corona / Are the European authorities truthful about how long the measures will last? Can you lock up a population for 12-18 months before a vaccine is developed?


The famous Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has warned against the authorities' handling of the corona pandemic. He envisions «extremely serious ethical and political consequences» promoted by the new security and preparedness regime. He is afraid of how state powers exploit the crisis for more totalitarian control and «biopolitics», but not the least of which is what kind of life we ​​are left with when life is mostly about survival – as a «naked life» («just life» from his Homo Sacer series).


The criticism against him after these statements he made in both Italy's il Manifesto and France's Le Mondeis that he does not pay attention to "the others," that is, the weakest who are most likely to die. Precisely the reason for the government's health measures against the corona virus.

But Agamben's objections to the authorities cannot simply be swept away. At the same time, we must not be naive, as the virus pandemic will probably be long-lasting. Are the European authorities truthful about how long the measures will last? Because you can not lock in a population for 12-18 months, before a vaccine has been developed? And just as important is the question of whether the cure can be worse than the disease.

The numbers

So where do we go? In April, the number of people infected globally can increase explosively from one million upwards. Although in our time we probably do not get conditions like that of Spanish influenza – where 500 million were infected and around 50 million died (a quarter of the world's population was infected between 1918 and 1920).

Interesting to note, with all the media coverage around the clock lately, is how much attention is received after all the Norwegian deaths compared to the annual death rate of 900–1700 people in Norway by pneumonia from seasonal flu, 4-5 daily. And usually 115 people die every day in the country. health Care is doing its best, but as it is now emerging, the estimated cost for a dead person to have a full extra year of life is set at a value of a maximum of NOK 1,25 million. More than it uses health care not, even if you don't talk about it.

At the same time we have not – as in corona-affected Italy – as many as 11 die each year due to widespread antibiotic resistance. We have "only" 000 such deaths. At the time of writing, 69 have died COVID-19 in Norway. 4407 are infected. With at least 682 respirators and 70 of them in use today, we still have a bit to go before the system is overloaded – but one is afraid of conditions like in parts of Italy, where older people over 60 have to be sent home to die.

In Norway, we can afford to buy masks and protective equipment, even if it is almost on the black exchange. Socially, we have oil Funds securities or we can let our central bank «press» Norwegian money at the touch of a button – where the bill for the total depreciation of the money is sent to the taxpayers of the future. This is how billions can arise.


Unfortunately the EU has not implemented an overall health responsibility for Europe, so every state has to deal with this on its own. It is therefore also important that Norway has taken the initiative with one multi-donor fund in the UN to assist developing countries . International cooperation is needed. China, Russia and Germany help Italy. Not exactly like Donald T.'s attempt to buy up a German company, to secure a vaccine exclusively for Americans.

The world has lived through a millennium with bubonic plague, smallpox, yellow fever, typhoid, tuberculosis (one and a half million people still die from this annually!), Malaria, polio, HIV / AIDS, Ebola and, now, corona. As before, it will lead to historical changes.

When crises arise, an authoritarian longing is brought to life among people.

A corona vaccine will probably come. But more importantly, is a universal DNA vaccine against viruses, the way some work in Norway. We are far ahead in biotechnology. Which Mike Davis points out in the interview on page 10, there are 400 coronaviruses out there in the wilderness – which may eventually move.

This is not going to go away anytime soon and we will see mutations occur. Some therefore suggest a "horse cure" with the development of group immunity, where many expose themselves to the virus and let it go. 999 out of 1000 will then probably survive. But who is to consider whether a few thousand "weak" should die earlier?


At the same time, ask yourself what closed boundaries, confinement, enemy images, bankruptcies, scapegoats, and suspicion of potential carriers will mean in the future.

programs with lockout and shutdown leads to a strong global economic regression – with large-scale depression as a result. Money is not enough, although here with our oil-lubricated state we can support the third of private companies that are bankrupt. And if one third of the country's employees are employed in the public sector, it may not be so bad. Many countries, on the other hand, have no wealth.

Men the cure's somewhat totalitarian traits, which over time impede freedom of movement and assembly, can, at the same time, be severely mentally degrading on some of us. And surveillance of mobile phones and behavior in an increasing number of countries is just one of many measures that seem inhibitory. Unfortunately, the authorities today, as Agamben criticizes them for expressing their "governmentality", will welcome their government – when crises arise, an authoritarian yearning among people is brought to life.

Citizens' pay and the net

The change will be okay. We let the essay Earth is our wisest teacher hint at this in retrospect from 2050.

Let me add that positively, the corona state can lead to noticeable environmental efforts. We will also have more time, rather than being like the rats in the competition carousel.

With a lack of demand, a number of jobs will disappear, but new activity can be created. Time is also ripe for social pay (citizen pay), not only to simplify the complicated NAV system during the crisis, but also to safeguard the free careers, benefits, and contributions of people who are not in profit oriented or the public sector.

With a common external enemy, former opponents will begin to cooperate. And patriotism can now strengthen local inclusive communities rather than destroy others.

Last but not least – we will want to use massively web-based solutions. People will ask: «Is there any reason why we should meet physically?» We will see that meetings are constantly being replaced with video conferencing, virtual rooms, and friend meetings Skype or Whatsapp across city limits (I have tried it already!) – rather than energy-burning flight and car trips. More will enjoy concerts or film festivals online – where new online services enrich the experience. One mustn't be at a sporting event if five cameras bring you closer to the match via TV. And online services will flourish, such as telemedicine.

Educationally, e-learning and homeschooling could be introduced as a fixed part of university and schools. And families with home office and home school will be able to enjoy this together – even if some marriages will crack in the joints…

Local communities can come back – including local businesses and products. With closed restaurants, more will become «home cooks» and grow their own vegetables. Others will lose interest in meat – also wild animals, if not bats – and prefer vegetarian food. Meat can carry viruses, as it also exists in today's livestock industry. The consumer culture will cool down and a number of unnecessary products will disappear.


Finally: Our lives must be more than living possessed by a state of fear, with news of death in any medium. After all, it is a short life we ​​all live here on earth.

Agamben and his peers are looking for quality of life and meaning – we must not reduce everything to biological survival. He reminds us of the human potential of the mentally «open» the «anarchic», where individual freedom exists. Being able to have life as a creative, with faith in something beyond everyday pragmatics – a life of meaning. And gladly with love and solidarity, we can add to it.

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