Note — Dec 06, 2020

The World Is a Factory Farm

Seen in → No.153

Source → publicbooks.org/the-world-is-a-factory-farm...

To follow the systems upon systems of the previous, the reliably excellent Xiaowei Wang with China’s factory farms, biosecurity, zoonotic diseases, global free trade, and a non too chilling transition from biosecure farm tech to human surveillance. Do stay to the end for the conclusion which includes a promising experiment in a Chinese village, “remixing and combining old techniques with new ways,” which gives us a glimpse of a world “without boundaries, without ambitions to scale—that reminds us that life outside [of these hulking systems of capital] is possible.”

As COVID-19 continues to unfold, it is rendered as a bounded problem, understood at the level of the city or the nation-state. Yet the need to think beyond boundaries and across scales—beyond the dichotomies of human versus nature, urban versus rural, individual versus collective—is more urgent than ever. […]

In a biosecure context, security is maintained through standardization, surveillance, and efficiency, all with the goal of allowing capital to continue to flow. It is a kind of security that disregards actual life. […]

But if biosecurity is an ideology, a practice, and an economy that makes the nation-state secondary to the forces of tech capital and technology, its recent appearance is testament to its own fragility. […]

Life outside requires a focus on mutual care; a vocabulary of tending to the future that we increasingly hear calls for; a kind of thoughtfulness that asks us to attend to the present moment and the communities we are accountable to.