The Invisible Armada

Image by Juan Alberto Casado, all rights reserved

Supplement to Potemkin: Hannah Arendt, totalitarianism and derealization (2/2)

By Alain Brossat and Alain Naze

30 April 2022

In the fascist or totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, surveillance, denunciation, terror are the elements that distinctly oppose freedom in its most elementary classical sense – Orwell does not stop drawing treats on this motif in his two dystopian novels – Animal farm and 1984. In democratic societies doped with the latest in computer and digital technologies, freedom finds its harmonious complement in the equipment of individual subjects with prostheses which they perceive first and foremost as means of increasing their performance and increasing their possibilities of life, much more than as the means of placing their existences under the regime of a total/post-neo-totalitarian panopticism. Molecular fascism produces subjectivities doped with innovation and gripped by the vertigo of increased performance. Far from being perceived as an alienation or a dependency, and even less as a mutilation, the excessive and constantly renewed equipment is felt and experienced as the effect of constant progress in the form of always better, always more.

On the ground, the result is these herds of sleepwalkers under narcosis, of awake sleepers wandering in public spaces with their eyes riveted on their small screens, these homogeneous and empty microcosms which now tend to take the place of the real world. But still, to orient oneself both in space and in the present and one's own existence, one must look ahead, look where one is setting one's feet, what the ground on which one is advancing is made of, but also to be in one's own environment, to look around, to be in the presence of... all of this.

Now, what the contemporary apparatuses of individual subjects (or of the large massified/atomized subject) produce is rather the absence of..., that is distraction, evaporation. We are making good progress, but in parallel worlds that are truer than the real ones, those that sparkle on the screens. As a result, we move forward in the present in a sort of state of weightlessness. Everything that the formidable weight of the present is made of, everything that tends to make it not only heavy but dangerous, becomes lighter and takes on a turn of abstraction or fiction (image or story). Perpetual escape tends to become the dominant mode of being in the present; its modality is: I know all that, but I don't want to know it. All that must have no incidence on my existence, I continue as before. Hence the new paradigm placed under the period sign of “Don't look up! - we do not raise our eyes in the direction of what is coming our way and whose massiveness precisely attests that "it cannot go on", we continue to advance in an increasingly fictitious world, our eyes riveted on the screens of anesthetized hedonism fitted out by the little "intelligent" communication machines - have you noticed those smiles, even sometimes those autistic bursts of laughter which, suddenly, in the middle of the sidewalk, in the subway car, come illuminate the blissful face of the sleepwalker who has just discovered the hilarious video that will brighten his-her day, the modest euphoric intended to get through his-her zombie day without a hitch?[1]

In A Love Affair (Leo McCarey, 1939), then in the remake (by the same director) An Affair to Remember (1957), a young woman going to a romantic rendezvous, decisive for the rest of her life, is knocked down by a bus while crossing the street hastily, without looking: her eyes were riveted on the terrace of the Empire State Building where the man of her life was waiting for her. She finds herself in the hospital, the suitor, not seeing her coming, thinks that she has dumped him - an implacable misunderstanding is tied, which only the equally inevitable happy ending occurring in extremis will manage to lift...

When the young woman will then be led to explain to her lover by what chain of circumstances she could not be there, she exclaims: “I was looking up! - she was so impatient to find him that she crossed the street with her eyes in the air, hence the fatal accident and the unfortunate setback... These people, the protagonists of a sucessful American suspense comedy (as the remake shows...) still lived in reality... (in the real world, if you prefer). They learned the hard way that in the dense, hectic world of the city, the human subject must remain attentive, concentrated, with their feet on the ground – and especially when crossing a thoroughfare traversed by motor vehicles driving more or less briskly – any distraction can be expensive, and those who move around with their noses in the air may have to pay the price, right in the moment – one can make of this moment a whole movie, a whole show, and that's what McCarey does, with talent.

