Kritische Blicke auf die Coronakrise und ihre Folgen
Kritische Blicke auf die Coronakrise und ihre Folgen

What we want

The corona pandemic is entering its third winter in the Northern Hemisphere. By November 21, 2021, 256 million infected people had been detected worldwide and more than 5.1 million people had fallen victim to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Epidemiologists agree that the numbers are much higher. They multiply the official data with dark figures of at least 5 with the infected ones respectively 2 with the fatalities. In addition, Europe is now particularly affected. As of the 46th calendar week of 2021 (Nov. 15–21), 67 and 57% of all registered infected and deaths were from Europe, according to WHO data. Covid-19 is the most severe pandemic since the global ‘Spanish flu’ of 1918–1920.

Combating the pandemic is difficult. Its dynamics are incalculable, and new variants of the pathogen continue to emerge. The effectiveness of newly developed vaccines is limited, and promising drugs are only in the early stages of clinical trials. It is thus an extraordinarily complex process that can only be brought under control through the interaction of scientific, medical and health policy studies and measures.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the cornerstone of any pandemic response, the public health system, has been largely dismantled in recent decades in the wake of neoliberal deregulation. The economization and privatization of medical-clinical care and the nursing sector further worsened the situation. The necessary capacity reserves fell victim to rent-seeking, and even under normal conditions, employees in the health and care sector were working at the limit.

In the face of this critical development, the crisis teams of experts and the political decision-making centers failed across the board. They were unwilling and unable to combine the structurally inadequate acute measures with a radical change of course to reorganize the health care system as a common good of mutual aid, to remedy the gaps and abuses that had come to light and to establish a systematically thought-out strategy for combating the pandemic. Instead, they took refuge in helpless actionism to feign the ability to act and prevent loss of legitimacy. To salvage their neoliberal principles, they combined them with an unmanageable sequence of contact and mobility restrictions (‘shutdowns’, ‘lockdowns’ and ‘reopenings’) that lagged behind the dynamics of the pandemic, affected universal health coverage, and resulted in serious social, political, and economic consequences.

In this critical situation, the left, active both inside and outside the health sector, was and is particularly challenged. However, it was not up to the challenge. Instead of drawing on the approaches to democratization and communalization of the health care system developed in the 1970s and 1980s, updating them in the confrontation with the pandemic and countering the neoliberal decision-making centers with a designated program of action, the overwhelming majority of the left took fatal wrong turns. Two opposing tendencies gained the upper hand. One trend propagated the course of a “hard lockdown” still practiced today in the People’s Republic of China, which tramples on basic individual, social and political rights: With its slogan ‘Zero Covid’, this trend ultimately legitimized the failure of the neoliberal crisis staffs and took leave of its own digital inability to act. Parallel to this – but also partly as a counter-reaction – exponents of the left-wing alternative milieu in particular allied themselves with the downplayers of the pandemic and the opponents of vaccination. This new rallying movement is extremely nationalistic, neoliberal and individualistic in orientation and is now largely anchored in the far-right and neo-fascist camp. Mass protests occurred, in the course of which the spectrum of the ‘No Vax’ movement became increasingly consolidated and in some cases also included grassroots initiatives of the working classes, for example in Italy.

The situation is thus alarming: it could become even more acute in the course of the winter of 2021/22 due to the unbroken momentum of the pandemic and the insanely further reduced clinical-health-policy capacities. Nevertheless, there is no reason for panic or resignation. Critical clarification is needed more than ever. The website ‘coronakrise-europa‘ wants to take this into account. As before, it will bring together everything needed to understand the complex dynamics of Covid-19: scientific contributions from the virological, epidemiological, medical and public health spectrum, critical analyses of the overall development, studies on the comparative history of the pandemic, and analyses of the social, political and economic consequences. Unlike before, however, in the new section ‘Debates and Controversies’ we will also increasingly address the helpless actionism of the political decision-making centers, obscured by neoliberal ideology, juxtaposed with the no less seemingly helpless bipolar reflexes of the left (‘Zero Covid’ versus ‘No Vax’). In contrast, this website is committed to an enlightenment approach. From the critique of the leftist aberrations and the neoliberal actionism of the leading strata, viable alternatives are to be developed in association with critical-scientific analysis.

We are happy if the link to the website is widely distributed!

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In bookstores from January 24, 2022:

Karl Heinz Roth: Blinde Passagiere. Die Corona-Krise und die Folgen, München: Kunstmann Verlag 2022.