By Natalia Sierra
Humanity is experiencing exceptional times, not only because of the difficult health situation we face as a global society, but also because of the abrupt changes in our way of life – more modern for some, less so for most – that this health emergency has brought about. Despite all the warnings announcing the arrival of a situation as difficult as the one we are experiencing in this century, we never took them seriously. Perhaps because the American cultural industry invaded us with catastrophe films and apocalyptic series that were as implausible as they were comfortable, the plausible warnings of the health catastrophe we face today became fiction. We became accustomed to the fictional catastrophes of Hollywood, where the American state, positioned as a world state, always saved humanity from the asteroid, the alien invasion, the Russian-Chinese conspiracy, the Islamic terrorism, the Latin American drug traffickers, etc. Thus, we were made to believe that we were safe from any catastrophe thanks to the “courage” and “generosity” of the United States and its allies.
The truth is that the catastrophe came, not because of the asteroid or the aliens, not even because of the conspiracies of the enemies of the West, who in the end play on the same capitalist chessboard. It came from the hand of a small biological organism, whether artificially manufactured or the product of its own biological development and mutation – that response which we will have one day, is not so important for now. However, that small organism is not responsible for this tremendous human crisis. The emergence and collapse of health care that we are facing has to do with the way capitalism has directed globalized modernity, that is, with the economic, social, cultural, ideological and technological governmental dynamics that it imposed on the planet as a form of human life.
The scope of this catastrophe goes beyond the pandemic that has besieged humans. This unfortunate ailment uncovers other diseases that colonial and patriarchal capitalism has created and viralized throughout the planet and which, in turn, explain the virulence of this organism. The worst capitalist viruses are: 1) Environmental destruction and the extinction of hundreds of animal species that live with us on the planet. Extermination perpetrated by the capitalist productive-destructive forces which, obviously, generates a biological imbalance that also puts human life at risk. 2) The systematic destruction of territories and communities of life that are different and alternative to capitalism, such as the ancestral peoples and peasants who for thousands of years have taken care of the nature that welcomes us, a disaster that has caused a social and environmental imbalance that puts at risk millions of human beings who are forced to move to local or global capitalist centers, generating a dangerous urban concentration, which today is taking its toll. 3) The savage destruction of the feminine dimension of society that fundamentally contemplates this human capacity to care for nature, to care for other animal and plant species and to care for ourselves as humanity. This savage attack on the feminine becomes visible in the violation of nature, the community and society in its care spaces, such as, fundamentally, health, food, education, art, housing and culture. Care spaces that have been brutally dismantled in the name of economic growth and the free market. Now, when the “enemy virus strikes”, we realize that without care there is no life.
Here we find ourselves locked in our urban cells, watching in terror as the small organism “threatens our life”. A perfect life for the few responsible for and winners in the catastrophe, a comfortable life for those of the middle classes who are less and less, and an imposed, precarious and in many cases miserable life for the majority who live it as a tragedy, those who have to be forced by the army to stay in a house that many do not have. Here we find ourselves in a historical crack, which stops the dominant narrative of capitalist progress and its obscene production and perverse consumption. Here we find ourselves locked in our concrete cages, watching – those who can through their windows and balconies and those who cannot through their technological devices – the little animals come out of the confinement to which we condemn them until the time comes for their extinction. Now perhaps they will look out for the time of our extinction. Here we are watching nature breathe and heal its lungs while ours are at risk. Here we find ourselves watching in surprise that either we are all saved, especially those of us who always look down from our windows and balconies, or no one is saved.
In this historical crack caused by the small organism – a place that is neither above nor below, neither on the right nor on the left, neither in the centre nor on the periphery, neither in the north nor in the south – we attend the last appointment with our finitude. This is the moment to accept our human destitution, to be humble and grateful for the life and natural shelter that has been offered to us. Humility with enough dignity to allow us to face the real enemy – patriarchal and colonial capitalism – and not allow this catastrophe to feed and strengthen it. We have the exceptional opportunity to twist history and open paths towards other forms of human life, which do not destroy nature; which do not appropriate the territories that correspond to other animal species; which do not expropriate, accumulate and concentrate in a few human hands what corresponds to the whole species in order to have a full and respectful life with what is not human; which take care of the feminine that takes care of us. If we are not capable of doing this, perhaps we do not deserve this cosmic grace.