Research studies

“Post-Corona ” The relapse of the West modernity in front of the coming death from the far East” A socio-communication reading in the “post-truth” dimensions of Covid-19

 

Prepared by the researcher :   Dr. Saber Friha, University ZITOUNA, Tunisia. – Academic researcher in sociology, – Connectivity and Media

Democratic Arabic Center

Foreword

”The terrible painting by the English painter “Turner”, entitled “The Slavers”, shows slaves thrown from the deck of a ship into the sea – due to an epidemic that spread in the boat – and there are sharks preparing to devour them. It’s a badge of indignity for the capitalist West.”  Roger Garaudy [1]

Abstract

There are many dangers to humanity during the third millennium as a result of neoliberal policies and practices such as pollution and viruses that kill humanity and destroy human societies as observed by contemporary sociology. However, the horrific intrusion of the virus [COVID-19] in the form of the Corona pandemic (Pandémies), is nothing but a historical repetition that claimed hundreds of thousands and millions of lives and caused demographic upheavals, social changes, economic transformations and political trends in order to perpetuate the Malthusian theory of refuting the “Cartesian sovereignty” of man over Nature, due to its peculiarities as an ambiguous pandemic in a post-truth era, it has produced different value, moral and symbolic patterns and different ways of living. “Liquid fear” and its meaning: “You cannot feel safe all the time, even with the people closest to you.” The Corona pandemic also demonstrated a state of selfishness and sacred ignorance, and metaphysical, superstitious and religious intimidation that heralds the end of the universe and the approaching day of judgment. Populism, nationalist, chauvinistic and xenophobic claims, the Corona pandemic has also represented a fertile ground for rumors, fallacies, false information and fake news that are spreading through social media platforms as a fertile environment A “post-truth” world… cosmic and totalitarian phenomena spread the world in panic. The outbreak of Corona eventually resulted in the emergence of a new political culture that excludes and polarizes the Second World War and its liberal and socialist military alliances.. Rather, it sets a new standard that divides the societies of the world into “strict” and “tolerant” ones based on the limits of freedom and the extent of submission to rules, as enacted by the American sociologist “Michelle Gelfand”.

Sociology, since Ibn Khaldun, Marx, Durkheim, and Weber has been alerted to the dilemmas and crises that could storm societies leaving a deep impact on behavior and relational structures. Given the two distinct sides of the coin of sociologists, as they are simultaneously participants and observers of society.

That is the purpose of the contemporaries sociologists awakening, for instance, the German Ulrich Beck (1944) (2015) in his book “The Risk Society,” [2] warned of the dangers surrounding humanity during the “third millennium”, resulting from the neoliberal policies and practices of the major industrial countries such as nuclear radiation, pollution, and viruses. These potential dangers have the fatal force to threaten humanity and to destroy societies. Consequently, without differentiating between the rich and the poor, and enclosing both developed and underdeveloped countries of the world.

Seeing the global spread of the Covid-19 virus in the form of the Corona pandemic in record time to parts of a world without borders, providing it with traditional mass media, news, and social media, platforms to promote it, resulted in intimidation and even biological terror.This emerged markedly in one of the stigmas and signs of the “escaped world” as described by the British sociologist Anthony Giddens [3].

In like manner, the symbolic violence [4] that these digital bearings and media platforms have projected on their audience, as predicted by the French (1930-2002 – Pierre Bourdieu), before its emergence and impact on individuals.

In the beginning, it was a pandemic

The beginning of the year 2020 was a tragic shock to the nations of the world, as they welcomed the new year with the impact of a disaster.

It targeted humanity, its survival, the stability of its normal life, its normal behaviors, and lifestyles.

In the Chinese city of Wuhan, with the emergence of a deadly human virus, which is the most dangerous in the Era of technological revolutions, their rapid scientific developments, their deep sciences, and their nuanced technologies.

Forthwith, a deadly epidemic that is the most treacherousin our current history spread around the world. It expanded in geographically dispersed areas and spread within a few weeks.

The dreaded virus was named Corona, and scientifically it is known as Covid 19[5]. A new global situation favored with it a new chronology of the world before and after Corona. As the famous American political analyst Thomas Friedman went to that point in a reference article for which was published in the American New York Times.

A setback for human centrality

It seemed that the Corona facts as a global pandemic were nothing but a practical response to the Malthusian theory, which recognized that plagues and wars are necessary for the world to restore its natural and demographic balances.

Humanity has lived a long painful and tragic history of global plagues, or the so-called global pandemics, which claimed hundreds of thousands and millions of lives at the time of their spread.

