Paper on COVID and culture

Of everything we've read, we've found that this paper gets to the heart of the conflict.

We'd encourage everyone to consider what it says.



David & Laura


Very good paper. It comes at

Very good paper. It comes at it from a more broad historical perspective which has been hard to do or find while we are in the middle of this and fighting with one another constantly. Thank you. Dan

joseph's picture

interesting theory

I recall near the start of the pandemic, a list poster relayed that they had a relative who had died from Covid, but had decided this was a "good death". I recall being horrified by the implication being made that any who died from Covid should not be mourned. Two world views, utterly incompatible. No wonder there is such deep division. And now I have a name for it. thanks.

Paper Summary

For those who find the paper's academic language a bit hard to read (which always a problem with these sorts of papers), here's a quick summary:

The author puts forward a theory of the root cause of the "culture war" that has developed over COVID by drawing a parallel with the commercialization and commodification of breast cancer (p55), specifically the push to individualize it vs. addressing systemic environmental causes of this epidemic of cancer (now up to 1 in every 2 for women!!).

Specifically, she calls out how there are moves to a) diminish the perception of the severity of the consequences of infection (p54), and b) characterize deaths as "natural" and "acceptable" (p51). This results in an "attitude of toleration and even nonchalance towards death" which allows a powerful group of people to not have to change (polluting corporations in the case of breast cancer, and businesses and landlords ("the economy") in the case of COVID), at the expense of other groups disproportionately being harmed by COVID. This is summed up in the quote by Dominic Cummings: “protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad” (p51).

In order to prioritize the economy (really, their personal financial interests) over human lives, powerful people have enlisted a segment of the population to advocate for this prioritization. This segment of the population then comes into conflict with the segment of the population that feels that deaths and injuries resulting from COVID are not acceptable, and that health protection measures that would harm these business interests are acceptable.

The ultimate result of all of this has been a successful prevention of the measures that would have halted this pandemic, and "a significant and rapid redistribution of wealth, with enormous profits realized in particular by employers of the 'essential workers' who were disproportionately likely to be exposed to infection in their workplaces." (p56).

We found this paper useful in how it clearly calls out how this polarization is being constructed, and thus thought it worthwhile to share.

If you want to read more along this line of analysis, take a look at:

Specifically, "Through this form of criticism of the lockdown in England, Young’s understanding of health and the right to life is highly contingent upon a form of ableism wherein ‘a good life’ is equated with a life that is productive in the capitalist sense of the word. Through this analysis, Young singles out two groups of people as being ‘less valuable’: the elderly and those with underlying health conditions." (p1420)

As both of us have what are considered to be "underlying health conditions", you can understand why we are against policy and worldviews that considers our lives less valuable and disposable on the altar of capital.


David & Laura

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