COVID-19 and the dark side of capitalism
Capitalism has been criticized for developing an individualistic, self-centered society. This was quite evident during the pandemic, which took the world by storm. The pandemic highlighted the negative aspects of capitalism which is usually hushed under cover of profiteering. One could understand the relationship underlying the two using the class divisions. It was quite shocking to see how the upper classes were able to sustain and even indulge in luxuries during the pandemic. However, the lower classes of society were hardly able to survive. This demonstrated the class inequality produced by capitalism. The self-interested and selfish tendencies of the capitalist system were also underlined. Darwin's notion of survival of the fittest can be used to understand this conundrum. During the pandemic, everybody was running for their survival as nobody would help them because of the individualistic thinking produced by the capitalist system. The idea of communal well-being had vanished from society long before, which the pandemic brought out.
Furthermore, the pandemic revealed how the employers' only motive is to earn profit without caring about workers' rights. The level of unemployment rose dramatically as the owners fired workers under the disguise that their sales had dropped and could not cope with it. They fired the workers without any notice and did not consider their contributions. They had no regard for their hard work stressing the capitalist notions of selfishness that the pandemic revealed. The protection of workers was thrown out of the picture even though they formed the base of these big firms that earned a lot of profit due to their hard work. On the contrary, the net worth of these owner/millionaires increased radically. For example, the owner of Amazon's net worth increased by $48 billion during the pandemic during which these millionaires were supposedly unable to make sales. So, it is surprising to note that while the lower classes were struggling to stay on the poverty line, the rich people kept getting rich. This is the dark side of capitalism that the pandemic accentuated as it benefitted only a certain class of people. The concerns of the worker's union were swept aside as the unemployment rate rose. Several industries within Pakistan, including Nishat, Gul Ahmed, displayed such careless behavior. Ironically, many of these brands were giving refusing to pay their own workers meanwhile, were giving charity. This exhibited their true nature as profit-earning owners showcasing themselves as philanthropists to appease the public without actually caring for the society. It clearly showed that the capitalist system could not sustain itself, and governments worldwide had to jump in to save the society. Governments are injecting stimulus, providing loans and opportunities for the sustenance of the society, and is driving the market.
Moreover, this profit earning propensity can be evidenced by how the prices of hand sanitizers and masks rose sharply. During a period that these became essentials and should have been provided at a lower price to make it pocket friendly were rather being sold at a high price. This unveiled the Leviathan nature of capitalism which feeds off the profits without even caring that the world was within a global pandemic. For example: In Pakistan, shortages were created artificially, due to which the prices increased sharply. Therefore, the pandemic magnified the social inequality and injustices already present amidst the global society.
Image taken from: Reich, Robert B. “Bezos and McConnell Exemplify Covid-19 Capitalism: Commentary.” Baltimoresun.com, Baltimore Sun, 17 Dec. 2020, https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/op-ed/bs-ed-op-1218-reich-bezos-mcconnell-20201217-3hivhlnwdbf5tjvb47rrldzwam-story.html.