As the Covid-19 pandemic rages across the world with no end in sight, one wonders when will it all end and whether we would be able to return to our normal lives from the pre-pandemic times. Across the world we see never-ending Covid-19 surges, friends and loved ones succumbing to this deadly pestilence, some fatally. Despite taking all the necessary precautions, we see a steady surge of cases, newer variants amplified by a slow rollout of vaccines and generally poor leadership across the world. One would wonder what is happening around our world today – is there anyone in charge? Does anyone know what is going on and when will it all end?
The year was 2012 and Marvel released the blockbuster movie The Avengers. The superhero genre which had sporadic successes before this movie truly became mainstream after the release of this well-received blockbuster which is the 8th highest-grossing movie of all time currently. The world that just recovered slowly from a financial recession still felt that the perpetrators of the greatest financial crisis in modern history were not brought to justice – was thus wounded. It was also the time of the implosion of the social media giants – Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube which provided an unregulated platform provided platform to broadcast shrill voices. So you have a wounded populace, movies about superheroes that can save the world and a platform that provided ease of broadcasting. All it needed was a trigger and few smart politicians across the world from India, China, Turkey, the USA, Brazil etc., happily noticed and played it to their full advantage.
Often known as nationalistic leaders, these men who rule swaths of countries across the world, portray themselves similar to these superheroes with a huge fan-following around them. They have social media armies that amplify every message of their leaders and disdain any counter-narrative. They often take quick decisions, disrupt the established order that relied heavily on bureaucratic systems and processes, focus on pragmatic approaches than well-informed decision making, a fondness for a capital-focussed opulence and a general disdain for social justice. It can also be argued that this way of looking inward grew from the frustrations with a globalist world order that flattened the world, destroyed (shipped) jobs & local industries, transferred national wealth into a select few along with the implosion of the internet. The onset of the nationalist leaders across the world rode a tidal wave that threatened the globalist world order deeming it along with its founder – the United Nations highly irrelevant. As more and more superhero movies were released, this counter-culture became the new norm for a new world order, where feverous nationalism reigned.
It was all going well – till Covid-19 struck and then grew into a global pandemic. The nationalistic leaders who shunned globalization and the established world order built on the ruins from the Second World War did not have any local solution to a global problem. More than a year into the pandemic, with wave after wave of a surging virus and its variants, they still do not. One almost feels like it is not going to end and we are doomed. Yet all hope is not lost. We now see a new world that is starting to discover what we did have once – one where we spoke to each other and collaborated. As the pandemic rages on, the only solution that would save us would be with all these ‘superhero leaders’ across the world working together as in the movie The Avengers. But once the hubris of this leadership model finally peaks, we may need to sit together and discuss how we tackle newer problems going forward.Photo by Fredrick john on Unsplash