The biomedical regime that emerged in the wake of the Covid pandemic rested on a simple moral imperative: “protect the vulnerable.” Doing so required us to stay inside, wear the mask, and get vaccinated, regardless of the price in bodily integrity and autonomy. The cultural and social unity behind this rationale, the unanimous endorsement of the regime from antifa to multinational corporations, was impressive.
In Germany, for example, more than 150 major companies spontaneously changed their logos and brand slogans in support of the vaccine campaign. BMW celebrated “the joy of getting vaccinated.” “Vaccinate—I’m loving it,” emoted McDonald’s, while Nespresso went with “Get vaccinated. What else?” Political parties, university public-relations departments, media pundits, nongovernmental organizations, Trotskyist groups, you name it—all played their part in the mass-vaccination campaign by telling us (in a gentle way, of course) to get vaccinated—or else.
Since the early days of the pandemic, the terms “vulnerability,” “solidarity,” and “care,” already in circulation among performatively compassionate anti-Trump leftists, were consolidated into a new discursive currency, as a novel “specific type of political rationality,” as Michel Foucault described the logic of control societies. This isn’t surprising, given that the left, notwithstanding its protestations and permanent-outsider pose, has seized the commanding heights, especially over the past two and a half years.