Democracy and COVID19
by N Dimmel, C Brendt. W Kubicki & U Bauereithel
Lockdown and curfews, state of emergency and tracing apps, compulsory testing and quarantines, serial stops, compulsory masks, short-time work and mass unemployment, waves of bankruptcies and extended poverty traps: the COVID-19 disaster has escalated the chronic crisis of capital utilization with falling profit and mediocre growth rates. The public space was emptied.
Democracy - COVID-19 - Crisis of exploitation
by Nikolaus Dimmel
[This article published on Oct 20, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.linksnet.de.]
Lockdown and curfews, state of emergency and tracing apps, compulsory testing and quarantines, serial stops, compulsory masks, short-time work and mass unemployment, waves of bankruptcies and extended poverty traps: the COVID-19 disaster has escalated the chronic crisis of capital utilization with falling profit and mediocre growth rates. The public space was emptied, the media was transformed into proclamation machines of the political service class, and socio-medical expertise was politically instrumentalized. After the long announced "next big thing" of zoonoses had become a reality due to globalized mobility resulting from decades of market-fundamentalistic austerity in the health care system, a state of emergency was declared for health, security and social policy.
However, the policy of coping with SARS-CoV-2 is not just a policy of health emergency, but a dress rehearsal. Namely, for the regulatory policy of the climate catastrophe under conditions of a chronic growth crisis. This will involve rigid control of spatial and social mobility and the allocation of (extremely) scarce resources and health opportunities. It will also deal with the closure and privatization of public space, the monitoring of dissent and opposition. All this takes place under conditions of declining profit rates, increasing precariousness and intensified distributional conflicts. 2020 was the year with the greatest volume of redistribution 'from the bottom to the top' since 1945. Never before have the rich become richer so quickly. In any case, nobody talks about the poor on the periphery any more. The unemployment figures for the winter of 2020/2021 will exceed half a million. Thus the pandemic of the virus will turn into an epidemic of poverty.
At the same time, SARS-CoV-2 as a zoonosis itself is a result of the ongoing climate catastrophe and distributional imbalance. For COVID-19 must be read as the result of the continued original accumulation through overexploitation, the destruction of 'natural' habitats and the dynamics of urbanization. COVID-19 will have paradoxical consequences just like the climate catastrophe. These include the re-nationalization of essential industries, the de-globalization of the flow of goods, the reorganization of mobility, the re-calibration of "overtourism", and the reorganization of labor relations (home office, crowdwork, transfer of dependent to independent work). After the wave of bankruptcies in 2020/2021 and the 'release' of wage labor, this also includes the reorganization of the welfare state, which is based on salarized labor relations and income-based contributions to social security systems. This will take place through public forms of employment combined with basic income models at a precarious level, including expanded repressive mechanisms. The current development of the legal situation of social assistance points the way forward.
COVID-19 has not only aggravated the multiple crisis of capitalism. It has also expanded the authoritarian dimension of right-wing populist-right-wing extremist politics. In this, the pluralistic version of an (authoritarian-market fundamentalist) unity party (Toni Negri) agitates and mobilizes society by means of propaganda of fear ("Soon everyone will know someone who has died of Corona"), national order ("Dear Austrians"), intimidation and latent xenophobia ("The virus comes by car from abroad"). The political discourse turns into a decree, the public one into a provisional administration. There is a symbiosis of party and state, the de facto disappearance of the political opposition.
In a state of emergency, the powers of repressive state apparatuses are expanded in accordance with the rule of law. This involves the use of surveillance and social disciplinary instruments of data capitalism beyond democratic control mechanisms. Interventions in the right to demonstrate, the right of the home, the right to freedom of movement, etc. make it clear that fundamental rights and thus the foundation of the bourgeois state under the rule of law are under debate. The unlawful detention and isolation of residents in nursing homes make this clear. The software concept of the European "Pan-European-Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing Consortium", in which the exchange of individual identification numbers leads to the isolation of presumptive endangers in the case of a temporally measured distance undercut, is also becoming a lucrative market for software developers, Apple and Google. In this way, the surveillance state opens up profitable investment opportunities for investors' idle financial capital. The pharmaceutical industry is cheering anyway.
Dress rehearsal of the state of emergency
The state of emergency, staged as a dress rehearsal, will lead in particular to a foreseeable reorganization of the balance of power between labor and capital. In the fantasies of the management gurus in the feuilleton, the digital working world of the future will take place to a large extent in the home office in performance-oriented remuneration. Workers will in fact become EPU's, who will have to bear the outsourced operating costs of their employees. Health and safety rights at the home office are suspended. The rest of the systemically important workers are publicly praised and exploited more intensively than ever before. SARS-CoV-2 will finally elevate precarious employment relationships to normal employment.
The foreseeable consequences of crisis resolution (precariousness, poverty, long-term unemployment, extinction of a substantial portion of EPPs and micro-MMEs, public debt, weak or declining demand or consumer restraint), combined with risks of stagnation and deflation, can no longer be democratically legitimized. Even if the under 20 % of the precarious population has been silenced politically, in light of low growth rates, the foreseeable costs of the climate catastrophe and the consequences of COVID 19, the mechanism of pacification, which is to buy approval through distributed prosperity gains, can no longer be maintained. The middle class has long since been eroded; the lower middle class is already in the elevator to poverty.
