It’s All Just Beginning | The Point Magazine
“I am not at all certain that my university in Paris will be open for business when it comes time to reinstitute my salary in June, which I had voluntarily suspended in order to take a year-long fellowship in New York. I am not at all sure that a few months from now the world is going to be the sort of place where a citizen of one country can expect to resume his public function in another country’s education system. I am not at all sure universities are going to be the sort of place where one can, again, get together with others in a room and deign to speak with them of what is beautiful and true. Meanwhile, my mother is in cancer treatment in California, and I fear I may never see her again. Until a few days ago my sister, a glacial marine geoscientist, was stuck in unexpectedly thick ice, on an icebreaker too small to break it, in the ocean somewhere off the coast of Antarctica; now her international crew is floating again, uncertain how they will get back to the Northern Hemisphere in a world of quarantines, closed borders and canceled flights, but still just happy to be back on the open sea. My wife is here with me on a tourist visa that will soon expire. We do not know what things will be like in New York when that happens, or whether there might be an exemption for foreigners who overstay their visas only because they are unable to leave what might by then be a fully locked-down city. She has an elderly grandmother in Europe. Should she leave now to be with her, while she still can and while her papers are still valid? What would become of me, if she were to go?

These are some of the questions we find ourselves asking right now. They are not exceptional, among the billions of small tragedies this pandemic has churned up. But they are mine. I have often wondered what life would be like for the survivors of a nuclear war, and in these fleeting recollections of the old world—there used to be Starbucks and barber shops, there used to be a subway I’d get on to go to the library, there used to be embrassades—I feel like I am gaining a small glimpse of that.

I find that I am generally at peace, and that the balance between happiness and sadness on any given day is little different from what it always has been for me. I find that there is liberation in this suspension of more or less everything. In spite of it all, we are free now. Any fashion, sensibility, ideology, set of priorities, worldview or hobby that you acquired prior to March 2020, and that may have by then started to seem to you cumbersome, dull, inauthentic, a drag: you are no longer beholden to it. You can cast it off entirely and no one will care; likely, no one will notice. Were you doing something out of mere habit, conceiving your life in a way that seemed false to you? You can stop doing that now. We have little idea what the world is going to look like when we get through to the other side of this, but it is already perfectly clear that the “discourses” of our society, such as they had developed up to about March 8 or 9, 2020, in all their frivolity and distractiousness, have been decisively curtailed, like the CO2 emissions from the closed factories and the vacated highways.

Not to downplay the current tragedy—as I’ve already acknowledged, it is already affecting me personally in deep and real ways—but I take it that this interruption is a good thing.

The interruption is not total, of course. Normies seem particularly fond of toilet-paper joke memes for the moment, while the extremely online instinctively disdain them. Both the normies and the extremely online are, as they have been since 2016, far too reliant on the language of “apocalypse” and “end times.” These are not the end times; even a nuclear war would not be the end times for all the creatures on earth, among which there will always be at least some extremophiles to relish any new arrangement of the ecosystem. What this is, rather, is a critical shift in the way we think about the human, the natural and the overlap between these.

I have said that we can all just stop doing whatever we were doing before that may have come to ring false to us, and that that is liberating. In my own case, I was working on a book (one that developed, curiously, out of an essay of mine, entitled “It’s All Over,” posted here at The Point a little over a year ago) that was going to articulate how the internet is destroying the fabric of human community. But for the life of me I cannot, in the present circumstances, see the internet as anything other than the force that is holding that fabric together. I used to bemoan virtue signaling. I look at the newly assembled vanguard of the all-volunteer forces of “Wash Your Hands” Twitter, and though I can still discern that tone that used to get me so bent out of shape (“Listen up y’all, today I’m going to break down the virus’s lipid envelope for you”), now I just smile and think: “Good for them. Good for Dr. Brianna Ph.D., and all her loyal followers.”

So I’m going have to rethink that particular book project. But that follows from the much more general point that we are all going to have to rethink everything. One thing that is certain is that you are now free to put down whatever cool theorist your peers once convinced you you had to read. None of that discourse is any more germane to thinking about the present situation than, say, Robert Burton, or Galen, or St. Theresa of Ávila. Read whatever you want to read now, and don’t be distracted by those writers who are so set in their ways that they know no other strategy than to recover formulae devised back in the old world, and to retry them in the new one, like stubborn Norsemen struggling to graze cattle in Greenland, when the world they find themselves in demands they learn to hunt seals. Thus Slavoj Žižek is now blogging for RT, the Russian state propaganda network, about how the virus puts him in mind of Tarantino films, while Giorgio Agamben is pushing a species of Trumpian doubt-mongering by claiming that the “disproportionate reaction” to the pandemic is nothing more than an assertion of authoritarian biopolitics. Honestly, at this point whoever’s left of the vanguard of continental philosophy should probably just start hawking men’s vitamin supplements on late-nite TV.

These are not the end times, I mean, but nor are they business as usual, and we would do well to understand that not only is there room for a middle path between these, but indeed there is an absolute necessity that we begin our voyage down that path. To the squealing chiliasts and self-absorbed presentists, indulging themselves with phrases like “the end of the world,” I say: “Did it never dawn on you that all of human history has just been one partial apocalypse after another?” And to the business-as-usual mandarins I say: “Thank you for your service in the glorious battles of the past.””

“Our human exceptionalism has been, over these past centuries, the blunt and unwieldy pitchfork with which we sought to drive nature out. But as Horace warned us, it will always find its way back. At just this moment, when we had almost taken to using the secondary and recent sense of “viral” as if it were the primary and original one, a real virus came roaring back into history. We created a small phenomenal world for ourselves, with our memes and streams and conference calls. And now—the unfathomable irony—that phenomenal world is turning out to be the last desperate repair of the human, within a vastly greater and truer natural world that the human had nearly, but not quite, succeeded in screening out.”
justinehsmith  2020  coronavirus  corvid-19  morethanhuman  multispecies  pandemics  carbonemissions  change  climatechange  purpose  whatmatters  slow  human  humans  exceptionalism  nature  zizek  giorgioagamben  liberation  endtimes  apocalypse  ideology  virtuesignaling 
23 hours ago
Question Everything! The Women of Black Mountain College Digital Exhibition - Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
Freedom to walk barefoot, to wear old clothes and have long hair, to have a sex life – but beyond all that to have a freedom the other side of which was (is) responsibility. And that had two sides: a responsibility to listen to the inner voice and labor to follow one’s own deepest and truest desires, and a responsibility to give to, and not just take from the school which made such choices possible for us in that place. – Mary Fitton Fiore (Alumna, 1949-1956)

In the midst of modernism, when the foundations of culture were under question, prompted by war and global crises, women were able to make space for themselves in mediums, movements, and institutions where previously there was little or none. Black Mountain College (1933-1957) was a place where women were expected to question things, to think critically, and to explore their own self-determinacy. Each story is her own, with glimpses to be seen through her words, images, and ongoing work.

They came to Black Mountain College from diverse circumstances and backgrounds: as refugees escaping persecution in Europe; as promising students who wanted and needed something more; as educators seeking a new way to teach; as resourceful staff looking for meaningful work; as poets, potters, painters, and performers searching for peers and mentors. Where some found refuge and community, others found great personal and professional challenges. For many, their time at Black Mountain provided a critical catalyst for growth and a profound connection to something substantive and life-altering…freedom.

Establishing themselves in New York, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Boston and beyond, they carried the Black Mountain spirit with them as artists, writers, scientists, mothers, educators, and mentors. This new generation went forward with a strong sense of what it meant to be a woman in the 20th century, forging new paths for themselves and those who followed. Question Everything! looks at some of these women of Black Mountain College, recognizing their significance to the history of the college and beyond.

Curated by Kate Averett + Alice Sebrell

This exhibition received support from The Beattie Foundation, John Byrd + Ellen Clarke, Marion L. Johnson Church, Mr. + Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation, Thomas Frank, and the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

Special thanks to: BMCM+AC Board of Directors, The Britton family, Connie Bostic, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Sarah Downing, Johanna Engebrecht, Katherine French, Suzi Gablik, Lorrie Goulet, Rob Hazelgrove + Dan McLawhorn, Hudson + Terry Lanier, Rebecca Lowell, Michael Manes, The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation, Donna Marie Perkins, Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Jo Sandman, Susan Rhew Design, Heather South, Western Regional Archives, and Erika Zarow."
bmc  blackmountaincollege  2020  women  natashagoldowskirenner  trudeguermonprez  hazellarsenarcher  mcrichards  suzigablik  barbarastonerice  maryfittonfiore  wandaleaaustin  mariannepreger-simon  karenkarnes  hildamorley  dorothearockburne  gwendolynknightlawrence  susanweil  josandman  corneliagoldsmith  nellgoldsmith  atigropiusforbergjohansen  faithmurraybritton  mimsihvonen  elainedekooning  lorekaddenlindenfeld  ursulamamlok  annialbers  ruthasawa  ingeborglauterstein  parsylynchwood  fanniehillsmith  mollygregory  cynthiahomire  evelynwilliamsanselevicius  susanmoore  elizabethjannerjahn  violafarber  patpasslof  maryparkswashington  bettybrett  art  arts  performance  history  craft  crafts  dance  music  photography  weaving  theater  ceramics  sculpture 
2 days ago
The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy (Book) - Stephanie Kelton
"Vice-president Dick Cheney famously boasted, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” He was wrong.

Deficits do matter, but not the way we’ve been taught to believe. We’ve been told that China is our banker and that Social Security and Medicare are pushing us into crisis. We’re told the U.S. could end up like Greece and that deficits will burden future generations. These are all myths.

Deficits can be used for good or evil. They can enrich a small segment of the population, driving income and wealth inequality to new heights, while leaving millions behind. They can fund unjust wars that destabilize the world and cost millions their lives. Or they can be used to sustain life and build a more just economy that works for the many and not just the few."
books  economics  stephaniekelton  deficits  government  policy  2020 
2 days ago
Reading List | From the Archive: Readings for a Pandemic
"Here at Places, in the Bay Area, we are sheltering in place, and adjusting to changed rhythms and new anxieties as we communicate via Skype or Zoom, check the news obsessively, and find new forms of social solidarity in the time of social distancing.

We have turned to our archive to consider how the coronavirus crisis is affecting the ways in which we think about the social and material infrastructures that shape our lives. And as we read, we have also been prompted to think ahead, to when we are on the other side of the crisis, and to the many ways in which our built and natural environments might be better equipped not only to confront a global pandemic but also to improve our ordinary daily lives.

In this reading list, we have collected some of the articles that we have been re-reading and that have become newly resonant, on topics like public health, maintenance, housing, care, and community."
coronavirus  covid-19  infrastructure  pandemics  readinglists  additivism  2020  place  maintenance  housing  care  community  publichealth  healthcare 
2 days ago
Against MMT
"Modern Monetary Theory disorients the Left by peddling simplistic monetary solutions to complex problems of political power."
modernmonetarytheory  economics  money  2020  monetarytheory  jamesmeadway  politics  policy 
2 days ago
‎Hear the Bern: 51 - The Deficit Myth (w/ Stephanie Kelton) on Apple Podcasts
“Economist Stephanie Kelton gives Briahna a crash course in monetary policy and why the United States would actually benefit from increased deficit spending - so long as it flows toward working people, not stock buybacks. Stephanie makes the case that, in the midst of the historic economic crash that COVID-19 is causing, the federal government could go much farther than last week’s stimulus package to ease economic pain and prevent mass layoffs.

Stephanie on Twitter:

Pre-order The Deficit Myth:

[Also here: ]
stephaniekelton  economics  deficits  2020  deficitspending  inflation  hyperinflation  briahnajoygray  monetarytheory  modernmonetarytheory  robertmugabe  zimbabwe  venezuela  money  us  covid-19  coronavirus  berniesanders  jobguarantee  newdeal  medicareforall  healthinsurance  healthcare  health  mobility  freedom  liberation  jobs  work  labor  employment  policy  demandpullinflation  fullemployment  governent  politics  federalreserve  quantitativeeasing 
2 days ago
Bong Joon-ho’s Extensive Storyboards for Parasite
"Before he begins filming any of his movies, director Bong Joon-ho draws out storyboards for every single shot of every single scene of the film. From an interview with Bong in 2017:
I’m always very nervous in my everyday life and if I don’t prepare everything beforehand, I go crazy. That’s why I work very meticulously on the storyboards. If I ever go to a psych ward or a psychiatric hospital, they’ll diagnose me as someone who has a mental problem and they’ll tell me to stop working, but I still want to work. I have to draw storyboards.

For his Oscar-winning Parasite, Bong has collected the storyboards into a 304-page graphic novel due out in mid-May: Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards.
Drawn by Bong Joon Ho himself before the filming of the Palme d’Or Award-winning, Golden Globe(R)-nominated film, these illustrations, accompanied by every line of dialog, depict the film in its entirety. Director Bong has also provided a foreword which takes the reader even deeper into the creative process which gave rise to the stunning cinematic achievement of Parasite.

The book has already been released in Korea, and Through the Viewfinder did a 5-minute video comparison of the storyboards with the filmed scenes for the peach fuzz montage scene (and another video of the flood scene)."
bongjoon-ho  2020  film  storyboarding  filmmaking  parasite  jasonkottke  kottke 
2 days ago
It's Time to Resurrect the Airship Hospitals | OneZero
"An idea devised to beat the tuberculosis pandemic 100 years ago could apply to coronavirus"
airships  dirigibles  history  covid-19  coronavirus  pandemics  tuberculosis  health  healthcare  hospitals 
2 days ago
“When can we really rest?” — The California Sunday Magazine
“More migrants than ever are crossing the Colombia-Panama border to reach the U.S. Five days inside the Darién Gap, one of the most dangerous journeys in the world.”
[See also:

"Backstage: What it’s like to cross the Darién Gap"
By Douglas McGray
Photographs by Carlos Villalón ]
colombia  panamá  migration  immigration  2020  nadjadrost  carlosvillalón  brunofederico  lisettepoole 
2 days ago
This Is Not the Apocalypse You Were Looking For | WIRED
"Pop culture has been inundated with catastrophe porn for decades. None of it has prepared us for our new reality."
lauriepenny  covid-19  coronavirus  apocalypse  dystopia  2020  culture  care  caring  capitalism  catastrophe  pandemics  socialdemocracy  society  catastrophism 
2 days ago
Darling, Let’s Do Coronavirus in the Hamptons This Year | The New Republic
"The rich continue their tradition of escapist virtue signaling."


"As with their private jet–aided appeals to lower emissions, the 1 percent’s virtue signaling about social distancing during this outbreak obscures the fact that they’ve helped make the crisis worse. Even starved of their chefs and personal shoppers, the rich might be able to weather Covid-19 in their summer homes. Their worldview, on the other hand, may not be so lucky—and could face an angrier, more organized public on the other side."
katearonoff  covid-19  coronavirus  2020  inequality  economics  us  climatechange  carbonemissions  globalwarming  virtuesignaling 
2 days ago
Take Care | Malcolm Harris
"The American viral advantage is a result of the country’s economic relation to care. For decades it has been the position of America’s political and intellectual leadership that any public provision of care is counterproductive because it acts as a disincentive to wage labor. If you get free healthcare, you’re less likely to hustle for a new gig when you’re unemployed. If you’re eligible for adequate cash welfare, you’re more likely to quit your awful job. If you have guaranteed public housing, you don’t need to fear for shelter in the event you’re laid off. We saw this line pathetically at work when venerable conservative economists came out to warn politicians not to pass any COVID-19 recovery bill that might discourage work, at a time when much of the American workforce was prevented from working. Commentators across the spectrum chuckled at Reagan-era economist Art Laffer and co. and their single-tool box: Why would we want to encourage people to find jobs at a time when employers had none to offer? When they were already involuntarily laying off workers? It’s absurd.

The Laffer line makes no sense when we think of employment as a binary state (employed or unemployed), but employment isn’t a binary state. “Work incentives” also help govern the conditions under which workers are willing to sell their labor. At the margin that looks like employment + or -, but the balance of incentives also determines workplace safety, labor intensity, and wages.
The conservative economists aren’t saying that if the state gives everyone three thousand dollars we’ll all sit at home and eat bonbons, they’re saying that we won’t be willing to work under these conditions, at these prices. This should make sense to anyone familiar with how things are going at low-wage workplaces deemed essential by authorities. Employers are refusing to slow throughput regardless of crowding hazards, withholding personal protective equipment, and continuing to pay poorly despite acknowledging that workers are essential to the continued functioning of our society.

Laffer’s warning isn’t about a rise in unemployment, it’s about a grocery-worker strike. If the government were willing to offer American workers a level of unconditional support that allowed them to be sure they could care for themselves and their families for the next few months, capital would be forced to negotiate a whole new labor bargain, with a gun to its head. The powers that be can’t afford that.

If there’s one thing most Marxists know about the Black Death it’s that it raised wages. The pestilence that ravaged Europe’s population also significantly reduced its labor supply, which forced urban employers to increase pay and rural lords to lower rents. It is a textbook example in economics of supply and demand. The goal of a strong relief program is obviously the opposite (i.e. to keep people alive), but the impact for employers is theoretically similar to mass worker death: a reduced supply of labor, not in the absolute in this case, but relative to current prevailing conditions and wages. So why can’t capital just suck it up and pay some raises? They’ve successfully repressed wage growth for decades, couldn’t they take a small loss now, under these exceptional circumstances? I don’t think so."


"“How many of the poor and sick must die?” is always one of capitalism’s calculations, but even to pose the question, “How many of the rich and powerful must die?” takes some work. That means thinking it, repeating it, writing it on walls. It means implicit threats, rent strikes, and the destruction of Amazon and Google’s neighborhood surveillance systems. It means sabotage, theft, leaking, doxing. Socially distanced group demonstrations are more trouble than they’re worth, and you can’t canvas door to door in a pandemic. But those aren’t the only tools we have, and the systems are exceptionally fragile right now. It’s time to put them on the defensive.
“I really don’t care,” a member of the Trump regime once told us, followed with, “Do U?” We know they don’t care, not just because they’ve told and shown us very clearly, but because they can’t. In this moment of crisis, the whole American house of cards would come crashing down if the state offered the smallest measure of real care without checking a tax return first. But we do care, we care a lot. We care all day, every day. Some of us have already died of it, and more will tomorrow.
We care; let that help define us, and them. And let us take care of us. And then let us take care of them."
malcolmharris  covid-19  coronavirus  care  caring  work  us  labor  culture  society  artlaffer  ronaldreagan  reaganism  economics  capitalism  latecapitalism  2020  productivity  capital  inequality  gigemployment  unemplyment  landlords  rent  metthewdemond  housing  scottsusin  poverty  motivation  power  crisis  children  childcare  quarantine  obamacare  affordablecareact  statecare  coercion  markets  carelessness  johnberger  measurement  amazon  google  surveillance 
2 days ago
[When I come home they rush to me, the flies] by Aracelis Girmay - Poems |
“When I come home they rush to me, the flies, & would take me, they would take me in their small arms if I were smaller, so fly this way, that way in joy, they welcome me. They kiss my face one two, they say, Come in, come in. Sit at this table. Sit. They hold one hand inside the other & say, Eat. They share the food, sit close to me, sit. As I chew they touch my hair, they touch their hands to my crumbs, joining me. The rim of my cup on which they perch. The milky lake above which. They ask for a story: How does it begin? Before, I was a child, & so on. My story goes on too long. I only want to look into their faces. The old one sits still, I sit with it, but the others busy themselves now with work & after the hour which maybe to them is a week, a month, I sleep in the room between the open window & the kitchen, dreaming though I were the Sierra, though I were their long lost sister, they understand that when I wake I will have to go. One helps me with my coat, another rides my shoulder to the train. Come with me, come, I say. No, no, it says, & waits with me there the rest whistling, touching my hair, though maybe these are its last seconds on earth in the light in the air is this love, though it is little, my errand, & for so little I left my house again.”

[See also: “luam, new york”

"The flies, six
in a metallic pile, identical
green, identical
bristle & gaud.

To see so clearly
the science
in their suits.

And yesterday, the woman
asking, Are you twins?

My sister & I, whose
mothers are different,
whose years are.

From a distance,
are we, species by species,
identical? Each other.
Our needs & moving. Dear Fly,

my Other Life out
splintering, involved
in the evolution:

we are like siblings,
you & I, separated
by many years, & rooms."]
poems  poetry  aracelisgirmay  2020  flies  multispecies  morethanhuman 
2 days ago
Prison Culture » Mutual Aid Resources
“Mutual aid is a term to describe people giving each other needed material support, trying to resist the control dynamics, hierarchies and system-affirming, oppressive arrangements of charity and social services. Mutual aid projects are a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions, not just through symbolic acts or putting pressure on their representatives in government, but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable.” –
mutualaid  history  resources  mariamekaba  charity  solidarity  howto  tutorials 
2 days ago
At Home with carla bergman - TouchWood Editions
“And, alongside this hard stuff, are many hopeful cracks that are providing infinite possibilities to emerge, ones that together we can imagine and enact a better world with, post COVID-19”

Helen Hughes: “I am so embedded in my culture, it’s hard to know what is the essence of me and what is the result of conditioning.”

