Syria-ISIS-Grenfell-COVID-Trump. Guantanamo-Aylan-Harambe-Begum-George Floyd. Ten horrible years. Ten shocking events. One word: Bioviolence. The story of our decade for anyone asking WTF just happened?
Summer 2021. A week after ‘Freedom Day,’ in the midst of the ‘pingdemic.’ The British nation is in a state of existential anxiety of Shakespearean proportions. To mask or not to mask, to app or not to app.
In light of this national indecision, it seems a legitimate question to ask: Why can’t the powers that be just make us do what they want during the Covid pandemic? To answer this question we must tumble down the rabbit-hole, and submit to the Alice in Wonderland logic of Bioviolence. So grab your mask, your phone and your vaccination passport, and jump.
There is no doubt, one day, we will look back on the second decade of this century and conclude, in sober reflection, that it was one of remarkable conflict and tension. Bioviolence recounts the history of these troubled ten years as the author lives through them. He brings into feverish focus our dystopian zeitgeist via the lens of ten different stories, each of which presents a hidden kind of control, coercion, violence or harm.
These stories will be horribly familiar: Grenfell, Aylan, Harambe, ISIS, Trump! Raqqa, Begum, Guantanamo, George Floyd, Covid! All examples of what Prof. Watkin calls Bioviolence or how the powers that be protect, enhance and extend your life, but in return you need to give them the keys to your house, your body and your data. Not because they threaten or force you, more because they watch you, regulate you, nudge you, indulge you even. Bioviolence tells the story of how this new kind of ‘kind’ control took hold of our lives, our states and our social media accounts, and over time came to be ‘cruel’. It also tells us what we can do about it.
In a sense, the book is the ultimate self-help manual, combining deep thinking with great writing unleashing a razor-sharp wit, to cut through the fake news, to show you that these truths of ours are not self-evident, and, knowing that, it is not too late for us to choose other ones.
Bioviolence: How the powers that be make us do what they want, William Watkin, Routledge 2021 £24.99
“On the 13th March 2020, three middle-aged, white men stepped up to old-fashioned podia in a wood-panelled chamber reminiscent of their august boarding schools and delivered a message somewhat akin to the end of the world. Like doctors surrounding a brave, yet fatal, case, their tone was measured, clipped by Eton and softened by the emollient demands of Whitehall machinations. The whole performance with graphs and whatnot was boffinish, typical of a British understatement— I say chaps, I am sorry, but you are all going to cop it. And so began the policy that never was, that we came to call herd immunity...”