Reaction to the Apocaptosis
Paco Gómez Nadal | @pgomeznadal | Translated by A.G. Topán
Journalist, essayist and member of the collective La Voragine
Reality gives us unexpected twists in its history plot. If we believed in poetic justice we could take the risk to describe as an almost global warning this coronavirus’ crisis, as a reaction from the organic to the death impulse of the capitalist-predator species. But maybe everything that are going on don’t be so beautiful, so metaphoric.
We can mess up ourselves in complex analysis which implicate the state of emergency accepted by most of auto-designed democratic with the decay of the capitalism and the liberal politic model of the Estate-Nation (and its runaways). We could also take the risk that the giving up of certain individual rights and the obedient acceptance of the administration by (war) decrees will have consequences in the close future that become in a loss of collective rights and in an unpublished crisis of social, economical and political’s roles. Even, it would be possible understand that Europe, unable to react as a whole to this huge crisis -the same as before it was unable to react to the refugee crisis or Balkan’s War- will put a date to its own vigil.
This crisis is not for the virus, this crisis is systemic and we are carrying on since a long time (maybe when the Europe we know was born). Maybe we were now paying the bill of not to confront that systemic crisis of occidental capitalism in a collective and subversive way (subvert it is no more -and no less- that change the established order), instead of this infertile identity and/or reformist guerrillas’ war. That is the reason that I sense this health crisis -which is also politic, economic, cultural…- is the sign that we are attending to apoptosis of capitalist, androcentric, anthropocentric, colonial, racist and westerncentric Modernity.
Time ago, I stole the term “apoptosis” to a doctor and it seems adequated to put it out of his hat now that everything are crossed by health and its impossibilities. The apoptosis consists in to programme or to provoke cellular death by organism itself and its function is to control its own “development”. The medical definition indicates that it is about “an organized process, that usually gives advantages to the whole organism during its normal circle of life”. If there is an order in this capitalist, racist and hetero-patriarchal entropy, it must be apocaptosis.
COVID-19 crisis has risen final degradation of this civilization we know in the West, but with ramifications in every continent “thanks” to the colonial expansion project, first; and the ex-colonies remote-controlled, after. It was unthinkable a few years ago that we locked up at home without the necessity of military forces in the streets knocking the doors to terrify. Now we do that facing life’s own degradation provoked by the system and that knock our doors through media and not-at-all encrypted messages.
In this uncertainty days, there are heard a lot of theories: ones are closed to the complot paranoia or see the “evil” eastern hand managing a conspiration against West; others delve in the postulates of bio-power (calved in the north) or necropower (developed in the south); there are people that go back to the State as a recipe against every ache; others see in evil, the good and the opportunity of the advent of a kind of neo-communism; and others, even, have been hooked to the “care” fashion to see in this crisis an opportunity of a neo-hippy revolution or as a precedent of a collective reflection about ways of life. I am not so optimistic as the last ones. Lots of citizens that today applause health professionals will vote in favor of political parties that privatize health; lots of solidarity signs we are watching on the net and in the streets are part of the social performance produced in face of an earthquake or another kind of natural disaster: it is about an hormonal peak of so sleep societies that any crisis of these dimensions shake them for an instant just before come back to the “development” somnolence. Also it is a consequence of a certain empire of the West positive psicology, of the “everything is gonna be ok”, of the blind faith, of the mindfulness or whatever.
I rather consider that this is an apocatopsis in every way. This system doesn’t stand more and needs to regulate itself (that doesn’t mean that it did it in the way some dream about). On one hand, regarding politic system: coronavirus is going to mean a reconfiguration of political logic hard to foresee. That the precarious democracy will turn out even more damaged, it is for sure to me, that the incapacity to sustain life will create violent reactions from unsuspected groups of people (and always suspects to the power), too. Slight attempts to remove borders for privileged populations will be cut off and the group of citizens with movement without restrictions will be smaller and smaller (1% lose weight). Besides, there will be more budget and popular support for walls, fences and control systems to prevent the assault to “paradise” of nobodies; messiahs, “strong” leaders that tranquilize to the astonished souls will be looking for, and the rise of nationalism that we already were suffering will change into trending topic.
On the other hand, it is no difficult to sense an economic reconfiguration. The depraved curve of the economic growth of financial and technological sectors will meet the restrain and that implies that capitalist fiction of this XXI century come to with the brutal reality, with pockets of discontented and (re)precarious populations that turn on dangerous, a threat to privileged classes and nations
In both aspects, political and economical, it is confirming in the crisis firsts weeks, the uselessness -even the overwhelming silence- of the global or transnational institutions in which the multilateralist dream rely on: neither the UN, nor the IBRD, nor the European Union… Neither supranational institution are able to lead or coordinate efforts. There is one more aspect to worry me, related with the religious rise (that is, fanatic). If already in the last decade a strong religious penetration in public politics and in the private life of the most precarious people could be observed, crisis as coronavirus can push a lot of people to look for gods or gurus in the leaderships that they have lost in a politic life empty of utopias and collective desires. To calculate the impact of this religious industries return. It seems to me impossible right now, but that doesn’t mean that it weren’t a variable to keep in mind.
