Necropolitics, collapse and the coronavirus

The Zapatista Caracoles remain closed due to the Corona virus.

By: Gilberto López Y Rivas

Two new events went unnoticed in the media, saturated as they are around the Covid-19, which has impacted the lives of millions of people in the world, demonstrating, even more than the effects of that viral disease itself, the profound failures of public health services, privatized and neglected by the neoliberal governments, as well as the negligence and criminal mischief of these governments, which prevent adopting responsible and effective health policies in the face of the pandemic, due to the fact that they don’t wish to affect the economic interests of the dominant groups and their own political image.

One of those acts is the threat to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela of a naval blockade of Venezuela (Ángel Guerra, La Jornada, 15/3/20), while the other is NATO’s realization of military exercises in Europe. In both cases it’s evident that the machinery of the imperialist military alliance headed by the United States doesn’t stop, despite the pandemic and the worsening economic crisis of the markets, above all, in the small precarious economies that barely survive, and that cannot afford to leave their jobs, get food supplies and seclude themselves in their homes or wash their hands with water they do not have. Class condition determines the probabilities of home-hospital attention and, ultimately, of the very survival of the most vulnerable groups.

The parallelism of the situation created by the health emergency in which we are immersed is surprising, with what Carlos Taibo wrote in his book Colapso: Capitalismo terminal, transición ecosocial, ecofascismo, Buenos Aires: Libros de Anarres, 2017. [1] In that book he precisely explores the causes of a global systemic collapse, emphasizing climate change and the depletion of raw materials. He underscores that unlike in the past, when the main threats from catastrophes were associated with natural phenomena, starting with the 20th century, human action turned out to be decisive and fatal. Taibo, like other authors, prefers to talk about climate change and not global warming and, according to his data, it will be impossible to avoid a rise of 2 to 3 degrees in the average temperature of the planet, because of which its consequences, briefly stated, correspond to the global reality that we are now experiencing: a rise in sea level, disappearance of ice at the poles, extinction and mutation of species, desertification, deforestation, an increase in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, increasing difficulties for food production, and new frequent flooding of inhabited lands in coastal areas and islands, and, the emergence of new diseases, as has occurred with the Covid-19.

Returning to the reading of this shocking, disturbing and inescapable work makes understandable and urgent the constant calls of the Zapatista Mayas to organize in the face of a storm that is neither metaphorical nor symbolic and that alludes not to an apocalyptic vision or millenarian prophecies, but rather to the real and scientifically founded possibility of a worldwide catastrophe in the increasingly nearer future, which Taibo calls “collapse,” that is, the general and massive collapse of the dominant system, manifested in substantial reductions in industrial production; the simultaneous and combined collapse of a financial, commercial, political, social, cultural and ecological character, due to its own contradictions and verifiable realities, in synergy with diverse and severe foreseeable and already progressively manifest implications of the aforementioned climate change (see: Emiliano Hersch González: 84-ediciones/059-octubre-diciembre -2019/629-crisis-climatica-que-hacer).

This has an inescapable benchmark in our country. The EZLN in its communiqué of last March 16 critically denounces: “the frivolous irresponsibility and lack of seriousness of the bad governments and of the political class in its totality, who make use of a humanitarian problem to attack each other, instead of taking the measures necessary to confront that danger that threatens life without distinction of nationality, sex, race, language, religious belief, political militancy, social condition and history.” It also, calls for: “not dropping the fight against femicidal violence, continuing the struggle in defense of territory and Mother Earth, maintaining the struggle for los [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] and raising very high the banner of the struggle for humanity.”

Despite the visibly developing collapse, necro-political capitalism will seek to use the pandemic in favor of its class interests, with the complicity of the states at its service. It’s up to the peoples to resist together and to organize themselves for life and the future of coming generations.


[1] López y Rivas wrote a previous article about this same book, saying that it was circulating in Zapatista circles, which included Sup Galeano. An English translation of the title is Collapse: terminal capitalism, eco-social transition, eco-fascism.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, March 20, 2020

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee





2 Comments on “Necropolitics, collapse and the coronavirus

  1. Pingback: Lockdown Leviathan, Liberate Nature: A Report from Bangalore

  2. Pingback: Zapatista News & Analysis | Blog of Zapatista Support Group Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand

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