Around the Crown
The phrase “corona-crisis” is these days on everyone’s lips, and understandably so. We are faced with a deadly disease that, only a few months ago, was completely unknown and has in the meantime dramatically changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the world. They, no doubt, feel the crisis firsthand, but do they—do we?—really know what it means to be “in crisis”?
It becomes impossible to think when COVID-19 turns into a synonym for one’s own death or, worse, for the death of a loved one or the hundreds of thousands of strangers, which is also painful. Uncertainty and anxiety cloud understanding and stifle speech. In spite of this, it is essential to think and to listen.
I am not sure that the best approach to analyzing the current state of liberties and rights in Spain, Europe, and increasingly the rest of the world is that of the rule of law and its enforcement during this pandemic and after it. In the first place, because we immediately arrive at an impasse: the state of alarm (and increasingly, of exception) has been declared in conformity with the constitutional procedure set out in the corresponding organic law. The same could happen with the legal declaration of the state of siege or of exception if there is an absolute parliamentary majority that approves it.
#PandemieLocali is a collection of short videos about the pandemic #Covid19 made in the distance, in order to connect points of view, places, experiences and perspectives on the edge of this sudden present. The idea comes from the need and desire to share doubts and questions in order to compose a collective reflection capable of showing the ambivalences, complexities and possibilities of this moment. We share here the first interviews, to which others will be added, and some reflections on our work.
And it happened. The same body that just days ago filled the streets, that went on feminist strike, the one that danced at a party, that produced discourse, orgasms, and life, is today under suspicion. Because it transmits everything – culture, defenses, affects – its capacity to carry and spread a virus poses it as an enemy. Obligatory social isolation, disengagement, red zone, quarantine, cancellation, ban, shutdown, geo-reference, state of exception, swift security measures, national networks, a matter of the state. The army policing the virus, the police patrolling meetings, preventative quarantine, biopolitical control; the virus is a terrorist organization, and every being a suspicious cell. Many of us have been talking about the body; about its centrality and about its neglect; about the necessity of liberating and listening to it, or of disciplining and controlling it, depending on the ideology. Now, when the entire situation is organized around it, we have no fucking idea what to do with it.
COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the second severe acute respiratory syndrome virus since 2002, is now officially a pandemic. As of late March, whole cities are sheltered in place and, one by one, hospitals are lighting up in medical gridlock brought about by surges in patients.
Three Meditations on a Possible Aftermath
All of a sudden, what we have been thinking for the last fifty years has to be rethought from scratch. Thank god (is god a virus?) that we have an abundance of extra time now because the old business is out of business.
Below are two texts. Most of the first, “Against Quarantine,” was written in late January and originally published in New Inquiry in mid-February. The second, much shorter text was written in mid-March as a postscript to Contract and Contagion: From Biopolitics to Oikonomia (2012).
The first text addresses the growing recourse by governments to quarantine measures. It argues that quarantines are ineffective in slowing the spread of the virus, but nevertheless effective in promoting a racialised understanding of health and disease and, moreover, one that converges with both privatised healthcare and authoritarian governance.
La gestión política de las epidemias pone en escena la utopía de comunidad y las fantasías inmunitarias de una sociedad, externalizando sus sueños de omnipotencia de su soberanía política.
With this pandemic, the 21st century begins. A century in which defending the right to live will be a priority.
Rousseau, Robinson Crusoe, and “I”
In May of 1743, a vessel from Corfu carrying bodies of dead crew members who had died of a mysterious disease arrived in Messina. The ship and cargo were burned, but cases of a strange new disease were soon thereafter observed in the hospital and in the poorest parts of the town; and in the summer, a frightening plague epidemic developed, killing forty to fifty thousand people, and then disappeared before spreading to other parts of Sicily.
Stop Europe's Trend Towards Fascism
It happened as it was to be expected: Four years of standing on the sidelines have resulted in a catastrophe. 40,000 human beings, penned up in hopelessly overcrowded EU-hotspot centres like Moria on Lesvos Island, living under squalid living and hygienic conditions, will soon face the deadly disease.
A prolonged wait at the pharmacy, a long queue before entering a supermarket. Experiences like this, today increasingly common, can help us to see how the spreading of Coronavirus is transforming our society. Yet, more precisely, the global pandemic, and the measures put in place by the Italian government to attempt to counteract it, are in fact merely exacerbating tendencies that have already existed for a while.
Or the return of the infamous pillory in the time of digital quarantine
First premise. We are not conspiracy theorists. Second premise, just to avoid misunderstanding. We are aware of the current medical emergency and convinced that we need to change our habits. With this in mind, we have decided to cancel events and concerts, to do our part to prevent the situation from worsening in the face of an already ailing health system. We are also organizing a relief action for the most affected people in the city, especially the elderly. All this is okay, we know it and we are doing it. And yet…