Virtual lecture about the usefulness of his philosophy in corona times
Spinoza in Covid-19-mode
Virtual lecture about the usefulness of his philosophy in corona time
by Willy Schuermans
This virtual lecture is divided into 3 thematic sections of approximately 15 minutes. Each section has two parts, one theoretical and one practical. The theoretical part examines the basics of Spinoza's 17th-century philosophy, in the second part follows its application in the current 21st-century corona context. Afterwards we allow ourselves 15 minutes to ask questions.
1.0 Basics about Spinoza's ontology and his nature view (First part of the ‘Ethics’)
1 What does Spinoza understand by nature? The word nature has an unusual meaning for our philosopher. For Spinoza, nature includes not only the field of study of the biologist, but also all other things that are part of the cosmos, of the All. So, for Spinoza nature is all that exists. By the way, Spinoza in the 17th century knew a nature that, compared to the nature we know, was extremely limited, both in knowledge of the macrocosm and in knowledge of the microcosm. But that does not detract from the fact that, overall, HIS nature is still OURS, despite all the changes that have occurred since then. In Spinoza's view, nature not only exists eternally, but also remains eternally equal to itself.
2 Nature and substance If you look around, you will see many familiar things that can usually be named with a word. Spinoza looks at those things, called nature, in a different way than most people usually do. Spinoza sees behind the individual things a ‘primordial ground’ which connects all things and unites them: he calls that primordial ground ‘substance’, an old philosophical concept which he gives a completely new content. Spinoza in his ontology identifies the totality of nature, the ALL if you like, with that substance (substantia). With that he also immediately indicates that there is only one single substance. That unity of substance also founds the unity of nature. His vision is extraordinarily daring and deviates from the traditional school philosophy of his time and that of his maître à penser René Descartes. Our philosopher, however, goes one step further: he equates nature, substance, also with God. For many readers, this equation is the starting point for calling Spinoza a materialist thinker of the purest water. Others reject that view and see in Spinoza's philosophy a kind of religion sui generis. We close this point with a comment on the concept of ‘thing.’ Spinoza often refers to ‘thing’ (res) in his main work, the Ethics. What does he understand by that? We call material objects things. For Spinoza, however, the concept of ‘thing’ is much broader: for him all living things, people, plants, animals are also ‘things’. More than that, Spinoza also counts thoughts, ideas, feelings that have no material body among things. So, we can conclude that whatever Spinoza calls things is, without exception, part of nature, substance, or God. People know substance through two of its attributes, namely as spirit and as extension. The not simple concept of extension is best understood by referring to the spatial dimension of things, although this refers to a feature of things rather than to the complete essence of extension..
3 How does Spinoza create order in the things of the world? Spinoza calls the things that make up nature ‘modes’. All modes are transformations of the substance and inherit part of the power of the substance. He distinguishes between infinite modes and finite modes. The first may not be mentioned in the context of this reading. Finite modes are to Spinoza the innumerable things that exist, existed, or will still exist in nature. They all are modifications or transformations of the substance and one day they all will perish. All finite modes can be classified in the two attributes of substance known to us: * modes belonging to the attribute mind: these are ideas, from the simple idea over complex ideas to extremely complex ideas; * modes belonging to the attribute extension: these are all tangible material things, both those belonging to the organic and those belonging to the inorganic nature. All modes, with one exception, can only come into existence through another mode that is causing them. The only exception to this rule is the uncaused eternal and infinite substance, which is the cause of itself, as Spinoza tells us in the third definition of the first part of the Ethics: ‘By substance I mean that which is in itself and is brought about by itself, that is, the concept of which has no need for the concept of another thing by which it should be brought about.’
4 How does Spinoza view humans in nature? Man is viewed in the Abrahamic religions as the top of creation, as the crown of God's creative work. This view, recorded in the Holy Books of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, is both anthropocentric and geocentric because it was conceived (by humans, of course) in a world with borders that coincided with the circumference of the earth. Of the innumerable other worlds in the cosmos and the likelihood of other, possibly more advanced forms of life, the writers of the Bible and the Quran, and absurdly the God enacted in them, had no idea ... The rebellious Spinoza makes a completely different sound: he rejects the anthropocentric delusion that man is Lord and master of nature. He repeatedly underlines that man is not an empire within an empire. Moreover, Spinoza does not limit his thinking to the terrestrial globe: he talks about the ALL, the whole cosmos, ces espaces infinies, which his younger contemporary Blaise Pascal talks about in his Pensées and of which le silence éternel gave him goosebumps. Man, according to Spinoza, is no more (but also no less) than a mode IN nature, an element OF nature, although of a very special nature, but an element constructed and composed of molecules abundantly contained in the things of the world.
