2021 should have been the year in which we’d recover from Covid crisis. It is instead going down as the year in which turbo-individualism is moving on to its final, paradoxical and almost parodical form: it’s finally blooming into anarchism.
Looking at the process under the lens of last century’s politics, this is at the same time ironic, and beautifully mind boggling.
Europe came up with the Idea of a Green Pass, a Digital COVID Certificate first introduced in France, then since July 1st across the EU.
The No-Vax Movement suddently had a new enemy, and merged with the group often referred to as No-Pass.
Between the two there are differences and it could be argued that some people who would like the vaccine but cannot get it and therefore cannot get a green pass, are being pushed at the margins of society. Some examples are people with immunodeficiencies, or without full residential rights. Their stances are very different than those of No-Vax.
To be realistic, the vast majority of the No-Pass are also No-Vax. No-Vax who are deemed to be at least in the order of 10% to 20% of the population, and by themselves represent a portion of the population vaste enough to compromise the idea of herd immunity.
The confusion here is that -since we are in a democracy- everyone should be able to decide for themselves, or -in other words- do with their body as they please.
As you can imagine, this is where the title comes to play: democracy is not anarchy, and doing with one’s body as one’s please is not a prerogative nor a prerequisite of democracy.
As a general rule it is however true that in democracy compared to a dictatorship, the accent lies more on individual rights and less on the society, which is what allowed us to recognise -for example- that people should be able to change their gender -do with their body as they please- and still be respected as humans and have rights as citizens in the same way as everyone else. At least in theory.
This works relatively well because a transexual person is doing something that is not directly affecting anyone else (other than psychologically anyways); in other words, if transsexualism was infective and airborne, we’d be having a very different conversation, and the rights of transsexuals would be meeting much stronger ostracism.
Going back to vaccinations after having briefly introduced a parallelism with transsexualism is a biased -but fun- way to introduce the next point:
From a political stand point, the No-Vax community is receiving support primarily from the right-winged parties of the west.
Doing with one’s body “whatever they want” is finally a principle that those parties deem worth defending.
Pains to notice that they are defending it agains a vaccination that could literally save millions of lives, and -as much as I try to keep a bi-partisan stance- I am finding it difficult to imagine a right-wing politician defending the same right of doing with one’s body “whatever they want” when this right is not killing anyone, but is deliberately putting under discomfort the conservative idea of what’s “normal”.
Leaving polemics on a side, this is not without beauty when looked under the quadrimensional lens of what happened to the right wing parties in the past decade.
From liberalist, globalist, conservative and security-oriented, in just a decade we now see a completely pivoted set of values in which each of the values above has been replaced respectively by protectionism (trade wars, border taxes), nationalism (anti-immigration), and individualist-oriented almost to the point of supporting semi-anarchic stands, witch poses an obvious exception to the principle of security-first.
It is interesting to watch all this as part of one same scene that is mutating organically.
In view of how Trump left his presidency -just to make one eminent example- it’s pointless to pretend that there aren’t any anti-democratic tendencies in the current right-wing populism.
Keeping this into consideration, and also remembering that destabilisation is an old ally of anti-democratic agendas, we can’t but take note of who is currently fomenting over-individualism and semi-anarchic ideas, while proposing populist solutions such as protectionism and nationalism.
Shifting towards the far right always required incorporation of ideas from the left. Mussolini and Hitler both had strong references to socialism in their ideology.
Today we can already point out that anarchism is often identified with leftist ideologies, and protectionism allows for an agenda in which the working class can benefit from Keynesian policies.
In practice, the right wing populism is also incorporating ideas from the left.
Democracy may not be a value in itself, and there may be room for a discussion over whether it’s the best form of government in our time. It is obvious that in our democratic “regime”, the discussion can only be exquisitely theoretical, as any system will do whatever is possible to survive, and it’s obvious that democracy and totalitarianism cannot coexist. In this respect, it should not come as a surprise that no populist in their right mind would openly admit that they are toying with ant-democratic ideas.
However for those who have at heart democracy, we should not really fool ourselves.
The time for bipartisan optimism is over: the right wing is not preparing for a relay race with leftist parties, and as much as we still can hope to go down that path, it is now becoming more and more obvious that there’s no communion of intentions in that respect.
The right wing populists know perfectly well that democracy is not anarchism, but by playing with the confusion, they are setting the ground and probably getting ready for a time in which a third anti-democratic way will become more and more desirable by many.