The Slovenian philosopher, sociologist and psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek, who has just published the emergency essay “Pandemic”, considers that one has to go beyond reflecting on how this crisis teaches us what is essential and “think about what form of social organization it will replace the liberal-capitalist New World Order. “
In the text, published in Spain by Anagrama, Zizek recalls that “Hegel wrote that the only thing we can learn from history is that we do not learn anything from it” and, based on this premise, he doubts that the epidemic makes us wiser : “The only thing that is clear is that the virus will break the foundations of our lives, causing not only an immense amount of suffering, but also economic damage possibly worse than the Great Recession.”
The philosopher ventures that “there will be no return to normality”, but that this new normality that the rulers preach “will have to be built on the ruins of our old lives” and will lead humanity to learn and understand that “we are only living beings among other forms of life. “
In his reflection, Zizek believes that “it will not be enough to treat the epidemic as an unfortunate accident to get rid of its consequences and return to the proper functioning of the old way of doing things, with perhaps some adjustments in our health measures.”
For the author, it is essential to ask the key question: “What is wrong with our system that we were caught without being prepared for the catastrophe, despite the fact that scientists have warned us about it for years?”
The development of the global epidemic leads Zizek to believe that “market mechanisms will not suffice to avoid chaos and hunger.”
And he adds: “The measures that today seem to most of us as ‘communists’ will have to be considered worldwide”, with “a coordination of production and distribution outside the coordinates of the market” to avoid situations such as they exacerbated the great famine of the 1840s, which ravaged Ireland because “the British state maintained its confidence in market mechanisms, exporting food from Ireland. It is to be hoped that a similar brutal solution is no longer acceptable today.”
Accustomed to mixing historical, philosophical and pop culture references, Zizek views the coronavirus pandemic as “an inverted version of HG Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’ (1897), the story of how the Martians conquered the earth, in the one that the desperate narrator hero discovers that all the Martians have been killed by an attack of terrestrial pathogens to which they had no immunity. “
In his analysis of the social conditions that made the pandemic possible, Zizek notes that “the usual suspects wait in line to be questioned: globalization, the capitalist market, but we should resist the temptation to treat the epidemic as having more significance. profound “, adding that” the difficult thing is to accept that the epidemic is the result of pure contingency “.
Zizek appeals to the necessary words of Martin Luther King: “We may all have arrived in different boats, but now we are all in the same boat.”
The author expresses his fear of “barbarism with a human face”, which has been reflected in the violation of “the basic premise of our social ethics: the care of the elderly and the weak,” something that is contrary even to “the Military ethics, which tells us that after the battle, the seriously wounded must be dealt with first, even if the possibility of saving them is minimal. “
In his opinion, “the ship called Europa is much closer than the others to the shipwreck”, since it must face “three perfect storms”, two of which are not specific to Europe: the coronavirus epidemic in its direct physical impact (quarantines , suffering and death) and its economic effects, which “will be worse in Europe than anywhere else, since the continent is already stagnant, and also depends more on imports and exports.”
To these two storms, Zizek adds a third, which he calls “the Putogan virus:” Russia and Turkey are in an ideal position to put pressure on Europe, “since both control the supply of oil and the flow of refugees.
The solution, according to Zizek, “will not be the isolation or the construction of new walls and subsequent quarantines”, but rather “full unconditional solidarity and a coordinated response at the global level, a new form of what was once called communism “, while advocating giving” more executive power “to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Slovenian philosopher points out that “although life returns to normal, it will not be the same normality as before the outbreak. The things that we were used to as part of our daily life will no longer be taken for granted, we will have to learn to live a life much more fragile, with constant threats. ”