Welcome to the "new normality".
by Tobias Riegel
[This article published on Aug 18, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=63870.]
A "new normality" is proclaimed by numerous media. The event not only proves a questionable journalistic herd instinct. It also provokes the question: Is this how the Corona state of emergency is to be perpetuated? By Tobias Riegel.
Part of the discomfort that many citizens feel in connection with the Corona episode is due to the behavior of many major media outlets. These do not only turn out to be critical institutions: Neither the political handling of the virus is examined for its proportionality, nor the acting persons for their honesty, nor the announced numbers for their respectability. Many media, however, go beyond this inactivity, which only allows the experienced unscientific handling of "case numbers" etc.: Numerous editors, but also institutions, fit into a dynamic that some citizens perceive as a campaign. A central vocabulary here is: the "new normality". Is this intended to increase the acceptance of a permanent state of emergency?
"State of Emergency as New Normality".
The term was introduced in April this year and is now ubiquitous. Thus the "Zeit" asked: "New normality? What Corona tests do with the vacation feeling". The FAZ stated: "Lockdown light : The new normality". The "Spiegel" describes a "new corona normality". According to "Deutsche Welle" Germany stumbles into a "new normality". The "Tagesschau" described the "state of emergency as the new normality" early on. In a recent example, Deutschlandfunk radio explained to its listeners over the weekend that "we are currently living in a new normality"; some callers rejected the term. Examples for the international spread of the term are given below.
Criticism is appropriate here on two levels: On the one hand, it seems fundamentally disconcerting when numerous major media simultaneously adopt an identical term and use and establish it on a large scale. The impression is created of a herd instinct that is uncritical and jumps to the appropriate emotive words - even if the "new normality" is defined differently in details by the media. On the other level, it is about the contents of this "new normality": Are they to be welcomed and can they still be discussed at all if they have already been declared normal? Apart from internal editorial meetings, has there been a social vote on the introduction of a "new normality"?
"New Normality" as force majeure
The broad establishment of the concept of "new normality" is not a petitesse, it conveys the following aspects: 1. the state of emergency is not an exception, but should be perpetuated, i.e. become "normal". 2. once this view has been established, the individual aspects of the state of emergency no longer need to be debated or examined, because they are then part of a "normality" that should not be repeatedly called into question. This normality has come over us like an act of God. 3 The tone of the term is rather positive, it is supposed to inspire the desire to adapt to this "new normality", everything else would be "abnormal": Jens Berger described how widespread and sometimes exaggerated this desire is in his article "The yes-men and followers of the state of emergency".
As particularly negative side effects of the "new corona normality," many citizens perceive even greater economic inequality in society, even greater self-censorship by many major media, tendencies toward social isolation and a problematic "digitalization" of education, as well as tendencies toward droning, isolation and arbitrariness. Particularly affected by this enumeration are the elderly and children - as well as workers, who could be exposed to a tendency toward surveillance that was unimaginable until recently. Moreover, a tendency toward broad acceptance of surveillance and personal control potentially affects the whole of society. The NachDenkSeiten have described the aspects mentioned here in numerous articles, links to which can be found below the text.
In view of the great potential dangers lurking in an acceptance of the "new normality" that has now been proclaimed, it is worrying that many skeptics of the government's line on Corona automatically find themselves exposed to the criticism that one wants to selfishly and neoliberally protect the economy and "only want to get one's old life back". Defending the current Corona policy is thus indirectly presented by some as resistance to neoliberalism.
The horror vision of the "new normality
The vocabulary "new normality" has been introduced with great media effort, not only in Germany. The article "The Invasion Of The New Normals" by CJ Hopkins, which was published in English, lists numerous US media involved in it, including CNN, NPR, CNBC, the New York Times, the Guardian, The Atlantic and Forbes. International institutions are also included, such as the IMF and the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, the UN and the WHO.
According to Hopkins' harsh and pointed polemic, dealing with Corona is "a Trojan horse, a means to introduce the 'New Normal'. According to this, the "New Normality" is a "classical totalitarian movement (albeit with a pathological twist) and it has the goal of every totalitarian movement to radically and completely change society in order to re-create the world in its monstrous image". His outlook is truly gloomy:
"Children will suffer the worst, as always. From the moment they are born, they will be terrorized and confused, thanks to their parents, their teachers and society as a whole. They will be subjected to ideological conditioning and paranoid behavioral changes at every stage of their socialization. (...) This conditioning (or torture) will take place at home, since there will be no more schools, or public schools. The children of the rich will attend private schools, where they will be cost effectively "socially distanced". Children of the working class will sit at home, alone, staring at the screens, wearing their masks, and their hyperactivity and anxiety disorders will be stabilized with antidepressants.
