Here we are. A second lockdown. A second catastrophe. After a first lockdown that failed miserably. And a reopening that also failed miserably.
It would be pointless to say that all this could have been avoided. In particular, it would be pointless to, in Europe and especially in France, emphasize that:
• Health authorities could have learned certain lessons from the first lockdown to impose enhancements to the recruitment and training of medical personnel, improve their salary and careers, equip hospitals with respirators, digital equipment, personnel protective equipment, and so many other things.
• Education authorities could have provided teachers and families with the digital resources and related teaching methods that they still lack so much of, while of course, universities and high schools will soon have to be closed down to once again teach remotely.
• The health industry could have devoted infinitely more resources to the development of tests and vaccines, which for the moment, are on the horizon everywhere except in the European Union.
• Bankers could have used all this time to prepare new financial instruments that would have been necessary to save businesses and small companies.
• The media, (and those whom they decided were the so-called “experts”) could have been interested in how the democracy of South Korea has handled the pandemic since last December; instead of being fascinated by the so-called exploits of a long-suffering Chinese dictatorship. All things considered, by imitating the former rather than the latter, we would have had 50 times fewer deaths in Europe to this day. And no recession.
• Finally, each of us could have, since at least May, thought about the lessons to be learned from the first lockdown in order to decide to work differently, to consume differently, to finally choose our own lives.
But no, too many people, and in particular, too many powerful people preferred to look at this pandemic as a mere parenthesis and to wait for normal life to return; because the return to the same as before was in their interest. And because, after all, the poor are and will be the main victims of the pandemic.
This second wave, however, is crying it out a little louder than the first: we should not have done so in the past, and even more importantly today, we must not wait, hope for, or encourage the return of “the same.”
The second wave of the public health crisis, which has been managed too late and without preparation, will perhaps even lead to, in certain countries, doing what we still boast of being able to avoid: choosing between the people we should treat and those we can treat. It is the worst choice that a democracy could be forced to make.
And the ensuing economic crisis will cause many more bankruptcies and layoffs than the powerful have dared to acknowledge. It will also provoke, and it is already provoking the closure of entire communities, the search for scapegoats, and contempt for the truth.
All of this should finally push us to open our eyes and dare to decide on a two general mobilizations:
1. A general mobilization of the economy, to urgently redirect it toward strategic sectors, which are the sectors that I have been calling, since March, “the economy of life.” They are as follows: health, education, research, key technologies, healthcare, agriculture, food, clean energy, housing, supply chain distribution, culture, hospitality, credit, insurance and security. We must cease to believe, and to make others believe, that it is still necessary to spend freely to save companies in other sectors, which will still die, without giving those who work there the means to prepare for other adventures.
2. A general mobilization of society, around altruism, to finally put everyone in a position to understand that it is in their interest to help others succeed, promote group work, and fight in every possible way against misery, both on the material and moral fronts, and fight against solitude, which the lockdown will further aggravate.
It would be easier if we knew how to convert these tactics into a strategy, and this strategy into a societal project.
We should not wait for a third lockdown to decide. Because by then it will be really too late. Not just to defeat the pandemic or even to protect the economy. But to save the « living together »; which in a very real sense is democracy.