Henceforth, the demographic upheavals, social variables, economic transformations, and new political trends in the afflicted countries and the reality of global policies changed the course of history [6].

There is no doubt that global pandemics have deeper sociological and philosophical dimensions in defining a person’s relationship with himself, nature, and with his mankind. With this in mind, this micro-organism has dropped the “Cartesian sovereignty” of man over nature, and his centrality in the universe as “the master of nature and its owner”. This is confirmed by the history of pandemics.

Like the plague that spread in the 14th and 16th centuries, and cholera in the Middle East, India, and Europe, which lasted between (1881 and 1896). Then, the influenza pandemic at the beginning of the twentieth century (1917-1918), which victims numbered about 50 million people, as in the 80s and 90s of the twentieth century [7].

Communicable and infectious epidemics followed the end of the twentieth century, such as HIV / AIDS (AIDS), the Ebola epidemic between (2014-2016), SARS, Bird Flu, and Swine Flu. Not to mention the emergence and the spread of the Covid 19 virus, known as the Corona pandemic, eventually.

Despite, the commonalities of these pandemics and the tragic end crisis, this epidemic Covid 19 is undoubtedly due to its peculiarities as a pandemic still ambiguous for the causes and consequences and the uncertainty of the contexts of its emergence and who is behind it [8].

In the post-truth era [9] despite its continuation, it will end with the fading of other values, moral and symbolic systems, and different lifestyles. Perhaps considering their effects on the behavior of human groups, their behavior, their psyche, their natures, and habits adapted to this type of human calamity that is almost cyclical in human history.

Quarantine Complexity and the doctrine of fear

It is noteworthy that the precautionary measure regarding the fears of epidemics and the spread of pandemics in general remains quarantine.

In this regard, human memory preserves the prophetic guidance that says: “If the plague is in a people’s land, do not enter it, and if you are in it, do not leave it.”

Consequently, the World Health Organization used to launch the same quarantine calls at the beginning of such crises in the regions of the world. The international health structure is concerned with monitoring the epidemiological situation in the world directing urgent interventions to prevent its rapid spread and transmission.

In the absence of accurate medical information about its epidemiological nature and its spreading characteristics, and the absence of a drug, vaccine, or medical antibiotics to treat it, home quarantine and social distancing remains a safe precautionary measure in humanity’s dealing with such pests.

Perhaps this is our case with Corona in the absence of rapid vaccination and medical preventive solutions, which made human societies of all cultures abide by fear of the virus and dread of everything that leads to its infection and transmission.

In this sense, fear has become a cultural phenomenon and a human condition, not just an episodic one. The transient epidemiological case of its biological health, and the manifestations of unusual fear have multiplied [10].

For the first time, degrees of fear of a person exceeds the human being, the thresholds of altruism. On the ethnological, anthropological, and ideological differences, fear reaches family ties.

The proximity ties for reasons of social distancing and safety distances must be as the required distance between the individual and the other of one meter as a minimum. Not to mention the absence of the usual intimate and friendly impediments, such as handshaking or hugging and kissing. The cease of visiting close relatives, friends, and kinship relations. No matter what the nature of customs and relational closeness in all societies was wherever they are.

This state of “running fear” has characterized Western modernity, which now distributes major concerns to the details of our daily life.

According to the description of the British veteran Polish sociologist and philosopher of “liquidity” (1925-2017). He expresses the state of comprehensive borderline fear “liquid fear” and the result of that fear “that you cannot feel safe all the time, even with the people closest to you” [11].

It is this fluidity of fear that has given rise to the cascade of excessive precaution on the part of individuals and groups.

Furthermore, the continuation of preventive measures printed with fear and intimidation of the consequences of various forms of gathering. Such as workplaces, schools, research centers in schools and universities, cultural, entertainment, sports, and other spaces.

The degrees of fear and intimidation amounted to the taking of restraining and punitive measures, ranging from forced isolation to administrative control, financial fines, temporary detention, and even imprisonment.

All are based on ordinary laws and exceptional legislation required by the isolation protocol.

Health and quarantine measures and curfew, as they have been implemented by most countries of the world and gradually, according to international recommendations.

From automatic and subjective fear, we have come to see individuals and groups voluntarily stay in their homes, not only adhering to the instructions of their governments and compliant with the reasons for medical and media guidance, but for fear and prevention of an unexpected infection in light of the horror of the virus and the fear of its transmission. Despite the length of the first quarantine, and its extension to about three months. In some countries (late April / early May)  [12].

