Today we are facing a global crisis. Perhaps the greatest crisis of our generation. The ongoing decisions made by governments will in one way or another shape the world for years to come, they will impact not only our health systems, but also our economy, our politics and our culture.
We must act quickly and decisively. We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes.
Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive — but we will inhabit a different world. Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours. Immature and even dangerous technologies are pressed into service, because the risks of doing nothing are bigger.
Entire countries serve as guinea-pigs in large-scale social experiments. What happens when everybody works from home and communicates only at a distance? What happens when entire schools and universities go online? In normal times, governments, businesses and educational boards would never agree to conduct such experiments. But these aren’t normal times. In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity. Under-the-skin surveillance In order to stop the epidemic, entire populations need to comply with certain guidelines.
There are two main ways of achieving this. One method is for the government to monitor people, and punish those who break the rules. Today, for the first time in human history, technology makes it possible to monitor everyone all the time. Fifty years ago, the KGB couldn’t follow 240m Soviet citizens 24 hours a day, nor could the KGB hope to effectively process all the information gathered. The KGB relied on human agents and analysts, and it just couldn’t place a human agent to follow every citizen. But now governments can rely on ubiquitous sensors and powerful algorithms instead of flesh-and-blood spooks.
The epidemic has caused to appear with clarity is that the state of exception, to which governments have habituated us for some time, has truly become the normal condition. There have been more serious epidemics in the past, but no one ever thought for that reason to declare a state of emergency like the current one, which prevents us even from moving. People have been so habituated to live in conditions of perennial crisis and perennial emergency that they don’t seem to notice that their life has been reduced to a purely biological condition and has not only every social and political dimension, but also human and affective. A society that lives in a perennial state of emergency cannot be a free society. We in fact live in a society that has sacrificed freedom to so-called “reasons of security” and has therefore condemned itself to live in a perennial state of fear and insecurity.
After almost two decades of terror panic and many other forms besides, and prior, things could hardly be otherwise. As previous iterations of elite crisis management and panic leveraging tend to reveal, states of exception tend to serve class privilege in a variety of different ways. If they don’t provide opportunities for further class war attacks on the rights and wellbeing of subject classes, they simply facilitate the shifting of attention away from institutional causes of crisis, laying blame at the door of handy scapegoats.
In the case of the current crisis, both are, to one or another extent, true. The simple fact is that, as a pandemic fuelled by zoonotic infectious disease, the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic reflects the culpability of the capitalist class for the consequence of its own collective rapaciousness. As such, it presents a threat to the populist currents built on precious little besides the sacrificing of the liberal wing of the capitalist class to the anti-elite pretences of corporate oligarchs, and to capitalist social relations per se. Sensing as much intuitively, mainstays of the old world perpetrate vicious cycles of fear and blame, exploiting the fact that crisis and opportunity are widely understood to represent two sides of the same coin. The bad news for these agents of terminal negativity and tantrums raised to the level of ideology is that the same knowledge can be used to promote cycles of virtue as a form of resistance, to learn from the thinking that produced the crisis, and to rise above it in the name of moving on to bigger and better things, as many of those now engaged in forming things like mutual aid networks are now demonstrating.
Culture is an important pillar without which the edifice of the new world order cannot stand upright. The globalists have a clear objective: undifferentiated citizens of the world, citizens for whom profit is an end in themselves, citizens who all consume the same as cattle, citizens stupid by television, citizens programmed to submit news ideologies.
Such is the Machiavellian design framed by pressure groups which, under the guise of democracy and respect for human rights, foment for the total subjugation of the human species in the service of a handful of neo-prophets of the times modern people who have deemed it a good time to take control of everything that moves.
But are we all going to succumb to the sirens of the new world disorder? I admit that I hardly believe in nations that are closed in on themselves and maintain that resistance passes through nations that are both sovereign and united. The solution would be cooperation between the states opposed to world government while respecting the history and culture of each of them. In other words, a society established on the fundamentals of a trans-altruitism and inter-mutual guarantee having as a first rule, respect for a global multipolarism.