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Fol­low­ing upon the gen­er­al­ized aston­ish­ment and through the process of “some­thing new we learn every day”, a move­ment is start­ing to take shape for a return to prof­it-mak­ing.

Behind the mod­est mask of “the econ­o­my”, cap­i­tal­ism has not laid down its arms and is busy fine-tun­ing its strate­gies to con­tin­ue the plan­e­tary holdup despite the pan­dem­ic.

These strate­gies take dif­fer­ent forms, depend­ing on the “demo­c­ra­t­ic fiber” of the pop­u­la­tions involved. In Europe, it is called “de-con­fine­ment”. In the USA, it’s a pres­i­den­tial decree to “re-start the econ­o­my”. In Brazil, it involves the fir­ing of a Health Min­is­ter and the sor­did eugenist ide­ol­o­gy that deems “may the strongest resist” and “let the ver­min dis­ap­pear” — not said in so many words — but applied nonethe­less.

We can all agree on the fact that the neolib­er­al ide­ol­o­gy, mean­ing the one cap­i­tal­ist glob­al­iza­tion has applied these last decades, will mutate as virus do. The expe­ri­ence the qua­si total­i­ty of human­i­ty is liv­ing through will require some accom­mo­da­tions.

In Europe, the “de-con­fine­ment” will be done in the name of “free­dom”.

And although a num­ber of “sci­en­tists” – but not only – sig­nalling the lev­el of unprepar­de­ness for a return to so-called “nor­mal­i­ty” are very skep­ti­cal, since the pan­dem­ic is far from over, politi­cians are pick­ing up the tune of indi­vid­ual free­doms, under­stood to mean, the free­dom to under­take, to exploit fel­low humans by re-open­ing the mar­ket in all its aspects.

Back to work, the mon­ey print­ing press is over­heat­ing! We must restore real prof­it.

A num­ber of gov­ern­ments know they are on bor­rowed time. The neolib­er­al poli­cies they have pur­sued have clear­ly foundered once sub­ject­ed to real­i­ty test­ing. Dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion, care­less­ness, polit­i­cal choic­es based on finan­cial aus­ter­i­ty applied to all com­mon goods, includ­ing health and life, have become glar­ing­ly obvi­ous. Return­ing to cap­i­tal­ist nor­mal­i­ty, even with more Key­ne­sian poli­cies in which the mar­ket is not entire­ly free of con­straints, strike them as urgent in order to antic­i­pate all hints at ques­tion­ing the sys­tem. A good old return to dai­ly alien­ation on a Covid back­ground and gun in hand, that should do the trick.

But free­dom will be under sur­veil­lance.

What a bet­ter time, when such mea­sures are not suf­fi­cient­ly accom­pa­nied by med­ical and pre­ven­tion logis­tics, for large-scale test­ing of a method of sur­veil­lance.

This is how cam­eras were intro­duced pre­vi­ous­ly, using the excuse of pre­ven­tion against ter­ror­ism or rob­bers, all for the “pub­lic good”…Of course, no one was off in a cor­ner rub­bing his hands with glee, like a sneaky con­spir­a­tor. But from one secu­ri­ty mea­sure to the next, fun­da­men­tal free­doms came under sur­veil­lance nonethe­less.

Neolib­er­al­ism has the pecu­liar­i­ty of indi­vid­u­al­iz­ing the work­er, the con­sumer, giv­ing him the sen­sa­tion of per­ma­nent­ly ful­fill­ing con­stant­ly rein­vent­ed desires while, at the same time, secret­ing a secu­ri­ty-based ide­ol­o­gy, in order to “guar­an­tee the con­sumer soci­ety’s” sources of dai­ly hap­pi­ness. Pushed to the lim­it, this is 1984.

If the work­ings of the bare­ly sub­dued finan­cia­rized cap­i­tal­ism win out dur­ing this de-con­fine­ment, we could see the appear­ance of all sorts of author­i­tar­i­an pop­ulisms, inher­it­ing these tools devel­oped dur­ing a pan­dem­ic in order to favor the sys­tem’s poli­cies. The only ele­ment lack­ing for the time being: politi­cians and their flunkies capa­ble of cre­at­ing the need­ed enchant­ment around the strat­e­gy.

Else­where in the world, con­fronta­tion is clear­ly at work in order to put the peo­ple back to work. Depend­ing on the degrees of pre-exist­ing accep­tance pri­or to the pan­dem­ic, and the hold of the pow­ers in place, changes can be expect­ed there also in the com­ing years and even, para­dox­i­cal­ly, stronger autoc­ra­cies.

In the Unit­ed States, we can bet that a Demo­c­rat would not have done any bet­ter than a Trump.

The epi­dem­ic might have been bet­ter con­trolled than with a nega­tion­ist, but the vic­tims would have been the same ones, social inequal­i­ties and the exist­ing clear­ly class-based health sys­tem act­ing as sup­pli­ers of dis­crim­i­na­to­ry mor­tal­i­ty. The rea­son­ing and the resis­tance strate­gies would not doubt have struck us as more ‘Euro­pean’ with Demo­c­rat politi­cians. Where­as now, the Amer­i­can pres­i­den­cy, rest­ing on the pop­ulist approval of those still attempt­ing exor­cisms of the “alien” virus, and the “armed” supre­ma­tist unem­ployed demon­strat­ing for the re-open­ings, along with a good share of the nation­al­ist finan­cial sec­tors of course, are fight­ing a polit­i­cal bat­tle against their very States for a resump­tion of busi­ness.

