GDP of countries from 2-6% while personal spending dropped by 8%. Politically, it had a great role in outbreak of World War I and started the process of decolonization, changing world map eventually for forever. The recent pandemic, COVID-19, is another global pandemic which is bound to have adverse effects and post-pandemic world may look different from present world.
In economic arena, on one side the economies around the globe has been observing a decline in GDP growth while on the other hand, it has generated a renewed debate on crisis of Capitalism which inevitably increased inequality. This is visible from the fact that while millions lost their jobs and combined earning of poor fell by $ 3.7 trillion, the wealth of billionaires sky-rocketed.
Moreover, it shook liberal political order when democratic countries failed to respond effectively to crisis. There was a lack of cooperation in sharp contrast to liberal aspirations. The contribution of international organizations also seemed irrelevant. Worst effected countries had to rely on self-help and on the capacity of their own state’s health systems.
Meanwhile, China who is leading the revival of authoritarianism also lead the resilience against COVID-19 has won discourse war over handling of this pandemic. Great threats are looming over democracy and on whole liberal political order as well. There are voices calling for a deep need to rethink the global political system. It could be redrawn taking into account the lessons learnt from experiences of free democracies as well as autocratic regimes.
Francis Fukuyama’s theory of liberal democracy as a final form of human government is more severely challenged now than ever. The post pandemic world will be an example of competition between democracy and autocracy as competing models of governance. This narrative suggests that history has restarted again and will move in similar pattern as it has reached to this very point, i.e. progression from one socio-economic epoch to another. Unfortunately, this will be a backward slide if this happens.
There is a dire need to understand that the challenges for liberal political order are twofold at the moment. Apart from the outer pressure, it is experiencing a mid-life crisis. The system has certainly not delivered what it actually promises. On one hand, democracy while promising an inclusive, pluralistic, free society and suggesting collective action, raises the standards so high. While on the other hand, the performance of democratic countries is not up to the mark. For example, the spread of COVID-19 in India is largely because of election rallies and kumb festival. In the United States, vaccination program saw racist trends. The rate of vaccination of native and Blacks was 26% lower than their infection and death rate. This represents a gloomy picture of situation.
Moreover, the borderless nature of pandemic demanded global cooperation during and after the pandemic but volatile national and international security environment suggests that there may be less. Globalization and global agendas may remain on backseat post pandemic and nationalism will dominate any debate about global cooperation.
Furthermore, the world was already experiencing the rise of right-wing populist movements who can maneuver such crisis for their favor, fueling social disintegration and adding to further deterioration of democratic norms and values. They can easily manipulate dissatisfied and frustrated people to further their illiberal projects. Anti-immigration, Racism, Xenophobia, Islamophobia will see a further surge post-pandemic and the graph of attacks on homosexuals, Muslims, non-natives etcetera may see a hike. Simultaneously, politics of vaccination between countries has also given impetus to nationalism and this may impede the progress of global agendas in future.
To conclude, either the west have to do enormous work to limit the after-shocks of pandemic at domestic and global level or the post COVID paradigm shift may not be in its favor. There is an enormous need to extend cooperation in health sector, ensure equal and effective vaccination program for wealthy as well as poor countries and aid to stabilize the weak economies and third world countries. There is a dire need to improve the functioning of International Organizations to make them more effective institutions for global response to global issues in future. Moreover, governments should promote and extend more egalitarian policies and programs to help societies recover from the bane of extremist right-wing.