In waiting for the vaccine, humanity is, in reality, waiting for a new victor on the global capitalist scene. Simultaneously, our region is reliving its bloody history as a constant projection of the future.
If the French philosopher Alan Badiou was to take his definition of ‘an event’ as a sudden change of rules in a social community as a point of view on the region, he’d come to a simple conclusion – nothing has changed since the war. The region is therefore pretending to move towards social progress, and this is constantly delayed, the ghost of joining the EU.
The countries of the region, and particularly Serbia, BiH and Kosovo, are in a continuous state of unfinished war, whilst in Croatia the victory war is in itself a divine, inherent value, doubted only by those who continue to long for psychological freedom. The war has changed fields – from the military to politics; nationalism triumphs over common sense, keeping our countries in a constant political conflict.
In BiH, this is apparent in the impossibility of resolving the constitutional crisis, and applying the verdicts of international and domestic legal institutions on discrimination of ethnic minorities and citizens declaring as ‘Other’ – those left without the opportunity to run for a government position in this unfortunate society.
Serbia and Kosovo are stuck at the impossibility of achieving any sort of peace agreement. The steps forward taken by Macedonia, even in changing the country’s name, and Montenegro, in its path towards the EU, do not guarantee stability. This was demonstrated by the most recent election in Montenegro, which tore the society apart on an ideological basis.
The end of Milo Djukanovic’s thirty year long rule hasn’t brought social stability, but a clash between political elites, while being framed as a conflict between Serbs and Montenegrins. Macedonian right wingers, however, hate Macedonian left wingers, accusing them of national betrayal. In Croatia, questioning Tudjman’s ideological legacy implies national betrayal.
Nationalism is, therefore, the regional political default state and a possible permanent destiny.
Here, any transition which would have to signal a move from a socialist society towards a capitalist one, has simply meant moving public property into private hands. Meaning, more or less legal theft, and the creation of new class configurations. Imagined as a copy of the EU’s legal system and living standard, it has, however, created a class gap, and left a huge number of citizens living below the poverty line. This isn’t spoken about as a Badiouesque ‘Event’, yet it is – based on the scale of social change and its consequences. And so, the transition became the space for accumulated rage, in the words of German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. No one really knows when this rage may explode, and which direction it may take. The governments don’t really see it as social injustice, but as a threat to national unity. The poor could easily be declared the greatest national traitors for its demands for social justice.
That is why the pandemic of a virus is the greatest social event in the region, from the wars of the 90s onwards. It has uncovered the misery of transitional capitalism, which defended its healthcare infrastructure from Covid, not its people. It has also shed light on how political oligarchies can turn fragile democracies into provincial dictatorships in no time. The pandemic has lifted the bonnet on the crisis of global capitalism which instead of investing in healthcare, invested in the military – all while hiding its militarism behind catchphrases about democracy, human rights, and the free market.
Capitalism has adapted to the pandemic on a global scale, in a chameleon-like evolution. Regionally, it’s shown its thief-like face in many affairs. Corona has in the meantime advanced, showing that as a society, we are very quick to normalise death. The media, shedding panic at the beginning of the pandemic, are now easing the discourse around it, using the ‘new normal’ as a slogan – of course, behind it, are hidden new forms of individual control.
One’s health has quickly become a key condition to one’s freedom. Nothing can ever be normal after the fact – the new form of control isn’t over a man’s thought and action, but his health. In places where the society is meant to care for the individual, it is controlling him, demonstrating that there are countless forms of oppression.
That is why the fear of the Corona virus is a symptom of the abnormality of a capitalist society. That is why we need to observe the ‘new normal’ motto and read between the lines, look for the structural background of a capitalist, post-factum world. In it is hidden global, vaccine-like nationalism, which isn’t really a desire for a new form of global humanism, but a ruthless battle for profits. The capitalist profits even on illness, and a man’s health is directly dependent on his wealth. The poor don’t have the same right to health as the capitalist classes. That is why there are no global reforms of healthcare systems, and why there is no awareness that after the Covid-19 pandemic we are in for an even worse one – one caused by climate change. In waiting for the vaccine, humanity is in reality waiting for a new victor on the global capitalist scene. Simultaneously, our region is reliving its bloody history as a constant projection of the future.