We have changed times. Both the diagnostic and prognostic signs under which our present is placed and in which the most lucid of our contemporaries recognize themselves, would therefore rather be “Don't look up! and, more generally, don't look ahead or to the sides, continue to advance with your eyes riveted on your screen on which follows the flood of images and messages intended to keep you enclosed in your derealized bubble [2]. This accentuates and reconfigures the "blasé" attitude adopted by the inhabitant of large metropolises, which Georg Simmel underlined [3]- for him, it was vital, for this inhabitant, to cushion the sensitive shocks of the hectic existence of the big city. From then on, the appropriate attitude (in an almost Darwinian sense) consisted in not moving through the streets in full consciousness, but in an almost hypnotic state. This would result in indifference to the fate of others: the fact of stepping over the passer-by who has fallen to the ground, rather than lending him assistance. Benjamin will take up this idea, relying on Freud's remarks on war neuroses. "Don't worry about the heavy real reality, travel light in your spheres and your envelopes, like Xavier de Maistre around his room - we take care of the rest", whisper the pundits and the tycoons of the com industries, the people of the State – but the worst thing is that these same people are no less enclosed than the ordinary man in bubbles and spheres increasingly remote from real configurations. For these people, the six million deaths from the pandemic, a fateful figure, is more or less unreal or virtual, they don't really know – in any case, nothing worth thinking too long about it (dwelling too long on it...)

Clearly, the paths to derealization are innumerable and those that are observed today present all sorts of contrasts with those others which, in the 1930s and 40s of the last century, created the conditions for catastrophe. But one thing remains distinct and indisputable: derealization, understood as the weakening and disintegration of the hold that people from above as well as people from below exert on reality, is at the root of historical disasters, but also, today, in a context where environmental issues come to the fore, “global”.

The very modalities of the catastrophic or the disastrous are changing: it is no longer just entire populations that are affected, but the environment of all life – land, oceans, animals, vegetation, soils, etc. The disasters of the 20th century were still circumscribed in territories, in striped spaces. Those which come and which result from the processes of massive and generalized abandonment of humans on an objectivity composed of heterogeneous but combined "materials" (history, spaces, soils, atmosphere...) will directly affect the conditions of life - the viability of the living - breathability of the air, availability and potability of water, food resources... It is not for nothing that the endemic diseases, epidemics and pandemics which today most heavily affect the health of populations around the globe, can be described as conditions or products derived from the Anthropocene. "Don't look up!" represents an attitude of the time: above all do not look at these swords of Damocles suspended above your head! Keep digging your digital burrow! Look neither to the right nor to the left, move forward, the G5, economic recovery, total democracy are at the end of the road![4]

“You already know enough. So do I. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions,” writes Sven Lindquist in “Exterminate All The Brutes”[5]. Of course, this courage, a moral notion, still needs to be known what it should be made of... In any case, what the author wisely draws our attention to here is this: this are not the means of knowing that we lack; on the contrary, one might add, the problem is rather, in part, that we are saturated with knowledge. Our situation, from this point of view, is the opposite of that of this small group of Japanese soldiers pursuing in the mountains of an isolated island in the Philippines a war which ended years ago and who, having fallen on a transistor radio and a few magazines, try to reconstruct the main lines of the present: they imagine that now Japan, still at war with the United States, is allied to communist China, that Siberia has separated of the Soviet Union and is about to join this powerful bloc, that the reconquest of Southeast Asia is therefore imminent, etc.[6] A close relationship is established here between the fragmentary character of information and wishful thinking, that is to say the tendency to produce fictions taking the place of the real world according to the slope line of desire or expectations, even if one can imagine a determining part of denial reality in the refusal to face the obvious – the defeat, the capitulation of Japan, the entry of the world into another era.

In the configurations of the present, in any case, the denial of reality thrives on the overproduction and the excess of information. Information becomes “disposable” and expires all the more quickly because, like fruits and vegetables, there is a surplus of it – it is impossible to absorb it, to consume it all. It is here not the lack but the “too much” which then feeds the processes of derealization. Totalitarian regimes placed their propaganda under the sign of the One-only - a single (biased) version of the facts, a single Truth, a single verifier – the Leader. In the conditions where the hegemony of the universalist imperialism of global democracy prevails, on the contrary, it is the proliferation of the multiple, of the placement of statements under its regime that feeds disorientation – what to believe, who to believe, what to grant confidence to in a world where authorities and centers of discourse in search of authority proliferate? We find here the ancient motif of the "variegated" - comrade Plato railing against democracy.