In Brazil, a eugenist in pow­er the­o­rizes – with­out say­ing it in so many words – the notion of the virus per­form­ing a cleans­ing out of his social oppo­nents, and there also, we see an assumed suprema­cism. Brazil has too much to lose in stop­ping the destruc­tion of the plan­et and its finan­cial elites have too many links with glob­al finance, its cor­rup­tion and its invest­ments in the pre­da­tion of eco-sys­tems, in order to accept en enforced pause. Bol­sonaro will go for broke and, despite every­thing, remains the can­di­date for an entire flour­ish­ing agribusi­ness. More­o­ev­er, the dis­ap­pear­ance of bio­di­ver­si­ty will also involve that of humans the sys­tem con­sid­ers “unde­sir­able”, if brakes are not applied by civil­ian soci­ety to this mur­der­ous pol­i­cy in the com­ing months.

In the Mid­dle East, trench war­fare pre­vails. The front­lines are in abeyance and the virus, although much less mur­der­ous than the bombs, pro­vides a momen­tary dis­tanc­ing in the war. In Turkey, the regime fears divi­sions in its midst, with cor­rup­tion find­ing less sources than usu­al. Para­dox­i­cal­ly, impor­tant debates emerge around life, and that of pris­on­ers, for exam­ple. The old big­ot­ted Mus­lim foun­da­tion has occa­sion­al revivals where least expect­ed, in order to com­pen­sate for the gov­ern­men­t’s fail­ings, cre­at­ing co-habi­ta­tions of sol­i­dar­i­ties one thought long dis­man­tled by the exess­es born from pow­er. And it will be dif­fi­cult tomor­row for this same gov­ern­men­tal pow­er to relaunch a strick­en “econ­o­my” at the same time as its militarism…The tri­umphant neo-Ottoman Turkey of 2023, anniver­sary of the Repub­lic, will lose some of its grandios­i­ty.

To round up my sam­pling, I’ll raise the Chi­nese issue.

Over there, 1984 is already a real­i­ty. The relaunch­ing is tak­ing place and will con­tin­ue, using the same meth­ods applied to the stop­page and the con­fine­ments. Over there, no direct oppo­si­tion, nor con­sul­ta­tions or nego­ti­a­tions. The con­di­tion of the world mar­ket and of the resump­tion of demand will con­di­tion the re-awak­en­ing of the machine put at rest for secu­ri­ty rea­sons. This will also pro­vide Chi­na, the great glob­al­ized work­shop, an oppor­tu­ni­ty to rene­go­ti­ate increas­es exter­nal­ly, and inter­nal­ly, to remod­el links between emerg­ing for­tunes, State cap­i­tal­ism, invest­ment free­dom and polit­i­cal pow­er. The impend­ing crises relat­ed to the ris­ing stan­dard of liv­ing in the pre­vi­ous decade and that might have touched on salaries or demo­c­ra­t­ic demands, for exam­ple, are held in abeyance for a while.

Chi­na thus becomes both the eco­nom­ic hostage tak­er and the ris­ing pow­er to be struck down as the sov­er­eignist with­drawals gain strength. Yet, more than ever, Chi­na’s oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op its globalized“new Silk roads” is on the agen­da. The con­spir­a­cy con­tro­ver­sy con­cern­ing the ori­gin of the virus, re-launched by some, is but the appe­tiz­er for those to come. And the debt, even vir­tu­al of the West­ern economies also pro­vides the “Chi­nese Empire” lever­age it will not fail to exploit in the com­ing years, in order to weigh down on finan­cial crises and favor its “trad­ing posts”.

All of these suc­cinct remarks, total­ly super­fi­cial, incom­plete and full of dead ends are nonethe­less a foun­da­tion from which to under­tand that “tomor­row’s world” will remain under the con­trol of those own­ing both the cap­i­tal and the prof­its it pro­duces, as a result of the instru­men­tal­iza­tion of States they con­tributed in build­ing in order to admin­is­ter and apply their enrich­ment strate­gies.

For a time, ultra-lib­er­al strate­gies will be down­played in order to put the peo­ple back to work.

In this back-to-work pro­gram, every resilience, every sol­i­dar­i­ty, every com­mon pool of ener­gies, every sur­vival of prox­im­i­ties so hap­pi­ly dis­played in the strug­gle for sur­vival will unrav­el through gains accu­mu­lat­ed, not by the polit­i­cal teams them­selves, but by the State appa­ra­tus. Many red lines were crossed dur­ing this great col­lec­tive fear, con­cern­ing fun­da­men­tal acquired rights, Law itself, imposed habits of sur­veil­lance and con­trol, all to be inte­grat­ed tomor­row into dai­ly liv­ing, “while await­ing the vac­cine” they will say.

Who’s to know in all this who’s the holdup man. The same one no doubt who, after hav­ing us raise our hands and forced us to wash them five times a day, will fill his Stock Mar­ket with the fruit of those hands’ labor.

This col­umn to be con­tin­ued as part of a series pub­lished since March 18.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges –
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Daniel Fleury
Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…