Coronavirus, citizenship and capitalism
In the aftermath of #corona or #covid19, I am reading and listening about how different political actors are communicating and thinking about the current situation, regarding what is the problem and what is the solution?
In this post, I want to focus on the left-wing and socialist arguments. It is partly based on listening to podcasts as Deconstructed with Mehdi Hasan episode “Capitalism Vs. The Coronavirus.
The storytelling goes like this — coronavirus shows that global capitalism has failed and that “we”, as in the USA, need a universal health care system free for all.
I find this storytelling as very problematic for several reasons:
1. Thanks to globalization since the end of the 1980s based on globalism, market integration and liberalizations more countries and regions today are richer per capita. Reduction of global poverty is also result of more people across the world having money enough and access to health care systems. Furthermore, even in the future, there is going to be a need for the world to have a greener economic system where markets still play critical roles.
2. “Socialism in one country” rhetoric cannot solve global problems. Does it matter much if, for example, the USA would have “free” (taxpayers money) medical system for all (national) citizens if other and poorer countries do not have enough material and human resources to deal with global viruses or pandemics? Proposals for some kind of global pandemic emergency system would be more applicable, but this demands that politicians, parties and people can think globally and not state-centric.
3. Pouring more money into problematic and dysfunctional systems is not going to solve the problems. For example, in Sweden, according to government studies and analysis, the current welfare state system has several problems and is unsustainable on the long-term regardless of taxation and immigration levels. Nevertheless, it is easier for different politicians to promise more money to the welfare system, or promise lower levels of immigration, in order to get votes rather than saying that some parts of welfare should be abolished, reformed or privatized so that public welfare can become more basic and efficient as regarding cancer treatment. This is also touching the problems of representative democracy where we do not vote how we think in the first place because we primary vote in accordance with how we “feel”.
4. As humans, we have our rights and dignity. This also means that we have natural rights also in order to own private hospitals, nurseries, clinics etc. Therefore, ideas such as that all health care should be “public” or “common” are more or less disgusting and anti-democratic. I am personally very much in favour of ideas such as “democratizing economy” if it means organizing welfare systems by bottom-up approaches such as cooperatives, welfare clubs, crowd-funded initiatives. However, if “democratizing economy” means that “the people” will decide from above by using public institutions as states to abolish human rights and freedom then things are not going to be democratic but mob rule.
5. Finally, I am hoping that Corona situation will lead to more people realizing why there is a need for more global cooperation and integration based on common institutions. Moreover, that will demand that more of us are thinking globally, acting locally. Because right now, it is common with think state-centric, act nationally behaviours which are not contributing to solving problems. There is no national sovereignty in pandemics. Corona makes the whole world to function as one country.