Helen Hughes: “I realize that my worldview includes casting about for unusual solutions for seemingly intractable problems. I don’t see things as either this or that. I see the world as a place of outrageously improbable solutions that astoundingly work.”

Helen Hughes: “The Right seems more capable of coming up with simplistic ideologies that tap into visceral support, while the Left seems to want to fine-tune to perfection before going into action.”
carlabergman  helenhighes  2020  mutualaid  windsorhouse  education  informal  collaboration  children  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  vancouver  britishcolumbia  summerhill  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  culture  cooperation  listening  learning  unschooling  deschooling  socialchange  society  conflictresolution  problemsolving  cv 
2 days ago - develop and deploy full-featured video conferencing
"At Jitsi, we believe every video chat should look and sound amazing, between two people or 200. Whether you want to build your own massively multi-user video conference client, or use ours, all our tools are 100% free, open source, and WebRTC compatible."
jitsi  opensource  video  videochat  videoconferencing 
4 days ago
fruitful school
"🍊 is an independently-run learning initiative for making “fruitful websites” founded in 2020 by laurel schwulst and john provencher."
webdev  webdesign  html  schools  learning  laurelschwulst  johnprovencher  2020 
6 days ago
Prof. Kate Antonova on Twitter: "As an academic mom on a 3-3 teaching load, CUNY salary in NYC, who spent the tenure track yrs supporting fam of 4 while husband was contingent, I've long since surrendered everything that can be surrendered: screen time, h
“As an academic mom on a 3-3 teaching load, CUNY salary in NYC, who spent the tenure track yrs supporting fam of 4 while husband was contingent, I’ve long since surrendered everything that can be surrendered: screen time, hygiene standards, cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc. (Thread)

Like most Americans, eating out regularly is a foreign concept. Like most, we’ve barely been able to afford childcare, only the minimum to barely keep our jobs. Like most, we don’t have savings, we can barely make our mortgage & commute costs (still lower than rent in NYC).

This was the norm BEFORE we hit a global depression in the middle of a global pandemic w a narcissistic idiot in charge. We’re personally doing better rn thanks to husband finally getting a t-t job, but we’re still crippled by student loans & childcare costs, like most ppl.

Yet, if I’m reading my Twitter feed correctly, we’re all trying to continue mostly unnecessary work, wearing ourselves to a nub, unhealthily overcompensating for crushing anxiety, not to mention mostly assuming kids can absorb the damage we obviously can’t handle ourselves.

More screen time? Hey, I’m the most screentime lax mom in the world, I’ve had to be (see recent tweet re: preschool & GoT), but have you met a kid of any age after even a few hrs of screen time, let alone days or weeks or months? Whiny, crabby, physical aches & pains, sleepless.

Just like us, kids feel horrible w too much screen time, but unlike us they’re not developmentally capable of managing. They need responsible adult childcare. This is not a need that goes away in a crisis. Why are we testing that need? So parents can get more screen time?

Why are we filling our lives with bajillions of unnecessary emails & zoom meetings to pretend we’re “productive,” compounding the ill effects of crisis? (I’m not talking about actually necessary work here - healthcare work, medical research, delivery & grocery work, etc)

There are going to be a lot of reasons this virus spreads & people die unnecessarily in the coming weeks. Certainly Drump’s inaction, lies & stripping of federal govt are chiefly responsible. Goddamn spring breakers, too. Not to mention the effing eugenicist governors.

Lower on the list but definitely a factor is that in addition to staying home, washing hands & wearing masks we should all be RESTING if we can, to prevent spread, to improve chances of recovery & eventual herd immunity. It took us weeks to admit masks help; NO ONE mentions rest.

God forbid Americans acknowledge there are limits to the human body and to economic growth: we’d rather kill ourselves with the lie. We’ve always been a civilization defined by our devotion to living a fantasy.

I know what some of you are thinking: but this work or that work would do this or that. You’re still trapped in a nonsensical, lying mindset. Work is not holy. Work does not liberate. Work does not heal. Work does not bring you closer to God or to wealth or to happiness.

In the most pragmatic view, increased work does not incr productivity. You know what does increase productivity, solve problems, liberate people & bring wealth, health and happiness? Balance. Rest. Play. Art. Exploration. Reflection. Exercise. Nature. Connection.

I’m seeing teachers waste hours bc kids overslept & they were told to check on every kid who didn’t sign in by 9. I’m seeing a wonderful daycare face going under while kiddos miss their friends. I’m seeing students, friends, colleagues suddenly w/o income, still needing rent.

That’s nothing to the healthcare workers, delivery people & grocery clerks risking their & their family’s lives, most for a wage that was never enough to live on. Certainly my own little dilemmas of how the hell to record lectures or grade w kids climbing on me is minor.

So let’s imagine a totally different response to this virus from all of us who are paying attn, staying home, & trying to help (as opposed to the effing monster in the WH). Imagine if we called a mulligan on EVERYTHING - bc THAT’S ALREADY THE REALITY.


Imagine we all at once stop doing work emails or zoom meetings while our kids sit out a crisis with YouTube in place of parent & all of us alienated in front of screens. Imagine the teachers stop teaching, students stop trying to learn, offices stop officing, brands stop selling.

I know you have objections. They pop up in my head, too. They’re the nefarious brain worms created by our culture of productivity. Try imagining just saying STOP. Taking a few minutes to imagine this won’t cost you anything and you’re on Twitter anyway. What happens?

Use email & zoom only to connect w loved ones, to connect kids w lonely seniors so parents can get a rest, to connect donors w the needy. Execs & lawyers & teachers & owners use the time to rest, exercise, reflect, consider & come back later w balanced, deeper ideas.

Workers & students & kids use the time to recover, breathe, play, come back later ready to work & learn more deeply.

Everybody relearn how to consider health first, how to think long-term, how to prioritize.

This only works, of course, if there’s emergency UBI, universal healthcare, freezes on rent, mortgage, utilities, all deadlines suspended, all policies adapted. We could use the time to think ab why we didn’t already have those things, how diff we could be if they were permanent.

Every objection you have could be figured out humanely, if we can let go of the pretense that any normality can or even should be held on to: the virus–a literally completely impersonal external force we cannot (yet) control–has ALREADY taken normal away.

Stop trying to pull normal back from the abyss - it’s gone. Instead we need to turn around and survey what we’ve got on our hands now and consider how best to adapt. As my #preschoolersays: ["Let it go, let it go!" Frozen GIF]“
kateantonova  2020  academia  highered  highereducation  tenure  economics  precarity  children  parenting  covid-19  coronavirus  ubi  universalbasicincome  pandemics  healthcare  medicareforall  rent  costofliving  childcare  globaldepression  studentloands  studentdebt  screentime  email  zoom  labor  work  productivity  slow  small  us  culture  society  canon  health  happiness  wealth  inequality  rest  balance  play  art  exploration  reflection  exercise  nature  relationships  connection  teaching  howweteach  sleep  mentalhealth  thenewnormal  normal  workaholism  priorities 
6 days ago
Safe at home in Los Angeles (No trick of light) — High Country News – Know the West
“To people watching elsewhere, unaware of L.A.’s terrain, it must look like invention, or even a mistake. How could they run from the center of a city into the woods in a matter of minutes? Angelenos know: You can. Why is this multifarious, wily Los Angeles still such a stranger to the world? Why is its richness still such a mystery?”

“Surreal for a Saturday: the empty streets slick with morning drizzle, the bus benches clear of commuters, the sleek new cafes, usually noisy with morning business, shut tight behind accordion gates.”

“This is the part that is sometimes difficult to put into words: The L.A. that moves through us. The Los Angeles we carry with — and in — us, every day. It abides through all the changes.”

“It’s not the palm tree shadows or the dusty fronds themselves, or even the blink-awake aqueous light; it’s the riot of color — yellows, turquoise, hot orange — of buildings and close-up hand-painted signage.”

“Forever and always, it’s a city of contradictions and brokered coexistence, even its sonic ambience.”

“There’s always some malevolent force crouching in paradise.”

“Paradise can be a backdrop to tragedy, to disappointment, to disaster.”

“We must tend to the region’s various topographies in narrative. It’s imperative. Or they will be lost.”
lynellgeorge  2020  losangeles  inequality  beauty  essays  topography  photography  bearguerra  noémontes  cities  everyday  urban  urbanism  richness  movement  contradictions  coexistence  covid-19  coronavirus  interdependence  interconnectedness  interconnected  paradise  disappointment  disaster  ambience  color  light  diversity 
7 days ago
html energy
"HTML energy is all around us and in this very website.

Building websites has become complex,
but the energy of HTML persists.

What makes HTML special is its simplicity.

HTML isn’t a vast language, yet you can do a lot with it.

Anyone who wants to publish on the web can write HTML.

This accessibility and ease of use is where its energy resides.

Who’s writing HTML today?"
html  web  podcasts  webdev  webdesign  laurelschwulst 
7 days ago
Verso: Michael Sorkin, 1948-2020: Mike Davis pays tribute to architect and critic Michael Sorkin, who has died aged 71 of complications caused by Covid-19.
"Michael Sorkin died today of coronavirus in an overcrowded hospital and it is a shattering loss. If some people consider me an ‘urban theorist’ it’s only because in 1992 Michael conscripted me to write a chapter in his volume ‘Variations in a Theme Park.’ His ideas have had an immense influence in shaping my own. He was by any measure the most important radical theorist of city life and architecture in the last half century. New Yorkers old enough to have been Village Voice readers in the 1980s when he was the paper’s architecture critic will never forget the war he waged against mega-developers and urban rapists like Donald Trump. Or how in Whitmanesque prose he weekly sang the ballad of New York’s unruly, democratic streets. At a time when postmodernists were throwing dirt over the corpse of the twentieth century, Michael was resurrecting the socialist dreams and libertarian utopias that were the original soul of architectural modernism. When the peoples’ city was under attack he was inevitably the first to march to the sound of the guns. And then … his devilish glee, his kindness, his soaring imagination, his 50,000 volts of creative energy…. I’m drowning my keyboard in tears. Michael, you rat, why did you go when we need you most?"
michaelsorkin  mikedavis  2020  nyc  architecture  criticism  socialism  libertarianism  utopia  modernism  cities  urban  urbanism  urbantheory  covid-19  coronavirus 
8 days ago
Boris Anthony on Instagram: “World needs more of...”
Book noted. Also, is that a Kindle Oasis? And what’s on the right of it? Fabric for texture, function, both?

@robertogreco yes and yes (for grip). I actually used two different tapes. The one you see is cotton bicycle handlebar wrap (Cat Eye I believe), and the backside has a wider but thinner cotton-based kinesiology tape (muscle taping) I don’t know the name of.

@robertogreco both tapes have, very very very surprisingly, totally held up for.. what... 4 years now?

@bopuc Cool. I’m asking in part because I’m thinking about getting an e-reader for the first time (aside from a very brief test of a kindle many years ago). I’m stuck between the Kindles, the Kobo, and maybe an Android model of some sort, but leaning towards the Oasis.

@bopuc Meanwhile I’m waiting for the Playdate ( to make its way into the world so I can try making ebooks for that"
borisanthony  bopuc  kindle  kindleoasis  tape  ebooks  ereaders  2020  kobo 
13 days ago
Binder is a simple web template.
It allows users to connect a series of already-existing web pages into one home-base with a customizable navigation. Binder is built using Javascript and JQuery, and uses iFrames.

Get Binder:
Binder is on github here.
Binder can be downloaded as a .zip here.

Binder can be used with:
Google Docs
Youtube (using embed link)
Vimeo (using embed link)
and more

Binder can’t be used with:
Sites that don’t allow iframes

Please direct any questions about Binder to:

This is our work with Clement Valla"
webdev  webdesign  tolls  binder  googledocs  tumblr  newhive  pdf  wikipedia  youtube  vimeo  onlinetoolkit  clemenetvalla  templates 
13 days ago
XXIIVV — inventory
“The collection of technical details on the Inventory.”
devinelulinvega  tools  howwework  everydaycarries  hardware  keyboards  cameras  bikes  100r  hundredrabbits 
13 days ago
pi-top | Inspiring A Generation of Makers
"pi-top [4] is a new game-changing, programmable computing device that combines digital making, coding, and practical projects.

With pi-top [4], educators, students, and inventors get to design, code and make anything they can imagine using one simple, easy-to-use system."
raspberrypi  hardware 
13 days ago
Beautiful, Secure, Privacy-Respecting Laptops & Phones – Purism
"We believe people should have secure devices that protect them rather than exploit them.

To that purpose, we provide everything you need in a convenient hardware and software product.

We offer high-quality computers and software with a focus on privacy, security, and freedom."
hardware  computers  computing  linux  privacy  freedom 
13 days ago
XXIIVV — raspberry
[See also: ]

“The Raspberry Pi is a small single-board computer that is fairly cheap and easily accessible from anywhere.

We currently use the Pi for a variety of projects on Pino, as it takes little power, and seems to be resistant to corrosion. Our Pi Computers are currently used only as experimental development tools, but could readily be turned into a complete development platform, would our principal computers fail.”
raspberrypi  100r  hundredrabbits  devinelulinvega 
13 days ago
"sound machines for the exploration of time and space"

[via: ]
music  monome  electronics  modular  instruments  hardware 
13 days ago
Rekka Bellum and Devine Lu Linvega, Hundred Rabbits - XOXO Festival (2019) - YouTube
"For the last three years, Rekka Bellum and Devine Lu Linvega have sailed the Pacific Ocean on Pino, a sailboat turned mobile studio, making videogames, art, and music with their own homegrown software. Off-grid for long stretches, Hundred Rabbits is supported by patrons who follow along through video updates to their Patreon project."
100r  rekkabell  rekkabellum  devinelulinvega  xoxo  creativity  travel  2019  art  videogames  games  gaming  writing  howwework  studios  sailing  music  offgrid  mobility  nomads  internet  online  web  making  hundredrabbits 
13 days ago
Thousand Rooms by Rekka & Devine
"Thousand Rooms is a visual novel collaboration with illustrator Rekka Bellum, following the behaviours of four characters and a room.

We have written this book with the hopes of creating a sort of Borges for children, in which the reader follows a bat, a cat, an owl and a fox who try and make sense of this simple system.

The book also encourages to try and understand the rules, and plan unsuggested avenues. We are releasing the book in English, French, Russian, Japanese & Lietal.

Visit our website for more information on our studio Hundredrabbits."
rekkabellum  rekkabell  borges  children  books  classideas  srg  110r  hundredrabbits  100r 
13 days ago
Krita | Digital Painting. Creative Freedom.
"Krita is a professional FREE and open source painting program. It is made by artists that want to see affordable art tools for everyone.

- concept art
- texture and matte painters
- illustrations and comics"

[via: ]
drawing  graphics  opensource  software  applications  mac  osx  windows  linux 
13 days ago
Hundred Rabbits — raspberry pi
“The Raspberry Pi is a small single-board computer that is fairly cheap and easily accessible from anywhere.

We currently use the Pi for a variety of projects on Pino, as it takes little power, and seems to be resistant to corrosion. Our Pi Computers are currently used only as experimental development tools, but could readily be turned into a complete development platform, would our principal computers fail.”

[see also: ]
raspberrypi  hundredrabbits  110r  howto  devinelulinvega  rekkabellum  rekkabell  100r 
13 days ago
“OSMC is a free and open source media center built for the people, by the people.”

[via: ]
opensource  raspberrypi  media  tv  mediacenter 
13 days ago
Solidarity Not Charity: Mutual Aid & How to Organize in the Age of Coronavirus | Democracy Now!
"As lockdowns and layoffs sweep the U.S., mutual aid groups are forming to protect and provide for the vulnerable, including the elderly, incarcerated, undocumented and unhoused. We look at the incredible community networks across the country that are coming together to protect their neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic — and how you can get involved. From Washington state to the Bay Area, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota and New York City, thousands of mutual aid efforts are aimed at building solidarity, not charity. We speak with two longtime mutual aid organizers and activists in two hot spots of the pandemic. In New York City, Mariame Kaba is a longtime organizer, abolitionist, educator and the founder of the grassroots organization Project NIA, which works to end the incarceration of children and young adults. She has raised tens of thousands of dollars and redistributed it to groups across the country in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and she just did a public conference call with Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on mutual aid. In Seattle, Washington, Dean Spade is an associate professor at Seattle University School of Law and founder of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. He is the creator of mutual aid resource website Big Door Brigade."
2020  coronavirus  solidarity  covid-19  mariamekaba  amygoodman  charity  mutualaid 
15 days ago
Coronavirus Foreshadow's Bigger Disruptions in Future - Bloomberg
"As global supply chains break, airlines slash flights, borders rise within nation-states, stock exchanges convulse with fear, and recession looms over economies, from China to Germany, Australia to the United States, we can no longer doubt that we are living through extraordinary times.

What remains in question, however, is our ability to comprehend them while using a vocabulary derived from decades when globalization seemed a fact of nature, like air and wind. For the coronavirus signals a radical transformation, of the kind that occurs once in a century, shattering previous assumptions.

In fact, the last such churning occurred almost exactly a century ago, and it altered the world so dramatically that a revolution in the arts, sciences and philosophy, not to mention the discipline of economics, was needed even to make sense of it.

The opening years of the 20th century, too, were defined by a free global market for goods, capital and labor. This was when, as John Maynard Keynes famously reminisced, “the inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth.”

This maker as well as consumer of global capitalism could invest “his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world.” He could also “secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality.”

Such an economically enmeshed world seemed to many the perfect insurance against war — a contemporary version of such optimism was Thomas Friedman’s “Golden Arches” Theory, according to which no two countries with McDonald’s restaurants would go to war.

The First World War not only brought the period of friction-free globalization to a gruesome end. It also cruelly exposed an intelligentsia which had believed in irreversible progress and now was forced to acknowledge that, as an embittered Henry James wrote to a friend in August 1914, “the tide that bore us along was then all the while moving to this grand Niagara.”

As with our own crisis, the seminal crashes of the 20th century — the First World War followed by the Great Depression — were harder to grasp because their principal causes were set in motion decades before, and largely neglected by mainstream politicians and commentators.

Democracy, whether as an emotive ideal of equality or as representative institutions based on a widening adult male suffrage, had steadily become the central principle of the modern world, especially as industrial growth generated new inequalities.

Repeatedly frustrated, the aspiration for democracy helped fuel the rise of both left and far-right political movements, pitting them against established ruling elites.

The firebrands found their most committed supporters in the exploited populations of then-rapidly growing cities. Filled mostly with people freshly uprooted from the countryside, sundered from traditional livelihoods, and forced to live in urban squalor, the world’s great cities had started to become hotbeds of discontent in the late 19th century.

The problems of how to accommodate rising aspirations for equality through inequality-generating economies were particularly acute for nation-states such as Germany, Italy and Japan, that were trying to catch up with economically advanced Western countries.

Once the series of economic shocks that began in the late 19th century climaxed in the Great Depression, the elevation of the far-right to power, and intensified conflicts between states, was all but guaranteed.

In our own conjuncture, all ingredients of the previous calamity are present, if ominously on an unparalleled scale.

For decades now, de-industrialization, the outsourcing of jobs, and then automation, have deprived many working people of their security and dignity, making the aggrieved in even advanced Western countries vulnerable to demagoguery. At the same time, stalled economic modernization or a botched process of urbanization in “catch-up” powers like India and Russia, has created, in almost textbook fashion, the political base for far-right figures and movements.

The financial crisis of 2008, which has caused deeper and longer damage than the Great Depression, may have discredited the globalizing elite that promised prosperity to all, creating broad scope for opportunistic demagogues like Donald Trump. Yet few lessons were learnt from the collapse of global markets as the tide moved faster to Niagara. This is why the crisis of our time is as much intellectual as it is political, economic and environmental.

One sign of analytic deficiency is that the prescriptions for multiple malaises have remained the same in much mainstream politics and journalism: more economic “reforms,” largely in the direction of global free markets, reheated Cold War slogans about the superiority of “liberal democracy” over “authoritarianism,” and aspirations for a return to “decency” and “global leadership.”

These hopes for a return to the pre-2008 political and ideological status quo are often leavened with a heightened, if ineffectual, concern about climate change. Their inadequacy will become clearer in the months to come when afflicted nations as much as individuals are tempted to self-isolate, sacrificing many holy cows to the existential urgency of survival. The coronavirus, devastating in itself, may prove to be only the first of many shocks that lie ahead."
2020  pankajmishra  covid-19  coronavirus  economics  society  history  pandemics  democracy  authoritarianism  decency  politics  policy  environment  donaldtrump  2008  greatrecession  india  russia  us  greatdepression  germany  italy  japan  inequality  wwi  ww1  johnmaynardkeynes  globalization  revolution  upheaval  china  australia  renaissance  plague  supplychain  henryjames 
15 days ago
Organizer Mariame Kaba: We Need a People’s Bailout to Confront Coronavirus
"MANY PEOPLE ACROSS the United States are finally facing the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. On the latest Intercepted: After weeks of downplaying the seriousness of the virus and at times implying it was a hoax, the Trump administration has announced a series of government responses to the crisis. While some actions, such as expanded testing, emergency aid to states and production of medical supplies, are aimed directly at protecting public health, serious questions abound about the economic survival of millions of people. Organizer Mariame Kaba discusses the realities facing some of the most vulnerable people in our society, from poor and working families to prisoners and immigration detainees and beyond. While the virus does not discriminate in who it infects, it will have a disproportionately devastating impact on communities that already faced dire crises before coronavirus. Kaba discusses “mutual aid” actions taking place across the country where ordinary people are pooling resources and offering direct responses to those in the most need."
mariamekaba  2020  tolisten  covid-19  organizing  coronavirus  mutualaid  toread 
15 days ago
Coronavirus response a ‘vast experiment’ that’s changing U.S. workplaces | University of California
"While health leaders and policymakers race to limit the spread of COVID-19, the emerging crisis is having a dramatic impact on millions of healthy Americans — in restaurants, offices, taxicabs, classrooms and other places where they work.