On the last extreme: corporal reconfiguration… I am not able either to venture in this field, but the suspicion of the other-body as a true danger, the fear to contacts, “volunteer social distant” -that neoterm that shake us-, evil’s racialization (“it is a Chinese virus”, repeats Trump to whom still listens to him), hugs’, skin’s, corporal fluids’ reinterpretation…
The question that seems interesting to me is what will be the power reaction. If the numbers that manage the gurus of epidemiological scientifism are true, we will talk about millions of infected people and several millions less of death people at the end of the road. Vulnerable groups are much more that the ones which media indicates. The nobodies, every nobody, are vulnerable in numerous dimensions. On the one hand, the health subject: precarious public health systems and advanced privatization in the last quarter of the century will cost millions of victims without access to private insurances, groups of dependent people without assistance, pointing of the “suspicious” (as WHO have already named them), (im)moral elections about treating just the one who has the most probabilities to survive… On the other hand, the economic subject: there where there isn’t rich economies, the most of the population can’t afford the “volunteer” confinement because stop working a day implies a serious problem of survival to the familiar nucleus. Besides, in a global atmosphere regulated by violence (state in North countries; parastate and criminal in South countries) it will be precisely the violence -in all of their forms non visible included- the one that rises at the moment to “established” the strained global atmosphere.
Politics tendency -always a parapet of the economics- will be to defend themselves of the nobodies aggression. That is, of the current speech of co-responsibility and of citizenship that the leaders draw repeating a bad script of a dystopic movie, we proceed to the story of the defense of the democracy and the sacrosanct values of public safety that, we already know, are translate into violence, first, against the most marginal (subhuman and no human, Fanon dixit) and, after, against the precarious population’s pockets coming out against them in the being zone.
The system apocatopsis tends, I assume, to be evolutionist, Darwinist in the most capitalist sense of the word. From “let’s save us all together” to the “every man for himself”, till arrive to “the last one is a rotten egg”. But if something we have learnt along history is that social Darwinism it is only functional to powerful ones, although many of us practice it as good breeders of the world-system we belong to. The truth is that Darwinism can only be banner of the onepercentism. We the majorities have survived along history thanks to cooperation’s nets. Not really from a naif perspective of crossing cares and humanitarian love, but from small nets, close and of life. This nets, if they exist, should be put since now to think not only in demonetizing services of mutual cares, but in economic, food and community health livelihoods. It will be difficult that the alternatives that the system offer us would be homogeneous. As always the privileged Being zones (in the Global North as much as in the Global South), they will have another story that will talk about tighten the belt, about improvement and about positive spirit in front of the simultaneous extension and precarious’ deepening (even if basic emergency rents are articulated to curb the chaos). But, outside this hypertrophied center that refuses to accept anyone else, we will have to generate mechanisms that allow us to catch our breath. We have to do it now. That is, we can’t wait to arrive to Cucaña’s country that seems farthest and farthest. We have to work in two dimensions (at least, in North): the urgent one, fight to keep the embers of public and, even, to reinforce them, and to generate massive social protection initiatives that maintains in time; but, in a half term, to begin to build alternatives from the common that they wouldn’t be relevant.
To think about the future we have to look back and outside. Look back, to recovery logic (except ways) cooperative of survival where friendship wasn’t the link, but the basic necessity of the everyday life which forced cooperation. Look outside, to look to the Global South, where the positive psicology has not wrecked human resilience and where the ability to overcome trauma continues to rely on fragile networks of cooperation where conflict is as permanent as the solutions to day-to-day dilemmas.
We must reflex, analyze, imagine other many different ways of live. We must subvert(us) and change this state of affairs that paralyze us, that mentally confine us and that transmit us the idea that there is only one possible road. As always insists Antonio Orihuela, rememberin Frederic Jamason, it is easier for us to imagine the end of the world that the end of Capitalism (something complex because we are that same capitalism). That capacity to imagine those other many possible worlds was stolen form us after the failure of collective utopias of the XX century and it is now that our responsibility is to find new impossible dreams that take us out of dichotomies of the possible. It is also our job be prepared to an apocalyptic environment in which take care of us will mean also protect us, resisting from the conviction of the long time, of the opportunities to come – which are not going to be ours but for whose advent we are so necessary. And we must do it without being left alone in the (critical) thought dimension, but crossing to the organized collective action. In small environment, maybe, but effective one. Waiting that the same failed, dying, violent and unfair system in which we lived (heir of the imperial and barbarous last three centuries) solve the wrong it to bet to a failed apoptosis that, as usual, we the nobodies will pay for the salvation -and greatest glory- of our executioners.