Justified criticism of the regents mixes with dangerous trivialisation of the virus, existential fear can no longer be separated from the fear of the health risk, highly interesting ethical questions come to a radical head and are buried under a wave of opinions and assertions.
Out of this serious confusion – once again – a good book has helped me. I took the crisis as an opportunity to re-read one of the books that is most important to me, “The Modern Death” by Carl-Henning Wijkmark, under the light of the Corona pandemia.
The fiction is radically real: at the end of the 1970s, the Swedish government (project group: DELLEM) invites people to a secret symposium on the subject of “The last stage of man’s life”. The real issue is how to get rid of the overaged society that we can no longer afford or want to afford. The question of how to kill the unproductive elderly and other superfluous people in the most humane way possible is discussed in a very practical way.
In Carl-Henning Wijkmark’s experimental literary work, a medical ethicist, a writer and intellectual historian and – almost ironically short – a theologian have their say alongside the inviting ministerial director Bert Persson. With the exception of the writer, all the experts agree that the main thing that is needed is to convince the population of the harmful effects of selfishly clinging to one’s own life, and how much it threatens the country’s economic future.
First published in 1978, the book was only translated into German in 2001, both times without any great response. Wijkmark was obviously several decades ahead of the times, and what he had to say is still unpleasant today.
Reading it has brought me peace with the restriction of freedom. Read in my personally colored book review why: To Live