Regulating viral capitalism: four stages in a pathology of accumulation

Author: David Whyte1
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  • 1 Queen Mary University of London, , UK
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This paper analyses the ecology of SARS-CoV-19 as a phenomenon of capitalist political economy. It argues that the biological conditions that allowed the virus to emerge must be understood within a broader set of concrete political and economic conditions. At every stage in the emergence and spread of the virus, we can observe its mediation through the processes of capital accumulation. The paper therefore argues that the emergence and the spread of SARS-CoV-19 can be understood as a ‘pathology of accumulation’. Regimes of capital accumulation always depend upon complex regimes of regulation. Wherever capital seeks to accumulate, it must be nurtured and supported by states. The rate and scale of capital accumulation depends on how access to common resources, labour, public wealth and public infrastructures is guaranteed, regulated and policed by states. The paper therefore seeks to analyse the regimes of accumulation that produce zoonotic pathogens like SARS-CoV-19, across four ‘moments’ or stages: release (in predatory practices of capitalist development); amplification (in the upscaling of industrial farming); spread (in sites of social concentration); and medical intervention (in the commodification of testing and vaccination regimes).

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  • 1 Queen Mary University of London, , UK

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