Dhe apocalypse is not the end of the world. The Greek word “apocalypsis” by no means means catastrophe: it means revelation. The old fades away, another world comes into the light; the apocalyptic moment is when all the covers fall. The apocalypse of John therefore not only reports on the four apocalyptic horsemen who kill a “quarter of the earth” with “sword, hunger and death and the animals of the earth”. It also tells – no, above all – about the return of Jesus, who judges the wicked and gathers his faithful around him.
When the apocalypse comes, everything is by no means over. Instead, the “new Jerusalem” descends from heaven to earth – in the end everything will be fine, because God wipes away all tears with a kind hand: “See, I am doing everything anew.” It would be a miracle if the catastrophe affected us currently haunted everyone, would not lead to apocalyptic interpretations – if there were no philosophical attempts to give the disease meaning.
So many important thinkers are currently predicting that once the apocalyptic riders gallop past, what they have always wanted will happen.
“Liberal Capitalism Is Bankrupt”
Take, for example, the British philosopher John Gray, who has been one of the smartest critics of globalization for decades. In an essay in the magazine “New Statesman” he categorically states: “Liberal capitalism is bankrupt.” The pandemic and the huge economic crisis that would result would lead to a fundamental reorganization of all things.
“Our lives will be more physically restricted and virtual than before. A fragmented world is born that will be more resilient in many ways ”than the status quo ante. The European Union would be doomed to live a shadowy existence like the Holy Roman Empire in its last days.
Mass tourism will soon be a thing of the past. The good old nation state would return, with it the “hard borders” of yesteryear. Economic growth will no longer be a goal of society, the “anarchy of the world market” will in future be regulated by the governments, there will be measures against the overpopulation. Small is beautiful!
“Reading books became a cult”
The likeable futurologist Matthias Horx designs in one textwho made his rounds on the Internet, a comparable vision. He also foresees that the virus will change us in a good sense. Horx imagines that in retrospect we will say: “People who never came to rest before, including young people, suddenly took long walks … reading books became a cult … cynicism, this casual way of looking at the world to keep away from the body through devaluation was suddenly abundant … Besides, the endless flood of cruel crime series reached its tipping point. “
And then of course there is Slavoj Žižek, the Slovenian media star and actor of philosophy. He expects nothing less from the corona virus than the end of the capitalist market economy and the immediate introduction of communism.
With so much apocalyptic certainty of victory, of course I don’t want to stand aside either. So I hope that this epidemic will ultimately lead to a renaissance – a rebirth – of liberal democracy. I hope for a shameful election defeat for Donald Trump and his republican followers in November this year.
The other experience
I hope that the “Alternative for Germany”, after it has shown that it cannot govern, but can only rush, disappears in the oracle of history. I hope that after the catastrophe or in the middle of it, Vladimir Putin will find out that the young generation in Russia is no longer in the mood to be ruled by the tsars.
I hope that the Chinese Communist Party will feel pushed for reforms that will ultimately result in it losing power as it once slipped away from the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe. I hope that finally, finally, the regime in Iran will fall. I hope all of this – but I’m not sure.
The 1918 pandemic did not change much at the time. The United States was no less racist afterwards, but also no more racist than before. The Bolsheviks in Russia remained the Russian Bolsheviks. The authoritarian and nationalist regimes in Europe were by no means weakened. The Weimar Republic won over its opponents – for the time being.
The big pandemic has just been forgotten. It did not fit into any of the great storytelling, it did not change consciousness, and it proved nothing. Who tells us that it will be different with Covid-19? Especially when (which is to be desired very heavily) the disease can soon be brought under control through massive testing and antiviral drugs?
Perhaps in a year we will be talking about completely different things – the re-election of Donald Trump, renewed massacre of Hindus against Muslims, an increase in lies on the Internet – and pushing the current mess out of our minds with a determined movement?
Maybe it will turn out a little differently. We may be talking to nostalgia about the time when Covid-19 was raging; similar to how the war generation in Great Britain maintains nostalgic memories of the time of the “Blitz”, when the German bombs fell and the whole people – from the Queen Mum to the poorest swallow in the East End of London – stood together.
It is quite possible that in ten years we (that is, those who survived) tell each other stories about the time when the cities became so beautifully quiet that you could hear the birds singing and we all sat at home – separately, but connected through the global network of computers – and forced to focus on the essentials. Our families. Solidarity. The religion. Art. And no one will think of fear and loneliness and agony not knowing how this senseless catastrophe will end.