Professor Agamben’s Intervention
This small 100 page book was written by Giorgio Agamben and it could turn out to be the “Communist Manifesto” of the 21st century.
It addresses the most deeply hidden hypocrisies concerning the current pandemic and the lockdown measures.
The title of the first chapter speaks for itself: “The Invention of the Epidemic”, and it only gets worse from there.
Agamben makes several radical pronouncements in his work.
The discourse revolves around the central claim that the Pandemic is a political order of things in and of itself.
An order imposed for reasons that are completely alien to whatever virus, real or not, is threatening the human population.
In its simplest form, Agamben is arguing that the current Lockdown is not just a disruption of the regular routine, it is a suspension of liberal democracy as we know it. A bracketing of our constitutional freedoms.
“What, in the tradition of bourgeois democracy, used to be the right to health became, seemingly without anyone noticing, a juridical-religious obligation that must be filled at any cost.”
Through biosecurity, power has now legitimated itself on an international level through a state of exception.
Crisis management is the last word of modern government.
The threat to health has become the main apparatus for imposing limitations on human freedoms that would never have been tolerated otherwise.
We are looking forward to a state of permanent crisis as we witness the gradual erasure of our so called “rights”.
No one finds it particularly odd how the current lockdown measures have paired so nicely with the life-style of an isolated consumer or the productive employee.
The media continues to portray the Coronavirus as a dangerous natural disaster, a spook and the false author of what is in effect a highly artificial act of international policing.
Most importantly, a global deployment of internal-policing and a constant, paranoid, obsessive-compulsive delusion.
The right to health has become an obligation to health.
And the religious worship of health is implicitly derived from the religious worship of science.
The artificial demand for self-isolation has been produced by the very forces that shaped it; attempting to satisfy a non-existent need for security at the expense of real human interactions.
What is in truth a highly political decision riddled with serious ethical questions has been transformed into a matter of technical calculation and taken entirely outside of public discourse into the hands of an army of experts.
The current lockdown is nothing more than a technocratic annexation of basic human freedoms.
This is what lies at the heart of the command: “This is the new norm!”
By Giorgi Vachnadze, Italian Philosopher
Published by GiorgiVachnadzeMedium.com
Republished by The 21st Century
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 21cir.
A related short article by Giorgio Agamben
Published in 26/2/2020
Faced with the frenetic, irrational and entirely unfounded emergency measures adopted against an alleged epidemic of coronavirus, we should begin from the declaration issued by the National Research Council (CNR), which states not only that “there is no SARS-CoV2 epidemic in Italy”, but also that “the infection, according to the epidemiologic data available as of today and based on tens of thousands of cases, causes mild/moderate symptoms (a sort of influenza) in 80-90% of cases. In 10-15% of cases a pneumonia may develop, but one with a benign outcome in the large majority of cases. It has been estimated that only 4% of patients require intensive therapy”.
If this is the real situation, why do the media and the authorities do their utmost to spread a state of panic, thus provoking an authentic state of exception with serious limitations on movement and a suspension of daily life in entire regions?
Two factors can help explain such a disproportionate response.
First and foremost, what is once again manifest is the tendency to use a state of exception as a normal paradigm for government.
The legislative decree immediately approved by the government “for hygiene and public safety reasons” actually produces an authentic militarization “of the municipalities and areas with the presence of at least one person who tests positive and for whom the source of transmission is unknown, or in which there is at least one case that is not ascribable to a person who recently returned from an area already affected by the virus”.
Such a vague and undetermined definition will make it possible to rapidly extend the state of exception to all regions, as it’s almost impossible that other such cases will not appear elsewhere.
Let’s consider the serious limitations of freedom the decree contains:
a) a prohibition against any individuals leaving the affected municipality or area;
b) a prohibition against anyone from outside accessing the affected municipality or area;
c) the suspension of events or initiatives of any nature and of any form of gatherings in public or private places, including those of a cultural, recreational, sporting and religious nature, including enclosed spaces if they are open to the public;
d) the closure of kindergartens, childcare services and schools of all levels, as well as the attendance of school, higher education activities and professional courses, except for distance learning;
e) the closure to the public of museums and other cultural institutions and spaces as listed in article 101 of the code of cultural and landscape heritage, pursuant to Legislative Decree 22 January 2004, no. 42. All regulations on free access to those institutions and spaces are also suspended;
f) suspension of all educational trips both in Italy and abroad;
g) suspension of all public examination procedures and all activities of public offices, without prejudice to the provision of essential and public utility services;
h) the enforcement of quarantine measures and active surveillance of individuals who have had close contacts with confirmed cases of infection.
The disproportionate reaction to what according to the CNR is something not too different from the normal flus that affect us every year is quite blatant.
It is almost as if with terrorism exhausted as a cause for exceptional measures, the invention of an epidemic offered the ideal pretext for scaling them up beyond any limitation.
The other no less disturbing factor is the state of fear that in recent years has evidently spread among individual consciences and that translates into an authentic need for situations of collective panic for which the epidemic provides once again the ideal pretext.
Therefore, in a perverse vicious circle, the limitations of freedom imposed by governments are accepted in the name of a desire for safety that was created by the same governments that are now intervening to satisfy it.