The current coronavirus pandemic represents a unique opportunity to rethink the way we inhabit the Common House, the way we produce, consume and relate to nature. The time has come to question the virtues of the capital order: unlimited accumulation, competition, individualism, indifference to the misery of millions, State reduction and the exaltation of Wall Street motto: “greed is good.” All of this is now in check. Its days are numbered.
What can save us now are not private enterprises, but the State, with its general health policies, always attacked by the “free market” system and will be the virtues of the new paradigm—defended by many, and by me—of caring, care, social solidarity, co-responsibility and compassion.
The first one to see the urgency of this change was the French, neo-liberal and financial world president, Emmanuel Macron. He spoke clearly: “Dear compatriots, we need to draw lessons from the moment we are going through, question the development model that our world chose decades ago, which shows its failings in the light of day, and question the weaknesses of our democracies. What this pandemic reveals is that free health without conditions of income, personal or professional histories, and our Social Welfare State, are not costs or burdens, but precious goods, indispensable advantages when fate knocks on the door. What this pandemic reveals is that there are goods and services that must be outside the laws of the market. ”
Here he shows his full awareness that a market economy, which markets everything, and its political expression, the neoliberalism, are harmful to society and to the future of life.
Even more surprising was journalist Naomi Klein, one of the most insightful critics of the world system, who also served as the title of my article: “The coronavirus is the perfect disaster for disaster capitalism.” This pandemic produced the collapse of the stock market (exchanges), the heart of this speculative, individualistic and anti-life system, as Pope Francis calls it. This system violates the most universal law of the cosmos, of nature and of the human being: the interdependence of everyone with everyone; that there is no being, much less us humans, like an island disconnected from everything else. Furthermore, it does not recognize that we are part of nature and that Earth does not belong to us to exploit it at will, but that we belong to the Earth. In the opinion of the best cosmologists and astronauts, who see the unity of Earth and Humanity, we are the part of Earth that feels, thinks, loves, cares and adores. By overexploiting nature and the Earth, as we are doing worldwide, we are harming ourselves, and we are exposing ourselves to her reactions, even to the punishments she imposes on us. She is a generous mother, but she can get angry and send us a devastating virus.
I support the thesis that this pandemic cannot be fought only by economic and health means—though they will always be indispensable. What it requires of us is to change the type of reaction we have with nature and the Earth. If, after the crisis has passed and we do not make the necessary changes, next time, it may be the last time, since we become enemies of the Earth, and she may no longer want us here.
Professor Neil Ferguson’s report at Imperial College of London stated, “This is the most dangerous virus since the H1N1 flu of 1918. If there is no immediate response, there will be 2.2 million deaths in the United States and 510,000 in the United Kingdom.” This statement was enough for Trump and Johnson to change positions immediately, belatedly committing large sums to strengthen the population. While, in Brazil, the President does not care, he treats the matter as a collective “hysteria”, and in the words of a German journalist from the Deutsche Welle, “He acts criminally. Brazil is run by a psychopath, and the country would do well in depose him as soon as possible. There would be many reasons for this.” This is what Parliament and the STF, for the love of the population, should do without further ado.
Hyper-information and media appeals are not enough. This does not move us to change the required behavior. We have to awaken our sensible and cordial reason. Overcoming indifference and feeling others’ pain with your heart. No one is immune to the virus. Rich and poor, we have to show solidarity with each other, personally take care of others and ourselves, and take collective responsibility. There is no port of salvation. Either we feel human, co-equal, in the same Common House, or we will all sink.
Women, like never before in history, have a special mission: they know about life and the necessary care; they can help us awaken our sensitivity, towards others and towards ourselves. They, along with healthcare operators (medical and nursing staff) deserve our unrestricted support. Taking care of who cares for us, to minimize the evils of this terrible assault on human life.
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