The policy of simultaneously combating, managing and instrumentalizing COVID-19, apostrophized as management, indicates the intention, after the immediate economic and employment crisis has been bridged, to intensify the austerity policy practiced after 2009 by means of a provisional law-and-order policy and corresponding administration. Even if authoritarian interventions have been remedied by the Constitutional Court with formal errors to this extent, sociopolitical considerations regarding the general tightening of the belts, such as a degressive structure of unemployment benefits, the competitive nature of social assistance or the dissolution of parts of labor law by means of arranged acclamation have long since been elevated in the media to the status of a salon.
Whoever argues about the political consequences of COVID-19 is well advised to remember that capitalism and (bourgeois) democracy are not mutually dependent. This applies not only to democratic practice (such as voter participation), but also to democratic institutions. Shareholders/coupon-cutters, financial market actors and functional capitalists and investors need neither elections nor a politically representative system to produce, skim off added value, make profits. They need a constitution for private property including freedom of employment, a functional labor law to skim off added value, market competition law and a tax avoidance legal system. Democracy as the participation of the sovereign in politics comes into play only as a legitimizing mechanism for "the whole shit" (Karl Marx). Emma Goldman's "If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal" says: If elections could be used to abolish private ownership of the means of production and the institution of double free wage labor as the "Angel of bourgeois society" (Hegel), they would be forbidden. Elections thus take place within the private property constitution and remain restricted by it. They have above all a legitimizing, but at the same time also a constitutive function for the system of regulative politics and the arrangement of the markets.
Fragility of democracy
All political democracy is thus a fragile construct. This is particularly reflected in the recent debates on post-democracy and post-politics. Reinhard Kühnl has pointed out that crises of capital exploitation are also overcome by fascist regimes when this is no longer possible within the framework of institutionalized conflicts between labor and capital. In this line, Frank Deppe has already spoken of a turn away from a post-democratic to an "authoritarian capitalism" in the course of the financial market, economic and debt crisis in 2008. The crisis of post-Fordism, which is replacing nationally regulated, demand-based social interventionism with globalized deregulated markets, has led to the emergence of a "post-democratic capitalism".
From resistance to utopia
In times of crisis, a plan to radically change the world is needed
by Bini Adamczak
It is not enough to be a superhero.
[This article published on Oct 20, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.linksnet.de.]
Superheroine films follow a well-known dramaturgy. At the climax of the film, in the middle of the showdown, the super villain takes time to explain her plan in detail. A plan that consists either of destroying the world or seizing control of it. The superhero, tied up just a moment ago, uses the time to babble, frees himself and thwarts - at the last minute - the villain's plan. The penultimate shot shows the endless frustration of the super villain whose life plan has just been destroyed, the last shot shows the superhero happily going home. Nothing has changed. The world is saved, and it is still just as shitty as before.
Much of the progressive resistance today obeys this conservative script. It is a resistance against rent increases as well as against the forced eviction of existing projects. Against the closure of factories and the dismissal of women workers. Against the return of fascism as against the deterioration of the climate. It is a struggle that aims at the expansion of marriage as well as at the diversification of the state's gender entry. It is a struggle that seeks to defend the results of previous struggles and to preserve what has already been achieved. But under conditions of crisis, there can be no defense of the status quo. As long as resistance is limited to its literal meaning, to stopping and stopping, defending and pushing back, it will at best remain stationary. Where the left loses, the right gains power. That is why it is not enough to be a superhero or super cop, that is why the world cannot be saved without a plan to change it, that is why utopia is needed. But how?
Critical questions and anti-utopian objections
The utopia aims at the future, at another world, but it starts in the present, in the existing world. It aims at satisfaction, at happiness, but its starting point is frustration, unhappiness. In fact, the task of an emancipatory utopia is not to design a world where "everything is different". It is enough that the utopia differs from reality in one single respect: Something is missing in this future world - namely misfortune. The first critical question that can be asked of utopias is therefore whether they succeed in merely imagining a future without the misfortune of past and present. Do they really show a way out, or do they also carry the anger of the past into the future with the materials, tools and images they borrow from the existing epochs? The question already gives a pretty good orientation in the discourse of utopia: How much would be gained with a Tobin-Tax, how much happier would we live with an unconditional, but monetary basic income granted by the state? What problems would we be rid of if people of all genders and origins were equally distributed among superiors and subordinates, if all states were equally powerful? And which problems would not?
But this provision is not yet sufficient. First, utopia must not only take care not to reproduce "all the old shit" (Marx/Engels), it must also take care not to produce completely new shit. What is the use of abolishing authoritarian capitalism, but replacing it with authoritarian state socialism? Secondly, the starting point of the disaster is too much rooted in the negative. The utopian fantasy is not mechanically reduced to constructing the opposite of the present or simply subtracting everything bad from it. The question of utopia is not only: how do we not want to live, but above all: how do we want to live? What would we do if we were free?
Asking the question of utopia means no longer fighting to maintain the status quo.
But can these questions be answered at all? Can a different future be thought, can it be imagined, if this thinking and imagining always takes place in the present? Are utopian productions not necessarily projections? Don't the damaged subjects of today in their dreams merely prolong the damage into tomorrow? Doesn't describing the intended goal really mean prescribing this goal?
