The Coronavirus Has Ominous Portends for the West European Powers
The coronavirus or as some call it the 'China virus' originated from Wuhan in China. The West European nations in particular France, Italy, Spain, and England were complacent as the virus has now taken a firm grip on them. It is on record that close to 40,000 persons in these countries have died of this virus. They may at some stage control the virus but the after-effects will be worse than the after-shock of an earthquake. These nations which became affluent have become soft and like Winston Churchill said about Italy, "the underbelly of the Axis" they are the underbelly of world civilization.
Classical Marxism- Leninism refers to these countries in Western Europe as part of the decadent world. One may or may not agree with this definition of the European powers but the fact is they are on the downslide.
Just about 100 years back these European powers were the big colonizers of the world. They had built up massive Empires and it is on record that almost 3/4 of the world was either controlled by them or paid obeisance to them. The British. French and Italian had built empires and even small countries like the Dutch and Belgium had their spheres of influence as well as colonies.
The empires were bound to disintegrate as they were part of a historical cycle. The catalyst for this was the Second World war and Adolf Hitler. The war ended in a Pyrrhic victory for these powers. The net result was they lost their Empires. The fulcrum began to shrink to the east with the rise of China as a superpower and to a lesser extent India.
For some time these powers rode piggyback on the USA but during the last decade and a half the USA is enmeshed in its problems and it is unable to look after the European countries like it had done at the end of World War II with the Marshal Plan.
The spread of this virus has exposed the West European colonial powers to their inadequacy. The virus is just a disease but underlying this is the state of a decadent civilization that appears to have gone to seed.
Thanks to the Marshal plan the European powers could still prosper despite the loss of the colonies. The European powers rightly began to take pride in their economic prosperity and charter of rights. Prosperity and emancipation can sometimes be a deadly concoction. The birthrate in Europe began to fall. Demographic experts caution that the minimum birthrate for a population to sustain itself is 2.1. In most countries in Europe, it fell between 1.25 and 1.5. In other words, there were lesser births and with better health facilities the older population increased. The younger population also did not wish to do menial jobs with the result that people were not available to man the social services and the factories.
The West European nations thought they had a way out. They began to outsource all their manufacturing activities to China which could produce the same goods at 1/3 of the price of what they could have produced in Europe. They also needed labor to man their essential services and for this, they thought they could get a limited number of people from the Middle East as workers to do the dirty jobs. Germany was the 1st to start this when it began to import 'guest workers' from Turkey.
With conditions in the Middle East deteriorating an overwhelming invasion of Europe by young Muslims looking for work began. The Europeans were nonplussed by this invasion by people from not only the Middle East but from faraway countries like Pakistan and Africa. It is on record that the minority community that migrated to Europe in countries failed to integrate with the ethos of European culture with the result we are seeing frequent terrorist acts there.
By outsourcing their manufacturing activities to China the European powers in a way mortgaged their future to the Dragon. China has always considered itself the "Middle Kingdom"-the center of the world. They ensured that the West European nations would fall in its lap and effectively reduced them to a shadow of what they were.
Social intercourse between China and the European nations increased and millions of Chinese visitors began to tour western Europe and the USA. When the virus broke out in China, the Chinese for at least 6 to 8 weeks hid the news from the world and allowed their travelers to continue moving all over Europe and the USA. They were the harbingers of the virus which spread in western Europe. The same thing happened in the USA which recorded almost 3,000,000 visitors from China to its shores in 2019. This social intercourse was inevitable because the West European powers had put all their eggs in the Chinese basket and once the virus spread they did not have even the means to control it.
As they were not manufacturing anything they had again to turn to China and requested to supply face masks and other ancillary equipment. It is sad that the once-great colonial powers are now at the beck and call of China. The Western nations must be very clear that China does not give anything gratis. The Chinese view of world history is that the western powers spread imperialism and exploited the third world and now they must payback for their sins.
The situation in western Europe is like a Catch-22 situation. The European powers are faced by Hamlet's eternal question "to be or not to be".The virus will definitely be controlled but what will happen next?. Will they go back to the old situation wherein they had outsourced all their manufacturing activity to China?. Maybe they would like to change but it is not easy as young people are not available to do the work.
They cannot also allow more Muslim migrants to enter the EU. We should not forget that for two decades the EU had stalled the entry of Turkey into its fold because they felt that the Christian ethos would be disturbed. With the birthrate having fallen the European powers have been left with very little options. It has already eroded billions of dollars of their wealth in stocks. One cannot hazard a guess about the future but definitely the end of this virus will mark the end of western Europe as a force in world affairs.