Seven counties in the San Francisco Bay Area issued a shelter-in-place order, effectively closing all non-essential enterprises. In the Bay Area and beyond, employees are being assigned to work remotely, using technology to stay connected to their work and co-workers.

But others — in restaurants and service industries, for example — have to be on the job in person. Those vulnerable workers may face slowdowns or shutdowns with little or no access to sick pay or unemployment insurance. Those who fall ill may be confronted with an impossible choice between their income and their health.

The workplace is a defining focus for many Americans, a place where they spend much of their lives earning an income, exercising creativity and connecting with colleagues and customers. This health emergency is sending shock waves across the working world, an impact with no precedent in modern times and no quick end in sight.

For those reasons, UC Berkeley experts said, an extended campaign against COVID-19 amounts to a vast experiment, undertaken in conditions of extreme uncertainty, that could bring temporary and permanent changes, large and small, to American working life.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure last week to provide broad new support to workers affected by the health crisis. Some food and restaurant companies already have reversed longstanding practices and now are providing paid sick leave for their workers, said Saru Jayaraman, director of Berkeley’s Food Labor Research Center.

Still, millions of workers are “absolutely nervous” about their income, their families and their health, she said. “They’re not making enough money to stay home, even if they got minimum wage for every hour that they’re off sick,” she explained. “It’s not enough to pay rent and bills.”

For white-collar workers, orders to work from home will raise a host of questions about motivation, productivity and the impact of isolation. But it may also inspire workplace innovation, said Clark Kellogg, a lecturer at the Haas School of Business.

“As it goes on longer and longer, there will be a rush to do workarounds,” Kellogg said. “When what we usually do doesn’t work anymore, we invent something new. And that innovation is usually done by line workers who just have to get the job done. They get out the proverbial baling wire and duct tape and make something happen.”

U.S. restaurant workers often have low pay and little or no paid sick leave, making them especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Service workers, knowledge workers: a troubling divide

At many workplaces, the reality of the crisis has only begun to hit home in recent days, as the number of infections rises and health experts promote social distancing to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is forcing owners, managers and staff to fundamentally re-evaluate what works at work. And it has created a jarring new perspective on the gap between the working poor and workers in more secure positions.

Service workers are essential to the economy: They cook in restaurants, take care of our children, drive sick people to medical appointments and deliver food from farms to distributors. If they can’t they get sick, or if they are laid off, their families struggle, and so do their companies. If too many can’t work, the whole economy suffers.

Jayaraman said there are 14 million restaurant workers in the United States and another 10 million to 15 million in retail. “You’re talking about at least a third of the working population,” she said. “That’s low-wage workers, working full-time and living in poverty.”

Many are working poor, some holding down two jobs. In California, they have at least three sick days, but in other states they may have none. Often they lack health insurance. They can’t afford to be sick, and if they are, they often go to work anyway. But if they’re cooking or providing childcare while ill, they risk transmitting illness.

A teacher can work from home, said Jesse Rothstein, director of Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) and formerly chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. “But you can’t tell the store cashier to work from home. You can’t tell the food service worker to work from home,” he said. “It’s disproportionately the lowest income people, and they can’t live for a couple months without income.”

In a March 10 op-ed in the Washington Post, Rothstein and co-author Jared Bernstein warned that “avoidance, social distancing and panic may have enormous economic consequences,” especially for low-income workers. They proposed a solution: a temporary program under which employers would continue to pay idled employees, with reimbursement from the federal government.

Days after the op-ed was published, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a coronavirus-response measure that Rothstein described as “very similar” to what he and Bernstein proposed. It would provide two weeks of paid leave to people who get sick or quarantined, and to those caring for a sick family member or for kids whose schools are closed. If that runs out, the measure would pay up to three months of family or medical leave. Employers would pay those benefits, but would be reimbursed by the government. The U.S. Senate is expected to consider the bill as early as this week.

Jayaraman urged even broader support for low-wage workers. Paid sick leave and long-term disability leave will be essential to get through the crisis, she said. But such workers also need higher wages and health insurance, to assure that they can stay home and get care if they get ill.

“This crisis should tell us that it doesn’t work to have some people with access (to health care) and some people who don’t,” she said.

Many white-collar workers, like this New York woman, are being asked to do their jobs from home, which raises questions about motivation, productivity and the impact of isolation. (AP photo by Bebeto Matthews)

Navigating risk in a white-collar world

For workers in technology and communication fields, the idea of working remotely is well-established. But the coronavirus crisis forces further change, said Don A. Moore, the Lorraine Tyson Mitchell Chair in Leadership and Communication at Berkeley Haas.

Tools such as video conferencing are already in place to support the shift. But a basic question remains hard to assess: What will the impact be on productivity for individual employees, or whole workforces, when they’re suddenly moved to the digital realm?

“You can imagine that, for some jobs, that facilitates people’s productivity, but it undermines productivity in other ways,” said Moore. “Tech workplaces like Pixar, for instance, where its facilities (in Emeryville, California) were specifically designed to facilitate face-to-face interaction — that gets lost when people are collaborating online, each one working from the café or from home or the vacation spot where they’re most comfortable. … The magic of collaboration is sometimes lost.”

Isolation brings other risks, both to the employee and to the business or organization, said Cristina Banks, director of Berkeley’s Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces.

“One of the basic human needs is the need to belong, to have social connections,” Banks said. “What we’ve done through social distancing is break those social connections and basically scattered people to the wind. … It could lead to people caring less about their connection to the institution.”

In Banks’ view, the leaders of a business or organization must respond with strategies to preserve connection and esprit de corps. “The operative principle here is certainty and predictability, making conscious efforts to connect people and maintain those connections,” she said. “Management just has to make it happen with great diligence, with great discipline.”

What if this lasts awhile?
Opinions are divided on the impact of extended social distancing. Experts predominantly believe that as governments act to restrict peoples’ movement, as they have in China and Italy, that might effectively slow the advance of COVID-19; others worry about the cost to businesses, workers and the larger economy. At Berkeley, some say that changes imposed by the crisis could spark lasting innovation.

This may be a black swan event; the future, even a few months away, is unpredictable. But Kellogg expressed a cautious hope for the innovation that arises from American workplaces. “How creatively can we think in responding to this?” he asked. “What opportunities does this hand us for thinking differently for teaching and for building communities of learning and living life?”"
2020  coronavirus  covid-19  workfromhome  work  social  socialdistancing  us  italy  howwework  isolation  community  communities  policy  labor  sarujayaraman  clarkkellogg  economics  society  socializing  jesserothstein 
15 days ago
How different societies react to pandemics | University of California
"After the Ebola virus tore through western Africa in 2015, two UC Santa Barbara researchers studied the xenophobia the disease generated among people who had almost zero chance of being infected by it.

Heejung S. Kim and David K. Sherman, professors in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, discovered that the more people felt vulnerable to Ebola the more xenophobic they became, not only supporting restrictive policies, such as travel bans, but also increasing prejudice toward outgroup members. Their degree of xenophobic response to the perceived threat of Ebola, however, was directly influenced by how individualistic or collectivistic they were.

In short, a person who is individualistic is more likely to have stronger xenophobic reactions when he or she feels highly vulnerable to a pathogen like Ebola than someone who is collectivistic, or more oriented toward group goals. The researchers’ paper, “Fear of Ebola: The Influence of Collectivism on Xenophobic Threat Responses,” was published in the journal Psychological Science. John A. Updegraff of Kent State University was a co-author.

The coronavirus pandemic, naturally, piqued Kim and Sherman’s interest. It seems that countries that are generally collectivistic or individualistic tend to have different responses to disease outbreaks.

“Social coordination is a way to cope,” Sherman said, “and an effective coping means. We’re seeing that in China’s response and in Korea’s response as well as in Taiwan and in Singapore — the massive social coordination, which may be associated with being in more of a collectivistic culture. So that was one thing that struck us.”

China, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore are collectivist societies, the scholars noted, and one of the variables they studied after the Ebola outbreak was what they call “protection efficacy” — the feeling that one could protect oneself from the virus. What they found was that collectivism seemed to be associated with a great sense of protection efficacy.

“When we measure protection efficacy, we measure it at three levels,” Kim said. “One is personal sense of efficacy, and the other one community, how much they feel like community can protect themselves. The third level was how much you feel like a country can protect itself.

“It seems like collectivistic people,” she continued, “especially in the face of a perceived risk, tend to have a higher sense of efficacy, meaning that my group will do something to protect me or my community. And those protective processes are coordinated and work together.”

The Ebola outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic are clearly different phenomena. Ebola was a threat that by and large existed on another continent, while the coronavirus has already shut down large swathes of American society. One shared response to both is xenophobia, the researchers said.

“Coronavirus is here and more people are probably infected than the current statistics indicate. We just don’t know because of the lack of testing,” Sherman said.

“And if coronavirus is already within our community, social distancing makes sense, but xenophobia does not,” Kim said. “It’s primarily psychological protection, not actual protection at this point.”

Sherman noted that when the World Health Organization announced that the coronavirus was pandemic, WHO officials cited two countries that were responding well to the crisis: China and South Korea. Those collectivistic societies, along with other collectivistic societies such as Taiwan and Singapore that have mounted coordinated efforts, he said, could serve as response models for the U.S., no matter how different they might be.

“You could see the social coordination that was required within the society,” he said. “And those are collectivistic societies. I think the difficult but important thing is for the United States to recognize and adopt best practices, using strategies that may not come as easily in more individualistic cultures, but may be effective.”

“Being individualistic means that people are socially and psychologically isolated at times,” Kim added. “It is interesting that we use the term ‘social distancing’ in the U.S. In Taiwan, people call the exactly same recommended social behavior ‘physical distancing.’ While the practical benefits of such behaviors are clear, now is the time to remind ourselves that we are merely physically distancing ourselves, and that more than ever, we should get socially closer as a community.”"
covid-19  coronavirus  collectivism  individualism  xenophobia  2020  ebola  johnupdegraff  heejungkim  davidscherman  china  southkorea  korea  singapore  taiwan  society  pandemics  community 
15 days ago
Capitalism is an Incubator for Pandemics. Socialism is the Solution. | Left Voice
"Coronavirus is wreaking havoc across the world. Capitalism cannot adequately respond to a global health crisis. That’s why we need socialism."
capitalism  socialism  mikepappas  2020  coronavirus  covid-19  pandemics  health  healthcare 
15 days ago
Beautiful Losers | Commonweal Magazine
"On Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders had a bad night. His moderate rival, Joe Biden, riding the strength of his dominating win in South Carolina and boosted by endorsements from Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, swept the South, and beat out Sanders in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Texas. Sanders won California, Colorado, Utah, and his home state of Vermont, but finished the night trailing Biden by sixty-five delegates. Sanders and his supporters had hoped to rack up a formidable delegate lead, forcing the recalcitrant Democratic establishment to acknowledge him as a palatable nominee and cementing his viability in the minds of primary voters. That didn’t happen.

I watched these results come in—on a pirated MSNBC stream—with a few friends and my roommate, Dan, who is unemployed and spends most of his waking hours calling and texting for Bernie. A pall fell over our living room as state after state went for Biden, a familiar sense of dread and inevitability. Preternaturally upbeat and optimistic in most circumstances, Dan did not conceal his growing despair, pacing the apartment, darkly muttering to himself. A rolling tide of gloom, resignation, and recrimination overtook my Twitter feed. It was over. “The establishment” had conspired against Sanders. Elizabeth Warren had “kneecapped” the progressive movement. Our enemies were too powerful, too nefarious, too corrupt. The forces of capital had won. Again.

The following morning, light crept back through our windows. Plans were made for trips to canvass in Michigan. Dan returned to the auto-dialer. But I couldn’t get the evening’s pre-post-mortems out of my head. It all felt familiar. The left, of which I am doomed to remain a perpetual partisan, has an intimate relationship with defeat. Defeat is our mother: our sustainer and our burden. “The history of socialism,” writes historian Enzo Traverso, “is a constellation of defeats nourished for almost two centuries.” The affective life of the left is defined by nostalgia, belatedness, memory, and mourning. We cherish a serial history of might-have-beens: if the Communards had stormed Versailles, if the work of Radical Reconstruction had been completed, if the Soviet Union had exorcised its totalitarian demons, if the Spanish Republic had survived the civil war, if the Prague Spring had been allowed to flourish, if Allende had survived the coup, if Mitterand had resisted the call of rigueur, if workers had seized power during this or that general strike, if Bernie had won the primary in 2016, if if if…

This mood, I suspect, is familiar to many leftists. It feeds a bitterly hopeful disposition, which Traverso calls “left-wing melancholy.” For Marxists, every generation of militants is doomed to fail, save the last one. We derive strength and purpose, not despair, from the memory of the vanquished and the worlds they envisioned. In January 1919, in the final days of a failed uprising by German communists, Rosa Luxemburg wrote, “The whole road of socialism is paved with nothing but thunderous defeats” from which socialists, nonetheless, must “draw historical experience, understanding, power and idealism.” The final victory, Luxemburg wrote, would be built on a foundation of every preceding failure. The next day, Luxemburg was murdered by the Freikorps, her body tossed into the Landwehr Canal.

In his final speech, delivered inside the besieged Moneda Palace amid a CIA-backed coup, the socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, prefigured his own martyrdom: “These are my last words, and I am certain that my sacrifice will not be in vain,” he said, broadcasting the message over Radio Magallanes, “Go forward knowing that, sooner rather than later, the great avenues will open again where free men will walk to build a better society.” Moments later, Allende put an AK-47 between his legs and shot himself under the chin.

In defeat, the radical left’s morbid historical memory serves as a profound (if perverse) source of comfort. In a telegram to his friend Bill Haywood on the occasion of his execution, anarchist labor icon Joe Hill is supposed to have said, “Don't waste any time mourning. Organize!” (He followed up with another message: “Could you arrange to have my body hauled to the state line to be buried? I don't want to be found dead in Utah.”) The phrase—don’t mourn, organize—is repeated on the occasion of major setbacks for labor and the left. I heard it frequently in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. But generations of leftists have tended to do both at once, deriving discipline and determination from mourning, sacralizing not the victims themselves, but their commitments and hopes, their dreams. At its best, writes Traverso, left-wing melancholy “perceives the tragedies and the lost battles of the past as a burden and a debt, which are also a promise of redemption.”

I’ve been a leftist my entire adult life. I know these stories. I’ve participated in failed union drives, failed electoral campaigns, failed social movements. I’ve watched left governments come to power and lose it, or keep it and be corrupted. Many times I’ve sublimated defeat into conviction; mourning into organizing. But when it comes to practical politics, melancholia is not always a helpful disposition. Conditioned by history to expect defeat—to see it as inevitable, the product of malevolent forces beyond our control—we welcome its arrival with something like relief. There is comfort in this sense of fated doom. We lost not because we did something wrong, but because we did something right in a world that’s wrong. When we acknowledge the awesome might and baleful intentions of our enemies, when we point our fingers at the traitors in our midst, what we seek is not a clear-eyed reckoning of the battlefield, but freedom from guilt for failing to win. Lurking behind our dour pessimism is, at times, a desire to evade accountability for our own mistakes.

A corrective can be found in an essay written by Bertolt Brecht in 1934, from exile in Denmark. Never one to wait and see, Brecht fled Germany in February 1933, weeks after Hitler was appointed chancellor. A Marxist and proponent of “distanced” drama, Brecht was notoriously allergic to sentimentality, both the bourgeois and socialist varieties. For Brecht, intimacy and affect obscured reality; only alienation and discomfort could disclose it. His essays, plays, and poems have a meanness about them, a clear-eyed coldness in the face of injustice that feels especially foreign to twenty-first-century-American ears. The journalist and critic Richard Eder summarized Brecht’s rules for himself as “no pity, no terror and, above all, no purgation.” Cleansing absolution, that elemental aspiration of the American psyche, has no place in Brecht’s vision of art or politics.

In “Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties,” Brecht wrote:
[It] takes courage to tell the truth about oneself, about one’s own defeat. Many of the persecuted lose their capacity for seeing their own mistakes. It seems to them that the persecution itself is the greatest injustice. The persecutors are wicked simply because they persecute; the persecuted suffer because of their goodness. But this goodness has been beaten, defeated, suppressed; it was therefore a weak goodness, a bad, indefensible, unreliable goodness. For it will not do to grant that goodness must be weak as rain must be wet. It takes courage to say that the good were defeated not because they were good, but because they were weak.

I often find myself rereading these words in moments of defeat, to ward off the comforts of melancholy. The Sanders campaign has been premised, in part, on the idea of a righteous struggle: against the callous forces of profit and their political enablers. Our cause is righteous. But we should remember that righteousness is not enough to win. And that if we fail, our righteousness will be no consolation at all. The Bernie campaign is good, but if we are losing—to Joe Biden!—then the form of its goodness is “bad, indefensible, unreliable.”

Often it seems everything wrong with Bernie’s campaign can be attributed to something he’s doing right, but for which he’s being punished by Democratic elites or the corporate media (“the persecuted suffer because of their goodness”). Bernie doesn’t win Black voters because they’re too conservative and loyal to the establishment; his supporters are accused of online abuse because they’re particularly enthusiastic and economically desperate; he has fewer endorsements because he’s an outsider and other elected officials are afraid to buck the bosses; he receives little earned media because the media hates him for refusing to flatter the pundit class and their expertise. These things may all be true, but they’re also explanations which preclude solutions; they absolve us, attest to our innocence, and prefigure an alibi for our inevitable downfall.

We can do more than blame the formidable forces arrayed against us. We can be open to good-faith criticism, to new strategies, and to new allies (including those who have no interest in our righteousness or our struggle but who merely want to beat Donald Trump). Rigorous self-criticism is a left-wing value as well, after all. I don’t have all the answers. The way forward for Bernie may require a change in posture, from outsider resentment to magnanimous inclusivity; from hostility to the Democratic establishment to narrating how our program fulfills the highest hopes of the Democratic Party’s egalitarian tradition. Bernie needs to grow his coalition. He can’t do that by naming enemies alone. We must also seek out and embrace new friends. When you’re losing, it can feel good to huddle with the righteous few already on your side. But a willingness to face our present weakness may be a prerequisite for the strength we need to win.

It could be over soon. Some of the projections for the next round of primaries… [more]
socialism  politics  2020  elections  us  berniesanders  left  defeat  learning  howwelearn  media  elizabethwarren  samadler-bell  progressive  movements  organizing  nostalgia  belatedness  memory  mourning  radicalism  spanishcivilawar  chile  salvadorallende  marxism  rosaluxemburg  power  idealism  coup  istory  radiomagallanes  1973  pessimism  accountability  labor  joehill  enzotraverso  melancholy  redemtion  melancholia  bertholdbrecht  affect  intimacy  alienation  discomfort  reality  richardeder  absolution  weakness  goodness  democrats  criticism  self-criticism  establishment  egalitarianism  mariamekaba  discipline  hope  optimism  radicals  canon 
15 days ago
Traditional Indigenous Kinship Practices at Home: Being Child-Centered During the Pandemic – indigenous motherhood
"In our traditional kinship systems, children were the at the center of the family system.

Everything we did was with, and for, the children.

Women had babies on their back, breasts, and hips while they were skinning and tanning hides, gathering water and wood, cooking, harvesting berries and medicine, and everything in between.

Older children often stayed with the kokums and moshums to provide that much needed extra support for them.

Children learned from our kinship systems. They learned from their mothers, fathers, aunties, uncles, kokums, moshums, and older relatives. They learned from the Land by being fully integrated and immersed into most processes and practices.

And the idea of children being seen as a disruption to daily living was non-existent.

During this pandemic, the invitation that exists is be mindful of that, and to make these concepts a way of life.

Be mindful of any thoughts or feelings that may come up that are oriented around seeing children as a disruption, an annoyance, or an inconvenience, when they’re home with you.

Because this style of thinking derived from residential schools and the forcefully implemented colonial education systems.

Due to this, our mindset from how we relate to children has also shifted dramatically.

Those systems have re-wired our brains to the point where it is seen as “abnormal” and as a “disruption” to have our children home with us, by our sides, watching, learning, living, and growing with us.


It is seen as an “interruption” to today’s colonially-washed down version of our kinship system, to have children in our homes, and on the land, with us, all day.

It is seen as an “annoyance” to hear the voices and laughter (or tears) of children as we do our best to balance working from home in the presence of children.

I get it, it’s tough. It’s challenging when you have a timeline to meet, deadlines to get to, and the needs of your child(ren) are overriding those deadlines and timelines. It is something that I struggle with every day with working from home and starting to home-school our daughter.

