When rich are flying to treasure islands, Citizens must write a new capital manifesto?
A hard time it is indeed, nothing is worth writing about but the pandemic. In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s words “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.” The more you try to forget about a white polar bear the more you will see it. The more you drift to softer subjects, the more the pandemic over powers your literary endeavors with its powerful silence and pestilence.
The current situation seems a plagiarized version of the Albert Camus novel The Plague. Set in the fictional town of ‘Oran’, the plague sets in and things change gradually. Beginning from a stage of denial by authorities to a stage of tacit acceptance. The story shows both the apathy of authorities and the vulnerability of ordinary folks.
Camus-a forerunner of existentialism, his novel seems less of fiction and more of first hand factual account of the gory events unfolding into human misery. From the story it seems as if plague-as a pandemic in its natural design is democratic and egalitarian, affecting both the rich and poor with the indifference and cruelty. The pandemic does not seem to be racially sensitive; does not know the skin color and makes no difference between a pagan or a priest.
As the COVID 19 pandemic crossed Chinese borders like a conqueror; everyone thought that this time again it will work as a democrat and egalitarian. However, this time it encountered the capitalistic might. The pandemic did not know that rich, will have their jets ready for flights to their own treasure islands, much earlier than the pandemic could knock at their gilded doors. The privileged were already aligned to witness and benefit from free Market Darwinism. They knew which sectors to go for and which sectors to off load; knowledge of how bears to be replaced with bulls.
In the current time of capitalization, democracy of pandemics is again pro-rich and anti-poor. While we all can argue that no one should be hit, it is not hitting the rich and poor with the same intensity. May be this time, it is war of capital versus labor. For an average Joe, moving from one sector to another is not as flexible as it may seem. It means reskilling to the basics. It meant the death of service sectors like crowd entertainment. Crowd economics relates to all the businesses around a crowd. It ranges from underground basement comedians on stand-up mics to biggest rock stars of our time.
The pandemic may take its toll on the biggest football clubs, event management companies and businesses involved in crowd economics. In the medium-term big events will broadcast using the internet owned by the studios offering virtual and augmented realities. It may mean taking the game to homes rather than taking people to the game.
What will happen to spectators? As they say, spectators are the biggest runaways. Spectators will change their visual taste buds. How well the game lives up to the expectations is only a test of time.
The questions regarding bank loans going bad and the public sector coughing up the coffers are only the inquiries of recent history. It will be interesting to see how the sector reacts to the empty stadiums and closed arenas.
The times when Camus wrote in 1947 and the time of now has no longitudinal comparison. It is like the difference of speed between a steam locomotive to a hi-octane powered formula one. In current times, capitalism is more unbridled and guzzling.
For capitalistic torchbearers, it is the resetting or re-calibration of the sector tabs from bears to bulls. A realignment in investment strategy from real estate assets to tech stocks, big retail or pharma. Even in this situation savvy capitalists may shop for vulture investments. A time when developed states like New York is counting per capita ventilators ; rich people are flying in their jets to Caribbean islands.
This time the world needs a new equalizer- a new capital manifesto.