Slavoj Zizek: Epidemics are like wars, they can drag on for YEARS
We should stop thinking that after a peak in the Covid-19 epidemic things will gradually return to normal. The crisis will drag on. But this doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless.
In the Marx Brothers’ comedy Duck Soup, Groucho (as a lawyer defending his client at a court) says: “He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.”
Something along these lines should be our reaction to those who display their basic distrust of state orders and see the lockdowns as a conspiracy of the state power which uses the epidemics as a pretext to deprive us of our basic freedoms: “The state is imposing lockdowns which deprive us of our freedoms, and it expects us to control each other in how we obey this order; but this should not fool us, we should really follow the lockdown orders.”
One should note how calls to abolish lockdowns come from the opposite ends of the traditional political spectrum. In the US, they are propelled by libertarian Rightists, while in Germany, small Leftist groups advocate them. In both cases, medical knowledge is criticized as a tool of disciplining people, treating them as helpless victims who should be isolated for their own good. What is not difficult to discover beneath this critical stance is the stance of not-wanting-to-know: if we ignore the threat, it will not be so bad, we’ll manage to pass through it…
The US libertarian Right claims lockdowns should be eased so that people will be given back their freedom of choice. But what choice is it?