Review of CAE's Marching Plague by Randall Packer

Randall Packer:

+Commissioned by

Review of Critical Art Ensemble's
Marching Plague: Germ Warfare and Global Public Health (Autonomedia, 2006),
by Randall Packer

[....] Marching Plague: Germ Warfare and Global Public Health, Critical Art Ensemble's latest book, functions as a profound account of the artistic struggle to challenge the political status quo in times of crisis. The task of writing the book was indeed a heroic one. After the original material was confiscated by the FBI, CAE went through the painstaking task of reconstructing the research, a slow and tedious process made more difficult with Kurtz's defense of his legal case.

Nevertheless, Marching Plague was completed, albeit in a revised form, documenting the CAE argument that the government's use of funds for germ warfare research is suspect, and is based primarily on deceptive reports and scare tactics. They contend that the military's research in bio-terrorism is a tremendous waste of public funds that diverts money from the more urgent need to "defeat diseases such as malaria and HIV that prematurely end of the lives of millions of people each year."

CAE carefully builds its argument as to the limited military effectiveness of harmful germs such as smallpox, anthrax, plague, etc. They cite the history of their use, the relatively small number of fatalities, and the few incidents of successful implementation. They provide abundant evidence that collateral damage and the complexity of discharging the toxins into the environment underscores their claim that germ warfare is a "a burning excess that in the end does little more than terrorize a nation's own citizenry."