This may (still) sound far exaggerated. But whether Hopkins' possibly exaggerated horror scenario is (or can still become) realistic also depends on the current reactions of citizens to the states of emergency and to any attempts to disguise them as "new normality" and thereby immortalize them.
Corona criticism creates "strange bedfellows
by Tobias Riegel
[This article published on Oct 2, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=65394.]
As a critic of the Corona policy, one sometimes finds oneself next to "Bild" newspaper and FDP in terms of content. But this is not the merit of the tabloids and the neoliberals; rather, the phenomenon illustrates above all the failure of the critical forces: the defining questions of the time are not posed by them. By Tobias Riegel.
One rubs one's eyes in amazement these days: acquaintances recommend articles from sources that in the past would have been treated at best as objects of harsh media criticism. But the political treatment of Corona, the measures justified by dubious data, the panic-inducing behavior of many journalists and politicians, and the protest against it are now once again stirring up positions. As an English proverb says: politics creates strange bedfellows.
Questionable media ask reasonable questions
Examples of questionable media, but which ask some reasonable questions in individual articles on the subject of Corona (and only there), would be the "Bild" newspaper, the "Welt", the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" or the "Focus".
Examples for blogs would be Boris Reitschuster, whose dubious articles, for example on the subject of Russia, one did not even want to touch with a pair of pliers, but who has already provided one or the other impulse for Corona. Or the right-wing conservative site "Tichys Einblick", which was the first medium to publish the Corona paper leaked from the Ministry of the Interior, which the NachDenkSeiten dealt with in the article "'The state proved to be one of the biggest fake news producers in the Corona crisis' - BMI employees leakt document". On the stages of the "lateral thinkers", people who would not have imagined this before Corona are probably now also meeting from time to time. And on the political stage, too, similar events are taking place. Thus the FDP brought in a legal opinion and a motion to the Bundestag on Corona:
"The Bundestag would decide: The conditions for the statement of an epidemic situation of national importance in the sense of § 5 exp. 1 IfSG are no longer present. The determination of the epidemic situation of national importance of 25 March 2020 is repealed. Berlin, June 16, 2020."
A particularly disturbing aspect of the phenomenon is that the only other voice that expresses itself (audibly!) similar to the FDP, for example in parliament, is the AfD. Once again this gives these two questionable formations an influential stage.
Have ARD, ZDF, FAZ, SZ, Zeit, Spiegel, taz lowered their level again?
The questionable character of the media and parties mentioned here should not be doubted in this text. On the contrary, it laments that these questionable media and parties are being given such a central role by the extensive silencing of the rest of the opposition. And Springer and the FDP are at least asking questions - normal, pressing questions, but which many other media and politicians would already regard as corona heresy. Meanwhile, not long ago, there are also signs in other media of turning away from the all too pure Corona doctrine, as Jens Berger has just described in the article "Media and Corona - Pacemaker with first self-doubts? A question to the topic would be also whether picture and FDP increased their critical level or whether ARD, ZDF, Deutschlandfunk, FAZ, SZ, Zeit, Spiegel, taz, SPD, LEFT and Greens lowered theirs again since the proclamation of the "pandemic". Commented examples of media panic-mongering based on dubious data from the recent past can be found on the "NachDenkSeiten" pages here or here.
On the other hand, the opposition, trade unions and former "left-wing" newspapers have failed to offer adequate resistance to the political and media treatment of Corona - with the exception of a few detailed criticisms that are not penetrating. Conversely, these groups, formerly classified as "leftist," unite to form disconcerting slanders of the demonstrators against Corona politics.
Stop criticism - because of "strange bedfellows"?
The "new bedfellows" and strange political constellations described here should give food for thought. But should one let one's own criticism be silenced because of these - not invited - "allies"? Wouldn't that meet the criteria of the "fool dialectic" that Jens Berger described in this article? On the other hand, the sudden society of neoliberal and questionable media and politicians in the corona criticism supports the slanderous thesis that the criticism of corona politics is itself essentially neoliberal.
The state described in this text is no credit to the right wing and neoliberals who now occupy parts of the critical public. Instead, the phenomenon illustrates above all the failure of the critical and "left" forces: the defining questions of the time are not being asked from this direction at the moment. The right is thus once again given the opportunity to occupy an important topic and even to present itself as the "voice of reason". For many citizens, this behavior will further increase their political homelessness. Where are the "left" voices answering these people?
Corona criticism is much more than a mask
It is a dubious quirk to reduce criticism of the Corona policy to the mask question. Some corona skeptics are not innocent of this, because some of them put the issue very much to the fore. This, in turn, is understandable in moderation, because putting on the mask means public acceptance of an internally strictly rejected policy together with its dubious media justification - this act of symbolic submission should also not be declared a petitesse.
