the pandemic age has its origins in neoliberal agribusiness

A really important argument from Richard Seymour’s latest Patreon blog post:

The geo-economics of particle conveyance, is an industrial byproduct of agribusiness. The concentration and centralisation of agricultural capital results in unprecedentedly large farm sizes, with big, sedentary animal populations intensifying virulence. The imperative to streamline production where profit margins are often very tight, results in working conditions where virulence and lethality increase, as long as the costs can be externalised. The poultry industry, for example, is a container for what Marius Gilbert calls “conversion events”, making avian flu strains more harmful and infectious. The same applies to swine farming. The creation of global value-chains linking a patchwork of sites of production and sale, maximises the microbial repertoire of cheap food. For example, the hotdog you get from a stand could contain pieces of meat from thirty different animals. This is an evolutionary pressure-cooker, incentivising rapid mutation and selecting for virulence. This means we are at the beginning, not the end, of the pandemic age. Since the year 2000 we have seen, adding to the already devastating HIV pandemic, the emergence of a sequence of viral threats: SARS (2003), swine flu (2009), MERS (2012), Ebola (2014), Zika (2016), and of course the ongoing threat of bird flu. The chances that late capitalism will produce and efficiently disseminate a much more lethal viral strain than Covid-19, are very high. Some degree of de-globalisation and re-regulation is an inevitable response to this. Likewise, states will be compelled to build more resilience into formerly lean reproduction systems: ‘nudge’ epidemiology, just-in-time hospital provision, and get-stuffed-grandma social care, won’t be adequate.

And in the destruction of natural habitats: