Grace James, 01 June 2020
How COVID-19 Has Thrown the World Into Reverse
“The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots.” Perhaps Donald Trump was looking into his crystal ball when he foreshadowed this turn of events last year. After World War Two, we saw the resurgence of a liberal international order, a flurry of immigration and reliance on trade (Horowitz 2003: 127). The world became its own state. Over the past decade, it has become odd for someone not to travel overseas – gap year backpacking, university exchange, island honeymoons, retiree cruises. Hidden spots of the world posted all over Instagram, begging the question whether there’s a place no human foot has touched. This is what globalisation has born.
Now, borders are shut. We sit in our homes, eagerly waiting to make our weekly trip to the supermarket. Not as eager as our cats who are begging for some alone time in the house. Dogs, on the other hand, must be loving tri-daily walks. Our reality has changed. COVID-19 rapidly spread across the world through planes, trains and automobiles, almost instantly attacking the normality of daily life.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has warned the virus can “get away from you very, very quickly”. Just as rapidly, it disperses – almost as quickly as an opening umbrella.
While domestic life begins to return to regularity, there are questions as to whether life will ever go back to complete normalcy from a macro perspective. We just need to look at the scrambling of states to import health supplies such as Personal Protective Equipment and ventilators. These are items that NSW has begun making locally, with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian telling us that these supply routes will likely stay even after COVID-19 is over to ensure that we can domestically provide our own life-saving equipment.
Similar efforts have been seen in the United States with President Donald Trump invoking the powers of the Defence Production Act 1950 to open more domestic supply chains. The Coronavirus has exposed the ‘delicate’ nature of supply chains dependent on outsourcing. Western Governments will not want to risk placing such a heavy reliance on China’s manufacturing again.
International relationships are increasing straining and states are having to rely on themselves to get their people through this pandemic. We don’t have to look far to see a ‘protect your own’ attitude growing fast. At the beginning of isolation restrictions, we saw grocery stories resembling scenes out of zombie apocalypse movies. Ordinarily good citizens, like the neighbour we wave 'hello' to or a parent of a friend, have turned into people we wouldn’t recognise - physically abusing others over a roll of toilet paper.
Not only have physical borders been closed but we are seeing “psychological borders” created with nationalistic ideas and the rise in racism targeted at Asian Australians. Anti-Asian attitudes have resulted in the embarrassingly high rates of abuse, with 12 incidents occurring each day since 1 April - and these are just the ones reported. Two-thirds of victims do not report assaults often out of fear or due to the victim believing that their complaint will not be taken seriously (Carcach 1997: 1, 2). This represents the dark figure of crime.
This unacceptable racism highlights how Australia will turn its back on other states, solely focusing on the wellbeing of ‘our own’. These actions neglect the fact that Australia a multi-cultural nation. To be Australian is not to be defined by one’s skin colour. To be an Australian is to exemplify mateship. The acts of racism demonstrate how globalisation will be flipped. Our sources to funding to other states have been questioned amid an incoming economic crisis locally. Some have said they want to cut ties with China. Dr Mike Ryan has admitted “viruses know no borders”, however, racism does. If we only want to support our own through local trade and inciting hate, then the current consistent interaction of global nations will cease due to the rising importance of our own state. This could slowly take us back to a pre-ship era where nations were blissfully unaware of each other’s existence. While this is a far-fetch scenario, there is no doubt that globalisation, as we knew it, won’t return to the same level for years to come.
History has taught us after World War One that if each country decides to ‘protect its national private interest’ the ‘world public interest’ will be neglected (Horowtiz 2004: 127, 129). This neglect impacts every state.
Horowitz, S. (2003) ‘Restarting Globalization after World War 11: Structure, Coalitions, and the Cold War’, Comparative Review Political Studies 37(2): 127.
Carcach, C. (1997) ‘Reporting Crime to the Police’, Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice Australian Institute of Criminology No. 68: 1, 2.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Politik's editorial stance or the views of UNSW.
Get to know the Author
Grace James is a 4th-year undergraduate student at UNSW, combining a Bachelor of Laws with a Bachelor of Arts. Her niche interest is transnational crime and the need for international cooperation in combating it. She takes a particular interest in the issue of determining the origin of attack of incidents such as cyber attacks, climate change and wildlife crime. This is Grace's first contribution to Politik Insights.