The philosopher Santiago Alba does not believe that during the pandemic life has stopped because “probably” it was not a life we had before, and he assures that in this time we have been “humanity” some days.
“We have been ‘humanity’ for some days and, although already undermined by each individual fatigue, that subject ‘humanity’ is still present, now mixed or combined with the element that denies it: capitalist, consumerist, very individualistic and hedonistic ‘normality’ from which we came ”, explains Alba (Madrid, 1960) in an interview with Efe.
These two conflicting consciences – the philosopher thinks – fight as two different ways of conceiving the world: “We are all potential victims alike, they are all my potential enemies at the same time.”
“Every time we see the other as a victim to be protected (from myself, a victim too) ‘humanity’ wins; every time we see the other as an enemy from which I have to protect myself (as the only one worthy of survival), the fierce social Darwinism of capitalism wins, which, as soon as a crisis erupts, generates behaviors, as we see, very primitive: fear looks for guilty and does not distinguish between disease, sin and crime, “he highlights.
Is the pandemic encouraging society to take a break to reflect on its social and personal life? Alba believes that to measure what the term ‘pause’ means in this context, it is necessary to conceive it in relation to the movement that has now stopped: “a feverish, neurotic, mechanical movement, which from top to bottom kept our economy and our economy in constant acceleration. private life”.
“Speed of financial operations, speed of renewal of merchandise, speed of our movements, of our affections, of our sexual relations. In other words, life ’has not stopped because it was probably not a‘ life ’that we had.”
In this break from confinement -more than a pause-, the essayist maintains that citizens have discovered “an unknown life in which mobile phones are again landlines, in which the home is once again a more-or-less habitable place , according to income – and not a night halt and in which the bodies of others, longed for or tied to ours, take on an unprecedented role “.
Each body and each house is today a small battlefield where the common future is decided, explains the essayist.
Regarding whether COVID-19 is acting in any way as a virus against populism, in the sense that there could be a greater concern of the population in the search for truthful and first-hand information, Alba stresses that it is difficult to generalize.
“There are two things that reassure us: one is the knowledge transmitted by authorities that we recognize as such. The other is the identification of culprits and, in front of them, of radical remedies. We arrived at this crisis in a context of disavowal of the institutions in general very disturbing; and the crisis itself generates a fear that is difficult to control. So there are many people who trust science very little: some, on the right, because – in the case of Spain – they consider it an instrument of government policy; others, on the left, because they consider it a mere instrument of pharmaceuticals and private medicine ”.
And new technologies and social networks, which allow access to more and better information, “are also a breeding ground for conspiracy and conspiracy viruses, and toxic quackery.”
The philosopher sees many people looking for local or planetary culprits and miraculous remedies; looking for that “Total Security that science cannot and should not give and that – this is another of the dangers – it ends up entrusting itself to authoritarian regimes. There is, it is true, a revaluation of knowledge, but also of rapid diagnoses, anxiolytic stigma and thaumaturgical potion ”, he concludes.