These concerns reveal an overestimation of the self by female theorists. As if they only needed to draw up a plan to force the masses to implement it. As if they could not merely make suggestions for the future, which, if they are persuasive and have the luck of chance on their side, might be accepted. The often invoked danger of a dictatorship of utopian fantasy over future reality is limited. In fact, a broad discourse about desirable goals and promising paths helps to reduce authority. On the one hand, because it makes it possible to examine a draft from several sides, and on the other hand, because it provides a yardstick against which the following practice must be measured.
The fear that utopian brushing out automatically leads to authoritarianism already misses the historical reality - after all, it was the heirs of scientific, i.e. anti-utopian socialism who are responsible for authoritarian socialism. And it is precisely the failed attempts to realize a socialist world that, in retrospect, become the strongest argument against the ban on images. After a century of state socialism, the left can no longer excuse itself by saying that, as a matter of principle, no pictures could be made of the world they had in mind. Instead, it is faced with the task of indicating how its images of the future differ from the familiar images of the past. How to prevent her dream from turning into another nightmare. Whoever formulates a radical critique of the existing must face this objection. Whoever really fights for another world, for a really different world, will be confronted with the dead of Stalinism.
The legacy of Stalinism
And rightly so. Stalinism is objectively a legacy of all movements struggling today against inequality, oppression and capitalist competition. After the experiences of the 20th century, the distrust of "utopian experiments" is justified. And it persists. The majority of people are against a more equal, freer and more solidary world - let's call it communism - not because they think the idea is bad, but because they think it is unrealizable. And they are not in favor of maintaining the ruling world - let's call it capitalism - because they find it so good, but because they consider it without alternative.
If this is true (and polls show it again and again), then criticism of exploitation and alienation, destruction and imprisonment is necessary, but limited in its effects. Therein lies the true core of the well-known mantra that the left should not always just nag and criticize, but should also sometimes make - constructive - suggestions. That is, in other words, the question of utopia. It can be broken down into four dimensions: imaginability - is another world, which would be healed from the damage of the present world, even conceivable? Feasibility - can this society really function or would it have to fail due to internal contradictions or external conditions? Achievability - is there a path that leads to the desired goal, through reform or subversion, through evolution or revolution? And finally desirability - is this world at all desirable for people today? The last question in particular has long been neglected. Yet it contains a danger that should not be underestimated. Not the danger that the utopian world will remain afflicted with the shortcomings of the existing world, but conversely that it will be too thoroughly cleansed of these shortcomings. So thoroughly that people afflicted with the shortcomings of the present no longer find a place in it.
The questions of the many
If the harmonious furnishing of the new world also requires new people - free from greed and envy, cooperative and considerate, gentle and altruistic - what actually happens to the old people? Indeed, various theorists-Marx, like Bakunin or Lenin-have concluded that the first generation of revolutionaries can overthrow the old conditions but cannot build the new ones. Only the next generation, born after the revolution, will complete the work and achieve communism. The women revolutionaries with a capitalist background, on the other hand, must be stranded at the external borders of the new world without ever really being allowed to enter. This conception of the future seems strangely familiar. Therefore, another critical question that utopia must ask itself is whether it wants to create an ideal world for ideal people or one that also offers a home to the injured and screwed-up people (i.e. us).
And which of them? Because there are many, and not all of them have the same worries and wishes. One of the decisive requirements for an emancipatory design of the future is that it must be a common, shared design. If it is to give answers to the pressing questions of the present, then it cannot be the questions of some, but the questions of the many. But how can the many be recognized? The current discourses of representation answer these questions primarily along the axes of gender and race, sexuality and age, perhaps even class. For the discourse of utopia it can be formulated in a different way: What part of the social division of labor participates in this? How many carers or mechanizers, how many agrochemists and sealers, bakers or farmers? Who of those who design utopias can install a solar cell or lay a drainage, who knows how a semiconductor is constructed, who can maintain a sewage system?
Leipzig Utopia Congress
"Future for all - ecological, fair, feasible" was the title of a congress held in Leipzig (and online) at the end of August. The idea behind the six-day event was to think about utopias (again) - across movements and internationally. In more than 300 workshops, some of them parallel live streams in different languages, concrete utopias and above all the question of the way there, the question of transformation, were discussed. The initial questions were: How do we want to live in 2048? How boundless can the world be then, how solidary can we act in solidarity and what skills are needed? Bini Adamczak gave one of the opening lectures online, which is available here. The philosopher asks how the path from resistance to utopia can be successful. Simon Sutterlütti took part in several discussions. His criticism also directed at fellow discussants: We analyze radically, but the concepts that we then want to implement as alternatives are mostly reformist. We also document his thoughts on the relationship between reform, revolution and construction.
The struggle for another world requires a different model of superheroines. Multi-headed hyperheroines who do not fight against rent increases, but for rent reductions, not only against the forced evictions of existing projects, but also for the mass occupation of new projects. Polylocal postal heroines who fight not only against the deterioration of the climate, but even more for a better climate, not only against Nazis, but also against the conditions from which they originated. Polylocal postal heroines who strike not against the closure of factories, but for their takeover by the workers, not against the dismissal of workers, but for the dismissal of the bosses, of capital. Collective antiheroines, then, who do not strike for the diversification of the state gender entry but for its removal, who do not fight for the reconciliation of family and work but for the abolition of domestic work and wage labor, those who do not fight for the extension of marriage but for its abolition. To ask the question of utopia means to stop fighting for the preservation of the status quo. Those who want to save the world need a diabolical plan to radically change it.
