The world should be imitating the Israeli response to the crisis…
Today, we have a whole toolbox of means needed to deal with economic and trade problems. The problem is that the toolbox is designed to deal with probabilities while the virus shows that the improbable, if only theoretically possible, may force itself into the global agenda. The system is based on presumed certainties while the never-mentioned reality of human existence is uncertainty.
Carl Schmidt argued that the task of the state is to deal with exceptions because the countless quotidian ordinary acts that sustain human existence are normally and routinely carried out by citizens. The coronavirus, like recent recessions, however, shows that the modern state is more geared to regulating, not say tinkering with, the ordinary than dealing with the exceptional.
In the end, maybe, there is a metaphysical entity that keeps our fragile global system going on the edge of the precipice.
Dealing with Coronavirus Reveals Cultural Differences
- South Korea, a non-Western capitalist democracy, did not try to hush things up but was hampered by another factor: The “bleeding-heart” liberal insistence on respect for religious diversity. Because the epidemic started in a Christian fundamentalist community, the authorities in Seoul were hesitant to magnify the threat and take drastic measures such as imposing a quarantine on the congregation.
- What seems suspicious is that the drastic measures that Rome imposed on regions where its opponents are strong were not adopted, even in a light version, for the country as a whole. As a result, more than a million people fled the forbidden zone to relocate in central and southern regions of the peninsula.
- Carl Schmidt argued that the task of the state is to deal with exceptions because the countless quotidian ordinary acts that sustain human existence are normally and routinely carried out by citizens.
In Iran, President Hassan Rouhani claimed that the virus had been introduced by the American “Great Satan” in order to disrupt elections for the Islamic Consultative Assembly then underway. The fable was propagated that the record low turnout of voters had been part of an American plot. Pictured: Voters and officials at a polling station on the southern outskirts of Tehran on February 21, 2020. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
Having started as a local public health issue in China, the corona epidemic has now morphed into a global economic and even political threat. It has also put the limelight on the manner with which affected nations have tried to face the challenge, revealing the true nature of various regimes.
At the time of this writing, four nations are singled out as those most affected by the pandemic: China, where it started, Iran which is second to China in numbers of cases, South Korea where the coronavirus broke out in a religious community and Italy, the Western nation most affected.
The different ways in which those nations dealt with the challenge sheds light on their respective political systems and cultural environments.
In China, the initial reflex was to brush everything under the carpet by denying the outbreak of the virus. The culture of secrecy, turned into a cult since 1949, regards information as a precious weapon that cannot be made available to the public at large. If knowledge is power, it is only natural that the revolutionary regime should have a monopoly on it. Thus, it took the central authorities in Beijing weeks before they decided to admit the existence of the epidemic and, having blamed the local authorities for negligence, seized control of the response.
Sharing the Chinese regime’s penchant for secrecy, the Islamic Republic in Iran also tried to hush up things. However, the Iranian attempt was not as effective as China’s and news of the outbreak was known to a majority of Iranians within weeks. The reason is that, unlike China, the Islamic Republic is a faction-ridden ramshackle Third World despotism often in only nominal control of society.