One of the most fruitful intellectual minds of modern-day Judaism is little-known in Israel. Shmuel Trigano, a Jewish-French-Israeli sociologist and philosopher, researches Jewish thought in the world and the Jewish world in the context of metaphysics, philosophy, politics, and social sciences. He has written 25 books, four of which have been translated into Hebrew.
In a special interview to Israel Hayom, Trigano shares his thoughts on what the coronavirus pandemic means for humanity.
Q: Your last book, The Jewish State Beyond Normalization, pointed out the cyclical nature of empires and pointed to the empire of the European Union. What will the post-corona era herald for that empire?
“I think that the age of corona means the death of the European Empire. From the start of the 21st century, we have been faced with the appearance of a new empire: the EU, a new regime that cast doubt on the validity of a nation-state. That was combined with a new authoritarian belief: that of post-modernism, an ideology that led to the breakdown of modern civilization and the dismantling of reality. I always thought it was a creation that couldn’t last for long – peoples that don’t understand each other, in a manner that destroyed local agreements, and also in terms of human rights.”
Q: What do you believe to be the source of coronavirus?
“I see coronavirus as a disease that is rooted in globalization and will also destroy globalization. It is the end of globalization. When it comes to government, we are seeing an anti-global phenomenon in which all the [EU] countries are reverting to nation-states, to borders, to police rule, to closures.
The peoples are barricading themselves behind borders. Every country is keeping its resources to itself. These are signs of a retreat from globalization. We saw that the weakening of the nation-state led to the neglect of assistance and that it is not possible to depend on a global body. Practically speaking, the national frameworks are the ones that are active.
“The collective identity of each people is strengthening. Corona means the return of nations and states, a return to the national structure and an actual living border. There is meaning to this, an enormous message from the heavens. It’s possible that we thought that we could override every border in nature, and all of a sudden humanity is being held to account and returned to our little stature. I think that the 21st century begins now. We’ve entered a new era.”
Q: What challenges do you foresee for the time of corona?
“Corona poses a big challenge to democracy, for example. In every country, expert panels have been established: doctors, scientists, statisticians – a circle that is not democratically elected, and for which there is no oversight, and which ‘charms’ the administration. Politicians are resting on an external authority to make decisions of great importance, like personal freedom, lockdowns, shuttering the economy.
There is paradoxical tension when on one hand, it’s clear that we need a strong state and activity from an administration that concentrates all the power and tools, but on the other, the state is weak and needs to depend on the authority of experts to determine its path. This is a great embarrassment for modern humanity, which thought it could control everything.”
Q: Are you describing hubris on the part of humanity?
“Correct. If coronavirus has a spiritual or symbolic aspect, it is the idea that there is a limit to what humans can rule over. Globalization is a dream of potency, a sense of immediacy and connection. Corona illustrates the principle of limitations to human existence. Not only the “human” in “human rights,” but also the human as a reference for everything.
“Corona warns us about getting too close to the precipice. Take, for example, the trans-humanist approach, which seeks to deify humans to the point of turning them into the Creator. According to that approach, humans’ biological limitations can be overcome, and even though we are supposedly in a special situation of science and technology, even to the extent that it is possible to create a human. Corona casts doubt on that modern theory, which wants to re-create a human being through gender theory, biotechnology, and bio-humanism.”
Original: Rona Hausinger, YNET