The Westphalian capitalism and all its structures, agencies and mouthpieces have promised a world without poverty, inequalities and instabilities. The neoliberal variant of the Westphalian ideology has promised a world of prosperity, stability, peace, social and economic inclusion; the trickle-down effect. Reform not revolution was the fundamental principle on which Westphalian state managed to accommodation the aspirations of people within a dysfunctional capitalist world order with the help of nation states. This order was considered to be the only available alternative. There is no alternative to this promised land of capitalism, which produced war, conflicts and worldwide exploitative system.
From the era of ‘New Deal’ to the era of ‘Bretton Woods’ reforms have managed to help Westphalian capitalism to flourish and survive from all its internal conflicts and crises during 20th century. The worldwide propaganda in defence of capitalism has helped this brutal system to survive in 21st century. Today’s world is engulfed with different forms of risk and crisis in which people suffer from unemployment, homelessness and hunger. The Achille’s heel of Westphalian ideology and its capitalist system is falling apart. It spreads fear and insecurities to hold on to a dysfunctional system based on irrationality and exploitation. The Covid led pandemic has accelerated this process in which political and economic power is being further concentrated in the hands of few oligarchs in the world.
The world is witnessing the rise of a new form of corporate monopoly capitalism backed by the state. This is the core of the great reset led by the priest of the World Economic Forum. The states and governments are sponsoring corporate enterprises where profits are privatised, and risks are socialised. This is the new form of corporate colonialism which is fundamentally based on Westphalian ideology. The constitutional and legal contract led negotiation between the ‘state-government-market’ and ‘citizenship’ does not work any longer. The Lockean social and political contract between the state and its citizens are falling apart. The state are becoming security states for the safety and security of the corporates and their markets whereas citizens and their citizenship rights are left to rot in different crises. The American dream of capitalism is falling flat in the face of wage stagnation for the past five decades in US itself. The purchasing power of American citizens are falling regularly. The income inequality has increased from 1980s onwards. The Dollar dominance over world economy and American capitalist system has failed to reverse such a negative social and economic trend. Many other capitalist countries in the developed economies and capitalist economic systems in developing countries are facing similar challenges. The inter capitalist conflicts are replaced by fraternal capitalist cooperation by destroying fraternity among the people and their societies by promoting an elusive desire-based society driven by consumerism. The consumerism as an ideology dismantles societies, collective cultures and communities by promising elusive individual freedom in a society led by markets. Therefore, capitalism is not an alternative. The Covid led pandemic has exposed the delusions of capitalism and its fictitious values.
The working masses are suffering and getting marginalised during the Covid pandemic. Layoffs, furloughs, and reduction in working hours are becoming a new normal in the world of work. The public expenditure and welfare budgets are shrinking but corporates are making super profits with the support of state and governments around the globe. Even the McKinsey Global Institute’ s James Manyika, Gary Pinkus, and Monique Tuin in their article on ‘Rethinking the future of American capitalism’ (November 12, 2020) have argued that “the top 10 percent of companies capture 80 percent of all economic profit” during the pandemic. The top one percent of Americans have gained massively and embezzled $50 trillion from the bottom 90 percent of population. Only eight American families own as much wealth as 50 percent of American population The Tax Justice report on “Pandemic Profits: who’s cashing in during Covid” shows that a number of companies saw the rise of their global profits during the period of pandemic. The Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust’s profit increased 801% in compared to previous years. The report further shows that six companies have made 16 billion in excess profit during the Covid-19. It shows the myth of trickle-down mantra of capitalist ideologues and vulgarity of liberal arguments to reset capitalism with an environmental, sustainable and human face.
The world has experienced worldwide capitalism in all its forms for centuries now. It has failed people and the planet. The pandemic shows the fallacies of varieties of capitalist system. The human cost of capitalism is unprecedented. Its reversal is not only necessary but also urgent for the sake people and survival of our planet. The Covid pandemic provides an opportunity to develop a political blue print for radical transformation of our world by focusing on the interests of people and planet in mind. The radical transformation of our political, economic and social system needs to be based on the principles of peace and prosperity for all. The political and economic reset is possible and inevitable.
The time has come for workers led social, political and economic world order beyond Westphalian state, government and capitalist system. The agenda is to establish peace, prosperity and ecological equity for establishing individual sovereignty in its individual and collective form. The global citizenship rights, collective ownership over resources and collective decision making in the process of production, distribution and need based consumption is central to the vision of a sustainable new world order, where workers decide the present and future of their work and life. The cooperative and collective human endeavours can only shape the dignity and freedom of individuals under a truly pluriversal democratic set up. It is time to struggle and reclaim democracy and individual dignity.
*Bhabani Shankar Nayak, University of Glasgow, UK