VIRUSES AND IDEOLOGY: How much is the person’s life worth?
Efraín Gonzales de Olarte
The coronavirus has ideology-like characteristics: it is invisible, when people become contaminated it is difficult to get rid of, it is easily transmitted, and when it becomes widespread it becomes a pandemic or ideal thought. The difference is that people themselves die from the biological virus, in the other case ideologies can kill it, as it has been long demonstrated in history, German Nazism, Soviet or Chinese communism, killed millions of people in the name of totalitarian ideologies and by action of their leaders.
But now the coronavirus is also killing for two reasons: because countries are poorly prepared for an eventuality of this magnitude, or because some rulers, protected by certain neo-liberal or left-wing ideologies, have underestimated the power of this virus and are privileging their economic interests, and / or politicians.
The coronavirus pandemic and the normal and simultaneous functioning of the economy is a lethal equation, with quite predictable results: the virus will win, that is, it will kill more people than it should. This raises the central issue of the current pandemic: how much is people’s life worth? There are two positions on this.
On the one hand, there are those who, like the President of the United States, the British Prime Minister and the President of Brazil – for whom the coronavirus is a little “flu” – assume that if tens of thousands of people have to die, provided they do not stop the economy it does not matter, it is the social cost of any pandemic or crisis.
On the other hand, there are those who think that life has no monetary value or price and that everything possible must be done to save as many lives as possible.
At the bottom of this controversy are ethical and moral principles, which are embodied in fundamental human rights such as the right to life, which every person by the simple fact of being alive has. This right protects her from any attempt on her life by anyone, including governments. Therefore, when a government makes the decision that people continue to work despite the high risk that they will become infected with the coronavirus, they are violating the right to life and against the dignity of the persons.
Therefore, the coronavirus is testing the principles that defend life and is drawing a line between those that the world cannot stop because the economy cannot stop and those who think that it can stop because there are thousands or millions of people whose lives, whose life projects, whose dreams would not be realized and, in my opinion, there is no rational and practical justification to justify them. This is the time for solidarity, cooperation, and detachment so that, once the economy is stopped, those who least have access to temporary and solidary income and we should all collaborate to that end.
Consequently, it is essential to do everything possible so that the smallest number of people become infected and the fewest die, even if they are old, because the right to life is also the right to a full life.
Lima, April 2020