2.0 The Covid-19 virus in the light of Spinoza's ontology
We will now try to place the Covid-19 virus in Spinoza's doctrine. 1 The Covid-19 virus is a mode. A virus is a micro-organism and as such a part of nature. In Spinoza's ontology, it is a mode that, in contemporary language, belongs to organic nature and to micro nature. Human and virus have in common that they are living organisms. Viruses belong to the attribute extension of the substance. Because they both belong to the same attribute and also have common characteristics, they can interact and thus influence each other. 2The Covid-19 mode has conatus. Modes, as stated, are transformations of the substance and have an essence containing characteristics of that substance. The Covid-19 virus has the part in the extension of the substance. It therefore possesses an infinitesimal particle of the force of the substance. That force manifests itself through a conatus, a 'life drive', i.e. a force that seeks to perpetuate itself in existence, viruses do this by infecting others ... The Covid-19 virus also participates in the attribute spirit of the substance: it possesses, strange as it may sound, an infinitesimal particle of the spirit of the substance. It is an organism that cleverly defends itself to stay alive ... 3 The Covid-19 mode is perfect. Nature, according to Spinoza, is completely perfect. The Covid-19 virus, a micro-organism endowed with power and intelligence, is thus also perfect as a mode for realizing its essence for which it is determined by its nature: to reproduce itself through living beings. It causes collateral damage, sometimes, but rather exceptionally, with death as a result. Moreover, in essence, in the nature of the virus mode, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that could imply its destruction. The attack on the conatus power of the virus mode, or its destruction, can only occur in confrontation with other modes that have a conatus that is stronger, for example other micro organisms or humans. 4 The Covid-19 mode has no ethical qualification. The Covid-19 virus, or any other pathogen in the micro world, is neither good nor bad. The concepts of good and evil are, among others, prejudices that arise from teleological thinking, which states that everything that has been created and benefits people is good, the reverse is bad.
2.0 Spinoza's Ethics
Spinoza is first and foremost an ethicist who made it his mission to think about the question: ‘How can I live happily? ‘ This obvious fact is gladly forgotten by authors who studied philosophy (not necessarily philosophers) and who only need one word or one sentence of Spinoza to write a long book about it, thus burying Spinoza's core message. But this aside. In the context of this lecture, it is of course impossible to explain all aspects of Spinoza's affect doctrine as explained in the third part of the Ethics. We will therefore limit ourselves to the basics necessary to understand what will be discussed further about the Covid-19 virus.
2.1 Basics about Spinoza's affect theory
We do not always think about it: a person's life is driven by emotions. Feelings of love and hate, sadness and joy, etc., form the pattern of our actions and ... yes, of our thinking too. In the last century, neurological science, just like Spinoza three centuries earlier, came to the conclusion that our ratio is also intimately linked with our sentiments, even more so: without these sentiments it cannot exist. Spinoza is essentially an eudaimonologist, that is, a philosopher who contemplates human happiness: he is the father of a genius philosophy of human emotions, which today, as will be seen, has not lost any of its topicality. He teaches us the following, among other things. Human modes are affected by other modes. That causes changes in the human body. The main consequence of this is that we have affects, feelings or sentiments. Spinoza tells us: ‘By affect I mean a condition of the body which increases or diminishes, promotes or restrains the body's power to act along with the idea of that condition’. We learn from this that an affect increases or decreases, stimulates or restrains the strength of the body, and that we experience this. Let me explain:
1 Spinoza calls conatus the power that modes, all modes, possess. We have encountered this term before. Spinoza defines this concept in Part Three, Proposition 6 of the Ethics as follows: ‘Anything will try, as much as it can, to maintain its existence’. The concept of conatus plays a key role in all parts of Spinoza's philosophy. It also occurs in Thomas Hobbes and René Descartes, who, however, limit it exclusively to living beings. Spinoza applies it to all existing things including dead nature, which was yet another rebellious and unheard- of position.
2 Affects should not be confused with passions: affects are an umbrella term; passions are a category of affects. Passions are the result of inadequate or confused ideas or, in other words, affects of which we are not the adequate cause.