If you are a solo parent with limited support and multiple children, it must be challenging to get that needed 10 mins of “me time,” now more than ever with the pandemic and shut down of colonial education institutions. The invitation that exists is this: get creative.

If you are a disabled parent and the colonial education institutions was your respite or your much needed way to focus on what you have to do, the invitation is to build a support network, even if it’s online to start.

The important thing to remember is that we must begin to find new ways to help raise our children that don’t require a reliance on colonial systems.

“It’s tough.” “It’s tiring.” “It’s exhausting.”

Yes, it can be. Your points are valid.

And, in times of struggle, I often remind myself:

“Capitalism and colonial thinking will never super-cede the needs, wants, and interests of my child. Emotional, mentally, spiritually, and physically.”


“My child is not a disruption.”

Because the real disruption occurred when we began to think that sending our children to school was the better choice in the first place, rather than having them us with us, in the presence of our kinship systems, at all times.

The real disruption, that began this shift, happened when those priests and nuns stole our children away, attempting to annihilate the foundational systems we had in regards to our kinship systems.

The real disruption began when we started to see our children as “inconveniences” versus the sacred, future bearers and carriers of indigenous knowledge that had kept us alive for many generations.

And this shift, this disruption, this change, from child-centred child rearing, to adult supremacist/colonial child rearing, is what is continuing to maintain colonialism as the driving force within our kinship systems.

Capitalism and it’s systems are now leading how we live with, and relate to, the children in our lives. And it’s wreaking havoc on the very foundation of how we parent, how we discipline, and how we speak to, our children.

The reality is, adult supremacy and superiority believes that children in the home during work hours is an inconvenience or an annoyance.

One of the biggest misconceptions that adult supremacy and colonial parenting believes is that keeping children home from colonial, and often problematic, education systems will lead to poor socialization and isolation for the child(ren).

Yet, if you look at our traditional kinship systems, socialization was everywhere.

We had such intricately intertwined systems. These systems included kinship, socialization, love and belonging, and survival methods which encompassed, and was engrained in, our daily living.

A child involved fully with the routines of family would achieve socialization through being mentored by the adults on what their roles were, and how to fulfil them. The child would learn from older children about social games and activities which were often tied to their own growth and development, along with survival skills. The child would gain skills of self-discipline and survival, simply by being present to the many layers of work that had to be done in our communities.

The child would learn to stay focused and follow the traditional teachings instilled within them since being in the womb, through means of commitment and dedication to their cultural practices, sacred traditions, and elaborate mother tongues.

Yet, the shift and disruption attempted to erode all of that.

Because of the disruption, we are seeing something different.

We are now seeing the elation and excitement parents have during the end of summer holidays. The photos of parents celebrating that their children are gone for a larger part of the day, in a colonial system that maintains colonialism, oppression, racism, and child inferiority, the education system.

And we are seeing the humor at the expense of the feelings of children arise again during the quarantines from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Oh no! I’m stuck at home with my kids for two weeks! Send help!”

First of all, it will probably be more than two weeks based on what we do know about this virus. And second of all, our traditional kinship systems operated from the space that it was a blessing to be in the presence of our children continuously. That was the gift. And we honoured it as such.

Our kinship systems have shifted and changed so dramatically that we have long forgotten the importance of having children present for a majority of the day in our daily lives. We have forgotten the importance of play with the children. We have forgotten the important of always including children in the skills that we practice daily for survival.

So how do we dissolve this narrative that has become to normalized in our family systems?

How do we dissolve the idea and belief that children are not supposed to be home while we work?

How do we dissolve the normalization of the idea that children are a distraction to the more important adult perceived environment?

We engage.

We communicate.

We love.

We take a moment in times of feeling out of control and frustration, and we accept. We accept that we cannot control the emotions, behaviours, ideas, and outcomes of children’s behaviours. Just like they can’t control ours. To think that we can instantly places us in a place of supremacy and superiority over children. And our kinship systems are not about that.

To disrupt everything that the nuns and priests taught our relatives in those schools about adult-child relationships, and to disrupt what colonialism has taught us about what “successful” indigenous kinship looks like, we must:

1. Talk about the virus. Talk about what is happening in the world to your child(ren) in age appropriate languages. Use pictures if you have to. Create space for them to ask questions. Create safe spaces for them to feel their fear. If you’ve felt fear during it all- chances are, so have they. Tell them “I’ve been afraid too, and that’s ok.” Empathize. Remind them that even when you’re afraid, you can still be brave. And sometimes that you don’t have to be brave at all.

2. Ask yourself why you feel your child(ren) is a distraction to your work. Who taught you this belief? Where did it come from? Did it come from your parents? How does it feel to think of that? Where in your body do you feel it? Create safe spaces for yourself to move through these limiting and toxic beliefs in healthy ways, and do so in front of your children if you can. Because healthy healing means doing it openly, and authentically in front or family. To show them that there are healthy ways to heal.

3. Remind yourself, and your child(ren), of sanitation and cleanliness routines if you aren’t already doing that. In communities with limited access to clean drinking water, find ways to gather water from alternate methods. From the Land. Have conversations on why clean drinking water is important. Boil snow down if need be. Converse and preserve. And teach your child(ren) about protecting and honoring water.

4. Include the child(ren) in everything that you do in your daily lives, at age-appropriate levels. (ie: let your child help with dishes, even if they’re two-years old and take 5 minutes to dry one spoon or take your 1.5 year old to check rabbit snares with you.

5. Let the children lead. Provide moments in the day where the child(ren) decide what to do as a collective for a period of time. Show them that their ideas are important and honour them fully.

6. Put your phone away. For an hour. Two hours. And really PLAY with your child(ren). Kids and teens love to engage in play with you. Play dolls, build the LEGO castles, and make stories up. Even if it means asking your teen “hey, can you show me how to play your … [more]
parenting  children  unschooling  deschooling  education  2019  indigenous  indigeneity  relationships  kinship  child-centered  learning  howwelearn  teaching  howweteach  behavior  feelings  control  conflict  place  experientiallearning 
15 days ago
The Uses of Disaster | Commune
"Climate change is here. In the midst of the storm, an opportunity arises to break with capitalism and its vicious inequality. Let’s seize it while we can. The alternatives are unthinkable."
2018  climatechange  disaster  communism  capitalism  socialism  additivism  class  outofthewoods  inequality  economics  policy  politics  rebeccasolnit  hurricanekatrina  hurricaneharvey  hurricaneirma  disastercommunism  fatalism  disastercapitalism  shockdoctrine  climate  globalwarming  puertorico  flint  community  communities  mutualaid  naomiklein  toddmiller  privatization  militarization  austerity  borders  policing  hurricanemaria  labor  elonmusk  survival  revolution  collectivism 
15 days ago
A Light at the End of the World – Rampant
"COVID-19 inaugurates a new era. The future will be shuttered by repression or it will be built upon solidarity.

The crisis has begun. The COVID-19 pandemic, to be followed closely by a deep global recession and permanent climate emergency, has opened the door to a new epoch. Not even a 1.5 trillion dollar bailout can slow the juggernaut. The stakes are being measured in thousands of human lives. The defining question of our times suddenly appears with unavoidable magnitude: will the road out of this disaster run through repression or solidarity?

One possible future is a violent intensification of the present and our recent past.

The social distancing of accumulated alienation and loneliness have already marred life under late capitalism. Decades of neoliberal reorientation and just-in-time production have not only left grocery store shelves empty and vaccines absent, but have reorganized social life itself. Ever longer working hours, increasing demands for flexibility, and disappearing social services have compelled working families to rely more and more on commercialized means of social reproduction.

The ways we meet our basic needs between shifts or gigs, the ways we care for relatives who are retired or unable to work, and the ways we raise our kids all rest on networks of paid goods and services that are abruptly shutting down. For most families, making do indefinitely without public playgrounds or paychecks presents nightmares, but the added strain will also act as a powder keg for gendered violence inside private homes. For corporations, the pandemic represents an opportunity to further commodify social life and reinforce the temporarily intensified social alienation and commercial mediation of social interactions.

If we let them, the rich and their governments will solve the crisis with military lockdowns and shock doctrinaire assaults on our long-term liberties and living standards. Media and politicians now sing the praises of the Chinese state’s decision to seal off Wuhan, where the infection rate has now dropped. After the outbreak, public health demands a policy of quarantine, but there is no such thing as progressive repression. These are the actions of an autocratic state that continues to fill concentration camps with Muslim Uyghur communities.

More disturbingly, the COVID-19 pandemic and its responses herald more waves of social collapse ahead, wrought by the horrors of climate disaster, epidemiological contagion, and economic crisis inherent in the capitalist system. In the popular imagination, apocalyptic events and social disasters are often thought of as chaos unleashed by the collapse of central authority, a dystopic landscape of roving anarchic bands competing for survival.

However, as climate activist Jonathan Neale points out: “Society will not disintegrate, it will not come apart. It will intensify. Power will concentrate. (. . .) It will come in the form of tanks in the streets and the military or the fascists taking power.” Borders will not crumble but will become more militarized and strictly enforced. The ruling class politics of racism and nativism will be blasted louder and louder to legitimize repressive measures, war, and cruelty on an unprecedented scale.

But this is not the only path, and the present is pregnant with other possibilities.

Nascent Solidarities
The sheer incompetence of the federal government, ongoing at the time of this writing, has drawn comparison to failed states. In the US, the response by wide, unorganized swathes of the population has been more swift and decisive than that of almost any level of government. Millions of people are collaborating in efforts to “flatten the curve” by limiting their potential participation in the spread of infections as a mass, albeit atomized, act of solidarity.

We are seeing mutual aid networks pop up similar to the efforts in the wake of the 2012 Hurricane Sandy, to provide care and services to those in need. Over and against profit-minded officials, it has been workers who have championed the health and livelihoods of the entire population. When Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to close public schools, New York teachers organized mass sickouts to force the issue and protect human life. In Chicago the same social justice–oriented teachers union that has long fought to keep schools open has most recently fought to close them.

Here lie the seeds of a wholly new future. It is ordinary people, organized through unions, neighborhood response networks, or spontaneously on their own, who have taken responsibility for the safety and health of their whole society into their own hands. Once one acquires the taste of running a workplace without superiors, even for a few days, it is hard not to notice how superfluous many of our bosses and political institutions really are. If school principals are considered inessential personnel, why not reopen the schools on the other side of the curve under teacher control? If dishwashers and cooks, not managers, are the real essential personnel in the restaurant, why don’t the dishwashers and the cooks have a vote in the existential priorities of the business?

What is happening in Italy is one of our possible futures, ten or eleven days ahead on the pandemic trajectory. But alongside the bleak tales we hear from that country, we can also see blazing embers of an alternate future. When the government’s state of emergency forced apartment dwellers off of the streets, they leaned out of their windows to fill the skies with song. In Sicily, working people already had the tambourines and accordions needed to confront COVID-19 at their fingertips. Strike waves now roil the country.

The present crisis comes in another context, too. As of Sunday, it has now been one year since the outbreak of the new wave of global revolt. We have seen rulers toppled and governments shaken by revolutionary movements around the world. The spark leapt from Hong Kong to Lebanon, Iraq, France, Chile, Colombia, and elsewhere. It is ordinary people, supporting one another with food, water, laughter, and solidarity, that has built the path out of even bleaker scenarios. Solidarity, too, is a global contagion.

Today, tomorrow, and for the days to come, each member of the global working class confronts common questions, common fears, and a potential for a common awakening. Such a shared, simultaneous global political experience is unprecedented in the history of modern capitalism. The seeds are being planted; their growth will depend upon the actions taken among the grassroots.

Practicing solidarity distancing means checking on neighbors, strengthening relationships, and deepening the bonds that are so indispensable to political organizing. When it is again safe to hold mass gatherings, millions more will emerge from mass quarantine with an urgent understanding of the need to fight for and win public goods such as Medicare for All, moratoria on evictions and foreclosures, and living wages sufficient for emergency savings.

After the pandemic, it can be a far easier slide from these immediate steps toward the large, tectonic shifts in how we organize social life. Truly socialized healthcare run collaboratively, not competitively for profit, could ensure that detection, prevention, and treatment for the next epidemic are made freely and quickly available. Homelessness can be ended swiftly by filling the far greater number of vacant homes with the currently unhoused. As epicenters of communities, schools can become sites of wraparound services in times of need.

The future can be built on solidarity. To seize this future and make it real, we must be able to think in decades and continents, even while the next steps can be measured in weeks and neighborhoods.

As righteous anger mounts at the callous government response, this solidarity need not stay within official channels. The task ahead is to stoke this mutual support, demand and take back a safe, healthy life for every single one of us. The scale of the crisis is immense, and the official infrastructure is not designed to surmount it. Our hope and our future depend upon rampant solidarity."
solidarity  covid-19  coronavirus  2020  pandemics  neoliberalism  socialism  mutualaid  capitalism  latecapitalism  individualism  collectivism  society  collapse  jonathanneale  hurricanesandy  2012  labor  organizing  sicily  italy  chile  hongkong  protest  colombia  france  iraq  lebanon  global  medicareforall 
15 days ago
‘A common germ pool’: The frightening origins of the coronavirus | Grist
"In November 2002, a 46-year-old man from the Chinese coastal province of Guangdong developed a fever and struggled to breathe. Not much is known about him except that he was a local government official with a wife and daughter. But, as David Quammen writes in his book Spillover, a note in his medical history jumps out: He had recently helped to prepare meals that included chicken, domestic cat, and snake.

This man had one of the earliest suspected cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, the disease that later became known as SARS. (Quammen doesn’t report whether he survived.) Like COVID-19, the pandemic currently sweeping across the globe, SARS was a coronavirus. And like COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, SARS originally came from animals.

Some 60 percent of the new diseases that crop up around the globe each year are zoonotic — meaning they come from domesticated animals or wildlife. Scientists have found that infectious diseases are now emerging more rapidly than in the past. In the 1950s, some 30 new infectious diseases were reported over the course of the decade, according to a study in the journal Nature. In the 1980s, the number reported jumped to nearly 100. Part of that increase is likely a result of how we are treating the environment.

“There seems to be a pretty clear signal that there are more disease emergence events,” said Aaron Bernstein, interim director of the Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health. Humans suffered from smallpox for centuries, but there are also similar diseases in other species — camel pox, cow pox, monkey pox. If given the opportunity, diseases can jump, crossing boundaries from one species to another.

“We swim in a common germ pool with other life forms,” Bernstein said.

SARS originated in bats, likely by way of the mongoose-like civet cat. The Middle East respiratory syndrome known as MERS also came from bats and was passed to humans through camels. It’s too early to say exactly where COVID-19 began, but it likely traveled from bats to scaly anteaters called pangolins to humans. Such species-to-species spillovers are common, and to some degree inevitable.

But as people expand into wilderness areas, bringing urbanization and agriculture, they encroach on species like bats that originally had free rein and plenty of space to roam. Proximity gives diseases a better shot at making a cross-species jump. “We’re becoming an enormously voracious species of 7.5 billion people, and we’re really destroying the natural habitat of lots and lots and lots of other species,” said Frank Snowden, a professor emeritus of the history of medicine at Yale University. “That has enormous health consequences.”

According to a 2017 study, ebola outbreaks — which have also been linked to bats — in Central and West Africa were more likely to occur in areas that had recently been deforested. “The invasion of West African forests by the palm oil companies destroyed the canopy of the natural forest,” Snowden said. “And so bats, not having their natural habitat, had to move to different places — places where human beings are.”

The issue is compounded at wildlife markets in China (and around the world) where live animals are kept in close proximity to each other and to humans. Pangolins sit near chickens and snakes; pigs rub shoulders with foxes and badgers. It’s a perfect breeding ground for zoonotic diseases, and for the bats that carry them. “[Bats] are mobile and they’re mammals, so they’re closely related to us,” Bernstein said. “And they’re losing habitats, so they go to these markets in search of food.”

Loss of biodiversity can also cause diseases to spread more widely. As species inch toward extinction, it knocks ecosystems off balance; remaining creatures may be more adept at spreading illnesses. Scientists believe that West Nile virus, carried by migratory birds, might have benefited from a fall in niche bird species like the woodpecker and a rise in more virus-friendly species like robins and crows.

Warming temperatures brought on by climate change exacerbate the problem. As temperatures rise, animals are mixing in new and unexpected ways — providing even more opportunities for diseases to spread.

In reaction to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Chinese authorities have shut down the local wildlife market in Wuhan where the virus was likely first transmitted to humans and enacted a ban on buying, selling, or eating wild animals. (But the new ban reportedly leaves loopholes for animals used in traditional Chinese medicine.) Wildlife trade isn’t only a problem in China, and habitat destruction will surely continue apace. The lesson from coronavirus may be the same lesson to be learned from climate change — that the best hope for stability is to preserve the natural systems that humans depend on for a safe climate, nourishment, and protection from disease.

According to Quammen, zoonotic diseases serve as a reminder that people really can’t separate themselves from the natural world, even by bulldozing nature. It’s there even if you can’t immediately see it. “Shake a tree, and something falls out,” he wrote in Spillover. Urbanization, industry, and globalization have brought many benefits, but they have also increased human vulnerability to certain types of disease.

Bernstein offered a sobering warning that the coronavirus is not the worst pandemic possible. “We’ve gotten a few shots over the bow here,” he said. “We’ve had SARS, MERS, COVID, HIV. We need to see what nature is trying to tell us here. We need to recognize that we’re playing with fire.”"
coronovirus  covid-19  2020  disease  pandemics  biology  china  sars  animals  multispecies  wildlife  ebola  biodiversity  extinction  climatechange  globalwarming  zoonoticdiseases 
15 days ago
Are We Thinking About Climate Migration All Wrong? - Rolling Stone
"Apocalyptic predictions may grab our attention, but they can also stoke xenophobia and miss the full picture of what’s happening on the ground"
migration  2020  climatechange  climatemigration  climaterefugees  refugees  alexandratempus  borders  us  managedretreat  sandiego  migrants  immigration 
15 days ago
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on How to Build a Green New Deal - Rolling Stone
"The congresswoman on her vision for a post-fossil-fuel future and an economy that works for working people

There was, essentially, no Green New Deal before Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It was just a slogan rolling around the mouths of newspaper columnists and environmental activists until the 30-year-old political phenom put her star power behind it. Just a month after she was sworn in as the youngest congresswoman in history, Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey debuted a 14-page resolution outlining the principles she hopes will form the foundation for a slew of climate legislation over the next decade. A jobs program to save the planet shouldn’t be all that controversial, but skeptics along the political spectrum found something to hate. The concept was ridiculed by Republicans even as some attempted to co-opt it (Rep. Matt Gaetz’s Green Real Deal), and deemed too audacious by liberal Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But the Green New Deal’s ambition was always the point, and in just one year, it has already dramatically changed the way Washington talks about the climate crisis. This winter, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released a plan committing to a 100 percent clean-energy economy by 2050 — three times longer than the Green New Deal’s 10-year timeline, but a quantum leap from the toothless regulations that typified past policy conversations.

In January, Ocasio-Cortez sat down with Rolling Stone to reflect on her first year in office, her climate anxieties, and her blueprint to fix what’s broken in our country.

A lot of people have an “Oh, shit” moment with climate change — something that wakes them up to the scale and severity of the crisis. What was your moment?
I think it happened in two phases. The first moment happened at Standing Rock. I was there with native communities and leaders. It was their land, secured via treaty with the United States, that we decided to violate because a fossil-fuel company had essentially purchased our politics. Just standing there, [seeing] people organized against these massive tanks, these armed guards. [But] it wasn’t the U.S. military that people were standing up against; it was a militarized corporation — a fossil-fuel corporation. That, to me, was the “Oh, shit” moment in terms of what it’s actually going to take — because it’s not just about the science, it’s about the systems that protect all of the power that goes into defying the science.

But in terms of the cost and the scale, the second “Oh, shit” moment happened with Hurricane Maria the following year. I lost my grandfather in the aftermath of Maria.

I didn’t know that. What happened?
He was in a hospital in the storm, on the Western half of the island. And these are the kinds of casualties that are not counted. Power went out across the entire island, and roads and bridges, infrastructure was so compromised. Medicines couldn’t be transported. And my grandfather passed away while he was in the hospital. And the thing is, I can’t say, “Oh, the hurricane killed my grandfather.” Right? But we don’t know. Did he not get medicine in time? There was little to no power, or communication to my family. This was also a time when the government was saying that only 64 people died. We know that the number is actually in the thousands.

The Green New Deal was a top priority for you when you came to Congress. There was an idea that the resolution was worded vaguely to bring in the broadest possible coalition. How confident are you about getting a broad coalition signed onto specific details?
The Green New Deal [was] worded very deliberately, because what was very important for us is that we had to put out a comprehensive vision with underlying principles. No matter what kind of policy we’re talking about, it had to be bound by three things. The first is a drawdown of carbon emissions on a 10-year timeline. The second is the creation of jobs — having this be industrial policy to create millions of jobs and provide an economic stimulus for working people, not for Wall Street. And the third was to center front-line communities, to make sure that this policy was not just prosperous and scientifically sound but that it was just.