Bini Adamczak is the author of several books on communism and its Stalinist deformation. Her most recent publication is "Beziehungsweise - Revolution. 1917, 1968 und kommende" published by Suhrkamp Verlag and "Der schönste Tag im Leben des Alexander Berkman" by edition assemblage.
“A blanket lockdown is neither effective nor proportionate"
Position Paper Doctors and Virologists against a blanket lockdown Video Article
Just on the day when a new infection high is reported, scientists and physicians around the virologist Hendrik Streeck demand a departure from the previous strategy.
By Christina Berndt, Felix Hütten and Christina Kunkel
[This article published on Oct 28, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.nachdenkseiten.de.]
In a joint position paper, several scientists, doctors and associations call for a new strategy in the corona pandemic. The time has come to take greater account of the findings, says the "Joint Position of Doctors and Science", which was formulated by the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and the virologists Hendrik Streeck of the University of Bonn and Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the University of Hamburg. The paper is supported by numerous medical professional associations, including the Professional Association of Pediatricians and Adolescent Physicians (BVKJ) and the Professional Association of German Surgeons - i.e. the representatives of practicing physicians. In contrast, there are hardly any scientific medical societies among the signatories.
In the course of the current political debates about renewed restrictions in everyday life, the authors call for a departure from the previous strategy of contact tracing of infected persons. "The current rapid increase in the number of cases after the quieter summer months clearly shows that, due to the properties of Sars-CoV-2, pandemic control will no longer be possible solely by means of contact tracing," they say. Authorities should therefore invest their energy in protecting the elderly and sick, for example by allowing access to old people's homes only after a quick test or by organizing better neighborhood assistance. "If I know I belong to a risk group, I should reconsider my contact behavior," recommended Andreas Gassen, Chairman of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, at the presentation of the paper on Wednesday. Everyone should decide for themselves what risk they want to take.
The rest of the population, on the other hand, should be more strongly motivated to participate than forced to do so. The paper states that it is important to put a culture of commandment at the forefront of risk communication. "We want to and can do it together, not with fear, panic and bans, but by showing alternatives. Ultimately, personal responsibility could make a greater contribution to ensuring that people adhere to rules. If the well-known AHA rules (distance, hygiene, everyday masks) and the use of the Corona warning app were consistently implemented, this would be "perfectly sufficient to survive the pandemic well", according to virologist Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit.
It would be wrong to react to the increase in the number of cases by again shutting down public life, as other experts are currently suggesting. "A blanket lockdown is neither purposeful nor proportionate," said the virologist from Hamburg. Although it could reduce the number of infections for a short time, he said that after a few weeks the same situation would be back again. "We only have to look abroad, for example to Spain or France, to see that this does not work," emphasized KBV chairman Andreas Gassen. Despite drastic measures, the number of infections there would rise dramatically.
On the other hand, the presidents of the most important German research organizations (German Research Foundation, Fraunhofer Society, Helmholtz Association, Leibniz Association, Max Planck Society) and the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina had called for a drastic restriction of contacts as soon as possible in a joint statement entitled "It is serious". To stem the spread of Sars-CoV-2, people would have to reduce their contacts to a quarter on average, according to the statement published on the Leopoldina website.
In other respects, too, the research communities advocate a different approach than that outlined in the "Position of Doctors and Science". They hope that stricter measures will enable them to reduce the number of cases to such an extent "that the health authorities will be able to fully implement contact tracing again". As soon as this is possible again - probably after three weeks - the restrictions can be carefully relaxed without the immediate threat of a new wave of infection.
In contrast, the paper published on Wednesday by "Doctors and Scientists" argues in favor of a different strategy: "The reduction in the number of cases is an urgent political task, but not at any price," it says. "We are already seeing the failure to provide other urgent medical treatment, serious side effects in children and young people due to social deprivation (...) and the decline of entire economic sectors (...). However, it is the principle of all medical action not to do any harm at first - primum nihil nocere. "Applying this principle to the current situation means choosing the measures to contain the pandemic in such a way that we can effectively reduce severe courses of events without causing new damage". The pandemic will continue for a very long time - even if a vaccine is soon available.
The authors around Streeck and Schmidt-Chanasit demand to let flow from now on several relevant characteristic numbers such as infection numbers, number of the accomplished tests, stationary and intensive medical treatment capacities together into a Corona traffic light. With the help of this traffic light, the current situation at both federal and district level should be visible at a glance, thus enabling local measures and relaxation. "It is not possible to stop every infection. Rather, we must focus our energies on protecting those who need this protection," said Bonn virologist Hendrik Streeck to the SZ.
Again and again, the number of free intensive care beds is cited as a yardstick for how strict the corona measures must be. This is probably one of the reasons why the President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Medicine (DIVI), Uwe Janssens, addressed the public in a video on Tuesday. He said he did not want to cause fear and that there were still enough intensive care beds available. However, he and his colleagues are concerned about the rising number of infections: "We intensive care physicians fear that we will soon no longer be able to fully guarantee intensive care in Germany if the number of infections continues to rise. DIVI has not signed the position paper of Streeck and Co.