The variegation leads to disorientation and the loss of reality – the democratic subject becomes a floating cloud in the blurred landscape of the present. He is close to the living dead of Dawn of the Dead having reached the supreme stage of desubjectivation - no longer speaking (watch them sitting at the same table, "sharing" in principle a meal - the eye, each riveted on his smartphone, even little lovers...), absent from themselves and from the world, locked in their respective spheres, but walking straight ahead, like automatons, harmless little golems of the present time...[7]

But it is not fair to place the whole burden of incriminating the emptiness of the disastrous present on the sole homo digitalis, the digitized John Doe. It is in the dimension of the forms of power (and the power relations which are inseparable from them) that this collapse of the present, placed under the sign of derealization, plays out in a decisive part. A little genealogy: in the years that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and its dependencies, of the Soviet system, the relationship to reality of the Western elites has changed: they were won over by a presumption of infinite power, that which ignores the very notion of limit. The very existence of the Soviet bloc, as a powerfully militarized alterity distinctly inscribed in its space and its territories, set distinct limits to the expansion of their power. As long as the Soviet Union still existed, whether in the days of the Cold War or those of half-hearted peaceful coexistence, these elites, state, governmental and others, still knew how to associate the notion (and the experience) of power to that of limit. This is the reason why in 1956 during the Hungarian revolution, in 1968, during the Prague Spring, they did not cross the Rubicon.

With the disappearance of the USSR, everything changed: everything now looks as if the expansion of democracy, in its intrinsically imperialist and universalist form (all in one piece, as Athenian democracy already was) should not know any limit, neither in law nor in fact. The limitless expansion of democracy, of democratic forms, in their providential coincidence with the westernized global North, has become the horizon of the time – a crusade, then. In terms of subjectivation of power, of its exercise and of its forms, this will mean, for the Western elites, the radical loss of the ability to take note of the persistence of forms of legitimized antagonism – all that whoever resists and opposes the crusade is considered offside and deprived of all legitimacy. There are no more limits, no more red lines and no more other opponents who are recognized as being endowed with any capital of legitimacy. What falls into oblivion is a whole mechanism of recognition.

This is indeed the reason why, in the favorable context of the chaos of the Yeltsin years and following, NATO set up without wasting a minute in all the former satellite countries of the USSR in Eastern Europe, on the borders of Russia and its residual dependencies. When they achieve this historic breakthrough, Western leaders act like automatons programmed in the time of the Cold War, they have won this war, they are advancing as far as they can, they are taking – it is fair game, they think, that's life, the war of the species, the strongest, the most enduring wins, the weak disappear – elementary historical Darwinism.

The peculiarity of the somnambulist is that it does not interact, that it is unaware of the reverse shot - it advances, without having the slightest notion of the fact that against all odds, from the point of view of the vanquished and their heirs, this exhilarating crusade adorned with the colors of the Universal bears two very distinct names: contempt and humiliation, oblivion of the elementary forms of recognition. However, as the European history of the 20th century, that of the First World War and its aftermath, teaches sufficiently clearly, there is no policy of humiliation and contempt that does not call for its aftermath devastating blow. Ukraine is Putin's remilitarization of the Rhineland, even the annexation of the Sudetenland – which does not make him a Hitler clone. It is here the processes that count, the historical homologies (more than analogies), not the individuals, who are infinitely more contingent.

The figure of power that ignores its limits, that has shut itself up in its conquering presumptions, whatever the source, particularizing to death or resolutely universalist, maintains in this particular context glaring kinships with the one that is at the foundation of power and expansion of totalitarian systems: as Arendt points out, totalitarian regimes only stay alive and keep their grip on the masses insofar as they grow, without interruption, that is to say, their power increases. Hitler, having taken on the role of warlord and conqueror, carried away by the frenzy of the Drang nach Osten and by the dream of a German Europe, is under the influence of this figure of infinite power, of power in perpetual accretion – but it is phantasmagoria and a typical “bubble”, as Chaplin captures in a beautiful and famous sequence from The Dictator.

In the most classic tradition of Western political philosophy, it is the hubris of the tyrant that is associated with this image of limitless power – the disastrous excess of the latter, which feeds its intolerable violence to its subjects and leads to his downfall. The figure of the totalitarian or assimilated dictator (Mussolini, a hybrid character, an intermediate dictator between the tyrant of Syracuse and Hitler) is a superlative of this figure of absolute excessiveness associated with the solitary exercise of power. However, in totalitarian configurations, the infinite evil of power diffuses not only in the state, but in society as a whole. This is what Foucault remarks: Fascism (Nazism) never graced the subject of the Reich with an extra pound of butter; but it did better: it handed him an unlimited reserve of power, in particular in the form of an infinite capacity to harm other subjects – by denouncing his neighbors as enemies of the Reich, by hunting down Jews not wearing the star, etc.

