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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.66, No.2, 407 ~ 414, 2020
Virus-ex-machina and Political Revolution
Woosung Kang
Slavoj Žižek’s Pandemic!: Covid-19 Shakes the World is his latest intervention into the politics of virus and disaster. Pandemic! is the collection of essays written in the middle of viral outbreak, a philosophical and political reflection on the pandemic itself and its global implication in the post-viral era to come. Žižek recommends that what is to be done is not to panic or be disappointed at the irrevocability of the normal: that normality is actually what produced the viral outbreak. Throughout this book, Žižek is both a theorist of ecological justice insisting on the human culpability as the main culprit of the viral disaster and a political materialist who never tires himself of configuring the viability of a certain kind of communism beyond neoliberal capitalism in the post-viral global world. In this respect, virus should not be dealt with as enemy, malignant bacteria like cancer cells: the viral problem is totally cultural and up to the host organism. This problématique continues in his theoretical polemics with Han Byung-chul’s myopic diagnosis of the hard reality under capitalism and Giorgio Agamben’s pre-meditated, unrealistic critique of the possibility of biopolitics and “surveillance” in the state-driven quarantine and lockdown. Žižek dreams in this reflection on the signs of the times of viral catastrophe the appearance of new form of communism or “co-immunism,” which will be radically different from the Chinese authoritarian state-capitalism and the neoliberal re-normalization of disaster capitalism.
Key Words
Pandemic, Covid-19, the normal, biopolitics, communism
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