We are now almost a third of the year into 2020 and the western world is falling apart, not through coronavirus (yet anyway), but largely through incompetence, selfishness, and basically hysteria.
We can move onto the actual situation in the western world later, but for now i’m drawn back to late January, and during the early days of the coronavirus when I was holed up in a Chinese city when the newly renamed cov-19 was starting to really hammer the mainland of China.
A few things tarted to happen during this time. Firstly China started to take temperatures (almost everywhere), businesses such as bars were shut down, people eventually were forced into quarantine, and China went into full emergency mode. Walking around an empty Shenzhen, and riding the near empty subways was indeed a trippy experience, but that was not the only thing happening.
I’ve always known that there is a western bias towards China, but I have need seen it boil us as much I have during coronavirus. Initially all the media could focus on was how we “could not trust” Chinese numbers, and how it much be much worse than it was. Of course things progressed (as they always do), and we were then treated to stories and videos of how heavy handed the Chinese were being with their own citizens. Now whilst this has some merit, at least from a western neoliberal point of view, China were treating this in the way it should have been treated, like a war. And whilst investing in barely more than criticism invested almost nothing in something that would have counted, getting prepared for a global pandemic.
The media of course did not just stop at China, and had to throw North Korea into the conspiracy mix too. The DPRK were the first country to close their borders to not just China, but essentially the outside world. At the time they were vilified as being paranoid, as well as the other anti_asian tropes, but as facts stand, North Korea is coronavirus free, whilst South Korea has had the most cases outside of mainland China.
Then you have the Laos PDR, which up to now has no cases, despite bordering China, and Vietnam, which up until the last few days had only had 17 confirmed cases. This number has now jumped to 34 after a British couple knowingly spread the virus far and wide whilst traveling.
Now whilst said British couple cannot be blamed for spreading the virus, the ineptitude, and inaction of western governments certainly can be blamed. To put it quite simply if you do the British of “Keep Calm and Carry On”, nothing are more than likely to get a pandemic, something Italy is leaning hard and fast. But, at least Italy is attempting to do something about it, it has now basically put the whole of the nation under lockdown. Is it draconian? Is it over the top? Perhaps it is both, but much like the climate emergency, surely is it not best to simply veer on the side of caution?
But aside from Italy very western nations are actually doing this, with the buffoons as the FA Premier League, UEFA, and the Olympic committee are insisting that life simply goes on as normal.
And all of this whilst western civilization drifts into a Mad Maxesque descent into toilet paper fueled anarchy. The irony is that in Asia no one was fighting over toilet paper (fun fact you can survive without it), no one was profiteering, and whilst it was not easy, we listened to our governments, and did what we were told.
And now today, after months of saying America was safe, coronavirus was no worse than the flu, and general ineptitude Donald Trump has decided to ban flights from the European Union (not the UK), whilst holding sporting events, shacking hands with people, and even holding rallies. It does not take a genius (no pun intended on Trump) to see what is likely to happen next, with the images of the coronavirus infected minister on stage still very fresh in our minds.
Meanwhile in China new infections are slowing at a huge rate, but the government are still treating it as the emergency that it still very much is.
Who history decides to absolve is too early to say, but it truly is amazing how quickly a narrative can, and does change.