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A recent study from Sweden, published in the trade magazine Lancet, also shows that the protection of risk groups without strict restrictions on public life is only partially effective. According to the study, not only did a particularly large number of people over 70 die in nursing homes in Stockholm - the mortality risk was also 66 percent higher for older people who lived in the same household with several generations than for people who had no roommates of working age. The researchers therefore call for a focus not only on protective measures in hospitals, nursing and old people's homes, but also to take seriously the danger lurking for risk groups in their own living environment.
By André Tautenhahn
[This article published on Oct 28, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.nachdenkseiten.de.]
"There is nothing to talk around, the situation is worrying", says Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (source: HAZ). The measures taken so far have shown "no signs of slowing down" of the infections. "We have to reduce the risk of infection even further and therefore probably impose further restrictions on people." In other words: The measures taken so far, which the state government has decided on alone without the parliament and which the courts have rejected in part as illegal, are ineffective. The solution presented is to simply increase the dose of what does not work and is likely to remain illegal. This does not sound like a plausible strategy, but rather like helplessness.
Without the current infection figures of the RKI, it is largely silent. This has been seen again today, as there were once again technical problems in the preparation of the transmitted data. Therefore, the beat-boxes remain silent at first, which is also a form of helplessness. Although it has been declared for weeks that one must be much more careful in interpretation and not just stare at the level of new infections, it is nevertheless being done to meet an equally increasing demand for alarmism, behind which a classic, classifying news selection has to take a back seat.
The media, now partly controlled by algorithms, are increasingly orienting their selection to user demand. It is precisely at this point that the economy of attention, which characterizes society, becomes fatal. Overattention and one-sided focus generate interest, but also fear; this fear generates increasing demand for corona news, which can now be measured online in real time. The demand, in turn, tempts editorial offices to serve it and to further narrow the coverage to the pandemic - even to tunnel vision. Anything that has nothing to do with Corona becomes subordinate to it for months.
Source: Suddeutsche Zeitung
This in turn puts pressure on politicians to decide pointless things just to demonstrate their ability to act. You have to do something. Last time the Chancellor is said to have expressed her dissatisfaction with the talks with the heads of state in the stubborn formulation: "Then we'll just sit here again in two weeks". Now the time has come and tougher measures up to the lockdown are on the table. Thus on that of the picture newspaper, from whose expenditure the Prime Ministers experience then, about what they may discuss today with the Kanzlerin. A usual procedure of Angela Merkel, whose political style is hardly criticized, but which leads to the fact that in the end it is not she, but quite different ones who are taken apart by the public as bogeymen.
Again, there is the threat of disagreement and also of further lawsuits against individual ordinances that grossly violate the principle of proportionality and are evenly also unconstitutional. However, the legislator of the ordinance is not criticized for this, but rather the person who successfully defends himself against unjustified state intervention. Vice President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Kubicki says
Perhaps a little more self-reflection would be appropriate. For it is not the person who is proved right in court in a constitutional state who has done something wrong, but those who wanted to take away this right.
But a kind of self-reflection still does not take place. In its helplessness, the government is trying to resort to even tougher measures, which it is already clear will not stand up in court. But in view of the damage that has already been done, the executive branch, which is still acting alone, lacks the courage to declare the current corona strategy a failure. Rather, it is basking in the alleged success of past summer days. One must ask very loudly what has actually been done during this time to be better prepared for the next wave that is always feared? It was said that one should not underestimate the situation, that the virus was still there and dangerous. Now the German Armed Forces are helping with the telephone service in the health authorities. One had somehow expected something different.
The corona strategy generates errors, see currently here and here. This is also becoming clearer and clearer. The approach of having to track all contacts is therefore wrong, because it is logistically unaffordable and medically also questionable. The protection of risk groups cannot be achieved in this way, as the podcast virologist of the NDR has now also recognized. It is not possible to prevent all infections and it is not even necessary if, on the other hand, it is possible to better protect the risk groups. To do this, however, the government has to come up with more than AHA+L+something and arbitrarily set incidence values that color maps menacingly red and automatically declare districts to be risk areas. It also makes little sense to issue more and more bans on public spaces and then be surprised that the private sphere is becoming a hotspot that is difficult to control.
There is a remedy for the helplessness of those in power. It is called democracy. Parliaments must have a say and make decisions, also for reasons of legal security. Because in court, the practice of enacting regulations is failing more and more often because the legislator is no longer able to provide comprehensible reasons for his decisions. When a government no longer masters its craft, it is urgently time for parliament to regain control and to listen to experts other than those who are just what the chancellor needs. There are alternative proposals. But they must be allowed and discussed, instead of immediately devaluing them again by a helpless introduction that once again puts the number of new infections at the top of the list.
"On the very day that a new infection peak is reported, scientists and doctors around the virologist Hendrik Streeck demand a departure from the previous strategy.
"The lockdown light breathes an undemocratic spirit"
New Corona Rules
Even in a pandemic, the state must weigh up interests. The government is currently failing in this regard. Some of the measures are illegal. A guest contribution.
by Wolfgang Kubicki
This day that will be remembered for a long time to come, says Bavaria's Minister-President Markus Söder.
