Silence, dear humans, all of your ridiculous calls to war. Lower the looks of revenge you throw at me. Turn off the halo of terror that surrounds my name. We, viruses, from the bacterial background of the world, are the true continuum of life on Earth. Without us, you would never have seen the light of day, nor would the first cell.
We are your ancestors, just like stones and algae, and much more than monkeys. We are everywhere you are and where you are not too. Too bad for you, if you only see in the universe what is your likeness! But above all, stop saying that I’m the one killing you. You do not die from my action on your tissues, but from the lack of care for your fellows. If you weren’t as rapacious among yourself as you were with everything that lives on this planet, you would still have enough beds, nurses and respirators to survive the damage I do to your lungs. If you did not store your old people in dying rooms and your able-bodied people in reinforced concrete hutches, you would not be where you are now. If you had not changed all that is, and what was still yesterday luxuriant, chaotic, infinitely populated world or rather worlds, into a vast desert for the monoculture of the Same and the More, I would not have been able to set out on the planetary conquest of your throats. If almost all of you had not become, over the last century, redundant copies of a single, untenable form of life, you would not be preparing to die like flies abandoned in the water of your sweet civilization. If you hadn’t made your environment so empty, so transparent, so abstract, believe me that I wouldn’t be moving at the speed of an aircraft. I have only come to carry out the sanction which you have long since pronounced against yourselves. Forgive me, but it is you, as far as I know, who coined the name “Anthropocene”. You have claimed all the honor of the disaster; now that it is being realised, it is too late to give it up. The most honest among you know this well: I have no other accomplice than your social organisation, your madness for the “grand scale” and its economy, your fanaticism for systems. Only systems are “vulnerable”. The rest lives and dies. There is only “vulnerability” for those who aim at control, at its extension and its improvement. Look at me carefully: I am only the reverse of the reigning Death.
So stop blaming me, accusing me, tracking me down. To being stunned before me. All of this is childish. I propose a change in your perspective: there is an intelligence immanent to life. There is no need to be a subject to have a memory or a strategy. There is no need to be sovereign to decide. Bacteria and viruses can also make it rain and shine. So see me as your savior rather than your gravedigger. Feel free not to believe me, but I came to shut down the machine for which you could not find the emergency brake. I came to suspend the operation of which you were the hostages. I came to demonstrate the aberration of “normality”. “Delegating our food, our protection, our ability to take care of our living environment to others was madness”… “There is no budgetary limit, health has no price”: see how divide the language and the spirit of your governors! See how I bring them back to their real rank of miserable racketeers, and arrogant at that! See how suddenly they denounce themselves not only as superfluous, but as harmful! You are for them only the supports of the reproduction of their system, even less than slaves. Even plankton is treated better than you.
Be careful, however, not to overwhelm them with reproaches, to incriminate them for their shortcomings. To accuse them of carelessness is to lend them more than they deserve. Ask yourself, how did you find it so comfortable to let yourself be governed? To praise the merits of the Chinese option against the British option, of the imperial-forensic solution against the Darwinist-liberal method, is to understand nothing of either, of the horror of one, like the horror of the other. Since Quesnay, the “liberals” have always leered at the Chinese Empire with envy; and they continue to do so. These are Siamese twins. That one confines you in your interest and the other in that of “society” always comes down to crushing the only non-nihilistic conduct: taking care of yourself, of those you love and what you love in those you don’t know. Do not let those who led you to the abyss pretend to get out of it: they will only prepare you for a more perfected hell, an even deeper grave. The day when they can, they will send the army to patrol the beyond.
Thank me instead. Without me, how much longer would all of these unquestionable things, things suddenly suspended, have continued to be taken as necessary? Globalisation, contests, air traffic, budgetary limits, elections, the spectacle of sports competitions, Disneyland, fitness rooms, most commerce, the national assembly, school crowding, mass gatherings, most office jobs, all this drunken sociability which is only the flip side of the anguished loneliness of metropolitan monads: all this was therefore unnecessary, once the state of necessity manifested itself. Thank me for the test of truth for the next few weeks: you are finally going to live your own life, without the thousand loopholes that, year after year, keep the untenable going. Without realising it, you had never moved into your own existence. You were among the boxes, and you didn’t know it. You will now live with your loved ones. You will live at home. You will stop being in transit to death. You may hate your husband. You may not give a damn about your children. Perhaps you will want to blow up the decor of your daily life. To tell the truth, you were no longer of the world, in these metropolises of separation. Your world was no longer livable anywhere or anytime except in the condition of constantly fleeing it. The ugliness was so much that it was necessary to be dazed by movement and distractions. And the ghostly reigned between beings. Everything had become so efficient and effective that nothing made any sense any more. Thank me for all of this, and welcome to earth!
Thanks to me, for an indefinite time, you will no longer be working, your children will not go to school, and yet it will be the complete opposite of the holidays. Holidays are that space that must be furnished at all costs while awaiting the expected return to work. But here, what opens up before you, thanks to me, is not a demarcated space, but an enormous emptiness. I render you idle [désoeuvré]. Nothing tells you that the previous non-world will return. All of this profitable nonsense may be over. By dint of not being paid, what could be more natural than not paying your rent? Why would one continue to pay one’s bank debts when one who can no longer work anyway? Isn’t it suicidal, in the end, to live where you can’t even grow a garden? Whoever has no more money will not stop eating, and who has strength, will have bread. Thank me: I place you at the foot of a bifurcation that tacitly structured your lives: the economy or life. It’s up to you. The stakes are historical. Either the rulers impose their state of emergency on you, or you invent your own. Either you get attached to emerging truths or you put your head on the chopping block. Either you use the time I am giving you now to imagine the next world from the lessons of the ongoing collapse, or this latter will end up radicalising itself. The disaster ends when the economy stops. The economy is the ravage. It was a thesis before last month. It is now a fact. No one can ignore the fact that it will take police, surveillance, propaganda, logistics and call-centre to repress it.
Before me, do not give in to panic or denial. Don’t give in to biopolitical hysteria. The coming weeks are going to be terrible, overwhelming, cruel. The doors of Death will be wide open. I am the most devastating production of the ravage of production. I come to nullify the nihilists. The injustice of this world will never be more glaring. It is a civilisation, and not you, that I come to bury. Those who want to live will have to make new habits, and their own habits. Avoiding me will be the occasion for this reinvention, this new art of distances. The art of greeting each other, in which some were curious enough to see the very shape of the institution, will soon no longer obey any label. It will signal sentient beings. Do not do it “for others”, for “the population” or for “society”, do it for yours. Take care of your friends and your loveed ones. Rethink with them, sovereignly, a just form of life. Create clusters of good life, expand them, and I can’t do anything against you. This is a call not for the massive return of discipline, but of attention; not for the end of all carelessness, but of all neglect. What other way was left for me to remind you that salvation is in each gesture? That everything is in the smallest thing.
I had to face the facts: humanity only asks itself the questions that it can no longer but not ask itself.
[Italian and Spanish translations are available at the original lundi matin site. German and Arabic versions are being translated.]
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