The long-term political cost of pandemic

By Barun Mitra. Dated: 1/10/2022 10:12:50 PM

People of the world unite to fight the pandemic. You have nothing to lose but your liberty!

Viral diseases always become less lethal with time as variants become milder. The disease becomes endemic and the epidemic ends. This has been the history for million years or more. Yet, today, there is little interest among most social, scientific and political leaders, in most countries, to calm the panic and douse the fear.

Why would that realisation be allowed to sink when there are powerful interests working to muddy the waters. One set is seeking a political dividend, and the other is seeking windfall profits. And this time both are colluding to preserve their own interests. And third parties such as the media or the research communities increasingly find it beneficial to toe the line in order to gain a few crumbs by being in proximity to power and profit, rather than speak the truth to power.

In such a situation, who will, or even can, bell the cat! And how will the realisation sink in!!!

It should be clear by now that hardly anyone is interested in Covid. Which is why hardly any country has been able or willing to improve their healthcare services. In fact, while the variants are becoming milder and endemic, and hospitals are not filling up with patients, many countries are quarantining their healthcare workers, perhaps to prolong the sense of crisis and refuel the sense of panic.

No wonder every effort has been to present Covid as novel, and therefore pursue novel vaccines and cures. The potentials of possible existing and safer remedies which could have helped millions have been deliberately discarded and vilified.

Covid has come as convenient pretext to camouflage the eternal drive for power and profit for the few at the cost of the people and their liberty.

Freedom of expression has been one of the principles sacrificed in the name of science, misinformation or misleading. For the first time private organisations and companies have taken up the role of censors without any legal sanction or any particular competence to evaluate the issue. In the name of Covid protocols freedom of association and assembly have been curbed, even among family, friends and inside personal home and property. Such unparalleled measures are being enforced on grounds of health and safety. What is to prevent similar measures on the pretext of economic disruptions social instability, civil disobedience or national security.

Chinese and Russian leaders must be laughing non-stop at the ease with which their model of state sponsored oligarchy has won the battle for the world, at least now. That too without firing a shot.

Twenty-five years after the original end of history, another history is now ending.

Isn't it incredibly ironic that 70 years ago facing an imminent war, FDR urged the people that 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself'. Churchil in the middle of the blitzkrieg rallied the people, 'we shall never surrender'. Neither of them, nor anyone else knew the outcome of the war.

Mahatma Gandhi turned nonviolence into the most potent political weapon. Yet he used to urge young Indians to join the military to go to war to lose the fear of death in order to truly qualify as a soldier in the non-violent resistance army.

And the people rose to the occasion.

Today, we know quite well how viral infections spread, and how epidemics rise and fade, yet almost every leader in the world is urging the people to obey and surrender. This is a tragedy, far worse than any war or natural calamity or previous epidemics.

Three countries that stood out are Japan, Sweden and Taiwan. They didn't fuel fear, continued as normally as possible, and managed the pandemic far better than most. Even Sweden didn't fare any worse for not willing sacrifice the liberties of its citizens, than many other European nations that didn't blink twice before sacrificing liberty of the people for an elusive safety. And this time significant numbers, perhaps even majority of the people in many societies seem quite willing to oblige their leaders.

This is the story of the real long Covid from which the society may take really a long time to recover.



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