War-zones and battle-fronts / Dear Bassel Khartabil / Free culture

Dear Bassel Khartabil,

responding to your call in this climate of urgency has been a liberating experience.

Your work is especially heartening in the midst of an international climax that defies our previous definitions of conflict, and our understanding of its geographies.

I was reminded of the significance of this in the emergency room yesterday: I was there to handle an injury of my son, and a nurse and a doctor, perhaps inspired by the way that I look, each started giving me a small lecture about the dangers of ‘this new anti-vaccination trend’. I assured them that my son has had the tetanus shot so that we could get on with what was important, but I was left with a nagging feeling. The nagging feeling went away when I later realised what was necessary: We must take the time to ‘talk back to power’ – we must be battle-ready and mindful enough to succinctly explain even in the emergency room, that the anti-vaccination trend is an inevitable reaction to the closed culture of multinational pharmaceutical plutocracy, and that the real problem is the way medical technology –and so much more, including public space, increasingly including water, as well as access to nature and its knowledge– is patented, trademarked, controlled, kept out of the commons, and exploited for the wrong purposes. This is what Silvia Federici discusses as the war-health-educational industrial complex, and this is something that must be taken down all at once. And we don’t have to be in war-zones to do it.

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