December 2023
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Donald Trump, the president of USA, was in a dilemma at the time of taking a decision on the fate of his nation during the early days of covid-19 pandemic. He had to weigh two options- whether to keep on the process of economic prosperity or to save the value of human life- before taking a decision. Trump opted the first one as the vast majority of Americans prefer economic prosperity over the value of human life because pragmatism is the philosophy that leads America. According to pragmatism, practical utility is the basic criterion to assess the nature and value of everything including truth. Economic prosperity provides more pragmatic utility than value of life. Whoever be the president, whether Trump or Obama, the decision would not have been different. Among the 20 billion people of America, death of few lakhs is immaterial, when compared to the economic prosperity of the rest of the population. The popular American psyche justifies the decision. There may be rare exceptions. But such remarks recorded by them are considered only as part of ‘private little revolutions’ as observed by Arther Miller, an American playwright, in his play “All my sons.”

Coronavirus, nick named as Covid-19, is a microbe incapable to survive not more than 20 seconds in ordinary soap water, literally imprisoned the human beings in the world. The member nations of the world, which include the categories like the first, second and the third worlds, have been equalised by this fragile being, ignoring their economic, political, social and military status in keeping them in quarantine. Each nation had been in competition with the rest to get supremacy over the other. The members of the first world themselves have been engaged in a rat race to accumulate maximum wealth as a prelude to thrust the political and economic power over the other. They never hesitated to threat the other showing their military strength. The muscle power of the powerful first world has been nullified by the humble microbe. Today, the nations and their glory, along with the pomp and pleasures of their executives, have been crumbled down by the covid-19 pandemic.

The world had been under the threat of the pandemics from time immemorial. It might have been in the form of leprosy, tuberculosis, cholera, small pox, plague etc. in the earlier times. They could put down the humans in utter sorrow, sufferings and helplessness. These were the diseases left without medicine at the time of their emergence on earth. But in due course we could produce and apply effective medicines to prevent some of the diseases and even to eradicate the pandemics caused by some other diseases. These diseases were classified as pandemics at the time of their emergence because the medical fraternity were incapable to control them as there was no remedy in medical science. Then it was followed by cancer and AIDS. The mankind established a sort of control over them though we could not eradicate them. Now it is the time of Coronavirus. We know only very little about the Coronavirus, despite our Biology text books at the +2 level recognises the existence of such a being. But the scientific information provided by the text book is in sufficient to deal with the microbe. We could not find any fault with the coronavirus because it did only little wrongs against us when compared to the assault, we did against the innumerable microbes which protect the ecological equilibrium of the universe.

But now, the coronavirus divides the history into pre and post corona periods. There will be basic changes in the structure and function of the world in the post covid-19 era. A new balancing system will be formed in the ecological equilibrium of the universe. The balancing of the multitudes of the universe was never the concern of euro-centrism, the philosophy which formulated the American life patterns. Now, a microbe made us to think that small is not only beautiful but powerful also. The social, political, economic and military orders of the statecraft will be changed due to reasons known and unknown after the covid-19. The psycho-somatic impacts of the Covid-19 will be assessed in a tranquilised mood by the experts after the end of the hue and cry. The change in the patterns of habits of humans during the period and after the withdrawal of the pandemic also will be analysed. As a microbe effects changes in the structure of the world then, the priorities and attitudes of the human beings are to be rearranged accordingly; whether we like it or not. The covid-19 creates a new world order with multiform priorities.

The euro-centrism divided the world into two categories; the European and non-European. Everything that is generated by the European tradition has been adjudged as the superior one when compared to the non-European. Since, every claim to know of European tradition is superior, in accordance with faith shared by the Europeans, to the rest of the traditions then, they discarded the other traditions with contempt and even urged the non-European nations to leave their traditions to embrace the superior claims to know. The success stories recorded in science and technology enabled them to propagate the idea that the European science and technology can conquer and control nature as, nature is conceived as an enemy to be conquered by man. They conquered and tried to control nature. They depended only wealth and strength to fulfil the mission. The USA shared the euro-centrism and projected itself as the best icon of that philosophy. Hence, like the European countries, USA also believed in the doctrine that ‘might is right’. By might they mean only power and wealth.

The Covid-19, without the application of power and wealth and the resultant military strength, literally frozen the world including Europe and America. The people of the USA and their president are unable to digest the fact that they can be attacked by a microbe and to make them stand still. Now the people of the world have been classified into two categories namely those who are affected by covid-19 and unaffected by the Covid-19. In the beginning of the pandemic, the European nations and USA were infused with over-confidence based on their belief in their might. They thought that the wealth and their command on the science and technology could save them from the pandemic. Being the members of the first world group, they thought that, the facilities available with the medical infrastructure save the life of their citizens. So, they refused to implement regulations for social distancing in the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic.

At present they are paying for it. The people of Europe and America are groping in darkness to escape from the storm of ill fate caused by the pandemic. Both the affected and unaffected have landed up in the danger zones of anxiety. The people have lost confidence in the respective governments as they have nothing to offer them to reduce their misery and anxiety. Each group wanted to exclude the other from their safety zone. Therefore, the people of the Europe and America have been either cordoned or quarantined ignoring their social status along with the people of the rest of the world. The people affected by thecovid-19 are cordoned by a medical team in specially made over hospitals to provide medical care. But the medical fraternity is incapable to provide medication because we could not discover medicine for Covid-19; at the maximum they can provide ventilator support. In Europe and America, the governments have become ineffective and they are incapable to provide even ventilator support to the patients and people are dying without getting medical support.

The members of the medical team, who battle in the forefront against an unknown enemy of mankind, according to their belief, without proper arms and ammunitions, deserve our support, gratitude and prayer. The affected people are under the shadow of death and the unaffected are gripped by fear and anxiety. The unaffected people are either under self-quarantine or forcible quarantined by the state. In any case, the human beings are being imprisoned curtailing the basic human rights all over the world. But such a context is un imaginable to the people of Europe and America as they projected themselves as exponents personal liberty. There is positive side to the covid-19 attack as it protects the right to equality in a wider sense because it makes no distinction between the prince, the prime minister and a man in the street. The prince and the prime minister cannot be provided with any class-one facility more than what can be given to the laymen. Whatever be their purchasing capacity of the economically powerful, they cannot be provided with any facility because power or wealth cannot purchase anything for them as there is nothing to be purchased. The power, wealth, position and fame have become immaterial before the Covid-19.

It is in this context that the attitude of Donald Trump, the president of USA, during the time of covid-19. Is to be analysed. Trump is not an accidental occurrence in the course of history of USA. He originated as the logical necessity of the pragmatic philosophy which the USA preached from the day one of its existence as a nation. The greedy Europeans who conquered the land of the Red Indians had annihilated the aboriginals and their culture to establish USA. As a nation they propagated the theory that greed is not bad and the pragmatic philosophy which taught them that truth is only another name for practical utility. Anything can be true as far as that thing remains capable to satisfy the pragmatic utility of the person concerned. Hence, it is logically justifiable to choose economic prosperity and stability over the value of human life. Since, this is the faith shared by the people of the USA then, whoever be the president, can take only the decision as it has been taken by Trump. The fault, if any, is not with the Trump, who happened to be the president during the time of covid-19, but with the philosophy they follow. As, it is the belief of the Americans in general, Trump also believed that, a microbe cannot do much harm to the super power like the mighty USA. He might have thought of that USA is capable to finish the microbe with its scientific and technological achievements in medical science because he believes that might is right.
Dr. K. S. Radhakrishnan
(Writer is the former Chairman of Kerala Public Service Commission and Former Vice Chancellor of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady)

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