Beverley Skeggs: Necroeconomics: How Necro Legacies Help Us Understand the Value of Death and the Protection of Life During the COVID-19 Pandemic. [Abstract]
The paper offers an analysis of how three historical legacies shaped the context for responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in England. They are firstly, necrospeculation, the ability to turn destructiveness into profit and produce new capitalist value. The second is the legacy of thanatocracy, the enactment of mass and organised killing as an official policy of the state. The third necro legacy, social reproduction, is not just about violent death and accumulation, but also the state’s divestment of responsibility to women for the protection of life itself. What these violent legacies have in common as they entwine throughout history is the continuing relationship between property, accumulation, and disposable peoples, showing how economic and moral value is both captured and erased through abstract classifications of class, race, and gender. Bringing these legacies on a journey, we will see how they are modified and repeated in the present. Death during COVID-19 was used as an opportunity for speculation, consolidation of political power, and manipulation of the economy in the interests of the super-rich, government ministers, their friends, and the virus. True to neo-liberal philosophy, they “never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Their predatory practices led to many people being callously disregarded, neglected, and unprotected, exposing those considered to be surplus to state and capital requirements. The pandemic revealed that the social contract was broken as the matter of state responsibility for protection of the people was transferred by the government to individuals. The paper will also show how some groups attempted to protect others and save lives.
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