Elisabeth von Samsonow
The Dissident Goddesses‘ Network views the current global situation from the perspective of a – not new – radical need for socio-ecological change and reorientation. The current crisis is a crisis of life. During this period of deep exhaling, the current condition and fragility of planetary existence has become manifest. It is the time for Gaia’s epiphany. This paper addresses all of us, the survivors, the „people of Gaia“ (Bruno Latour and Gilles Deleuze/ Felix Guattari), and is dedicated to those who passed away and will pass away during this pandemic.
- This crisis uncovers the best and most beautiful side of humanity: our love for life, our clinging onto it, our passion for it and our desire to protect it; life is desired and favored. To this end, means are taken to an extent which has been unthinkable beforehand, a few weeks ago, during the so-called „normal times“. This crisis demonstrates the deep appreciation of life pervading all social and political spheres. It is the first time in recent years that we witness an economic step back in favor of life —it is in favor of life that the world economy currently risks a financial crash. This crisis forces us to think of the unique and singular experience to be living on Earth. Why is it so good here? What makes it desirable to dwell on its surface? Which kind of experience does the planet offer us? This crisis affects the entirety of the human realm, and its shock unleashes great potential for philosophical questioning. We are becoming the solidary citizens of this planet, but what or who is this unknown star? Comment: Before the crisis it was evident that the ecological imbalance tended to its maximum on earth, we were headed towards an impasse, but with barely any reaction from the population, from the nations’ leaders (look at the poor response to the climate change movement). Is it possible to favor human life and continue neglecting the terrestrial conditions of life as a whole? The crisis opens a path to coming-to-the-world, to meeting the earth, to being-in-the-earth.
- People are forcedly taking a pause, and the same applies to nature: nature has to absorb much less harmful and toxic substances; its digestion of human waste has been diminished. The economy of the era of the Anthropocene had reached a catastrophic level of destruction and environmental degradation. The dying off of species had become a continuous event, almost banal to us now. The effect of this unforeseen pause in human inactivity is visible everywhere: the air gets better, water is cleansing itself from pollution, and we envision the potential of fauna restoration. This is the epiphany of Gaia, the epiphany of the earth (see James Lovelock’s and Lynn Margulis‘ Gaia Hypothesis). After ten days she, the globe, recovers a bit, after one month she begins to radiaten, after three months she is reigning in full splendor. We humans feel this change, we will take note of the quality of the natural world in its moment of Gaia-epiphany, something that has been, in the last decades, missing. To encounter this earth is what is needed and what is desired right now. Happiness is being-in-the-world, it is a love for life and all things living. The new earth is luxurious, abundant, as ever. Modifying and reducing consumer culture makes it evident that there is enough for all and that only a new perspective is needed for that abundance to be shared. Human dignity rises in unison with the epiphany of the earth as a subject. Well-being emerges just as much from exchange and communication between humans as in an interspecies contact (Donna Haraway). Comment: This new relationship which is brought forth during the time of suspension paralleling the epiphany of Gaia is profoundly erotic. Gaia is ecstatic, in plenitude. The machinery of desires fueled with the energy of ever unaccomplished wishes is re-engineered (this an Anti-Lacanian proposition). Civilizational systematic oblivion of earth has halted; the geo trauma (Robin Mackay) enters the space of consciousness.
- The crisis does not only put humans under the order of a shutdown but offers them a creative break; it offers them the potential for a re-orientation. People have worked and run at a maximum rate and the alternation of work and regeneration must be reset. It is good and desirable to live, but what is the content of life? Is it so we operate continuously at the edge of a burnout? What makes life beautiful? Consuming and buying endlessly? What kind of dignity can humans claim from their role within the earth’s ecosystem? From where do they draw their greedy claims of ownership? The shock is waking us up. It seems, sadly enough, that we only awaken through shock. A general sentiment surges up in the population as we become aware of what we knew was to be inevitable: that it is impossible to return to the status ante quem. The surrounding noise, making us less aware of ourselves and of our needs as well as less capable to recognize others, suddenly gets dimmed down in this moment of privation and calmness. We get creative, as we are challenged —upended in our routine— and we reinvent ourselves. We rediscover our manifold abilities, talents, potentials that can contribute to social, economic, political, scientific and cultural life. This why this pause is needed, even if it was imposed. Many people continue to work hard, for the other’s sake, in food production and trade, in health care and energy industry. The crisis allows us to look at the essence of need: which enterprises serve the basic necessities, and which do not. It applies mostly to those who produce and supply food and support life’s daily routine. The post-metaphysical age does not offer any sense or meaning to the moment. It can only be drawn bottom-up from life itself. The event itself is meaningful (this is a Spinozist argument). Comment: There is no reason to seriously worry for all the sensitive and thoughtful beings. But there is a reason to worry in the eventuality that things will not change in the future, that things will return to business as usual. Within two years, the economy will fully recover. But it should be a form of economy that is less colonial, ecologically destructive, and exploitive. The relationship between technology, science and art must be reinvented. And there must be a turn in the use of energy – a switch from colonializing and wasting use of energy to the „climacteric mode“ (Jerely Rifkin, who, addressing issues of entropy says that the entirety of this ecosystem has entered another phase). It should be an economy that does not ensure ones wealth at the expense of others. This is possible. Up until now, this imbalance between the north and the south has dictated the terms, and made possible the economy we had – which was widely resistant to analysis, observations and suggestions for improvement.
