April 2, 2020
According to estimates by Alejandro Bercovich in his afternoon radio program on Radio con Vos, today half the world's population is confined to their homes, which makes the effects of the COVID proportionately unprecedented not only historically but also globally. Although this is not the first pandemic that humanity has experienced, it is the one that, due to its proportion, seems to acquire multi-causal features and uncertain consequences that allow attention to be focused on several fronts that go beyond the strictly sanitary due to the inability of response by an economic and technological system as rich as ever before.
The number of infected people will reach a million in the next few days and the main powers (apart from the case of China) are powerless due to the collapse of their health systems, which have been deteriorated by the market policies that have been systematically implemented. And why is there so much commotion these days about the functioning of globalized capitalism? Well, probably because that model, besides being incapable of sustaining a dignified health structure for the populations it represents, is the one that by its own practices makes possible the existence of these viruses that confine people to their homes, infect them and ultimately allow them to die. If globalization has managed to integrate states, science, technology, and economies so that this unfinished product leads us to the stage of uncertainty, of confinement, of empty refrigerators and - in many cases - of overcrowding in which many of us find ourselves, there is something of it if not everything that is unhinged. The answer, then, is why, with an economic and technological system as rich as ever before, that project for the good of biological immunity at the dawn of modernity is under threat, and that is where politics - or the hegemonic way of doing it in these times - takes center stage. The consequences of climate change can be denied and the Paris agreements can be withdrawn, the COVID can be characterized as a "little crack" or a "Chinese virus", or collective social immunity can be called for, emphasizing the implications of the pandemic on economic indicators rather than on civil society. The state of emergency could then be lifted, workers' incomes subsidized and isolation decreed.
All of this can be done, of course, and indeed is being done, just as it is very likely that this crisis will in the course of a few months abandon its health status and we will already be able to focus on - and suffer from - its economic, cultural and social consequences. Not to associate the effects of this pandemic with the agents of power that make it possible would be a mistake that exposes us to further disasters. In this sense, the governments of the central countries are behaving treacherously as institutions subordinate to this decaying order.
No one in this article intends to imply that we are being held hostage to germ warfare or anything like it, at least as we can classically understand it. Rather, the spread of the virus is one of the many consequences of our orchestrated consumer habits. It is not a question of judging Chinese culinary culture, although to show it, we need a button that can infect a million people, in addition to the chronic diseases and everyday health disorders with which we coexist, such as diabetes, cancer, obesity or hypertension. These days the anthropologist Rita Segato interprets the virus as an event of natural history or, better said, of history that we have naturalized and to which we are exposed while this type of productive practice remains. For which it would be necessary to oppose others, of different nature, starting from the point of inverting the regulated hierarchies that place the environment as a territory of conquest and not as a space of coexistence among living beings. In the end, if the functioning of nature does not recover some of the levels of harmony between its parts, we would find ourselves exposed to new pandemics and natural disasters in the reproduction of that logic that transforms living, fossil, and natural organisms into productive resources. And as long as the scandalous concentration of wealth -which finds its opposite side in the inequality suffered by the majorities- and in the empowerment of corporate science, there will be no cure or antidote possible, since new viruses are incubating there.
This decomposition should not be the reason why our demands are outdated or anachronistic; on the contrary, it should be the engine for thinking up new orders and roles that redouble with concrete actions this commitment to food sovereignty, social justice, universal health, land rights and all those rights that we also did not have before the spread of the COVID. Or as Victor Jara would say, to generate new organizational mechanisms to move towards "the right to live in peace".