One of the most effective strategies put in place by the strong powers during each emergency consists in blaming people, to obtain from them the internalization of the dominant narrative on what happens, in order to avoid any rebellion against the established order. It’s a strategy widely implemented in the last decade with the shock of public debt, presented to people as the consequence of senseless lives, lived beyond their means, without any responsibility towards future generations. The aim was to prevent frustration over the worsening living conditions of large sections of the population from turning into anger toward a model which had placed the interests of financial lobbies and banks above people’s rights.
It’s a strategy that is now unfolding in the most critical phase of the epidemic produced by the virus. All this within a health system progressively privatized and, even when public, subjected to a corporate twist with the obsession with balancing the budget. Can an economic-social model — entirely founded on the priority of corporate profits and on the pre-eminence of private initiative — be questioned, with the risk that the entire house of cards of the doctrine on which it is based will collapse? From the point of view of strong powers, it is unacceptable — After the Italian National Institute of Health reported that the deaths from Coronavirus – that is, not affected by any other important diseases – would be only three, Italian journalist Mario Giordano let himself go to a real hymn to disinformation by saying publicly that the Institute would be wrong, from a communicative point of view, to provide this kind of data because it would generate disorientation in the “simple persons” who have been recommended to hole up in their homes as if they were at war. Unfortunately, the journalist is not a lone voice, but rather the spokesman for a way of making news that has taken hold in Italy and in other countries for some time.
Here comes the phase of blaming citizens:It’s not the health system, defunded and privatized, that doesn’t work. It’s not the mad decrees that, on the one hand, keep factories open — and even incentivize their presence at work with a bonus — and, on the other, reduce transport, making them both become virus spreading places. It’s the irresponsible citizens who behave badly, going out for a walk or taking a run in the park, to affect the maintenance of an efficient system.
This modern, but very ancient, plague-spreader hunt is particularly powerful, because it intertwines with the individual need to give a name and a surname to the anguish of having to fight with an invisible enemy: this is why it identifies a guilty — “irresponsible” —, building them around a media campaign that doesn’t respond to any evident reality, allows to divert an anger destined to grow with the extension of the restriction measures, avoiding that it turns into a political revolt against a model that has forced us to compete until exhaustion, without guaranteeing protection to any of us.
“One or the other,” said the journalist. Once you have chosen one, you can’t go back. His words kind of remind the ones projected on the facade of a building by the visual artist Matías Segura, in the Santiago protests, last October. They referred to Normality in the Chilean way of life as the main problem. “No volveremos a la normalidad porque la normalidad era el problema — We won’t get back to Normality, because Normality was the problem.” Today that thought seems to refer to the whole world.