Fun society at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic?

That’s where the fun stops!

by Winfried Pogorzelski, Switzerland

A society whose lifestyle is mainly focused on personal pleasure and is not interested in the common good is a fun society. Has a society that has devoted itself to hedonism ever been a sustainable one? Hardly ever, as the fall of the Roman Empire showed. And what good is a fun society at the time of a worldwide pandemic like that of COVID-19? Nothing at all, of course - more than that: it is dangerous. And yet, at the moment, it seems to be celebrating its happy revival!

It is true that this year’s Street Parade, the Zurich version of the so-called Love Parade – the largest of its kind worldwide with up to one million participants – has been wisely cancelled, to the sorrow of the Zwingli city, to which it has left behind 90 tons of waste, but also a turnover of no less than 100 million Swiss francs. But we must nevertheless celebrate again, as the motto in wide circles of the population is, as soon and as often as possible and apparently at any price, even at the cost of public health, which is currently in great danger anyway.
    At least that seems to have been the attitude of those Zurich party-goers who – as soon as clubs and bars were allowed to reopen under certain conditions – defied these conditions: they deliberately gave false, i.e. invented e-mail addresses; many left no details at all. The disaster only became
apparent after a time delay, making it all the more difficult for authorities and club operators to react appropriately. “Things cannot go on like that,” said Nathalie Rickli, Director of Health for the Canton of Zurich. And she added: “The virus is no joke, not even for the fun society.” She threatened to close the clubs in case of another super-spreading incident, i.e. if – as happened in Zurich – one infected person infects several people within a short time. Infections had also occurred at sporting events and among airline passengers. Her sobering conclusion: “Our calls to be careful have not been heeded.” If things continue like this, cases of infection will also be reported in prostitution, which has recently been permitted again. Fortunately, it is said that there is currently a shortage of “workers”, who have travelled to their home countries and have no possibility to return. And on top of all this, the summer holidays are now beginning everywhere…
    You rub your eyes in amazement: What was that again about the rules of distance? With the hygiene measures like hand disinfection and mouth protection? We had all just practised this, and we practised it with the confidence that we were making a meaningful contribution to maintaining public health! But it is now quite obvious that occasions are now permitted by the state that are not compatible with the precautionary measures, which are still indispensable, because they simply cannot be observed: How is a masked person in a disco supposed to be able to consume alcohol, dance and at the same time speak loudly?
    At least one measure, for which many in this country were desperately waiting and which has in some cases been in force abroad for some time, was announced by the Federal Council on 1 July: From 6 July, public transport users will be required to wear a face mask, and more recently in shops in the Canton of Vaud. The Association of Swiss Cantonal Doctors is now also demanding compulsory masks throughout the public domain, as it has been practised for some time by our neighbour Germany. Since 9 July, in the north western Swiss Cantons of Basel Stadt, Baselland, Aargau and Solothurn, clubs and restaurants are now only allowed to accommodate a maximum of 100 people at a time.
    And what was that about the fun society? It has never brought a community forward, but in the long run it did harm to it, so that it had to fear for its existence or at least suffered severe setbacks. The current variant is no coincidence: it was deliberately brought about, driven by the neoliberal absolutism of pleasure, of consumption for the pleasure of the consumer goods and entertainment industry. To experience and enjoy as much as possible in the limited time of life is the motto of the young people of today.
    The end of the fun society has already been announced several times, most prominently by the author and journalist Peter Scholl-Latour in the wake of 9/11, and I would not mind if, on the occasion of the current pandemic, we were to say goodbye to it forever in order to devote ourselves more to promoting the common good, especially as the number of infected people continues to rise in our country, in our neighbouring countries and even more so worldwide … •

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