From the years of Covid-19 to neo-Dadaism

In la Tribune 10/04/2021
The Années Folles which mitigated the traumatisms of the First World War bloomed after the Dadaïsme, this questioning put aside the conventions, the logic, the conveniences, the reason, the poetry, the painting, the literatures which had accompanied the catastrophe of the war. To its end the movement preceded the emergence of surrealism, art deco, women’s liberation and the garçonne fashion of Chanel, the diffusion of jazz danced by Josephine Baker with the novelty of the Charleston. It was contemporary with the diffusion of new ideologies, including communism, which was incarnated in Russia, and at the same time, the new American god and its fascinating speed in everything, including the speed of progress and especially in the modernization of homes with the radio, which facilitated the massification of sensibilities and opinions.

But this decade of freedom was also called decadent, a deranged enjoyment of life and its art described as degenerate by critics who distinguished themselves during the Second World War.


The parallel between the war and the Covid-19 crisis, between the Roaring Twenties and our post-vaccine future, is probably an exaggeration of the planet communication. Nevertheless, the pandemic will have long term consequences for many infected people and unlike a minority who will have abused parties or clandestine restaurants, because they are adept at a black market of anti social distancing, for the common people, social distancing is a struggle, especially for the youngest. They will rightly ask for this period to be followed by its antithesis, a social fusion and freedom regained, the parties, the night with friends, the family reunions each in their own way, the trips to mix with foreigners…

In this near future, what will be the equivalent of the discovery of jazz in Paris in the 1920s, what will be the new ideologies, what will be the new art, where is its avant-garde? Will we experience a new influence of the United States on Europe as it did a century ago and during the 1950s, or will this next soft-power come from the East, from Asia? Or will it be neither China nor the United States, will it be our influence, the influence of the home, local, a revival of terroirs, a success of non-globalism? Will these coming years be slow, those of dry intellects, of new or anachronistic religious beliefs: natural, seasonal or Olympian gods? Will the brutal baby-flop due to the pandemic be followed by an awareness of a mortifying overpopulation that must be slowed down by a generalized Malthusianism or by a generous baby-boom?

Let’s not believe that the future will be like the past, only worse. Let us hope rather that a neo-Dadaism will reform the situation of each individual and of society.

Omnipresent questioning

At the individual level, this questioning is already omnipresent: future, purpose of existence and means to be put in phase with a life project. Are the studies or the current job, which have allowed us to get through the Covid-19 crisis, to be abandoned in order to eliminate the post-traumatic suffering of the epidemic or simply to be adapted, with distance working ?

The example of healthcare is enlightening. Covid-19 is the super-acute crisis in the midst of a very long chronic malaise that has become intolerable due to lack of recognition, overworked schedules, imperfect pay, and the suffocation of over-administration. It is the fight of too much, the one that will only be talked about with modesty between former comrades of the intensive care room, between insiders who will understand with few words the traumas, the intubations, the fatigue of the fatigue of seeing death win… So many people are already leaving the healthcare that they will have to do their Dadaism, free themselves from conventions and shackles to regain their attractiveness.

Two obvious developments

At the society level, two developments are already evident. First, downplaying climate change. But the first initiatives are not encouraging. The battle of Poitiers starts by killing the dream of Icarian children, to fly, and, as a consequence, it denies possible progress such as the electric or hydrogen plane. Undoubtedly this school of thought will pursue other battles against the curiosity of man that pushes him to go and see beyond the horizon, to discover the rocks of Mars. This situation looks strangely like a scene in Interstellar, the one of the school teacher who reproaches her student for having brought to school a book indicating that man has walked on the Moon, whereas according to the professorial doxa of this future era, this event would be a US fake-news constructed with the only aim of precipitating the fall of the USSR. I would much rather hear the Japanese company Prologium Technology telling us that by the end of 2021 it will produce batteries for electric vehicles capable of a range of 1,150 km.

Updating strategic solidarities

Second, the pandemic accentuates the need to accelerate the updating of strategic solidarities. Above each state, it is possible to identify them. They are very long-term trajectories that successive administrations and governments do not touch because they shape the particular relationship between the people and their concept of nationhood. They are a prelude to the political construction and economic development of a country, they differentiate the states from each other, because they define their dependencies, their independence and their interdependencies with regard to security, natural resources, economic development, health, economic model, etc.

The first of these is undoubtedly the primary inspiration of the State, in its Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, in its constitution and the founding fathers , or by the path traced in the ideological matrix of a little red book. In short, the intellectual event that inspires or concludes, as the case may be, the war of liberation or the revolution that generated the first power in place. This intellectual and founding strategic solidarity is followed by more tangible strategic solidarities decided at historical or pivotal moments, such as the end of a world conflict .

In its own way, the Covid-19 pandemic is one of these pivotal moments. Of course, it will have little impact on the strategic solidarities of Asian countries that have managed the crisis well because the pandemic risk was already included. But its major impact on our democracies is a response to our blindness. External threats against the integrity of the territory and the populations remained the primary strategic solidarities to which the rule of law responded with the protection of force. Our governments have suddenly discovered that they are inseparable from economic and social sovereignty in all areas as well.

Without them, no survival of the populations on the national territory, that is why they are the line of sight of the immediate and the long term; decisions which will be in the ones of the next political rendez-vous and notably electoral. Here, unlike in the past, the politics of incantation and communication will be inadmissible. On the contrary, a new and ambitious direction armed with a proven experience of actions based on the intelligence of situations will be the winner.