Although the sometimes incomprehensible mask constraints are also among the fault lines of the virus policy, they are only one symptom among many others, some of which are much more serious: there is the current practice of governing by order, the state's data retention by means of restaurant lists, the private surveillance at the workplace, which has been considerably intensified by "Corona"; there is also the treatment of children and the elderly, and the positive invocation of a perspective "New Normality": No more culture, no more protest, no more company communities, instead isolation in the digitalized home office with surveillance and impatient fiddling around in public space - many citizens have a well-founded fear of such visions (which have not yet come to pass), they want to prevent them with their current protest.
To say nothing of gigantic, dubious and with Corona justified current money flows. And of the crises caused by economic liberal forces in recent years, which (so one suspects) could now presumably be booked and hidden under "Corona". However, anyone who had hoped that the "Corona episode" would have positive, stirring effects on the social welfare system or that the state would be recaptured from the hands of the market radicals has been bitterly disappointed so far.
Are these sufficient reasons to temporarily put aside the serious differences with the "comrades-in-arms" mentioned above? And to go together nevertheless a little bit until the acute corona distortions are stopped again and the pre-corona condition prevails again? This demand is often presented as antisocial because the motive (pre-corona state) does not seem noble enough. And it is also true: More than this common denominator of the pre-corona state will not be achieved by the Bild-Zeitung and the FDP.
"They just want their old life back"
"They just want their old life back" - this frequently voiced sentence resonates with arrogance and the fact that the "new" life has better prospects to offer. Which ones (apart from reduced pollutant emissions in air traffic) should they be? And many citizens don't just want "their old life back": As I said, they are also afraid of a New Normality emerging in their eyes, in which workers wear tracking bracelets and the vaccination status determines a mangled, digitized and monitored daily life, while children are masked and the old are isolated. This is why these citizens want to set an example now, before it comes to that.
In the event of a seriously justified danger to life and limb, restrictions on personal freedoms must be accepted! However, these measures would have to be put in proportion to their damage and to non-medical areas of society. In the case of the "Corona Pandemic", however, neither of these is the case. Citizens experience an unacceptable and dubious handling of the numbers by many media and politicians: The current fear campaign based on the "increase in new infections" uses absolute numbers and does not put them into perspective. The measures justified by the campaign, on the other hand, are not put into proportion to their sometimes immense social damage, such as the compulsory use of masks for school children. The last campaign with the "increase in new infections" was discussed in the article "Corona and the media: Is there a rapid 'increase' in new infections"?
Critics are "antisocial" - but collateral damage is ignored coldly
Politicians and the media should be given a certain amount of leeway for wrong decisions at the beginning of the Corona episode - also in order to enable those responsible to leave the current state of affairs as soon as possible and in a way that preserves their faces. At the very latest now, however, this leeway is finally exhausted - at the very latest now the corona policy must finally be discussed appropriately (open-ended but critical).
However, anyone who addresses the (already effective and potentially possible) distortions of corona policy and wants to put it in relation to the risk potential of the virus will be insulted as "antisocial". The astonished question that is often asked at the moment: "What measures then?" illustrates the rapid habituation of many citizens to conditions that were unimaginable just a year ago.
At the same time, the piling up international bad news of the lockdown consequences for the poor and sick, for women, for children and for the elderly is coolly ignored and this heartless attitude is sold as "protection for the weakest".
Propaganda silences "leftists
The currently partly proclaimed "abolition of right and left" seems very questionable. There is additional confusion about the terms and what they still say today in terms of content. Albecht Müller recently coined a definition in the article "The slogan 'neither left nor right' favors right, it favors the neoliberals and the military".
The overlaps with the problematic media mentioned above refer exclusively to the topic of corona measures. On the subjects of war and peace or radical market economic order, they continue to be right-wing agitators. In general - and this must be said again and again in times of conceptual distortion: Springer-Verlag, Focus and the NZZ can be classified as right-wing - in the sense of partly warmongering and neoliberal messages. For the same reasons, the policies of the Federal Government can also be classified to a large extent as right-wing. This is the kind of political right that citizens should first focus their attention on. For these right-wing and neo-liberal forces are considerably more influential and therefore more dangerous than the neo-Nazis in the Internet forums.
The massive propaganda is also to blame for the silencing of the "left". The pressure generated by many media against corona criticism is more dangerous for leftists than for rightists: While some right-wingers can pin the slander by big media to their chest as medals, many "left-wingers" are still very afraid of it. Rightly so: Slander as a "Covidiot" can end badly for those affected in the "leftist camp". In order to get out of the "pandemic" episode, however, at least the "leftist" newspapers and politicians would have to ignite a corresponding mood. But the current development is going in the opposite direction.