A return of collective values in the New Viral Age?

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« To maintain order while spreading chaos, to institute in the same movement endemic global insecurity and a state of emergency in perpetuity, to produce exclusion and the incarceration of exclusion, this is what the alliance of gold and iron now boils down to: a permanent counter-insurgency war, indifferent to the very principles of political liberalism(1). « ,

Jacques Luzi

« Can we all live as if life were one big hospital(2)?  »

Sylvie D., resident of Lyon.

The New Viral Age (of darkness) brings with it its share of bizarre, inane or naive representations. From the moment of the confinement, there was much talk about what the « world after » (3) would/should look like, since it is accepted that this political-sanitary event marks the end of one era and the beginning of another. One of these clichés, optimistic for the moment, is to affirm that it will have had this good that it would mean a « return of the collective values » after decades of individualism. Of course, starting from such a low base, it is not difficult to say that we have progressed! Because until last spring, it was true that our Western societies had become dissociated(4), that is to say a type of society giving priority to the individual over the collective, in an ideological and systematic way. The individuation advocated by the philosophy of the Enlightenment had mutated into hyper-individualism since the neoliberal counter-revolution of the 1980s and Margaret Thatcher’s provocative declaration:  » There is no such thing as society . Individual liberty was presented as the supreme value that the state had to preserve, and even promote(5). Some people, including myself, wished that « something » would put a stop to it, so much so that this path seemed to have no other way out than the war of all against all and of all against nature. Since this something could not come from political representatives too concerned about their re-election, it remained the occurrence of some plague, real and more or less controlled(6). As the cracked reactors of Doel 3 and Tihange 2 had held up until now, it was an epidemic that set the record straight. In the age of the transnational plutocracy.


March 2020. As soon as the containment order was given in France and Belgium, we saw in the mainstream media the return of a discourse of certainty(s), after years of insignificance. If the experts on stage admitted, or pretended to admit, their ignorance of the deep nature and long-term effects of this new coronavirus version 2019, they presented on the other hand the measure of containment as indispensable and indisputable in front of a highly contaminating, deadly and unpredictable pathogen. To make the pill pass, the political and media intoxication insisted on the « solidarity » dimension of the measure, betting that there must be an ounce of it left in the depths of consciences. Really?  » It is pitiful to hear political and ethical authorities appeal to the responsibility of citizens after having inoculated them for years with an individualistic culture(7) », sighs Roland Gori, temporarily forgetting that incoherence and about-face are customary in politics. Didn’t Emmanuel Macron obnoxiously declare in late October:  » We are in the process of relearning to be fully a Nation. That is, we had gradually become accustomed to being a society of free individuals. We are a Nation of citizens in solidarity « . We would like to answer them, firstly, that it is very late to tackle this question, perhaps even too late; secondly, that compassion alone cannot constitute the cement of a society. But how to force things? By the collectivization of a new meaning. Staying at home was equivalent to « saving lives » elsewhere, since everyone was a potential carrier of the virus. It is a strange concept of solidarity to cut oneself off (un)voluntarily from all physical contact with one’s fellow human beings, to isolate oneself, to atomize oneself. Until then, I would have said that altruism — called care by others — involved the meeting of bodies, which is now made unlikely and complicated by this measure and by this paradoxical injunction: stay at home but help the « fragile »(8). How could one be both here (confined) and there (on a rescue mission)? If they are fragile, they should not be approached, in order to protect them; if they are approached for help, then their health, perhaps even their lives, are threatened. How to do it? Helping through screens? The paradoxical injunction drives you crazy. Perversity of biopower in late modernity.


After the confinement came the wearing of masks(9), at first only recommended and then progressively made compulsory, first in shops and closed places, then in streets and busy squares, and finally in the whole public space, day and night, for example in Brussels. In October, the authorities also asked that you wear it at home when you receive people outside your « bubble ». Did you recognize the traditional frog-in-the-pot strategy? One constraint having replaced another, have we gained at the exchange? Was the mask an even more supportive measure than confinement, while waiting for the vaccine, the most supportive measure of all? The media experts explained to us that this accessory does not protect us from ourselves but protects others from us. Whatever the truth of this statement, it is also a manipulative rhetoric that was taken up in chorus by politicians and coronavirus-phobic consumer-voters (a majority, it seems). In other words: everyone is now personally responsible for the health of everyone he/she meets or simply crosses paths with, not just the « frail ». To put it even more precisely: everyone is responsible for the possible failure of the immune system(10) of each other. There will no longer be any chance or randomness, a guilty party will necessarily be found for each case of contamination. The « fragile » are instrumentalized to discipline the whole of society, they will be invited to set the collective rules(11). Such an extension of the responsibility regime — moreover under digital surveillance — is unprecedented and makes us fear a reinforcement as never before of the individualistic submission(12):  » I obey and expect others to obey in my personal interest « . It will bring its share of denunciations, conflicts, violence, depressions, madness and suicides. In the name of the right to health and life, we are heading towards a world that is unbearable because it is agonistic, on the one hand, and iatrogenic, on the other: the so-called remedies (confinement, mask, vaccine) associated with the wave of digitization will generate a quantity of other pathologies, physiological and mental, that the political authorities will write off as losses and profits, when they do not ignore them purely and simply, just as they ignored the damage caused by tobacco and asbestos in the old days. No reflection on our relationship to death is of course undertaken(13). In the West, since modernity, death has been repressed, has become a reason for indignation, even for metaphysical revolt. No more dying, even at an old age, neither from covid nor from anything else! Let science do its job, and thank you politicians for taking note! Is this what humanism has become in the 21st century?


