By Bhaskar Sarkar
Romanticisation of the unknown is a common cognitive recourse for the human mind. That which we cannot understand or analyse falls into the category of obsession. Given my presumption that everyone romanticises to different extents, these romances may be categorized as ‘natural romantic’, ‘historical romantic’ or ‘normal romantic’
Of course the COVID19 pandemic is one of the defining moments of ongoing history; herein, I would like to relate this constant urge for historicisation with romanticisation. The arguments behind calling this pandemic a World War are utter generalisations of the most false and brutal historic sense of the term “World War”. First of all, just because every country is participating in the fight against Corona does not qualify its essence to be the same as a war, let alone the world wars. The World Wars were far more brutal events of history, where States were at each other’s throats and dedicated enough effort to completely eradicate the enemy’s existence from the face of the earth. The madness of capturing territories or attaining global political validation, whatever suits the reader, and subsequent resistances were the common nature of the World Wars. Contrarily, this pandemic has shown us global solidarity among countries rather than their conflict of interests. This utter liquefaction of these two contradicting natures are products of obsession, as I have argued before.
You may ask, “How is the pandemic a brutal ‘historical romantic’?”.Well, may take into consideration any particular battle of WWII, especially the post-1942 battles between Germany & USSR and USA & Japan, where thousands were sacrificed only in order to capture a strategic location for a strategic win. On the other hand, in this pandemic every life is expected to be saved. The madness of sacrificing human lives is what qualifies a war. In this case, the pandemic has not demanded so.
The ‘normal romanticisation’ of the pandemic is the deliberate attempt by nations to hide the questions that humanity should ask now. During WWI, the warring nations and monarchies were solely concerned about the protection of their land. It was similar during WWII too, except for the propagation of the brutality that accompanied the genocide of the Holocaust. Today, decades after the heinous Holocaust, we can perhaps say that WWII was essential to stop fascist powers from committing crimes against humanity; before the war, however, most of the nations that fought WWII also secretly persecuted Jews because of their antisemitic politics, but to sustain mass support for waging war,countries distorted their old propagandas and romanticised their ‘responsibility’ of saving the humanity ! The normalisation of distorted propaganda was a popular phenomenon that aimed to hide States’ past failures during WWII. This pandemic is also encountering such normalisations. The failure of world capitalist order and private funded health system are being hidden behind the normalised romantic of the great pandemic. Probably after normalcy, nations will again stop us from asking these questions by reminding us that humanity paid a huge price. Obviously humanity is paying a price, but whose failure is responsible for this outbreak and our defeat? Our romantic memory of the pandemic will stop us again from asking these hard questions. Unlike the hideous World Wars, we are not fighting against each other, rather against an unseen but known enemy, i.e, the capitalist world order.
Bhaskar is a Masters’ Students at the Department Of Sociology, University of Hyderabad.