Are we fighting an epidemic, or are we fighting a war? This question has become relevant today. The outbreak is being dealt with not by knowledge of infectious disease management but by perfecting state surveillance and control systems. National administrations have interned some citizens to deal with SARS-CoV-2. In the name of security, governments imposed various types of monitoring and curtailed movement and assembly of their citizens.
Voluntary or forced quarantine has been introduced by the state. However, in a crisis, it is crucial to impose unusual surveillance, control, and regulations to deal with this abnormal situation. How can we be sure that powerful countries aren’t trying to build a surveillance and control centre by creating panic? And developing a system that would allow control over the behaviour of citizens in the name of such ‘abnormal condition’?
It is undoubtedly true that the spread of COVID-19 has created an enormous opportunity to impose global surveillance and control on people and to implement the idea of a strict security state.
Police are even beating the citizens in Third World countries to force people to stay indoors, which otherwise would have been widely condemned around the world. Is it a test that is going on in human beings; we are all forced to panic or voluntarily become guinea pigs of this test? We have gradually lost our freedom and become subject to quarantine like animals. Michel Foucault said that when the modern state speaks of our “security,” we should have profound doubts. Disasters, he said, have been the main task of the state since the word ‘security’ first appeared in politics –not to prevent hunger, famine, epidemics, plagues, but to monitor their occurrence. Through this ‘security,’ individuals in society can be controlled.
Many raised a question of whether COVID-19 a biological weapon. Most Western and even Chinese experts have denied this, but a senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, said, “Today, the country is engaged in a biological battle; We will prevail in the fight against this virus, which might be the product of an American biological [attack], which first spread in China and then to the rest of the world.”
Dr. Francis Boyle, who drafted the U.S. implementing legislation for the international Biological Weapons Convention, also claims “the coronavirus is an offensive biological warfare weapon with DNA-genetic engineering.” Not only that, Tom Cotton, a Republican senator from Arkansas, has charged that the coronavirus may have been developed in a Chinese “super laboratory”. U.S. intelligence officials are investigating whether the outbreak began through contact with animals or through a laboratory accident. So there is no denying that many are talking about whether the virus could be a biological weapon.
There are also strong claims that it was inadvertently spread from Wuhan’s laboratory. There are also instances of the use of germ weapons in ancient warfare, of plague-stricken patients being beaten to death and their opponents being poisoned with toxic water. In 1348, the Mongols also wanted to spread the plague among their opponents with a plague-stricken body. The Spaniards wanted to infect their lepers by mixing the blood of their hostile French lepers. During World War II, Japanese troops contaminated water wells in Chinese villages with cholera and typhus. The British in North America traded blankets infected with smallpox to the Indigenous peoples, resulting in the deaths of millions.
In modern times, superpowers have used germs for military purposes, such as anthrax, botulinum toxin, smallpox, cholera, tularemia, Ebola, plague, aflatoxin, Marburg virus, etc. For example, anthrax supplies from the U.S. military accidentally reached nine U.S. military bases in South Korea.
Whether the coronavirus is a lethal biological weapon or not, the level and extent of infection in the unequal world system has to be borne by the common man. Millions of people have lost their jobs. Those who have lost their jobs are mainly engaged in manual labour.
Amid this plague, it seems that the only goal of human life is to survive. Italian philosopher Agamben said, what is a society with no other value other than survival?
Epidemics are not new. Nevertheless, it is unbelievable that the techniques used to deal with COVID-19 are incredible. The disease is being presented as a global war. There is no precedent in the past for the panic created and spread around the world with SARS-CoV-2. However, many countries have successfully dealt with the virus without lockdowns, such as Sweden and Japan.
Surveillance control Militarization or the use of emergency paradigms to convert people to biological matter is a fundamental feature of the current regime. People also consider themselves not organic beings, but their natural substance to be ruled by. The same is true of panic production and exaggeration. People seem to consider saving their lives as the principal, even the only purpose of life. Because of COVID-19, huge powerful dictatorships are emerging in the country.
Many measures should be taken to deal with COVID epidemic. However, there is no guarantee that the steps will be withdrawn when things will return to normal. The Patriot Act was enacted in the United States after 9/11 in the name of counter-terrorism. It is still in place. The most frightening aspect is that amid an epidemic, there is no opportunity for the people to protest and resist against the centralization of power and the subjugation of surveillance and control; it is happening without any resistance.
Not only the future arrangements for pandemics but also the new laws, surveillance of rules and regulations, the ability to detain people indefinitely, to silence people, to stop meetings, etc., will radically change the character of public life. Political and economic activities will also change fundamentally.
If we listen carefully to what Bill Gates said on the TED Talk show in March 2015, we will understand that the elites of the world have long been anticipating the global epidemic of Influenza-like virus and thinking of a possible catastrophe. Bill Gates made it very clear that the next pandemic would have to be dealt with through military operations. Because he thinks fighting the epidemic is a war. COVID-19 or not, but a terrible global pandemic is coming, scientists, corporations and the ruling class were fully aware.
The best and most effective way to protect the health of the common man is to build a robust public health system. For most of the global leaders, epidemic preparedness does not mean strengthening the public health system, but rather that companies invent, produce and sell vaccines. They are not at all interested in doing any research on the scientific reasons why viruses attack humans by infecting them with life-threatening parasites.
We have done damage to nature to take out the resources of the world. As the Earth’s temperature rises, the pathogens that were stuck in the ice for centuries are being released. In Hindu mythology, there is a story of the churning of the sea. Where poison also picked up the nectar of gaining immortality from the depths of the sea. The Hindu God Mahadev Shiva saved the soul and nature by holding the poison in his throat so that it could not destroy the life of the Earth. Will the next leader of the world learn to live in a new way in our world by working to allow us to repair our habitat? Alternatively, we may have to surrender entirely to drugs, surveillance and vaccines forever.
Do not confront us with this future. No state has the aspiration to become Shiva to capture in its own throat the poison of pandemic that we have brought up in advance of the mad civilization. Do we have to wait for the world leader who will stand against the surveillance and control and show us the way to connect with the world in a new form instead of destroying nature and living?