In contemporary topographies, the proliferation of the infinite evil of power advances masked, under the exterior of the conquest of new territories for democracy, the only acceptable political "constitution", standing at the height of the present conditions of civilization - a matter of norms and values firmly established in the element of the Universal. In this form, the corollary of the power-which-no-longer-knows-its-limits is the loss of all capacity to move to the side of the perspective of the other - insofar as this comes into conflict with his own; it is therefore, once again, confinement in a derealizing sphere. As soon as a subject, whatever he-she may be, has lost this capacity for displacement, not only that he-she no longer sees the world except from his-her own perspective and hi-hers own interests, but that he-she has lost the notion even from the condition of irreducible plurality of perspectives, his-her world is mutilated and his-her relationship to the real is sick – he-she falls prey to his-her one-only presumptions in the form of more or less megalomaniacal or paranoid phantasmagoria[8].

This is exactly what happened to the rulers, the elites, the people in power and, let's say for fun, the Western conscience flavored with imperialist democracy, after the fall of the USSR. Today, the entire era is placed under the sign of this blindness, which has become the very matrix of the ongoing confrontation between the Western bloc in the process of redeployment and Chinese power. The disappearance of sensitivity to the condition of plurality in the distribution of forces and power or sovereignty games entails the disappearance of any ability to take into account the red lines set by other powers and linked to what these perceive as their vital interests.

This is the reason why, today, for Western leaders (and also, unfortunately, the opinions of the global North, which are mostly contaminated by this presumption), the fact that other adversaries such as Russia or China (understood as sovereignties) persist in asserting that Ukraine's accession to NATO or even a declaration of independence by Taiwan would constitute flagrant crossings of red lines which they cannot tolerate - such a position and claim by the other side can only be considered as the expression of a totalitarian mentality, incompatible with the norms and values of contemporary civilization. But this is obviously putting everything upside down: all you have to do is replace "Taiwan" with "Cuba" and "China" with "United States" to understand that when what they consider to be their own vital interests and their own large and small spaces are at stake, democracies are no less sensitive to the red lines pattern than their supposed enemies or antagonists – it is the United States that imposes endlessly draconian sanctions on Cuba, for imaginary wrongs, not China on Taiwan; and the latest news is that the Chinese navy does not cruise in the Caribbean Sea, unlike US destroyers, aircraft carriers and submarines in the China Sea – the “freedom of the seas” is, par excellence, one of these variable-geometry notions from which the promoters of imperialist universalism make the most.

In the contemporary world, the death drive of power which leads it to constantly push back its limits or rather to abolish the very notion of limit and to cultivate the denial of what is justified in opposing its infinite expansion, this drive is contaminating, it is spreading like a virus, it has taken a pandemic turn. It now circulates and transits without measure from the domain of political, military, and economic power to that of sexuality. The powerful sexual abuser has become the double of the statesman or the multi-billionaire prospering in the new economy, the same phantasmagoria of omnipotence inhabits him, the same enjoyment of power associated, precisely, with the disappearance of limits – Weinstein, double of Trump, the destruction of the rules intended to assign limits to the exercise of power, the rise to power of a kind of sexual fascism whose inseparable components are a feeling of omnipotence and the death drive.

Be that as it may, what the present surge of derealization teaches us in the immediate future is clear and distinct: the relations between the democratic and the totalitarian as set to music by Western doxa today are totally at rethink. It is high time to return to the sense of complexity and sensitivity to the margins of uncertainty that inspire a work like that of Hannah Arendt: concentrating all her efforts to highlight the irreducible specificity of totalitarian movements and regimes, she abruptly pauses in the exposition of her research and states the following: "This is how totalitarian tendencies of McCarthyism in the United States constitutes the most blatant attempt not only to persecute Communists, but to force every citizen to furnish proof that he is not a Communist” (op. cit, p. 356, my translation) . Here is the very example of a theoretical procedure of what Claude Lefort called "complication" - and which turns its back on the simplifications that are flourishing in the present[9]. In this respect, one could speak of a molecular totalitarianism. Under these conditions, indeed, and without making any amalgam, one could underline the kinship of McCarthyism with the Stalinist trials. It would basically be an inverse procedure: instead of providing proof that one was not a communist, under Stalin it was a matter of proving that one was not a spy in the service of the West. Admittedly, the confession procedure draws a dividing line that should not be overlooked (the reason why Arendt speaks only of a "tendency"), in that the Soviet Revolution came to devour its own children, sincere communists, driven to produce confessions of disloyalty, precisely to safeguard the regime which currently incriminated them.

