immunopolitics

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By BRÁULIO MARQUES RODRIGUES*

Existence, in all its forms, will only have a future if it abandons the commodity form and embraces the form of life.

The concept of immunity was introduced in contemporary philosophy by Espósito (2017, p. 15), an Italian professor of history who thought about politics from the late Luhmann's theory of systems, where he identifies immunity. It was also influenced by the reception of immunity that Haraway attributed to the posthuman: the cyborg. According to Pitta (2020, p. 2), Espósito brings a “form of biopolitics in which the management of life goes through the denial of invading and infectious agents and where the political body operates in the same way as an organic immune system dealing with an infectious virus ”.

Espósito's philosophy influenced the most famous and controversial names such as Mbembe, Agamben, Žižek and Sloterdijk, to name a few. In the current pandemic configuration, Mbembe, for example, questioned the possibility of claiming a universal right to breath, Agamben provoked about the aggravation of the State of exception and the panopticon with the use of the pandemic as a justification for the restriction of individual freedoms and Žižek was opposed to projecting hope in the dissemination of solidarity networks due to the failure of the state machine to respond to the collective illness of the population.

Here, in turn, an immunopolitical approach will be developed from Sloterdijk, and in the foreground, followed by reflections by Trawny and Latour. The objective is to begin the conception of a right to immunity that concerns not only health care, but also a broader and more comprehensive protection that involves the normativity of behaviors in view of an ethics committed to the protection of nature and all their ways of life.

What is immunity? The use of the term “immunity” here does not only refer to biological protection, but also social and economic protection. Sloterdijk (2004) points out that modernity can be considered a space or “society of comfort” because of its surreal spaces, the crystal palaces. The crystal palace concretizes in the market and technology (technosphere) the eradication of penury and reality. This means that the Palácio de Cristal is a metaphor for understanding the systems of protection (or immunity) achieved, in particular, in the 2004th century. According to the reading of Sloterdijk (2010) by Leal (223, p. XNUMX) poverty, pain and material and non-material losses, evolutionarily, seem to have given in to the ontological pressure for pampering and luxury.

Sloterdijk then clearly defines what he calls immunity: “From such observations one obtains a concept of immunity from offensive traits, which, starting from the biochemical level of meaning, rises to an anthropological interpretation of the modus vivendi human as self-defense through creativity” (2004-2008: 192). Immunity concerns a protective sphere that materializes in staggered forms, the first is the bubble corresponding to the body's own immune system, and fueled, at first, by the mother's protective care. Namely, this care is already a form of technique, in Sloterdijk's lexicon, an anthropotechnic. Neotechnics is the very care of mothers with their children, it is what allows children and even fetal aspects to be incorporated into the genetic flow of the species "by means of vocal, tactile, interfacial and emotional resonances and their internal sediments" thus generating the individual psyche from a multiform intentionality (SLOTERDIJK, 2016a, p. 480).

Then, the technique gains opening and is located in supra-regional and even continental dimensions, one can speak of a larger sphere, the public sphere and the immunity derived from the interaction between different agents, political, legal and economic immunities that emerged with sedentarization, the juridification and then with the institutions of the State. At that moment, immunity takes on an abstract meaning and the concept of person reaches a symbolic dimension, as is the case of the “subject of rights”. In addition, there is the important, more recent, phenomenon of globalization.[I] and the foundation of human rights, where even if on a utopian plane (due to the lack of effectiveness that these guarantees often reserve), the human person gains immune protection with an idealist, hegemonist, multiculturalist and cosmopolitan pretension.

However, it must be recognized that the treats brought by modernity were not offered to everyone. The State as a protective entity has its favorite children. It is even possible, in the wake of Latour (1994, p. 15), to problematize a symmetrical anthropology with the occurrence of a global convergence towards the stage of modernity. In peripheral and colonial contexts, such as Brazil, it is enough to verify the fragility of institutions, the coups d'état, the authoritarianism and the corruption of political agents, a latent demonstration of the vulnerability of bodies to integrate a community based on a systematic organization.

