Epidemic Epistemes: Three paradigms for political theory after Covid-19

1. Pasteurian Mobilisation

The 20th century does not want to die. With foam dripping from its mouth, it contorts into epileptocalyptic death spasm and grunts “COVID-19.” The new virus-political paradigm found its most ostensive visual incarnation in its heroic beginnings: With People’s Liberation Army trucks roaming through abandoned streets spraying disinfectant, mirroring the victory parade of an industrial state which does not need an audience or consumers anymore. As a result, it exhumes aimless toxic mist and lacerates square kilometers of city infrastructure and skin surface with petrochemicals summing up the apex of ‘heroic’ industrial medicine with its legacy of chemical poisoning, skull-cracking and blood-letting. 

Covid-19 is Pasteurian Mobilisation: It attempts the impossible endless and self-reinforcing heroic task of ‘selectively’ sterilising a world itself functionally composed of viruses and bacteria: A fight as subtle and effective as dropping Napalm and Agent O on South East Asian jungles or Daisy Cutters and Depleted U on Middle Eastern deserts to make the enemy go away. In the process, it forcefully revives the embalmed and sterile corpse of Louis Pasteur, father of laboratory death science, who puts his boot to Antoine Bechamp’s jugular once more. Pasteurian Mobilisation forces the reanimation of an immuno-suppressive treatment regime which reliably results in autoimmune disorder destroying the body politic from within.  

The cure itself is causing the harm: with symptom suppression suffocating homeostasis with the chemo-coil leading to the unprecedented mass emergence of ‘idiopathic’ disease. These conditions — we are told — come from a timeless genetic nowhere and demand ever more experimental treatment peddled by exhausted and overworked drug-pusher MDs impenetrable to feedback and always eager to temporarily refinance themselves against a steady loss of status and income. With Covid-19 this system is reaching its apex with doctors finally refusing to treat patients altogether: With effective medicines outlawed by a captured state, they arm-wrestle citizens into accepting experimental IP-protected pharmaceuticals “coinciding” with skyrocketing death and case rates in countries above all after the application of medical protocols. 

Pasteurian Mobilisation meanwhile only accelerates the death of an already intellectually, economically and socially bankrupt hospital system. It inevitably produces the emergence of divisions of black market alternative medicine liquidators and conscientious refusenik nurses and doctors cleaning up the iatrogenetic carnage. For the first time, the latter are forced to work with less, to experiment with cheap and non-invasive means of diagnosis and will actually have to engage with their patients as individuals. While the implosion of the hospital will lead to a mass loss of lives, this outcome is already inevitable and cannot be averted anymore. The death of the hospital should be welcomed. 

2. Capitalist Expansion

Covid-19 also marks intellectuals’ failure at dialectic thinking which is profoundly concerned with a changing of essences. Locked in 19th century paradigms of the economy and power they cannot conceive of a world beyond the steady expansion and growth of industries and GDP, when in reality the 21st century is now all about contraction: a one-world governance consolidation of power and global bureaucratic takeover which a certain politologue du prince has labelled the Terraforming. In this vision of the world, the clueless populace is to trust in the benevolence of the intellectual of statecraft, the arrogant secular philosopher king, solely capable of thinking the globe as a limited resource while defining an inscrutable equity

But where the deluded middle class intellectual thinks this equity is a redistribution of power and wealth from billionaires for the benefit of himself and his declassed peers, for the elite intellectual of statecraft equity only means the reduction of Western middle classes to the material status of Chinese, Indian and even African peasants and urban subproles. 

This upheaval of class relations is the result of transnational and structurally psychopathic power networks which have been concentrating capital, automated productive capacity and ultramobile surgically precise means of violence against their contenders. They have increasingly expropriated the upper-middle and lower-upper classes who used to constitute the “free economy” of small entrepreneurs and liberal professions of doctors and lawyers today increasingly reduced to casual pressured workers who less and less control their destinies. 

