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Shutting down most of public and social life as well as important parts of the economy is not something that epidemiologists in Western liberal democracies thought they would recommend in case of a severe pandemic before 2020. Just as microregulating when and how far people are allowed to leave their homes and whom they can meet is not something that is foreseen in any pandemic strategy.

In a recent interview the epidemiologist Professor Neil Ferguson was astonishingly open about this when he said: “I think people’s sense of what is possible in terms of control changed quite dramatically between January and March [2020].” And with reference to the authoritarian nature of the Chinese state he states: “It’s a communist one-party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought… and then Italy did it. …


I’ve just come across the promotion of a new book on how to transform the climate movement. It says: “The inadequate and ineffective framing of climate change as a narrow, isolated, discrete problem to be “solved” by technical solutions is failing.” I was using similar phrases for many years. I was referring to the need to tackle climate change in a more systemic way which involves a deeper transformation of our economic system and our way of life as well as the need to address inequalities.

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But it is now clear that what this phrase now really means is that intersectional (woke) ideology is increasingly seizing environmental organisations and the climate…


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I’m guessing that most of you, readers, wouldn’t even question that it is morally imperative to wear a face mask during the pandemic.

The logic of this moral certainty is clear and obvious: We are in the midst of a pandemic that disproportionately affects and kills elderly people. What easier way to show our solidarity than for younger people to wear a face mask for a few more months to protect those at risk?

I sympathise deeply with this moral argument. But at the same time I feel deeply uneasy about the fact that face masks have become something of a sacred object. If you worship the mask, you’re a good person and if you don’t, you’re a bad person. …


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In early March, when broad consensus emerged that Covid-19 was turning into a global pandemic, social media suddenly felt like a math class on exponential growth graphs. #flattenthecurve became a social media campaign and soon, the political goal of most governments. After the footage of collapsing ICUs in Bergamo shocked the world, at least in Europe the consensus was to prevent such chaos and suffering. The goal was to maintain our capacity to treat any patient in need of intensive care.

In one of her early televised statements, on March 12th, chancellor Merkel said that eventually 60 to 70% of the Germany population would be infected by the virus, but it was imperative to prevent it from spreading so rapidly that the health system wouldn’t be able to cope. …


Why we need an honest conversation about polarisation to tackle our big problems like climate change and shape the next paradigm.

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We kicked off 2020 thinking this would be the decade when we had to find and implement real solutions for the climate and wider ecological crisis. It also seemed clear that this would only be possible if we successfully reversed the spiral of polarisation in Western democracies (and elsewhere) and avert the very real danger of authoritarian nationalist regimes becoming the new normal in Western societies.

Now, in the middle of April, this all seems far away. Everyone’s attention and all public discussions seem to be focused entirely on the COVID-19 pandemic. …

About

Micha Narberhaus

Micha Narberhaus is a researcher, writer and founder of The Protopia Lab. protopialab.org. Twitter: @michanarberhaus

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