“We need a fundamental rethink”

Long-distance society instead of mass mobility: curator and media theorist Peter Weibel discusses the consequences of the corona crisis for our society.

Peter Weibel, CEO of the Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe (ZKM) as well as artist, curator and media theorist, regards our penchant for masses – mass mobility, mass consumption and intensive livestock farming – as an important reason for the corona crisis. He says we need to reduce all that and rethink. Here you can read what reforms he is calling for.

Mr Weibel, you would like to see fundamental reforms of our economic, social and cultural systems after the corona crisis. Whats wrong with the existing ones?

Where proximity rules, the coronavirus also rules: on ships, in canteens, in carnival processions, in nightclubs, at sporting events and in densely populated city districts. Every large gathering of people can endanger them. The signals are plain to see. Thats why the order of the day is: avoid proximity with others and keep your distance to steer clear of infection. If we didnt have telecommunications technologies – from the telephone to the Internet – we wouldnt be able to communicate at present. Life is now taking place at a distance and from a distance. If we track the spread of the virus, we find we are following the movements of mass tourism and global supply chains. Mass mobility, mass tourism and mass events contribute to the spread of the virus. The same also applies to the increasing interpenetration of the food production and living areas of humans and animals. That means the way we produce, the way our economy focuses on mass transport, mass production, mass consumption and intensive livestock farming, is increasingly contrary to an ecology that serves human life and life on earth.