by Patrick Neveling
Had there been a peak? That one decisive watershed when the touch of a deus-ex-machina’s hand causes commotion in the wheel of history? Certainly not; those were the chimera of the bad times past. Rajani, Pedroso, Fahmia, Maria and Ibrahimin shrugged. At times those outdated structures of relevance crept back into conversations. They knew how to laugh them off. Jokes about forged models of change made the round; bygone idiocies mistaken for alternative superstructures in 2020. Maria couldn’t resist and cracked that burner about a journal called HAU that had fronted colonialism’s collaborators and their first-half-of-the-twentieth-century ideas about gifting as best-possible prefigurations for humanity’s anarcho-neoliberal global encampment future. That’s how far it went this time ‘round, though. The tasks at hand were too important. Two weeks to go until the Annual Planetary Hydroxychloroquine Binge. Spread out in front of them lay the application forms for this year’s ritual festivities. Expressions of intent from individuals past the age of 37, who felt that it was high time for humanity to re-embrace reaction and reinvigorate racial capitalism. Reviews of applicants were delicate matters. The five of them would receive supervision throughout the process. Applicants ranted and threw insults at the world. 37 years was the threshold age when a human’s ideological conviction no longer alters. So they worked through the piles, arranged according to the applicants’ current places of residence in the five Supra-Regional Soviets (SRS) that fed into the Planetary Central Committee for Communism in the Present (PCCCP), and placed them in cohorts that would debate the future of humanity under their respective brand-choices of racial, neoliberal, developmentalist, postmodernist, and other capitalisms; either with the Hayek Hazards, the Trump Tricksters, the Mises Misanthropes, the Duterte Dullies, the Rostow Rampage, the Geertz Gutters, the Bolsonaro Bonksters, the Modi Mobsters, or the Erdogan Errorists.
Ibrahimin led the group of five. He was the one volunteer with experience from the previous year. Once the groups had been composed they would allocate ritual duties with credit card throws. Fahmia lost as her card splintered in no more than three pieces when it hit the wall. She would wear the Fucker Charleston costume–a reference to the ritual’s first accidental master, Tucker Carlson–and guide the contestants onto the rusty cruise ship anchored in the world’s only remaining container port in Kaohsiung, where they would stay until the last devotee of capitalism realized what horribly nonsensical ideas they floated. Currently there were thirteen cruise ships in Kaohsiung harbor.
Cruise ship in Kaohsiung Harbor, 2002 (CC BY-SA 3.0 license, source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22China_Sea_Discovery%22_-_Kaohsiung,_2002.jpg)
Over the years, the time that the cohorts of the Annual Planetary Hydroxychloroquine Binge ritual spent on the cruise liners had decreased continuously. This fueled lively exchanges within the Proletarian People’s Party for Planetary Progress (PPPPP) and its floating collective communication cells (CCC). Such cells gathered fortnightly, foremost to discuss and decide on the progression of experience-analysis-critique-action-programs across the four scalar structures of planetary eco-political economy (EPE). As most meetings went smoothly, conversations shifted to individual and collective manifestations of planetary matters. When these, on occasion, turned to the Annual Planetary Hydroxychloroquine Binge, speakers often emphasized that reduced ritual participation times were evidence that humans are inherently prone to reasoned and sociable, mutually supportive living in the present. Others would challenge this view and insist that the first cohort of Hydroxychloroquine Bingers had set an insurmountable record when they took twenty-two years and 222 days on the Make-America-Great-Again cruise ship before it dawned on the final ritualist remaining, the German journalist Ulf Poschardt, that his analogies between accelerationism, paranoid views of the world system, and German ex-Nazi high-speed automotive vehicles were futile and meaningless. By then, Poschardt had completed 147 full-length recitals of his books on the Porsche 911 and his neo-Deleuzian opus magnum On Sports Cars–printed by the ex-Althusserian, turn-of-the-millennium gentrifier-Guattarian Berlin-based Merve publishing house. After he uttered in exasperation, “How on earth did I get here?,” he requested protective custody placement as a welder for oversized cars demolition, back in the days known as Sports Utility Vehicles, on a recycling scrapyard near Stuttgart. Duterte, then President of the Philippines, had been the first to throw the towel after no more than eighteen readings of his secret police’s kill-list during the Covid-19-SARS-2 pandemic’s first wave in 2020. He had recently passed away following twenty years work on a Davao City garbage dump, where he had helped sorting through and removing the rubbish after the long-time dwellers had moved in to one of his many residences.
