‘Pandemic!’ maintains that the current health crisis reveals the weakness of the globalized world
“The media repeatedly send us the message ‘don’t panic’ and then havea series of data that necessarily lead us to panic. The situation is reminiscent of what I lived in my youth, in a socialist country. Government representatives told us with some frequency that there was no reason to panic. In those moments, we all received the clear message that it was they who were panicking. “
Who could have written something like that? Slavoj Zizek, who if not. The Slovenian philosopher has published in the second week of global confinement what is surely the first coronavirus trial.Pandemic! COVID-19 shakes the worldIt is a 120 page text, available on paper and for screens at O / R Books.
What does the coronavirus book have to do with Zizek’s earlier work? The clues are in the press articles that already appeared all over the world last week. Zizek, who says himself half jokingly half seriously a nostalgic for communism, is actually a Social Democrat who criticizes corporate globalization and the claudication of states in liberal democracies and who advocates more centralized leadership systems. In addition, he yearns for a less individualistic and more communal way of life. From this starting point, the author maintainsPandemic!that the current health crisis has exposed the weaknesses of liberal democracies and that, therefore, it will have a positive political effect. “The dilemma we are facing is: barbarism or some form of reinvented communism.”
China, says Zizek, has better managed the coronavirus than Italy., although the author does not ignore thesinsof the People’s Republic, who wanted to silence the first alarms about the epidemic and now force the data to turn the page in a hurry. “The old authoritarian logic of the communistsin power has also demonstrated its limitations. An example is the fear of bringing bad news to the public and to those in power; that caused the studies to be minimized. For that reason, those who gave the first news about the virus were arrested, “writes Zizek.
The other part of his analysis maintains that the challenge of the globalized health crisis can only be faced fromthe nation-state toolsstrong based on a classic social pact that protects the weak.
“I am not utopian, I do not appeal to solidarity between peoples. On the contrary, I think that the current crisis shows that solidarity and cooperation respond to the survival instinct of each one of us, and that it is the only rational and egotistical answer that exists. Not just for coronavirus[…]As Owen Jones has said, the climate crisis kills more people than the coronavirus, without us feeling panic about it, “writes Zizek, who maintains that his” communist approach “is the only way to agree on a system that prevents a purge of elderly and sick people abandoned to death.
Pandemic! It is also recognizable as a Zizek book for its prose, replete with references to pop culture and philosophy, arranged alongside often comical personal gibberish. “In my youth, in socialist Yugoslavia, a rumor began to spread that there were no toilet paper stocks. The authorities replied: There is enough toilet paper.Surprisingly, the population believed it. However, an average consumer reasoned this way: ‘I know that the rumor is false, I know there is enough toilet paper, but what if the rest of the people believe that there are no reserves and throw themselves into the role of stores and causes a shortage … I better buy paper. “
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