Faced with this « health crisis », ethics is divided into two camps: deontology and utilitarianism. The former postulates that human dignity suffers no exception, that every particular life is sacred, and as such the impossible must be done to preserve it, even if it means bringing the community to heel, or even threatening it, such as the unreasonable idea of repatriating from Africa to Europe, a few years ago, two Ebola virus patients so that they could benefit from efficient care, but at the risk of provoking an epidemic on the continent (fortunately this was not the case). Coming from Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, the second postulates that the greatest good for the greatest number of people must prevail, which implies that some individuals may have to be sacrificed. To take the case above, these patients should have been left where they were — and treated, of course — to avoid thousands of potential victims in Europe(14). With covid, our governments have opted — at least on the surface — for deontology, which has thus become an unquestioned background, like the water in a fishbowl. The idealist humanist Francis Wolff welcomes this choice while the pragmatic utilitarian André Comte-Sponville criticizes it. But was it the absolutely obvious choice? That’s debatable! On closer inspection, the ethics are marked by selfishness:  » I defend the absolute right of every sick person to be properly cared for… because that person could be me « ; or  » All life is sacred… including my own! Conversely, utilitarianism is altruistic:  » I take the risk of contracting covid, and even of dying from it, because I aim first at the greatest good for the greatest number (considering also that I hope to escape and be part of this greatest number) « . But who is still willing to hear the word « sacrifice » in 2020? No one, even if millions of young people — pupils, students, workers or unemployed -, deprived of education and/or income, are literally sacrificed on the altar of pan-medicalism(15). Of course, utilitarianism is associated with liberalism, the right, reaction, and even fascism, often in a rhetorical manner. By choosing deontology, the left encourages selfishness to its detriment and takes the risk of undermining the good for the many. Isn’t it time to think about rethinking this old left/right duality? The covid invites us to do so.


It is important to understand that the solidarity proposed here is an adulterated version. Let’s compare it with the one that prevailed during the Second World War, one test not being equal to another. A war against a visible and clearly identified enemy — the Nazis — had nothing to do with a « war » against an enemy invisible to the naked eye — the sars-coronavirus -, omnipresent in the environment and in/on the bodies of our fellow men. We were afraid of the Nazis, we are anxious about the virus. On the front line, the allied soldiers showed a real and meaningful solidarity, as did the resistance fighters in the maquis. In speaking of a war, Macron used a specious analogy that struck a chord with most of his compatriots, whose propensity for hygienism, already evident for a long time, has suddenly become stronger. For some time now, the word « ecology », this beautiful word that I have been defending for ages, has started to annoy me because of its recuperation by the technocracy, which announces all the dangers, all the barbarities. Will it be the same with the word « health »? Let’s fear so. As a condition of public health, let’s happily enter transhumanism, shall we? But, just to see, let’s go in the direction of these last Nietzschean men ready to do anything to keep their life « naked », that is to say strictly biological, ignoring all the values that nourish an existence worthy of the name: courage, generosity, kindness, strength, temperance, friendship, love, freedom, etc. So I demand that my fellow citizens immediately take the following measures to preserve my health and my life:

  • stop flying;
  • use their car as little as possible, ideally not at all, and at the very least give up their dangerous or aggressive behavior on the roads;
  • for some of them, to stop riding their Harley-Davidson for their pleasure and the ruin of my bronchial tubes and my ears;
  • quit smoking near me ;
  • Refuse all plastic packaging at retailers;
  • give up their daily junk food, industrial junk food and its pesticides;
  • stop using their hedge trimmers, drills, saws and other discers, all electrified of course, in my neighborhood;
  • and especially turn off their computers, tablets, PlayStation and social networks.

