Love for one’s country is one of the many forms of love people learn as children. It stems from the love for family and heritage. It gained significant momentum when some regions served as colonies to certain super power nations.
Love as an emotion served to encourage people to participate in movements to work for an independently governed nation. Such a form of love is practiced with great pride as a value system taught to young children. As a post-colonial strategy, countries focused on self-sufficiency in production and distribution as external and trade relations were seen as a threat to internal progress.
Green revolution, industrial revolution and technological revolution were incorporated as methods for growth and development. However, countries later realized that relying on internal resources was not enough to handle the growing demands. Economies opened to allow foreign direct investment and opportunities for employment to foreign nationals. This contributed to sustaining economic progress. The world became a global village. Love for country changed to the need to love every person irrespective of his/her nationality.
But this idea of a global economy that accepts everyone and gives them equal opportunities to grow has been challenged in the recent past. A shift in political thought and preference is the underlying factor. People are encouraged by politics of majoritarianism and cultural homogeneity and want to restrict access of resources and opportunities to certain members.
Diversity is discouraged and seen in opposition to the idea of development. World leaders want to exit from current collective economic systems, implement laws to ghettoize minorities and construct structures and follow the same age old divide and rule policy. Unlike the previous attempt to liberalize means of production to satisfy all, the current thought promises to make some happy at the cost of dissatisfaction of the other.
This restricted flow of income and opportunity has also restricted possibilities of development. And amidst this struggle, this year the world is witnessing a pandemic due to COVID-19, which has caused things to take a turn for the worse. But COVID-19 has an important life lesson for world economies and politics. What is this lesson?
COVID-19 began as an epidemic that infected people in certain countries. Later it spread to every continent except Antarctica and was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. It did not restrict its share of suffering to certain parts, but everyone had to collectively witness the scare and problems that followed. This seems to remind us that despite all our differences and need to restrict access for our own people, a virus has infected everyone in similar ways.
Every country has now been relying on the World Health Organization and other medical research organizations to collectively find solutions and ways of precaution to prevent rise in number of cases. But even as this is being done the political and economic responses have not changed. In fact, it seems to have become worse. Instead of helping one another collectively by identifying strengths and weaknesses, countries have been convinced by the term of social distancing in the sociological sense by distancing minorities and foreign nationals with policies like jobs only for locals and economic independence and self-sufficiency.
Countries want to move to their old habits of competition through restriction, rather than liberalization and cooperation. This kind of attitude will only increase the possibilities of economies to contract rather than expand and grow.
Restricted access can also be a problem to natives of a country. It will discourage positive competition and promote monopoly. Monopoly means that power is in the hands of few individuals or groups. This might do away with local versus foreign goods, but will lead to a class struggle of big players versus small ones and the bourgeoisie (business owners) and proletariats (working class) as seen in history.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an eye-opener to world economies and politics that wanted to follow systems of restriction. It is a call to inform people that we are a global world and have to learn to work together rather than resort to blaming and comparisons if we have to grow as one home of humanity. Post-pandemic recovery can happen only when it is done together rather than separately in isolation, because progress of one is progress of none, but progress of everyone is progress of the world.