A Politics of the Accident

 

In the very near future, and I stress this important point, it will no longer be war that is the continuation of politics by other means, it will be what I have dubbed ‘the integral accident’ that is the continuation of politics by other means.

—Paul Virilio

Paul Virilio once called for the creation of a Museum of the Accident to fight our habituation to horror and violence, and our daily overexposure to terror, in the name, not of some preventive war, but of a preventive intelligence that would help us deal with both natural and artificial disasters. Maybe what we need in our age is not a museum but a Politics of the Accident to envision a society of the Pharmakon that provides solutions against the entropy of our blind and foolish human proclivities to deny the accident coming at us from so many future worlds.

Not to diminish the impact of this viral infestation I’ve been thinking through the notions of the ancient Greek use of Pharmakon. Pharmakon, in philosophy and critical theory, is a composite of three meanings: remedy, poison, and scapegoat. The first and second senses refer to the everyday meaning of pharmacology (and to its sub-field, toxicology), deriving from the Greek source term φάρμακον (phármakon), denoting any drug, while the third sense refers to the pharmakos ritual of human sacrifice.

Taking the Covid-19 virus into consideration as a wake up call for our civilization one imagines an actual political and social change across the board of the known world in this three-fold event. As said above, not to diminish the actual and real impact to human suffering and lives we should as well see this as an opportunity to open a world dialogue on how best to proceed with other and even more deadly futurial impacts. How to remedy this situation? How to set in place international and global protocols to stem the spread of such dark impacts? Nothing was in place until after the fact. Why is humanity so slow in anticipating and defending itself against the various well-known and unknown impacts arising out of natural (actual and organic/anorganic) and unnatural (artificial and technological) environs? We always seem to end up in a reactionary mode when such things happen, rather than being proactive and protentive. Why?

For thirty years at least the impact of a viral infestation has been discussed in book after book with dire warnings, but only when it has happened do we discover how the entire planet was ill-prepared for such an event. No protocols in place for travel, emergency funds for study and remedy, etc. And the unexpected impact on economics across the board. Why do humans always react rather than act? Why do we continue to live in denial of so many futurial impacts and dismiss the political and social need for protocols in a civilization that for all intents and purposes is blind to its own future demise in the face of such dark portents?

Maybe this is the moment we need to force political leaders to take the various world impact threats seriously and enact world legislation (real protocols with political, economics, legal and social ramifications)? Why are humans so slow to act? Why do they live in denial of such deadly impacts? Faced with a global scientific community that has reiterated for sixty years of the coming impact of Global Warming and Climate Change we do nothing but talk talk talk… now that we are faced with a pandemic we realize that there are no protocols in place even for known and accepted threats of viral impact. Isn’t it time for us to act responsibly for the future? Realize that many of the natural and technological impacts of humans in the Anthropocene are real and actual and that we have made only lip service to this futurial threat against life and humanity?

One doesn’t need to be a pessimist to realize we as humans live mainly in denial and delusion. We always act after the fact rather than in anticipation. Why?

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