Ultimately of course, this concentration of power and the proletarisation and brutalisation of society, psychologically, only amplifies disgust and disdain of those in power while forcing the ultimate question of population control: Would it not be better if the world’s primary ecological problem — people – were reduced altogether? 

In the process, we thus witness the targeting and destruction of remnants of hot Yang nationalism – sole possible point of resistance against the transnational elites – through the expansion of Yin power – of cold maritime technocracy, which is all feminine omnivore dedifferentation, autolysis operated by activist finance via business liquidation, and which ultimately even entails the physical dissolution of bodies: mass incidence of pharmaceutically weakened “leaky” blood vessels, autoimmune conditions, veins full of black goo. We could call this hypercentralised, hyperverticalised and increasingly autistic destruction of social forms by means of automation the Terror-Farming. 

3. Second Reflexive Modernization

Covid-19 has also brought forth the need of a Second Reflexive Modernization. It is a reaction to what Ulrich Beck in his influential book Risk Society called a “reflexive modernization.” The latter was to take into the account the ecological and social damage inflicted by the paradigms of high modernist science and industry, for example by developing a paradigm of ecology. But where Beck was constrained by his inevitable Germanic middle class harmlessness to become a window-dresser for elite schemes paving the way for contemporary global governance psy-ops which contort the notion of ecology to signify schemes of global centralisation and surveillance promoted by ideological child soldiers like Greta, we need to take another step outside and reflect on Beck’s mediocre reflexiveness itself. 

A second reflexive modernisation first needs to acknowledge that Thatcher was right, There is No Society. Above all, there can be no unified We from the perspective of a global power elite which thinks of itself as a caste apart. In the 21st century, the remnants of ‘society’ and a ‘public sphere’ witnessed their final implosion with the towers on 9/11. What replaced them was 9/11 Truth as the decisive psychopolitical moment of the early century. From its appearance, political space and its grammar are definitely reconfigured: no more truth but a para-public sphere overgrown with suspicious interested narratives, conspiracy theory, red herrings, limited hangouts and gatekeeper oppositions. They obscure, dress up and motivate the sociologically fractured inscrutable motives feasting on the Leviathan. 

A second reflexive modernisation must precisely focus in on the totality of mediations, strategies of representation and warfare tactics deployed by the networks. To succeed at and endure this task, it needs to develop a taste and instinct for blood, a radar to detect violence, to zero in on the totality of disinformation, blackmail and parapolitical violence actors which overdetermine the conduct of the Terror-Farming and reliably usurp any social aspects from an increasingly lean, brutal and networked global governance. A second reflexive modernisation ruthlessly enforces transparency and tinkers to build human-controlled architectures of decentralisation to perpetuate a seat at the table for the people to escape the hostage-taking of populations in geopolitical and computing arms races (“The internet of bodies”) conceived by intellectuals of statecraft with limitless capital.  

In the process, it needs to forsake the prevalent petty-bourgeois naivety but also its relentless paralysed cynicism. It knows that its only chance of survival is to keep all the doors open at all times and to press ‘record’. To achieve its goals and as a final act of self-preservation it means the development of a popular psychological immune system which can only be described as a joyful paranoia, a zen-like openness towards collapsing certainties which simultaneously doubts and believes everything, and thereby fortifies a mindset embracing the liquidity of the Kali Yuga. On this stress-pressured self-overcoming of populations alone depends the accelerated information diffusion between inert masses from early adopters to late majorities which is necessary to generate momentum and win the war. It confidently shrugs its shoulders at the inevitable dusty criticisms opposing sophistry and distinction to the ugly and distasteful yet inevitable emergence of mass popular resistance:

“The essence of history is both real 
and unrealistic…” 

— Guillaume Faye

Nicolas Hausdorf is a German writer living in Melbourne, Victoria. He is the author of the “Psychogeography Superstructural Berlin“.

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