Repetition was at the heart of the annual ritual, more so than the hydroxychloroquine binged by the ritualists; those pills passed around in large glass bowls were placebos, not the real, super-dangerous, and potentially deadly stuff. In the years before 2020, seemingly critical journalists had treated the likes of Trump, Duterte, and Modi with mainstream bourgeois contempt. Instead of unmasking how their rhetoric built on repeated, nonsensical interjections of euphemistic adjectives, adverbs, and adverbials, journalists had approached interviews as means to expose an assumed stupidity and lack of factual knowledge. Time and again, interviewers from wanna-be leftist TV-stations had conducted themselves in shockingly arrogant ways, oblivious of their elitist upbringing within national economies ravaged by poverty and two-tier education systems that favored only the well-off. Workers in global factories had instead long realized that 21st century fascist rhetoric was populist only in the sense that it gave the disenfranchised the one sensation of assembly line manufacturing that sucked in the human brain; the sound of repetition. During the 2020 pandemic, when controls at the nodal points of global commodity chains were especially lax, workers across various chains managed to interlink their clandestine communication network at global logistics hubs. And so the plan for mundial upheaval was forged.
When the leaders of the Make-the-World-Great-Again-Alliance (MAWOGRAGAL), formed at the peak of the pandemic in November 2020, set off on their Conquest of the Oceans cruise, a group of Indian Ocean anti-systemic maritime traders, mislabeled as pirates back in the day, snuck on the ship and rolled out a meticulously planned program of mind restoration and media guerilla tactics. A Sulawesi bissu priest did an all-nighter with Tucker Carlson from FOX-news network, which included an angel-tongues kink and lesser known bondage rituals developed by East Indonesian highlanders during the heydays of anti-colonial insurgency after World War 2. For the next morning briefing, broadcast live to households across the globe, Cirque de Soleil stage-designers had decorated the cruise-liner’s studio with gigantic pills. As the looped sound of The Fall’s Repetition gained the upper hand over marauding crowds chanting the names and slogans of the fascist leaders assembled –
“President Carter loves repetition
Chairman Mao he dug repetition
Repetition in China
Repetition in America
Repetition in West Germany
We dig it, we dig it
We dig it, we dig it
Repetition, repetition, repetition
There is no hesitation
This is your situation
Continue a blank generation
Same old blank generation
Grooving blank generation
Swinging blank generation
Repetition, repetition, repetition….”
A well-prepped Carlson encouraged the MAWOGRAGAL leaders to show true leadership. Passing around bowls of hydroxychloroquine, his somber white-settler voice suggested; “Let’s show the anarcho-terrorist movements and their globalist protégés the power of real science? Let’s do this now and get it done for good.” With the first round of pills consumed, Carlson moved to the next item on the agenda; world domination. “Let’s find out who among these most brilliant humans on this greatest planet ever is yours greatest truly. Give us your best policy projects in nutshells, one at a time, round-and-round, again and again, until the others fall in line.”
And so it began. Over the following weeks, the Steve Bannons, Dominic Cummings, Ulf Poschardts, leaders of clerical-fascist religious cults, and many others took to the seas to join the cruise to show their message was superior among the greatest. At first, the cruise-ship had been too small to house the many arrivals and a floating armada of smaller and larger boats with loudspeakers blaring their captains’ worldviews sailed alongside and in and out of the harbors of Mombasa, Dar-es-Salam, Durban, and Cape Town. A storm in the southeastern Atlantic reduced the number of possible future combatants significantly. Across the planet, viewers, initially glued to their screens, turned to real-world improvements as exposure to repeated nonsense restored their minds. SUVs were banned, scrapped, or refurbished as public busses or temporary housing. Squatters repossessed office towers, and stock markets across the world turned into debating clubs.
Amidst a flurry of global revolutionary activities, media guerilla tactics shifted as anti-capitalist action reached world-system level. At the start of the eighth round of the MAGROWAL world tour, capitalism’s interstate-system was no more. The only discussants left in the studio were Poschardt, an obscure Mauritian preacher from the pentecostal Assembly of God church, and the World Bank Senior Economist for Africa, who had come in on a Hail Mary mission to turn the world into a special economic zone; not an especially special idea, it dawned on him as he volunteered to shred fifty years of World Bank special economic zone promotion brochures for future use as papier-maché in south Washington’s nurseries. The cruise ended with Poschardt’s move to Stuttgart. As dissent remained in certain hard-right corners of the planet, public announcements for a new cruise and a new debate went out. The Annual Planetary Hydroxychloroquine Binge ritual was born.
Fahmia’s Fucker Charleston costume was a bit tight, but she cherished the opportunity to restore the minds of another cohort of unwitting idiots. The studio was ready. And off they went.
Cite as: Neveling, Patrick. 2020. “The Annual Planetary Hyrdoxychloroquine Binge.” In “Post-Covid Fantasies,” Catherine Besteman, Heath Cabot, and Barak Kalir, editors, American Ethnologist website, 19 October 2020, [https://americanethnologist.org/features/pandemic-diaries/post-covid-fantasies/the-annual-planetary-hydroxychloroquine-binge]
Patrick Neveling (University of Bergen) is a social anthropologist and global historian who studies the vicissitudes of capitalism since 1800.