COVID-19-Une question économique
Last Updated Date : 10 mai 2021
Published Date:26 avril 2021

Dans l’histoire humaine, la destruction de la nature par l’homme a souvent provoqué des épidémies. Or, aujourd’hui, l’un des principaux facteurs structurels de l’effondrement de l’écosystème est l’économie mondialisée, qui recherche une main-d’œuvre et des ressources bon marché, au sein d’un capitalisme déréglementé. Le « post-Covid-19 » devra comporter un processus de transformation de la mondialisation en localisation, par une promotion maximale de la production et de la consommation locales, en fonction des besoins du territoire concret. L’Église doit encourager ce processus qui conduit à établir la justice, la paix et l’intégrité de la création. L’auteur est professeur de théologie à l’Université Sogang de Séoul (République de Corée).

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Que faire après le Covid-19 ?

« Après le Covid-19 rien ne sera comme avant » – nous avons souvent entendu ce genre d’affirmations. Toutefois, les opinions divergent sur « comment » ce sera différent, et il y a aussi disparité des évaluations sur la façon dont les choses se passaient avant. Comment nous comporterons-nous après le Covid-19 ? La réponse à cette question dépend de notre regard sur la pandémie.

Nous pourrions croire que la crise du Covid-19 est le simple résultat d’une maladie infectieuse virale. Dans ce cas, les contre-mesures pour l’« après » se concentreront sur une meilleure prévention des infections, des politiques d’hygiène et des mesures préventives plus efficaces contre les épidémies, sur le développement de vaccins et de médicaments ainsi que sur la reprise de l’économie fragilisée par la pandémie, et ainsi de suite. Si telle est la perspective, une infection virale est considérée comme un obstacle inattendu à surmonter ; or, c’est ce que les organes administratifs centraux et locaux en Corée ont fait lorsqu’ils se sont occupés du Covid-19.

Pourtant, il est important d’affronter le Covid-19 aussi d’un point de vue social. Nous tenterons de comprendre comment la montée des épidémies, aujourd’hui comme dans l’histoire, est souvent liée au non-respect des rythmes et des espaces de la nature. De plus, nous analyserons la corrélation intrinsèque entre l’effondrement de l’écosystème et l’économie mondialisée qui, pour maximiser les profits, exploite les ressources, utilise une main-d’œuvre à faible coût et met en œuvre un capitalisme dérégulé.

Cette mentalité tournée vers la croissance a pris racine et elle est devenue l’idéologie de l’économie mondialisée. De ce point de vue, le Covid-19 n’est certainement pas un simple obstacle à surmonter mais plutôt un signal d’alarme qui concerne le concept même d’une croissance économique considérée exclusivement en termes de progrès et de développement. Nous, les humains, sommes les responsables de cette infection virale désastreuse. Dans la lutte contre le virus, il faut une conversion radicale de l’homme pour qu’il arrive à abandonner la cupidité, l’instrumentalisation d’autres êtres humains et de la nature, et puisse ainsi sauvegarder et valoriser l’œuvre de la création. Ce que nous pensons au sujet l’« après » requiert un examen de conscience fondamental sur l’« avant ».

Les mesures qui ont été prises pendant la crise du premier point de vue sont nécessaires mais insuffisantes. Cependant, le deuxième point de vue ne peut pas être négligé, si l’on veut aborder le Covid-19 de façon radicale. Le Covid-19 est, d’une part, un accident de santé et, d’autre part, un problème environnemental. Il concerne la question humaine du développement et de l’économie. Si on se limite à le considérer comme une maladie ou une complication environnementale, on passe à côté de l’essentiel et on ne trouvera pas les vraies solutions. Comme le disait le Pape François dans l’encyclique Laudato si’ (LS), nous devons nous rappeler qu’« il n’y a pas deux crises séparées, l’une environnementale et l’autre sociale, mais une seule et complexe crise socioenvironnementale » (LS 139).

 

Mondialisation et pandémie

If we consider the Covid-19 crisis in the social context, we must pay attention to the close connection between the outbreak of a pandemic viral contagion and globalization. First of all, globalization has considerably accelerated contagion. Before the age of transport, epidemics like this were a regional problem: they were spread by maritime trade, but the long duration of these voyages largely prevented the spread of the disease. In contrast, today, as the world is connected by high-speed transportation networks, a viral infection, once hatched, can spread quickly and everywhere.

In addition, the globalized economy has abolished all regulations relating to capital investment in the world. Mindless mining, deforestation and other destructive activities are common; massive human devastation of the ecosystem is underway, the consequences of which have led, in various ways, to the spread of contagion. Environmental pollution generally promotes the proliferation of viruses. Wild animals, which have lost their habitat due to excessive development, approach populated centers and increase the likelihood of humans coming into contact with viruses. According to a recent study, the number of animals affected by zoonotic viral diseases is 2.5 times higher in areas where the natural environment has been destroyed by development. Intensive agriculture is a common route by which viruses infect humans. Intensive monoculture, logging and fires destroy forests, leading to a reduction in biodiversity and native species, and ultimately provide viruses with a more conducive environment.