Bringing that broad coalition into agreement on those three core principles is extraordinarily important because it cuts down on a lot of our fights in the future. The traditional divide in climate fights has been an artificial conflict created between labor and environmental organizations, and this resolution rejects that fight outright. And by adhering to these principles, we have environmental organizations saying, “Listen, we have committed to economic prosperity for everyday people.” And we’ve got labor groups saying, “We have committed to carbon drawdown and centering the most disparately impacted.”

How did you go about getting the first draft of the resolution together?
Well, it was an extremely complicated process because we were committed to drafting legislation that was truly bottom-up. The extra challenge was that even among nonprofits, there’s still something of a hierarchy, right? A lot of D.C. groups can be heavily white or heavily affluent. We took a lot of input from groups in D.C., but we did a lot of work to reach out to experts in front-line communities. We were able to work with organizations like the Climate Justice Alliance, which brings together indigenous perspectives, black perspectives, Appalachian perspectives. So a lot of it had to do with making sure we were partnering the science and the economics with the realities on the ground.

So much work went into the resolution, then you have this big rollout and the narrative is hijacked by the GOP over the fact sheet [released by your office with language about “farting cows” and supporting people “unwilling to work”]. What was that like?
Well, on one hand, we did know that there was going to be a huge backlash. I was already six-months deep into a nonstop assault by Murdoch and Fox News. On the other hand, it was intensely frustrating. I had not seen the fact sheet that had gone out — it was an internal document, it had not been approved. I focus a lot on having strong internal systems and discipline on our team, and that was a lapse on something that was critically important. So I’d be lying by saying it wasn’t intensely frustrating. But all the arguments that they ended up with were arguments we knew they were going to run with no matter what. Tired arguments — “Preserving our planet is going to kill our economy” — because the GOP is Chicken Little. Their job is to say the world is ending if we allow any sort of progressive idea to succeed.

I’m curious what you think it would take to have a genuine debate with Republicans about the climate crisis?
Well, it takes [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell being out of office. It takes a new president. It’s going to take a post-Trump world, my belief. But I do think that because they have put so many eggs in this Trump basket, even they are concerned with how deeply leveraged they are with their commitment to the president.

I was on a flight back from Iowa this weekend, and I ran into a Republican congressman and he said, “How’s it going on the ground?” And I told him, “The energy is really great. There’s a lot of grassroots organizing going on, there’s a lot of turnout and a lot of enthusiasm.”

And he said, “Yeah, yeah — Trump is coming next week. So that’s going to bring a lot of energy too.” And I thought that comment was so interesting, because that is where all the energy is: on this one person. The president has the monopoly on energy, which is why the party has so much fealty to him. But when it is so pegged to one individual, that poses a very real problem for them. So while I can see that there’s very little that will be done in a McConnell-Trump world, this legislation was not written for a McConnell-Trump world. The whole goal was to write legislation for 2021.

You’ve spoken about how entrenched the fossil-fuel lobby is, how the Koch brothers essentially purchased the Republican Party. How have you seen that manifest since you’ve been here?
Republicans will pretend that they are unique individuals committed to certain values, but ultimately it’s a performance because they all vote exactly the same. Most Republicans vote the same way [Iowa Rep.] Steve King votes. Steve King is a white supremacist, and most Republicans — as much as they try to distance themselves from him in rhetoric and appearance — they all vote the same way. So the way that I see it manifest is that they’ll call me “young lady” and they’ll hold the elevator door for me, but they will still vote in ways that will gut our communities and families.

That being said, I do think they’re getting scared. I have seen, in the last year since we introduced the Green New Deal, increasing discomfort with their climate-denial position. At the beginning of last year we were hearing “Climate change is a hoax, the science is not clear,” et cetera. At the beginning of this year — one year later — we’re hearing “We all care about the climate. It’s important to draw down carbon emissions. Let’s focus on a business-based approach.” And that shift for the Republican Party is pretty massive. I think it shows how uncomfortable they are getting because they know this is the issue for the future, and they know that they’re increasingly losing the future. And ever since the flooding in the Midwest, they know they’re not just losing the future, they’re losing the present.

What about the Democrats? In 2009-10, they had a majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate, and they were unable to pass a much more modest climate bill. Can you trust the party to address climate change in a meaningful way?
This is where I find who takes the White House to be important. In terms of the party itself, those … [more]
tessastuart  2020  alexandriaocasio-cortez  greennewdeal  economics  us  politics  policy  berniesanders  nancypelosi  democrats  future  climatechange  environment  emissions  carbonemissions  consumerism  gdp  republicans  greenparty  democraticsocialistsofamerica  dsa  hillaryclinton  fossilfuels  joebiden  joemanchin  joeliberman  standingrock  kochbrothers  steveking  mitchmcconnell 
15 days ago
COVID-19, Brought to You by Globalization | The Tyee
“How the virus exploits traits of our economy extolled as modern triumphs.

This pandemic, with an estimated mortality rate of one to two per cent, is not a world ender or something to be truly feared.

But it deserves our respect and it certainly has our attention.

Pandemics, which go off like improvised bombs, don’t have to be formidable killers to be bad. Even modest biological detonations can upend your day and alter your world.

As SARS-CoV-2 — the respiratory virus that causes the disease COVID-19 — begins its explosive global journey, it has proven its ability to clog hospitals and freeze economies.

It is worth remembering that SARS-CoV-2, unlike influenza, is a novel cold-like virus that Homo sapiens have never experienced before. We have no immunity and must acquire it either through exposure to the virus or a vaccine that most likely won’t be ready till the pandemic is over.

SARS-CoV-2 will play with different populations differently, making use of the demographic material at hand along with human follies such as the criminal dearth of testing in the United States for the last month.

And it won’t be the last. This particular biological invader springs from an ancient, large and diverse family of viruses hosted by a variety of wild animals, including bats and birds.

These species are particularly hard pressed by global economic forces now ruinously reducing biological diversity everywhere. As biological biodiversity declines, viruses will seek reliable hosts and jump from animals into people at any given opportunity. Peter Daszak, a pioneering disease ecologist, says we now live in Age of Pandemics.

SARS, a close relative of SARS-CoV-2, plugged up hospital systems and cost $50 billion to bring under control in 2003/2004. MERS, a coronavirus present in bats and camels, has burdened the care of patients with diabetes and heart disease in Middle Eastern hospitals for years now.

COVID-19 behaves a lot like its relatives. It targets the ill, smokers and the elderly. For 80 per cent of the infected, it appears as a cold-like nuisance; for 20 per cent, it is a life or death battle with hellish pneumonia (see sidebar). Judging by the escalating outbreaks in Australia, Spain, U.S., England and France, COVID-19 will trump the impacts of SARS or MERS by several orders of magnitude.

Still, at this point it seems COVID-19’s effect on the globe’s highly complex and fragile economy will likely be far more severe than its impact on public graveyards.

Practicing for de-growth

Because the pandemic shut down China, the high-speed driver of global growth, SARS-CoV-2 will usher in a prolonged global recession.

Viewed through the lens of climate crisis survival, the pandemic has produced some good news. Reduced economic activity in China, the world’s largest oil user, has already resulted in a 25 per cent drop in greenhouse gas emissions and blue skies. Container ship traffic across the Pacific has dropped by half to 100 sailings a month. Auto sales are down 80 per cent and exports have fallen off by nearly 20 per cent.

In this regard, the virus is readying us for what could be the new reality. To really address the climate emergency, we must slow down economic activity, reduce trade, re-localize economies and severely restrict travel.

Already, though, we see there is no smooth glide down. Dramatic decreases in oil consumption — up to four million barrels a day — have collapsed oil prices. That has given Russia and Saudi Arabia, the world’s top petro states, an opportunity to engage in a price war.

Increasing oil price volatility could have social and economic ramifications as calamitous as the virus for many oil-exporting nations, including Canada.

Successes or liabilities?

To date, COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerabilities inherent to several conditions unique to our modern technological era, and often extolled as markers of progress. Today’s global economy is shaped by just-in-time supply deliveries; rapid urbanization; the extended lifespans of an aging baby boomer generation; and unparalleled human mobility.

Just in time, a business model pioneered by Toyota in the 1980s, now dominates the world economy — everything from grocery stores to hospital beds.

JIT thinking goes like this: Why waste money stocking up on supplies or making stuff locally, when you can order the cheapest stuff from a distant Chinese factory?

Or why waste money on inventory when a truck can act as moving storage room?

COVID-19 has punched several holes in such short-term thinking as Chinese factories, under quarantine orders, stopped making things. Supply chains have failed and transportation networks are now backlogged. Medical authorities have struggled to order masks, gloves and antibiotics just in time.

Moreover citizens are beginning to appreciate a related global vulnerability: the concentration of too much critical industry in China. It is the world’s largest exporter of the chemical ingredients used in antibiotics and other drugs.

Due to shortages, the prices of ingredients needed to make statins to control cholesterol levels have shot up by 40 per cent. The active ingredient in Tylenol is also in short supply.

The virus, notes actuary Gail Tverberg, has revealed the “world economy has effectively put way too many eggs in one basket, and this basket is now not functioning as expected.”

The fragility of just-in-time systems has been long foretold. According to decade-old reports by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office and BMO Nesbitt Burns, a severe pandemic with a 2.5-per-cent death rate will shock the economy and turn health care systems upside down. That rate sounds a lot like estimates for COVID-19, which, if it infects more than 100 million North Americans, could kill two million.

Experts now predict a terrible outbreak in the U.S., which has failed to test properly for the virus. A germaphobe president that could not be unseated by an impeachment hearing, may be undone by a chaotic and incompetent health response.

The U.S. has private and public hospital beds for less than one million people but even a minor pandemic would create at least five million infections needing hospitalization.

The demand for mechanical ventilators for those with failing lungs will exceed supply. China, Iran and Italy have experienced that truth.

The essayist Ian Welsh noted more than a decade ago that just-in-time thinking will broaden a pandemic’s impact, because it champions elites who behave like reckless grasshoppers as opposed to Aesop’s prudent ants.

“Our society, as a whole, has no surge capacity protection, no ability to take shocks,” wrote Welsh. “We have no excess beds, no excess equipment, no excess ability to produce vaccines or medicines. Everybody has worshipped at the altar of efficiency for so long that they don’t understand that if you don’t have extra capacity you have no ability to deal with unexpected events.”

After this relatively modest pandemic, individual nations might adopt a new business model called planning ahead. Prudent societies will make sure they have extra supplies of metals, fuel, medicine and food on hand to keep things running when disruptions occur. Nations will untie many of the ropes of globalization and seek greater independence by consuming fewer resources.

Urban crowding has already shaped the contours of the pandemic, because COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus. More than half of the world’s population lives in cities and 35 metropolises — human feedlots — boast more than five million residents.

If each person infects just two others, then an infection will become 1,024 infections in 30 days. Super spreaders, people who can infect up to 100 people, can swiftly change that dynamic in cities or cruise ships.

In fact cruise ships, which are in many ways like floating apartment buildings, make exceptional petri dishes. Both passengers and crews come from all parts of the globe. All live in cramped quarters where viral disease can spread easily. In addition, many passengers tend to be elderly or immuno-compromised. Some ships even come with dialysis units. On one cruise ship recently overwhelmed by influenza, investigators found that “77.4 per cent of the 1,448 passengers were 65 years of age or older and 26.2 per cent had chronic medical problems.”

Historically, pandemics have never been kind to urban dwellers. The plague of Athens (most likely typhoid) dispatched a third of that city’s residents in 430 BC. The Spanish Flu pandemic buried nearly 100 million people — the majority lived in cities or were soldiers tightly packed into ships, camps and trenches.

COVID-19 first erupted in a Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China. It then exploded in Daegu, South Korea, a city of two million. It hopscotched to Iran, whose largest trading partner, China, is building a number of mega-projects.

A quarter of Iran’s 82 million people live in cities claiming more than one million residents and a third of these live in slums. One recently made calculation started with the fact that seven of then 21 COVID-19 patients in British Columbia traveled recently in Iran and extrapolated that at least half a million citizens there are infected.

North America’s aging baby boom generation (some 78 million people) will add fuel to this fire. By 2050, nearly a quarter of the world’s population will be over 60 years of age. This demographic represents a new monoculture ripe for microbial invasions. In fact, three specific members of the corona family virus (SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2) have now targeted this age group.

Last but not least, humans are on the move as never before. Viruses move as fast as people. No country better illustrates the unrestrained mobility of Homo sapiens better than modern China.

Between 1949 and 1978, the Chinese made but 1.7 million trips abroad. Between 2009 and 2018, that number grew to 1 billion. In 2018 alone, the Chinese made 160 million trips around the world to as many as 159 nations.

It is … [more]
covid-19  coronavirus  2020  globalization  capitalism  pandemics  urbanism  urbanization  mobility  degrowth  china  andrewnikiforuk  ianwelsh  gailtverberg  aging  history  ecology  health  fragility  spanishflu  1918  babyboomers  society  policy  vulnerability 
15 days ago
Did America Misjudge Bernie Sanders? Or Did He Misjudge America? - The New York Times
"Fueling their anxieties was an apparently bottomless trove of provocative videos. Sanders in Moscow during the Cold War, praising the Soviet Union’s mass-transit system. Sanders proposing a cap on individual wealth. Sanders expressing admiration for the literacy program introduced by Fidel Castro. When we talked in February, he pointed out to me that most if not all of these statements dated to before he was elected to Congress, back when he was “a reasonably young man.” (In the case of Castro’s literacy program, however, Sanders doubled down on the compliment last month, telling “60 Minutes”: “He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”) I asked if it was fair to say that he had undergone a philosophical evolution since then. “Of course I have,” he said. “Look, what human being doesn’t undergo changes?” He added, “If you’re not a moron, you learn.”

Sanders spoke as if this were a given. At the same time, the man so often described by his campaign ads and senior staff members as “authentic” and “consistent” seemed content to live and die by his reputation for being as immutable as gravity. Nearly all his current and former aides have perfected an impersonation of his thudding Brooklynese. He is understood to be a loner, a constant if not deep thinker with a resting glower and restless hair and an incapacity for niceties. He is an avid non­presence on the Washington social circuit, has little time for the Beltway media (with its frequent comparisons of Sanders and Trump) and has even less time for the Vermont media (which has offended him by raising questions about his family’s activities, including Jane Sanders’s troubled tenure as president of Burlington College, when her decision to buy waterfront land for the campus sent the institution into financial insolvency).

Sanders the socialist does indeed have three houses: a Washington apartment that one former aide called “ratty”; a Burlington home so modest that in 2015 his presidential campaign advisers wanted to hold an open house so reporters could see for themselves what a skinflint Sanders was; and, yes, a lake house in North Hero, Vt., that Sanders bought with royalties from his memoir but seldom visits because he is not fond of vacationing. Nor is he a fan of sharing personal details. After considerable urging from his staff, Sanders now tells audiences that he is the son of a Polish émigré who arrived in Brooklyn penniless and unable to speak English. But while a Barack Obama or a Marco Rubio might draw from such material an uplifting only-in-America parable, the narrative Sanders quickly shifts to is how America has abjectly failed those of his working-class pedigree.

Never mind his biography, he seems to be saying. “You want to know how Bernie Sanders will govern?” Sanders asked me in Bakersfield. “He was elected mayor in 1981. Check out his record. He was elected to Congress in 1990. Check out his record. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006. Check out his record. Now people want to go back and look at something I said or did in the 1970s — fine, it’s there. If you really want to know what I’d do as president, you might want to check on what I did as an elected official.”

It’s indeed a curious fact that those who despise Sanders and those who worship him all tend to base their appraisals almost entirely on his words, past and present, rather than on his deeds — to see him as a bomb-throwing outsider even though he has held elected office for 39 years, about half his life. Then again, Sanders himself says little about his moments of governance, apart from his vote against the Iraq war in 2002.

The early chapters of Sanders’s political evolution are a familiar-enough story by now: the odyssey of the Brooklyn-bred lefty writer and documentary filmmaker who moved to the Vermont-Canada border during the Vietnam draft, ran for U.S. senator and Vermont governor in the 1970s on the socialist Liberty Union party ticket and made national headlines in 1981 as the socialist who beat the incumbent mayor of Burlington by 10 votes. Jane Sanders told me: “Somebody asked him, ‘What do you consider yourself?’ And he said, you know, ‘Democratic socialist.’ And of course then they make a big deal out of it. The New York Times, when he was elected mayor of Burlington, pushed it: ‘Socialist Elected Mayor in Burlington, Vt.’” (The actual headline was “Vermont Socialist Plans Mayoralty With Bias Toward Poor.”) She continued: “They did a bigger story on that than when he announced for president, which they put on A19.” Sanders characterizes his mayoral triumph as a victory for movement politics, noting to me the support he received from “people in the low-income housing projects, women, police unions and neighborhood organizations — a working-class coalition that was very dissatisfied with the status quo.”

But what’s more notable about Sanders’s eight-year tenure as mayor was how ably he governed from the center-left. Though the establishment-minded local paper, The Burlington Free Press, had initially opposed his candidacy, “by the third term, we were endorsing him,” recalled Jim Welch, who was the paper’s executive editor at the time. “And it was justified. It’s true that he talked a lot about Reagan’s policies toward Central America and nuclear arms. But mainly he was focused on things like keeping the streets plowed and supporting the arts scene. He worked closely with the business community to revitalize the waterfront and preserve the downtown pedestrian mall. I think by the end of it, the business leaders found themselves saying, ‘Boy, I think we made that work.”

In 1990, three years after U.S. News & World Report named Sanders one of America’s best mayors, he defeated the Republican incumbent for Vermont’s at-large congressional seat. He found no hero’s welcome in Washington, however. Referring to the centrist Democratic coalition, Jane Sanders recalled, “The Blue Dogs didn’t want Bernie in the caucus: ‘He’s an independent; let him go be an independent.”

Feeling snubbed, Sanders reverted to fringe leftist, a loner who vocally criticized Democrats and Republicans in more or less equal measure and was safely ignorable by both. “We didn’t have much contact with him, either on bills or on votes,” former Representative John Tanner, a Tennessee Democrat who led the Blue Dog caucus during Sanders’s House tenure, told me. A senior House Democrat (who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to be seen as stoking intraparty tensions) unfavorably compared Sanders’s 16-year legacy with that of one of his most vigorous supporters today, Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington State: “She’s equally liberal, and she’s made a very big impression in her first three years in Congress. That was not Bernie.”

In 2005, Jim Jeffords, the Republican-turned-independent senator from Vermont, announced his retirement. Within days, Sanders declared his intention to run for the seat. Recognizing that Sanders was probably popular enough to beat any Democratic candidate, the party’s Senate leaders, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer (who attended the same Brooklyn high school as Sanders), opted instead to pre-emptively welcome him to their caucus with open arms. “It was night and day,” Jane Sanders recalled. “Harry asked Bernie, ‘What do you want?’ And he got five committee assignments.”

In return, Reid got the Burlington-mayor version of Bernie Sanders. As a senator, he worked to move whatever legislation was in front of him to the left: expanding Social Security benefits, restricting loopholes for pharmaceutical companies, demanding that the bank-reform bill include an audit of the Federal Reserve. But he also voted reliably with the Democratic caucus. He worked successfully with some Republicans, including John McCain, on a 2014 bill to improve medical access for military veterans. In 2018, he worked with Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, on a war-powers resolution seeking to end America’s role in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen (which Trump subsequently vetoed)."


"“The only reason Bernie’s in this race,” Jane Sanders told me in early February, “is because we think he’s the best chance to defeat Trump.” Sanders himself acknowledged this foremost priority the day after his electoral firewall collapsed in Michigan — and then added, with a degree of candor that was remarkable even for him, that millions of Democratic voters across the nation happened to disagree that he represented the best chance of doing so.

Sanders concluded his brief remarks to the press that Wednesday afternoon by enumerating questions he intended to ask “my friend Joe Biden” at their first and only one-on-one debate four days later. It was a signal that Sanders intended for his legacy to be not a kamikaze mission but instead something more fruitful for the party that was never his. In 2016, Sanders proved he could energize a new generation of voters. During this cycle, he found a way to organize and communicate effectively with Latinos — evidenced not only in Nevada and California but also along the border in Texas, where his delegate share came to just nine shy of Biden’s. That accomplishment is no cheap trick. Should Biden, the probable nominee, combine his gains in the Dallas and Houston suburbs with his former rival’s organizational superiority near the Mexican border, Texas could flip to the Democrats for the first time since 1976.

In defeat, Sanders has prompted a reckoning within the Democratic Party. He has forced upon it an airing of ideological differences, compelling progressives and moderates to choose their leader and then make the case in public. Since the rise of the Tea Party, self-described “principled conservatives” like Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton have claimed that they, too, yearn for such a debate with the … [more]
berniesanders  2020  elections  politics  socialism  us  capitalism  robertdraper  vermont  authenticity  consistency  integrity 
15 days ago
Coronavirus, climate, and capital: capitalism's destructive irrationality - Counterfire
"Capitalism is subjecting itself to great strain and we must be prepared to help it on its way, writes John Clarke
The cascade of recent events, with a global pandemic out in front, has demonstrated the destructive irrationality of capitalism with a quite unprecedented force. What can you say when, in the most economically and military powerful country on earth, the central bank is prepared to pump more than a trillion dollars into the financial markets while almost 30 million people face the onset of Covid-19 without medical coverage? Meanwhile, in the midst of an acute shortage of testing materials, rich Americans can pay for same day test results at the hands of concierge doctors.

