Corona Crisis: Social Acceptance of the Dead versus Prosperity Materialism
As a result of the corona crisis, a lockdown of different intensities is imposed in most countries in accordance with the WHO recommendations, with Sweden being the exception, Trump only making recommendations in this direction and leaving it up to the governors of the respective federal states how they act or Bolsonaro and his evangelical electoral base even started a campaign for a life as before, which was declared illegal by the Brazilian court, as well as several governors, especially the one in Rio de Janeiro and the drug cartels in the favelas which imposed a lockdown. While China essentially sealed off the Hubei province and especially the city of Wuhan, this is now being relaxed again and production is ramping up. Nevertheless, the Chinese government said yesterday that there was still a risk of a second wave of infections. India, in turn, has imposed a lockdown across the country and all 1.3 billion Indians, and the hundreds of millions of migrant workers and day laborers are now rushing to bus stops and train stations to return home, which is ideal for a mass infection of Covid 19 and almost counteracts its own measures. Turkey mainly isolates the older people over 65 years of age and recommends a lockdown to the rest of the group, which does not have to be observed.
The lockdown also affects many, almost all economic sectors, and the IMF has already announced that the global economy has entered a recession that will deepen depending on the length of the lockdown. The state and central banks are initially helping with rescue packages, economic stimulus programs, economic aid, short-time work allowance, consumer vouchers, tax cuts and exemptions, rent suspensions, etc. by means of immense debt to prevent large masses from slipping into poverty. In industrialized countries and emerging economies, the level of prosperity achieved so far is at stake. Especially since there is also an enormous social redistribution of wealth, as well as a depression and financial crisis due to falling economic activity, bankruptcies, mass unemployment and indebtedness. Quite apart from economically weaker countries, where this can lead to state bankruptcy, state collapse and further failed states and mass extinctions and misery.
The pressure from the economy, several lobby groups, parts of the population and also from some politicians to return to the normal state of a normal economic life as quickly as possible increases with the length of the lockdown and the anti-epidemic measures.Trump has now stated that he is counting on 100,000 deaths and with a return to normality by June. Critics doubt the death toll, think he underestimates the extent of the health crisis and are more likely to expect between 500,000 and 2 million deaths.
Two things are weighed up here: the social acceptance of the dead and material prosperity, as well as the geopolitical economic position of the respective economic power. Trump as a neo-mercantile businessman obviously attaches importance to the latter. The question is to what extent there is social acceptance for the number of deaths. In Germany, many are already complaining about 3,000 deaths in traffic, or in the United States over 3,000 deaths in the Twin Tower 9-11, are ready to take draconian security measures right up to wars. While the annual 50,000 deaths from firearm use in the United States are seen as the norm and expression of constitutional patriotism that guarantees everyone the right to carry firearms. Conversely, 500,000 deaths from smoking are allegedly considered normal, although tobacco taxes are increased and warning signs are printed on the cigarettes, as conversely, environmental NGOs claim that there are 500,000 deaths from smoke particles and demand large-scale diesel bans.
So you can see from the examples: On the one hand, it depends on the area that produces death numbers, that is, a more subjective social acceptance. Mass pandemic deaths appeared to be a problem that western societies have not had to deal with since the Spanish flu, as was the case with Covid 19 for the first time, especially since it is a global pandemic. There is a wide range of opinions and statistics between corona deniers and corona pessimists, which also have doubts due to the horrific death scenarios during the swine flu that were declared by the WHO at that time and never occurred. However, there seems to be a certain basic consensus that Civid 19 should be taken more seriously. Estimates fluctuate over the course of the disease and the death toll.
Trump estimates that Covid 19 is not that dangerous, 100,000 people are killed and the crisis is over by June. Critics consider this a graceful underestimation of the extent of the crisis. But Trump also takes materialism, hedonism, social darwinism, selfishness and consumerism into account for large sections of the population. Because even if one assumes that there are 2 million deaths in the USA, many could applaud Trump because with the economy going again, the prosperity with the exception of the $ 2 trillion debt program could be maintained, the USA could not continue to decline economically and not weaken themselves economically and ruin themselves, but geopolitically come out and stand better than all other nations, America will be great again. So Trump’s calculation and that of his supporters.
Critics will criticize him for accepting 2 million deaths, but the question is whether such criteria for moral concerns and social acceptance will be changed by the crisis. For one thing, the relatives of the 2 million deaths might become his declared opponents, but that would potentially be 6 million voters. However, many sections of the population could accept this, according to the motto: hurray, we are still alive and better than the rest of the world, and forget the dead quickly, especially since patriotism is also possible through domestic and foreign policy maneuvers who distracts from the dead and faces a new danger or enemy. Maybe that he hopes that he can heat up the mood against the „Chinese virus“, make China responsible for the deads and sufferings in the USA and seek revenge by trade war or other measures against China.
Socialdarwinists would also have no objection to the fact that the death of poorer sections of the population, who do not have access to the health system or older pensioners with previous illnesses would relieve the pension and social systems in the long term, would prevent aging, even the overpopulation in an international context. Very likely that such mindsets are not limited to Trump and his voters and the United States, but also existing in other societies around the world. Trump could even get away with his tour. But maybe not. Difficult to assess, but as Söder rightly said: The corona crisis is also a „character test“.