​COVID-19 and the Rhetoric of Social Overhaul

Considering the pandemic as social critique gives us clues for how not to think about the overhauling of social systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many of our systemic vulnerabilities to the surface. Healthcare, admi­nistrative efficiency, and supply chain management have all been found wanting in the face of the destruction unleashed by this disease. In response, many have asked how our world should emerge at the end of this dark tunnel. How should we redesign our healthcare, change the capita­list economy, and build systems that are sustainable and ­resilient?

Michael Sandel, the celebrated justice theorist, has talked about designing a more equitable system that rewards the underdogs of the economy—the nurses, delivery executives, police officers, and doctors who are saving us—rather than continue to disproportionately compensate investment bankers and corporates. Many have said that we missed an opportunity to make the world a better place after the 2008 economic meltdown, but here is a second chance; squandering this one too is going to be costly and criminal. For convenience, let’s call people with such advice, the system-haulers. But, alas, they have misunderstood the very nature of the crisis.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Updated On : 2nd Jun, 2020


(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Having lost a dear friend, the author reflects on the nature of friendship, and its relationship with memory.

As mounting performance pressure on students lays the ground for increasing malpractice, what can academic administrators do differently?

At the root of sexual harassment in the arts is an unquestioning culture of subservience.

Could the lived experiences of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, shared with millions of Americans, be their ticket to the White House?

As the concert stage is left empty, what can music and musicians do differently for the art form?

Amitav Ghosh’s novel goads us to seriously rethink our world, and finds new relevance under current circumstances.

S P Balasubrahmanyam’s influence on the Telugu people extends beyond singing and cinema.

Back to Top