Corona Weltanschauung: Brief Reflection on Neoliberal Necropolitics and The State of Art
The pandemic provoked by the Covid-19 is a calamity that brings troubling questions about the passage of the human species on Earth. Even in the corporate media it has been said that the world will no longer be the same after the pandemic. On one hand, there is speculation about the emergence of a dystopian authoritarian world where life takes place in closed environments and human relations are reduced to online interaction monitored by the state / capital’s Big-Brother. On the other hand, it is stated, in a more hopeful way, that the crisis caused by the virus will make an anti-capitalist revolution without people once it reveals the contradiction and the perversion of the system. Following the futurological speculative debate on the media, Giorgio Agamben argues about the risk of the state of exception becoming the norm, while Slavoj Žižek reflects on the emergence of a humanist communism. In this same imaginative but more raw way of thinking, Byung-Chul Han states that China’s “success” in containing the virus will inspire the West to adopt forms of digital control similar to the ones the Communist Party of China has implemented. There is nothing really new on these speculations. The point is that while pop philosophers speculate about the future, life has been extinguished.
What everyone knows so far is that the lethality of the coronavirus makes it clear not only that neoliberal democracies are unprepared to deal with humanitarian crises, but also that there is an acute incompatibility between life and capitalism. In the past forty years, this system, especially in its neoliberal version, has intensively operated based on the assumption that one’s life is more worth than another. When analyzing neoliberalism, it is possible to go back in time and compare some of its main characteristics, especially competition and merit, with racist theories such as Herbert Spencer’s social Darwinism. According to Social Daewinism, social life naturally makes the strongest occupy a prominent place in society. Thus, the richest, so to speak, are the ones who survived and adapted, established themselves, in a model of life that is based on competition. The successful rich deserves by its own merit to take its place in society while those who are poor are poor because they were not able to triumph. When this theory is brought into the context of neoliberal social life, a highly competitive reality, even the death of people is naturalized. When a person fails, its failure is seen as its inability to adapt and to be useful to the system. It explains that those who have no practical value to the neoliberal system can be discarded. This logic of discarding “useless life” over “useful life” is, then, informed by idea that an individual must be productive for the functionality of the system. Therefore, it is no surprise that in the first weeks of the pandemic in the West Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro, main representatives of the far-right politics today, minimized the effects of the virus and adopted the idea of “vertical isolation”. An idea that claims for the isolation of the most fragile people to the virus, elderly people and persons with chronic diseases, while the most resistant ones, the youngest and most prone to work, continue to live and work “normally” maintaining the capital machine working.