• Opinion with the aid of Anis Chowdhury (sydney)
  • Inter Press provider

I begun the year 2020 with an interview with New Age (Dhaka, 12 Feb.), headlined, “We should Democratise Politics” the place I highlighted the perils of growing inequality and how it can be a improved threat than the evolving pandemic for the human race, interacting with the climate crisis and advancements in biotechnology and synthetic intelligence. The pandemic seems to have accelerated the manner.

The Economist described the yr of “first-rate Lockdown”, when the whole world turned into shut down, as “the 12 months when every thing changed” – the lead title of The ny times columnist, Gail Collins’ publication When every thing modified: The striking experience of yank women from 1960 to the current (2009).

When the facemask now not handiest grew to be an logo of the 12 months, however additionally of a daunting new age, many pointed to deadly flaws in the neoliberal paradigm that got here to dominance in view that the early Nineteen Eighties with the Thatcher-Reagan onslaught on the publish-World battle II social contract that respected workers’ correct and promised full employment and usual provisioning of elementary public goods, and unleashing of greed (bear in mind the 1987 film “Wall road”, the place Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko captured the essence of neoliberalism, “Greed, for lack of an improved note, is first rate”).

It was clean to listen to the torch-bearer of corporate capitalism, Klaus Schwab, say to instances, “the neoliberalist … strategy facilities on the suggestion that the market knows ideal, that the ‘company of company is enterprise,’ and that executive may still chorus from atmosphere clear suggestions for the functioning of markets. those dogmatic beliefs have proved wrong”.

therefore, Schwab argued, “We must stream on from neoliberalism within the post-COVID period”, and stated, “Free-market fundamentalism has eroded employee rights and economic safety, caused a deregulatory race to the backside and ruinous tax competition, and enabled the emergence of huge new international monopolies. change, taxation, and competitors guidelines that replicate a long time of neoliberal affect will now should be revised”.

Agreed Francis Fukuyama, who celebrated the autumn of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of socialist experiments along with his The conclusion of history and the closing Man. “a undeniable set of ideas concerning the merits of unregulated markets … had a disastrous effect… it’s resulted in a weakening of labour unions, of the bargaining power of standard employees, the rise of an oligarchic classification …that … exerts undue political vigour”. accordingly, he idea, “socialism should come again”, that means “redistributive programmes that try to redress this large imbalance in both incomes and wealth. He additional mentioned, “if there’s anything we discovered from the fiscal crisis it’s that you simply’ve acquired to regulate the field like hell because they’ll make all and sundry else pay”.

hence, it changed into encouraging to see the advocates of neoliberalism, equivalent to The economic times pen an editorial reminding the readers of the core of the put up-WWII social contract, “to demand collective sacrifice you ought to present a social contract that benefits everybody”.

It turned into also heartening to see the IMF’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva movement hastily to organize debt reduction for low-revenue nations in an inventive means which is advanced to the G20’s mean present of debt suspension to be re-paid entirely with collected hobby obligations (no shock now not many takers). It turned into a music to listen to debt hawks, reminiscent of Carmen Reinhart, the manager Economist of the area bank, recommend, “First you be anxious about combating the warfare, then you definately determine a way to pay for it”. The bank also “paused” its controversial Doing company record that encouraged a “splendor contest” of deregulation in the “race to the bottom” after it might now not take care of its statistics manipulation in favour of appropriate-wing regimes.

So, “when every thing modified”, there become a fine hope of change in the manner we organise economies and societies, and respond to usual threats to humanity; that low-paid employees can be recognised for his or her basic services; that the hire-looking for activities of the rentier category could be restrained; that the widening disparities in revenue, wealth and alternatives can be reversed; that there would be inclusive multilateralism recognising differentiated responsibility in collective global response; that no person or nation could be left behind; and the listing grows.

youngsters, not everybody turned into so sanguine. Simon Mair of the school of Surry, as an example, meditated 4 feasible put up-COVID world: a descent into barbarism, a robust state capitalism, an intensive state socialism, and a metamorphosis into a large society built on mutual support. He believed, “versions of all of these futures are completely viable, if now not equally eye-catching”. it all depends on the choice we make and the decisions that our political leaders take.