Climate change – caused by the continued economic growth underway since the start of industrialization, but also by our way of life heavily based on the production, distribution, consumption and disposal of waste – is causing a digital increase in waste. populations of animals carrying viruses. Thus, viral diseases appear. Similarly, melting permafrost, caused by global warming, could in the future release various types of viruses buried until now in the ice.

In short, it is we humans who mentioned viruses. Before they attacked man, it was man who attacked nature. Behind the current situation hides this globalized capitalist system which aims only to maximize profits. Therefore, to fight a pandemic like that of Covid-19, health policies and preventive measures aimed specifically at containing contagion are not enough: we must think about what is behind its explosion, taking a critical look broader, which includes the globalized economy.

 

The globalized economy

At the heart of globalization is “the economy”. There has been a process of global integration whereby the whole world has become a single economic system, based on neoliberalism, at the center of which are transnational corporations and international trade agreements. The globalized economy has, on the one hand, strengthened free trade, which is based on the global distribution of products through various international trade agreements; on the other hand, it abolished the various regulations and protective measures which, in the past, safeguarded national industries and the environment. In fact, a substantial part of world trade takes place through industrial trade carried out through export and import.

In a globalized economy, under the name of “free trade”, there can be hidden a “commerce gone mad”, with which, for reasons of economic convenience, goods are imported into a region where they could in fact be produced on the Internet. square. Global industrial farms are a case in point. On the shelves of Korean supermarkets, one can find a lot of cheap agricultural products from other countries. However, in order for the cost of these products to be competitive with national products, it was necessary to use cheap labor, exploit natural resources and obtain subsidies and favors from the government. Transnational corporations do not include in the price of their products the costs of environmental pollution and other expenses for which they are responsible, but they pass the costs on to the regions where the commodity was produced. Since profit maximization is the only interest that motivates them, these companies seek cheap labor and great advantages, ignoring the needs of these regions. The result is the degradation of the local workforce and the environment.

If one accepts a strategy of concentration that selects a wide range of products to offer based on comparative advantage – which is the norm of free trade – then each local economy becomes heavily dependent on foreign countries for many other products and thus becomes vulnerable to changes and crises that occur outside its borders. Ultimately, the most vital issue in emergencies is food. Due to globalization, a small number of multinational grain companies dominate world wheat markets; as a result, the traditional agricultural industry and rural villages are rapidly collapsing. For example, in Korea, the level of dependence on foreign food products is very high. Food self-sufficiency in the world is on average 101.5%; From this point of view, one of the countries doing better is Australia, which boasts almost 300%.

As we have already said, the globalized economy is deeply linked to ecology, in particular to climate issues. Climate change measures and globalized economic policies emerged around the same time, but separately. The international effort to address climate change began in the late 1980s. The Earth Summit, held in Rio, Brazil, in 1992, adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) as the basis for subsequent climate negotiations; then, in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. More or less at the same time, there were international trade negotiations that would become the foundation of the globalized economy. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was concluded in 1992 and, in 1995,

The physical distance between production and consumption has widened, and long-distance “distribution” has become the main cause of carbon emissions. Today, global “industrial farmers” are responsible for 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, “neoliberalism”, the ideological foundation of the globalized economy, has led to privatization, deregulation and cuts in public spending, emerging as the biggest obstacle to environmental intervention aimed at combating change. climate by reducing carbon emissions. This is absurd: the world was trying to fight against climate change while promoting the globalized economy which is accelerating it [1] .

 

Globalization, a “normal accident”

It can be deduced from the above arguments that decisions relating to the “post-Covid-19” will have to be substantially concerned with globalization. The concept of normal accident, proposed by the sociologist Charles Perrow, supports this idea [2] . By “normal accident” is meant an inevitable accident, due to the interactive complexity and close links inherent in a particular system. It is an accident that occurs as a logical consequence, as the system cannot avoid interacting with multiple unexpected and simultaneous problems. The accident occurs precisely because of the high degree of interaction between the elements of the main systems built by modern industrial society.

Perrow talks about normal accidents at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, petrochemical, air and naval power plants; but from the perspective of “normal accidents”, we must also consider the globalized global reality of the world in which we live today. Globalization has transformed the world into a huge and unique system, with a high degree of complexity and close connections, involving many subsystems. Neither had foreseen the Covid-19, but it may be a normal accident that sooner or later was bound to happen. If so, it is normal that the pandemic has broken out. However, if this is the case, it becomes important to reflect on the reality of our globalized world, subject to viral pandemics. To give an answer to Covid-19 as a viral epidemic, it is essential to strive for a general change.

