Can you be more libertarian and pro life
If your life is feeling like a zombie B-movie right now, think about the freedom that is yours
The virus hits everyone hard. But we shouldn't lose our heads about it. Because we also have a lot to lose in other ways - entrepreneurial freedom, political freedom, freedom of expression. We should stand up for that - now!
All stores are closed. The restaurants. The clubs. Production is down, offices are down, services are frozen. Everything that is not considered essential - essential for survival - is in the balance.
Ayn Rand is on Twitter right now. Most of the time, the Russian-American libertarian writer is not praised, but rather criticized - for her praise for the type of free, unhindered, entrepreneurial capitalist. So capitalism is under double pressure.
Some states have already developed smartphone monitoring apps that are reminiscent of Orwellian dystopias and that track your whereabouts and continuously tell you whether you are in the vicinity of someone infected with the coronavirus. Oh, they also warn you or tell you to go home if you get too close to prohibited crowds.
Sounds like a bad movie? It's a bad movie. Welcome to the beginning of the 2020s in the era of Sars-CoV-2.
Not a first world problem
Some just seem to have been waiting for such a pandemic. But everyone else rubs their eyes in amazement. Who would have thought that their life would completely change within a few weeks and now feel like a dreary, lonely Sunday that unfortunately drags on forever?
Everything is closed, you sit on the couch and you feel pretty bad. You have nothing to do and just wait for the next day when you also have nothing to do - you have nowhere to go, you don't have to go anywhere because your business is idle, you don't have to constantly check your emails before you're running to the next meeting.
When I see airlines reduce their capacity to 10 percent, it pains me. It hits me because it makes me aware that the situation is real and real. I'm used to my freedoms. I like to get on a plane quickly, like I jump on the bus early in the morning - to go wherever I want. Now the airports look like ghost towns.
First world problems, one might think. We practice self-isolation in our comfortable apartment, with an overcrowded refrigerator that is bursting at the seams, while others cannot afford this luxury.
But that's simple thinking. Because this crisis hits everyone on this planet, either because loved ones have died, because they have lost their jobs, because their sales are falling, because they are struggling to survive - or because they are concerned about the dangers to human civilization that this crisis poses brings with it.
If the economic certainties of the First World are at stake, so will all those countries that depend on it. When New York - the city that never sleeps - is reminiscent of the cemetery setting of a zombie film and when all American hyper-business comes to a standstill, what happens to all the people in countries that are heavily dependent on American imports or American tourism? It doesn't take a lot of imagination to imagine this.
When fear paralyzes us
My generation feels a slap in the face for the first time - it hurts really hard. We have had a nearly perfect life so far, but now our lifestyle is crumbling and crumbling, and quite a few cannot cope with it.
Some of them immediately lose faith in what they represented yesterday and are now spreading some kind of conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus that are circulating on the net. Some evil organization that strives for world domination must be behind it - or no, wait, the 5G antennas are to blame for the coronavirus. It is to despair.
Anyone who tries to figure out all of this will feel like they are trapped in a scary dream from which there is simply no waking up.
Some people therefore straightforwardly deny what is happening (and tend to behave irresponsibly even towards themselves), others are so afraid that they will give up their freedoms without hesitation, the main thing in return being that they get something like a feeling of protection and security in return.
But both reactions are as irrational as they are dangerous. We should force our minds to accept what is happening - and yet we shouldn't just swallow everything if we want to continue to live freely.
In the short term, the loss of many human lives will hurt us as much as it scares us. But in the medium and long term, we are likely to be more concerned with the social and economic chaos into which the virus plunged us, or more precisely: into which we were plunged by the virus.
A handful of questions
What would my answers to the crisis be? I don't have any, but I still have a few important questions.
Will we get the civil liberties back in their old, documented form? Will we also intellectually revalue freedom - in favor of health and safety? Were the certainties of our developed world just an illusion, our self-certainty an expression of unfounded arrogance? Is the western state strong now, or is it actually weak but invasive? Are we now the masters of our fate, or can a virus not only bring part of our population but also social infrastructure to its limit (and beyond)?
No it can't. Viruses will always exist, but we decide how we prepare for the next pandemic and how we deal with such tragedy on an individual level. Life goes on, we work and strive and strive and develop.
That is why capitalism must survive, because it not only drives us, but also directs the bad human impulses in ways that are useful for all. That is its strength. It creates prosperity for most, respects the individual and strengthens human rights.
It depends on us what the future looks like. It is up to us to do the right thing today - that is, to practice social distancing and self-isolation in order to protect ourselves and others. In the future, it will also be up to us to overcome our fears, our irrational beliefs and our trauma from the Corona era.
Freedom is fragile, it always has been. We should keep them, because without them everything is nothing. It is like the air you breathe - only when it is missing do you consciously feel what you have lost.
We have learned that our lifestyles are not self-evident. Now it is time to arm ourselves - for the next virus and for the preservation of our freedom.
Liberal democracy allows us to say what we think. And capitalism allows us to do whatever we want. Because these achievements are at stake, the virus hits us deeply. We should keep that in mind.
I am ready to stand up for them. Is it you too?
Xenia Tchoumi - originally Tchoumitcheva - is an economist, influencer and entrepreneur. She lives in London.
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