COVID-19 pandemic in France

ongoing coronavirus pandemic in France

The COVID-19 pandemic in France is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Quotes edit

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global health, social and economic crisis. Historical comparisons are few, particularly in recent decades. This tragedy constitutes nothing less than a trial for all humanity. [...] What has since become abundantly apparent is the destructive influence of behavioral economics and the so-called "nudge theory" of political decision-making, which relies on incentives and stimuli to steer individual behavior, rather than coercion or restraint. [...] It is also worth recalling that French officials adopted this very same approach until March 14. Macron initially refused to adopt strict containment measures because, as he stated on March 6, "restrictive measures are not sustainable over time." As he exited the theater he had attended that very same day with his wife, he declared "Life goes on. There is no reason, save for vulnerable populations, to change our social behaviors." Lurking beneath these words, which seem utterly irresponsible today, one cannot help but detect a tactic in which this libertarian paternalism allowed governments to defer the draconian measures they knew would necessarily disrupt their economies. Nonetheless, the eventual failure of libertarian paternalism to contain the virus compelled the political authorities to radically change course. In France, our first glimpse of this shift was Macron's Presidential Speech on March 12, in which he appealed to national unity, to our sacred union, and to the French people's "strength of character." Macron’s next speech on March 16 was even more explicit in its martial posture and rhetoric: it is time for general mobilization, for "patriotic self-restraint," because "we are now at war." The figure of the sovereign state now manifests itself in its most extreme but also its most classic form: that of the sword that strikes the enemy, "who is there, invisible, elusive and advancing."
  • But there was an even more surprising twist in the president’s March 12 address: Emmanuel Macron was suddenly and almost miraculously transformed into a staunch defender of the welfare state, and of public health. He even affirmed the impossibility of reducing everything to the logic of the market! Many commentators and politicians, several of whom are on the left, eagerly welcomed Macron's recognition of the irreplaceable importance of our public services. Yet what we witnessed here was really little more than a delayed response to Macron's public confrontation with a doctor during his visit to the Pitié Salpêtrière Hospital on February 27. The doctor, a professor of neurology, insisted Macron provide the public hospitals with an "investment shock" ("choc d’attractivité"), and Macron assented to the doctor's demands, at least in principle. It was of course immediately recognized that Macron's subsequent pronouncements were completely hollow, and they in no way called into the question the neoliberal policies his government has methodically pursued for years.

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