Tribune. Vaccination programs are starting to open the prospect of an end to the pandemic. This gives us the opportunity to come back to the relationship between the body and the state which is the foundation of political modernity.
On the one hand, today we are witnessing the comeback of the state. Whether it is China, which, after an initial stammering, mobilized the resources of a strong state to contain the contagion first, then to vaccinate; or the so-called “liberal” democracies, traditionally more skeptical of the idea of interventionism, such as Australia or Germany, everywhere the policies for managing the pandemic have been an opportunity for the State to assert itself, including at the borders where it was no longer seen much.
At the start of 2021, the state is unrecognizable: it spends all over the place and deploys major vaccination and employment support programs. The old reservations have fallen, which prevented any questioning of the austerity policies introduced after the financial crisis of 2008-2009, and which nevertheless seemed entrenched not so long ago.
“From now on, the body is tracked, auscultated, measured in the slightest fluctuations in its temperatures as never before the pandemic”
This did not prevent (numerous) boondoggles in the management of the pandemic; but, overall, the state emerges greatly strengthened. Inter-state projects have also received a new impetus, such as European construction, for example, which made a leap forward with the adoption of the first common debt on July 21, 2020.
On the other hand, monitoring of and by the body has been accelerated and standardized. From now on, the body is tracked down, auscultated, measured in the slightest fluctuations in its temperatures as it would have been neither acceptable nor possible before the pandemic. We have never known so much about antibodies or the mechanisms of viral transmission; the body has become a national and international obsession.
At the origin of the state
The widespread distribution of devices and other applications for monitoring individuals in their daily lives is becoming more and more difficult to question, since we are all supposed to be involved in the fight against the transmission of the virus. That is to say for a common good defined in terms of the body. Our security has become physical above all. This body so highlighted is the point of application of this increased state power. In addition, the history of surveillance shows, this daily apparatus is not about to be dismantled at the end of the pandemic.
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