“You Should Be Happy To Be Alive”, Says the Master to the Slave. Pandemic Biopolitics in 2020.

In 2020, a pandemic shook the earth across nations and continents, inducing a heavy human, economic and psychological cost. The core of the crisis was not principally an issue of statistics, logistics, or even physical health: the essence of the 2020 pandemic disorder was humanity’s deficiency in political and philosophical health.

Philosophical thinking, in its various global forms, seems to have been a feature of the human species for less than three thousand years. This, in evolutionary terms, is so recent that we may be led to think that philosophical thinking is not hardwired to the human brain, in the way competitive or emotional thinking is. The idea of human flourishing is closely tied to the invention of philosophy. It seems to be related to a moment were humanity starts aspiring to free itself from fear, war, religion or mental servitude. With philosophical thinking and its ideal of human flourishing, humanity becomes not only preoccupied about survival on earth and paradise after death: philosophy’s gift to humanity is the idea of paradise on earth – a earthly good life must be possible if we organise it as republic, said Plato.

Later on, philosophers like Confucius, Spinoza or Nietzsche, among many others, would insist that philosophy could help us to realise a joyful, meaningful and fulfilling political life on our planet. There can be no mature politics without philosophy. Yet, the planet in 2020 is still widely a place of immaturity. Many politicians over the world used the 2020 pandemic as a means to control and continue to infantilise the populations.

In 2020, the Western World, up to know less and less inclined in its practices to value the existence and human utility of the elderly, was apparently caught in a wave of gerontophilia. “We must save the physical lives of the old and weak at all cost” became the suspicious slogan of those who were ready, because of their lack of long-term vision and their will-to-power, to jeopardise the economical and psychological equilibrium of millions of existences, as if the economy and the capital where not central, in our late-capitalist human interactions.

The young slave asks: “Does humanism mean spending the longest possible time on earth, even if that time is sad, undignified and with poor creative possibilities?” “You should be happy to be alive” is the sentence the master tells the young slave. Adding: “And you will stay alive if you obey and comply. We know what is good for you.”

Such is the crisis in philosophical health, and such is the solution: a healthy human life should never be measured quantitatively in terms of mere physical longevity. It should be preferable to die young than to accept to live a life of mere biological survival, anxious competition and lack of freedom to decide and do what is good for us, singularly and for our communities. Paradises on earth (notice the plural) is the mission of philosophy – politics, economy or technology should be nothing but its pragmatic tools.

Now, in the middle of the 2020 global abuse of biopolitics, a term Foucault used to describe the quasi-totalitarian administration and regulation of human and non-human life at the levels of the population and the individual body, we can now say that one dispositive enabled the citizens to cope and remain patient: digital tools of communication. But perhaps these very same tools, when used as means of divertissement, prevented many from rebelling against the restrictions of our freedom to self-determine?

The question then is: once our digital interactions will be augmented by artificial intelligence in a Politix 2.0 world, will they allow us to pursue the philosophical project of paradise on earth or will they improve Plato’s cave of illusions to a level of veracity such that we, as Nietzsche’s last man, when told about a better life under the real sun of truth, will smile, blink, turn our eyes back to our artificial screens in a whisper of satisfaction: “My life feels mediocre deep inside. My way of life might be destructive of the future of humanity. But hey!, I should be happy to be alive!”

Author: Luis de Miranda

Crealectician, PhD, author, philosophical counselor

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