Being in contact in a contactless new world

Ece Temelkuran
25/03/2020, Articles
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The mesmerizing spring blossoms of Zagreb look a little melancholic. After all, this is the first spring they lost their regular audience, humankind. In fact we might remember the spring of 2020 as the first time that nature belonged only to itself.

Only a few passersby could notice the cherry blossoms in a shutdown botanic garden. Alas, we are all too busy with resetting our public life habits to survive a pandemic: drawing wide arches when passing by each other, carefully positioning ourselves one meter apart from others whilst waiting at the traffic lights and wondering if we will survive this worldwide trouble.

It’s only been five days since I began my self–isolation and I already feel a shiver down my spine whenever people kiss or touch each other in movies. Whenever I witness an affectionate human contact, which normally would induce warmth in my heart, I feel like I’m looking at the walking dead. In times terror, the brain is surprisingly apt at reorganizing its habits. The brain is a plastic matter, yes. Yet, it does not have limitless elasticity and is thus not prone to constant reshaping.

So, if and when there will an it-is-all-over day, it probably won’t be a back-to-normal day. It seems like there will be a new normal. And since we are all at home and have less to do, rather than obsessing about the death toll that is now broadcasted like the stock market, we can start anticipating and even imagining the new world.

Our times are marred with much cynicism, so voicing such deliberations is rather risky. One feels almost afraid to suggest a solution to any problem for one knows well that any idea would be met with immediate cutthroat sarcasm. Still, I dare to assume that the last several weeks taught us that we, as human beings have no time left to waste on being the moody adolescents of human history. It is about time that we risk to be perceived as naïve when it comes to finding a way out of our current problems.

For a while now, history has been accelerated. Capitalism has been hardly holding itself together through clownish or dreadful authoritarian leaders and climate change has already showed us the tragic ending of our story as humankind. The refugee crisis with its epic global moral failure presented us with the fact that the end of humanity does not require any dramatic apocalypse but can happen in the most banal way, like a live broadcasted reality show. We are all trying to keep up with maddeningly chaotic political and natural developments like actors thrown in a horror movie scampering around with no clue about the script.

With the coronavirus, this acceleration is now in full speed. However, two observable and quite groundbreaking developments are unfolding: A general sense of urgent need for social justice (simply not to die as a victim of an underfunded public health system) is in revival. And the honor of science (simply not to die under the rule of idiocy) is being restored. Humankind is finally coming terms with the fact that in order to survive it has to let go the institutionalized greed and also follow facts, the truth and the moral.

After a collective denial of science, and an alienation of scientists encouraged by right wing populist leaders around the world, today the entire planet is desperately waiting for scientists and doctors to talk on a daily basis. The long struggle to explain  that inequality is idiotic and unsustainable to humankind is finally yielding fruit. At last, the peoples of the world are convinced that it cannot go on like this.

My mother and father are both Socialists and I was mocking them the other night, “So after all it isn’t the class struggle but a stupid virus that is finishing Capitalism.” My father retorted with a Leninist joke, “Well, we’re still here, aren’t we? We’ve been waiting for the conditions to mature.”

The world is at its best to allow the sane, the humane and the rational to take over. The question is, how are we supposed to reinvent solidarity in order to gather the political power to change it? How are we going to be in contact with each other and with the current reality to shape this contactless world for the better? I guess, thanks to total lockdown, this is the first time in generations that we have enough time in our hands to come up with answers.

Ece Temelkuran will appear as a special guest this week on DiEM25TV to present ‘Corona-Neo-Fascism: a deadly combo’. Join us on our YouTube livestream at 19:00 CET this Sunday!

This piece was originally published in duvaR.english. Find Ece Temelkuran on Twitter.

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