There is no longer any logic in the actions of many governments around the world. Why? Because there are stakeholders who have invested so much in the pandemic that they won’t let it end easily
Political division has emerged in many countries, built around fighting the pandemic. It looks quite unusual in Poland, because apart from Konfederacja and a faction of the United Right (Zjednoczona Prawica), the rest of the political groups, including the ruling Law and Justice, are racing against each other in pro-sanitary rhetoric. However, the solutions implemented by the government are so dramatically non-sensical that one ought to ask to what extent does the government actually want to do something, and to what extent it only pretends to be doing so. The bill proposed by Hoc is a model example of a ridiculous regulation, and its effects in practice may be as fatal as the Polish Deal1. It’s enough to point out that under the bill, it will be possible for the government to withdraw from financing tests for employees from the public budget, resulting in the demand of these employees for free tests from their employers, who will be forced to cover these costs. Every two days.
Another group of stakeholders who will certainly not let go of the COVID narrative is the media and a large group of COVID celebrities. In Poland, this mainly concerns individual doctors who want to make Poland one huge infectious disease hospital. Unfortunately, some of these doctors are also politicians, such as Law and Justice MP Bolesław Piecha, who admired the actions of the Australian government towards Djokovic. Unfortunately, Piecha is one of the candidates considered for the position of health minister.
Doctors who left the Medical Council2 not only did not lose their image – on the contrary. Some of them might actually reside in TV stations where they make their gloomy predictions from morning to night. At the same time – which is quite typical – they never base their statements on any analyses or research. Their influence on public opinion would vanish if the pandemic were to end. The media fame is like a drug for them.
Just a step away from the end?
From a medical point of view, the pandemic will end when the virus becomes endemic. According to many experts, we are one step away from that. But the disease will not go away. There will always be someone with COVID going to the hospital and dying, even if the mildly virulent varieties prevail. Therefore, the question is how long will the formal state of the pandemic last, not only in Poland, but also according to the statements of the WHO. The system based on COVID certificates does not have to end, and sanitation terrorists are talking not only about the fourth dose of the vaccine, but also about an unknown number in the future. Taking into account the link between the possibility of exercising full civil rights and vaccination, the future looks bleak.
The ending of this pathetic dance is less and less a medical issue and more and more a matter of political agenda – as evidenced, for example, by the decisions of Boris Johnson. Sweden continues its course (contrary to some frequently appearing information, Stockholm has not given up its own approach at all, even if it introduces some limitations). However, for the narrative to change, there would have to be a spectacular change in the political realm of the state.
The state of the economy may be the impulse for a political decision to end the pandemic, but there is a catch. From the point of view of classical, free market economics, the situation brought about by COVID is unsustainable: relentless debt accumulation, aggressive redistribution, closing and opening sectors of the economy with the subsequent waves of the pandemic. However, it is also an ideal state for the supporters of “new economics”, which recognizes that the current model has worn out: debt can indefinite, the expectations of citizens should be systematically lowered, and private property is a relic.
Unfortunately, Poland does not seem to be an autonomous actor. The government of Mateusz Morawiecki directly refers to foreign models in its decisions regarding the fight against the pandemic – mainly to the worst ones, such as Austria or Germany – although so far it has avoided following this course in practice. The dominant feature is “it will all work out somehow” which demolishes the legal order, makes the state look ridiculous, and at the same time gives the most zealous tools to introduce disastrous segregation practices of dubious legality. Moreover, the fictitious nature of most regulations still gives citizens a lot of slack compared to many Western countries.
This year we may see a breakthrough when it comes to the further fate of the broadly understood sanitary ideology – we can already witness such a phenomenon. We have three scenarios when it comes to the development of the situation ahead of us. In the first, the most pessimistic, “new normality” – constant vaccinations, surveillance, segregation – becomes a standard that also covers Poland, and people will increasingly forget what normality without epithets should look like. In the second, an indirect one, the world is divided into openly murderous states – Australia, Austria, Germany – and those that made a political decision to get over COVID and return to daily life – Great Britain, Sweden, and possibly other Scandinavian states.
Which group will Poland belong to is not clear today. The decision to push through the bill proposed by Hoc seems as irrational as the “5 step plan for animals”3 once was. At that time, the fundamentally left-wing project was stopped only by the threat of a collapse of the coalition. This time, part of the United Right will certainly be against the bill. Law and Justice voters opposed to segregation may see how MPs of opposing parties are raising their hands in favor of the bill. Why does the ruling party need this? I don’t know. But if someone is eager to commit political suicide, it’s hard to stop them.
1 The Polish Deal is a new financial reform that entered into force on January 1st, 2022 and was met with widespread outrage, eventually leading to the resignation of the Minister of Finance.
2 The Medical Council was a body of advisors who were meant to provide counsel in the decision-making process surrounding the matters related to COVID in the country. They recently resigned.
3 In 2020, the ruling party initiated a bill to protect commercial livestock and other animals, mainly due to the publication of a video in social media which exposed deplorable conditions in which certain livestock are stored prior to their slaughter. The draft bill was eventually forgotten to the pandemic.
This article was published in February 2022 in „Do Rzeczy” magazine.