Crisis Narratives

"Nasty, brutish, short": life of man in the perpetual state of war

Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war, as is of every man, against every man.

leviathanch. XIII.8

In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

leviathanch. XIII.9

No unity except in war?

Only in a time of crisis has unity sense, when individuals and peoples are bound to live in a ‘military alliance’ and many of our ideals must temporarily be suspended.

breakdown-of-nationsp. 113

Well, conveniently for this world system, its size continually manufactures its own crises, real (climate) and imagined (war on terror)... which also explains its longevity. Relevant: [(simulacra-and-simulation, shock-doctrine)].


A whole literary fiction of the festival grew up around the plague: suspended laws, lifted prohibitions, the frenzy of passing time, bodies mingling together without respect, individuals unmasked, abandoning their statutory identity and the figure under which they had been recognized, allowing a quite different truth to appear. But there was also a political dream of the plague, which was exactly its reverse: not the collective festival, but strict divisions; not laws transgressed, but the penetration of regulation into even the smallest details of everyday life through the mediation of the complete hierarchy that assured the capillary functioning of power; not masks that were put on and taken off, but the assignment to each individual of his 'true' name, his 'true' place, his 'true' body, his 'true' disease. The plague as a form, at once real and imaginary, of disorder had as its medical and political correlative discipline. Behind the disciplinary mechanisms can be read the haunting memory of 'contagions', of the plague, of rebellions, crimes, vagabondage, desertions, people who appear and disappear, live and die in disorder.


In order to make rights and laws function according to pure theory, the jurists place themselves in imagination in the state of nature; in order to see perfect disciplines functioning, rulers dreamt of the state of plague.

surveil-and-punishpt. 3.3

Tech profiting from the pandemic

Conspiracy theories in reaction to government controls during pandemic


surveil-and-punish Foucault, Michel. 2012. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. ↩︎ 1

breakdown-of-nations Kohr, Leopold. 1978. The Breakdown of Nations. Dutton. ↩︎ 1

leviathan Hobbes, Thomas. 2009. Leviathan. Project Gutenberg. ↩︎ 1 2