The smallest AIDS virus takes us from sex to the unconscious, to Africa, to cell cultures, to DNA, to San Francisco, but analysts, thinkers, journalists and all decision makers will cut the fine net drawn by the viruses in small specific compartments, where we will find only science, only economics, only social representations, only generalities, only piety, only sex (LATOUR, 1994, p. 8).

For Latour, the modernity that emerged in the Enlightenment of the 2002th century is commonly defined by humanism and leaves out all those questions not contemplated by the bourgeois and scientistic ideal of the human. Modernity compartmentalizes the possibilities of life forms and generalizes such possibilities so that everyone is obliged to choose one of those forms of life dictated by the economy to enter the Crystal Palace – at the risk of those who do not do so being considered non-human. – even though not everyone has the necessary capital to be “human” or “modern” and live according to the luxury advertised by the cultural industry (Adorno). Indigenous peoples, for example, are not modern and much less dichotomous in the sense of thinking about the separation between humans and non-humans. According to Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (XNUMX), for the Amerindians, there is no such separation between man and nature. All that is living is humanity; humanity consists beyond the human, since everyone is human: the jaguar, the trees, the animals, nature.

One of the most disastrous anthropological consequences of this reduction of the human takes place in the ontic (or epistemological) perspective of science. For Latour (2002, p. 9), when dealing with systems, Ariadne's thread is lost in several lines that do not communicate and are articulated around life (the natural and human sciences or approaches based on naturalization, socialization and deconstruction) turn only to the autopoietic study and leave aside the plot of life, proposed by the French philosopher in the notion of networks.

For Sloterdijk, there is no way to think about his sense of community without highlighting the coexistence of all forms of life through these three-dimensional networks that he calls foam: this is where the issue of co-immunity arises, or also, of co- -immunism. In such a way, there is no way to think of an immunity capable of assuring the universalization of comfort, without a mutual commitment of species, classes and groups in the absorption of the common thing: the com of Heráclito, read, the real shared in the debate between the citizens of the polis.

If for Sloterdijk the surrealism provided by industrialization intensified the capacity for idealization about the real, that is, the acceleration of creation and production on a large scale, on the other hand, in regions stigmatized by inequality, such idealizations seem to present a dissonance that not only prevents coexistence in the experience of the same space of meaning, and even more serious, it prevents any social otherness that envisions a public project – to attest to such speculation, it is enough to observe how privatist policies have gained adherence even from portions considered poor of the population.

For Trawny (2019, p. 31), the explanation for this phenomenon lies in the fact that “the poor today are no longer those who need to take care of their body’s needs alone”. And he continues, “in relation to those who hide in the glitter (luxury) of the medium, in principle poor is everyone who is still interested in the economic factor of his life – in money, in that medium. The fact that he is a slave to money, while wealth is in being free of it.”

In the same way that revenge as a projective form of anger already gives it a longer temporal span and allows for pragmatic planning, the banking form of anger demands that revengeful emotions be inserted in the order of a superior perspective. This perspective proudly claims the concept of “History” – obviously in the singular. Through the creation of a bank of anger (understood as a deposit for moral explosives and revenge projects), singular vectors fall under the command of a central government, whose requisitions do not always agree with the rhythms of actors and actions. Now, however, subordination becomes undeniable: the countless revenge stories must finally be brought together in a unified story (SLOTERDIJK, 2012, p. 86).

It is in the face of this symbolic capital that Sloterdijk sees the class struggle as a phenomenon traversed in modernity by the Banks of Wrath, repositories of the pride of the collective fragmented into identities. In peripheral contexts, it should be noted that this phenomenon seems to be confused with the original banishment caused by the media and the consequent mass alienation. Peripheral subjectivity cannot identify its own bubble, or even the bubbles that are closest to it, and it is always seen from the resonance with foreign bubbles, strange and distant from its space and time desynchronized from the global affective tonality.