If safety devices were installed in the current system in an attempt to avoid normal accidents, the level of complexity and connections would increase, and so would the risk of other accidents. The only way to stop normal crashes is to change the system. As a normal accident, the Covid-19 issues a clear warning about globalization. In our globalized world, a global catastrophe must be seen as an unexpected but inevitable accident. Therefore, globalization is, in reality, the path to a total, unstoppable and unmanageable catastrophe. Safety devices cannot eliminate its inherent dangers. The fundamental countermeasure is to get out of it. There is no other solution.

 

Localized economy

The “post-Covid-19” must include a process of transforming globalization into localization. Just like in globalization, the essence of localization also lies in the economy, and this does not mean that the connections between different regions of the world are interrupted. A localized economy tends towards a reasonable level of self-sufficiency, but not of self-sufficiency. It aims to produce and consume locally as much as possible, according to the needs of a specific territorial area. According to common sense, the most rational economic system is one that uses the resources of a place to produce what the citizens who live there need.

A localized economy can solve many of the problems caused by the globalized economy. First, it reduces the likelihood of a normal crash on a global scale, as it places local dependence ahead of international interdependence and prefers looser ties to close international connections. One of the normal accidents that can be avoided in this way is a global viral pandemic.

Second, a localized economy reduces the distance between production and consumption, thereby reducing unnecessary international trade and energy consumption reserved for transport.

Third, in agriculture, local small-scale farmers are taking over from global industrial farmers, and organic crops are replacing chemical crops. People have easier access to local products than to products from the other side of the world, whose producers they do not know. A localized economy guarantees a reliable and sustainable food supply.

Fourth, the localized economy pays attention to the preservation of the local environment, unlike the globalized economy, which seeks exaggerated profits in other parts of the world. Economic self-sufficiency also depends on energy autonomy. Therefore, one of the main aspects of localized economies will be the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, such as sun and wind. This will lead to a drastic reduction in the possibility of a global viral epidemic.

 

Location and Church

All the beings of the universe are the creation of God, and all the creatures of the world form “a sublime communion”, for they are “united by invisible bonds” (LS 89). The fundamental bonds between creatures constitute the order of creation that God gave to the world: a created order that demands that we respect nature and human beings. Yet the globalized economy, by imposing its unregulated capitalism that focuses on maximizing profits through cheap labor and reckless exploitation of natural resources, has become a process that destroys order. of creation. In this regard, localization reverses the trend of globalization and must include a process aimed at restoring the order of creation. The maintenance of this order expresses the achievement of justice,Gaudium et Spes , nº 78). Localization is a process that leads to the establishment of justice, peace and the integrity of creation. It is, therefore, today an objective for Christian life and for the mission of the Church.

Moving from globalization to localization involves a fundamental transition, which requires reflection and a radical change in our way of life, currently centered on mass processes that concern the production, distribution, consumption and disposal of waste. However, if localization means abandoning the growth ideology that rules today’s economic reality, in practice it will undoubtedly have to be a bumpy road. For example, among its main challenges, there is the energy transition, which is currently only qualified as a “growth paradigm”. Those who support the transition from fossil fuels to renewables ultimately assume that we will continue to live and consume energy as we do now. But is it really possible to switch to enough renewable energy to support our current way of life? And even if it were possible, would we be able to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions enough to contain global warming, if we used huge amounts of energy to make this transition? In addition, in this case, the energy transition would only take place for electricity, which represents less than half of global energy consumption. In short, localization inevitably requires a reduction in production and consumption. Would we be able to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions enough to contain global warming, if we used huge amounts of energy to make this transition? Moreover, in this case, the energy transition would only take place for electricity, which represents less than half of global energy consumption. In short, localization inevitably requires a reduction in production and consumption. Would we be able to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions enough to contain global warming, if we used huge amounts of energy to make this transition? In addition, in this case, the energy transition would only take place for electricity, which represents less than half of global energy consumption. In short, localization inevitably requires a reduction in production and consumption.

Globalization pursues growth, while localization calls for sobriety, knowing that “slowing down a given rate of production and consumption can give rise to other forms of progress and development” (LS 191). To reduce the speed of the expanding world, this passage must first of all take place in personal consciousness. Indian scholar Vandana Shiva has rightly stated that if we are to change the world, “we have to become ourselves what we want the world to become”. For this, moderation is an essential element. It means respecting and accepting limits, recognizing that nature sets limits and humbly admitting our own limits as well. Yet today, unfortunately, in the compulsive and obsessive culture dictated by consumerism, moderation and sobriety have become unpopular and almost unknown (cf. LS 203). It is unthinkable to expect governments and political parties to establish policies based on moderation, for they are, above all, in pursuit of electoral votes. Even civic groups, run by volunteers, do not follow very different paths. In the environmental movement, “transition” is on the shield, while “sobriety” is put aside. do not follow very different paths. In the environmental movement, “transition” is on the shield, while “sobriety” is put aside. do not follow very different paths. In the environmental movement, “transition” is on the shield, while “sobriety” is put aside.