Chiche ?

Bernard Legros

Notes et références
  1. Jacques Luzi, Au rendez-vous des mortels. Le déni de la mort dans la culture moderne, de Descartes au transhumanisme, La Lenteur, 2019, p. 82.
  2. Contact privé.
  3. Dans cet article, beaucoup de termes sont placés entre guillemets pour signifier leur appartenance à la logomachie du covidisme.
  4. Cf. Jacques Généreux, La dissociété, Seuil, 2006.
  5. Cf. mon article « Que faire de la liberté individuelle ? », in Kairos, n° 41, novembre/décembre 2019/janvier 2020.
  6. L’hypothèse d’un virus trafiqué en laboratoire est plausible. Le cas échéant, s’en serait-il échappé par accident ou par malveillance ? Il est quasi-impossible de le vérifier, en raison des enjeux géostratégiques. Cf. Pièce et Main d’œuvre & Jacques Luzi, Leurs virus, nos morts, n° 92, Service compris, mars/avril 2020.
  7. Roland Gori, Et si l’effondrement avait déjà eu lieu. L’étrange défaite de nos croyances, LLL, 2020, p. 288.
  8. Précisons : si le terme « personne fragile » fait bel et bien partie de la novlangue covidiste, cela n’implique pas que ce soit toujours un concept creux. Il y a effectivement des personnes à la santé plus fragile que d’autres.
  9. Plus exactement, au tout départ il fut décrété dispensable et inutile par l’OMS, puis indispensable et utile alors que l’épidémie entamait sa phase descendante (?). Le port du masque est un exemple de piège abscons : si les courbes de contamination montent, il faut de toute évidence le porter de plus belle ; si elles descendent, il faut aussi continuer à le porter pour conforter la tendance et vaincre [sic] définitivement le virus. Certains experts, comme Michel Goldman, ainsi que la Commission européenne nous préviennent déjà : même la vaccination ne dispensera pas du masque et de tous les gestes barrière pendant une longue période qui suivra. Cette « tyrannie du risque zéro » est dénoncée par François Gemenne et Olivier Servais : « Vivre en société implique l’acceptation tacite d’un certain nombre de risques […] La situation actuelle nous fait courir un autre risque : celui d’un effondrement sociétal à plus long terme, faute de fondement ou de sens […] Car à pousser à son paroxysme cette rhétorique du “risque zéro”, cette hypertrophie hygiéniste, on réduit certes le risque de mort biologique, virale, mais on court le risque mortel d’une inhumanité en devenir ». Etc. (in Le Soir, 17 août 2020).
  10. Sachant que ledit système immunitaire peut être défaillant pour des raisons héréditaires et génétiques (indépendantes de la volonté de l’agent) ou le plus souvent de modes de vie inappropriés (échéant à la responsabilité individuelle de l’agent, au moins en partie).
  11. Si elles sont si fragiles (ou pensent l’être), et s’angoissent excessivement à propos de la contagion, pourquoi ne décident-elles pas d’elles-mêmes de se confiner ?
  12. Cf. Kairos, n° 46, septembre/octobre 2020.
  13. Cf. Jacques Luzi, op. cit., et Olivier Rey, L’idolâtrie de la vie, Tract Gallimard, 2020.
  14. Précisons : ici le raisonnement n’a rien à voir avec l’attribution d’une valeur monétaire et économique à la vie, ce que l’on trouve par contre chez le père de l’utilitarisme Jeremy Bentham. Cela n’a pas non plus de rapport avec l’eugénisme, qui est une volonté politique d’agir en amont, par des moyens scientifiques, pour « améliorer la race ». Ainsi, comparer la recherche de l’immunité collective pour vaincre une épidémie avec de l’eugénisme, comme l’a fait Marius Gilbert (in La Libre Belgique en ligne, 18 octobre 2020), relève d’une rhétorique crapuleuse et mensongère. Contentons-nous d’appeler cela de l’utilitarisme.
  15. Contre Michael Sandel et avec Comte-Sponville, je ne pense pas qu’il y ait symétrie entre les intérêts et devoirs des jeunes et des aînés : « […] les parents font des sacrifices pour leurs enfants, avant que ceux-ci n’en fassent à leur tour pour leurs parents âgés », répond Sandel dans Philosophie Magazine (n° 143, octobre 2020, p. 66). Certes, il arrive que les enfants fassent des sacrifices pour leurs parents, mais jusqu’où ? Même donner leur vie ? Éventuellement, si nous sommes « en guerre », de concert avec Macron (et Sandel !). Mais devons-nous faire nôtre cette alogie guerrière ? (cf. supra, § 5).
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