This also makes the current concept of “alienation” suspect. In the generalized staging of accessibility, the idea arises that there would be something like an “alienated work”, as a distant echo of a thought that is still in line with the primordial good. In the meantime, it seems the concept has been fraught with an oddity that runs counter to its original intent. Marx knew, however, that the alienated man considers his state as natural (TRAWNY, 2019, p. 32).

In this era in which technology assumes a globalized domination, money is its main medium. However, Trawny points out that money itself is not the medium but the objectification of instrumental reason. In these terms, Trawny seems to allude to the concept of sorcery/fetish in Marx. Sloterdijk corroborates this famous thesis and understands how techno-scientific globalization was unable to produce a cosmic globality around a feeling of union and reformist collaboration powerful enough for an egalitarian society that created a planetary foam. The 19st century Crystal Palace is full of frivolities and a culture of waste and ostentation. Pampering and luxury have become the trump cards of the powerful and in the face of a catastrophe like the Covid-XNUMX pandemic, the social infrastructure has collapsed due to the absence of an architecture planned to generously welcome and treat everything that the second half of the century XX had promised to overcome completely: poverty, pain and loss.

Here one can allude to Heidegger and understand that every human attempt at “overcoming” is improperly a metaphysical conception. Overcoming is an attempt to objectify the being that gives birth to modern technique: technology. For this reason, Heidegger will deal with a critique of the overcoming of metaphysics (Überwindung der Metaphysik). There's no getting over what's in a constant to come. However, Heidegger, despite being often treated as a technophobe, does not despise the character of the objectification of being, that is, the intelligibility or general sense of being that is shaped in the entity. He only points out that such intelligibility must have a historical focus (Heidegger 1954, p. 71; tr. Fr., p. 80). The history that now imposes itself calls for an immediate understanding of how the survival of the species will only be possible from the agency of a new globality based on connectivity, not the typical “modernity” that Latour tells us about and is summarized in the virtuality of knowledge ( this capture of the real by simulations and speculations resulting from a segmented scientific method), but also material from the spheres.

It is not necessarily a matter of governance or a Global State, what is required is the relativization of borders and common action in favor of health systems, but, equally important, education and security. What the pandemic reveals to us is not only the harmful capacity of the natural virus, but also the virus produced by man through the media: hatred and misinformation. For the cure of this social pathology, Sloterdijk points out how it is necessary to deal with a discourse therapy in synchrony with practice.

A new grammar of behavior must consider the verbal and non-verbal fields of praxis, the real and the symbolic, to build a spherology of the shelter, however, in common agreement, with the responsibility among the sheltered, in the care of hospitality and in the promotion of an eco-sustainable culture of duty. In this field, Latour and Sloterdijk seem to agree and propose a new conception for the technique. According to Sloterdijk, no longer this technique that dominates and destroys nature (allotechnics), but a harmonious technique with every medium, to use Trawny's term, which surrounds it (homeotechnics).

If we cite the metabiological statement according to which immune systems would be incorporations of expectations of injuries or expectations of some damage, it is clear that human cultures, insofar as they represent the totality of preventive procedures – or, we can say, traditions –, are designed with greater sensitivity against immunity than animal and plant species. And not everyone knows that the concept of immunity was originally not a biological concept, but a legal one, which was used as a metaphor in biology (SLOTERDIJK, online, 2016b).

Only with training that involves the pedagogy of an ethics of responsibility and empathy, or as Sloterdijk best formulates it, an ethics of donation (Ethik der Gabe) it will be possible to speak of a consensus or a productive common sense to the sanitation of the bubbles and the maintenance of their internal entropies. This is the human opportunity to build not a brave new world, but a complex of worlds where transit is as free as it is safe between its different spheres.

Therefore, the role of law and human rights cannot be restricted to the request for universal vaccination, it is necessary to glimpse in the concept of immunity a totality that concerns the integrity of life and a project of existence on Earth. As Sloterdijk says, a General Declaration of Universal Dependence is an important instrument in this immunological turn, that is, the Law must assume an educational responsibility in the formation of a new rhetoric of care: care for the human and the beyond-human.

