Letter from Europe: Disorder, Injustice and our Current Crisis
Looking back on the last few weeks, a famous quote by Goethe (from his report on the siege of Mainz in 1793) came to mind: “Better to commit an injustice than to countenance disorder.” In other words, disorder engenders more injustice than it eradicates.
If one word characterizes the world at the end of summer 2020, it is disorder. The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the planet, as much through an underlying anxiety increased by contradictory statements made every day, as through the objective economic collapse caused by the steps taken to fight it. Democratic states are struggling to find the right balance between sometimes-hypocritical measures to combat the virus and the search for economic recovery in the fog of an uncertainty that is partly self-sustaining due to all kinds of contradictions.
The case of the United States is particularly noteworthy because the pandemic disorder is superimposed on the deeper one of a (not only racial) social fracture that existed before Donald Trump’s election, but which he amplified as if just for fun. The magic of the 45th President of the United States continues to work, however. He manages to pass himself off to half of his fellow citizens as the saviour of an America devitalized by the Democrats. His opponent Joe Biden is clearly destabilized by the situation as a whole. Trump’s autocratic counterparts, whom he admires so much, have nothing on his mastery of the art of fake news. The bottom line is that the world’s leading power has never seemed more divided since the Civil War. It is more violent than ever, and we do not see spectacular American disorder accompanied by a decrease in injustice. Whatever the outcome of the 3 November election, the United States will not suddenly come together the next day. And a divided America will not become a world leader again. This means that the international system’s disorder is not going away any time soon. Who could believe that it would advance the cause of justice?
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