Corona of selfishness and sacred ignorance [13]

In continuity with the crisis of modernity and the fluctuations it has singled out, Bauman links the phenomenon of fluid fear with the decline of the level of rationality. “Fear erases the basic features of civilized life in an instant, and in light of all this fluid fear of everything, which permits everything, the individual feels that facing threats and risks is his mission and his individual experience” [14]

And then we expect every value of reason and understanding of the worlds and nature to recede. How do we explain the cases of panic and the manifestations of societal confusion transmitted by various TV channels in the world? And cases of greed and eagerness to buy consumable materials in irrational quantities, fearing they will disappear from big stores and markets.

Notably, we have seen cases of chaos and looting of supermarkets completely in the USA. On the other hand, the news lenses have reported the same scenes in African countries and elsewhere.

In the same regard, the Corona pandemic demonstrated that a society cannot be distinguished from others by upholding the values ​​of reason and adhering to urbanization and civic behavior towards variables of social reality with the advent of this fatal disaster.

The mind’s experience has become a subjective experience, especially concerning the medical and medicinal methods with spiritual beliefs and religious convictions,  Even returning to myths establishing a relationship with the search for preventive or definitive treatment of the notorious coronavirus.

As there were promoted videos on social media sites in Eastern countries with primitive and traditional remedies.

The promoters assert the recovery of those infected with the virus who have tried these treatments. Whether through subjective experiences or the transmission of narratives the mind moves east and west under sacred and metaphysical headings.

Such as the Shiite beliefs that the altars of the Shiite Imams and their holy names are not affected by the Coronavirus.

And the same is the Brahmas and Hindu beliefs that their sacred cow urine protects and heals from the virus of Corona due to its curative properties. This is not far from the smirks of African sorcerers and wizards, who in turn dealt with the issue with their pagan gusts.

The pandemic exposed the fragility of human societies in their consciousness in face of annihilation through experiences of fear, anxiety, health obsession, and eagerness to what guarantees the instinct of survival.

A selfish nature that nourished the dualities of existence, nothingness, immutability, and negation in the forms of our conflicts with others.

Society is against the state, the struggle of class differentiation, and the differences between ethnic and sectarian religious groups.The escalation of discrimination between gender antagonisms of males and females.

These antagonisms were manifested during a crisis in various global societies, under quarantine in varying degrees of tension and physical and/or symbolic violence.

This is what made the General Secretary of the United Nations launch a cry of panic at the high level of domestic and gender-based violence under quarantine.

The rational backsliding of the West was manifested in political discourse, with its various egoistic dimensions.

So, what does it mean for US President Trump to talk about his country’s efforts to provide a vaccine for Americans only? His administration’s efforts to acquire a vaccine against Corona and limit it to Americans?

Then, what does it mean for the West and Europeans to abandon one of their most important allies afflicted with Coronavirus, such as Italy and Spain, without medical and preventive supplies, in a step contrary to the meaning of human solidarity in crises, calamities, calamities, and disasters?

And what does it mean for America to let the world down in efforts to resist the spread of the virus after the decision of the President of the White House to suspend the payment of the financial contribution of the United States to the World Health Organization, on the grounds of its mismanagement of the Coronavirus outbreak and its bias towards China?  At a time when that international organization is addressing the efforts of contaminating the spread of coronavirus in the world, especially the poor countries? [15]

Thus, the strange “fluidity of fear” in Europe and America confirms how the “rationality of the West” stood “trembling” faced with this crisis, compared to Asian countries that seemed more sober and effective in tightening the screws on them in record time, such as China and Korea.

Post Corona, after the truth [16]

By acquiring the status of a pandemic, Corona has gone beyond the character of the virus that is circulating in conferences, medical laboratories, and usual hospital descriptions.

This means its transformation par excellence into a social phenomenon, a humanitarian crisis, and a global political issue that arouses the interest of the world and the countries for the first time on an equal footing and without discrimination or superiority or poverty or lagging, the world is on the threshold of certain death.

It is likely to be that humanity fails to discover a preventive vaccine and an effective therapeutic drug that can change the spreading of the current epidemic with the unprecedented speed of its infection.

In the absence of similar epidemiological precedents, the world stood astonished in front of the widespread images of death spotted by surveillance cameras in the streets of the stricken Chinese city of Wuhan.

First, with this deadly virus, some social media activists managed to leak it through their platforms from inside the besieged city.

Photographs have opened the doors of interpretation, speculation, intimidation, and rumor about its struggle through social media dealings, in a clear manifestation of the concept of “post-truth”. An “adjective” that refers to circumstances in which objective facts have less influence in shaping public opinion than towards Passion and personal belief ”.

Since 2016, a charged political and social discourse has prevailed, and in its context, the term “post-truth” has taken its place in the language.