- Women are very actively involved in this crisis, charged as moderators, social managers of this new reduced „private“ space. Their contribution to social wellbeing during the crisis is unmeasurable. Women, once again, demonstrate their well trained social expertise. This is why the future must be prepared, preferably guided and directed by women. What we call a women’s expertise is equivalent to highest social and emotional responsibility. Comment: There is a need for a completely new form of politics. The matriarchal model is recommended. Matriarchal societies are symbolically centered on the mother; they are based upon and focused on motherly values. These societies are egalitarian. Social prestige is drawn from motherly values, as they are: care, support, enhancement, recognition and love.
- The virus unites people even though each must keep their distance. The sanitary system performs at maximum speed. The aggressor is not human, not somebody who declares war to others, but a non-living hacker identity, a gene without being. In the light of this new solidarity people regain their capacity for empathy, war must be looked at: why is there so much physical pain and disaster made by people and intended for other people? How does war look like in times of the virus? We must put an end to war. In the face of a health system that is too much challenged, the brutal atavism of war – driven by economic interest -gets painfully evident. Comment: Why is it less problematic and why doesn’t it cause total shutdown when humans attack humans? The crisis offers the chance to revise and rethink guiding values; it is especially time to revalue life. Up until fairly recently there was only one person to give the perfect evaluation for life, namely the mother.
- The New Ecology: this is not just a handbook of rules and laws; recycling and expansion of old systems is not the solution; limit on pollution and regionalism in food production are not enough. The New Ecology is based on the epiphany of the Goddess, Gaia, namely on Life as the primordial force behind the quality and function of the biosphere. The earth carries life, she is life, and she provides the life we desire. This is why the New Ecology cherishes the Goddess, Vita, Gaia, the living matter, the interspecies concerto of this living planet. Her cult is the Zen of the very simple things. Comment: Ecology consisting in a canon of laws is object to eco-dictatorship, which could become an imminent reality. It is possible, for instance, that some political minds will try to extend the Corona crisis emergency state in order to deeply change the democratic style of politics into a forced governmental state of leadership and control. This would set forth the alienation from Gaia. The New Ecology and a politics appropriately fitted to its new vision require us to put Gaia into the center of a new form of economy of desires. For this reason, Gaia must be considered a subject, not an object, geology is turned into philo-geosophy. Hypersubjects of the scale of Gaia hitherto were considered under the notion of „god“. Gaia is the planetary condition of existence, the hypersubject of the biosphere under the notion of the Goddess.
- People so far have been shaken by the crisis, destabilized. They gain an awareness of the fragility of life and how precious it is to them. People are no longer alone in the world. Any virus may adjust itself to changing conditions, changing towards the most preferable direction, from its perspective. The imminent „victory over the corona-virus“ (through treatment and ongoing immunization, likely there will be a medical treatment as there was the case in HIV virology) does not imply that people return to their business as if nothing happened. This will be a lesson that will leave an imprint in the collective consciousness. The virus is a symbol of undercover infection and „malware“ which could affect humans to the most catastrophic extent. The narratives of self-extinction are left far behind by this type of „software“ attack. Comment: The virus is the perfect symptom for our information society. It is a coded info strip invading, undercover, the host. Paralleling the corona crisis the world wide informational systems are technologically tuned by the massive installation of satellites – in order to secure info-structure at land, sea and in air, putting definitively an end to any “holes” or info shadows. What can this total info-attack mean? The digital avant-garde of the third millennium experiences a viral attack at its bioware, on the living body.
- Immunity: what is it? It is a complex structure. It is not evident when an immune reaction is strong, and at what point it fails. Not everybody is ill at the same time. Immunity in its medical meaning is important, but there is also something we can call psychic immunity and both forms of immunity cooperate with one another. Psychic „immunity“ can support the medical one. Immunity is a multi-level process. Social systems organize immunity by building inner zones against the outside (can also be based on racist and totalitarian ideas, as we saw in the past, so we need to be careful with the allegorical sense in biology). Yet, the symbol of immunization is a form of social stability, grounding in the element of the socius (Gilles Deleuze). This idea is actually under pressure from the supposition that anyone can be a virus carrier. So the virus re-organizes the social system, dominating social evidence and its effects of social immunization. We have to reconsider and rethink immunization in relationship to the integrity of the individual person and social structure. There is a competition in successful contagion, on many levels. Comment: “I am immune against this“. What does this mean? I am not open to this offer, to this seduction, to this object of desire. It is evident, that the subject in capitalist times is put as the seducible, the open, the modifiable, the malleable, the future consumer, the non-immune. Which form of porosity is the status quo of the postmodern subject (Ian Hacking)? How can it be protected? The difference between affection and infection must become clear.