Sociologist Igor Eidman wondered how visibly the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the difference between different civilizational patterns on the planet:
“The coronavirus pandemic itself was unprecedented (there were infections and even worse), but the harsh quarantine reaction to it of most countries, which dealt a powerful blow to the global economy. If the Covid-19 epidemic had happened thirty years or even more so fifty years ago, nothing of the kind would have happened (as it had not been during the spread of the no less dangerous Hong Kong flu in 1968-69). The unprecedented response to the pandemic was caused not by some conspiracies of elites and not by general insanity, but by objective changes in social psychology that led to a change in value priorities.
For many millennia, traditional religious values dominated the world, dictating to people the need to observe sacred social norms, traditions, and prescriptions. After the Enlightenment in the conditional West, traditions began to lose their former strength, and the values of new political religions (nationalism (patriotism), communism, etc.) began to claim their place. People continued to easily kill and part with their lives, but not for the sake of true faith, loyalty to the overlord, noble honor, but in the name of the homeland, nation, state or oppressed class, the future communist paradise.
At the same time, a market-oriented, economically oriented consumer society developed, which gradually ate and digested political (and even ordinary) religions. Its main value was money and consumption. If the market demanded human sacrifices, they were fearlessly sacrificed. It was considered completely normal when the manufacturer destroyed the unsold products, refusing to bring down the price on them in order to save the starving.
In the second half of the 20th century, the humanistic value system began to acquire increasing importance, on the top of the pyramid of which were life, health, and free development of the individual. Now it prevails in most developed countries, trying to be guided by it in their epidemic policies. It is with this that the current unprecedented quarantine measures are based, based on the priority of preserving the life of as many people as possible over the protection of the economy, capital or religious rites.
Peculiar “guests from the past”, religious or market fundamentalists (from Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov to Alfred Koch) are outraged by restrictions that “kill” the economy or church life. However, for a society with a humanistic value system, it is better to lose many millions of dollars than to risk the life of even one person; it is better to play it safe than to show criminal frivolity with regard to people's health.
The priority of humanistic values is characteristic of the modern stage of development of Western civilization. The policies of different countries in relation to the epidemic are determined by the degree of their westernization. It is no coincidence that China, Russia, Belarus, Iran are guided not by the desire to preserve the lives of people as much as possible, but by the interests of the authoritarian elite disguised as political or (and) traditional religions. However, in Western countries there are many people who are stuck at the level of social psychology of the 19-20th century with the priority of material and economic values, among them trampists in the USA and the Swedish government.
The Russian authorities only imitate the humanistic concern for maintaining the health of the population, but in reality use the situation to strengthen the dictatorship; falsify statistics; organize total electronic control, not related to the real fight against the epidemic, but leading to further enslavement of citizens; conduct ideological events that are life-threatening for people (such as an ongoing spring draft in the army or an upcoming referendum).
The confrontation between the West and the coalition of authoritarian states (China, Russia, Iran) reflects the confrontation between supporters of humanistic values and their opponents. "
Readers' reaction to Aidman's findings was divided. For example, political scientist Sergei Medvedev shared the author’s position:
“I agree with you. There is a correlation between economic (liberal) and epidemiological Darwinism, which scream about government intervention and rely on the invisible hand of the market or virus, which will put everything in its place. "Who must die will die." Fortunately, most developed countries have moved from this utilitarian ethic to Kant's deontological ethics, where human life has absolute priority. Anti-quarantiners and neoliberals have already lost this battle..."
Political analyst Maria Snegovaya believes that it is too early to draw conclusions:
“In my opinion, it’s too early to draw such conclusions. Why is Sweden not a western humanist country? A completely different approach to quarantine. It’s just that Western countries were panicked by China’s tough response and predictions (erroneous) of models that showed millions of corpses. Here, it’s rather not about reassessing the cost of living (which for some reason suddenly happened in 10 years - similar epidemics occurred in the early 2000s, but there was such a reaction), but in a new information environment that creates such panicky choking reactions , then there is a rollback. It is unique here that the power of the Internet and the spread of panic is such that it affects in real time the response of the authorities..."
