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The Great Lockdown

Western Societies and the Fear of Death

by Jean-François Caron (Author)
©2022 Prompt X, 80 Pages

Summary

It is being said that we should all be proud of the way we are confronting the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than privileging profits and trade, Western societies have made the noble decision to save lives at all costs. Indeed, the logic that has prevailed is that accepting any trade-off between saving lives and saving the economy is an unacceptable and monstrous idea, which is why liberal democracies worldwide have chosen to shutter businesses and force people to self-quarantine in their homes as much and for as long as possible. A vast majority of citizens and political leaders deemed that acting otherwise would have been nothing else but pure moral bankruptcy.
Is it, however, possible that Western societies have gone the wrong way by embracing this inherently basic and impoverished version of life? The reason why a significant majority of us are unable to see this truth is because of our refusal to accept death and the tragic essence of human life which is the result of the various cultural parameters we have grown accustomed to over the past decades that followed WWII. The Covid-19 pandemic has simply been the triggering factor that has allowed these factors to reinforce the full strength they wield on our understanding of life. Defined primarily by a fear of death, the desire to prolong life as much as possible and minimize the hurdles individuals have to face during their existence has created a beast that is, in appearance, reassuring to the fearful creatures we have become.
This beast has asepticized societies that refute the tragic nature of life and are willing to hinder individuals’ freedom and what makes our existence inherently humane. However, without realizing it, this Leviathan that now takes the form of a "nanny state" has altered our nature from individuals able and encouraged to enjoy life to people whose only destiny is to simply survive for as long as possible, without any other purpose than to avoid anything that might jeopardize this objective.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • 1. The Signs of How a Hobbesian Understanding of Life Now Dominates Western Societies
  • 2. The Reasons Why Western Societies Can No Longer Accept Death
  • 3. The Inevitable Consequences of a Hobbesian Conception of Life
  • Conclusion
  • Series index

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Introduction

It is being said that we should all be proud of the way our Western societies have dealth with the Covid-19 pandemic. Indeed, rather than privileging profits and trade, Western societies have made the noble decision to save lives at all costs. Indeed, the logic that has prevailed is that accepting any trade-off between saving lives and saving the economy is an unacceptable and monstrous idea, which is why almost all liberal democracies worldwide have chosen to shutter businesses and force people to self-quarantine in their homes as much and for as long as possible. A vast majority of citizens and political leaders deemed that acting otherwise would have been nothing else but pure moral bankruptcy. French President Emmanuel Macron could not have said it better when he proclaimed—not without any pride, it must be added—that “the unthinkable has happened! We have stopped the economy to save lives. We have finally decided to put humans at the center of what really matters!”; while former German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said, in March 2020, that the draconian measures the German government had to impose were necessary to save lives, adding that it was nothing less than Germany’s biggest challenge since the end of WWII. ←1 | 2→The same mantra was reiterated by Joe Biden, then only a presidential candidate in August 2020, who said that “[he] would be prepared to do whatever it takes to save lives.”

On the contrary, leaders who did not make that choice were severely criticized for what was seen as a profound lack of humanism and respect for peoples’ most important natural right. This was, for instance, the case with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who asked the British people, in the initial stages of the pandemic, to take it “on the chin” and prepare to lose loved ones. “Saving lives at all cost” then came to be hailed as “the right (and only) thing to do” in the face of this deadly disease and a return to the dark ages of mankind when the logic of human sacrifices used to prevail became simply unthinkable. Let it be said loud and clear: all lives matter and no one is disposable in order to ensure the greater good for a majority of people. This is the world which we currently live in and this logic has simply been reinforced as the new gospel to which the “world after” will abide and we should take pride in this shift.

However, let us follow René Descartes’ method for a moment and wonder if the proponents of this logic are not entirely wrong? What if these individuals have defended a logic that is essentially contrary to what life ought to be? This is the thesis I will be defending in this book, namely, that what is now a dominant moral standpoint, beyond question, is actually an inherently basic and impoverished version of life and that, when it prevails, ends up destroying life itself. The reason why a significant majority of us are unable to see this truth is because of our refusal to accept death and the tragic essence of human life which is the result of the various cultural parameters we have grown accustomed to over the past decades that followed WWII. The Covid-19 pandemic has simply been the triggering event that has allowed these factors to reinforce the full strength they wield on our understanding of life. Defined primarily by a fear of death, the desire to prolong life as much as possible, we have created a beast that is, in appearance, reassuring to the fearful creatures we have become. This beast has asepticized societies that now refuse to accept the tragic nature of life and are willing to hinder individuals’ freedom and what makes our existence inherently humane. We have, in other words, fulfilled Dostoevsky’s wish that the ←2 | 3→most important thing is to live, irrespective of how we decide to lead our lives. However, without realizing it, this Leviathan that now takes the form of a “nanny state” has altered our nature from individuals able and encouraged to enjoy life (with all the good and bad that necessarily comes with it) to people whose only destiny is to simply survive for as long as possible, without any other purpose than to avoid anything that might jeopardize this objective.

Details

Pages
X, 80
Year
2022
ISBN (PDF)
9781433195365
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433195372
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433195358
DOI
10.3726/b19451
Language
English
Publication date
2022 (February)
Keywords
Covid-19 pandemic Understanding the essence of human existence How the fear of dying is preventing us from enjoying life Jean-François Caron The Great Lockdown Western Societies and the Fear of Death
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. X, 80 pp., 8 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Jean-François Caron (Author)

Jean-François Caron (Ph.D. in Political Theory from Laval University) is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Nazarbayev University and at the University of Opole.

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Title: The Great Lockdown
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92 pages