[This article published on Oct 26, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.nachdenkseiten.de.]
Let's start with a big word: the package of measures to combat corona, which has now been agreed between the Chancellor and the Prime Ministers, breathes an undemocratic and anti-legal spirit. First of all, the decisions ignore the decisions of various higher administrative courts on the ban on accommodation of the past days.
The courts in Baden-Württemberg, Schleswig-Holstein, Saxony-Anhalt and elsewhere found the ban to be manifestly unconstitutional, which is why it was declared null and void there in each case.
The round of heads of government disregarded these decisions and simply ignored them - and thus the separation of powers. The question arises: What kind of thinking lies behind the actions of the executive, which no longer feels bound by law and order?
It is similar with the decision to close pubs and restaurants for a few weeks in order to get the infection under control.
Logic? One searches in vain
By the way, this was against the advice of the Robert Koch Institute, which pointed out that the hygiene concepts obviously had their effect. Because a relevant infection event did not emanate from these enterprises. Infectiologically much worse were rather private meetings.
[More on the topic: Experts disagree on how to deal with corona - more openness or stricter restrictions for everyone?]
There is certainly no logic behind this measure. The restaurants in which the concept works are supposed to close because of private gatherings where there is no concept at all. The consequence is that the meetings that would have taken place in restaurants are moved to private space.
What is supposed to reduce the risk of infection actually increases the risk of infection because the meetings are moved into the uncontrolled space. It would be sensible to open the restaurants around the clock so that as many meetings as possible could take place under controlled hygiene measures.
However, the ministers were probably not interested in a comprehensible explanation, even though the expertise of the RKI did not play a role. This gives the impression that this forced closure of pubs and restaurants was intended to have a psychological effect on the allegedly still too careless society.
Our constitution does not provide for a state educational mandate
"Anyone who can eat out has obviously not yet understood the seriousness of the situation" - this is the thinking logic of Helge Braun and his colleagues. That this is obviously illegal must have been clear to the officials of the Chancellery. Thankfully, our constitution does not provide for a state educational mandate, but - on the contrary! - to grant the greatest possible freedom. The Basic Law relies on the responsible citizen and his or her decision-making power.
Such a restriction of basic rights without any technical justification is therefore not on the ground of our democratic order. Rather, it places state action in the realm of the authoritarian, when individual actions are restricted without justification and people are instructed by the authorities to act "correctly". The fact that these measures are to be put into action without the participation of parliaments if possible gives the whole thing a particularly nasty aftertaste.
[If you want to have all current developments on the coronavirus pandemic live on your cell phone, we recommend our app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices].
The argumentation of those in power is downright perfidious, and we hear it more often in these confused times. The harsh cuts are necessary and proportionate with regard to the legal interest of the public health to be protected.
For the ultimate goal of government action is not the protection against infection or the protection of life, but human dignity. If saving human life were the highest goal, the most efficient measure would be to put people in absolute quarantine for three weeks so that the virus in Germany would die.
The state must rationally weigh up
That is why the task of the state is always a question of a reasonable balance - also between freedom rights and the protection of life. One measure, for example, would be to provide FFP2 masks to residents in old people's homes and their visitors so that as many contacts as possible are made possible again with a relatively small intervention in freedom.
All current developments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here in our newsblog. We will keep you up to date about the developments especially in Berlin].
The German government tells us that this renewed lockdown has a worthwhile goal: Christmas under better conditions if we are now disciplined in dealing with the virus threat. However, the question arises: Who guarantees us that the occurrence of infection will allow us to relax during the holidays?
The Chancellor knows that nobody can guarantee this - and she certainly does not believe that Christmas will then be possible without contact restrictions. Instead, many people get the impression that they should no longer measure their behavior against the law, but rather in the moral categories of the Federal Chancellery - which are above the law.
There are obviously hard times ahead for the acceptance of our legal system. More democrats are needed to step into the breach for them.
Remark Albrecht Müller: Very worth reading and relevant.
Remark JK: Here one must agree with Wolfgang Kubicki without reservation. We are now in the middle of the authoritarian Corona regime, because not only has the legislature been put out of action by the government by emergency decree, but with today's decisions the federal government and the prime ministers, as Kubicki quite rightly remarks, are also ignoring the judiciary, which has declared the prohibitions on accommodation, which are now again part of the repressive measures, to be illegal. In addition, in all likelihood, the renewed lockdown in the chancellor's office was a matter that had long since been resolved and was now only nodded off by the prime ministers.
Berchtesgaden suggests that lockdowns are of little use: so we are now doing it all over Germany
by Norbert Häring
[This article published on Oct 28, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://norberthaering.de/unkategorisiert/lockdown-berchtesgaden-deutschland/.]
28. 10. 2020 | On October 20, curfew and plant closures were imposed in the district of Berchtesgadener Land because of a record 7-day positive PCR incidence. During the eight-day lockdown, the incidence continued to rise with great fluctuations. Nevertheless, no particular health emergency is apparent in the district. The lockdown was not necessary, nor is it yet apparent that it has made any difference with regard to the unsuitable problem indicator 7-day incidence.
