Posted 27 мая 2020,, 14:03

Published 27 мая 2020,, 14:03

Modified 25 декабря 2022,, 20:57

Updated 25 декабря 2022,, 20:57

We gained a moral victory over СOVID-19

27 мая 2020, 14:03
Сергей Медведев
Humanity has not overcome the virus, has not received immunity, has not invented a vaccine, has plunged into a spiral of recession.

But at the same time it has fixed an important moral position, the Kantian logic of the absolute primacy of individual life, which can become a more solid foundation for future revival than illusory economic growth.

Sergey Medvedev, historian, political analyst

Now that the quarantine war already seems to be over everywhere, quarantines have been introduced in one form or another in most countries, regardless of the political regime, with the exception of freak shows such as Jair Bolsonaru or Alexander Lukashenko, and quarantine deniers engage in rear-guard battles, shouting about the crimes for which the architects of the global lockdown will be responsible, it is time to look at the battlefield and understand what people were arguing about. Because it was not just about concrete political steps, but about philosophical systems of views - even if their bearers did not realize this.

By and large, here they encounter the utilitarian ethics of maximizing the common good ("collective immunity"), the libertarian ethics of the inadmissibility of restrictions on individual freedom (quarantine is morally unacceptable) and Kantian deontology, which speaks of the priority of human life and dignity over alleged collective goods.

The main contradiction here is between utilitarianism and Kantianism, and it is characteristic that the utilitarian paradigm correlates with the neoliberal one: supporters of the "invisible hand" of the market and opponents of government intervention are just the same as supporters of the "invisible hand" of the virus and opponents of quarantine: a good example is Koch, which has turned in Cato and Savonarola, scourging mankind for a passion for self-destruction from fear of the virus. Anti-quarantiners appeal to the biological order, in fact, to natural selection, to social Darwinism ("those who have to die will die," according to the hammered fascist formulation of the butcher) - to the same selection that the market was called to do, eliminating those who "didn't fit."

On the other hand, Hantermas most fully expressed the Kantian view, who stated in an interview that "the efforts of states to save every human life should have absolute priority over utilitarian weighing of negative economic consequences," which in general is also consistent with the social and liberal ethics of John Rawls. For them, the main normative force and the foundation of the social order is the life and dignity of each individual - in the limit, Kantian logic requires the salvation of even hopelessly sick people: here Kantian deontology fits in with the medical, with the fundamental concept of patient autonomy. This, in fact, is the question of whether the social order is based on the economy or on the ethics of individual dignity: what are we afraid to destroy and what do we want to preserve first of all.

And characteristically, the vast majority of governments have chosen humanitarian ethics, even if it meant an economic collapse that could give rise to humanitarian problems - maintaining the regulatory consensus of the post-war West turned out to be more important than economic (albeit sometimes rational) considerations. I don’t argue about the rationality and long-term prospects of each of the strategies, I’m talking specifically about today's moral choice, which became possible only in the 21st century - thirty or fifty years ago it was impossible to imagine, the rule of collective interest.

And on the third hand, libertarians come, for whom freedom is higher than human life, and they say: dude, where is my freedom? It is interesting that left-wing critics like Agamben, who also see in quarantines the onset of total bio-power and the state of emergency, which will remain with us after the epidemic, are blinded by them - blinded by their own prophecies about a “bare life” and a biopolitical concentration camp, the Italian philosopher agrees almost to conspirology in the spirit of Trump and the Gates vaccine - although it would be ridiculous to expect that the state of emergency would be able to hold Italy with its decaying government or the Spanish socialists.

And which is already ridiculous, in their wake come sofa resonators, network fighters with digital passes, which had not been seen either in freedom of love or in free thought, and just knock on the table with their fist, demanding the removal of quarantine and the return of their own rights. Also a kind of philosophy: the resentment of the offended.

But in general, I repeat, the intermediate result is as follows: humanity did not overcome the virus, did not receive immunity, did not invent the vaccine, plunged into the spiral of recession - but at the same time it fixed an important moral position, the Kantian logic of the absolute primacy (and not relative utility) of individual life, which can become a more solid foundation for future revival than illusory economic growth.