3 The third definition of the Third Part of Ethics teaches us that: ‘If we manage to be the adequate cause of that disorder, then I understand affect as action, otherwise as passion’. Also, here a word of explanation: Spinoza therefore distinguishes between active and passive affects. Active affects have an adequate cause in ourselves and can lead to adequate actions. Passive affects have an inadequate cause, outside of us, and are based on delusion or imagination. The separation between the two is not absolute: active affects can have a passive quality if there is also a cause that lies outside of us. Passive affects can also have an active character when confronted with reason and thus become less passive.
4 Spinoza distinguishes three basic effects: desire (cupiditas), joy or gladness (laetitia) and sadness (tristitia). The basic affect of happiness can have a positive effect on us, but also a negative effect, namely when it dominates. The basic affect of sadness always, without exception, has a negative, depressing effect on the mind and causes a somatic feeling of suffering and / or pain. Our affects are predominantly passive affects; hence the word ‘passions’. There are only a handful of active affects. Spinoza explicitly mentions three of them in the commentary on Proposition 59 of Part 3: ‘All actions that follow from affects that relate to the mind as far as it understands, I reduce to the power of the mind, which I distinguish in strength and generosity.’ In fact, Spinoza mentions only one, for the latter two arise ultimately from one single, namely, the power of mind (fortitudo). Finally, I mention that affects always have an individual and momentary character: their experience differs from individual to individual and from moment to moment: all bodies are private, and everybody evolves over time, ergo.
5 On the basis of these three basic affects, Spinoza defines 48 affects or passions at the end of the third part of the Ethics, in proposition 59. It is all passions he constructs from the three basic affects mentioned earlier.
6 Those who want to maintain their moods must balance their sentiments. In order to do, this we have to keep in check our fluctuations of mind (fluctuationes animae), i.e. our small and often not so small dips. Scholasticism and Descartes (that is, Christianity) held the view that the human will, guided by reason could subdue passions. Spinoza sees passions as natural (in that sense also ‘normal’) phenomena that can only be mitigated but never eliminated.
7 In the fifth part of the Ethics, theorem 10, Spinoza gives some rules of thumb for dealing with the passions, i.e., passive affects, that unbalance us.
First rule of thumb: in periods when the mind is somewhat calmer, i.e. the emotion does not manifest itself at full force, practice self-reflection and analyse rationally the passion one wants to combat. When our mind is properly ordered, i.e., has identified the causes of a passion, it will become stronger and therefore more resistant. Knowledge of passive affect makes us happier, strengthens our conatus, and makes us more active.
Second rule of thumb: it is advisable to recall some proverbs or adages that have proven their worth. In concrete cases, these can then be evoked by association, for example, to frame the emotion more adequately. Two examples:
French proverb tout savoir c'est tout pardonner (Madame De Staël): in case of insult one tries not to see the person as the primary cause of the insult, but to place the cause in a broader context of causes and laws of the whole nature;
Dutch saying: ‘the pot blames the kettle’: this boils down to viewing one's own flaws as causes of emotions ...
To get an emotion under control, i.e. to control it and keep it in check, the following steps are necessary:
knowing the mechanism of disorders, more specifically their deterministic character. That knowledge strengthens the power of our conatus, because what is necessary arouses no or fewer emotions,
separating the emotion from the external cause it arouses often diminishes or disappears passion (cf. definition of love: ‘Love is desire together with an external cause’),
connecting affects: stronger affects can outpace weaker ones,
give oneself time: time needed to integrate and apply the insights.
Reason, says Spinoza, can understand every passion, that is to say there is a medicine for every passion. Good use of reason thus makes it possible to curb or overcome the passions
2.2 The Covid-19 virus in the light of Spinoza'saffect doctrine (Third part of the ‘Ethics’) Let us now consider how the Covid-19 virus affects us, that is, affects our feelings and sentiments. In Spinoza's list of affects we find many affects that can emerge in the context of the corona crisis and can affect us or, in other words, affect us. Note: just because they are passions that make us passive, that they cannot be of use to us. After all, passions can be addressed and can reduce affect sadness and lead to closer social cohesion. You will also notice that Spinoza often assigns a different meaning to the affects than we are used to, but his definition makes clear what he means exactly. In the context of this lecture we must limit ourselves to a few affects: we will focus the viewer on the affects 13, fear; the affect 26, depression; the affect 18, compassion; the affect 20, indignation; the affect 25, self-satisfaction; and finally the affect, gratitude or gratitude. We apply the selected affects to the corona context and add some critical comment. Affect 13 Fear (metus), defined as an unstable sadness that arises from the idea of an event in the future or in the past and the outcome of which is somewhat uncertain.
