A catastrophe and a window on the world
“When clusters of infection arise because of precarious, shoddy, or non-existent housing, it won’t be any defence to declare that you ‘get up early in the morning’ and that as a member of the ‘squeezed middle’ you should be spared.” So writes Dr Kevin Hargaden, Assistant Director of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, in a blog post where he claims that the coronavirus shows the catastrophic nature of society growing in interconnectivity without corresponding growth in solidarity.
“COVID-19, the Coronavirus, has hitched a ride on those neoliberal global trade networks to make a happy home in Iran, Italy, and now Ireland. It also exposes how any society built on individualism is fragile, bound to collapse eventually under the weight of evidence that we are interconnected. Economic models can imagine the small trader in Hubei Province in isolation from the childcare worker in Harmonstown, but the virus will pass between them nonetheless,” he writes.
Acknowledging that it is in poor taste to present the COVID-19 crisis in terms of opportunity he nonetheless suggests that we consider carefully the nature of the catastrophe and in doing so we can begin to see how it must serve as a window through which we reimagine our political culture.
“To endure and learn from the unfolding pandemic means that we must, like the leaders of the last political revolution, develop a coherent plan that addresses the problems we all face together,” he claims, adding, “But the clarity that it offers about our present vulnerability means there can be a positive political impact. It is high time to reject the politics of rampant individualism. The pressing need is for a politics that recognises common ground, draws on common sense, and builds for the common good.”