In Italy 1 day military expenses would pay for 25,000 respirators

Francesco Benozzo is an Italian poet, philologist and musician. "With the military expenses of a single day, six new hospitals could be built and equipped or 25,000 respirators purchased," he said.

Francesco Benozzo is an Italian poet, philologist and musician. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature since 2015, author of several hundred publications, director of three international scientific journals, member of the scientific committee of international research groups, coordinator of the PhD in Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Bologna.

He is a discordant voice when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic and his positions have stirred a debate in the academic world.

How are you spending your days in isolation?

As a privileged person, as I can count - unlike most of the citizens - on a salary at the end of the month, and on living in a secluded place in the mountain. I am, like all teachers, giving lessons remotely, I continue to hold graduation and doctoral sessions, I examine students. And I work on a new poem.

Your declarations on the coronavirus emergency have given way to some harsh reactions. What is your reading of the current crisis?

I have been thinking and saying this since the first hours of the declared epidemic. As far as I see it, we are facing a rehearsal of subjugation of populations, based on a scientocentric vision of reality.

As a "scientist" myself, I can't help but notice that everything is directed by the new religion of the contemporary world: a monotheistic, anti-logical, totalitarian and obscurantist religion represented, in fact, by the so-called "science", in this case medical science.

In my years of study and teaching I learned from the great masters that science is first and foremost a narrative, a narrative as plausible as possible, and that the progress made in the various disciplines has been made thanks to dialogue, refutations, debates. Those who practice science as a profession are well aware that this profession consists essentially of the art of doubting the truth, all truths. This also applies to medical science, and I also say this as a member of the scientific committee of the prestigious CMH, the Study Center of Medical Humanities which is based at the University of Bologna. However here we are witnessing a ‘one voice’ science that believes (or rather pretends) to be the bearer of the only truth.

Can you be a bit more specific: when you talk about medical science, who do you refer to?

I'm not talking about the ward doctors, of course, but about what I call “living room or rooms of power” virologists. As for the frontline doctors, such as nurses and volunteers, I would say that more than the heroes, they are the first victims of this war, together with the sick and dead. They are in the trenches fighting. But this must not take us away as to why they are at the front. I mean, the “doctor hero = just war" equation cannot work. Indeed, it seems to me that some medical associations are actually rebelling, precisely against the central power, with respect to this label of heroes attached to them by those who sent them to the front.

So, victims of a system?

I would say yes. If we look at the Italian situation, without going any further, we must underline this: a particularly aggressive virus has brought our health system to its knees, since we have in this country only 5000 intensive care beds for a population of over 60 million. Doctors are in the trenches for this, not for the exorbitant numbers of the infection. They are in the trenches because instead of hospital wards we have trenches (but this situation was already known before the coronavirus outbreak).

Surely the health system or rather its dismantling is a big part of the problem. And there are responsible for this dismantling.

Absolutely. Let's be honest: in 2020 in a state of 60 million people there should be at least 60,000 intensive care beds. The rest are lies, but of course they have to transform these lies into something else, and so here we have the images of the overcrowded hospital rooms, nurses and doctors exhausted when not dead, coffins without flowers lined up outside the hospitals, or taken away in Hollywood-like scenes by military vehicles. And all this while the police patrols the street, while the civil protection tells people to barricade themselves in their homes.

Of course, the virus certainly leaves many dead, like hundreds of other viruses with which we live and that sometimes make us sick. Now the nation knows by heart the number of these dead, since they arrive every day at 6 pm. There will certainly come a time when we will also try to understand how these figures are actually calculated.

Little investments for the health system but a lot for arms…

I don’t understand much of this, but what I know is that, even in these days of emergency, while the Italian prime minister appears on the official TV channels worried and pale, the Italian government spends 70 million euros on military spending every day (two billions per month). With the military expenses of a single day, six new hospitals could be built and equipped or 25,000 respirators purchased.

So what to expect from the future?

I do believe that coronavirus is certainly killing a lot of people, but it is also killing en masse the rights to freedom and dignity of all people. What is happening is the imposition on people on a univocal point of view that prevents individuals from self-determination and is leading the population to be used to accepting the suspension of their inalienable rights as normal.