"The past century was an immunological age. The epoch sought to distinguish clearly between inside and outside, friend and foe, self and other. The Cold War also followed an immunological pattern. Indeed, the immunological paradigm of the last century was commanded by the vocabulary of the Cold War, an altogether military dispositive. Attack and defense determine immunological action. The immunological dispositive, which extends beyond the strictly social and onto the whole of communal life, harbors a blind spot: everything foreign is simply combated and warded off. The object of immune defense is the foreign as such. Even if it has no hostile intentions, even if it poses no danger, it is eliminated on the basis of its Otherness

Recent times have witnessed the proliferation of discourses about society that explicitly employ immunological models of explanation. However, the currency of immunological discourse should not be interpreted as a sign that society is now, more than eve¡, organized along immunological lines. When a paradigm has come to provide an object of reflection, it often means that its demise is at hand. Theorists have failed to remark that, for some time now, a paradigm shift has been underway. The Cold War ended precisely as this paradigm shift was taking place. l More and more, contemporary society is emerging as a constellation that escapes the immunological scheme of organization and defense altogether. It is marked by the disappearance of otherness and foreignness. Otherness represents the fundamental category of immunology. Every immunoreaction is a reaction to Otherness. Now, however, Otherness is being replaced with difference, which does not entail immunoreaction. Post immunological - indeed, postmodern - difference does not make anyone sick. In terms of immunology, it represents the Same Such difference lacks the sting of foreignness, as into were, which would provoke a strong immunoreaction. Foreignness itself is being deactivated into a formula of consumption. The alien is giving way to the exotic. The tourist travels through it. The tourist- that is, the consumer-is no longer an immunological subject."

detail from the book The Burnout Society by Byung-Chul Han

Judit Lilla Molnár

03.05.2020 - Immunological age