Q: Tell me something good that is going to come out of all this…

A: Perhaps many of the things we can learn no doubt depend a lot on the outcome of “all this”, because “all this” it is a very appropriate way of naming it. We say “this” to name the pandemic, the confinement, the generalized anguish, the fear of contagion. We psychoanalysts use a very precise concept with which we try to account for an event for which we cannot find words to name, we call it the real. This is not exactly reality, it is rather the encounter with the traumatic, with the sudden, with the unforeseen, there where the calculations fail; then there is an encounter with a real that we had not previously considered, and this impacts on subjectivity, both collective and individual. Well, we are at that moment. And what remains to us as a resource is invention, looking for new solutions to new contingencies.

Perhaps this is a privileged opportunity to rethink politics, to grasp in all its depth the vulnerability of the human condition. Can the pandemic impose some kind of political rectification? This real that we are traversing allows us to put into perspective the radical fragility of this poor species that we are, always in tension with the burden of destruction that inhabits us, with what we call the death drive. It is an opportunity to return to the helplessness that unites us. The pandemic puts in play something in common that traverses the whole of the social bond. The virus is anti-segregative, it makes no distinction in who it infects, and although there are populations at risk, no one is immune in principle. We are all equal before the senseless law of the virus.

Perhaps on the basis of this crisis we can bring into view the noble features of the human, those that unite us in our helplessness and solitude, this aspect of the affects not entirely traversed by the death drive. And curiously, bodies are brought to life when we put into action the authenticity of the relationship with life and death, with the things that matter. Societies begin to give some examples of this in the midst of a pandemic despite governments, like that in Brazil, where the supposed authority of a reckless, proud and hate-sick president is being questioned by the population and by the good sense of some politicians who are taking action beyond him.

It is necessary to maintain a blunt critical spirit in the face of the unleashing of the discourses that kill, of a social reality that tilts dangerously towards processes of segregation increasingly devoid of shame and modesty. We see very clearly the disaster and the confusion produced by the enunciations of types like Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban and their local replicas in Spain, in Italy, in France, and in the whole of Europe.

This is an opportunity to make holes in these discourses without a war – to which they are so prone – to rethink the fragility of contemporary democracies, the concept of the rule of law, the very concept of the State. Perhaps it is the occasion to dignify politics on the basis of this unprecedented contingency introduced by COVID-19, to put a spoke in the wheel of this senseless and inhuman form of capitalism in which we live.




Excerpt of the interview with Óscar Ventura by África Prado for the newspaper INFORMACIÓN, originally published in Spanish under the title: “The shadow of a police society still hangs over the future“, and in ZADIG España.


Translated by Roger Litten