What absurdists do you know
It is the question that reveals the absurdity of some emergency measures: Do you want to live forever?
Overwind the media. Politics assumes everything. The intellectuals join the mainstream. The realistic dissenting voices in the face of the corona pandemic fall by the wayside.
Do you want to live forever? Frederick the Great posed this question to his soldiers at the Battle of Kolin in 1757, when they gave way to the enemy. One is inclined to ask the same question again in view of the debatable relationship between corona patients and the deceased on the one hand and the general population and the number of people suffering from common diseases on the other. Some things seem to be - literally - crazy here. But the collateral damage caused by disease control, with its willful acceptance of the destruction of the economy, provokes the same question.
The self-reinforcing media circle
The media have only known one topic for weeks: the little thing called the coronavirus. You drive politics before you. This surpasses itself with primary drastic measures and subsequent secondary packages of measures, which are intended to alleviate the side effects of the first measures. This, in turn, increases media coverage to a monothematic tsunami, because now there is really something to report: One is dramatizing, speculating, providing praise of dismay, talking about war, comparing the current situation with the medieval plague epidemics.
The crisis really becomes a catastrophe, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those who maintain a sense of proportion are either trivialized or denied, and those who differentiate are portrayed as “terrible simplificateur”. The tragedy of what happened must be celebrated. Schiller wrote aptly for such situations: "The most terrible of horrors, that is man in his madness."
Governments are imposing more and more restrictions on freedom of movement and economic freedom in order to keep people safe from the virus. Security from the epidemic is bought at the price of economic ruin, poverty and unemployment, so it leads to anything but a secure and stable existence. "Whoever gives up freedom to gain security will in the end lose both," wrote Benjamin Franklin.
The self-generated misery
The drastic restrictions on freedom are only possible with emergency law. Emergency law gives governments a power that denies them democratic processes, which is why they want to apply it intensively and for as long as possible.
After the Second World War, individual emergency law regulations were in effect in Switzerland until 1952, which could only be repealed through popular initiatives. In the interwar period, there was practically uninterrupted emergency law in the Weimar Republic, it mutated into an abuse of power with the authorization law of the National Socialists and thus became normality with the devastating consequences known to us. In a modification of a dictum by Carl Schmitt: Whoever decides on a state of emergency is powerful.
The legitimation of the emergency law is questionable in any case. This applies all the more, the more frequently it is called, the more schematically it is used, such as with the arbitrary and indiscriminate business closings in connection with the corona virus. However, the emergency law is definitely questionable if it is misused, as is now threatening to happen. It becomes a purely situational and arbitrary measure of oppression.
Emergency law serves all politicians in the short term, everyone wants to exploit and abuse the favorable moment and emergency law for their own purposes: the do-gooders, the bourgeoisie, the Greens, the Reds. Emergency law is never really repealed, its “tried and tested” parts are transferred to “ordinary” law, and the density of regulations is increased, which is then euphemistically referred to as the exit from the emergency law regime.
The man who overestimates himself
That we're in supposedly good company with almost every government in the world doesn't make it any better. Thirty years after the relatively harmless so-called Fichen Affair, population-wide control measures are foreseeable.
The movements of people are already being recorded and monitored on behalf of the state by Google and the Swisscoms of the world, electronic ankle and arm cuffs are being introduced, apps that “only” should monitor health are being developed and will probably soon be made mandatory. Without proof of health, border crossings will probably no longer be possible in the future, police surveillance using drones will be part of everyday life and will gradually lead to the modern, total surveillance state. Is that how we imagined liberation from the Ancien Régime?
The overestimation of itself by the state is based on the overestimation of its own capabilities, and therefore of people. Construction is continuing on the financial tower of Babel, the construction of which began long before the financial crisis in 2008, but which saw a tremendous increase to dizzying heights and is still exceeded today with the economic programs to reset the economy. This political and economic mania for feasibility, which believes to dominate all the rigors of life, epidemics, recessions and the climate, is more than questionable, given that the “omnipotent” state was not even able to react early to the long-known threat of the corona virus .
How will we react to the next "unknown" virus in two years' time? With another destructive lockdown? What more can we do when the economy doesn't pick up any more?
The central banks are at the end of their latitude, the heavily indebted state will run out of money, because taxes only flow when the economy is productive. Will there then be confiscatory measures, known as trivializing haircuts? In reverse of Mephistopheles ’words about Faust, the state acts in such a way that it always wants good and creates evil.
"But where there is danger, what can save also grows." This already somewhat worn sentence by Holderlin may remind us that insight into what is really saving is possible, provided that uncomfortable and critical questions are asked and are not simply faded out for convenience.
Let us accept that man is mortal, that a long life cannot be the goal per se, that prosperity is based on productive work - and not on bureaucracy that suffocates life - that seven fat years can also be followed by seven lean years and the latter the chance to Renewal means that there must be limits to political action, otherwise it will lead to an abuse of power and a crash.
Let us free ourselves from the global, apparently alternative, thought bubble. Let's disrupt the global mainstream. Let us help a sense of reality saturated with experience to break through in order to shape our lives in freedom again. Not only the virus, but also the viral breakdown of the «forma mentis» cannot be combated early enough.
Georges Bindschedler holds a doctorate in law, is Chairman of the Board of Directors of SMH Verlag AG, which publishes the “Swiss Month”, and is an entrepreneur in Bern.
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