Self Reflections During Self-Isolation

TOPICS :   Current Affairs
Sethu Krishnan M
Sethu Krishnan M
Jul 23 , 2020 19 min read 262 Views Likes 0 Comments
Self Reflections During Self-Isolation

We will endure and will come out of this Corona induced lockdown. I am confident of the human race's unquenching thirst to survive.

However, it is an apt time to step back and look at ourselves and our surroundings in an unhurried manner. There are many questions in front of us, like the future world order, our preparedness for a global pandemic etc. But I don't want to get into those realms of intellectual debates. In the cosiness of my bed, in this quarantine time, I want to muse about things that a common man like me may ponder over...

Thanosian theory of population

In 1798, Thomas Malthus painted a grim picture of the future through his Malthusian theory of population. The theory postulated that the population will grow exponentially against arithmetic food supply growth. Thus he articulated that famines, wars and other natural calamities are various ways of maintaining a balance between population growth and food supply.

However, after this theory was propounded, we came across the Industrial Revolution and later the Green Revolution. It made the availability of food a non-issue and Malthusian theory a relic of the past (Even though Thanos might not agree). Sure there is hunger around us even now. But this is mainly due to lack of accessibility and affordability rather than availability.

Revolutions, 2 World Wars and a Cold War

Since the Industrial Revolution, the world began to grow at a higher pace with changes happening rapidly. However, these revolutions also lead to two world wars and the dropping of two Atom Bombs. It’s like even though Malthusian theory had become a thing of the past we were adamant to prove him right by decreasing population through manmade disasters.

The Cold War era that followed the end of World War 2 made the world a hotspot for imminent destruction due to the ever-present spectre of nuclear war looming over us. Nevertheless, we survived that phase without any major catastrophe. The UN, which is the collective of the global community, did provide a vent off for the pressures of the Cold War to some extent. And I think that the inherent tendency of humans to sustain their species made nuclear war never a reality.

Neoliberalism and a global financial crisis

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, globalization began to grow at a rapid pace. This phase of Neoliberal globalization had certainly brought down the global poverty level. However, there was always a disaster lurking around somewhere due to this mindless financialization of globalization. And then it happened in 2008 - the Global Financial Crisis.

We were again left to find out how best we can arrange our lives as Neoliberalism proved not to be a complete answer in itself. The decline of the centrist political environment across the world can be loosely traced to the crisis. The Right and the Left re-emerged from this decline of the Centre. While the Right catered to our basic instincts of tribalism like Xenophobia, the Left focused on the tried and failed formulae of State Socialism.

The defeat of Jeremy Corbyn against Boris Johnson in the UK and the increasing prospects of a second term for Donald Trump created a feeling that the Right was winning the battle.

On the other hand, many believed that the popular movements that erupted across the globe, as in Chile, Hong Kong, India etc., were because of the dissatisfaction that youth were feeling towards the current establishment, be that may Right, Left or Centre.

Corona, lockdown and some self-reflections

Then the Corona catastrophe struck us.

However, in this quarantine period, when we have suspended our life for a few months, it is best to look back at our past and the path we have trodden to reach here. I am sure that we will come out of this gloom that has blanketed over us. But I just wanted to come out of this quarantine with a fresh perspective on our past, present and future.

We are in the cusp of next revolution – Industrial Revolution 4 – spearheaded by new technologies like AI, Quantum computing etc. This is the right moment to take a small break from this breakneck speed of our life and ponder over the idea of how we should organize our lives, as a global community. As Joaquin Phoenix said in his Oscar acceptance speech, we as a human have great potential to design the way we live. We but think that there is no alternative way of leading our lives than we are doing now.

The plundering of the environment, the mindless development that is neither sustainable nor desirable, has turned the definition of Sustainable Development on its head - current development model is meeting the needs of only a few in the present generation by compromising completely the needs of future generations.

My friend Riju Bhai asked me when this quarantine started,” Sethu, will the world become a better place after this Corona crisis?” He is a journalist in a regional news channel and he was asking this in the context of the solidarity that we are showing now to fight this pandemic. I had asked him, are we living in a better place after enduring calamities like World Wars? I reminded him about the solidarity showed by us Keralites during the 2018 floods vis-à-vis bickering ensued after the Sabarimala verdict. But now I think or rather wish that I am wrong.

It is easy to be melancholically inclined during this self-isolation period and say that we human beings are cruel, earlier it was not like this etc. Nowadays I often hear that the quarantine period had lead to detoxification of air; the environment is regaining its past glory and similar other reminisces.

But we should be clear on one thing - we cannot go to our past or recreate it. Anyhow, it is not right to romanticize the past entirely. We should not forget that we have made progress after these many years. Even though everything is not hunky-dory around us, we are living in a much better place than our ancestors were living. True, there are many fault lines like uneven development, degrading environment and there are inequalities that need to be ironed out.

Life after Corona...

I think this quarantine period may help us to realize that the common destiny of our species is in our own hands. The world can emerge as a better version of itself after this pandemic. There will be a time when it is not required for human beings to go in quarantine for nature to come out of its gloom. And also there will not be a need for a pandemic for us to be empathetic and show solidarity with each other. My heart says this is possible and we will wake up to a better future even though my head screams otherwise. But that is okay as the heart's job is to romanticize and head's job is to be realistic. I hope our heads find a way to make this romanticization a practicable reality.

Keywords : corona lockdown

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