When I was a student I quickly became enamoured with contemporary European philosophy that emerged in the second half of the twentieth century. Compared to the stuffy concept of an absolute truth, long socks, and a privileged path from school to luxury SUV and trophy wife touted by the teachers at my privileged single-sex bluestone high school, writers like Deleuze, Foucault, Irigary, and Adorno had an anarchistic attitude to truth it as a concept amid many concepts. Plus it seemed as disruptive and revolutionary as the 90s raves I attended very weekend.
“A concept is a brick. It can be used to build a courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”Giles Deleuze
Being able to conceptualise ideas as revolutionary, restrictive, monstrous, or a fortress released a freedom of thought. It meant that I could challenge the norms I grew up with and create my own life under my own rules. Or at least that was the theory. Years on after working in digital startup culture, I question the degree of freedom that relativist philosophy has provided me.
But then, to Foucault, the concept of gaining freedom from working in corporate culture would be a massive joke.
“The strategic adversary is fascism… the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.Michel Foucault
In 2020, in the midst of a pandemic, concepts as bricks to fight fascism, or build legal fortresses against reason is very confusing. I was sitting in a spa in the middle of a forrest with a few people from the hills where I live talking about the pandemic and Bill Gates. As the only non-Anti-Vaxxer in the spa it didn’t take long for shit to get weird.
“Bill Gates has bought shares in Duck Duck Go”
The pandemic is a scamdemic. Even the World Health Organisation came out and announced that they had made a mistake”
“The pharmaceutical companies are behind it”
All these concepts and more can be found proliferating on the Internet.
Now, I don’t mind this at all. I don’t agree with the concepts, and I think those touting them are peddling concepts as bombs to bolster their own fear as the world gets crazier and crazier. There is a fascism here they are resisting. Being stuck at home is boring. Being charged $1,650 by the police for breaking stay at home orders is frightening. Contemplating forced vaccination is alarming. Losing your job and status in a broken economy is terrifying.
Shit is weird and scary and see an underlying conspiracy that only you and Pete Evans are tuned into gives people an autonomy over the forces that might dominate us. The conspiracy theories or research depending on your point of view are a way of structuring the world in a reassuring binary between good and evil much like communism vs capitalism, the church vs heathens, business vs unions.
If it’s all a conspiracy engineered by Bill Gates working in concert with the pharmaceutical companies and the deep state designed to reduce the population and proliferate nano-tracking devices which suppress freedom and turn all humans into catatonic yet economically productive automatons then I don’t need to be scared, I need to be angry. After all, in ‘researching’ and sharing these concepts people are doing God’s work. It is the work of the truth-tellers of old. Look at the truth I am bringing down from the mountain and bravely sharing on Twitter and Facebook.
But here’s the thing, the conspiracy theories are a massive distraction from the real fascism with many world leaders using the pandemic as a means of installing emergency powers and increasing authoritarian control and surveillance. From Johnson in Britain, Trump in the USA, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Xi in China, and Orban in Hungary, world leaders are using the chaos in public health and the economy to reinforce their own fascist agendas.
I don’t know what the answer is, and sitting in the spa nursing a very nice gin and tonic the other night I didn’t have many good responses either.
All we can do is resist the concept of absolute truths and resist the fascism in us all.
Image by Choubistar