The Church needs a long-term vision of current reality. Even when other social actors do not take a stand, she must cry out to the world that moderation and frugality are necessary. God wants human beings to protect the world, because He said He considered it “a good thing.” Today, it is suffering irreparable damage from the climate crisis and other ecological crises, which are rooted in the globalized economy and the ideology of growth. However, the Covid-19 is a consequence. The Church’s call for moderation and sobriety is nothing more than a prophetic cry in defense of life. Since not all nations are equally responsible and at the root of this problem, the Church should especially warn rich countries,

The life of Jesus was marked by sobriety and moderation. Today’s globalized economy, which seduces us all with the promise of unlimited wealth linked to economic growth, pushes human beings to co-destruction. Growing social inequalities, ecosystem damage and viral epidemics are nothing more than the inevitable by-product of the economic growth we pursue. Since these are facts, Christians who want to follow Jesus today must include sobriety and moderation among their most significant characteristics.

From the Shabbat tradition, in the Old Testament, we gain a better understanding of moderation and of the reasons for preserving this virtue (cf. LS 71; 237). This tradition actually involves the reflection and care of others. The “rest” of the seventh day (cf. Gen 2: 2-3) is the “contemplative rest” of God (LS 237) towards his creatures. The Sabbath day, when we human beings participate in God’s rest (cf. Ex 20,11), helps us to reflect on our life and our activities and to understand their meaning. In the same way that the event of the Exodus makes us understand that the spirit of the Sabbath is liberation (cf. Dt 5:15), the Sabbath periodically reminds us that we have a duty to defend dignity and equality of socially marginalized people, as well as respecting and caring for all creatures. Essentially, consciously stopping work on the seventh day is a voluntary act of self-control for one’s own good and that of others. It is a voluntary act of which Jesus Christ is the model. The incarnation and the cross are the events of kenosis (cf. Phil 2,6-8), that is to say the essence of self-limitation. Faithfully continuing the line of the Incarnation, Jesus’ life ended with his death on the cross.

Christians living in the time of the pandemic and the ecological crisis must realize that a life marked by voluntary self-restraint is the preferred way to follow Jesus. Ecological conversion implies the will to respect and protect our neighbor and nature as the Master did (cf. LS 217). It is embodied in a life of sobriety and moderation, in the conviction that “less is more” (LS 222). The spirit of the Sabbath, made of frugality and concern, opposes globalization and favors localization. In this regard, religious life lived according to the vow of poverty today acquires a special meaning. If religious orders practice this vow in the location and lead a life that is faithful to it,

Basic movements played an important role in locating. Local agriculture is one example. Initiatives such as’ giving food the face of the farmer ‘in Japan,’ conscious farming ‘in Europe, movements’ to connect farmers and consumers’ in the UK and’ communities that support agriculture ”(Csa) in the United States are all examples of local agriculture that challenges globalization and promotes localization. Local agriculture connects the farmers of a region with their consumers and uses cyclical and sustainable farming methods to preserve the nature of the region to which they belong. It arouses protest from below against the problems caused by global industrial agriculture and makes local people aware of the significance and importance of their habitat. From this point of view, the Catholic Farmers Association and the Movement for Our Farmers, within the Catholic Church of Korea, are significant examples.

In addition, it is important that people and groups outside the Church stand in solidarity with local farmers. The essential tasks of localization include constantly highlighting the problems of globalization and shaping public opinion so that it influences different nations and, more generally, human society as a whole. Global networks of the Catholic Church can play an important role in connecting and unifying localization movements present across the world.

The fundamental shift towards localization is premised on the social and personal search for a “good life” (buen vivir), that is to say that we become aware and convince ourselves that a good life begins with respect for neighbor and nature, because, in the order of creation, they are mutually linked by a link fundamental. An increasing number of people are beginning to realize that globalization, despite its promises and prospects, has a negative influence on man and nature and must give way to greater localization. A stronger sense of local belonging to our community and to the environment will allow us to have a new vision of neighbor and of nature and will lead us to act differently. As a result, many more people will try to live the good life in their local communities. Christians and the Church must commit themselves to making this good life a reality in solidarity with all the peoples of the world, in order to safeguard the order of creation. It is a slow but sure path to localization, which will be able to introduce into the world, step by step, the changes demanded of us by the Covid-19 pandemic. [/ restrict]

 

[1] Cf. N. Klein, Una rivoluzione ci salverà. Perché il capitalismo non è sostenibile, Milan, Rizzoli, 2015, cap. 2.

[2] Cf. C. Perrow, Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1999.