At the beginning of the year

by Erika Vögeli

With the spread of the virus SARS-CoV-2 and the measures taken against it around the globe our lives partly have been turned upside down. For many people – especially in poor countries – life has become even more difficult. The outrageous injustices have become even greater. The global financial elite and some sectors of the economy have enriched themselves even further, the super-rich have become even richer and the poor even poorer. This is in all the newspapers, and the prognoses about the negative consequences are piling up everywhere. The question merely is what conclusions we draw from this.
  The would-be global governance will do everything in its power to maintain and, if possible, expand its position. And according to the motto “Divide and conquer”, the debates about rightness and nonsense of the measures taken, the fuelling of antagonisms and alleged conflicts of interest will surely find their place there. The fact is that all the changes pretended necessary because of corona, in the sense of the “Great Reset” have long been in the planning – and implementation. Readily the opportunity is taken to push them further. Alfred de Zayas counters this with a decidedly other possibility. In his committed plea, he calls on everyone to understand the situation as an “historic opportunity” and to urge our governments to use our limited resources instead of wars and the destruction of life for its protection, for far-sighted prevention and research as appropriate. “This is the moment to rise up to the challenge, demand reasonable budgetary priorities, laws and regulations that place people above profits, demand ethics in foreign policy, an end to the insane arms race and criminal wars.”
  Diana Johnstone, in her article “The great pretext ... for Dystopia” (in the last issue) pointed out, that “cries of alarm from the margins” will not change the balance of power. What is needed, according to her approach, is “for people to get together everywhere to study the issues and develop well-reasoned opinions on goals and methods of future development.” Certainly the question arises whether and how such public discussions could be protected from dishonest influence ... in order to enable a real “free market of ideas”, and that regardless of any political correctness “the right to be wrong” (Alfred de Zayas) is guaranteed.
  In any case, Diana Johnstone’s advice expresses something fundamental that our time sorely needs:  those who with good reason are discontent with the current political, economic and social conditions must not wear themselves out with polarisation and the unrest and fragmentation that goes with it. They must not let themselves be roped in for “Wutbürger” (enraged citizen) strategies or be fobbed off with endless pseudo-democratic squabbling. Instead, the actual majority of our states, which are fed up to be served with “managed democracy” and control via global governance, could take on the real issues themselves. What is urgently needed in the thunderstorm of globalisation is a return to value-oriented unions, of initiatives and opportunities of direct, not “controlled” discussion and encounter from person to person, to the recovery of the political, of good faith and trust, so that people can get once again an own voice “from below”, and to the strengthening of existing self-organisation. This cannot be done overnight, but where you start, it changes something fundamental: It is the step out of powerlessness, resignation, and anger towards civic responsibility and self-help. These approaches exist in many areas – perhaps we just don’t make enough use of them.
  There is a human force that could give a solid foundation and momentum to this human path the sense of human bonding. At the moment, the dominant mood in the media public sphere is one of fatigue, alleged antagonism of interests, a kind of singularisation of concerns.
  But this was not always the case. At the very beginning of the pandemic there was something quite different – at least in this country. A different mood prevailed. Not exuberant. Not a festive mood. But something very solid, something humanly connecting. Something that gave courage, that inspired creative activity in the face of the problems, that made people look for solutions. Something that could provide a real basis for overcoming such a crisis and many other problems. Interestingly enough, it initially received a voice in many media. It was the awareness that we can only deal with such a situation together. Solidarity in the true sense of the word. Humanity. This includes mutual consideration, taking care of each other, mutual help. Something like reflection began about our situation and our living together in a broader sense.  About the importance of real, human relationships, about sensible economics, reflection about globalisation and much more. About the fact that things cannot go on “like this” – not only in this country, but also in the larger dimension of global conditions. Not in an activist way, but very serious and considered. On this basis one could work together. Develop solutions. Also for the consequences of the pandemic and how to combat it.
  We could also think about the nature of freedom there. About the fact that it only makes sense in a social context. And about the fact that it cannot be had or maintained without morality. Perhaps we would then be better armed against the effects of completely unnecessary debates, for example, those about an alleged trade-off between the economy and health or the constructed opposition between freedom and health. Better armed, too, against the suggestion techniques of “communication experts” who want to denigrate the natural human striving for the best possible protection of life and health as “health fanaticism” and, with the spin that freedom has always “had its price,” put protection efforts on the sidelines as “exaggerated.” So, about a hundred deaths a day for the “freedom” of partying, going to restaurants, riding ski gondolas? For whose freedom? That of the shark in the trout pond? Political freedom is not lost through the restrictions against the spread of a virus, but first in the mind. In the lack of awareness of what the conditions of human coexistence and freedom are, and that the life of man is the highest good; it is its preservation and continuation and possible improvement, which human activity has always served – must serve, even the economic. Because without life there is also no freedom.
  When the inhabitants of the valley of Uri wanted to maintain the freedom that was possible at the time and bought their freedom from the Habsburgs by enabling the emperor to redeem his pledge debts to the Habsburgs, they had first of all taken great restrictions upon themselves: They literally stinted themselves for freedom – a resolutely solidary effort by the whole community – for everyone.
  How about that? The mood in the spring had the potential to do just that. Or in other words of the great poet of freedom, Friedrich Schiller:

Freiheit liebt das Tier der Wüste,
Frei im Äther herrscht der Gott,
Ihrer Brust gewaltg’e Lüste
Zähmet das Naturgebot;
Doch der Mensch in ihrer Mitte
Soll sich an den Menschen reihn,
Und allein durch seine Sitte
Kann er frei und mächtig sein.

(from: Das Eleusische Fest)

Freedom’s love the beast inflames,
And the god rules free in air,
While the law of Nature tames
Each wild lust that lingers there.
Yet, when thus together thrown,
Man with man must fain unite;
And by his own worth* alone
Can he freedom gain, and might.

[from: The Eleusinium Festival] 
*within the meaning of morals)  •

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