The day before the lockdown, the 7-day PCR incidence had risen to the German record value of 272 per 100,000 inhabitants. Today, the District Office reported a value of 324, an increase of 19 percent during the 8-day lockdown.
I am writing about PCR incidence and not about infections because, according to an earlier report from the District Office, one third of people with a positive PCR test were symptom-free. Then, according to the common definition, one does not speak of an infection.
But the fact that the lockdown does not seem to bring about anything does not seem to matter. Despite indications of unsuitability, a lockdown was decided today by the federal government and the states (without the involvement of the parliaments) because the 7-day PCR incidence commands it.
This will be decided on the same day when it becomes public that laboratory errors are apparently producing masses of false-positive test results, unnecessarily quarantining many people and perhaps entire areas of the country.
The district office of Berchtesgadener Land did not comment in tall citizens in the district: Hold on, let's hold on! Stick to the hygiene regulations. Only through joint efforts can we manage to bring the numbers back down to normal levels and reopen the kindergartens and daycare centers on November 3 and the schools from November 9 with an appropriate hygiene concept.
The numbers must fall so that people can move freely again. What numbers? Not the already low numbers...
The Corona dilemma
Gastronomy, culture and others want to let the Chancellor take the blame for what politics missed in summer
by Ulrike Baureithel
The Corona Dilemma
The automatism of the traffic light and the unprecedented alarmist calls of the Chancellor, including a media-effective playback, have done their job
[This article published in Oct 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.freitag.de/autoren/ulrike-baureithel/das-corona-dilemma.]
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of the same name, the adulteress Hester Prynne is branded with a scarlet letter. Scarlet red is used on some corona maps to highlight the cities and counties as the front-runners of new infections. Dark red is also the creative update that Prime Minister Markus Söder missed the Corona traffic light. The affected areas are not yet in the pillory, even though the aggressive mood against party-goers in Berlin is becoming more noticeable and it remains to be seen how the outbreak of the infection is instrumentalized in an asylum-seekers' home in Simbach. Simbach is located in the district of Rottach-Inn, for which a lockdown was imposed last Monday for the second time in Bavaria.
The automatism of the traffic light and the unprecedented alarmist calls of the chancellor, including media-effective playback, have done their job. "Every day counts", says the excited countdown of government spokesman Steffen Seibert. Appeal and warning were the most used vocabulary in the past days, with which politicians* tried to swear in the people. Now the state is inevitably heading for a second lockdown, as the draft resolution for the crisis summit of the federal and state governments leaves no doubt. As "soft" it is fed into the political discourse because it is supposed to spare schools and daycare centers. On the other hand, public life will probably be shut down again, and cultural and sports facilities as well as the catering and tourism industry will have to pay for what was missed before the pandemic and in the summer. Söder gets his way: Nationwide, we will sit at home. It's our own fault, we were tuned into it. We with our eternal party mood!
It has long been clear that this measure is based primarily on resource-related premises. The meandering risk indicators are not evident, but correlate with the politically responsible situation that health authorities are no longer able to trace the infection chains and that a shortage of beds and lack of personnel could lead to a medical emergency. To this day, no one in the statist republic, for example, knows how many employees are working in the health authorities nationwide because there have been no surveys for 20 years. Private celebrations are stylized to superspreaders, and the cause of three quarters of all infections is not even known. But not knowing is rather covered up, and contact restrictions in the private sphere can be better justified.
At the same time, the population is placed in a chronic state of alarm, forced by politics and the media, into a permanent state of expectation of catastrophe, which once again makes itself heard in panic buying - the most harmless reaction - but also exhausts its attention energy. For just like the governments that are responsible for the economically risky lockdown, people are torn between fear of the virus and existential fears. Like oracles, not only infection figures but also economic data are rising in the sky of the future. The gross domestic product in the second quarter fell by 11.7 percent year-on-year, while tax revenues in September fell by 13 percent. The fact that the recovery in the fall will now fail to materialize and the second wave of corona coincides with a structural crisis in the economy exacerbates the situation. The DAX companies alone have announced around 85,000 job cuts for 2021 - Corona is grateful for the excuse.
The conflict described as the Corona dilemma knows only negative solutions, which in any case claim victims: Either the civil protection accompanied by the lockdown is accompanied by economic and social collateral damage that the state can only compensate for to a limited extent. Or the civil liberties or even the lives of people, especially of vulnerable groups, are put at stake. An unchecked wave of infection would also be fatal for the economy: Already today, it is complaining about the loss of 350,000 workers due to Covid-19 or quarantine. And transfer payments, such as short-time work benefits, will not protect many small and medium-sized companies from ruin for long. "The protection of health and the protection of the economy", are the goals of the German Institute for Economic Research.
New Corona Restrictions
There is no more time for filigree discussions
Whether the new Corona measures will be effective will be apparent in the coming weeks on the streets, in stores and public transport, comments Stephan Detjen. However, a significant calming of public life is necessary to slow down the virus.
By Stephan Detjen
[This article published in Oct 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/neue-corona-beschraenkungen-zeit-fuer-filigrane.720.de.html?dram:article_id=486570.]
Health and profits The pharmaceutical industry and the race for the corona vaccine
Before the Corona summit Kubicki (FDP): "I urgently warn against alarmism.”