After a period of the rise of social networks to become one of the most important sources of news.

Considering the growing distrust of the facts presented by the traditional establishment of government and the official media.[17]The manifestations and dimensions of this were numerous in the Corona crisis, including:

Increasing interpretations of conspiracy theory, in determining the real and scientific causes of the virus and its amazing speed of spread.

The multiplicity of accusations and the holding of responsibility in this emergency humanitarian situation for China, America, France, or other countries loyal to this country.

Rather they are accused of producing and creating this virus genetically engineered or programmed in their laboratories to get rid of the elderly. Not only to clear out the carriers of specific genes or people of certain ethnicities but also to annihilate those whose existence or survival contradicts the requirements of the global system “Post-Corona!! [18]

The level of metaphysical and supernatural intimidation has escalated with interpretations, religious narratives, and historical events of Corona hazards. Hence, by preaching the end of the universe on the approaching Day of Judgment and the victory of the weak, the downtrodden, the destitute, and the marginalized. The loss is for the authoritarian, arrogant, and capitalist people after the disappearance of all the existing differences that they have always fortified under the conditions of similar surrender to near-death.

We are not surprised by these interpretations to emerge from the educated, the non-literates, the religious, the atheists, the traditionalists, the modernists, the progressives, the rationalist, and the ones who rely on their reasoning.

The escalation of approaches to the post-Corona new world order and the strategic endings of world polarity inherited from the collapse of the Soviet Union and heralding the departure of democracy and capitalism.

And anti-neoliberal struggles in a transparent manner, just like the recovery of the West with the disintegration of the Eastern Bloc and the collapse of the Warsaw Alliance. That is by glorifying the return of the totalitarianism and inclusiveness that proved successful in getting rid of the tribulations of global capital crises.For instance, China, Russia, and Cuba, which seemed more humane and practical in supporting mankind and representing them for humanitarian and international solidarity.

It was at a time when the West denies the countries afflicted by NATO Allies itself, such as Italy and Spain.They were left to their fate due to the Western policies of pragmatism and utilitarianism, which were shaped by American policies and decisions.

With the rise of populism, nationalist propaganda, new Chauvinistic tendencies, and xenophobic speeches. To illustrate, saying that French hospitals are primarily for French people of French origin, before the naturalized people and colonial residents in France.

Same thing for the speech of the Lombard League in Italy, especially in the deepest crisis of Corona. On the other hand, “post-truth” speeches fiery conservative speeches that fuel the policies of isolation, militancy, and xenophobia. Significantly this happenedamid indications of unexpected victories for conservatives and neo-populists in Europe and the West, “post-Corona [19]“.

Between traditional and social media: engineering fallacies and bombarding rumors.

The Corona pandemic has formed the fertile ground for rumors, fallacies, and false information [20],  considering that rumors are unconfirmed news.

People use it in times of crises and tensions, and it quickly spreads to influence emotions or justify reality and foresee facts through various means. Such as traditional press, mass communication, and social media in the form of news, text information, data, pictures, or videos.

It is circulated without investigation, criticism, or examination of the reliability of its sources, that is, without confirmation of its validity or falsehood and without any inquiries about who has an interest in its publication and circulation,

 This makes it a reality and a reality of which the audience reassures

Two American psychologists took the initiative Gordon Willard Allport (1897-1967) Leo Postman (2004-1918) in their book “The Psychology of Rumors”, after being alerted to the spread of rumors and counter-rumors during World War II [21].

They set the algebraic standard operator equation as follows:“The power of a rumor is equal to the importance of its topic, harmful to the extent of ambiguity around the topic: (the intensity of the rumor) = [A Significance x Ambiguity]. This is because a person tends to repeat stories and ideas that confirm his doubts and respond to his fears and is convinced of their truthfulness upon hearing the repetition of her narration.

In the absence of accurate scientific information, countless examples of rumors circulating through the social media in the contexts of invented biological wars between the new camps, in another new model of the Cold War. The most important of which are:

– Western mass media circulated news reports suggesting the people’s responsibility for the creation of COVID-19. In other words, China was accused of developing Covid 19 as a biological weapon against its Western opponents for reasons of trying to disrupt the pace of its development towards global sovereignty in the new role  [22].

– Anti-Western news reports reported as part of a counter-media campaign on Chinese news channels and official Chinese websites. Chinese officials accuse the United States of being responsible for leaking the deadly virus to the Chinese depth in the Chinese technology city “Wuhan” in the context of the hidden economic conflict between the two countries [23].

– The evolution of social media rumors and public media speculation into open accusations at the leadership level That is in the context of the war of official statements and accusations between US President Trump, who called “Covid-19” the Chinese virus, and Chinese officials who accused America of fighting a biological war against them [24].