Fear is a normal affect for humans and, following Spinoza's teaching, is rooted in the conatus, the life drive of each individual for self-preservation. For the sake of completeness, I mention that affect 13, fear (metus), goes hand in hand with affect 12, hope (spes). We will not go into this.
The corona crisis saddles everyone with fear, in this case, fear of contamination. Everyone asks themselves questions: will I be infected and if so to what extent: mild symptoms, hospitalization, intensive care, death ...? What are the social consequences of this health crisis for me? What will happen to my job? Will my standard of living get hit? And such questions more ...
‘Experts’ touted in the media to the depths caused a fear tsunami among the population that grew into a fear epidemic with a global dimension: if something has never been seen before, Mr Ranst's expert, it is that fear epidemic that is causing you and your of their kind in the world. Recently, the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy published an essay on this subject entitled Ce virus qui rendfou in which this regrettable phenomenon was vehemently denounced. The last word has not yet been said on this ...
Affect 26 Dejection (humilitas) defined as a sadness that arises because a person sees his inability or weakness. In the context of the virus crisis, this human incapacity and this weakness became apparent against the background of an all-powerful and unapproachable nature. Most people are generally only aware of the omnipotence of that nature when it lashes out strongly: tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, pandemics ... These indomitable or almost indomitable natural phenomena illustrate our powerlessness against the substance or nature and the forces that control it. This passive affect, if it is not dominated and kept in check, can have a beneficial effect on our view of the world and our psyche and be a stimulus for action and cooperation at a national level, but certainly also at a global level, such as national and international aid and recovery programs.
Affect 18 Compassion (commiseratio), defined as a sadness together with the idea of an evil happening to another, whom we consider to be our equal. This passive affect comes to the fore for many people, in varying degrees of intensity, during times of disasters that cause human suffering. This affect mainly affects people who count family members and acquaintances among the victims. This affect can be particularly harsh and threatening to caregivers. Although they have been professionally trained to deal with human suffering in their professional life, the longevity and intensity of human suffering in the context of a pandemic such as the Covis-19 today can have serious psychological and somatic consequences. This not harmless affect must be balanced for the reasons stated. This can be done by confronting it with reason, more particularly with Spinoza's conception of nature.
Affect 20Indignation (indignatio), defined as hatred for someone who has harmed another. ‘Doing evil’ can be understood here as deliberately exposing others to danger, an evil.’ In these pandemic times, this affect can focus on anti-social behaviour of people who do not comply with safety regulations, on governments that do not or insufficiently take up their political responsibility, on doctors who take the place of politicians on the basis of so-called 'expertise', a recent accusation explicitly formulated by politicians in Flanders. In this context I would like to refer to Michel Foucault (1926-1984), important French philosopher on the left, who warned decades ago against the growing medicinal power in society.
Affect 25Satisfaction with self (acquiescentia in se ipso) defined as a joy that arises because a person considers himself and his ability to act. Natural disasters confront us with our helplessness. That does not prevent people from taking actions to ward off and contain viral threats. All personal actions dictated by common sense or imposed by governments can be a source of some form of happiness. They generate satisfaction and increase our joy so that, according to the mechanism of Spinoza, our conatus is strengthened. This affect, if experienced in a balanced way, can be used effectively to keep more threatening affects such as ‘fear’ within limits.
Affect 34 Gratitude (gratia seu gratitudo,) defined as a desire or striving to do good to someone out of affection, because he has also done us a service out of the same disposition. In times of pandemic, this passive affect mainly focuses on people who contribute to the shelter and care of the sick, often at risk for their own health and life. We will leave it with these examples. Anyone who is touched by one or more affects from the Spinoza's list the task of keeping them within acceptable limits to keep the conatus in effect.
3.0 Spinoza's Doctrine of State and Law
3.1 About the origin of the state and its main mission Spinoza's thinking on state and law can be read mainly in the Theological-Political Treatise, published in 1670, and in the Political Treatise, which appeared posthumously in 1677. We will limit ourselves to the main lines of forces of his teaching on state and law and summarize them in an answer to five questions.
