‘That discomfort you’re feeling’ isn’t grief…. it’s anger.
I’ve been getting increasingly angry throughout this panic, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Maybe you feel guilty about that. Because this is all for the good of society, right? So many people being scared and exhausted is the price we pay for doing the right thing. It’s for the greater good.
Well, no. The justification for us doing this is far from clear. I’ll get onto that in a later post, but to begin with here are a few of the reasons why I’m so furious at the moment – you can probably think of more – and why I think it’s perfectly justifiable to be angry in this situation.
If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written, you know I’m left wing. I’m probably as left wing as it’s possible to get. I’ve never forgiven the Tories for what they did to UK society in the 1980s, and I never will. I’m proud to call myself a socialist.
Now, socialism has always said that we should use tax revenues to fund a national health system and other services that are best and easiest provided at state level and by non-profit oriented structures. It’s always said we should protect people when they lose their jobs or their homes, because everyone can be a valuable member of society, and society as a whole benefits when the most vulnerable also benefit.
And as a result of the emergence of COVID-19, everyone else seems to have suddenly become aware of the truth of the above. Which is all fine and dandy. I’m delighted that you now see the value of a national health service that can, you know, look after the nation’s health. But the really big thing about this is… yeah, now you know this truth. Fucking well remember it. Don’t go back on it as soon as this is all over. Never, ever, ever, vote Tory – or whatever your country’s equivalent is – ever again. Never forget.
Also, “as soon as this is all over”… you do realise that it’s never going to be over? I’ve read many articles saying “when we’ve developed a vaccine…”, which is reckoned will take about 18 months.
There are two problems with this.
Firstly – and this is my quibble with the whole “lockdown” idea – can we really stand being stuck like this for 18 months? Well, I can, because this is my normal life, but I’m pretty sure there are a lot of people out there who can’t:
- Domestic violence victims: http://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20200326-coronavirus-domestic-violence-gender-perspectives
- The homeless (and if you think “so what?”, you should read the article to discover why that’s relevant to you): http://theconversation.com/coronavirus-could-hit-homeless-hard-and-that-could-hit-everyone-hard-133214
- The poor: https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-italy-becoming-impatient-with-lockdown-and-social-unrest-is-brewing-11965122
- People working off the books: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/03/25/uks-army-hidden-workers-grey-economy-risk-spreading-virus/
Also, there are huge risks to people who wouldn’t normally be vulnerable:
- Mental health issues: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/covid-19-mental-health-crisis-expect-depression-anxiety-stress/
- Young people: https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-why-lockdown-may-cost-young-lives-over-time-134580
- The newly unemployed: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200327-unemployment-during-coronavirus-the-psychology-of-job-loss
And many others.
The second problem with the “as soon as this is all over, when we have a vaccine” idea is that “a vaccine” probably isn’t going to fix this. After all, we have a flu vaccine. And yet people still get the flu.
Speaking of which, did you know that 10-30,000 people die of the flu in England every year?
I’ll just say that again.
TEN TO THIRTY THOUSAND PEOPLE DIE OF THE FLU, EVERY YEAR, IN ENGLAND ALONE
Just like the coronavirus deaths, the vast majority of these are old people. Just like the coronavirus, it’s extremely contagious. And clearly, just like the coronavirus, it’s potentially deadly. But we don’t shut down the whole of society every year for the seasonal flu. Why not? Simply because we never have. We’ve always, all of us who are alive today, and all of our ancestors for about the last 500 years, lived in a post-flu world. We just accept it.
And we’re going to have to accept the fact that we now live in a post-corona world. It’s here. It’s not going away. We can mitigate it, we’ll ultimately be able to vaccinate the most high risk groups, but it’s not going to stop just because we all cower in our homes for a few weeks.
Finally, if all that wasn’t enough to make you angry, consider this.
How much of an impact could world governments have had on the real issues the whole of humanity faces today if they’d acted as forcefully on those problems as they have on COVID-19?