"I choose to go to Marilyn Monroe and do the other women, not because they are easy, but because I am hard" -- paraphrase from John F. Kennedy's address at Rice University, 12 September 1962.
A recent article has described problems some governments are having with the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. It was written in French by Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval. English translations roar from reprints, Popular Resistanceso resistance to it will not be limited to one language.
The antepenultimate paragraph suggests eradicating the obsolete relic of state sovereignty, which has been a fiction since the distant past, when societies could live in the world without little effect on each other. Some of us joined the Green party with that in mind.
Unfortunately, the authors take a difficult road to get to that simple conclusion.
An early paragraph says, "First observation: around the world, we are all willing to rely on the sovereign power of the nation state to respond to this global epidemic . . ." Huh? Who are the authors including in this "we"? On 14 March 2020, supermarkets were out of rubbing alcohol, Lysol cleaner, and most paper products. Three weeks later, the shelves are still bare. If this Merkin republic cannot furnish its people with supplies for simple hygiene, why would anyone expect it to provide complex medical treatment? It won't. Neither the hospitals nor the government have stockpiled adequate supplies of face masks for medical personnel.
Yet the authors continue in this vein: "On the other hand, we expect the state to protect citizens by preventing the virus being 'imported' from abroad." There's that "we" again. Come on, are we readers morons? Few, if any, states have the means to do more than slow a virus down. It will go everywhere, eventually.
Where do they get these ideas?
There's more. "Second observation: we equally depend on the state to help businesses of all sizes endure this trial by providing them with the financial assistance and guaranteed loans they require in order to avoid bankruptcy and retain as much of their workforce as possible." Why? Don't they have business interruption insurance? Sure there are politicians who want to make sure a healthy economy outlives the human race. Robots work on assembly lines. Cars drive themselves. Computers control vast electrical and communications networks, from telephone service to voting machines. They even trade stock. It is only a matter of time before they can do everything without us: clearcutting, strip mining, smelting, trucking, you name it.
Then there is some talk about the European Union breaking apart. (Will that satisfy Vladimir Putin? For the moment, perhaps.)
Then World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks of "alarming levels of inaction". Frightening inertia!
Then Suerie Moon of the Global Health Centre in Geneva blames people like UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has tested positive, and Presidunce Donald tRump, whose voice has become hoarse enough to suggest a respiratory malady.
Then there are several paragraphs that suggest governments should have used coercion. That sounds like police state. What kinds of coercion? The rack? The iron maiden? Did the authors have any idea how repulsive that idea sounds to pacifists? Perhaps they do. Some political movements like to drive out the people unwilling to perform violence on their behalf.
In free societies, behavior is influenced with incentives and disincentives. Speeders are fined. Shoplifters often get jail time. Inflicting pain is not necessary.
One line reads, "To stick to the case of France, the rights of Amerindians in Guyana are routinely denied in the name of the principle of the 'One and Indivisible Republic' - an expression that, once again, references the sacrosanct principle of state sovereignty." Really? Guyana is a former British colony east of Venezuela. What connection does it have with France? There is a French possession, known in English as French Guiana, some distance to the east, beyond Surinam. Are the two confused? Who can tell?
Despite its claims, the oppressive French republic is due for division. The nations of Occitania and Brittany must be freed.
Then there some talk about the role of the state. I suppose some people might have the patience for that discussion of the abstract relationship between the government and the people. The rest of us want the pandemic addressed in effective concrete ways. The theoretical analysis may interest some survivors later.
Perhaps the translation distorts the original.
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Last revised: 8 April 2020