Suddenly, what we thought was impossible happened. The world as we knew it ended and has turned into an apocalyptic movie.
As the global economy was burning down, we started appreciating things we had taken for granted, with a growing feeling that the reality we had been living in would not ever come back.
A few months ago, nobody would have imagined such a crisis. This is a shock that has struck us on personal and systemic levels.
The shock at a personal level
When the waters are troubled, we show the best and worst of ourselves .
When anyone could be a potential threat of a lethal virus infection, selfishness is a normal reaction. And it is even harder to empathize when we are living behind a mask.
This explains many people’s reaction, those who rushed to the supermarkets to stock up with all the hand sanitizers and soap bars they could, ignoring that they were not the only ones who should wash their hands to save us all. And what is more, even guns were selling out in the US.
However, at the same time, solidarity began to sprout:
Doctors treating patients without health insurance, restaurants giving food away, people helping their elderly neighbors, and a vast array of online courses were made available for free.
As time passes, more people come to realize that cooperation is better than competition, and there are less who deny the importance of universal public health care.
Just after the first shock, the following question comes to mind: now what? How much are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of financial security?
The shock struck the system
What many people presumed to be the unchangeable cornerstones of neoliberalism have fallen like a house of cards.
For those who upheld this model, the state had to be wiped out. Healthcare, education and even justice had to be managed by the aptly misnamed “free” market system.
The fear of death has turned the neoliberalists into Keynesians who are now whining for help from the state. There are huge emergency budgets now where cutbacks had been planned, and even universal basic income is being considered… there is almost no doubt that the state will become more interventionist.
According to Naomi Klein, the coronavirus is the perfect disaster for the system. The author of ‘The Shock Doctrine’ has been reporting for many years on the ways capitalism takes advantage of troubled times to boost its neoliberal and anti-environment agenda.
In this case, political and economic elites will try to take advantage of the crisis (with our money) to save the culprits of climate change: the airline and cruise industries, the industries of natural gas and oil, among others. This only diverts money from problem solving actions.
It is obvious that they will also be willing to give up what is left of our privacy in order to increase cyber-surveillance with the excuse of improving healthcare. And we ask ourselves, how far can they go and what is the hidden agenda?
Looking back at 9/11 and its influence in security and privacy, it is clear that this pandemic is setting up the scene for:
- Constant survaillence
- The suspension of the freedom of assembly
- Marshall Law
- Undefined extrajudicial detention
- The prohibition of cash
- Internet censorship
- The supremacy of the government and pharmaceutical industry over our bodies
- The classification of all activities and destinations into what is explicitly allowed and explicitly prohibited (you are allowed to leave your house for X reason but not for Y), which removes the grey area excluded from legal and police jurisdiction.
All this to prevent COVID-19 deaths? There are many, but there are also other tragedies with higher death tolls. 1 out of 8 people suffer from starvation. In 2018, 159 million people presented cases of stunting and 50 million of malnourishment, and more than 1 million people commit suicide every year. While 1 out of every 6 people die of cancer.
Vandana Shiva points out the death toll of COVID-19 and she shows that in fact:
- The mortality rate of coronavirus is 1.6%
- In people with underlying heart problems, it increases to 13.2%
- With diabetes, it reaches 9.2%
- With cancer, 7.6%
Are we dying due to the coronavirus or as a result of the chronic diseases caused by our toxic diet?
There is enough evidence that agribusiness pesticides (like glyphosate) are carcinogenic, and that the same companies who sell them are the ones who benefit from the resulting diseases through their pharmaceutical affiliates. Bayer is a pharmaceutical company who sells toxic pesticides (Monsanto). Syngenta is a toxic chemical company who, like Novartis, sells pharmaceutical products.
In addition, the spread of coronavirus is directly related to environmental destruction. When a natural habitat is destroyed, the bats move into our courtyards and farms, the link between viruses and other species becomes out of balance and the infection is transmitted to humans and turns in to a pandemic. The same happened with Ebola. Not to mention the “mad cow” disease, generated by feeding cows meat from dead poisoned cows.
However, confronting these issues means questioning the System.
Instead, the coronavirus seems to be the ideal problem, like terrorism, it is an external enemy that the System has to fight through authoritarianism and control.
Do you remember the times when it was said there was not enough money for solutions?
Do you remember when it was said change could not happen fast enough?
Is it not true that it seemed impossible to live slower, produce less and clean the air of our cities?
The coronavirus crisis highlights the undeniable reality: we can achieve unbelievable things at an incredible speed when we aim to defeat a common enemy together.
According to the scientists, the main threat we are facing collectively is climate change. Now that we have proof of how to respond collectively to an emergency, we should take advantage of the boost to solve the other big crisis.
Do we want to spend our money to save the airlines, oil and other companies responsible for climate change? In exchange for nothing? Or do we want to invest in the Big Transition?
A bigger crisis lies behind coronavirus – behind climate change – it’s a perception crisis.
This paradigm is falling apart. The paradigm which preaches nature as something external that we have to dominate and exploit, and that we are rational beings who compete with each other for scarce resources.
The new paradigm is “regenerative” and holds a positive mindset: How can we redesign our existence on Earth in order to restore and regenerate ecosystems while enhancing our health and the health of all living beings?
The crisis is an opportunity for the wealthy and powerful, so when this chaos is over, we might end up in a darker world. However, this is also an opportunity for the people. It’s a chance to build towards an equitable future once and for all.
Let’s make the most of this to build a better vision.
Our reading recommendations:
- La emergencia viral y el mundo de mañana”, by Byung Chul Han
- “The coronation”, by Charles Eisenstein.
- “Coronavirus is a “Kill Bill”-esque blow to capitalism”, by Slavoj Žižek
- “Mis vecinos de enfrente” by Javier Gallego
- “Towards a Manifesto of the Regeneration”, by Daniel Wahl
- “De los bosques a nuestras plantas a nuestro microbioma intestinal”, by Vandana Shiva