A month ago, this was supposed to be the last evening of the carnival holiday in Italy. A carnival holiday, which turned into a prolonged closure of schools and universities, extended into a regional Red Zone, and in the end, turned into a national lockdown; now part of the norm in several countries across the world.
The Coronavirus, which had been ravaging the city of Wuhan in China for months, was now visibly in Europe and the number of cases had started to surge. Italy declared that the schools and unviersities would close in order to prevent the spread; the tactic that, so far, proved far from adequate.
In a span of one month, almost every major country in the world went into lockdown. Those who haven’t gone into a lockdown are following the path of their governments’ reluctance and stubbornness. A large portion of the world population is no longer going to work or school. Besides, they are anxiously looking at how the most serious health crisis of the past 100 years will lead them into an epoch of insecurity and uncertainty.
A lot of things have now changed and many of them will never be the same again. The Coronavirus has unveiled the deepest controversies and the sheer injustice that we have been living through, over the past 40 years.
The world is now on the brink of a Great-Depression-scale financial collapse which dwarfs the 2008 crisis. We are once again witnessing the people, whose travail has created our existing economic order, being denied the protection they rightfully deserve. On the other hand, the corporations which are now ruling every aspect of our lives are subject to massive stimulus packages and reliefs.
The Coronavirus has jeopardized our lives in an unprecedented manner and to a huge extent has made us realize how frail our societies are. Until a while ago, we were convinced about living in an impenetrable fort of our own achievements and conventions. We were sure about being in control of almost everything in our surrounding. When the consequences of our disastrous conduct started to manifest in the shape of climate change, we confided in our own abilities to undo what we had done and “save the planet.”
As the corporate economy came into a halt, and as the working people of different nations across the globe saw their jobs being taken away, we have seen governments — that had been boasting about having reached the summit of human prosperity — failing one after another to provide their citizens with a minimum guarantee for their social security. Financial breakdown is across our eyes now, and we are facing very little protection against it.
The Coronavirus was too heavy a blow: the economic system, that we believed we had perfected over centuries, has proved once again to be totally inept. All the economic policies, that over the past 40 years have been championed by the pioneers of the free market economy, are now collapsing; no matter how low the interest rates are being set or how strong the shocks to the markets are. Our governments’ arms have purposely shrunk through privatization in favor of a thin corporate class, while the services that our governments should be providing are being scarcely provided by those corporations. Now, we see our governments failing to force those very coropoations to guarantee a decent living condition for their employees and put the employees’ safety and security before profit.
The entire prosperity that we boasted about, has turned into a wretch as underequipped hospitals are now packed with patients that the doctors helplessly have to decide which one to cure. Hospitals that have been defunded over the past four decades cannot provide their patients with the necessary cure; in addition they are failing to provide their own employess with the right equipment in order to protect them against the disease. Healthcare professionals are contracting the disease in very high numbers now.
An increasingly profit-based society has also atomized its citizens; rendering them as individuals who, because of the sense of securtiy they have been living with, are convinced about their own ability to walk past this crisis without being personally affected by it. Individuals are refusing to consider how their carelessness over this matter can expose other people to risk. The extreme recklessness of citizens has led them to neglect the safety measures with the dangerous consequences of speeding up the spread.
The Coronavirus has to act like a reminder to us about the urgent need for a different type of community organizing; a type of community organizing where everyone can benefit equally from the resources of the society they are living in. We need to demand, and engage in constructing, a society where our lives are protected and cared for; not because of the profits we help to generate but because of our inalienable right as members of the society. We need to demand a society where resources are not for the profit of the few, but for the benefit of the many. As Thomas Paine put it once,“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.”