Why spread of COVID-19 has everything to do with Capitalism
I am a millennial, who has never witnessed anything close to indefinite quarantines, maps showing huge red blobs, new laws being enforced every few hours. The novel Corona virus is taking down common people, influencers, entire populations of the biggest economies in the world, at an exponential rate that is breaking our charts.
It would be naïve to attribute the virality of the infection to the transmissibility of the virus alone.
Experts in various fields are frantically searching for ways to contain and mitigate it. From vaccines to efficient body protection suits, we are trying everything. But, we haven’t utilized this opportunity to question why pandemics keep resurfacing?
As designers, we possess the most indispensable tool - asking Why.
It helps us in addressing the underlying notions which cause a problem. Instead of beating ourselves up for fragile medical infrastructure, let’s dive deeper into the foundations of our society.
Soul Sucking Capitalism
Do you agree that ours is predominantly a capitalist society?
In ancient times, our records of infected people were widely inaccurate due to inefficient tracking and measurement techniques. But today, even with big data, our official records don’t paint the real picture. We are witnessing outrageous lies.
To save the economy of the country.
Everything, including people’s lives is being reduced to a number.
In fact, numbers are so important, they dictate who lives and who dies when countries grapple with insufficient medical supplies. It’s no wonder that the first ones to get let down are financially incapable oldies. Predictions of recession due to COVID-19 is crashing the market. Here also, highly experienced employees would be sacked first because of their high pay-check. If the less-experienced juniors fail to deliver, managers stress them out, they develop lifestyle diseases that should’ve hit them in their 40s.
Workers in Amazon are deprived of bathroom breaks because it takes time off productive work. I know of colleagues who slept in the office to solve an ‘urgent’ issue. Married couples are thousands of miles apart due to ‘lack of business in the same city’. We are stripped away of our souls. And we yet succumb to inhuman work environments.
For a higher pay. For a promotion. For, successful is ‘he’ who earns much.
You know ours is a capitalist society when money equals success even at the expense of irreversible damage. From a creative agency to medical industry, everything is sales-oriented at the end of the day. Businesses on whole, design products in such a way that they sell solutions to the very problem they themselves created.
Do you remember your dad telling you that nails were purposefully thrown on roads so that more bicycles get punctured and cycle repair shops can get more customers? Want some really harmful examples? Western toilets and tissue rolls cause medical ailments like constipation, haemorrhoids, colon cancer, etc. Industrial pollution arises the need for bottled drinking water. Unfound insecurities around peoples so called ‘flaws’ are advertised to sell harmful cosmetics.
Even after Corona has proved to be a virulent virus, Trump downplayed the severity of the crises to save the economy. Trump said during the Fox News program broadcast – “We lose thousands and thousands of people a year to the flu, but we don’t turn the country off. We lose much more than that to automobile accidents. We don’t call the automobile companies and say, ‘Stop making automobiles.’”
Elon musk tweeted - "The coronavirus panic is dumb". Managers have fired employees over requests to work from home amid rising panic. Companies have cut costs by violating basic safety protocols like disinfecting surfaces, providing sanitizers and thermal detectors. Some people are still asked to come to office, amid strict lockdowns in India. In one comment to PM Narendra Modi’s Instagram post, @gangalaakash wrote – “Sir please shut down my office too – Max Life Insurance. Even if someone dies here, it won’t matter.”
What do you call this madness?
Sure, there are individuals who treat humans as souls and not bodies. But the percentage is painfully miniscule. It’s shocking to see that teenagers like Greta Thunberg have took it upon themselves to save the world, when really world leaders should have done it long ago.
You know why.
Corona stemming from Capitalism
Countries with varying levels of medical expertise are in a turmoil. Extreme measures being taken even by countries with state-of-the-art facilities. Every inch of nation’s resources is being directed to fight COVID-19.
Each time there’s a tiny crack in one brick and you fear the whole building might fall, you know there's something wrong with the foundational structures. What took birth in one wet market of Wuhan, China has now spread its tentacles to the entire globe.
Deploy the 5 why technique to the corona problem, and you will eventually blame the gluttonous foundation of our civilisation. Corona virus isn’t something that naturally spread uncontrollably without any of our interference.
We have contributed equally to construction of a world convenient for destruction at the slightest breeze.