To this end, it is possible to point out a way beyond Sloterdijk's vision, and consider that the Law (and in terms of propaedeutics, the discourse of Human Rights) will only be capable of such a task when the imbrication between State and merchandise is dismantled . It is possible to agree with Sloterdijk that such a reform does not require the implosion or destruction of capitalism altogether. However, for a new declaration of rights to promote a structural change in society, it is necessary to think about advances in terms of helping the most needy, through public policies (state and private) guided by this new order of legal discourse. to dismantle and only later reassemble the structures that backfire on the eternal return of misery, social exclusion and exploitation.

Existence, in all its forms, will only have a future if it abandons the commodity form and embraces the form of life. Finally, in this sense, we can bring the thought of Viveiros de Castro (2002, pp. 377-387 and 2015, pp. 31-42) and think of forms of life as multinature, a diversity of origins and ways of being. Or even, as Hui (2018, p. 18) puts it, as cosmotechniques, these different organizations and arrangements of society through technology. In all cases, the imperative, as Sloterdik (2017, p. 43) says, is to change your life, while life still remains.

* Braulio Marques Rodrigues it's dPhD candidate in philosophy of law at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA).

 

References


VIVEIROS DE CASTRO, E. Perspectivism and multinaturalism in indigenous America. In: VIVEIROS DE CASTRO, E. The inconstancy of the wild soul (pp. 345-399). São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2002.

VIVEIROS DE CASTRO, E. Cannibal metaphysics: elements for a post-structural anthropology. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2015.

ESPOSITO, R. Bios: biopolitics and philosophy. Translation WM Miranda. Belo Horizonte: UFMG, 2017.

HEIDEGGER, M. Überwindung der Metaphysik, In: Vorträge und Aufsätze. Pfullingen, Neske, 1954.

HUI, Y. The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics. Falmouth: Urbanomic, 2018.

LATOUR, b. We Have Never Been Modern: Symmetrical Anthropology Essay. Translated by Carlos Irineu da Costa. 1. Ed. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. 34, 1994.

LEAL, E. Peter Sloterdijk: the novel of spaces. In: Tome Magazine, n. 16, Jan-Jun. 2010. Available at:https://seer.ufs.br/index.php/tomo/article/view/524.

PITTA, M. Corona and “communis”: immunity, community and Covid-19. In: Volunteers: International Journal of Philosophy. v. 11, e32, p. 1-13. 2020.Available at:https://periodicos.ufsm.br/voluntas/article/view/43447/pdf..

SLOTERDIJK, P. Spheres 1: Bubbles. São Paulo: Liberdade Station, 2016a

SLOTERDIJK, P. Wrath and time: political-psychological essay. Sao Paulo: Freedom Station, 2012.

SLOTERDIJK, P. Crystal Palace: towards a philosophical theory of globalization. Lisbon: Water Clock, 2008.

SLOTERDIJK, P. Immune systems in collision: Considerations about the civilization of peoples and cultures in the theory of evolution [Interview given to Borders of Thought]. Translated by Luciana Thomé. Porto Alegre: frontiers of thought, 2016b. Available in: https://www.fronteiras.com/resumos/sistemas-imunologicos-em-colisao-consideracoes-sobre-a-civilizacao-de-povos-e-culturas-na-teoria-da-evolucao-poa. Accessed on: 23 Mar. 2021.

SLOTERDIJK, P. Sphären 3: Schaume. Berlin: Suhrkamp, ​​2004.

SLOTERDIJK, Peter. You have to change your life. Lisbon: Water Clock, 2017.

TRAWNY, P. Medium and revolution. Belo Horizonte: Âyiné, 2019.

 

Note


[I] For Sloterdijk, the first globalization took place on the journey towards the new world by the Portuguese navigator Fernão de Magalhães and the origin of terrestrial globalization can be dated in the colonization of the plurality of typologies of life to the detriment of a world-system.

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