-European news reports suggesting that the virus was manufactured in Europe by French laboratories in China to prevent Britain’s exit from the European Union [25].

-Meanwhile there were other reports, which were supported by more serious rumors. The goal behind the creation of the fatal virus likely is to relieve Western countries of the burden of rising life expectancy that led to the aging of the demographical triangle in ancient Europe and America [26].

And thus, get rid of the elderly and retirees who mathematically hinder the attempts for the physical development of the western countries.

– At the public level, rumors have escalated considering the obligatory and optional home quarantine. Whereas, social media networks were a virtual space for the exchange of huge amounts of news blogs, photos, and videos about the causes of the disease, the factors of its rapid spread, and ways to prevent it.

Moreover, the exchange of experiences of the infected and the recovered from the virus, rates of deaths, and the repercussions of the virus on the future of humanity. As the virus represents an existential threat to the human race. It has led to an increase in psychological crises, depressive states, and physical and symbolic violence [27].

-In the Arab world, the Response Media Credibility Monitor “Akeed” completed a field survey to track the movement of rumors within only six days, between March 17th and 22nd.

As 14 rumors were recorded during the period before the home quarantine measures were eased. They varied between misleading information about the virus and its effects on the infected. Also, there were audio recordings and video clips with false contents about new virus infections.

According to the observatory, rumors reach 67 rumors during March, with the “Corona” virus leading by 64%.

During April, the Observatory recorded 49 rumors, 38 of which were fabricated and promoted by the Social Media [28].

Despite his acknowledgment of the role played by social media in the emergence of what is known as a citizen or participatory press, the Egyptian researcher Mamdouh El-Sayed Abdel-Hadi Shatla favors in his study of rumors on social media platforms and networks.

Mr. Shatla holds social media responsible for spreading rumors and misleading news, spreading the belief in its validity, and mobilizing public opinion in light of its circulation, listing its defects such as,the news is not documented, it is difficult to verify its authenticity, and it is difficult to verify the safety of its source.

The study revealed the following results:

Backgrounds of spreading rumors in the Egyptian environment Percentage %
Just tampering and entertainment 45.4%
External goals and agendas 38.8%
Psychiatric disorders and diseases 15.8%

These and other results prompted official, media, and civic entities to send governmental, independent, and civil institutions to further investigate social media information.

Equally, monitoring professional and ethical errors and various deficiencies in obtaining, adapting, and promoting information.

Similar to the Anti-rumors Authority platform, which is an informal platform initially launched by Saudi network engineer Rayan Adel on Twitter platforms then, on the rest of the social networks in the form of a campaign under the slogan “No to rumors”.

A large public interaction was found to distinguish the right from the fake, in the form of a website for the authority, while countering rumors and false news.

The commission also took charge of exposing the publishers of false news.

The site is independent and not affiliated with any government agency

 It consists of a group of specialists in different fields from different Arab countries.

Hence, many ministries from Arab countries are cooperating with the commission in the context of combating rumors [29].

Among the international experiences in the context of protecting the public from misinformation, media institutions have undertaken initiatives to uncover errors and correct information such as the French “Le Monde guide on Corona” to distinguish false rumors from facts, and other initiatives [30].

The wave of the Coronavirus outbreak, as we have presented, may suggest the direction of “Thomas Friedman” previously mentioned, the emergence of a new political culture.

It excludes the post-global war II institution, which is based on oriented polarization, military alliances, and economic systems between the two Liberian and socialist markets.

Additionally, an American researcher at the University of Maryland, “Michele Gelfand,” divided societies into “strict” and “permissive,” according to the priorities and limits of freedom or subjection to rules [31].

“Rigid societies” are distinguished, such as China, Singapore, and Austria where a wide system of rules and strict penalties take place to control social behavior. Under those circumstances, citizens are at a high level of self-censorship of law, which develops good behavior in their individual and collective behavior.

The strictness of the control system is historically linked to these countries, according to “Galvand”, with what they have suffered throughout their history from the calamities and painful events.In this case, famine, wars, natural disasters, and outbreaks of epidemics and pandemics.

However, permissive cultures in countries such as the United States, Italy, and Brazil, where the rules of the system seem more tolerant and vulnerable.They did not face a history of tragedies and risks under the well-fare of the permissive regime.

Perhaps the culture of legal indulgence is behind the rise in Corona victims, such as Italy and the United States, while Singapore and Hong Kong were more effective and stricter in dealing with the pandemic.

Therefore, the path of the deadly virus remains dependent on the existing cultural practices in each country.

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