Though it is difficult to predict how international relations will order states and their premises in the near future, the leading cliché on COVID-19 phenomenon is, it will for sure transform the fragmented international order from the current phase towards another one. COVID-19 is the greatest terrorist agent, indeed an equalizer, humanity has never witnessed before. Many, (including me) then worried how this turbulent transformation will affect all countries and in particular developing countries with weak forces of production. One thing we all starts to feel is, the imperial world has started to get Collapse at a faster rate every day – a system that defined our existence for decades ago. Surprisingly, the capitalist order has embraced decay from its insidious pillars, its zero-sum thinking, consumerism and materialism as Karl Marx had predicted long times ago. According to Marx, the capitalist system is a self-decayed system that sustains its survival also by enabling forces to recreate themselves in the face of expulsions and in turn they decay the system from an in inside.
A shift from one order towards another is not always getting smoother. Emphasizing this, it is helpful to refer how history works during past hundred years. In such a matter, powerful countries of their times enter both World wars in order to ensure their survival in the face of more bloody, albeit destructive transitions, inter-alia a bipolar world was the byproduct. Within the interface there were a systemic fragmentation and so did political/military reformations. Additionally, a shift from bipolar towards unipolar world order once in 1990s also forced to the redraft of a fresh frame works- the liberal world order and its values was the byproduct. Respectively, both cases prove a systemic transition is always as uneven as its might, due to it’s a so-called ‘eyeball-to-eyeball’ systemic combats.
Returning to my topic, we are exposing to an era of round-the clock transitions at this stage due a pandemic which is known as COVID-19 that attack a formidable tiger, a kitten just as easily as it would the young and the old. This transition has accompanied by phenomenon, which is quicker to label as a biological warfare, but is too late to get admitted as a game changer in international relations. As things arose from war are only get solved by war, it will surely affect current structures at the world stage with tremendous spillover effects. The greatest one is defined in economic aspects.
Today, because of full lockdown and transactional blockade, all supply as well as demand chains has get broken with a little hope to get well. Many economists predicted that economic depression will be likely to happen very soon. Depression is the outcome of exogenous forces such as wars and disease while recession is an essential part of a business cycle that created due to imbalances among all economic elements. Respectively, the measure of the depression is the extent to which it will destroy the hopes and dreams of a generation, making what had been easy reach is inconceivably far away. Like many things, the face of depression is readily recognized even if it is difficult to quantify. Among other things, if for example an economy is to contract by 20 percent, recovering from that by, roughly, a 4 percent growth rate would not be a triumph but a confirmation that we would be beginning to climb out of depression. So, we are going to devolve into a world class depression, whom the economically desperate not only will remain where they are but also will go to worst situations.
Whereas, there are always actors who come out of depressions as successful as it might be also. But, as history witnesses, the successful actors, many times called economic monsters can’t control the forces that depressions set free incessantly. They only attempt, and indeed capable of, to control the forces of productions, nevertheless, with no markets. It seemed then fictional to see the western wisdom able fix its shortcomings in the face of this challenging times. This is the opposite of its splendid rhetoric. So, ‘what will be the next ‘is a question that pops-up people’s minds contemporarily. One thing we are quite sure to express about is, but, the West will no longer be a center of world civilizations. The Covid-19 crisis has still demonstrated a rising capabilities and more human attitudes of other than the West values, a sounding alarm about the Western wisdom could not take the world a single step ahead. So, time is calling us to prepare alternative ideas for the genuine survival of our economies, philosophies and so do our upcoming generations also.
One thing which is very much likely to happen is the world will never be the same again. Yet, a question which is hard to answer is: will the next world system take the form of win-win cooperation between all nations and civilizations of the world or not? Assuming a glass half full outlooks from half empty ones, we can expect then history has taught us tough lessons as third world citizens and in particular as Africans, to engage in much deeper practices in a way to reframe more equal footage with the first world which is neither exploitative nor dehumanizing. For example, as Africans, we have been sadly murmuring again and again for decades to say: “if we only encounter a time…”, we would have set a new framework that remake history and the unjust past. Yet, many African countries did not really know that something like this could take place; even those of us who have close to zero trust in the wisdom of Western civilization.
Take our president Iseyas Afwerki as an example. Despite a fact that he is one of among the most skeptic leaders towards western adventurisms, he genuinely confesses that he has never expected a change that moves as fast as light by itself. In his message to address the state during the COVID-19 challenge he briefs like, ‘the global threat posed by the pandemic (COVID-19) is analogous to a sudden war, without any parallel in our contemporary times, that has been declared without any warning or prediction by all standards’. His words emphasis, this is not an event, but is a process and he consulted the people to stay vigilant for the long march. Contemporarily, a greatest concern is the likely shift of attention/resources from integral health, security and development themes, (for example, malaria is killing 1100 persons per day in Africa but has been ignored) towards combating COVID-19. Conversely, Eritrea reassures its commitment for ‘neither development agenda and national security concern, nor other health concerns will stay behind the bar’ tells the message.
Separately, with the repulsive era of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a proverbial moment, involuntarily, all the citizens of developing countries and in particular Africans have encounters to think and more to think how to frame a more just tomorrow, which is different from the unjust yesterday. African countries are so much disunited, disorganized, and profoundly confused by generations of ideological indoctrination telling them that western values are “the best” in every way, and thus unable to formulate coherent inputs on a system that exploits them ruthlessly. However, time to catch up on what they have been neglecting, in terms of philosophical, intellectual, economic and political inputs is now at their mercy, if they understand things more clearly.
Thus, in every crisis, there is always opportunity. The way opportunity states itself is solely and fundamentally by offering time as a background effort. Now there is plenty of it, plenty of ripen time. As the world has stopped all its motions, something terrible or good is going to happen. We all sense it. But we do not know precisely, what it is, not now, not yet. So, as members of victimized citizens of the globe, there will never be a bountiful time than this moment to value our self-worth. Some might say it is uncertain, yet complicate, but no one can say it is useless also. Respectively, it is time to propose some sort of “self-styled” interaction with the upcoming world order. If all Africans come at conclusion that we have more to offer to the world in terms of natural resource, man power and even values than to take from it, this might be the first step. Africa might not plays its part to create a Pandora-box like this pandemic epoch, but has a responsibility to reshape its future and the ripen moment is only now or will never come back.
Hafiz Mohammed Aalamin
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