And it is when the "complication" arises, that its measure is taken, that the work of thought really begins. To take the measure of the complications which assail us in the present and are so many that call to reform our understanding of everything of which our actuality is made up – that is indeed the task of philosophy. The ordeal of the pandemic has profoundly changed our relationship to space and time, that is to say the first conditions of our inscription in the world – and it is not over. As Peter Sloterdijk's diagnosis stated some time ago, the epoch is placed under the sign of spheres and bubbles – for those who can afford it [10]. An ever more draconian division is taking shape between those who have access to devices intended to protect and immunize them (maintaining them in a sustainable environment) and those who remain exposed to the powers of destruction of living beings that thrive today. The Beijing Winter Olympics, which could only be held on the condition of doing so “under a giant bubble”, perfectly define this new period condition[11].

In other words, when it comes to defining the "conditions of habitability of the planet" (Bruno Latour) in the present, the first question that arises is that of access: who, in the future near and far, will have access to bubbles and spheres, to devices intended to ensure, against the growing degradation of the environment and the basic conditions for the reproduction of life, this habitability? Who will have the means to live in protected spaces where the air is constantly purified, refreshed, where drinking water is freely accessible - and who will be deprived of it? The question of space, of common spaces, of territories also, inevitably, must be started from scratch, today, from the angle of this sinister distribution (divide) between those who are called upon to have access to bubbles and immune devices and the others, all the others – the majority, the plebs of the world exposed to climate change, pandemics, wars, violence and persecution accompanying migration, etc. It is therefore also the very figure of biopolitics that must be rethought, re-examined from all angles: according to what rules will be carried out or under what regime will henceforth be placed the distributions of making live, letting die, making die?

The complication arises where the tipping point of biopolitics into thanatopolitics is no longer at all distinct, where the difference between "letting it die" and "making it die" is no longer obvious, where, in the light, so to speak, of the Covid 19 pandemic, seems to be established, in the practices of biopower subsumed under the name of democracy, a dizzying continuum between "letting" and "doing" die, placed under the sign of abandonment, unbundling and sorting.

In other words, thanatopolitics infiltrates towards the heart of biopolitics, where it turns out, in the pandemic context, that democracies are reversible as major health or environmental crises occur, into thanatocracies - not activist and ferocious as are totalitarian regimes, but careless, erratic, incompetent obscurantist and cynical. This is not an abuse of language, since the rulers of the greatest peoples and powerful democracies on the planet bear irrefutably (the Chinese counter-example attests to this) the responsibility for the death of millions of victims of the pandemic[12].

The relevant opposition, in this new environment (age, era...), would no longer be so much that of striated spaces and smooth spaces, but rather that of qualified spaces (those that give access to, temporarily, sustainable life and which are selective, in contrast to the anomic spaces in which life, the living being, is abandoned to the innumerable forms of exposure which threaten or destroy them).

We are moving towards a world of generalized biopolitical apartheid: it is not only that the Arendtian opposition will be perpetuated between those who have the right to have rights and the others, it is that not everyone will have access (rather than “right”) to breathable air, drinkable water, quality care, territories where food security is ensured and life liveable[13]. A beautiful dystopia in perspective, but whose movements of decivilization which disfigure the present, with the direct concatenation of the war in Ukraine with the pandemic... (by concatenation I mean here "enchaînement", what clips on and continues...).

