30th March 2020
Responsibilities in reverse
The daily scaremongering news is covering up general and specific responsibilities for the ongoing epidemic, putting them on those who don’t stay at home, “plague-spreaders” against whom more and more repressive measures are to be demanded (the military carrying out police functions, internet tracking of the population, invitations to snitch, authorization of the use of drones…). Who dismantled the Health System in favour of the logic of profit, worsening a situation that could have been dealt with quite differently? Who kept the factories open? Who closed the schools on 20th February and shopping centres only on 12th March? Who was it? Perhaps those walking in the streets or on cycle or footpaths? And more: is it single “looters” or a system that has made the price of face masks for hospitals increase 600%?
They’ve been deafening us with shouts of “Security!” for decades. More cameras, more controls, more police, more prisons! Then a virus epidemic arrives, and from the back of the mind and the not-said of television it comes out that if trucks and logistics were to stop there would be nothing left to eat in the supermarkets within a few days. What kind of security can people who depend on a technological and productive system which they no longer control have? You can’t live from telework! Let’s take advantage of this “break” to reflect.
Without taking back the land and self-managing our food sources, along with freedom and autonomy we will also be renouncing our security.
One of the ongoing experiments, along with police and military control, concerns work: how long and in what way can the economy continue if people don’t leave their homes? What it is “work” today? It is above all the multinationals with their IT platforms and various applications that profit from all forms of telework (whether imposed on employees or teachers). From every online activity – free or paid, it doesn’t matter – the “web giants” acquire an impressive quantity of personal data which they analyse and sell. Everything is “data” that can be processed and transformed into commodities: tastes, opinions, tone of voice, facial expressions, a book quoted by a teacher, news concerning health, fear, the reaction to certain news, students’ level of attention, etc. In the best of all possible worlds, even an epidemic – i.e. millions of people shut in at home but always connected – becomes excellent business. And a chance to justify the introduction of the G5 network, whose function is certainly not to enable contacts in a health emergency, but to generalise industries, machines, cctv cameras and smart sensors. Fear is an ideal condition to push us more and more towards a world where human beings are governed by “intelligent objects” and those programming them.
The news that 40% of Milan’s residents were caught far away from their homes through the control of cells activated by mobile phones caused a sensation. What’s the news? The fact that mobile phone companies carry out mass filing on a daily basis is well known (even if few people draw any conclusions from this). What is new is that a health emergency is taken to openly justify something that exists well beyond the emergency and raises, or should raise, not a few ethical and social questions. But that’s not enough. For some time we have been subjected to incessant propaganda aimed at introducing “Korean-style measures” to Italy, i.e. the filing of contacts between people starting from intertwined control of smartphones, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (to locate “users”, not in a given neighbourhood but house by house, shop by shop). “Public” data would be filed and analysed by the authorities, the “hidden” (which any application creates on smartphones, even when it is deactivated) would feed the “intelligent machines” that control our behaviour and study our “consumer intentions”. The government is happy, digital capitalism is happy. And us?
What cannot be stopped: IT infrastructure and war, during an epidemic indirectly reveals the foundations of society we are living in. That’s why all weapons factories must stay open. That’s why as we are shut in at home in front of screens, technological progress is accelerating and new 5G antennas are being installed. As proof that digital infrastructures and wars are increasingly intertwined, Tim “is teaching” the potentialities of 5G and artificial intelligence to the army, for the “brave new world” war. We are left wondering whether what we can’t see isn’t only a virus moving in the air but also the world they are setting out for us.
A few sensible proposals
They could those suggested by writings left on the windows of several supermarkets in Trento and Rovereto between 24th and 25th March: “General strike”, “Close the factories”, “Put down prices”.
On 25th March there was wide participation in the general strike called by the logistics and factories sectors. On 26th March, in a supermarket in Palermo, some people filled up their trolleys and tried to leave without paying. Carabinieri and anti-riot police intervened on the spot and patrolled the entrance of several supermarkets in the city the following days.
Calls to stop paying are multiplying on social media. As the emergency goes on, perhaps after months without any wages, more and more people will find themselves faced with the problem of satisfying their material needs. Perhaps situations such as the one in Palermo won’t be so rare: the need to take what we need will become quite clear to those who, simply, won’t be able to pay any more.
Translated by act for freedom now!