With the Coronavirus running amok throughout different nations, the subsequent government responses to the virus have been politicised beyond comprehension.
Many questions are yet to be answered in the wake of such an outbreak. Were we prepared? Did we need to lock down? What’s the best way to shield the economy in the future? These are some of the trivial debates that commentators and politicians will be stewing over in the coming months.
But what about the big issues – the bold problems? The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus is set to not only force us to prepare for future instances of viral outbreaks but poses many threats to our way of life as we know it.
Here are some of the broader debates that society will, and arguably should, be having.
Reconsidering globalisation and a shift towards protectionism
The old Donald Trumpian doctrine of making America great again and bringing back off-shored jobs to the homeland as an example, might be one to not dismiss entirely.
It’s been evident that the global trust in China has diminished as a result of their governments action under commander-in-chief, Xi Jinping.
They lied to the WHO about the spread of the disease and played down its transmissibility. They silenced and suppressed whistleblowers that came out with evidence that something was spreading in Wuhan – and forced to outright deny it. Even now, they have ceased testing, presumably to keep the numbers down, whilst locking down cinemas again and shutting the borders off.
With many people calling for punishment or sanctions to placed on the Chinese regime, many also see this as an opportunity to question their relationships with China. As it’s often considered the engine that churns out our products, the limited labour laws and our profit-driven capitalistic motives for exploiting this may come into question as we’ve seen damage to major supply chains across the world as a result of China’s closure.
The capitalism vs socialism debate is set to re-ignite again – this time hotter than ever
Many on the left have named ‘socialism’ to be saviour of the international corporate block in the form of ‘bailouts’. While the phraseology of these statements are subjective and ultimately very questionable, it has been the perfect springboard for activists and politicians to push agenda’s as we’ve seen with the Democrats in the US, stalling a bill for partisan reasons.
With some people calling for state run UBI and the longevity of these temporary Coronavirus stimulus packages to be extended, the debate will heat up as the governments so-called ‘endless money tree’ has been exposed. We know it’s not strictly endless, but the growing sensation of anger towards the political establishment for not stepping in for other ‘human-rights’ issues and ‘only caring about the economy’ is palpable.
The debate will heat up from the capitalist side as well – its impossible to see free-marketeers turning down an opportunity to flaunt the efficiencies of corporations to start producing PPE and ventilators worldwide. The morals of billionaires will be called into question – whether it’s Mike Ashley attempting to force his staff to continue working, citing that sportswear is an ‘essential service’. Or whether it’s coming to the support Sir Jim Ratcliffe market agility who’s looking to covert factories to start mass producing hand sanitiser and masks. Expect fireworks.
The legitimate role of government will again be questioned
What is expected of government? The libertarian conservative may say national defence, international diplomacy, handling essential services and upholding rights, ‘anything else will be too nanny statist’. The plucky liberal might assume it’s about insuring equality for all, in outcome and opportunity. They might even a argue for management of speech and how we interact with each other – perhaps enforcing societal norms and righting historical wrongs.
Whatever way you look at it, this somewhat black swan event has shaken everything up. Fiscal Conservatism has gone out the window (it needed to) and the world was – metaphorically speaking, ‘hit over the head with the kitchen sink’. Rights we once took for granted like freedom of association and congregation were barred as unprecedented lockdowns swept the globe.
What is the role of government? Now that we’ve seen a taster of what they can do, what should they be responsible for? Do we want to relinquish freedoms? Are clampdowns acceptable and do they need to be applied to other aspects of our lives? Some big questions to be had – and some huge changes on the horizon.