Does COVID-19 heralds a new socio-economic order?

COVID-19 pushed forward a new doctrine- the doctrine of individualism. But there are contradictions and conflicting situations. Individual liberty is curtailed.

Representational Image (PHOTO: Pexels)

The great German philosopher Goethe was not wrong when he said,"war swallowed up the best". Whether it is biological war or not  is a matter of controversy, but there is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic resembles a war. In the second wave, many distinguished personalities of Manipur passed away. The best in the field of cinema, literature, public service, etc., are swallowed up by the virus.

All the restrictions required to prevent its spread of infection are anti-democratic and anti- social. Avoiding crowds, maintaining a safe distance and not venturing out of the house except for the most essential needs are all individualistic. So, it is an attack on social life. Fortunately, in the greater areas of Imphal West district, as social disintegration is already in place, active clusters cannot mushroom. It is the height of individualism that separate buildings with tight gates are widespread with few interactions with neighbours. This social set-up based on individualism prevented much mortality due to the virus.

But for proponents of Irabotism,the pandemic is the worst curse that befell in the beginning of this century. The average working man and the farmers struggled to get food and prevent themselves from being invented. But as when God sends mouth he sends meat also, there have been no reports of starvation. They demand happiness through social and communal life, but as these are curbed they are forced to become individualistic.

COVID-19 pushed forward a new doctrine- the doctrine of individualism. But there are contradictions and conflicting situations. Individual liberty is curtailed. The state exercises such a coercive authority that individual liberties are restricted. We belong to the state, the Divine social organism and this puts us into a labyrinth of duties which compromise our individual free will and thought. Certainly, COVID-19 is a watershed in the history of this century, the beginning of which was marked by the Great June Uprising.

Like the second world war which was like the Industrial Revolution in Manipur as it ushered in mechanisation and the use of machines, COVID-19 introduced many changes in our institutions. For instance, in trade and business, home delivery service accelerated. Also, the traders became prominent and increased their influence in politics. Families become units which are aloof from social duties as there is a great impact on society.

If we assume that the theory of progress is true, this is a better stage of the society than the earlier one. Many will object and there is a lurking desire to return to the old social order. However, it is also true that in some sectors, we shall never return to the old order. The old social cohesion might give rise to extreme social distancing from a class of the people whose fate are not dependent on the society. There may come up new classes of people in the society antagonistic to each other.

Socialistric principles of public ownership cannot make much inroad as contrasted to public ,private agents could survive the onslaught of COVID-19. As social life was restricted,mutual help  was also curbed with the result that families alone bear the brunt.With extreme materialistic individualism,spiritual elements and aspects are withered in a society where the cult of materialism reigned supreme.

Does COVID-19 promote social disintegration? We cannot now mix in local hotels,religious congregation is restricted and customary rituals are curbed.One suspects another,and tries to cut short any interaction.In the name of COVID-19,visitors are not allowed which is advantageous to materialistic Individualists.Covid 19 certainly favours the doctrine of mutual non-interdependence.Each one is left to its own care.In our society,it is customary to call upon an ailing person with some gifts.But Alas,covid 19 had turned that upside down.

This is an age of globalisation.We no longer shop at Paona bazaar or Thangal bazaar. Even during the intense curfews, Amazon does its work.The number of online deliveries increased in geometrical progression. While a class of people think of the next meal, other classes wait for the online delivery boy. But the question also is whether wealth and income is not evenly distributed. Socialism professes to level the society, but COVID-19 facilitates some trend, the trend of home deliveries which cannot be avail of by classes of people 

Labour without capital is meaningless. In society, the statistics of labouring individuals is high. But where is the capital to employ them? Those with capital only hoarded their capital, they did not use labour for production. So unemployment increased, and the parasitic section were in majority. A large family of 20 depended on the labour of a single skilled worker.

So,without any doubt we can say that COVID-19 heralded a new social and economic order which is antagonistic to socialism. As materialistic individualism proved advantageous, the society may progress to a new stage in which social unity and integration is greatly impaired by forces seen and unseen.

(The views expressed are personal)

First Published:Aug. 27, 2021, 1:15 a.m.

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