By Ali Riza Tasdelen
Long before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, many had already come to the conclusion that a new world was being born, that the Atlantic Front was on the brink of collapse and that the world was orienting itself more and more toward China and the east, the new center of humanity, production and prosperity.
American imperialism has proven to be one of the most deadly and nefarious structures of political organization in history, with Washington’s aggressive geopolitical actions resulting in the suffering of untold millions.
Today’s Covid-19 pandemic is not only taking lives, it is also destroying the pillars of the neoliberal system.
The economies of the imperialist countries are stagnating, shrinking and moving rapidly towards the brink of a collapse.
For the last 15 years, humanity has been discussing and debating the neoliberal policies of this global imperialist system, but things have now become a great deal clearer.
Neoliberalism involved sustained attacks against governments’ social security and healthcare sectors in numerous European capitals throughout the 2000s.The 2008 financial crisis was a massive blow to capitalism, but was not enough to prevent the ruling class from recuperating and even using the economic fallout to squeeze more money out of the people. While economies across the entire world were affected, it was Western countries who were delt biggest blow.
2008: THE END OF AN ERA
We all remember Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France. Sarkozy was an Atlanticist par excellence and a champion of Neoliberalism who turned France into a little wagon to be dragged around behind Washington’s locomotive. When the 2008 financial crisis broke out, Sarkozy was a freshman president having only governed for four months. A year after the crisis, in August 2009, he gave a very interesting speech at the Ambassadors’ Conference where he criticized the US for watching the Lehman Brothers Bank go bankrupt without doing anything. He went on to list the consequences of the crisis by saying that the era of undisturbed globalization was over:
“On that day, the world saw that endless deregulation and a blind trust in financial players’ sense of responsibility had led to widespread irresponsibility caused by the irresistible lure of quick profits.
On that day, the world saw that a certain form of capitalism based on speculation and unlimited competition between money markets threatened the real economy with death.
That day marked the end of a type of globalization in which market players imposed their own law, in which everything was subject to speculation, in which the price of oil or wheat, just like stocks, could double or triple in a few months before collapsing.
On that day, nations found themselves alone, confronted with their responsibilities. They alone could stop the panic, restore confidence…. the crisis meant the end of an era.”
IT WAS ALL A FAIRYTALE
This crisis was a crisis of the American globalization and neoliberalism, whose representatives tried to push the burdens of the crisis entirely on the working class. The costs of the economic crisis were put onto the working class which was already short on bread, alienated from its social rights and losing its pension, education and healthcare.
The ruling class pursued a pro-hegemony policy as a way out of this crisis. The successor President Hollande continued his imperialist attacks, now including some African countries to the Libyan and Syrian interventions Sarkozy had found the money to finance despite “austerity.” Emmanuel Macron, being something of a mix of these two, has continued the tradition of violently imposing neoliberal measures. The Yellow Vests Movement has become the spokesman for the lower class in France who were no longer able to carry such a heavy burden, and which has become the leading force fighting against Macron’s regime. After this, the unions led mass demonstrations against pension reform and the national strikes began.
France was in this tumultuous situation when it was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. However, as a result of neo-liberal cutbacks, the equipment for the fight against the pandemic had decayed, supply stockpiles were depleted and the number of personnel had been reduced.
THE WEST AFTER THE PANDEMIC
A French minister leaked to Le Parisien newspaper that Macron had made some preparations for the post-pandemic period, had formed a team for it, and that the team had even prepared the text of Macron’s post-pandemic speech to be delivered on Bastille Day.
According to Le Parisien, the speech will be a declaration of nation-wide quarantine and end with a declaration that “a new era is beginning.” The aforementioned speech is rumored to include:
“Protection of the Welfare State and the economy, fighting social inequalities, increasing consumer purchasing power, building an ecological ‘Green Agreement’ and the urgent modernization of the healthcare system”, turning away from his image as the “President of the rich.” When I read this, I was strongly reminded of Sarkozy’s speech in 2009.
The majority believes that there will be a different world after this pandemic, however, it would be naive to think that the West will transition peacefully into this new social structure or expect that any such transformation would be tolerated by acolytes of Neoliberalism such as Macron, Merkel and Trump. In the emerging new era, the power of the state and reach of public services will experience a significant boom– but this will only be achieved by the active struggle of the people, not at the mercy of neoliberal leaders.
Capitalism will likely still be able to survive for a while, at least to the extent it is able to rid itself of its neoliberal orientation… but recent developments in the world have made it clear that this system’s time is running out.