In Canada, as I write this, there is still a precious opportunity to slow the onset of the Coronavirus and save lives. Yet, the Tory government of Ontario refuses to restore the paid sick days for workers that it eliminated last year or to prevent employers from requiring sick notes from those who need to self-isolate in order to slow the spread of the virus. “As health providers, our hands are tied,” says Carolina Jimenez, a registered nurse and coordinator of the Decent Work and Health Network, “Our medical advice is to stay at home if you’re sick and it is made meaningless because so many of our patients do not have the financial means to do so.”

The degree to which the prevailing agenda of austerity and cutbacks has left people desperately vulnerable in the face of the pandemic, can be seen with particularly brutal clarity in the case of the swollen populations of homeless people. In Toronto, the hopelessly overcrowded shelters have been aptly described as ‘petri dishes’ that seem designed to accelerate the spread of COVID-19. The overwhelmed Toronto shelters have had the pressure taken off them to some small degree by the ‘Out of the Cold’ back up facilities, run by religious organisations during the winter months. However, those who operate these places have now issued a statement that they will close them during the present health emergency because they can’t even offer the minimal standards provided by the official shelters. “Our guests are eating and sleeping in such close proximity they are coughing and sneezing on each other,” they say, adding, “Most of the OOTCS do not have showers or sufficient toilets and sinks to allow guests to practice the hygiene protocols listed by Toronto Public Health.” That such conditions have been tolerated in one of the wealthiest cities on earth is appalling. That the governing authorities would have allowed them to continue in the face of a pandemic, shows how apt the term ‘destructive irrationality’ really is.

Perhaps, however, this irrationality takes the most appalling turn of all with the incredible position taken by Boris Johnson that ‘exposing a large segment of the population will help build immunity and limit future infections.’ The suggestion that ‘herd immunity’ can be created by allowing this is dubious, to say the least, but it leaves out of the equation the obvious fact that this debatable result could only be achieved by abandoning to their fate a massive number of elderly people and others with compromised immune systems. The poorly concealed logic at work was articulated, as crassly as was humanly possible, by the Telegraph’s Jeremy Warner, when he suggested that, ‘Not to put too fine a point on it, from an entirely disinterested economic perspective, the COVID-19 might even prove mildly beneficial in the long term by disproportionately culling elderly dependents.’

Of course, the horror of the present pandemic is not reducible to appalling government responses or expressions of class based indifference to human suffering. The virus that is rapidly infecting populations across the globe is a byproduct of capitalism’s misuse the resources of this planet and the other species that we share it with. The destruction of habitat and the reckless use of intensive factory farming methods, bring with them the increased risks of pandemics. “So corona walks through the front door as a familiar monster,” writes Mike Davis. At the same time, he drives home the dreadful reality that the same system that has created this threat has systematically undermined the capacity to respond to it. “The current pandemic expands the argument: capitalist globalization now appears to be biologically unsustainable in the absence of a truly international public health infrastructure. But such an infrastructure will never exist until peoples’ movements break the power of Big Pharma and for-profit healthcare.”

Beyond the pandemic
The unleashing of COVID-19 and the inability to deal with it might be proof enough of the charge that capitalism has become a lethal liability. However, there is lots of additional evidence to support the case. The most damning of all is, of course, the onset of a climate crisis that has already spun out of control. ‘Flagship UN study shows accelerating climate change on land, sea and in the atmosphere,’ reads the headline. Yet high level dire warnings, pious declarations by world leaders and theatrical hand wringing by the Davos set, do nothing to arrest the march to utter global catastrophe. Whether the climate vandalism is undertaken by a crude denier, like Australia’s Scott Morrison, or a wily hypocrite like Canada’s Justin Trudeau, a profit driven system is fundamentally incapable of addressing the climate crisis and creating a sustainable relationship with the planet.

As populations sicken and the polar icecaps melt, a crisis on the financial markets points to a developing economic slump on a world scale. The mainstream media would have us believe that the Coronavirus was the fluke event that created this downturn but it’s clear that capitalism has a pre-existing condition that was ready to kick in anyway. The hopelessly inadequate recovery that followed the financial crisis and the Great Recession was already at the end of its rope and the pandemic only functioned as a final straw. In any event, global capitalism now confronts billions of people with a deep economic downturn and all the misery and hardship that brings with it.

Interlocking crises
Though there are other considerations that could well be included in this, if we take the threat of pandemics, the global downturn and the climate disaster that is already impacting tens of millions, it is clear that these interlocking crises have no viable solution within the framework of capitalism. COVID-19 provides a jarring sense of the enormity of what we confront. The only way out is one of revolutionary social transformation. I’m painfully aware that the forces that can pose such a solution are not even remotely equal to the task at this moment but we can’t lose sight of the earth shattering changes that are taking place or underestimate the degree to which radical demands and forms of struggle to obtain them can win massive support at such a time. Such struggles can lay the basis for incredible leaps in consciousness.

During the bombing of London, in World War Two, those in power had no intention of opening the Underground stations for people to take shelter from the bombs. The Boris Johnsons of the day had as much contempt for the working class ‘herd’ then as is the case today. It took left led direct action to open the stations as places of protection during the blitz. As employers put profits ahead of human lives in the face of the present pandemic, working class people are starting to take action. In Italy, spontaneous strikes have spread across the country, to challenge employers who are determined to operate as normal in this dire health crisis. Workers at the Fiat Chrysler factory in Windsor, Ontario, have taken similar action, forcing their union leadership to back their demands. In New York City, education workers are responding to the refusal of the Mayor to close schools with a call for a ‘sick out’ to force the hands of the negligent political decision makers. It includes a strong and clear set of demands that the closing of the system not be done in a way that neglects the needs of working class families.

What we glimpse, with such clear demands and powerful forms of action, is the kind of solidarity for survival that the present crises of capitalism require of us. In the wake of COVID-19, the demand to reverse the degradation of health care systems and the undermining of workers’ rights will take on a greatly intensified urgency and significance. The global downturn that will now unfold will put millions on a collision course with the inevitable attempt to restore profitability at a terrible human cost. The climate crisis can only increase the scale of resistance to its increasingly dreadful impacts. We are only beginning to understand the incredible changes and possibilities that will be opened up by the shock waves passing through the lives of millions of people. Social consciousness always lags behind social being but this is a time when a sudden narrowing of that gap can, literally, change the course of history. There may well have been no time when the need for such a surge was as desperately required or the political need to maximise it so utterly imperative."
capitalism  coronavirus  covid-19  2020  canada  sustainability  climatechange  latecapitalism  politcs  economics  johnclarke  pandemics  precarity 
15 days ago
Who Gets Forgotten in a Pandemic | The Nation
"COVID-19 is finally the monster at the door. Researchers are working night and day to characterize the outbreak but they are faced with three huge challenges. First the continuing shortage or unavailability of test kits has vanquished all hope of containment. Moreover it is preventing accurate estimates of key parameters such as reproduction rate, size of infected population and number of benign infections. The result is a chaos of numbers.

There is, however, more reliable data on the virus’s impact on certain groups in a few countries. It is very scary. The ‘corona flu’ that Trump waves off is an unprecedented danger to geriatric populations, with a potential death toll in the millions.

Second, like annual influenzas, this virus is mutating as it courses through populations with different age compositions and acquired immunities. The variety that Americans are most likely to get is already slightly different from that of the original outbreak in Wuhan. Further mutation could be trivial or could alter the current distribution of virulence which ascends with age, with babies and small children showing scant risk of serious infection while octogenarians face mortal danger from viral pneumonia.

Third, even if the virus remains stable and little mutated, its impact on under-65 age cohorts can differ radically in poor countries and amongst high poverty groups. Consider the global experience of the Spanish flu in 1918-19 which is estimated to have killed 1 to 2 per cent of humanity. In contrast to the corona virus, it was most deadly to young adults and this has often been explained as a result of their relatively stronger immune systems which overreacted to infection by unleashing deadly ‘cytokine storms’ against lung cells. The original H1N1 notoriously found a favored niche in army camps and battlefield trenches where it scythed down young soldiers down by the tens of thousands. The collapse of the great German spring offensive of 1918, and thus the outcome of the war, has been attributed to the fact that the Allies, in contrast to their enemy, could replenish their sick armies with newly arrived American troops.

It is rarely appreciated, however, that fully 60 per cent of global mortality occurred in western India where grain exports to Britain and brutal requisitioning practices coincided with a major drought. Resultant food shortages drove millions of poor people to the edge of starvation. They became victims of a sinister synergy between malnutrition, which suppressed their immune response to infection, and rampant bacterial and viral pneumonia. In another case, British-occupied Iran, several years of drought, cholera, and food shortages, followed by a widespread malaria outbreak, preconditioned the death of estimated fifth of the population.

This history—especially the unknown consequences of interactions with malnutrition and existing infections—should warn us that COVID-19 might take a different and more deadly path in the slums of Africa and South Asia. The danger to the global poor has been almost totally ignored by journalists and Western governments. The only published piece that I’ve seen claims that because the urban population of West Africa is the world’s youngest, the pandemic should have only a mild impact. In light of the 1918 experience, this is a foolish extrapolation. No one knows what will happen over the coming weeks in Lagos, Nairobi, Karachi, or Kolkata. The only certainty is that rich countries and rich classes will focus on saving themselves to the exclusion of international solidarity and medical aid. Walls not vaccines: could there be a more evil template for the future?

A year from now we may look back in admiration at China’s success in containing the pandemic but in horror at the USA’s failure. (I’m making the heroic assumption that China’s declaration of rapidly declining transmission is more or less accurate.) The inability of our institutions to keep Pandora’s Box closed, of course, is hardly a surprise. Since 2000 we’ve repeatedly seen breakdowns in frontline healthcare.

The 2018 flu season, for instance, overwhelmed hospitals across the country, exposing the shocking shortage of hospital beds after twenty years of profit-driven cutbacks of in-patient capacity (the industry’s version of just-in-time inventory management). Private and charity hospital closures and nursing shortages, likewise enforced by market logic, have devastated health services in poorer communities and rural areas, transferring the burden to underfunded public hospitals and VA facilities. ER conditions in such institutions are already unable to cope with seasonal infections, so how will they cope with an imminent overload of critical cases?

We are in the early stages of a medical Katrina. Despite years of warnings about avian flu and other pandemics, inventories of basic emergency equipment such as respirators aren’t sufficient to deal with the expected flood of critical cases. Militant nurses unions in California and other states are making sure that we all understand the grave dangers created by inadequate stockpiles of essential protective supplies like N95 face masks. Even more vulnerable because invisible are the hundreds of thousands of low-wage and overworked homecare workers and nursing home staff.

The nursing home and assisted care industry which warehouses 2.5 million elderly Americans—most of them on Medicare—has long been a national scandal. According to the New York Times, an incredible 380,000 nursing home patients die every year from facilities’ neglect of basic infection control procedures. Many homes—particularly in Southern states—find it cheaper to pay fines for sanitary violations than to hire additional staff and provide them with proper training. Now, as the Seattle example warns, dozens, perhaps hundreds more nursing homes will become corona virus hotspots and their minimum-wage employees will rationally choose to protect their own families by staying home. In such a case the system could collapse and we shouldn’t expect the National Guard to empty bedpans.

The outbreak has instantly exposed the stark class divide in healthcare: those with good health plans who can also work or teach from home are comfortably isolated provided they follow prudent safeguards. Public employees and other groups of unionized workers with decent coverage will have to make difficult choices between income and protection. Meanwhile millions of low wage service workers, farm employees, uncovered contingent workers, the unemployed and the homeless will be thrown to the wolves. Even if Washington ultimately resolves the testing fiasco and provides adequate numbers of kits, the uninsured will still have to pay doctors or hospitals for administrating the tests. Overall family medical bills will soar at the same time that millions of workers are losing their jobs and their employer-provided insurance. Could there possibly be a stronger, more urgent case in favor of Medicare for All?

But universal coverage is only a first step. It’s disappointing, to say the least, that in the primary debates neither Sanders or Warren has highlighted Big Pharma’s abdication of the research and development of new antibiotics and antivirals. Of the 18 largest pharmaceutical companies, 15 have totally abandoned the field. Heart medicines, addictive tranquilizers and treatments for male impotence are profit leaders, not the defenses against hospital infections, emergent diseases and traditional tropical killers. A universal vaccine for influenza—that is to say, a vaccine that targets the immutable parts of the virus’s surface proteins—has been a possibility for decades but never a profitable priority.

As the antibiotic revolution is rolled back, old diseases will reappear alongside novel infections and hospitals will become charnel houses. Even Trump can opportunistically rail against absurd prescription costs, but we need a bolder vision that looks to break up the drug monopolies and provide for the public production of lifeline medicines. (This used to be the case: during World War Two, the Army enlisted Jonas Salk and other researchers to develop the first flu vaccine.) As I wrote fifteen years ago in my book The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu:
Access to lifeline medicines, including vaccines, antibiotics, and antivirals, should be a human right, universally available at no cost. If markets can’t provide incentives to cheaply produce such drugs, then governments and non-profits should take responsibility for their manufacture and distribution. The survival of the poor must at all times be accounted a higher priority than the profits of Big Pharma.

The current pandemic expands the argument: Capitalist globalization now appears to be biologically unsustainable in the absence of a truly international public health infrastructure. But such an infrastructure will never exist until peoples’ movements break the power of Big Pharma and for-profit healthcare."
mikedavis  2020  covid-19  coronavirus  pandemics  solidarity  class  inequality  healthcare  avianflu  policy  universalhealthcare  priorities  bigpharma  globalization  capitalism  sustainability  latecapitalism  2018  medicareforall  china  health  india  spanishflu  influenza  flu  1918  economics  antibiotics 
15 days ago
As the Pandemic Drives the Global Economy Apart, Societies May Break Apart, Too
"As of March 2020, the entire world is affected by an evil with which it is incapable of dealing effectively and regarding whose duration no one can make any serious predictions. The economic repercussions of the novel coronavirus pandemic must not be understood as an ordinary problem that macroeconomics can solve or alleviate. Rather, the world could be witnessing a fundamental shift in the very nature of the global economy.

The immediate crisis is one of both supply and demand. Supply is falling because companies are closing down or reducing their workloads to protect workers from contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Lower interest rates can’t make up the shortfall from workers who are not going to work—just as, if a factory were bombed in a war, a lower interest rate would not conjure up lost supply the following day, week, or month.

The supply shock is exacerbated by a decrease in demand due to the fact that people are locked in, and many of the goods and services they used to consume are no longer available. If you shut countries off and stop air traffic, no amount of demand and price management will make people fly. If people are afraid or forbidden to go to restaurants or public events because of the likelihood of getting infected, demand management might at most have a very tiny effect—and not necessarily the most desirable one, from the point of view of public health.

The world faces the prospect of a profound shift: a return to natural—which is to say, self-sufficient—economy. That shift is the very opposite of globalization. While globalization entails a division of labor among disparate economies, a return to natural economy means that nations would move toward self-sufficiency. That movement is not inevitable. If national governments can control or overcome the current crisis within the next six months or a year, the world would likely return to the path of globalization, even if some of the assumptions that undergirded it (for example, very taut production chains with just-in-time deliveries) might have to be revised.

But if the crisis continues, globalization could unravel. The longer the crisis lasts, and the longer obstacles to the free flow of people, goods, and capital are in place, the more that state of affairs will come to seem normal. Special interests will form to sustain it, and the continuing fear of another epidemic may motivate calls for national self-sufficiency. In this sense, economic interests and legitimate health worries could dovetail. Even a seemingly small requirement—for instance, that everyone who enters a country needs to present, in addition to a passport and a visa, a health certificate—would constitute an obstacle to the return to the old globalized way, given how many millions of people would normally travel.

That process of unraveling might be, in its essence, similar to the unraveling of the global ecumene that happened with the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire into a multitude of self-sufficient demesnes between the fourth and the sixth centuries. In the resulting economy, trade was used simply to exchange surplus goods for other types of surplus produced by other demesnes, rather than to spur specialized production for an unknown buyer. As F. W. Walbank wrote in The Decline of the Roman Empire in the West, “Over the whole [disintegrating] Empire there was a gradual reversion to small-scale, hand-to-mouth craftsmanship, producing for the local market and for specific orders in the vicinity.”

In the current crisis, people who have not become fully specialized enjoy an advantage. If you can produce your own food, if you do not depend on publicly provided electricity or water, you are not only safe from disruptions that may arise in food supply chains or the provision of electricity and water; you are also safer from getting infected, because you do not depend on food prepared by somebody else who may be infected, nor do you need repair people, who may also be infected, to come fix anything at your home. The less you need others, the safer and better off you are. Everything that used to be an advantage in a heavily specialized economy now becomes a disadvantage, and the reverse.

The movement to natural economy would be driven not by ordinary economic pressures but by much more fundamental concerns, namely, epidemic disease and the fear of death. Therefore, standard economic measures can only be palliative in nature: they can (and should) provide protection to people who lose their jobs and have nothing to fall back on and who frequently lack even health insurance. As such people become unable to pay their bills, they will create cascading shocks, from housing evictions to banking crises.

Even so, the human toll of the disease will be the most important cost and the one that could lead to societal disintegration. Those who are left hopeless, jobless, and without assets could easily turn against those who are better off. Already, some 30 percent of Americans have zero or negative wealth. If more people emerge from the current crisis with neither money, nor jobs, nor access to health care, and if these people become desperate and angry, such scenes as the recent escape of prisoners in Italy or the looting that followed Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 might become commonplace. If governments have to resort to using paramilitary or military forces to quell, for example, riots or attacks on property, societies could begin to disintegrate.

Thus the main (perhaps even the sole) objective of economic policy today should be to prevent social breakdown. Advanced societies must not allow economics, particularly the fortunes of financial markets, to blind them to the fact that the most important role economic policy can play now is to keep social bonds strong under this extraordinary pressure."
brankomilanovic  society  2020  covid-19  economics  inequality  policy  hurricanekatrina  2005  work  labor  unemployment  collapse  capitalism  supplychains  romanempire  fwwalbank  globalization  self-sufficiency  governance  government  global  world  coronavirus 
15 days ago
Why America is the World’s First Poor Rich Country - Eudaimonia and Co
“Consider the following statistics. The average American can’t scrape together $500 for an emergency. A third of Americans can’t afford food, shelter, and healthcare. Healthcare for a family now costs $28k — about half of median income, which is $60k.

By themselves, of course, statistics say little. But together these facts speak volumes. The story they are beginning to tell is this.

America, it seems, is becoming something like the world’s first poor rich country. And that is the elephant in the room we aren’t quite grasping. After all, authoritarianism and extremism don’t arise in prosperous societies — but in troubled ones, which are growing impoverished, like America is today. What do I mean by all that?

Let’s begin with what I don’t mean. I don’t mean absolute poverty. Americans are not living on a few dollars a day, by and large, like people in, for example, Somalia or Bangladesh. America’s median income is still that of a rich country, around $50k, depending on how it’s counted. Nor do I really mean relative poverty — people living below median income. While that’s a growing problem in America, because the middle class is imploding, that is not really the true problem these numbers hint at, either.

America appears to be pioneering a new kind of poverty altogether. One for which we do not yet have a name. It is something like living at the knife’s edge, constantly being on the brink of ruin, one small step away from catastrophe and disaster, ever at the risk of falling through the cracks. It has two components — massive inflation for the basics of life, coupled with crushing, asymmetrical risk. I’ll come to what those mean shortly.

The average American has a relatively high income, that of a person in a nominally rich country. Only his income does not go very far. Most of it is eaten up by attempting to afford the basics of life. We’ve already seen how steep healthcare costs are. But then there is education. There is transport. There is interest and rent. There is media and communications. There is childcare and elderly care. All these things reduce the average American to constantly living right at the edge of ruin — one paycheck away from penury, one emergency away from losing it all.

But this isn’t true for America’s peers. In Europe, Canada, and even Australia, society invests in all these things — and the costs of basic necessities societies don’t provide are regulated. For example, I pay $50 dollars for broadband and TV in London — but $200 for the same thing in New York — yet in London, I get vastly more and better media for my money (even including, yes, American junk like Ancient Aliens). That’s regulation at work. And when basic goods like healthcare or elderly care or education are provided and managed at a social scale, that is when they are cheapest, and often of the best quality, too. Hence, healthcare costs far less in London, Paris, or Geneva — and life expectancy is longer, too.

So if you are earning $50k in America, it is a very different thing than earning $50k in France, Germany, or Sweden — in America, you must pay steeply for the basics of life, for basic necessities. Thus, incomes stretch much further in other countries, which enjoy a vastly higher quality of life, even though people there earn roughly the same amount, because they pay vastly less for basic necessities. Americans are rich, but only nominally — their money doesn’t buy nearly as much as their peers does, where it matters and counts most, for the basics of life.

