A collection of reflections on the COVID-19 quarantine.
Originally Published by Salish Sea Black Autonomists.
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Quarantine isn’t coming to the US, it’s already here. Like everywhere else It does not arrive as a social peace treaty but comes crawling from the decaying corpse of the welfare state as a monstrous racial policing apparatus. Prison has never been a singular place but a particular collection of techniques of social control and that is most apparent under the logic of quarantine where every good citizen is both, and happily we may add, captive and warden. What this says for physical prisons is even more grim as they are transformed into the most pure expression of capital: workhouses where prison slaves manufacture our hand sanitizer and PPE so that we may live, and on the flip side mass graves, human warehouses packed to the brim under hostile conditions, a fertile field for both the virus and their captors to run wild.
Crisis is here, as it always is, and it doesn’t put a hold on all the other crises unfolding, it just both obscures and amplifies the intensity of them. Still the police are executing black people in the streets, still riots are breaking out, still black people are enduring and dying from medical neglect. Still, still still! We are struggling and suffering and dying – and now the old ways of holding together the social peace reveal themselves for what they are – absolutely nothing. Reforms, inclusion in institutions, ‘community policing’, and paltry hand outs mean fuck all, just as they ever did but even more so now. Even what they offer us now is more insulting than anything: a paltry, one-time, 1200$ that will maybe cover one or two months of rent, and only for some of us at that! All the promises of our masters turn to dust in our hands.
The state recognizes what’s going on and whats falling apart and in order to ensure it’s continued existence is using the logic of quarantine to wage all out war against the entirety of the social body to ensure social cohesion. The life giving and death giving institutions of the state – the police, the medical industry, the carceral institutions, the military – are working overtime now. But where other technique of capital and governance have failed and are now failing to absorb the social body into it’s logics, health and pandemic have mutated into one sinister, paternalistic technique of governance that has managed to absorb the social body into the nation and the economy. What’s healthy for the nation, whats healthy for the economy, is healthy for us because we are them. With this one trick the social body has become a weapon wielded against itself. From discourses willing to sacrifice more vulnerable people for “our” collective health  (that of the nation and the economy), to neighborhood snitches calling the police on those violating the imposed rules of ‘social distancing’. How long before those neighborhood snitches become neighborhood shooters enforcing a hardened border of social distance? Everyone knows behind the walls of our healthy neighborhood are the hoards of sick others…
The good (white) citizens are snitches and law followers, the rest of us are disease ridden threats because we are irresponsible and must go to work, must go out to buy groceries, because we long to feel the sun on our skin or the embrace of our friends and loved ones. And when the storm clears, all these new divisions, new powers, new roles will remain and intensify as recessions turns to depression and the states forceful triage only create new insurgent populations out of those deemed ‘non-essential’ to the health of the economy and the nation.
But wherever new forms of social control solidify, there is a social (or anti-social) reaction to it. The impulse towards freedom, towards being together, to be in commune with one another, is a strong one. Our only hope now – against the ‘expertise’ of our masters – is in one another & our communal bonds. Together we must elaborate a practice of care and revolt that strengthens our social bonds. We must deepen our ties to each other, and in doing so sharpen our tools of analysis and our knives of attack. As a small step in this direction we wish to share the thoughts, analysis, and reflection of those on lock down who are dreaming, like we are, of a quarantine break & of a life worth living.
Salish Sea Black Autonomists,
Spring 2020 In Lockdown
P.S. An important piece we wanted to include but chose to cut due to length and that it was written years ago is Sick Woman Theory, as we think it includes something important that all these pieces of quarantine and social distancing miss which is examinations on illness and disability in revolt. We would highly suggest reading it as well.
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