Jorge Novella Suárez
Then appeared all kinds of howlers, describing, as in a Persian market, what was happening, alarming us emphatically: see, I told you so. There is a new species abounding amongst journalists, economists, sociologists, “fast-fashion philosophers” and far right politicians; all are experts, and all share a common characteristic: an innate skill to predict the past. Opinion makers seem to be impersonating a South Park character, Captain Hindsight, who always knows everything, but only a posteriori: he knew of the disaster’s extent, and he has all kinds of solutions to problems… that have already been solved.
On the other hand, the outrageous Agamben and Zizek tell us about a new state of exception that has for horizon a new concentration camp. They tell us about the end of capitalism… They are postmodernism’s apocalypticists: every inanity and every hyperbole is worth taking if it can lead me to success.
Farewell to a critical analysis proper to a philosophy which fulfills its mission to society but lets itself be subjugated to the newness. Everything has to be instantaneous and immediate, and, since today is obsolete, we must invent tomorrow. And that is how reality overtook fiction and fake religious beliefs. Dystopia is already here.
From Bin Laden to the COVID-19, from the uncertainty specific to the risk society, we went, in just a few years, from the jihadists’ bombs in Madrid, Paris and London, to an invisible and silent enemy, faceless and ubiquitous. The war against the bug -against the virus- is a metaphor overused by all, especially by the media; we accept its journalistic use although this analogy has its limits. But nothing is really different from a war. It’s the return to rhetoric.
The ability to analyze as well as rigorous information have been lost. Most journalists throw themselves body and soul into the news of the day, looking for some newness: yesterday is a corpse of no interest in this frenzy leading to nothing but fake news and other “conspiranoiac” theories… because it sells better, much better. Adding to that the number of lunatics, freaks, disoriented, and clods who inhabit our social media, we are facing a panorama which only reality can overtake. Dystopia, the fictitious representation of a future society with negative features leading mankind to its alienation, is here embodied by the death of dozens of thousands of men and women. It’s even worse: I am alienated therefore I am. I am infected with COVID-19, therefore many of my texts will die with me, without ever being published.
No one could have imagined that, a hundred years after the so-called “Spanish flu”, we would be fighting a pandemic caused by a virus of the same kind. The 1918 flu pandemic (https://gacetamedica.com/investigacion/la-gripe-espanola-la-pandemia-de-1918-que-no-comenzo-en-espana-fy1357456) had killed, within a year, between 20 to 40 millions of people, with a high infant mortality rate. The first cases were found on the military base of Fort Riley, Kansas (USA), on March 4th, 1918 – although, during the preceding fall, fourteen military camps had already endured a wave forewarning the disease.
No one is prepared to halt such an epidemic; it’s a global plague, from Italy to Spain, to Mexico, to Peru, to the United States or the United Kingdom, and so on. I won’t go into the details of the various theories about the virus’ origin. I will stick to the facts: China duped the rest of the world and held its first official international statement three months after the first contamination case was confirmed. The dictatorial regime drastically simplified things: there were no daily press conferences, no information, and everything was subjected to physical and digital control. South Korean philosopher Byung Yung-Chul Han, professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, claimed, in an article as vague as muddled and contradictory (“The Viral Emergency and the World of Tomorrow”, El País, March 22nd), that Asian States “have an authoritarian mentality, which comes from their cultural tradition (Confucianism). People are less recalcitrant and more obedient than in Europe. They also trust the State more… to confront the virus, Asians are strongly committed to digital surveillance”. If they managed to efficiently fight the coronavirus, it is thanks to violations of human rights and to a digital biopolitics which controls everything through smartphones and drones, where the “private sphere” does not exist, etc. The democratic Europe, the one that protects its borders, the rule of law and human rights with a lot of freedom, lacks security. It is the old duo, to which one may add a certain pharmaco-medical dependence.
When waking Byung Yung-Chul Han up, the bug was still there.
Murcia, April 8th 2020.