On the other hand, the flows of derealization that affect our relationship to the world are inseparable from the disruption of our relationship to time. As François Hartog remarks, the constant placing of the present under the sign of urgency (and which is the work of the rulers in the first place) has the effect not only of stunting the horizon in which the future is supposed to unfold but, more radically, to uproot us from duration, to tear us from the soil of a temporality in which this is inseparable from our creative powers[14]. We now live under the sign of the collection of shreds of time, instants and sequences placed under the sign of segmentation and repetition – the successive waves of the interminable pandemic constituting the unsurpassable horizon of this figure of recovery in its most mechanical form. Presentism means the death of the intuition of life itself and of the very possibility of deploying individual or creative powers. It is here that this alteration of the relationship to time, this disorientation of lived time joins the question of bubbles: presentism is locked up – it is the image of confinement and quarantines; we live from day to day in bubbles, away from others. However, as a researcher recently noted, physical contact, touch, is vital for the psychic life of individuals [15]. In itself, even if it is dictated, precisely, by the health emergency, that is to say by rationalities and not prejudices, the notion of "barrier gesture" is terrifying, it stinks of death if it is to make that behaviors of avoidance of touch enter into the system of norms – which, moreover, the morality police would tend to, since, in an ever more insistent manner, impose its conditions – noli me tangere! In the absence of explicitly expressed and recorded consent...

These serial shocks and disruptions that affect our positions in space and time are all the more disruptive in that the symbolic institutions and devices that ensured our roots in the world, marked it out and allowed us to orient ourselves in it are shreds – representative democracy, the patriarchal family, work in a society of sustainable full employment. Our lives are more or less radically unmoored as the benchmarks of certainty that these symbolic institutions and constituent apparatuses ensured us come into crisis. New modes of apparatus emerge, of course, in the absence of symbolic institutions, but if they fill the voids, it is in a mode that is more addictive than properly reconstituting - Facebook as the new "opium of the people" – or rather the crowd not only lonely but lost in translation, and the smartphone as a "status symbol"...[16]

It's the time of the empty windbags, of the cache-misere. The new religion of the "virtual" is part of this phenomenon. Avoidance of what comes our way reigns supreme here – “don't look up”! - and it is the transnational and supra-state companies that take over here from the traditional elites (people in government in the first place) to sell us wind. The virtual is one bubble among others. However, the very notion of “realityproof” bubbles is the very illusion of the time, and its lie – a phantasmagoria, like Elon Musk's alternative worlds.

The real always ends up coming back - and we have to face it.

Ps: with the war in Ukraine, what we see coming back in force is another figure of thanatocracy wrapped in the folds of democracy: as the British historian EP Thompson remarked, in the context of the arms race of the beginning of the 1980s (American Pershings against Soviet SS20s), the characteristic of NATO strategy placed under the direction of American strategists is to designate Europe as the place of confrontation with the “systemic” enemy while the American territory is sanctuarized [17]. The strategy of the United States vis-à-vis post-Soviet Russia is constant here: it consists, with the assistance of its European "proxies" both eager and blind, in exerting constant and increasing pressure on the successor state of the Soviet Union, the ex-communist adversary by making its confines the very borders of NATO; it is here exactly the same as that which consists in endlessly increasing tensions in the China Sea and creating the conditions for a confrontation in which Taiwan would be the stake in the same way as Ukraine is today – all ensuring the sanctuary character of the United States.

The essence of this strategy is to create the conditions for a confrontation to which it is impossible a priori to assign a limit – a conflict likely to become nuclear over the course of the chain of disastrous circumstances, both in the Ukrainian and the Taiwanese issue. In both cases, the United States, as a military machine and hegemonic power, exports its violence by instigating confrontations with declared enemy powers, far from their own territory.

It is therefore here that we see the specter of what Thompson called exterminism reappear in force: the fact, for the main protagonists of the conflict who have nuclear weapons, of taking hostage populations swept away by the maelstrom of a spiraling war. This figure is reactivated as much from the war in Ukraine as from the announced confrontation in the China Sea. However, exterminism is par excellence the figure in which democracy, in exactly the same way as what it claims to oppose in the name of "values", becomes indistinct from thanatocracy, the figure in which biopolitics also democratic (having placed the protection of populations at the heart of its program) exposes its thanatocratic underside, just as at the beginning of the First World War (as Foucault wisely reminded).

What shows itself in the first place in the war in Ukraine, as in the rise of tensions in the China Sea, is not Putin's madness, the "Chinese threat", the temptation of "totalitarian purification", as melodramatically editorialized Le Monde (03/24/2022) in the tones of the new cold war; but indeed the majestic return of exterminism, now placed under the leadership of universalist imperialism, of total democracy: the one which, returned to the sources of the most somnambulistic providentialism, now sees itself destined by the most obscure of supersensitive powers to save the world by precipitating it into the abyss of a new world war against a backdrop of climatic disaster and a tenfold race for profit in the post-pandemic context.