Societies are short-sighted. This is not a finding of the corona crisis. But the pandemic is spreading, even though the equation of infection dynamics, limits of intensive care and death rates has been known for more than eight months. It is enough, even today, to at least look beyond national borders. In France, the collapse of hospitals is imminent.
State will again mitigate economic consequences
Seriously ill patients are transported from Belgium to Germany because there is no longer sufficient supply capacity in the neighboring country. The situation is reminiscent of the arrival of the pandemic, when the pictures from Bergamo spread fear and terror in northern Europe. At that time, this was the precondition for society to agree to the closure of schools, stores and parts of public life in spring. The term "lockdown" was then as inappropriate for German conditions as it is today. Today, Germany is again as far removed from the drastic restrictions on individual freedom of movement in other countries as it was in spring.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) and Berlin's Mayor Michael Müller (l, SPD) hold a press conference in the Chancellor's Office following a meeting with the Minister Presidents of the Länder on how to proceed in the corona pandemic. (dpa/Reuters Pool/Fabrizio Bensch)
The Federal Government intends to implement these measures
With drastic restrictions, the German government wants to curb the massively increasing corona infection figures again. Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that it is necessary to get out of the exponential growth. The measures should take effect from November 2.
The fact that drastic measures are once again needed to protect large sections of the population from fatal disease progressions could have been clear to the circle of Prime Ministers at their last meeting with the Federal Government two weeks ago. But there followed a bizarre discussion about accommodation bans, in whose shadow people were left in the belief that one could easily still push oneself to private celebrations with 10, 50 or even 100 people in the living room or in the back rooms of the inn. Because it has not been possible to reverse or even slow down the dynamic, tougher measures are now required. This is particularly bitter for innkeepers, cinema operators and concert organizers who had spent months fine-tuning their hygiene concepts. The state will now again mitigate the economic consequences.
Politically important signal
The dynamics of the national debt runs parallel to that of infection: unchecked. Nevertheless, each of the restrictive measures will again be criticized by pointing the finger at other areas of society that are less affected. Certainly, courts will also repeal individual measures here or there. But there is no more time for filigree discussions.
A first, politically important signal is that the heads of the federal and state governments did not disperse this evening with the same dissent as they did a fortnight ago. Over the next two weeks, whether the measures are working will be apparent from the street scene, from a look into open stores and public transport. It should not and does not have to be a standstill, but a much clearer calming of public life than has been visible in recent months is needed to put the brakes on the virus.
Stephan Detjen, chief correspondent of Deutschlandradio. Studied history and law at the University of Munich.
The Right Revolution
By Stephan Wohanka
[This article published on 12/20/2016 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.linksnet.de/artikel/45220.]
"The republic which one believes to have to defend no longer exists. Its former aggressors rule today - ideologically, politically, and in the media. The destruction of the constitutional order was carried out systematically; it was no different in the USA. This has now been corrected with Trump's election; at least there it prevents the rule of law and democracy from falling victim to a new totalitarianism. What is needed is a consistent counterrevolution here and in Europe to restore constitutional order. Although put in quotation marks-not an exact quotation, but rather the synthesis of statements that can be read everywhere: So Trump and his European sisters and brothers in spirit are to be the saviors of "constitutional state and democracy" threatened by a "new totalitarianism"?
The old "republic" really no longer exists. Without entering into a discussion about who were those who "attacked the Republic at that time" - from the perspective of the "Trumps", the 68ers and the Greens would probably be the most likely candidates - it is true that the world is in a state of upheaval, that a clear revaluation, if not of all, then of many values is underway: the collapse of the socialist system took the corrective away from the West; neoliberal or conservative ideas in the form of Reaganomics broke new ground in the economy. This unleashing of the capitalist market economy led to growing globalization, while the similar leap in worldwide networking and digitalization brought us "casino capitalism". These phenomena were accompanied by an ideological pluralization of society, the loss of the Christian churches' monopoly on values and morals; the zeitgeist became more left-wing, ecological, urban, multicultural, queer. In concrete terms - I take Germany as an example - there was the abolition of compulsory military service, the withdrawal from nuclear energy, the introduction of homosexual marriage and the possibility to adopt children, the expansion of day-care centers ... From the perspective of conservative values, one sacrilege was greater than the other.
In a bourgeois globalized world with regionally produced food, with a sense of culture, education and curiosity about this and the foreign, but with little interest in people in the neighborhood who are "not doing so well", one lost sight of the fact that there is also a life beyond Walldorf schools, yoga centers and short trips to London and New York. This intellectual left-wing liberal milieu became lethargic, thought that everyone had understood everything anyway, that nothing needed explaining anymore - "werch ein Illtum"! For former citizens of the GDR, the loss of their well-rehearsed political and social customs had even greater consequences, which, as is well known, led to a heightened political gruffness. Keyword Pegida.
All of these events occurred within a very short period of time, and the pressure on the people to change was and is high; not all of them were able or willing to endure it, let alone find their way in the new conditions and even approve of them. There were and are winners and losers of the whole - in economic and, even more importantly, cultural dimensions. Quite a few of them lament the metaphysical loss of their home country, they share a feeling of being foreign in their own country. The civic community is affected, insulted speechlessness instead of dialogue...