Spike-Endowed Global Civilization as COVID-19
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 20 Apr 2020
Humanity “Bristles” as the World “Burns”
20 Apr 2020 – There is intensive research by specialists worldwide into the nature of COVID-19 as a miniscule virus which is currently threatening global society in all its magnitude — to the point of evoking an armed response (Manlio Dinucci, NATO in Arms to “Fight Coronavirus”, Global Research, 9 April 2020). As a virus it is however necessarily invisible to unaided human eyes. Its existence can only be inferred by its effects.
The following argument explores the sense in which the very form of the virus effectively mirrors the nature of global civilization at this time. To an interesting degree it could be asked whether COVID-19 “is” global civilization — or whether global civilization “is” COVID-19. Like it or not, does the coronavirus effectively define the identity of global civilization as humanity has chosen to engender it?
The argument is developed from the extent to which global civilization can be understood as endowed with a wide variety of “spikes”, just as COVID-19 is characterized by a widely depicted set of protein spikes by which it interacts so aggressively with human cells — more aggressively than most viruses. The purpose of this argument is to explore that variety of behavioural spikes as a means of understanding how global civilization indulges in an habitual pattern of self-inflicted injury with which such spikes can be fruitfully associated. This exercise is necessarily speculative in quest of imaginative ways in which the tragic situation can be understood otherwise.
In the case of global civilization, with respect to such “spikes”, it is argued here that it could be said that humanity “bristles” while the world “burns”. Aside from its appropriateness to the challenge of global warming, this usefully recalls the famous reference to the Emperor Nero “fiddling” while Rome burned, currently compared to the actions of President Donald Trump (Maddy Shaw Roberts, Did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned, and why are people linking this to Donald Trump? Classicfm, 10 March 2020). Somewhat more relevant to the following argument, it is widely recognized that the acclaimed leader of the world’s superpower effectively “bristles” in reaction to any criticism (Trump bristles amid questions about testing, states’ supply requests, PBS News Hour, 30 March 2020; Trump bristles at reporter’s questions on Ukraine, Reuters, 3 October 2019).
With leaders of other countries, institutions, religions and disciplines readily recognized as “bristling” in a similar manner in response to criticism of the principles they uphold, the question here is whether the “spikes” with which this is associated can be understood as a widespread behavioural pattern whose form is strangely shared to a degree with the coronavirus. What other forms of psycho-social behaviour could then be usefully seen as taking the form of “spikes” — even to the extent of being recognized as such with the use of that term? Is global civilization as vulnerable to such spiking behaviour as it is to COVID-19?
From a more fundamentally radical perspective, in its current condition, is global civilization readily to be understood as COVID-19? With the coronavirus understood as a metaphor, and following the insight of Gregory Bateson that “we are our own metaphor”, is our identity indeed strangely entangled with the form of the coronavirus (Mary Catherine Bateson, Our Own Metaphor: a personal account of a Conference on the Effects of Conscious Purpose on Human Adaptation., 1972)?
The argument here follows from an earlier exploration of whether imaginative engagement with the form of the coronavirus is preferable to a fearful cognitive mindset inhibiting emergence of new thinking enabling a more fruitful response (Reimagining Coronavirus in 3D as a Metaphor of Global Society in Distress: crowning pattern that connects spiky organisms, satellite constellations, nuclear explosions, and egomania? 2020l; Cognitive Engagement with Spike Dynamics of a Polyhedral Coronavirus: alternation between assertive arrays and systemic patterns of comprehensible coherence, 2020). The images and animation there helped to frame the question regarding the appropriate form of global organization and knowledge architecture required in a response to any pandemic — and any crisis of other crises.
It was suggested that there were insights to be gained from the form of the coronavirus in 3D. In particular this highlighted the possible isomorphism between the configuration of spikes on the viral form and psychosocial forms potentially characterized in terms of “spikes” . This approach was framed as consistent with the original inspiration of the Society for General Systems Research. The argument through visualization was then further developed (Coronavirus — Global Plan, Doughnut, Torus, Helix and/or Pineapple? 2020; Engaging Playfully with Coronavirus through “Organizing” Global Governance? 2020).
With governments placing their countries on a wartime footing and framing the response to COVID-19 as a war, it is appropriate to recognize what amounts to a paradigm shift into memetic warfare (Noopolitics and memetic warfare within the noosphere, 2014). This is understood as a form of information warfare and psychological warfare involving the propagation of memes on social media through platform weaponization — as argued from a NATO perspective (Jeff Giesea, It’s time to embrace memetic warfare, NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, 2020; Brian J. Hancock Memetic Warfare: the future of war, Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin, April-June 2010).
Exploration of the pandemic from a memetic perspective is especially relevant given the obvious importance attached to the genetic remedies from which memetic insights originally derived (Memetic and Information Diseases in a Knowledge Society, 2008). This is especially evident given the recognized level of misinformation inhibiting a coherent response as articulated by the UN Secretary-General (Secretary-General’s video message on COVID-19 and Misinformation, 14 April 2020; Hatred going viral in ‘dangerous epidemic of misinformation’ during COVID-19 pandemic, UN News, 14 April 2020). The coronavirus and its mutations therefore merit recognition as being entangled in a complex manner with global civilization and its mutation — if only in cognitive terms.
Tags: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Earth, Humanity, World
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