Is there a cultural revolution in the wake of “Covid-19”?
Epidemic pandemics create mutations and favorable climate for their outbreak
Tuesday – 11 Muharram 1444 AH – 09 August 2022 AD Issue No. [
London: Nada Hoteit
It is the year of life that human societies remain in constant motion and continuous transformations, but certain high-intensity events can lead to the acceleration of these transformations, and can even create a favorable climate for the outbreak of cultural revolutions that bring about qualitative changes in the ways of living and socialize.
It seems that the “Covid-19” pandemic, with all its globalizing dimensions and its endless consequences, will be one of those critical events to stimulate the transformations of contemporary societies, or so a number of experts and specialists at least believe that they the trends of individuals through their behavior on the Internet, social networking sites and others, and try to link them to real events.
A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) noted a large increase in Google searches for texts of prayers and religious prayers in more than 107 countries around the world since the outbreak of the epidemic, especially in the first months of 2020. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center said In the United States, a quarter of adults believe that their religious beliefs have significantly strengthened after the “Covid” stage, while the American Center for Monitoring Extremism Trends in the Virtual World (NCRI) recorded an increasing presence. of revolutionary religious groups insisting on separation from society in order to launch a core promising “Utopian era”. And that many of these groups, after attracting a large number of followers in the virtual world, extended their activities to the physical world. The pandemic has also brought a ripple of xenophobic attacks and a deluge of offensive comments towards ethnic and religious minorities.
Returning to religion may be understandable in these times, but what is less clear is what it may yield in terms of human social formulas. There are scholars who believe that after the pandemic experience, many have adopted stricter regulations and stricter social standards, compared to a few years ago, and higher levels of belief have emerged in different concepts of divine punishment in an attempt to major environmental threats such as disease, famine and natural hazards. These interpretations often conflict with official or sometimes scientific narratives, creating an atmosphere for social unrest and unrest, and attempt to regain control over fate through adherence to alternative narratives.
The return to religion is certainly only one aspect of broad cultural shifts that have swept societies, and with the spread of the contagious epidemic, conservative attitudes and authoritarian tendencies have increased significantly, which in part explains more support for extreme right-wing currents in numbers. from countries where general or local elections have been held (such as Italy). and Hungary). Interestingly, according to a study by a team from the University of Cambridge (UK), such trends are related to diseases that are transmitted directly from person to person, and not through an intermediate host or vector, that is, it relates to how we view others as a source of risk. The behavior of individuals during the current pandemic reinforced the conclusions of the study with models from around fifty countries that included more than a quarter of a million people.
These trends call for parallel models from recent and distant history that may raise concerns. It is known that there was a direct connection in German cities between the high death rates during the Spanish Fever pandemic (1918) and the increase in support for the Nazi party in the early thirties. Historians explain that the fear of chaos and the lack of control over fate in an epidemic environment pushed the search for a source of support and reassurance, not only divine, but also through strict governments capable of a strict regime within the framework of a homogeneous group in the face of germs and viruses from strangers and others who are ethnically or religiously or sectarianly different.
There is increasing evidence that the epidemic of the Black Death (plague) that struck Europe during the Middle Ages and had the greatest impact on the reform of its economy, society and culture immediately led to a mass return to religiosity and the emergence from predictions of a divine punishment that would end the world, and the spread of extremist sects that challenged the authority of people Religion, and in the Christian pogroms against the Jews of Europe. This intense religiosity had long-term institutional effects, reinforced by the death of many clergy, and fears of sending students on long and dangerous journeys to famous universities, which spurred the growing religiosity to found new local universities that opened the door for controversy and debate in a way that ultimately undermined the unity of Christendom over the centuries. This paved the way for the emergence of stronger national identities, and ultimately brought about the Reformation movement that once and for all divided Christianity into Protestants. and divided Catholics. Parallel to the national universities, the regulation of quarantine measures against the plague gave the civil state authority a great boost for the population’s acceptance of its role in regulating their lives.
Perhaps in this context we should not ignore the decisive effects of the Black Death on the economic and class structure of European societies at the time. The flight of people from the epidemic to empty lands and massive numbers of deaths raised wage levels dramatically, as masters and landlords were willing to pay more for increasingly scarce labor. The famous French historian Marc Bloch argued that medieval society began to collapse at this exact time, because the guaranteed flow of income from the labor of the poor to the noble families in the feudal lords ended with the terrifying decline in population, and with their weakness, peasant uprisings and armed conflicts spread with the remnants of feudalism trying to replace Rent-plundering with firearms.
At the same time, the epidemic destroyed the overland trade routes between East and West, ending what is known as the existing world order and opening the door to Portuguese and Spanish adventurers looking for new routes across the seas that eventually led them to explore Africa, Australia and the Americas and to establish Western kingdoms on the ruins of local communities. Paradoxically, the epidemics that the invaders brought with them: chicken pox, measles and smallpox played a major role in its eradication.
This and much more is clear evidence that massive qualitative changes to the culture of societies usually come in the wake of great disasters, as shocks caused by pandemic pandemics cause the kind of ideological “spurs” that the least adapted parts of the population weakens, while pushing the most able to adapt to a more stable position. But in the end, these changes are not automatic, and occur based on a society’s ability to take advantage of great turmoil to correct course and invent new ones, as there are other indications that societies that not doing, they risk being more vulnerable to subsequent disasters, and less able to cope, and many of them have actually ended in collapse.
Perhaps one of the funniest prevailing theories among sociologists is the connection between the spread of viruses and germs and the spread of transformative and revolutionary ideas, since the same conditions that make societies more vulnerable to infection seem to be the same as the widening income gap between classes, the population explosion and globalization opening the doors for the spread of transformative ideas. And if Covid-19 alone is not the bearer of a comprehensive cultural revolution this time – as the plague once was – it is undoubtedly one of the fundamental factors behind what the world will look like next.