Professor of political philosophy at Bordeaux-Montaigne University and responsible for the master’s degree in “care, ethics and health”, Barbara Stiegler is the author ofYou have to adapt. On a new political imperative (Gallimard, 336 p., 22 euros) and From course to strikes. Story of a mobilization. November 17, 2018 – March 5, 2020 (Editions Verdier, 139 p., 7 euros, to be published).
In an interview at World, it explains the ideological reasons for the governments’ unpreparedness for the coronavirus crisis and calls for the establishment of a “health democracy”.
How to explain the preparation, especially French, facing this global pandemic?
Unpreparedness is indeed general, but the reasons differ according to the political culture of each country. In the United States or the United Kingdom, the choices that were made at the outset went in the direction of laissez-faire and were part of an assumed utilitarian vision. For the common good, it was better that certain less valuable lives be sacrificed.
In France, where such a speech would have been difficult to pass, the continuous reduction in the number of beds and carers and the shortage of masks, protective equipment and soon drugs also leads to sorting patients, but without saying so publicly.
This situation rather reflects the neoliberal vision of public health and its imagination. In his conception of the sense of history, we would indeed go towards an immaterial world of flows and skills, supposed to be ahead of the previous world, which would be made of stocks and vulnerabilities, that is to say -to say at the bottom of matter and suffering.
Our developed economies would be based on “innovation” and on the “knowledge economy”, this would be the new meaning of health, and they should delegate to the continents of the South, to Africa and to mainly in Asia, the industrial production of material goods. With such a fantastical conception of the sense of history, our rulers could only send the infectious epidemic and the manufacturing industry to an underdeveloped world and to ancient times that we, Westerners, would have passed. The idea was basically that such a virus was, like the mask stocks, too archaic to affect our societies, too effective to be exposed to it.
“The idea of so-called” proactive “medicine is to increase the performance of individuals and their ability to adapt, including to a degraded environment”