sentimental mystifications, ephemeral, subjective
On the Problems with a Technocratic Notion of 'Health'
My friend Kugan Vijayatharan posted this recently on a thread on my Facebook wall in response to a discussion about the political dimension of the response to the virus.
I thought it was very insightful and deserved not to be lost. I asked him if I could post it here and he agreed.
‘It’s difficult to make any progress here when a lot of people are committed to the notion that materialism is a precondition for intellectual rigour. Pathology is always an easier study than health because it can point to any number of noxious metrics, whereas health involves a much more dynamic and subtle set of relationships between the organism and its environment - harmony there requires some confidence of aesthetic perception, an education of values.
Harms are thus more easily quantifiable than the good, and so we’re in a position where people feel that case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths are real and significant but what is good about human love or life or society are all just sentimental mystifications, ephemeral, subjective - and thus trivial, lacking in urgency. These are incommensurable axes and trying to make any kind of cost-benefit analysis across them is impossible for those that feel this way. The closest people get is talking about the ‘mental health’ impact of lockdowns because this renders it into another set of technical problems that need to be managed and funded appropriately, grrr those Tories!
There is an incredible degree of moral cowardice involved in people simply being too demoralised or too embarrassed to defend what is personally meaningful or good to them, and so they retreat into social aggregates and defend only what can be uncontroversially said to be good in a collective sense - harm reduction at any and all cost. Any discussion of what humanity is or means is considered trivial and at best some anemic noises are made about ‘solidarity’ or whatever, and so everyone gets to act as if this form of idiot compassion is only what their (sophisticated, highly developed) social conscience demands, shorn of anything nasty and bourgeois like religion, individualism or selfhood. It’s not my fear, it’s my ~ concern ~ , actually.
The left is also peculiarly disabled from taking seriously any notion of a global technocratic conspiracy because there is a tacit acknowledgment that any viable socialism would require the same degree of authoritarian coercion to implement. The left is largely comfortable with the workings of the big centrally planned machine because they think that one day maybe they’ll get to sit at the high chair working the gears, but for the workers, or the global south, or against climate change etc. and so even if they acknowledge what the Great Reset entails, they generally don’t see a problem with it.’