Amartya Sen believes that “a higher society can emerge from the lockdowns” as it took place after WWII; however he is involved that “within the guidelines against the existing pandemic, equity has not been a very noticeable priority…instead, the focal point has been on drastic control and surprising lockdowns … with little consideration paid to labourers who lose their jobs or the various migrant people, the poorest of the negative, who are stored hundreds of miles from their homes”.

meanwhile Luke Cooper and guy Aitchison of LSE checklist 4 hazards ahead: ‘deglobalisation’ takes a nationalist kind; much less democratic participation, greater centralisation; surveillance state and erosion of human rights; inequality goes unchallenged.

i’m not keen on Tony Blair; however I are inclined to share his eerie feeling, when he says, “for the first time ever I’m stricken concerning the future”. He fears, “COVID-19 will herald a world the place insecurity and unpredictability constitute the brand new general. everything that changed into central and present earlier than COVID could be there afterwards, except intensified and accelerated… to provide lots of worry with the burden falling frequently on essentially the most vulnerable”.

I even have explanations to be spooky. I record a number of:
Vaccine nationalism guidelines forgetting that we defeated small-pox that has been some of the most important factors of death and blindness for centuries in below a decade via unheard of world cooperation on the peak of the cold struggle.

Governments continue to be beholden to big Pharmas in opposing the waiver of patent rights, falsely arguing that patent rights are necessary for innovation, and ignoring the undeniable fact that we received towards polio with a vaccine devoid of patent.

company bosses shamelessly paid themselves fat bonuses and used tax-payers’ pandemic aid funds to pay dividends, and buy-back shares, while tens of millions lost jobs and livelihoods.

Yet governments are providing greater corporate tax cuts and further casting off job and wage protections, as an alternative of standing up to corporate activity, ignoring the undeniable fact that these are the very guidelines that contributed to widening disparities, gradual boom, stagnating productiveness and continual fiscal crises.

in the meantime billionaires have become richer and hundreds of thousands are pushed again to poverty and precarious dwelling.

Governments have ignored the probability to reboot and speed up the achievement of sustainable development desires. The pandemic has proven that we will live on less and don’t must over-crowd cities.

however governments have did not facilitate the tens of millions of individuals who moved to villages and rural towns to stay with the aid of taking jobs and capabilities there, and designing adjustment measures; governments did not seize the probability to fix urban bias and initiate regenerative economies.

Governments and policymakers are refusing to recognise that each existential threats – the climate disaster and the pandemic – besides the fact that children look like “environmental” or “natural” issues, they’re socially pushed.

climate crisis is brought about with the aid of society’s decision to over-eat and over-produce, the very elements that are destroying herbal habitats of wild-lives and bringing humans in close contact with virus-carrying animals.

Tackling both pandemic and local weather crisis could be lots less difficult if we reduce or stop our hedonic life-vogue and nonessential financial activities

in the meantime, Nobel Laureate economist Michael Spence is advocating the return of structural adjustment period conditionalities for countries in the hunt for help from the financial institution and the Fund, ignoring the findings of the bank’s boom commission, he chaired, that fair-seeming, “respectable-intentioned” conditionalities produced “misplaced a long time” of construction.

a further Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz is advocating Brady-trend bond buybacks using the IMF and donor funds, while these monies are urgently vital for combating pandemic, ignoring that the debt landscape has changed greatly considering that Brady with extra multiple players and that such debt buybacks during the past benefited the collectors.

unfortunately, they aren’t providing a roadmap for a brand new extra affluent, inclusive and sustainable future.

In my adopted nation, Australia, the govt is foot-dragging and refusing to take bold and bold eco-friendly-apartment gasoline emission pursuits regardless of witnessing worst bushfires and extreme climate activities in heritage. It has completed nothing to offer protection to gig people despite 4 Uber-consume delivery riders killed in street accidents taking meals to people in lockdown. it’s taking into consideration reforms of the commercial family members laws which are certain to make the lifetime of standard laborers like hearth-warring parties, nurses, cleaners and meals-beginning men and women more precarious.

My nation of dreaming, Bangladesh, is now listed as new ‘autocracy’ where the government has become illiberal, arresting and harassing journalists and any individual exposing its misdeeds, and corruptions even when it involved fake COVID testings, and reduction money and items. added-judicial killings and compelled disappearance have turn into devices of handle, whereas all the state institutions, including the judiciary, the police and bureaucracy are politicised.

on the other hand, there are some rays of hope as we welcome 2021 within the spontaneous mass mobilisation in Thailand and Belarus towards despots, in Chile’s referendum to meet americans’s democratic aspirations, in impulsive resistance in India against the farm legal guidelines promoting company pastime, in Indonesia’s mass protest against the controversial, omnibus invoice that assaults laborers’ rights; in defeating imperialist plots in Bolivia; in imposing taxes on Argentina’s filthy rich and wealthy; in Zambia’s determination to default that confounded debt-hawk’s scare-mongering.

Hope is an incurable disease that maintains us alive and relocating. Be protected and neatly. allow us to contemplate over the instructions of the crises; the connection with our governments; social contract and trust; measures of societal growth; and how our economies be extra distributive and regenerative or sustainable.

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