Covid has been referred to as a portal, a re-boot, a mirror, a hoax, a metaphor of everything good, bad or ugly about capitalism and modernity. There’s not really much daylight between many of these interpretations. Another comprehensive and enduring metaphor is that we’re in the midst of an unmasking, which is the definition of apocalypse-a removal of the veils obscuring a clear view of the present reality. As the pretense of stability fractures, we encounter a storm of feeling and response. And as the Delta variant now sweeps through nations, ignoring borders, class and threatening to ignore vaccines, we must ask again what is being revealed.
There are those who believe we will regain momentum on some imagined trajectory to normalcy, reinstating the familiar rules and laws of commerce, that all hierarchies and differential privileges will be retained, boundaries and binaries we take for granted (or don’t even notice) will be restored, the eternal rules of economic gravity will be reinstated, upon which we can return to the serious business of inequality, denial, extraction and ecocide.
Covid is a test. The presumption that modernity can manage it all, the ideologies of sustainability, ‘freedom,’ medicine, the engines of mass communication, public relations, mainstream journalism, public health, the entire narrative of progress, the veneer of corporate social responsibility, equality, even the fantasy of mass spiritual awakening, all of these lie bleeding on the sidewalk, unmasked in a quickening drama of collapse. The airwaves and social media are filled with hollow discourses, dissociation, sophisticated ego-driven delusional schemes by which we entertain ourselves and by which huge sums and resources flow to a minuscule number of individuals, increasingly tired systems of indoctrination, dominance and control. The structures of the dominant paradigm are trembling and the costs some are willing to pay to prop up the game is bleeding into savagery. The empire has no clothes.
Covid is intensifying and accelerating the dialectic. The protestations of those who most closely believe in God’s plan are reaching the level of medieval religious hysteria. Which part of God’s plan is at work here? On the other hand, the media/corporate/public health/medical axis has been desperate to assert control of the narrative, that Covid was an accident (do we really know that?), that following a few basic guidelines will manage and contain the spread of the virus, and primarily that the virus is an enemy to be battled through vaccines, responsible behavior and will be solved by following scientifically validated protocols. Many are drawn to the hygienically rational (unbiased?) legally protected pronouncements from the inner sanctums of Big Pharma.
We are moving so far beyond all of this.
Shunyamurti, 2013:Is it just that every narrative circles hopelessly around its own apocalyptic core, like the moth spiraling toward the flame? Is the Word no longer God? [Now words eclipse the Word], until the words all begin to implode into nonsense and face us with the falseness of their meanings, the labyrinth of delirious signifiers that have created a sound barrier between consciousness and Truth.
Driving all of the above is the 40-year advance of the oligarchic agenda promoted by political parties, think tanks, organized religion and mass media attempting to cleanse national security, foreign policy, civil rights, law enforcement, medicine, higher education and the nation state of all but true believers. We are witnessing deepening cracks in the dominant narratives. The timid voices of integrity and credibility are now making space for bad actors to use vast political and media resources to drive sophisticated messaging to trigger fear and anger: bifurcation for its own sake, promoting versions of reality serving their personal, corporate, financial and political benefit. Collective psychosis, brought to you by the neofascist international crime syndicate
The stock market is an apropos example illustrating the increasingly threadbare fabric of economics and culture. We say the market is not the real economy, but such pronouncements don’t penetrate the bastions of the linguistic managers. The message perpetrated by central banks, five or six major investment banks and politicians of both parties is that everything is (or will be) OK. Yet the financial benefits of monetary policies meant to prop up and maintain the facade of growth and prosperity do not reach 80% of the population. It’s mostly gaslighting to protect the investor class. Mainstream economists are trying their best to convince us that risk is diminishing while the moral hazard in the largely opaque shadow markets increases month by month and the remaining measures to sustain the unsustainable shrink to a perilous few. This is a deadly game of musical chairs. The music is getting louder and the song is nearing its end.
Covid is a slowly unfolding series of shocks, revealing the trauma of conventional rationalism upon the collective consciousness. What is unmasked is the spiritual monoculture modernity has become–down to the vacuous micro-level pseudo-authoritative presentations in social media and TV, the tone of voice, the appearance, the time (or character)-limited delivery of information, the rapid segues from ‘bad’ news to ‘good’ news, the sequestration of subjects, the appeal to only a single level of comprehension. This is a continuation of progressive disembodiment that began very early in our lives. It is incremental developmental trauma.
You can avoid reality. But you can’t avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.—Ayn Rand
The combination of manufactured distrust of government combined with actual lying to the public by the government has inflicted cumulative trauma ever since at least the origins of the CIA (and likely well before). The effects of that trauma on civic trust is reaching its apotheosis in the spreading cracks in consensus reality, all of which is producing a culture in which, as James Kunstler has said, ‘anything goes and nothing matters.’
Covid is a warning. If we imagine our response to the pandemic as a practice run for future crises, we are doing rather poorly. Trump’s response to the pandemic in the US will be one huge reason for our failure. And the failure to investigate and prosecute Trump’s response will be another. We have resistance to sharing vaccine technology and we do not have mechanisms to make sure all nations, regardless of economic status, can be included in a global response. We don’t have a public conversation about the long-term trajectory for vaccine research or the implementation of practices that will reduce the likelihood of another virus emerging in the future. Capitalism is proving inadequate to deal with these long-term issues because it’s so focused on short term private profit. In fact, we might even say that capitalism has brought us the virus in the first place. How do we imagine capitalism is the solution to a problem it created?
How is that mask going to ripped off?