COVID19 Kills Postmodernism!

The other day, a friend asked me if I had been writing. The truth of the matter is, being solitary sometimes makes me unable to concentrate. I think it’s ironic, that I have not watched Netflix once, since the start of official self isolation for elders and those with pre-existing conditions. Part of this has also to do with a psychological reaction— it seems wrong to be “entertained” and actually, I couldn’t care less for more than ninety percent of their offerings. 

More importantly, I have returned to reading, where I feel my imagination and thinking comes more into play. There’s definitely a distinction between those people who relate to the screen more than the page!

This is a time of reflection and fear. Of hope and possible futures, possible only if we confront our reality— and it is a reality— head on, and at the very least, plan our societies. 

Social planning has been an anathema to neo-liberal politicians and their allies for at least 35 years. Yet social planning and the emergence of public health and post WWII social welfare schemes, are what helped industrial and colonizing nations manage their own domestic class discontent. And the ideas and implementation of state-funded socialized medicine are to be hugely applauded, especially if the logic of planning is people, and not profit, centred. 

Much of the crisis in the world during the current pandemic is due to profit being the guiding light through this disaster. Some politicians may pay lip service to helping their fellow citizens. But it is not what they say, but what they do, that counts. Canada is floating in a sea of perfect murkiness when it comes to support for quarantine and self-isolation measures. Online groups speak to heart breaking terror in real time and life. Families are suffering in all concievable ways. Refugees and prisoners are being abandoned to their fates. We did this. 

The Wait, Kaushalya Bannerji, 2020

A week ago I told someone that the coronavirus had killed postmodernism. There are no competing versions in the marketplace of truth as we can see so clearly today. Something invisible has made everything visible. 

And like all important “things”, truth comes at a high price. Currently, much of this crisis could be avoided- psychological, physical, financial, travel-wise, if we as a world chose early and total testing and planning for both the decrease of contagion and the support of those who are infected and affected by COVID19.  

This takes into account our real material interconnectedness, shows us that most people migrate only out of absolute necessity, whether from rural areas to urban within domestic/national borders (India, China, U.S, Mexico) or internationally. Those countries that are doing better to control the crisis include, Germany and Viet Nam. Because they are testing early and often and coming up with a plan for those test results! Testing without planning is meaningless. Late testing is responsible for critical illness and fatality spikes. Rationing tests when community transmission has already taken hold is the first step to genocide. 

Epidemiologists have criticized Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and other laissez-faire neoliberals for their scoffing approach to the virus and their erections when propping up the stock market and promoting various forms of fascism. Strangely, the WHO is all about praising India, deluded into thinking that the India of the BJP’s Modi is the same as the India of the era of Polio eradication campaigns. All those Phds— and really?

Back in the day when I was a political science undergrad, corporatism was a type of fascism that we studied, with the fascist body led by its God-given head. This fascism, bred in Europe has roots in the feudal conflation of church and state and civil society. 

We saw it in Italy and Spain, in Greece under the Generals, in Portugal and Salazar, and in Latin America, whose post Independence legacies of ruling and constitutionalism have been so clearly derived from their European colonizers. And to some extent in India, where labour, students and activists have traditionally organized on institutional— that is, party camps.  But today, corporatism has fallen by the way side, replaced by religious bigotry, ethnic cleansing, white supremacy, and upper-middle class libertarianism and consumption.

Today’s leaders are demonstrating they don’t care— about people who cannot be exploited (the elderly and the non-employed disabled).

 They don’t care about people who do not have the money to pay for everything that needs to be paid for (from necessities like utilities, water, rent, food, transportation, and even internet and its related technology,  to luxury goods). 

They don’t care for people not lured into constant complusive consumption. Looks at the vitriol and violence unleashed by countless adult men on Greta Thunberg!

Commodity fetishism in the Xanaxocene is what we’re dealing with. Trillions are being diverted away from human survival and potential, into industries run by fossil fools, commodities traders and bankers. These are the people who determine what is health, who is disposable, and what is worth saving. These are the people that dictate our moral compass. 

But they can’t take over our personal consciences. In the absence of human-centred health care, I’ll be staying home— out of both self-interest as a member of a hgh-risk group, and out of love, for all those I do not know, whose imperfect bodies make us all, human. 

I am ending today’s piece with two pieces of art:  a poem that speaks to our global terror, recited by the author, Dylan Thomas. It’s direct counterpoint to the idea that “grandparents should sacrifice themsleves for the DOW” .

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Credit

From The Poems of Dylan Thomas, published by New Directions. Copyright © 1952, 1953 Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1937, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1966, 1967 the Trustees for the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas. Copyright © 1938, 1939, 1943, 1946, 1971 New Directions Publishing Corp

And the final word goes to the late great American jazz poet Gil Scott-Heron, offering us a chance to reinvent ourselves, in the face of so many odds stacked against us.

“I’m New Here”

I did not become someone different

That I did not want to be

But I’m new here
Will you show me around

No matter how far wrong you’ve gone

You know we’ve turned around

Met a woman in a bar

Told her I was hard to get to know

And near impossible to forget

She said I had an ego on me

The size of Texas

Well I’m new here and I forget

Does that mean big or small

No matter how far wrong you’ve gone

You know we’ve turned around

And I’m shedding plates like a snake

And it may be crazy but I’m

The closest thing I have

To a voice of reason

Turn around, turn around, turn around

And you may come full circle

And be new here again

[x5]

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