Covid-19 Pandemics & Politics


This week on FaceBook: Covid-19 has fuelled the pandemic and social media¹ by reporting on the coronavirus outbreak with information that satisfies everyone from conspiratory theorists, people who have turned it into a modern anxiety crisis², to so called ‘normal people’. However, what is meant by ‘normal’ is debatable. I have a friend who believes that everyone who appears to be ‘normal’ has a ‘problem of some sort’ —  something that most ‘normal people’ learn to live with.

I remarked in my post last week (Covid-19 global consequences) that this is grist for the mill to politicians especially — (from my perspective, hardly normal people). Nevertheless, this is not the first global pandemic³, nor is it the first to appear in the social media. Perhaps its appearance on the social media has made politicians, their economic advisors and The World Health Organisation (WHO), the first to induce the global anxiety crises that it has. Of course the global anxieties caused by other pandemics are not so apparent and where the blame for any anxiety they may cause globally is speculative.

Where not directly complicit themselves in the process of engineering crises for political purposes, elites and their ideological lickspittles reveal time and again a tenacious capacity to exploit legitimate crises—if not for proactive personal gain, then to avoid responsibility for creating them in the first place. The Political Uses of Pandemic

The following links are to the modern anxiety crises. They are intended for those self isolating and may be getting a little stressed out over Covid-19. It’s interesting to note that, “The current crisis seems to be as much of a psychological one as it is a medical one.”

Hysteria in a population can emerge and be fuelled easily when fear is in the air to begin with. There are many examples of this phenomenon. Perhaps we all need to take a long and deep healing breath, remind ourselves that the fear and stress which so many people are experiencing put us at risk for hysterical and panicked reactions rather than rational, evidence-based ones, and be sure to follow sensible public health officials’ advice about washing hands frequently and staying home if sick. The current crisis seems to be as much of a psychological one as it is a medical one. The Coronavirus Crisis Is Fueled by Stress and Fear

The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic is fuelling demand for digital mental health tools as apps, chatbots, and text-a-therapist platforms report an influx of users in search of much-needed help. Given the current realities of life in our increasingly digital world — and the demands of social distancing — it makes sense that people turn to remote sources of psychological support. Feeling anxious about coronavirus? There’s an app for that

Anxiety has now become an inclusive part of modern political social welfare programmes, especially by politicians who choose to exploit this anxiety as a means to an end. History will be judge as to whether or not Covid-19 has been used as a political tool. It is clear (at least to me) that the inclusion of the video below ‘CORONA END OF THE WORLD’ is intended to be apocryphal, fuelling the anxiety crises of those suffering from them. On the other hand I agree that globalisation and the societal changes have already become like the parody of it in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

Although the film Brazil raised more laughs than anxieties — it did cause me to think about all that I have now to lose (not the least being my pension) through the responses to this pandemic by politicians and their economic advisors. Both of the films fuel any anxiety crisis, but as George Monbiot wrote in September 2015, There may be flowing water on Mars. But is there intelligent life on Earth? Incidentally, you may be to old to be on board any space-ships heading for Mars (especially if you watched the original series of The Martian Chronicles), but take heart, any ships leaving Earth will be full of politicians and their acolytes.

It may be that politicians allowed the Covid-19 pandemic to develop without a vaccine to save us and that this was entirely a political decision in the eyes of the general public.

While the pandemic puts other political issues out of the limelight, different political parties and ideologies, represented by the likes of Donald Trump, Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi, will not desist from using this crisis to further their existing agendas — in fact, it might give the perfect cover for many dodgy decisions. But more importantly, the basic distributive conflicts that characterise politics will rise to the surface. Unless a vaccine saves us, quickly. Let us hope so. The politics of the pandemic

Likewise, the political decision to focus on a politically acceptable economic solution to the Covid-19 pandemic that their electorate will buy into are appearing in the social media.

By the summer, economies will have suffered double-digit drops in quarterly gdp. People will have endured months indoors, hurting both social cohesion and their mental health. Year-long lockdowns would cost America and the euro zone a third or so of gdp. Markets would tumble and investments be delayed. The capacity of the economy would wither as innovation stalled and skills decayed. Eventually, even if many people are dying, the cost of distancing could outweigh the benefits. Covid-19 presents stark choices between life, death and the economy

Anywhere in the world, positing this problem as a tradeoff between the economic interests of the young and the lifespan of the old is a terrible error. As the US Centres for Disease Control explains, those vulnerable to serious or fatal cases of the infection include not just the elderly, but anyone who is obese, diabetic, has high blood pressure, is HIV-positive, has undergone cancer treatment, suffers from asthma or smokes. Those factors are more common among poorer Americans as well as older Americans. And poor Americans occupy all age ranges. The economy v our lives? It’s a false choice – and a deeply stupid one


1. There’s nothing so political as a pandemic: Facts, of course, are facts. But in the coming weeks and months, the questions we will face will be about much more than science. Our future will be determined by questions about sick pay, rent freezes and government communication; support for the most vulnerable and who’s considered valuable. It will matter which voices are heard and whose needs are understood, who we remember, and who we forget.

2. The incompetence pandemic: At no time in the past 75 years has the world been in more need of a “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” moment; and at no time have global leaders so utterly failed to deliver.

3. The Politics of Coronavirus: This includes a paid sponsorship which had no part in the writing, editing, or production of the rest of the video.

4. Panic, Pandemic, and the Body Politic: People who believe that they have to compete savagely with others are poorly equipped to share out the hand sanitiser. People who don’t trust each other find it hard to believe that everyone else will follow basic quarantine procedures, so why should they? People who aren’t used to the concept of common good don’t know what to do in the face of a common threat—except panic. Panic is unhelpful, but sometimes it’s not a bad place to start.

5. COVID-19 and the toxic politics of exploitation: Strategic interdependence and global solidarity are no longer just idealist notions, but survival strategies for us all. Unilateralism, division and repression will only frustrate global efforts to manage this pandemic and its consequences. The maintenance of global solidarity between peace builders, civil societies, humanitarians, politicians and multilateral agencies in support of health, human security and long-term peace, is the best way for us to begin the fight of our lives.


Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:

  • A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download url that is usually free.
  • Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular included article (1-5).
  • A link (url), which usually includes the title, are to an included source.
  • The intended context of words, idioms, phrases, have their links in italics.
  • A long read url* (when used below) is followed by a superscript asterisk.
  • Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
  • JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.

¹The pandemic of social media panic travels faster than the COVID-19 outbreak (url/download): The impact of media reporting and public sentiments may have a strong influence on the public and private sectors in making decisions on discontinuing certain services including airline services, disproportionate to the true public health need. Travel restrictions are one example, and we need to unpack the influence of social media on such measures that carry a huge economic loss.

²Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your mental health (url/links): There is growing recognition that the mental health impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will be significant for us all – for those with existing mental health conditions and for everyone affected by stress, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, family pressure and financial hardship.

³How Pandemics Change History (url/book):  In his new book, “Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present,” Frank M. Snowden, a professor emeritus of history and the history of medicine at Yale, examines the ways in which disease outbreaks have shaped politics, crushed revolutions, and entrenched racial and economic discrimination.

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The Land Is Ours

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The Bulletin

This site was created for members and friends of My Telegraph blog site, but anyone is welcome to comment, and thereafter apply to become an author.

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Ed Conway

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