The Corona Crisis: A Moment of Decision
Reflections from Tamera
Covid-19 has dramatically changed the lives of uncountable people. However, we see the current crisis, just like the social and economic events it has triggered, as a symptom and expression of a much deeper dilemma that calls for radical systemic change. We are in the midst of a profound change of times. There will be no return to a previous “normality” – that would be no solution either. But what will – and must – a new normal look like that’s based on true humaneness and solidarity?
The Tamera community, January 27, 2021
We have hesitated for a long time to take a more decisive position on current global political events because the complexity of events, the contradictory nature and quantity of information, as well as the rapid, often multi-layered and sometimes hardly comprehensible changes still don’t provide us with a clear picture. Within our community, there is not one opinion, but different perceptions and points of view. Nevertheless, there are processes in all of this that an awake, critical mind and a humanly thinking and feeling heart can’t remain silent about for too long. The following piece emerged from a collective process of discussion and exchange, and represents the common ground we’ve reached as the Tamera community.
(In addition, some individual voices go further in some aspects – e.g. the new essay by Tamera’s co-founder Dieter Duhm: “Corona – and the other reality“).
“Solutions” and Their Discontents
For a year, Covid-19 has held the world in suspense. The infection with SARS-CoV-2 is evidently mild in most cases, but unfortunately not in all. Statistics, as always, conceal the pain of people who are dying in agony and, especially at present, often in loneliness, as well as the pain of relatives and friends, the suffering of patients on ventilators, and of overwhelmed doctors and nurses (who presently have to work under particularly grueling circumstances). This situation has been caused not least by increasing cuts to public health systems over decades, which has also led to massive but much less noticed bottlenecks in the past. In these conditions, people from already oppressed groups are particularly hard hit in many countries: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, who oftentimes suffer from weakened immune systems and weaker health due to multilayered marginalization, on average fall ill more often and more severely than whites and often have less access to medical care. In addition, refugees and migrants around the world are suffering particularly from both the disease and the drastic measures.
At the same time, we observe millions of cases of human suffering which aren’t caused by the virus, but precisely by the measures taken to contain it: The elderly, the vulnerable and the sick, who in many places become lonely, desperate and often enough have to die alone; the traumatization of an entire generation of children and young people, who are being inculcated with the fear of other people and the guilt of being themselves a danger to others and loved ones; an increase in psychological distress, mental illness and domestic violence, a rising suicide rate; and the medical undersupply of millions of people, because hospitals, medical practices and examination institutes cannot work as they used to, due to imposed Corona measures.
In addition, there are the unmistakable socio-economic consequences of the prevailing Corona policies. We are seeing an economic crisis and redistribution of wealth that has been unparalleled since the 1920s: countless small and medium-sized businesses have been driven into insolvency, while the super-rich reap unprecedented profits. While hundreds of millions of people become unemployed, while hunger and homelessness skyrocket around the world, large corporations are recording all-time high profits, especially in the digital and pharmaceutical sectors. Stock markets have flourished. Between April and July 2020 alone, in just four months, the wealth of billionaires grew by 27.5%, or US $10.2 trillion.
The economic and humanitarian consequences of the lockdowns have been particularly devastating in much of the Global South. In many countries, almost the entire informal sector came to a standstill virtually overnight, pushing hundreds of millions into extreme poverty, hunger and misery. The UN currently estimates that the number of people starving worldwide will increase by 83 million to 132 million as a result of the Corona measures alone. Last summer, the aid agency Oxfam predicted that by the end of 2020, up to 12,000 additional people would starve to death every day as a result of the measures alone.
Today, we know that the early hypothetical model calculations for Corona deaths, which moved governments in many countries to impose lockdowns and other drastic measures, were inflated. At the same time, many experts have voiced doubts over determining infection numbers by PCR tests alone, over the effectiveness of lockdowns, social distancing and mask-wearing and over the hastily approved new vaccines and their associated risks. Yet, to date, very few diverse expert committees have been able to review the effectiveness and proportionality of the measures taken.
The Corona virus has often been portrayed by the media and politicians as an unprecedented new phenomenon. Nevertheless, as with any disease, the same principle applies: Treatment measures must not cause more harm than the disease itself.
Fear has been the principle that governments and media in many countries have followed in responding to the Corona crisis from the beginning. Instead of providing prudent information, many governments fomented fear of disease and death – sometimes deliberately, as can be seen, for example, in an internal strategy paper of the German government, to “achieve the desired shock effect” and make people comply with the measures. Fear, however, is rarely a good advisor when it comes to managing crises. Unconscious fear causes polarization, disrupts communication and makes it hard to assess events in a rational manner. Fear often leads to protective measures that only intensify danger or even conjure it up. As we wrote in our April letter, “the most dangerous and infectious virus is the virus of fear.”