First question: how did states come about? Spinoza's political teachings are deeply indebted to those of his older counterpart Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). Spinoza derives from him the theory of the ‘social contract’. The conatus struggle that prevails in the state of nature between all things, more particularly between people, ultimately and necessarily results in a desire for greater mutual cohesion and cooperation. This is experienced as more useful than striving in isolation and individually to be oneself and to do one's own thing, as far as the context of nature and fellow human beings allow. This is how communities are formed. Initially they will be small and modest and situated at the level of the family, then in a clan context, then in a group context. Those groups agree to shorten the conatus of individuals and thus transfer power to certain people. This is done to create a viable situation that serves the interests of everyone. That interest generates and justifies the agreement. Spinoza's treaty differs from Hobbes's which states that the transfer of rights is absolute, without any limitation. Spinoza sees it more nuanced: the rights that the human modes derive from the laws of nature cannot in fact be transferred definitively: they stick to the nature of the person and are inalienable. The transfer of sovereignty will therefore only take place within limits, it will never be absolute. Governments must keep their citizens satisfied through good decision-making. The government will therefore approach its citizens at least coercively and strive for social consensus. The contract is concluded because the reasonable person, i.e. the person who is not led by imagination, sees that this option is the most useful. Sages who are reasoned and who are always a minority in a state will readily conform to reasonable governmental rules based on their reasonable judgment. That is a form of freedom for Spinoza. However, most people will have to be forced by the new government through institutions and rules to adopt socially acceptable behaviour.
Second question: what is the task of the state? The primary task of the state, according to Spinoza, is to guarantee the security of its citizens; this safety must be guaranteed both at a foreign level and at a domestic level. To achieve this, the state must act, in other words, act politically. On the foundations of security, the state must guarantee the freedom of its subjects. To that freedom belongs first of all the freedom of thought, which the state, each state, must guarantee: only in this way can the way be paved for the experience of Spinoza's 'philosophical system of happiness', which only functions optimally in a climate of freedom of thought and, please note, together with as many fellow citizens as possible. Optimal personal happiness is only possible for Spinoza through understanding and cooperation between all citizens.
Third question: which forms of government are there and which should be preferred? Aristotle (4th century BC) distinguished three forms of government: the monarchy, the aristocracy, the democracy. That view - which amounts to the exercise of state authority by a single, a small group, or by all - is so essential that it is still valid to this day. Each of these forms of government can pass through ‘degeneration’ into the other; thus a cyclical movement can arise which can be understood as a form of eternal return, which in turn can be regarded as a reflection of the cyclical movement of nature.
Fourth question: what does Spinoza think about state and law? He argues that in the state of nature law is determined by power: every individual has as much right as he can appropriate through his power. Once the state of nature is abolished by a so-called ‘social contract’, then this state ceases to exist and right arises. The state, which has the monopoly of power, has all the right. Spinoza's view that law equates to power is, as everyone understands, incompatible with a legal ideology of innate, inalienable Human Rights.
Fifth question: and what about international relations? In his Political Treatise, Spinoza has also had an eye for international relations. This is obvious at a time when globalization, initiated by the 15th-century discoveries and the trade relations that followed afterwards, is continuing in combination with the colonization of the world by Western, white people. Spinoza treats the relations of sovereign states in the same way as the relations between individuals: for him the relationship between states, like that between individuals, is a matter of mere power: the stronger state impresses the weaker and imposes his will on the other. Today, this analysis is still very topical: despite all the fine words of international understanding and cooperation, this principle is applied worldwide. The latent ‘state of war’ that exists between states can be contained through the conclusion of treaties. But here, too, Spinoza takes a position that will offend internationalists: treaties, he argues, can be broken by states at any time if the circumstances in which they were made change and the agreement is no longer useful to one party. In this case, Spinoza is following Machiavelli, who put the raison d’état above morality and justice.
3.2 Do European states comply with Spinoza’s main state assignment? The main task that Spinoza assigns to the state is, as just stated, to conduct a policy that guarantees a safe life for all subjects, no one excepted. This security task of the state results in a double obligation: securing the state borders and securing the population that lives and works within state borders. Everyone understands instantly - Spinoza would say everyone understands intuitively - that taking appropriate pandemic safety precautions involves both aspects. We will now take a closer look at them.
