As Wuhan city comes out of quarantine and the death toll in Western countries continues to soar past multiples of what has been experienced in China, long-held presumptions about governance and the role of capitalism are beginning to be questioned. Since the end of the Second World War and especially after the crumbling of the Soviet Union, there has been a consensus that secular liberalism constitutes the most effective form of governance and neo-liberal capitalism constitutes the most efficient and productive manner to administer an economy.
The appearance of Covid-19 has shown that these presumptions are little more than an oft-repeated mantra of at best dogmatic but largely biased and paid pundits of the wealthy classes and masters of capital. Although China has a population which far exceeds that of all Western nations combined, its death rate is a fraction of that which has been experienced by Western nations. Where China with a population of 1.2 billion witnessed 3,333 deaths the US with a population not exceeding 400 million, on the other hand, has seen 12,905 deaths so far and is far from its peak in terms of infections and deaths. The UK with a population below 70 million also has seen deaths of 6,159 which exceeds that of China and is expected to peak in 7 to 10 days. Hence if we believe the figures that have come out of China, and despite the bellicose statement of Western politicians to the contrary, we have no reason to doubt them, the response of China, a repressive illiberal state, has been far more effective and decisive than that of liberal Western nations.
Fundamentally the difference between the two outcomes is the speed and depth of the lockdown that China was able to implement compared to the procrastination and half-hearted responses of Western governments whose delays under the influence of corporate interests have been responsible for the spread of this virus in their nations.
It is received wisdom that the openness that is purportedly present in Western countries ensures effective accountability of state institutions and ensures an effective response from the executive which is supposedly managing the affairs of the larger society. Furthermore, it is also received wisdom that liberalism and an openness to criticism will ensure that an effective dialogue will occur from which the best solution to a crisis will emerge.
But the reality is far from this romanticised almost utopian ideal that we are fed. The narrative is more often than not controlled by the vested interests of the wealthy whose common interests, which are in some instances almost diametrically opposed to those of the rest of society. Together with their ownership of established media platforms ensures that among the cacophony of responses to any crisis or in fact any discussion on policy per say, the narrative of the wealthy is heard loudest and longest and is most effective of all voices on politicians and those tasked with developing policies. So we have seen in this crisis the surreal spectacles of billionaires advocating delaying any lockdown and calling for a premature end to the lockdown whilst isolating themselves on their luxury yachts and private islands. Among the many voices urging an end to the lockdown in the US is Dick Kovacevich, former CEO of Wells Fargo, who thinks most Americans should return to work in April, urging that we “gradually bring those people back and see what happens.”
There is also another fundamental tenet of liberalism, the most important of which is the belief that the health and well-being being of corporations, and the subsequent wealth of their million and billionaire owners are essential for the economic well being of the rest of the nation, hence their interests are fundamentally the interests of the rest of society; nothing could be further from the truth. The economy that the billionaires and their loyal politicians are so eager to preserve, overwhelmingly serves them- not the average worker or citizen. Workers in the US have barely seen a rise in their incomes when adjusted against inflation for decades, but corporate profits have mushroomed which has been replicated in the meteoric rises in share prices and dividends.
The bankers and billionaires who influence policy have been so profound and the protection of whose interests led to so much procrastination and delay in instituting lockdowns are the owners of the lion’s share of stocks and shares in the US and most Western nations. The richest 1% own more than half of the values of all shares of stock, whilst the richest 10% own more than 80%. Any talk of protecting the economy is essentially a call to workers to risk their lives for the sake of bankers, billionaires and their stock portfolios.
The coronavirus, Covid-19, one of the smallest of Allah (SWT)’s creations, has been most effective in exposing the fallacy of liberal capitalism as the rule of the wealthy by the wealthy, for the wealthy.
Although China’s response to this crisis has been both decisive and effective, the authoritarian and repression which accompanies this decisive and effective response is not something that the world finds palatable. The imprisonment of millions, their slavery and the sale of their organs, such as the Uyghurs to the highest bidders, simply because they believe in a religion different to the state-sponsored atheism is abhorrent and reviling to most, and does not constitute a model that humanity as a whole is prepared to follow.
Islam on the other hand with the example of the Khilafah has shown an effective and accountable form of governance in which the citizens follow the legitimate orders of the state without the need for repression or coercion, where the interests of the citizens as a whole are not sacrificed for the interests of a wealthy elite. It is a system of governance that was implemented effectively for over 1300 years and whose destruction at the hand of the colonialist West, removed the shade of Allah (SWT) from the earth. The re-establishment of the Khilafah is both a political and theological necessity for which no sacrifice is too small. Since its destruction, the avarice of the wealthy among us has resulted in tremendous suffering, which can only be remedied by a political system that is predicated on the interests of the community rather than the interests of the wealthy.