Africa has fared far better than the West in the direct impacts of Covid-19. With 16% of the world’s population, Africa has had only around 5% of the world’s Covid cases, with only about 7% of the population double-jabbed against the virus. Half of African countries have Covid mortality rates lower than 1 in 10,000 people – less than one-twentieth the rate in the USA.
So what can people in the West, of any political leaning, learn from the pandemic response in Africa?
Tragically, the impacts of policies against Covid have put tens of millions of people into poverty through their disruption to economies and supply chains. That shows how ‘Western panic’ may be exerting severe collateral damage around the world. So what can people outside the West learn about the dangers of ‘Western panic’?
In an invited contribution to the ‘Existing Otherwise’ art exhibition in Ghana I share reflections during a 15 minute ‘walk and talk’ video.
The talk is accompanied by my essay for the exhibition which includes references for the statistics and conclusions I mention in the video and explores further how the West is becoming more dangerous to the rest of the world as the systems that subsidise its privilege now destabilise.
The way the West responded to the pandemic has been dominated by some large corporations, in a media and political culture shaped by large corporations. The quality of scientific dialogue and policy scrutiny has also been affected by the disproportionate influence of corporations and institutions either based in or predominantly funded by the United States whose employees are affected by their domestic partisan political concerns. Therefore in my talk and essay I reflect on how the rest of the world can learn from the Covid experience on the benefits of evading the panic of people (particularly senior ‘leaders’) within industrial consumer societies as they become more unstable and sense their vulnerability.
Sadly the discussion between people in the West – whether identifying as left or right – has invisibilized the recent experience in various African countries. Therefore it is painfully ironic that some North Americans try to use anti-racism to buttress the moral tone of their arguments as the factual basis of their position dissolves. More of that moral outrage and aggression from misinformed people is likely as Western societies become more unstable in the coming months and years. It is something I analyse and warn about in a paper in a psychotherapy journal. Helping reduce such reactions is why I launched the Deep Adaptation Forum (DAF) in 2019.
A discussion with exhibition artists will be released in due course. Ahead of that discussion, please share your reactions in the comments section of the Youtube video. If this topic is something that interests you then I recommend the new book Hospicing Modernity.
Professor Jem Bendell