“What surprises me is not so much what is going on as how familiar this story is to me, a story that is no less fantastic for being real”, writes Daniela Danelinck about what is happening with the coronavirus pandemic. This “foreign virus”, as renamed by Trump and his followers, because they are aware (something that I insist on) that the name given to things determines them.
Here in Spain, this country that has not got over its astonishment, some neo-fascistic leaders have become infected and are taking advantage of the circumstance to put their chest out. They have identified their body with the unity of Spain, declaring that with the force of their patriotism they are going to fight this foreign element that has invaded us, as if we did not have enough to do with everything that invades us from within. These cretins are not stupid. The equation body = homeland is easily sold.
Meanwhile, there are theories for everything. Boris Johnson declares the impotence to control the virus and considers that it is better for the British to get infected all at the same time in order to generate antibodies and to avoid any measures that might affect the economy. A form of Darwinian selection at the service of the survival of the species, the species of big capital, of course. May the strongest be saved, those who by pure chance happen to live in Kensington.
There is a video showing an astonishing uproar of monkeys in a city in Thailand. Due to the shortage of the tourists who usually feed them, they are fighting over a yogurt container that one of them has found lying in the street. You can see why we are so fascinated by monkeys: they are our best mirror. With a bit more cruelty they could almost be human.
The techno-scientific discourse, which boasts about overcoming impossibility, can do little against this real that has broken out and from which (as Agamben has already warned) capitalism will take a good share: a golden opportunity for the majority of the world to become a gigantic testing ground, where the methods of population surveillance, the closing of borders, shutting down of cities and forced detention of citizens can be tested and perfected. New treatises on ethics will be written: who to save in extreme situations? Women and Children First is a motto that has already expired. It doesn’t even have interest as a vintage item. Of course, these exceptional measures are unavoidable. But the exceptional tends to become familiar, and very quickly becomes part of everyday life.
That the fantastic becomes normal could very well be the imperative of our times. Would it have been better if no security systems had been established at airports following 9/11? Probably not, but the important thing is that security has also become an instrument of political manipulation.
The pandemic is wonderful. It satisfies those who believe that God sends us His punishment from on high as well as those who are convinced that the foreigner is to blame. Both theories are true. God sends us his punishment for the arrogance of believing in progress, and the foreigner that we all are and which we cough out is responsible for the plague that kills us every day and that does not cause flu-like symptoms, but comes out of the immense hole that has opened up in our world view.
Meanwhile, the Italians confined to their homes lean out of their balconies and sing to life. This is also part of the globalized madness, which to a certain extent has always existed. We already knew this from the Decameron, which Bocaccio, also Italian, wrote in response to the bubonic plague of 1348 and in which he showed that even on the brink of the end of the world there is always place for the desire to live.
Danelinck’s essay “You Should Be Ashamed“ is a piece that I recommend to understand the world. http://www.grupoheteronimos.com.ar/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Debería-darte-verguenza.pdf