The Covid-19 measures are resulting in deep societal divisions, and meaningful communication between the different camps hardly seems possible. On the one hand, governments are trying to curb the spread of the virus with extensive information campaigns and restrictions, while on the other hand, thousands of renowned doctors, scientists and experts critical of the way Covid-19 is being managed are ignored by politicians, defamed by mass media and censored on social media.
A new vaccine that was approved within just a few months is proposed for billions of people, even though it normally takes 5–10 years to complete the necessary studies and testing phases to assess the extent of harmful side effects of new vaccines. With this, the pharmacologist Prof. Stefan Hockertz warns of “human experimentation.” Already now, there are more and more reports of side effects, some of them severe, from various countries. However, it is still unclear as to what extent the vaccine may actually contain infections. On December 29, WHO lead scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan admitted, “I don’t believe we have the evidence on any of the vaccines to be confident that it’s going to prevent people from actually getting the infection and therefore being able to pass it on. So I think we need to assume that people who have been vaccinated also need to take the same precautions.”
At the same time, there is debate about whether non-vaccinated people should still be allowed to use public transport, restaurants and cultural venues, attend educational institutions, or obtain work contracts in the future.
The Covid-19 measures raise deep ethical and social questions. In his essay, “The Coronation,” the author and visionary Charles Eisenstein writes, “What world shall we live in? How much of life do we want to sacrifice at the altar of security? If it keeps us safer, do we want to live in a world where human beings never congregate? … Are we willing to accept the medicalization of life in general, handing over final sovereignty over our bodies to medical authorities (as selected by political ones)? How much are we willing to live in fear?”
The Endgame of Global Capitalism
The Covid-19 crisis is only a symptom of a much deeper civilizational crisis, aspects of which have become more visible than ever in the past year. Financial crisis, growing social inequality, systemic racism, and the intensification of the ecological and climate crisis are not separate, but interrelated phenomena.
The financial system is undergoing radical transformation. Since the crash of 2008, the existing monetary system has been kept alive only artificially by central banks injecting cash (“quantitative easing”). Signs are mounting that governments and banks are preparing to introduce an entirely new, cashless financial system based on blockchain, which would make it possible to control the economic activities of individuals or even manipulate them. At the same time, cryptocurrencies also hold the potential for more social justice and sustainable development, provided they are based on ethical principles.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that global capitalism won’t be able to continue on a democratic basis. It is frightening, but unsurprising: sustaining a system hardwired to exponential growth requires ever greater human injustice and ecological devastation – and thus an increasingly totalitarian social order. The ruling elites know that they will be facing massive resistance and that they can only maintain their power through ever stronger coercion.
Similar to the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001, many governments and corporations are using the strategy Naomi Klein describes as the “shock doctrine” to rapidly push through far-reaching political and social changes in an atmosphere of panic and catastrophic fear that would have been impossible under normal circumstances. Citing health security, many governments have restricted basic democratic rights, expanded surveillance of their citizens, and persecuted opposition figures. At the same time, lockdown and telecommuting have further increased the already vast power of tech corporations and accelerated the proliferation of “surveillance capitalism” (Shoshana Zuboff) in which digital actors oversee, engineer and exploit the behavior of users – i.e., all of us – through increasingly intelligent algorithms.
The struggle for global power is now increasingly waged in an information war in which the media outlets of the various elite factions (both mainstream and alternative media) fight each other for narrative control of the public sphere. By planting false dichotomies in people’s brains – such as that of “globalization” or “nationalism,” “health” or “freedom,” and “conspiracy theorists” or “responsible citizens” – they lose sight of the overall system. We are kept perpetually preoccupied with the offenses of individual personalities, parties, states and the seemingly necessary choice of a lesser evil.
Yet the struggle for the future will not be decided by the triumph of any one of these seeming opposites. The decision about our further coexistence lies on a much more fundamental level of colliding paradigms: capitalism or life, centralized empires or decentralized communities, domination or cooperation, fear or trust – these are the questions we are really facing in the inevitable system change of our time.
The Change of Eras and the End of Fear
Worldwide suffering, which is intensifying in this current crisis, is only a symptom of a global system which fundamentally contradicts the basic principles of a healing and peaceful existence. This system offers no prospect for a future worth living. The Corona crisis, as well as the climate, hunger and refugee crises call for realistic visions of a humane, post-capitalist world. Many movements and communities around the world are working for this necessity today. It is in this context that, in the Healing Biotopes project, we are researching how to create real-life societal structures that permanently enable trust, healing and love among people.