[1]There is now a major (and planetary) problem with the fingers – the way their flexibility and agility that can sustain so much power of creation and establishment in the world are now captured and reduced to servitude by the keyboards of the microphones. - digitized machines; on public transport, watch the sleepwalking Net surfing, the spasmodic flicking of the thumb that leads from a sports shoe ad to a tweet, from a photo of a war-torn landscape to another where exhibits an example of a fashionable dog; admire the rapidity of the “like”, before moving on to the next image, just as inconsistent – the referent is long gone.

[2]On the injunction to have, first and foremost, to avoid taking reality into account, see Adam McKay's film Don't Look Up , 2021. The avoidance and denial of imminent danger here becomes a moral command issued by the governing elites, which now takes the place of the government of the living.

[3]Georg Simmel, The Form of History and Other Essays , trans. Karine Winkelvoss, Paris, Gallimard, 2004.

[4]Derealization is progressing, so to speak, in a spiral(s): the multiple “breakdowns” caused by the pandemic are arousing among the ruling elites a fierce appetite for a “recovery” (“relaunching”) as soon as possible, a revival of economic activities and business as usual which necessarily involves the renunciation of part of the commitments made in favor of the climate – a “catch-up” in the form of aggravation – spiral, double link. What intends to repair connects with worsening, in more or less distinctly nihilistic versions: vasectomy, the new “moral” Malthusianism becomes the panacea for the ills of the planet. On this point, see the article by Simon Usborne: “'More people is the last thing this planet needs': the men getting vasectomies to save the world”, The Guardian , reproduced in Taipei Times , 01/14/2022.

[5] Sven Lindquist: Exterminate all the Brutes, The New Press, 1996 (1992).

[6]Arthur Harari, Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle , 2021.

[7]Dawn of the Dead , film by George A. Romero, 1978.

[8]In his Posthumous Fragments , 1886-1887, Nietzsche states: "There are no facts, only interpretations". In this respect, oneness constitutes a misinterpretation of the philosopher's position. Indeed, Nietzschean perspectivism has nothing to do with relativism: Nietzsche does not deny facticity, but only establishes that no one is able to grasp a fact objectively, and above all that it would have no meaning. It is basically a critique of positivism, no fact existing outside the perspective from which it is approached. The principle of objectivity would itself come from a certain perspective on life. Basically, Nietzsche's position would be that of a Leibnizianism deprived of the totalizing aim of a god, of “the monad of monads”. In this, Nietzsche always integrates the reverse shot, not in the idea that all the perspectives would be equivalent, quite the contrary, but rather in the sense that each perspective produced on a fact reveals something of the nature of the will of power at work.

[9] Claude Lefort: La complication: retour sur le communisme (Editions du Seuil, 1999).

[10]Peter Sloterdijk: Spheres, Bubbles, Foams (in three volumes, 2002-2010)

[11]"Life inside China's COVID Olympic 'bubble'", Bloomberg, Taipei Times , 8/02/2022.

[12]The cases of the United States, Brazil and India deserve special mention here. The very fact that the figures concerning the number of deaths from the pandemic in the most populous and most powerful democracies in the world remain very nebulous is it not in itself an indication of this shift in a post- biopolitics placed under the sign of the abandonment of populations in the context of a major health ordeal? According to recent statistical studies, the official figures of deaths from the pandemic announced by countries such as France, the United States, India, Brazil... should be completely reassessed: between 3.1 and 3.7 million deaths in India against 510,000, official figure ( Le Monde , 02/18/2022); in France, likewise, the actual figure could be twice that produced by the public authorities – Le Monde again, not a conspirationist site.

[13]Hannah Arendt: The Origins of Totalitarianism , Part Two, ch. 9: “The Decline of the Nation-State and the End of Human Rights”.

[14]François Hartog: “Il n'y a plus que du présent, et ce présent n'en finit pas” - Le Monde 16/02/2022.'

[15]"The less we live the experience of touch, the more we are afraid of living it", interview with Fabienne Martin-Juchat, Le Monde , 02/21/2022.

[16]Frantisek Vrabel: “How Facebook became the opium of the masses”, Taipei Times , 01/29/2022; Han Cheung: “From rare commodity to coveted status symbol”, Taipei Times , 2022-02-20.

[17]Edward P. Thompson: Exterminism, Nuclear Armament and Pacifism , PUF, 1983.