1 Border security. All constitutional law specialists agree that ‘a border’ is one of the constitutive elements of the concept of ‘state’. Border surveillance amounts to the development of a security system based on credible control of state borders. In times of peace this means checking people and goods. The control of this traffic implies the supervision of persons and goods which can endanger the security of the nationals of the state: detecting and stopping internationally organized criminals; in the current era I am thinking mainly of mafia members and terrorists of various backgrounds. In pandemic periods, there is also a health check on top, which is now unfortunately found to be completely missing ... The question that arises is this: are states today sufficiently armed, legally and materially, to execute this task properly or, in other words, are the European states fulfilling their security task in this area as Spinoza formulated it? After the Second World War, pan-European cooperation grew. It was not based on the model of a Europe des Nations as proposed by the French President de Gaule at the time, but on that of a supranational Europe. This was accompanied by the relinquishment of parts of national sovereignty in favour of pan-European bodies. Nations eventually lost their exclusive competence over the control of their borders in favour of Europe's external borders through the Schengen Treaty, initiated in 1985. However, international cooperation does not erase national borders or make them superfluous. The migration crisis and the corona crisis have shown that the Schengen Agreement makes the effective protection of nationals more difficult and even impossible: the treaty was circumvented in both crises mentioned by national decisions and even put aside: in themselves examples of the earlier mentioned Machiavelli-Spinoza rule pacta NON sunt servanda. The Union will undoubtedly have to revisit this treaty in the future, even if it clashes with its own limits: the free movement of people and goods is, as we know, a basic principle of the Union, but for the UK, for that matter, sufficient reason to leave the Union. For the sake of completeness, a final word about border security in times of international tension and in conflict situations. In times of war it is vital that a powerful defence can repel any threat or attack. Spinoza deals explicitly with this in his Political Treatise. Anyone who confronts his vision with the current situation can only conclude that EU Member States do not fulfil their security duties credibly: the will to invest in the military defence of the territory is not high on the political agenda, even more so, it is neglected. In the past, US Presidents Obama and Trump have repeatedly urged European NATO member states to pay the agreed NATO contributions. Another example of the Machiavelli-Spinoza rule. In the 17th century, Spinoza already knew that a society, and by extension a civilization, that is unwilling to defend itself will eventually lose its freedom and in fact opt for slavery.
2Population security. Spinoza's primary state mission to ensure a safe and peaceful life for its own nationals living within state borders is complex and requires national organization and, above all, adequate resources. Protection of the own population is only possible if three basic conditions are met:
the existence of a state authority that can maintain itself over the entire territory (the state monopolizes all power),
the existence of an efficient police force of the territory,
the existence of well-organized and well-equipped health facilities.
In the context of this lecture, we will limit ourselves to the last basic condition, which I will reformulate as the question: does the state, through its various governments and institutions, provide adequate health and quality of life for its subjects?
In the context of this lecture, we will limit ourselves to the last basic condition, which I will reformulate as the question: does the state, through its various governments and institutions, provide adequate health and quality of life for its subjects? Implementing an efficient policy to protect public health is flawed in our country and in other European states. They are known and have been repeatedly brought to the attention. A few examples may suffice here: * Epidemics and pandemics are a recurring historical phenomenon, such as the Spanish flu of 1920 with 50 million deaths, the Asian flu in 1958 with 2 million deaths and the Hong Kong flu of 1968 with 1 million deaths. Yet the EU and its member states did not pursue an efficient health policy that took this into account: emergency plans and special hospital facilities were lacking. * lack of a long-term vision to pursue a well-funded and effective health policy: such a policy is prevented by short-term party interests, election anxiety, lack of leadership and political decisiveness, * inadequate government control of food safety, so that food scandals occur at regular intervals, * and finally, unwillingness and inability of the state to protect its nationals against all kinds of serious environmental pollution ...
Unfortunately, it can be said repeatedly that in both sectors the state is quite readily willing to sacrifice public health on the altar of big capital. It is not difficult to add other examples to this list. The question just posed as to whether the state, through its various authorities, provides sufficient care for the health and quality of life of its subjects, may be answered negatively, if only based on the examples given. But I end on a positive note: perhaps the current Corona-19 crisis will become a wake-up call for Europe and its member states to pursue a better health policy and European state ships will turn their bows on this. Hope brings life ...