It is hard not to politicise the international crisis of coronavirus, particularly when the world has been mired in deep political division for a few years now. From the ultra-nationalist conservatives to the populist hard left, cross-aisle politics has become a rarity during a time when the world’s electorate yearns for solidarity.
The significant rise of hardline conservatism has been almost debunked throughout this time of urgency. Instead, socialist ideology has usurped to the forefront to protect the western world’s fragile free-market economies. With the socialist left facing repeated virulent attacks from their right-wing counterparts, their ideas have now come out prospering to combat the deadly disease of Covid-19.
From here in the UK to the response in South Korea, pages from socialist playbooks have been noted when implementing radical policy for an upending era. Boris Johnson has enacted a large-scale government splurge to pay the wages of workers across the nation who are out of pocket and in isolation. He has introduced a freeze on mortgages and alleviated (although slightly) the threat of evictions for the country’s millions of renters. He has pivoted and made a choice that traditional conservatives have always loathed; by implementing big government. The same can be said, surprisingly, for his Republican bedfellow Donald Trump. The US president, alongside the help of Congress, has pledged a $2tn stimulus package that will stabilise swathes of Americans who are having to rely on their government when out of work. Meanwhile, South Korea has a adopted a universal basic income strategy that tops up the monthly incomes of all South Koreans indebted when having to self-isolate for weeks on end.
The free-market capitalists, only just hailed as the face of a growing economy, have shifted to sit with their rivals on the left. Johnson and his cabinet have applauded the free healthcare service that is working tirelessly to save many with coronavirus. However, their party were the first to vote against a bill in 2017 that would have given a pay rise to all doctors and nurses on the frontline. The same ministers who lambasted a “communist” Jeremy Corbyn for his proposed mass spending splurge are now doing just that so they can be defined as the government who led us out of this global outbreak. Without the push from the opposition on the left, both Trump and Johnson would have not gone far enough to ease the disarray. It was Corbyn’s cabal that urged the government to incorporate renters and the self-employed into the government’s wage-paying policy. It was Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic base who asked the White House to deliver a domestic aid package to all Americans.
One day the world will hopefully be rid of the coronavirus pandemic and calmer times will ensue. It is not outlandish to suggest that all conservative leaders across the globe will most probably ask the average worker to pay back their wages the government provided. This will happen whilst the wealthy elite at the top of the hierarchy are continually issued tax breaks and incentives. The low-skilled workers and the self-employed will recoil at a possible future age of austerity.
For socialism to thrive post-pandemic, pointing out the failures of protectionist right-wing leaders must be at the forefront. Lest we forget that international crises in the past have sparked a revolution. The Second World War saw the most socialist government Britain has seen whilst the Sovietisation of eastern Europe took place. Furthermore, the Great Depression saw the rise in Franklin D. Roosevelt, a president and champion of left-wing causes that helped the American people overcome a debilitating recession. Authoritarian leaders remind yourself of history. Whilst you continue on your phoney socialist mission, the left will be waiting in the wings to go even further.