A worrying trend infiltrating the European political discourse under the pretense of offering a radical solution to combating the coronavirus crisis is now being considered at the highest levels of European politics. A campaign running under the name #ZeroCovid is mixing elements of infection prevention with a radical utopian overhaul of Western societies, where long-standing principles of personal liberties, private property and the freedom of movement would see restrictions previously unseen in democratic societies.
To date, the initiative has been signed by some 70.000 people. Academics, journalists, scientists, and political activists associated with far-left militant movements are among the signatories of the document. Even though the dangers that its underlying idea represents to democratic societies have been described by numerous public figures, the proposal is now being discussed at the government level in countries ranging from the United Kingdom to Germany. It has been reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had invited one of the prominent signatories of the petition before the federal state summit to present her proposals, marking a watershed moment for the formation of new post-COVID societies in the European Union.
Nominally, the aim of the proposal is to eradicate the disease completely by shutting down “those parts of the economy which are not urgently needed for society. Factories, offices, companies, construction sites, and schools have to be closed and the duty to work must be put on hold. This break has to last for as long as it takes” and that unions should organize what they call a “large collective break”. The initiative calls for isolating people at home, and for an end to “forced collective accommodation”, demanding that all refugees should be housed individually.
With an astonishing lack of understanding for what an essential role private venture and capital play in the pharmaceutical industry, they are calling for an end to “private profit-making” in the development of vaccines. In their view, vaccines should “belong to all of humanity”. Without a doubt, such a move would result in a mass exodus of pharmaceutical companies from Europe, and could further delay the already chaotic vaccine acquisition process into the unknown future.
The method of financing such a utopian project would proceed via what is essentially the confiscation of private property of those deemed well-off, and from raiding the capital of businesses that have amassed a certain level of finances for their operations, a move which if conducted in any fair manner, would also presumably result in many of the signatories also having their own property seized.
“We demand the introduction of a European Covid-solidarity tax on high wealth, company profits, financial transactions, and the highest incomes,” claim the authors of the petition.
The individuals behind the initiative have clearly modeled their aims and methods on the British left-wing extremist movement called “Extinction Rebellion”, which has caused enormous disruption and financial damage to the UK. Referring to their “comrades in the UK”, they also want to go down the path of fighting against what they refer as “short-term profit” and have made a pledge to struggle against “large parts of the political sphere” in declaration that have Marxist undertones. The declared goal of Zero Covid is the reduction of coronavirus cases approaching zero — at any cost.
It is unclear whether European political elites, chief among them the German chancellor, find this radical Marxist solution to the pandemic acceptable or even attractive out of naivety, populist intentions or genuine ideological alignment. One commentator had compared it to the radical green movement’s ‘Great Reset’ championed by the International Monetary Fund which would abandon Western-style capitalism in favor of a climate-friendly green future and a new social contract to go with it.
If the true intentions of the #ZeroCovid initiative may still appear unclear to some, the background of some of the prominent signatories could shed a clearer light on what one could expect from the implementation of such plans. As one independent German newspaper reported, these include personalities known for their support of the violent anarchist movement Antifa, a publicist known for his remarks in which he called German culture “dirty”, people who have called for the abolishing of the police force, a writer with links to left-wing extremist circles who has called into question the state’s monopoly on violence, and authors who have called for silencing and removing centrist conservative politicians.
Among the signatories there are also members of migrant rescue NGOs and even an author who had praised left-wing extremists who beat up AfD member of the Bundestag Frank Magnitz.
Apart from the fact that the methods for eradicating the disease proposed by the Zero Covid initiative would probably be ineffective and impossible to implement, the radical and undemocratic Marxist agenda masquerading as health advice needs to be carefully evaluated by Europe’s policymakers. The momentum that this dangerous petition had garnered in European political and financial circles is a result of a chronic complacency on the part of those who are meant to protect fundamental freedoms on the one hand, and the left-ward radicalization of Western opinion elites on the other. The seeds of a utopian totalitarianism sown by initiatives such as Zero Covid, Extinction Rebellion and the Great Reset may just find a fertile ground in devastated economies and parallel societies that could emerge from the global pandemic.