What happens when societies don’t understand all the above? Well, a strange thing has happened to the American economy. While it’s true that things like TVs and Playstations have gotten cheaper, the costs of the basics of life have skyrocketed. All the things that really elevate people’s quality of life — healthcare, finance, education, transport, housing, and so on — have come to consume such a large share of the average household’s income that they have little left to save, invest, or spend on anything else. And what’s worse, while the basics of life have seen massive inflation, wages and incomes (not to mention savings and benefits and safety nets and opportunities) for most have stagnated. The result is an economy — and a society — that’s collapsing.

Yet all that is the straightforward effect of giving, for example, hedge funds control over drugs, or speculators control over housing, healthcare, and education — they will of course maximize profits, whereas investing in these things socially, or at least regulating them, minimizes real costs, and maximizes accessibility, affordability, and quality.

So the average American, who is left high and dry, must borrow, borrow, borrow, just to maintain a decent quality of life — because handing capitalism control of the basics of life has caused massive, skyrocketing inflation in necessities, while flatlining his income. Healthcare didn’t used to cost half of median income even a decade ago, after all — but now it does. So what happens when, in a decade or two, healthcare costs all of median income? How can an economy — let alone a society — function that way?

Well, what happens if the average American steps over the line? Misses a mortgage payment, gets ill and is unable to pay a few bills on time, can’t pay the costs of healthcare? Then they are punished severely and mercilessly. Their “credit rating” (note how banks and hedge funds don’t have them) is ruined. They can easily find themselves out on the street, without finance, without a second chance, without access to any kind of redress or support . And then they are rejected, shunned, and ostracized. They might not have an address anymore — so who will hire them? They are no longer a part of society — they have fallen through the cracks, and finding one’s way back is often next to impossible. Asymmetrical risk — corporations and lobbies and banks bear no risk at all, precisely because the average American bears them all now.

So Americans aren’t just absolutely or relatively poor, but poor in a new way entirely. First, the basics of life exploded in price, to the point that they are now unaffordable for many, maybe most, households. Second, Americans bear the risks of paying those unaffordable costs to an extreme degree, bearing the risks that institutions should, and so those risks are now ruinously high. A bank or hedge fund or corporation might go bankrupt, and liquidate its assets, and its owners stay rich — but if an American’s credit rating is ruined, loses his job, cannot pay his bills, or even if he declares bankruptcy, he falls through the cracks, hounded, embattled, institutionally black-marked. He finds himself outside society, with little way to get back in. Little wonder then that Americans work so much harder than anywhere else — they are always one step away from losing it all, from genuine ruin, but their peers in truly rich countries aren’t.

Marx probably would have called this immiseration. Neo-Marxist theorists call it precarity. And while there’s truth in both those ideas and perspectives, I think they miss three vital points.

We don’t see America as a poor country, but we should begin to. Americans live fairly abysmal lives — short, lonely, unhappy, full of work and stress and despair, compared to their peers. That is because they cannot afford better ones — predatory capitalism coupled with total economic mismanagement of social investments has made the basics of life ruinously unaffordable. In this way, it’s effectively a poor country — yes, there’s a tiny number of ultra-rich, but they are outliers now, off the map of the normal. Because it’s not just any kind of poverty, yesterday’s poverty, or even poverty as we are used to thinking about it.

America is pioneering a new kind of poverty. The kind of poverty that’s developed in America isn’t just bizarre and gruesome — it’s novel and unseen. It isn’t something that we understand well, economists, intellectuals, thinkers, because we have no good framework to think about it. It’s not absolute poverty like Somalia, and it’s not just relative poverty, like in gilded banana republics. It’s a uniquely American creation. It’s extreme capitalism meets Social Darwinism by way of rugged self-reliance crossed with puritanical cruelty.

The kind of poverty America’s pioneering today isn’t absolute, or even relative , but something more like perfectly tuned poverty, strategic poverty, basic poverty— nominally well-off people whose money doesn’t go far enough to make them actually live well, constantly living at the edge of ruin, and thus forced to choke down their bitter anger and serve the very systems which oppress and subjugate with more and more indignity and fear and servility by the year.

America’s still an innovator today. Unfortunately, what it’s innovating now is a new kind of poverty. Yet poverty is poverty. What happens in societies where poverty is growing? Authoritarianism rises, as people lose faith in democracy, which can’t seem to offer them working social contracts. Authoritarian soon enough becomes fascism — “this country, this land, its harvest — it is only for the true volk!”, the cry goes up, when there is not enough to go around. And the rest of the dark and grim story of the fall into the abyss you should know well enough by now. It ends in words we do not say.

Still, history, laughing, has told this tale to us many times. And it is telling it to tomorrow, again, in the tale of American collapse.”
unairhaque  2018  poverty  us  economics  inequality  infrastructure  europe  australia  canada  policy  precarity  healthcare  finance  education  highered  highereducation  transit  transportation  hosuing  savings  hedgefunds  drugs  qualityoflife  inflation  income  risk  socialdarwinism  politics 
15 days ago
Coronavirus has shattered the myth that the economy must come first | Adam Tooze | Opinion | The Guardian
"The coronavirus shutdown of 2020 is perhaps the most remarkable interruption to ordinary life in modern history. It has been spoken about as a war. And one is reminded of the stories told of the interruption of normality in 1914 and 1939. But unlike a war, the present moment involves demobilisation not mobilisation. While the hospitals are on full alert, the majority of us are confined to quarters. We are deliberately inducing one of the most severe recessions ever seen. In so doing we are driving another nail into the coffin of one of the great platitudes of the late 20th century: it’s the economy stupid.

Once upon a time we thought we knew what was up and what was down. According to the lingua franca of the 1990s, in the wake of the cold war, it was obvious that the economics were the fundamentals, and the rest followed. It was the west’s economic success that felled communism. And the economy ruled not only over creaky communist dictatorships, it defined the scope of possible politics in democracies. Arguing against globalisation, Tony Blair insisted, was as absurd as arguing against the seasons.

Then came 2008 and we were left wondering who the economic masters of the universe actually were. It was followed by the extraordinary, politically induced catastrophe of the eurozone debt crisis, in which conservative fiscal populism and dogma – disguised as expertise – ruled over the need to ensure employment and grow the pie. Then in 2016 the UK referendum delivered a majority for Brexit in the face of predictions of economic disaster. Months later, Donald Trump, a narcissistic billionaire, was swept to power by working-class votes in the face of opposition by the great and the good. Both the UK and the US have since pursued policies of spectacular economic irrationality without fear of a crushing veto by the markets. Liberal elites waited in vain for the market vigilantes to arrive.

And now Covid-19. Imagine if blunt economic interest was, in fact, dictating our response. Would we be shutting the economy down? What we know about the virus tells us that it most often kills what are by the numbers the “least productive” members of society. The majority of the working population experience symptoms barely more significant than a regular flu. Unlike regular flus it does not threaten children, the future workers. The virus may be bad, but simplistic economic logic would dictate that until we have a vaccine it would be best to keep life going, because, you know, “it’s the economy stupid”.

That was indeed the first reaction of the British government. The headline was that Britain was staying open for business. Journalists with good memories dug up Boris Johnson’s fondness for the mayor in Steven Spielberg’s Jaws who insists that despite the fact that a sea monster is eating his constituents the beach should stay open. The higher wisdom of public health, we were told, was that the productive workforce would acquire immunity. We know how that bold experiment in heroic economism has ended: a panic-driven withdrawal in the face of the disastrous scenario of hundreds of thousands of excess deaths, overwhelmed NHS hospitals and a crisis of political legitimacy.

It suddenly became obvious that when matters of life and death are concerned the calculus is different. Of course, old and sick people die. We all will in due course. But it matters fundamentally how and under what circumstances. A huge surge in mortality, even if it is limited to “vulnerable” populations with pre-existing conditions, is existentially unsettling. So too are the apocalyptic scenes that will unfold in our hospitals. In an earlier age, they might have remained behind a decent veil of obscurity. (No doubt the NHS and the BBC will work out the protocols for “embedded” reporting from the clinical frontlines.) But the words and images that have already come to us from northern Italy and Wuhan are bad enough. Faced with all of this, the stupidity lies in not recognising promptly that we must act, that we must shut down, that even the most essential individual activity of the market age, public shopping, has mutated into a crime against society.

This is not to say that economics is not shaping the crisis. It is the relentless expansion of the Chinese economy and the resulting mix of modern urban life with traditional food customs that creates the viral incubators. It is globalised transportation systems that speed up transmission. It is calculations of cost that define the number of intensive-care beds and the stockpiles of ventilators. It is the commercial logic of drug development that defines the range of vaccines we have ready and waiting; obscure coronaviruses don’t get the same attention as erectile dysfunction. And once the virus began to spread, it was the UK’s attachment to business as usual that induced fatal delay. Shutting down comes at a price. No one wants to do it. But then it turns out, in the face of the terrifying predictions of sickness and death, there really is no alternative.

It is once you have overcome that political, intellectual and existential hurdle – to realise that this is a matter of life and death – that economics enters back in. And it does so with a vengeance. The logic revealed by the well-organised Asian states is that it is best to conduct a severe quarantine regime in the hope of being able to return to normal activity as soon as possible. The Chinese economy is already resuming step by step.

In the west, the scale and breadth of the epidemic is such that our response now will have to be a blanket shutdown. And that begs gigantic questions of economic management. Even conservative governments on both sides of the Atlantic are pulling every lever of monetary and fiscal policy. In a matter of weeks they have embarked on gigantic interventions on a scale comparable to those in 2008. They may be able to soften the blow. But it is an open question how long we will be able to persist, how long we will be able to freeze the economy to save lives.

In making the difficult choices that lie ahead we have at least gained one degree of freedom. The big idea of the 1990s that “the economy” will serve as a regulating superego of our politics is a busted flush. Given the experience of the past dozen years we should now never tire of asking: which economic constraints are real and which imagined?"
covid-19  economics  2020  adamtooze  war  policy  globalization  tonyblair  debt  uk  us  markets  latecapitalism  capitalism  politics  coronavirus 
15 days ago
Sanders to the aid of democracy in the United States – Le blog de Thomas Piketty
"[graph of voter turnout in the US, France, and Britain from 1945 to 2020]

Let it be said at once: the treatment received by Bernie Sanders in the leading media in the United States and in Europe is unjust and dangerous. Everywhere on the main networks and the large daily papers we read that Sanders is an ‘extremist’ and that only a ‘centrist’ candidate like Biden could triumph over Trump. This biased and somewhat unscrupulous treatment is particularly regrettable when a closer examination of the facts actually suggests that only a full-scale reorientation of the type proposed by Sanders would eventually rid American democracy of the inegalitarian practices which undermine it and deal with the electoral disaffection of the working classes.

Let’s begin with the programme. To say emphatically, as Sanders does, that a public, universal health insurance would enable the American population to be cared for more efficiently and more cheaply than the present private and extremely unequal system is not an ‘extremist’ statement. It is on the contrary a declaration, perfectly well documented by many research studies and international comparisons. In these difficult times when everyone deplores the rise of “fake news”, it is right and proper for some candidates to rely on established facts and not resort to obscure language and complex tactics.

Similarly, Sanders is right when he proposes large-scale public investment in favour of education and public universities. Historically the prosperity of the United States has relied in the 20th century on the educational advance of the country over Europe and on a degree of equality in this field, and definitely not on the sacralisation of inequality and the unlimited accumulation of fortunes which Reagan wished to impose as an alternative model in the 1980s. The failure of this Reagan-style rupture is patent today with the growth of national income per capita being halved and an unprecedented rise in inequality. Sanders simply proposed a return to the sources of the country’s model for development: a very wide diffusion of education.

Sanders also proposes a considerable rise in the level of the minimum wage (a policy in which the United States were for a long time the world leaders) and to learn from the experiences in co-management and voting rights for employees on the Boards of Directors of firms implemented successfully in Germany and in Sweden for decades. Generally speaking, Sanders’ proposals show him to be a pragmatic social-democrat endeavouring to make the most of the experiences available and in no way a ‘radical’. And when he chooses to go further than European social democracy, for example with his proposal for a federal wealth tax rising to 8% per annum on multi-billionaires, this corresponds to the reality of the excessive concentration of wealth in the United States and the fiscal and administrative capacities of the American federal state, which has already been demonstrated historically.

Now, let’s deal with the question of opinion polls. The problem of the repeated assertions that Biden would be better placed to beat Trump is that they have no objective factual basis. If we examine the existing data such as those compiled by, it is clear in all the national opinion polls that Sanders would beat Trump with the same differential as Biden. These polls are of course premature, but they are just as much for Biden as for Sanders. In several key States, we find that Sanders would come out ahead of Trump, for example in Pennsylvania and in Wisconsin.

If we analyse the surveys on the primaries which have just taken place, it appears clearly that Sanders mobilises the working-class electorate more than Biden. It is true that the latter attracts a considerable share of the Black vote, an inheritance of the Obama-Biden ticket. But Sanders mobilises the vast majority of the Latino vote and crushes Biden amongst the 18-29 years age group, as he does in the 30-44 years group. Above all, all the polls indicate that Sanders has the best scores amongst the underprivileged (annual incomes below 50,000$, no higher education qualification), whereas Biden, on the contrary, has the best scores amongst the most privileged (annual incomes above 100,000$, higher education diploma), whether it be White voters or those from minority backgrounds, independent of age.

Now it so happens that the highest potential for mobilisation is amongst the most underprivileged social categories. Generally speaking, voter turnout has always been relatively low in the United States: just barely above 50%, whereas it has long been between 70%-80% in France and in the United Kingdom, before falling recently. If we examine things in greater detail, we also find that on the other side of the Atlantic, there is a structurally lower participation amongst the poorest half of the voters, with a difference in the region of 15%-20% with the richest half (a difference which has also begun to be visible in Europe since the 1990s, even if it remains less marked).

[graph of voter turnout and social cleavages in the US, France, and Britain from 1945-2020]

To put it clearly: this electoral alienation of the American working classes is so long-standing that it will certainly not be reversed in one day. But what else can we do to deal with it than to undertake a far-reaching re-orientation of the election programme of the Democratic Party and to discuss these ideas openly in national campaigns? The cynical, and unfortunately very commonplace vision amongst the Democratic elites, that nothing can be done to mobilise further the working-class vote, is extremely dangerous. In the last resort, this cynicism weakens the legitimacy of the democratic electoral system itself."
thomaspiketty  berniesanders  2020  democracy  us  politics  economics  class  inequality  capitalism  latecapitalism  elitism  democrats  uk  france  germany  voting  joebiden  donaldtrump 
15 days ago
The Sanders worldview wins even as Bernie loses | Financial Times
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Eight years have passed since Mitt Romney expressed his disappointment with almost half of all Americans. Forty seven per cent are “dependent upon government” — claimed the Republican party’s then presidential nominee, in leaked remarks — and “believe that they are victims”. Among the frills to which they regard themselves “entitled” are medical care, accommodation and food. “You name it,” he said, as though he had just itemised the contents of a prima donna’s rider.

On Monday, Mr Romney urged the government to pay $1,000 to each and every American adult. Besides this helicopter money, the senator wants to help the virus-stricken economy with more paid leave, unemployment insurance and nutritional programmes. The stern budget hawk of yesteryear, for whom the US was a wheezing slacker, ripe for a private-equity turnround, could hardly be more munificent.

It is my profession’s crass duty to spot the winners and losers of coronavirus. In the first category, I suggest another septuagenarian senator of New England pedigree. Bernie Sanders will not — and therefore, at 78, will never — be the Democratic nominee for US president. After clinching primaries in Florida and elsewhere on Tuesday, Joe Biden is now less his competitor in that race than a receding speck on the horizon. There is comfort for Mr Sanders, however, in the intellectual co-option of such improbable people as Mr Romney.

In a way that was not true even two weeks ago, US politics now takes place on unambiguously social-democratic terms. A leftward trend that was already in glacial progress (look at public opinion on healthcare, on wealth taxes) has accelerated in an atmosphere of emergency. The crisis has been the making of the Sanders worldview.

Britain is going to fiscal extremes under a Conservative government. France under a supply-sider of a president is doing the same. What makes the US distinct is that its debate does not stop at the near-term propping up of households and business. It touches on larger questions of distribution. Hence Mr Romney’s ideas, which go beyond the usual payroll tax cuts and business loan guarantees of a chamber-of-commerce Republican. In a time of contagion, the case for universal healthcare, at times a fog of detail, has also found painful simplicity: unless everyone has care, no one does. Mr Sanders has lived long enough to see the normalisation of his once-weird views.

We are in the early stages of one of history’s periodic discontinuities in economic thought. The sharpest, perhaps, since the Opec oil crises that elevated the free-marketeers in the 1970s. Readers will suggest the crash in 2008, after which a biography of John Maynard Keynes announced the “return of the master”. Well, it was fleeting. Before long, there were fiscal retrenchments around the western world. In the US, there was the Tea Party movement, the neutering of President Barack Obama by a Republican Congress, and his successor’s raid on the administrative state. The laissez-faire right was not much less ascendant in 2017, say, than in 2007.

This time feels different. For one thing, the stakes are higher. A virus promises a rather worse fate than mere immiseration. Nor can any section of society blame another. There will be no cable television blowhard pinning this on the poor, with their uppity dreams of home-ownership, and no Occupy movement. It is easier, then, to reach agreement, if not consensus, on larger and more active government. Even the left cannot squander this historic opening.

To my knowledge, there is no classical term for the inverse of a Pyrrhic victory: a defeat from which one ends up profiting. The absence is irritating because politics so often throws up events begging to be described as such.

In 1964, Barry Goldwater, with his heresies against the New Deal, suffered a huge loss for the Republicans in the presidential election. Except, in the end, he didn’t. “It just took 16 years to count the votes,” said the columnist George Will, about Ronald Reagan’s win in 1980. His point was that Goldwater’s strident example had inspired the New Right. One-off defeat was a small price for the infusion of radical ideas into the national bloodstream. If anything, the loss gave him a martyr’s glamour.

These may be Mr Sanders’s last days as a contender. Blanch as he might at the comparison, there is something of Goldwater about his career arc. The fringe years, the breakthrough, the electoral ceiling — and the ideological triumph via proxies. If it is his fate to watch the US embrace bigger government, but under the leadership of others, there are worse niches in history. He will not have to wait 16 years to see it."
jananganesh  2020  berniesanders  elections  covid-19  government  mittromney  crisis  joebiden  policy  politics  economics  society  france  inequality  barackobama  capitalism  latecapitalism  occupywallstreet  ows  ronaldreagan  georgewill  barrygoldwater  1964  1980  newdeal  us  2012  coronavirus 
15 days ago
Comida de pobre — Open Plaza
“Comida de Pobre,” Dad would jokingly say as he put the egg on top of my white rice. It was called “poor people’s food” because, with only a few dollars, you could at least buy rice for a family of three, the egg was sometimes a luxury.

I always asked for my egg scrambled---runny yolks made me itchy.

Courtesy of Jorge Juan Rodríguez V
Courtesy of Jorge Juan Rodríguez V

As a kid, I didn’t necessarily understand the extent of it all. I knew my friends from the suburban elementary school I was bussed to had new toys, expensive sneakers, cars that looked much more put together than our Oldsmobile station wagon with the seat that flipped up in the trunk. We lived in this “co-op,” an affordable-housing complex of connected townhouses. When I was little, I would knock on the kitchen wall, and my abuela and tío, who lived next door, would knock back.

I was a happy kid. And also, I understood where we fit in the world. When we went to stores, I always ran to the toy section and grabbed something that made me smile. I’d run back to my parents to ask if we could buy it.

“En estos momentos no se puede, Bebo,” we can’t right now. So I would smile, play with it while we were in the store—careful not to break the packaging—and then put it back before we left.

When I was little, I hadn’t read Marx, Fanon, bell hooks. I just looked at my reality and had questions. Mami and Papi worked hard: dad left at five in the morning to be with me in the afternoon; mom came home in the evening. Occasionally, I would go to their work.

I didn’t understand why the other kids lived in huge houses with big yards while we ate rice and eggs. I just knew I preferred my egg scrambled because runny yolks made me itchy.

I’ve come to realize that I’m not the only one who had to eat white rice with an egg on top. Indeed, each day, hundreds of thousands of people in this country work dozens of hours and can’t afford an egg for their rice. These people are your neighbors, your Uber drivers, your teachers, your grocery store workers, your chefs, your waiters and waitresses.

What a global pandemic has made clear, however, is that all of our lives wouldn’t function without workers like: my dad, the head chef in a series of magnet schools; my mom, a family advocate for Head Start; my partner, a New York City public school teacher; my cousin, a delivery driver; my neighbor, a building super; my bodega guy, a sandwich maker and store clerk.

Yet the economic system we have makes it so that many of these workers struggle to buy groceries, pay rent, cover medical bills—with or without a pandemic.

The term apocalypse has historically referred to a cataclysmic ending of the world.

However, in its most original form, apocalypse means an ‘unveiling’ or ‘uncovering,’ a making plain of the world that surrounds us.
By this definition, we certainly are living through an apocalypse, as the realities of global pandemic are making plain the fault lines of our social systems. Being unveiled are the lies we tell ourselves every day about who and what we should value in the systems meant to sustain us."