We believe that inner processes determine the outcome of outer developments. Fear has been one of the driving forces turning Covid-19 into such a global crisis. But the fear has not been caused by the virus, it has only been washed up to the surface. In this sense, the Corona crisis could actually be a growth accelerator for the necessary inner system change, because almost everyone is coming up against unconscious points of fear at this time that want to be perceived and resolved in a healing way. If we want to prevent the totalitarian scenarios towards which the existing system is heading, then we are called to leave the inner system of fear and enter a system of trust.
In “Towards a New Culture” (1982), Dieter Duhm writes about the phenomenon of fear:
The biological disease of culture of our civilization is fear… We do not usually notice the fear because our commonly accepted moral agreements, cultured conversations, ideologies, and habits are constructed of it. Fear is “bound” within the system that we take for granted in our daily lives. It is the major psychic ferment and emotional catalyst of our entire culture. Most people cannot even imagine what it would mean to love without fear, as what they term “love” is connected so plainly to the fear of losing someone, sexual fears, fear of authority, of rejection, of being alone, of betrayal, that the absurdity of the situation is no longer recognized. Only the results become visible as jealousy, illness, depression, and broken relationships. Love without fear is without doubt the opposite of what is termed “love” in our culture.
Fear is not only a personal phenomenon, it is the inner foundation of capitalism and our entire patriarchal civilization, systematically engraved over many generations into the souls and bodies of billions of people. It is, after all, in the small scale of people’s coexistence where the structures of fear, mistrust and (latent or overt) violence are perpetuated, for example in the relationship between children and adults, between lovers, or between humans and nature, etc., – these structures consequently show up on a large scale as oppressive systems. After millennia of patriarchal, colonial and capitalist domination, humanity is under the spell of a collective trauma that evokes the ever-recurring patterns of attack and defense, of oppression and traumatization, to cover up a gaping inner wound. Many communities and utopian movements have failed because of this unresolved trauma, especially in the areas of sexuality, love, spirituality, and power. To enable a future worth living nevertheless, we need social structures in which collective wounds can heal: forms of life that enable deep and lasting trust even in the most delicate realms of the soul.
Various Indigenous and other spiritual traditions have long indicated that a change of times is taking place in the background of world political events and soul processes: the end of an old era with its ways of thinking and being, and the (possible) beginning of a new era with different ways of thinking, feeling, loving, and relating to the world. Toltec wisdom keeper Mindahi Bastida speaks of the Earth going through a time of necessary cleansing, accompanied by earthquakes, fires, hurricanes and floods. He says, “We accompany Mother Earth in her cleansing process with much respect, acknowledging that this is her time, and we are paying close attention to all that is unfolding… We are sharing what she is communicating with everyone, and whoever is ready to listen and take in with wisdom and humility, will know what to do, how to behave, what to change in their way of life. All of us have a chance to rise to a new level of consciousness, with an attitude and a renewed commitment of living with Mother Earth.”
In her message for the Ring of Power on December 28, 2020, Sabine Lichtenfels said, “We are living in a very special time when everything that needs to be cleansed and healed is being flushed up from the dark zones of the soul. If we fight against this process and hold on to old thought patterns, we experience a lot of suffering and pain. But if we can recognize and affirm what now wants to be released, then the inner rebirth can happen. … My perception is that a high vibration of love wants to land on Earth. It is crucial for this that we come to the point of inner stillness and presence, where we witness what this power of love wants to reveal to us.” (paraphrased)
We live in a time of great danger, but also of great opportunity. It is increasingly clear to see what an unimaginably cruel endgame global capitalism is heading towards. But we also know another truth: “If life wins, there will be no more losers” (Dieter Duhm). Now that crises are culminating, it is important to counter all forms of oppression, old and new, with targeted and strategic civil disobedience, but above all with credible alternatives. Cashless economy, increasing surveillance and the ecological crisis challenge us to create local and regional solidarity economies in which we support each other and make ourselves independent of centralist large-scale systems – and research places that show how such decentralized communities can be established and maintained sustainably. Regenerating degraded ecosystems, soils, and water cycles is key to creating decentralized systems that can supply people self-sufficiently with clean drinking water, organic food, and renewable energy. The more autonomous communities emerge, the less power totalitarian systems have over people.
Furthermore, to overcome capitalism, we need global coherence between the different cultures, communities, movements, experiments and projects working for system change – and practical collaboration to build a humane, post-capitalist world. We need ethically responsible media to disseminate the diverse voices of a growing planetary community of peace. We need unbreakable solidarity and a shared connection with the power of vision. The stronger the vision of a world of trust and cooperation shines in our hearts and souls, the more vibrantly the necessary systemic change can succeed.