I don't agree with McLaverty-Robinson's conclusions here, but his articulation of Agamben's argument is spot on and important to understand. We have a responsibility to know how our foremost intellectuals, even (especially?) those we disagree with, respond to public crises. And Agamben is always rewarding to think both with/against:
In Medicine as Religion, Agamben argues that science, Christianity and capitalism have long coexisted as major worldviews. This coexistence has been broken by science. Science, or rather the part of it which takes the form of a religion, is now trying to reshape existence in an unheard-of way. The church and capitalism, and people who accept the lockdown, have ceded their own political and religious convictions along with their movement, friendships and loves. Medicine is in the forefront. It is part of the pragmatic rather than dogmatic wing of science. Agamben argues that medicine as a doctrine is “Gnostic-Manichean”. It relies on exaggerated dualisms. It takes on the eschatological task of Christianity, i.e. the salvation of the soul and the existential relationship to death. The resultant practices were formerly episodic. They have now taken over all of social life, and been made compulsory for everyone. Life becomes an “uninterrupted cultic celebration” of the medical faith, i.e. the struggle against the virus. The current crisis is like an indefinitely prolonged day of judgement. This is similar to earlier totalitarian tendencies in Christianity. However, like capitalism, science does not offer redemption. It only prolongs struggle. The current crisis is the culmination of the global civil war which has replaced world wars. It is clear to Agamben that this is cultic because other, greater causes of death are not treated similarly. For example, nobody has tried to legally impose healthy eating to reduce heart disease.
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