The Bolivian activist shares this text with MU, which is the product of a class in which it does not proclaim prophetic truths, but rather thinks about the post-pandemic from uncertainty, question, intuition and “trial and error”. The result is a dictionary on the lexicon with which governments of the left and right discipline societies. How to think politically and ideologically about vaccinations around the world, the colonial-patriarchal-extractivist order that turns neoliberalism into fascism, and how to interpret the speed of changes in the light of rebellion and creativity. By María Galindo.
I am not writing from Bolivia, but from a territory called uncertainty. I write from the last place in line to obtain the colonial vaccination, which in many countries will be applied as a dose of government salvation and as a new sanitary contract granted by capitalism through the States in order to survive. I write from the conscience gained in a common pot, in a small movement, in a struggle that has not stopped drawing exit, location and meeting maps. I am writing from a march of sex workers in a pandemic that they affirm that police repression is worse than the risk of getting sick and the fear of dying. I write while, against my will, I prepare to speak on a cold screen that I would like to reheat until I explode. I do not write from the certainty, but from the doubt, the question, the intuition and the trial and error. I have not given up on feeling this pandemic world without gloves, and although I have accepted the invitation to write, I am aware that everything I say is liable to suddenly become a ridiculous, outdated, naive statement or lose its consistency like ice melted is involved. At the same time I could cling to a fatalistic prophetic, biblical prophetic or redemptive prophetic tone and await the applause of the loose hearts that walk in the streets like zombies in desperate search of prophetic voices.
Lockdown, El Alto, Bolivia, March 2020
The pandemic is a political fact not because it is invented, non-existent or has been artificially produced in a laboratory. The pandemic is a political fact because it is modifying all social relations on a global scale and it is therefore legitimate and urgent to think about it and debate it politically. The pandemic is a political fact because it is presented as the consequence of a global capitalist model that goes from its ecocidal version to its suicidal version. It opens, or rather evidence, the systemic relationship between ecocide and suicide. Herd submission
The pandemic has installed a standardized lexicon at the planetary level, uniform and widespread in all countries. It serves for the redirection of social life to a disciplinary society. Word for word, life is squared to reduce it to fear, to the legitimate surveillance of the State over our entire life, to the dissolution of non-state forms of collaboration and organization. The only revalued collaborative forms have been reduced to a kind of paternalistic assistance without politicizable power. The amputation of desire is one of its constants. All these political operations are taking place through pandemic language as an instrument to name and give content to what is happening.
We are not questioning the protective measures, the need to take them or the incongruity of many of them, but the way to name the entire universe of the pandemic. I am not talking about hidden meanings: they are explicit and their destructive effect has to do with their invasive repetition, with the fact that the rulers and international organizations are the indisputable spokesmen and the population, in general, functions as a box of repetition. It is a language that you end up using to understand yourself in a few words. With their world-wide character without nuances and with their thoughtless use without margin to question the senses, they work by fascistizing social relations. Once again, as so many times in history, the right to name the facts is being the weapon to program its social content. It is in the terms with which the events are being baptized that their central ideological content lies. It is not an ideological content that functions as a theory to be accepted, debated or rethought. It is an ideological content that functions as an irrefutable fixed meaning and as a direct reality, which has a behavioral conditioning therapy effect.
I have found about thirty terms that make up the backbone of the lexicon and its role in collective behavioral conditioning. However, I am going to propose to review just a few, for reasons of space:
Biosecurity : A set of measures that have to do with the mortal danger of contagion. We should change the word “security” to “vulnerability”, and the suffix “bio” to “necro”. We are experiencing vulnerability to pervasive, invisible, and uncontrollable danger. If there is something that is not safe, it is life. We cannot speak of biosecurity when such a term, in fact, names the necro danger or biovulnerability.
Social distancing and isolation : They are not the two meters that we need to avoid contagion, but they are the contents of exacerbation of the closure in yourself, of saving yourself away from the “other”, which is dangerous par excellence. We have all become the “other” of the “other” by making pandemic language an instrument of collective dissolution. The emphasis that has been placed on the small family group or “bubble” as your only universe of responsibility and meaning has also worked in social fascism, using the harmless possessive pronoun of “yours” over and over and over again.
Quarantine : Term carried from the Black Death in the Middle Ages to the contemporary world as an indicator that in the 21st century – after several technological revolutions – social care measures are the same as several centuries ago and bear the same name. Who then does technology serve? Why don’t we have other contemporary tools other than medieval ones to deal with a pandemic?
Curfew, confinement : These are not the only terms that are part of the pandemic lexicon and that in this part of the world have represented the military dictatorships that are in our living memory. Could we not have used other words not loaded with dictatorial memory, or was and is its dictatorial load socially useful to reinstate the absolute power of the State over the population?
