[NetBehaviour] Marching Plague: Germ Warfare and Global Public Health.
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Nov 6 11:54:40 CET 2006
Marching Plague, The sixth Critical Art Ensemble book offers a radical
reframing of the rhetoric surrounding germ warfare.
Author: Critical Art Ensemble
Publisher: Autonomedia, 2006.
Marching Plague, the long-awaited new book from Critical Art Ensemble,
examines the scientific evidence and the rhetoric surrounding biological
warfare, particularly the development of anthrax and other bio-weapons,
and makes a strong case against the likelihood of such weapons ever
being used in a terrorist situation. Studying the history and science of
such weapons, they conclude that for reasons of accuracy and potency,
biological weapons lack the efficiency required to produce the
widespread devastation typically associated with bioterrorism.
Why the public urgency around biowarfare, then, and why the channeling
of enormous resources into research and development of tools to counter
an imaginary threat? This is the real focus of Marching Plague: the
deconstruction of an exceedingly complex political economy of fear,
primarily supporting biowartech development and the militarization of
the public sphere. The book addresses the following questions:
* Why is bioterrorism a failed military strategy?
* Why is it all but useless to terrorists?
* How have preparedness efforts been detrimental to public health policy?
* What institutions benefit from the cultivation of biofear?
* Why does the diplomatic community fail to confront this problem?
The book concludes with a brief examination of the actual crisis in
global public health, arguing for the redirection of health research
away from the military, and promoting a number of strategies for
civilian-based preparedness and education.
The conditions from which Marching Plague emerged are nothing short of
bizarre. Originally scheduled to appear in 2004, the manuscript was in
the possession of Steve Kurtz—one of the text's collective authors—when
he came under the intense scrutiny of the Justice Department and the FBI
for suspected biological terror crimes. Made paranoid by their own
rhetoric, the Feds failed to tell the difference between an art piece
scheduled for installation at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary
Art and something more nefarious. Kurtz' house was sealed off, his
research was taken (including the manuscript and his computers), and his
colleagues and publisher were subpoenaed, all for some trumped-up
charges of mail fraud. Two appendices in the book comment on the
political ramifications of Kurtz' trial, and what it means for the
culture of dissent in a time of authoritarian political life.
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