The mask: a good opportunity to argue, to divide us, and to leave the field even more open to the power of experts and states. Because while some people are talking about health, others are thinking about politics. Is it really so incompatible?
It would be easy to begin this article with the beautiful « inversion of the genitive » that was so useful to Marx and Engels: from the philosophy of misery to the misery of philosophy, and so on, up to the situationists who have used it to satiety. However, if the politics of the mask is indeed a way of masking politics, it is not just any politics that the mask masks, but a specific politics. To reveal what, according to us, wears the mask and what is hidden behind it can only have as a first consequence to separate us from some comrades who will wear, or not, the mask, and will have, on the mask still and always, a practical position different from ours.
This is the first success of the mask policy: far from being primarily a sanitary barrier, it is above all a subject of discussion, and even better (for the authorities): of disputes. And from these disputes, in the climate of chaos and incoherence and fear that is the year 2020 — and which is likely to intensify further in the future, since fear has been the basis of politics for at least half a century — it is very likely that discord will emerge from these disputes, and that it will grow to the point of division and even schism.
Therein lies the master stroke: if some people think that the health policy of social distancing is so crucial that it must transcend the divisions between us in order to reconstitute, as it were, a human species fighting together for its own preservation, and this even if the price to be paid is precisely called social distancing — and in reality the rupture of many social bonds — then we can safely prophesy that those who will think « on the fringe » and not believe in the virtues of the mask as a tool for the recomposition of humanity will find themselves even more on the fringe: stigmatized as enemies. Not class enemies, because the recomposition of the (proletarian) class has long been abandoned by its very champions. The stigmatized-marginals will be designated simply as enemies of the human race. Even of life.
In the politics of the mask, we see above all the mask of a certain politics, the one that brandishes sanitary fear, that creates fear through incoherence, thus a real politics of fear. Of course, it is the health scare that justifies the measures, but it is easy to show that the health policy itself is inconsistent. We wear masks, and we have to wear them in certain enclosed areas, but some enclosed areas are more prone to virus exchange than others. Trains, for example, usually group together passengers who share a journey or a portion of a journey, but before arriving at the departure station ? and after leaving the arrival station? These travelers may carry viruses from far away, or they may carry viruses that they contracted on the train, far from their place of origin, with them when they get off the train. However, in order to limit the railroads’ commercial deficit in 2020, passengers are not subjected to the same rigorous social distancing measures on trains as in other, sometimes less enclosed, places. Everyone can add to the list of inconsistencies at will, and eventually be satisfied with a basic banality: even if the mask is not much use, this is never a reason not to do everything we can to avoid spreading the epidemic. This is true, but this is where the bottom line of the mask policy comes in: it only aims to increase the level of fear, at a time when the epidemic itself seems to be stalling, at least in Europe. It is not the mask in itself that increases the level of fear, since on the contrary it would tranquilize some people; what is frightening is to see, all around us, all these masked people, whereas our imagination, and even our simple condition of living beings, invites us since eternity not to mask ourselves. If carnival offers us this possibility, it is precisely because carnival is a reversal of the usual order of norms. Could it be that the norms of our society have been overturned? Not at all: the power of the experts remains strong, and that of the States does not waver…
But if the mask is first of all the mask of a policy, the question is necessarily: was the mask imposed for sanitary reasons, or to increase the level of fear? The second option will inevitably be qualified as « conspiracy », a term whose success has not been denied since September 11, 2001. Once again, the division is announced between us, who are to varying degrees opponents of the politics of fear — if not, precisely, all of us, to the politics of the mask. To get out of this kind of semantic and political trap, let us propose another point of view.
Among the front-line supporters of the mask, some are driven by simple health considerations, others by the banal idea that it is better to take all precautions whatever the cost in terms of freedoms; a few others, truly cynical, are trying to maintain themselves in power by increasing fear. First of all, it is important to note that this last group can include politicians as well as scientists, without forgetting of course the pharmaceutical trusts, which also have everything to gain from this pandemic. But the most important thing is that, in the end, the compulsory wearing of masks brings together these three major categories of people, all of whom are in favor of masks, and that it is thus, whatever we think of its sanitary usefulness, a good tool for expanding the policy of profiling, of population control. And it does not matter at all whether those who make the final decisions do so out of concern for health, out of a desire to cover their own asses or out of complete political cynicism. The result is there: the end justifies the means.
In this case, we believe that no end can justify abject means, but it is an undeniable fact that « on the other side », this kind of questioning does not exist. So we are not fighting on exactly the same ground, and not at all with the same weapons.
How, then, to counter the politics of control that the mask embodies? We could « over-mask » ourselves, and wear, for example, the mask of Anonymous, of Guy Fawkes (« V for Vendetta »), over the regulation mask. The answer seems pretty consistent, doesn’t it? But this is strictly forbidden, at least in France (it is forbidden to hide one’s face completely, says the law). We could especially decide that the wearing of the mask being antihuman, we might as well develop our human activities, properly human, all those which do not imply the obligatory respect of the ban.
And finally turn the ban around like a glove: we refuse the obligation to wear a mask and we will do everything possible to do without the « closed places » where it is mandatory to wear it. Thus, we will no longer go to the theater but will do theater in the street; we will no longer go to the cinema but will screen films in the open air. And since we have to go to the supermarket to eat, we might as well develop more and more collective market gardening, collective orchards, and so on.
As for the much more difficult problem of schooling, why not create our own schools? Because the laws do not prohibit it at all, and in France for example, there are very few legal constraints to create a school.
Of course, these few avenues are still very broad, even vague or difficult to implement. But the purpose of this text, more practical than theoretical, was to show the coherence of the ecological project, based on the refusal to achieve, decreasing, slow in the sense that this word has acquired in recent years, marked by voluntary simplicity, Schumacher’s « small is beautiful .
The state, through the inconsistency of its decisions, does not disqualify what we are fighting for. And that’s a great thing because in the final analysis, it’s proof, simply, that we’re right. As someone who might not have agreed with these words said, « History will absolve us ». Wonderful perspective!