Essential activities : The reclassification of social activities with the qualification of “essential”, leaving out all those that belong to the universe of affection, desire, creativity and reducing people to the world of work has an effect on pandemic language surgical amputation. The only valid notion of life is “work.” Just changing from “essential” to “functional” would already give everyday life another meaning.
Telework : The movement from the workplace to the home, turning work into a product that is paid for as a product and not as an activity that is measured in a specific number of hours. It is what in this part of the world – call it Honduras, Mexico or Brazil – is called “maquila” and “piecework”, where you are paid for work done and not for hours of production. The maquila – neoliberal instrument par excellence – used by large transnationals – especially in the textile industry – has been transferred to large labor camps with the pandemic and has received a softening name. Imagine the result of renaming telecommuting a pandemic maquila or home exploitation!
Given that the aim of this text is to propose challenges, here is the first one: to make a complete list of the pandemic lexicon, give each term its real meaning and go on to rename the phenomenon that the term pretends to name. That to wake us up, to sharpen our creativity and to breathe rebellion. The sophisticated materials that are needed are a pencil and a paper and if you do it with friends the result will be fun and explosive.
Global Health Contract
Before receiving the vaccine, it is urgent to know what we are receiving, not to propose disobedience or non-vaccination, but to not passively accept the vaccination as someone who receives the marking iron from cattle. We also have to debate ideologically its political meaning. Vaccination is not a solution, no matter how much governments around the world seek to present it as such. Vaccination is a partial solution to the transition to a new order that still has no name. It is a survival measure that leaves intact the systemic structural questioning that this pandemic must pose for the whole of Humanity.
The vaccination row is a diagram of world hierarchies of a colonial character without metaphor, but in a direct way. The order of priority is the order of ability to pay. In turn, in each society, the vaccination order internally represents that same diagram of social hierarchies: the more on the periphery you are, the later or the vaccine will never reach you. In these lands they start with health personnel because they need them, but they are followed by the military and police, priests and bishops, deputies or ministers filter through. And if they did not need health personnel, they would also be the last to receive them.
Vaccines are the materialization of supra-state powers that govern the world. It is not the World Health Organization that organizes the equitable distribution of vaccines, but rather the companies that – amassing figures that are already impossible to conceive – set the order of vaccine provision. And do not think that because we are poor we pay less: we are paying the same or higher prices for receiving lower doses, and governments receive them on their knees as a great achievement, willing to sign whatever it is in fine print. Governments, in turn, supply vaccines like someone who provides an intramuscular government injection, a gesture that you should be grateful for without question.
The vaccination advertisements that are developed in national contexts by governments suggest that what they are getting you is a government benefit. The amounts that the purchase of vaccines suppose for many States exceed the investments in health or are comparable to these. Vaccines eat up health budgets so that, once the storm passes, hospitals and operating rooms are just as battered as they were before. Vaccines also represent the privatization of knowledge, since the research centers that have the millions that research in the field of biology or medicine represent are not in public universities or even in imperial capitalist societies, but are directly in companies that suck brains out of universities.
Thematizing and debating these issues around global vaccination is considered suspicious because in the face of the vaccine what you have to do is passively sign a unilateral health contract like the one proposed by banks when you get into debt or like the one that the Bolivian State requires of sex workers to give them permission to work. It is this health contract and its explanation that can contain the struggles that will make sense in the future.
Governments benefit from the administration of the States, but they do not govern: they are secondary administrators of a colonial – patriarchal – extractive order. This tangible fact today radically redirects our struggles and our horizons. The classic left-right differentiation to interpret the political field becomes obsolete: fascistization, for example, in the lexicon has encompassed both. We are in the transition from the neoliberal regime to the fascist neoliberal regime and the left does not even visualize it because if the categories of analysis and social organization offered by the left were already out of date, today they have become obsolete.
The so-called “left” governments are also governments incapable of proposing a different horizon than that imposed by neoliberalism. This fact is by no means the end of politics, but the birth of a new politics. A new policy that has no vanguards, saviors, or drivers and that requires a high dose of creativity. It is not strength that we need, but awareness of our vulnerability.
Social subjects are being diluted due to fatigue, lack of ideas, mourning, inability or inability to react, while other deprived people are reconstituting themselves as social subjects with questioning capacity: those people who turn to animals to reintegrate as animals , or those who produce health, food or justice with their communities are those who have not been paralyzed by fear.
Everything is happening at high speed although time has stopped. The speed of change is the speed of a deep metamorphosis. Interpreting it at the risk of being wrong is our bet.