ISSN 2330-717X

Pandemic And The End Of Globalization – OpEd


Globalization makes boundaries in global society disappear, interaction in the form of cooperation between actors increases. Actors in this case focus not only on the state but also on corporations and international organizations. According to David Held, globalization is a set of processes that describe a spatial transformation of the social relations that exist within. However, the current pandemic has changed everything.

The pandemic is a trigger

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life, from the increasingly limited interaction to the economic downturn. In the economic sector, Covid 19 has hampered the supply chain, as reported by the World Bank, there was a decline in economic activity by 7% in developed countries, and 2.5% in developing countries in 2020. The pandemic forced all parties to adapt. in order to survive in a very unfavorable situation.

However, the response from the international community seems inconsistent and tends to take this as a new moment to strengthen its influence. This was evidenced at the summit of the BRICS meeting on November 17, 2020, Russia which developed the Sputnik V vaccine, called for its alias to use the vaccine they made, then China and America moved on their own by doing the same thing. This can be interpreted as a new hegemonic war with an emphasis on vaccine diplomacy. Furthermore, the pandemic became a trigger for major countries to further strengthen their influence in the military sector.

Military budget increase

America, China, India, Britain and Russia, which control 62% of world military spending in 2020, increased military spending significantly. America increased its military spending at the level of 4.4%, China 1.9%, Russia 2.55% and Britain 2.9%. At the world level, there was an increase in the military budget by 2.4% in 2020 which was initially only at 2.2% in 2019 of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In fact, during the pandemic, the world’s average GDP decreased by around 4.4%. This is a very dire trend considering that in times of uncertainty there is a need for a good calculation in order to maintain national and international stability. If military spending continues to increase every year it will force other countries to implement a “Balance of Power” and the situation will not get better.

Increasingly concentrated war

On the other hand, the war that is getting less and less raises big questions, is this a sign that globalization has succeeded in embracing every country to cooperate. After the second world war ended in 1945, there were many conflicts in various regions that caused the loss of stability, ranging from the Korean, Vietnam, Arab Israeli wars to the Yugoslav civil war. However, data released by Foreign Policy shows that there were fewer wars in 2007 than in 1990. However, there has been a fairly large concentration of conflict in several areas such as the South China Sea, Syria and Yemen involving many parties. This is a sign that in the next few years there will be considerable changes in the global order of life, especially globalization.

The problem does not only come from the direct threat of war but there is a more real threat that has come since the last 3 years. Since 2018 America and China have officially waged a trade war by increasing tariffs on all goods entering each other’s countries. This war was initiated by Trump who considers China to have committed fraud such as intellectual property theft and unfair subsidies. This has greatly impacted the global economy and triggered the politics of protectionism as well as a real threat to the continuity of globalization which has so far emphasized openness.

Reinforcement of authoritarianism and loss of expertise

The pandemic has not only worsened economic conditions but also democratic values. In some countries, the pandemic has become an arena to further strengthen the influence of state leaders through regulations that legitimize all policies issued. This happened in Hong Kong under Carrie Lam and China under Xi Jinping, tight control over the media seemed to be a necessity in an effort to maintain national stability. In the case of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam even tried to suppress democratic values through the act of banning demonstrations against the national security bill which many people consider to be very detrimental to the people of Hong Kong.

Authoritarianism does not only occur in countries with a highly democratic climate. However, it also occurs in developing countries with a democratic culture that is very concerned. Indonesia and Myanmar are clear evidence of how democracy continues to be eroded and replaced by authoritarianism. In Indonesia, Jokowi is trying to eliminate the “Check and Balance” system through reducing the power of the opposition in the government to the weakening of the anti-corruption agency KPP (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi), and the fact that is no less important is the decline in the democracy index in 2020, the lowest for the last 14 years. Meanwhile in Myanmar, when the pandemic was surging, the military regime carried out a coup against Aung Sang Suki, who won the election and responded to the illegitimate election and sparked anger from within and outside the country.

The case study above is supported by data submitted by the Democracy Index, from a survey published by the Democracy Index in 2020, democracy in 167 countries is at the lowest position in the last 15 years since the first survey conducted in 2006, the points obtained are only 5, 37%. This assessment is based on 5 indicators, namely the general election process, democratic culture, pluralism, government functions and level political participation.

On the other hand, trust in expertise disappears when information is easily obtained. In some cases, such as in America, many people deny the existence of Covid 19 with very little evidence and seem unreasonable, this makes the efforts made by the government and experts in vain. If traced further, the root of this problem is because of the easy access to information obtained by the public from the internet.

The globalization that has been glorified so far has in fact brought many new problems, many countries have started to abandon this value and are trying to return to the Meiji restoration period carried out by Japan, namely by closing themselves off and becoming increasingly authoritarian. America under Trump shows that there is a need for new steps to defend its national interests even if they have to leave globalization. Increasing military budgets, growing authoritarianism and a loss of confidence in knowledge reinforce the thesis that this is the end of globalization.

*Gufron Gozali is a junior research assistant from the Islamic University of Indonesia

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