The blogger Egor Sedov , for his part, does not completely share the author’s civilizational optimism:
“So I often make comparisons with the epidemics of 1957 and 1968. And I see changes in social psychology. Unfortunately, we can draw a conclusion (preliminary, of course) about increasing anxiety, along with increasing well-being and security. It is with the anxiety of the average man (not with wealth and not with security, of course)) that something will have to be done. It and the lack of healthy fatalism (by the way, religion can also be its source) is an extremely dangerous factor. This does not mean humanism in society. Other things would speak of humanism: for example, mass demonstrations in the West at the embassies of a number of African countries - "Immediate sanctions on LGBT killers." Well, and not only in connection with this - such an immediate response to a nightmare and cannibalism. The rejection of the butchery regimes would speak of humanism - under no circumstances, not because of any oil, no - that means no! While I observe the "humanism" of a monkey, which drags a pile of nuts: dropped one, bent down, lost everything. Only, unfortunately, instead of nuts - living people, and instead of a monkey - governments and international bureaucrats. Although, of course, there are such “monkeys” who will ruin the economy, both people and the rights of living. But they are not related to Western civilization..."
Journalist Semyon Novoprudsky was even more critical in his attitude to Eidman’s position:
“Quarantines are a mixture of medical madness with blatant inhumanity. Organization of 130 million deaths from starvation due to quarantines (forecast of the International Labor Organization) with a virus that even according to the most alarmist forecasts does not kill more than 30-35 million people, a crime, not an act of humanism. Quarantines did not prevent death or infection anywhere. They turned out to be evil precisely from a humanistic, and not only from an economic point of view. Sweden turned out to be absolutely right from all points of view, and after the removal of quarantines while maintaining infections and deaths, all quarantine countries will inevitably automatically follow the Swedish path. Liberal support for covid fascism by states is doubly offensive. There were no medical or socio-economic grounds for quarantines. This is a catastrophic mistake of the Western world (China was a concentration camp and will remain without any pandemics, but Japan and South Korea did without total violent quarantines), which can have serious consequences for democratic values if we do not see the recognition of fallibility from the governments of Western countries quarantines and abandonment of these wild punitive practices henceforth.
There are already starvation deaths. From January to March 2020, according to the UN, 2.4 million people died from starvation in the world - 7 times more. than still from the virus. More than 100 countries sought emergency assistance from the IMF - this has never happened in the history of the IMF. The epidemic has not been overcome anywhere, there is no need to have illusions: everyone in any country at any moment can still become infected and die. At the same time, the virus everywhere fades away as infections grow, and only in this way, and quarantines nowhere have fundamentally affected the course of the pandemic. Sweden without quarantines has achieved two main goals of quarantine - to reduce the burden on medicine and the infection rate below 1. The leaders in all indicators of deaths and infections are countries with long quarantines. Just living in Germany or France, people do not realize how quarantine looks in Russia itself and even in Moscow. But everywhere he was meaningless. But what really needs to be demanded is an international investigation into the actions of China and the WHO, which essentially staged a biological war against humanity (although, most likely, by negligence, and not by conscious intent).
With epidemics nowhere and never fought SUCH quarantines. Quarantines have always been the isolation of only those infected, and not the closure of all living life and total prohibitions on moving everyone in a row. Moreover, such quarantines never helped to defeat diseases for which there was no medicine or vaccine, like from the coronavirus - in particular, the bubonic plague in the middle of the 14th century in Italy and the Spaniard took as many lives as they wanted. In the medical and scientific community both in Germany, and in Russia, and in the USA there are enough categorical opponents of quarantines. It's not about the idiocy of the medical community, it thought only of itself and was in its right-- the main blow fell on the doctors - but in the inability of decision-makers to realize the real degree of danger, to calculate how it relates to other threats and the consequences of such restrictions . As a result, all quarantine powers in Europe are forced to remove quarantines without the slightest guarantee of the absence of new infections and deaths. And this is inevitable: we do not know how to treat the disease and there is no vaccine yet..."
But Svetlana Kobylyanskaya does not at all consider the Western method of combating a pandemic to be somehow humanistic:
“ I think that here it’s rather not changes in values and changes in propaganda, but in globalism, which is affecting us more and more. Some humanism is present, but the instincts of self-preservation are paramount. People understand that when movements between missing borders have become commonplace, and thanks to urbanization, population growth, and awareness raising, it is easiest to follow the simplest measures that can help maintain good health. I put it not on changes in the psychology of people (although this is present, but not decisively) but on the instinct of self-preservation. We are a big anthill, only a little smarter..."