"How viable is our capitalist system, which necessitates that some workers—now considered “essential”—live in poverty, exploited of their labor, so that only a few can earn billions?"
covid-19  labor  class  work  2020  jorgejuanrodríguezv  food  simplicity  apocalypse  unveiling  rvelation  uncovering  economics  capitalism  latecapitalism  socialism  society  coronavirus 
15 days ago
The Democratic Design of David & Mary Medd - Architecture - e-flux
"The layout of the Medds’ early Hertfortshire schools didn’t support progressive teaching practices; they were still based on self-contained classrooms. However, the architecture was tailored to the scale of the child, with low window sills to see out of, lightweight furniture easily moveable by children, connection to the outdoors in each classroom, and decorative arts integrated into the design for stimulating intellectual development. The Hertfortshire schools allowed for guiding principles to be established for a child-centered school design that was further developed by Mary in the following decades. “Schools had to be broken up in bulk and not look industrial… Children should be able to see out of windows… The main entrance of the school should be used by children as well as adults.”"


"The Thatcher Revolution in Schools: “A Profession Brought to Heel”
Subsequent shifts in government, approach, and ambition coupled with a changing social and economic context ended the golden era of post-war school design in England. Margaret Thatcher, who served as Minister of Education from 1970–1974, clashed with the educational establishment at the time. Once in power as prime minister, she introduced “profound change in the ecology of education,” heralding the beginning of a new regime in education.

With a shift in emphasis away from progressive child-centered education models to a more military style approach to education, teachers ultimately lost control of the classroom in terms of curriculum, design, and use of space. Architecturally, the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988 resulted in locking down spatial opportunities and a return to the former hegemonic classroom model that the Plowden era schools had attempted to move away from.

The process of erosion of progressive values in public sector schooling, which began in the 1970s with Thatcher, has resulted today in an educational system far from what the Medds sought to support through their work. According to Michael Fielding and Peter Moss, the neoliberal agenda for education, which focuses on standardization, results, ratings, and increasing competition between schools, “impedes education’s ability to work with new and important understandings of children, knowledge and learning, which emphasize diversity and complexity.”

Tightening regulation in school design coupled with today’s political context of austerity has effectively eliminated the opportunity for schools to make significant structural or curricular changes from within. With the annulation of the Building Schools for the Future program in 2010, building new or extending existing public sector schools in the UK is limited. Between 1950–1970, teachers could author both the content of the school curriculum and their method of delivering it. “By contrast now a range of external influences dictates the nature of the experience—measurable outcomes and answerability of schools and individuals within them to parental and government pressure.”

Public education is a collective task, “a subject of civic interest and a responsibility of all citizens: the public in public education.” Faced with a crisis in terms of the climate emergency as well as the global rise of nationalism and individualism, emphasis in school design needs to return to becoming a more collective endeavor, focused on the creation of “caring” communities. Michael Fielding’s question remains of “how might we develop a radical education with democracy as a fundamental value and the common school as a basic public institution in a truly democratic society?”

A common undercurrent in progressive educational thinking and associated architectural models are the core principles of the rights of the child. What these approaches have in common is the mutual desire to support the natural inquisitiveness of childhood by spatially providing for the multiple possibilities of learning. As Colin Ward advocates, “in the ideal city, every school would be a productive workshop and every workshop an effective school.” Perhaps it is time to revisit the humane functionalism of the Medds, where architecture might again acknowledge that “children are the basis of school design.”"
davidmedd  marymedd  democracy  children  schools  schooldesign  architecture  design  2020  aoifedonnelly  kristintrommler  colinward  cities  urban  urbanism  society  democratic  michaelfielding  progressive  regulation  curriculum  howwelearn  howweteach  community  teaching  learning  education  schooling  margaretthatcher  petermoss  evelynlowe  classrooms  flexibility  schoolhouse  tcsnmy  openstudioproject  lcproject  furniture  arts  art  variety  crowisland  elielsaarinen  connection 
15 days ago
Tim Kong on Twitter: "The drive to lift and shift the BAU of public education into the home as a result of #COVID and potential lockdown situations is a completely broken and shameful response to the reality of these times By any measure, these are extrao
[now here: ]

“The drive to lift and shift the BAU of public education into the home as a result of #COVID and potential lockdown situations is a completely broken and shameful response to the reality of these times

By any measure, these are extraordinary times.

The PM said “Be strong, be kind, we will be OK.”

At no point did she say, “We need SSO credentials to deliver the NZ curriculum into every home, with an app and secure website to support parents while teachers will need to redesign their pedagogy for delivering via Zoom.”

Society doesn’t need every techbros hot-take on a zillion ways to STEMify your house using Pinterest.

The future is bleak, troubling and scary right now. Don’t pretend otherwise.

Teachers and schools are about caring. We care by listening and by being present.

When your child’s school goes into lockdown - the first email to their teachers should be “Are you OK? Take care of yourselves, take care of your family”.

Don’t make it, “What’s the password for Mathletics?”

I’m going to play Catan with my girls, sit in the garden, watch Netflix, maybe make something out of cardboard, and walk the dog (did I mention we bought a dog yesterday), read books and yeah, they’ll do some Mathletics, and write something on a Google doc.

We’ll connect with friends and family, via Facetime and Whatsapp and we’ll use the internet for all manner of nonsense and seriousness.

But mostly we’re going to look after each other as best we can - it’s a motherloving pandemic.

In the next 6 months we as a society are going to learn an awful lot of resilience and a whole new set of knowledge. We don’t need to assess or report it on it. Let’s not pretend that we can or should call it school.

The roles of people within schools remains what it has always been. To support, as best they can, their communities.

But the sooner we stop trying to continue this in a BAU manner, only online, the sooner we allow people space and time to imagine and create new possibilities.

We designed the NZC with key competencies and we talk about creating and being life long learners with our students.

This is it - the single greatest opportunity in our generation to walk that talk.
Be strong. Be kind. We will be OK.”
covid-19  pandemics  education  whatmatters  timkong  2020  children  care  caring  society  mutualaid  learning  howwelearn  teaching  howweteach  unschooling  edtech  deschooling  homeschool  presence  parenting  lcproject  openstudioproject  assessment  knowledge  community  coronavirus 
16 days ago | a disaster-resilient communications network powered by the sun
"a disaster-resilient communications network powered by the sun

When the critical infrastructure that so many of us take for granted goes away, how do we organize ourselves and our communities to respond?

If recent ecological disasters have demonstrated anything, it is the inadequacy of existing models and tools to provide efficient allocation of resources, access to emergency communications, and effective coordination of human effort. Few if any solutions exist that are off-grid, affordable, reliable, easily deployed, and openly standardized. addresses this problem."
solarpunk  mesh  networking  radio  solar  disaster  2020 
22 days ago
Deschooling Architecture - Architecture - e-flux
“The late 1960s saw the birth of two radical ideas in the fields of education and environment. In education, the deschooling movement began with a seminar in Mexico entitled “Alternatives in Education.” For the scholars involved, schooling was an institution that perpetrated an unjust social order through a “hidden curriculum” and which had to be changed in order to achieve social justice. As a result of their meetings, two years later, Ivan Illich published Deschooling Society, where he advocated the abolition of schools and their replacement with “a new style of educational relationship between man and his environment.”

For Illich, the physical environment was a freely available resource where people could learn on their own terms. He loosely proposed an alternative system of entangled educational networks outside the remit of the school, combining educational objects, peer learning, mentorship, and reference services. His idea was to create a framework “which constantly educates to action, participation, and self-help.” The proposals of the “deschoolers”—including Illich, Paul Goodman, and Everett Reimer—were considered utopian and unscholarly at the time, but they became popular among progressive educators and the New Left, fueling a stream of libertarian educational practices worldwide.

Meanwhile, ecological disasters and the indiscriminate use of natural resources in the US inspired Wisconsin senator Gaylord Nelson in 1969 to organize an environmental “teach-in.” His aim was to encourage people, and especially youth, to become aware and involved in protecting the environment. Instead of taking a top-down approach, Nelson proposed that anyone could organize a meeting to teach others what they knew about the environment. A year later, in April 1970, Earth Day triggered a nationwide grassroots movement of peer-to-peer learning that brought millions to the streets, including 10,000 schools and 2,000 colleges and universities. An initiative that started as a local environmental education project created the first North American green generation and propagated the environmental movement.

The ripples of these two radical ideas reached Britain and materialized in the work of anarchist writer Colin Ward. With a background in architecture, education, and anarchist publishing, Ward combined the ideas of the environmental movement and the deschoolers, initiating a network of people, places, and pedagogies that used the environment as a tool for learning. However, rather than concentrating on the natural environment, as most projects did at the time, Ward advocated for the study of urban areas as a path to active citizenship.

One of the initiatives under Ward’s leadership, the Urban Studies Centres (USCs), triggered a grid of more than thirty self-organized urban learning centers across the UK to promote awareness of the built environment. Even though the USC’s main aim was to widen participation in the construction of cities and help people become “masters of their environment,” they also, as a side-effect, proposed a way to “deschool architecture” by making architectural and urban education publicly available.”
deschooling  architecture  2020  ivanillich  solperez-martinez  alternative  education  highered  highereducation  gaylordnelson  colinward  anarchism  urban  urbanism  cities  dennis  hardy  joankean  community  skeffingtonreport  planning  geography  anthonyfyson  favidhall  tcpa  catherineburke  kenjones  bee  patrickgeddes  usc  children  fieldstudycentres  rogerhart  thechildandthecity  chriswebb  nottingdale  london  edinburgh  schools  schooling  grassroots  lcproject  openstudioproject  democracy  environment  participation  participatory  howwelearn  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  teaching  howweteach  liberation  learning 
22 days ago
Decolonizing Reader (resources)_Collaborative (open) edition - Google Docs
“WHY this Reader? Part 1


Lascaux Cave Paintings, the depiction of aurochs, horses and deer, France.
Graphic Design’s history usually starts here, BUT… how has this history been told? Who wrote this history? History is about the interpretation by the writer/author who writes it from his (usually a white male) perspective. Where does that leave the rest of us… the Southern Hemisphere? How can we begin the process of expanding this narrative? Who should we read, engage and talk with?

This reader is an attempt to gather materials to begin the process of EXPANDING and making design more inclusive. It is about reading and engaging with others.n

It is by far from complete, actually, it will never be finished. We have so much to read and consider to expand design. ¡Adelante!”
ramontejada  decolonization  design  readinglists  history  paulofreire  bellhooks  adrianpiper  colonialism  graphicdesign  tariqramadan  luisaprado  pedroolivera  rubenpater  roxannegay  tonimorrison  tadanoriyokoo  ramongrosfoguel  charlesmann  vibhavarijani  designeducation  highered  highereducation  cherylmiller  blackness  feminism  blackpantherparty  blackpanthers  art  artists  criticism 
22 days ago
More-Than-Human Lab. » What I mean when I talk about more-than-human design
"I was recently asked a few questions and some of you might be interested in my answers :-)

[image: "Curious brown tabby cat Enid Coleslaw perches on the wood fence in her first encounter with the sheep on the other side."]

The More-Than-Human Lab arose from my life with nonhuman animals, alongside the work of multispecies ethnographers and cultural geographers grappling with what is at stake in more-than-human worlds.
I’m not trying to say that anyone is “more” or “less” (than) human, but explicitly recognising that the world has never been a place made only, or even primarily, of or for humans.

While this isn’t a radical notion for many researchers, I’m trying to teach design from an anthropological perspective and I like that it encourages me to poke at both anthropology and human-centred design and see what falls apart.

I found my way to design through my archaeological and anthropological experience with material, visual, and discursive culture, and the recognition that culture is actively created and recreated by persons in these more-than-human worlds. I’m not fond of professional design’s problem-solving imperative or reliance on technoindustrial metaphors, but I am utterly captivated by world-building and thing-making.

My favourite design tool is speculation. It isn’t required for more-than-human design but I have a lifelong love of speculative fiction, and to design within that general framework appeals to me in many ways. Besides its obvious capacity to imagine different ways of being with others, I find it well-suited for intervening in difficult or messy relations between people and nonhuman animals.
Fiction affords people space to think or act differently without the terribly fraught ethics of designed — through expectation or force — behaviour change.

While I’ve spent the last five years doing ethnographic fieldwork and re-thinking human-livestock relations, the design courses I teach have moved further and further away from human-centred approaches. For example, last year I taught a course in multispecies design ethnography and although our “client” was Wellington Zoo, I stressed the importance of designing with the otters and for otter-human relations (and questioning what that actually means). In my speculative design course, students were tasked with re-imagining kinship in ways that explicitly include, and so ethically bind us to, nonhumans.

While some excellent design/researchers use the phrase “more than human” to refer to a range of technologies, my interests remain in the multispecies or environmental realm. This doesn’t mean that technology is irrelevant; it’s important for me to assess the political and ethical implications of any technology that attempts to mediate human relations with other forms of life. My research simply focusses on farmed animal life because I think that how we relate to, and with, these animals have an enormous impact on their well-being, human well-being, and the well-being of the Earth.
Agriculture is also one of humanity’s most heavily designed activities, which should remind us that it can be re-designed, and needs to be re-designed when it stops working for all of us.

But I’m not a believer that technology under capitalism will be the planet’s salvation, and I tend to part ways with (commercial?) designers and technologists who aim to design more “precision” agriculture through “intelligent” machines, and I’m constantly watching for bad omens. The ethos of the More-Than-Human Lab draws on Donna Haraway’s “staying with the trouble” and tries to go beyond the design of human-nonhuman interactions to reimagine human-nonhuman relations. For me, this means not trying to “fix” the world, and resisting both purity and progress to live well together through uncertain and difficult circumstances.

The deep irony (?!) is that indigenous cultures all around the world and many non-Western religions have always understood that nature and culture aren’t separate, and that humans aren’t superior in our abilities or experiences. Western intellectual history and industrial capitalist societies have not allowed this kind of thinking to take hold except for amongst a fringe few, and I think this has played a pivotal role in the current climate crisis and the impoverished range of corrective measures on offer.
I’m inspired by anyone who is trying to figure out how more vital, embodied, and inter-dependent traditions can be brought into situated practice.

Right now I’m drawing sustenance from ecological and political theology, cosmopolitics and animism. When it comes to design, I’ve long admired the work of Superflux (amongst many others!) and I’ve most recently enjoyed Arturo Escobar’s Designs for the Pluriverse.

Laura McLaughlan – in her paper at the most recent Australian Anthropological Society conference – said that “Ethnographers walk through landscapes both soft and hard.” I noted it because it struck me as both literally and metaphorically true. We do walk through a lot of landscapes, and both the going and the ground are often so much harder than expected. And yet along the way there are always spaces and moments of gentleness or softness that provide relief and comfort. I don’t know anyone who suggests that tenderness is our only viable option, but many of us refuse to hand it over to those who would render it weak.

I’m committed to using ethnography and everyday design to restore and support more situated, intimate, and vulnerable relations between humans and farmed animals. In a world dominated by the mass production and consumption of nonhuman animal life, these kinds of relations are often dismissed as sentimental or naïve. But in my experience they require a great deal of strength and a practical willingness to both hurt and be hurt. This is central to my personal committment to be with the world, instead of against it.

I also believe that a full, rich experience of humanity in more-than-human worlds is already being lived by billions and I wish that even more could experience it. But please don’t mistake this for an attempt to convert you! In dire times it may be tempting to conjure all too familiar utopias and dystopias, but I’m interested in reconnecting with violence, suffering, decay and death as part of life, entangled with all the love, beauty, and wonder.

As humanity, and the planet, face the climate crisis I’m interested in protecting (and, if necessary, reclaiming) the kind of ethical relations with animals and lands that can take us down a different path. No one knows if this path will avoid the same end, but I’m hopeful.

Our small farmstead is my living experiment in what kinds of relations are possible with the animals I care for, and sometimes eat. Watching a lamb take her first breath, and a year later holding her with love as I kill her has profoundly changed the way I see myself and the world around me—not to mention how others see me!
The sheep have taught me to slow down, and to look and listen more carefully. They’ve taught me humility and patience and strength, both physical and emotional. That there is such a thing as caring too little, and too much. The sheep have taught me to fight more playfully, and to always choose kindness.

And I bring all of this experience to my understanding and practice of more-than-human design.

Many thanks to our cats Enid Coleslaw and Beatrix Lemonade, the sheep Ursula, Grace, Mercy, Emmaline, Victoria, Glory, Melvin & Mingus, Edith, Ulla & Ulrich, Gus, Max & Murray, Esther and Eddard (Ned), Maeve, Godric and Gregor Samsa, and to all the ducks and ducklings."
annegalloway  2020  morethanhuman  multispecies  design  kindness  animals  sheep  cats  farming  farms  designfiction  fiction  superflux  arturoescobar  lauramclaughlan  animism  cosmopolitics  ecology  interdependence  interconnectedness  politicaltheology  humanism  posthumanism  humanity  anthropology 
22 days ago
Mike Davis on COVID-19: The monster is at the door --

COVID -19 is finally the monster at the door. Researchers are working night and day to characterize the outbreak but they are faced with three huge challenges. First the continuing shortage or unavailability of test kits has vanquished all hope of containment. Moreover it is preventing accurate estimates of key parameters such as reproduction rate, size of infected population and number of benign infections. The result is a chaos of numbers.

Like annual influenzas, this virus is mutating as it courses through populations with different age compositions and acquired immunities. The variety that Americans are most likely to get is already slightly different from that of the original outbreak in Wuhan. Further mutation could be trivial or could alter the current distribution of virulence which ascends with age, with babies and small children showing scant risk of serious infection while octogenarians face mortal danger from viral pneumonia.

Even if the virus remains stable and little mutated, its impact on under-65 age cohorts can differ radically in poor countries and amongst high poverty groups. Consider the global experience of the Spanish flu in 1918-19 which is estimated to have killed 1 to 2 per cent of humanity. In contrast to the corona virus, it was most deadly to young adults and this has often been explained as a result of their relatively stronger immune systems which overreacted to infection by unleashing deadly ‘cytokine storms’ against lung cells. The original H1N1 notoriously found a favored niche in army camps and battlefield trenches where it scythed down young soldiers down by the tens of thousands. The collapse of the great German spring offensive of 1918, and thus the outcome of the war, has been attributed to the fact that the Allies, in contrast to their enemy, could replenish their sick armies with newly arrived American troops.

It is rarely appreciated, however, that fully 60 per cent of global mortality occurred in western India where grain exports to Britain and brutal requisitioning practices coincided with a major drought. Resultant food shortages drove millions of poor people to the edge of starvation. They became victims of a sinister synergy between malnutrition, which suppressed their immune response to infection, and rampant bacterial and viral pneumonia. In another case, British-occupied Iran, several years of drought, cholera, and food shortages, followed by a widespread malaria outbreak, preconditioned the death of estimated fifth of the population.

This history – especially the unknown consequences of interactions with malnutrition and existing infections - should warn us that COVID-19 might take a different and more deadly path in the slums of Africa and South Asia. The danger to the global poor has been almost totally ignored by journalists and Western governments. The only published piece that I’ve seen claims that because the urban population of West Africa is the world’s youngest, the pandemic should have only a mild impact. In light of the 1918 experience, this is a foolish extrapolation. No one knows what will happen over the coming weeks in Lagos, Nairobi, Karachi, or Kolkata. The only certainty is that rich countries and rich classes will focus on saving themselves to the exclusion of international solidarity and medical aid. Walls not vaccines: could there be a more evil template for the future?


A year from now we may look back in admiration at China’s success in containing the pandemic but in horror at the USA’s failure. (I’m making the heroic assumption that China’s declaration of rapidly declining transmission is more or less accurate.) The inability of our institutions to keep Pandora’s Box closed, of course, is hardly a surprise. Since 2000 we’ve repeatedly seen breakdowns in frontline healthcare.

The 2018 flu season, for instance, overwhelmed hospitals across the country, exposing the shocking shortage of hospital beds after twenty years of profit-driven cutbacks of in-patient capacity (the industry’s version of just-in-time inventory management). Private and charity hospital closures and nursing shortages, likewise enforced by market logic, have devastated health services in poorer communities and rural areas, transferring the burden to underfunded public hospitals and VA facilities. ER conditions in such institutions are already unable to cope with seasonal infections, so how will they cope with an imminent overload of critical cases?

We are in the early stages of a medical Katrina. Despite years of warnings about avian flu and other pandemics, inventories of basic emergency equipment such as respirators aren’t sufficient to deal with the expected flood of critical cases. Militant nurses unions in California and other states are making sure that we all understand the grave dangers created by inadequate stockpiles of essential protective supplies like N95 face masks. Even more vulnerable because invisible are the hundreds of thousands of low-wage and overworked homecare workers and nursing home staff.

The nursing home and assisted care industry which warehouses 2.5 million elderly Americans – most of them on Medicare - has long been a national scandal. According to the New York Times, an incredible 380,000nursing home patients die every year from facilities’ neglect of basic infection control procedures. Many homes – particularly in Southern states - find it cheaper to pay fines for sanitary violations than to hire additional staff and provide them with proper training. Now, as the Seattle example warns, dozens, perhaps hundreds more nursing homes will become corona virus hotspots and their minimum-wage employees will rationally choose to protect their own families by staying home. In such a case the system could collapse and we shouldn’t expect the National Guard to empty bedpans.

The outbreak has instantly exposed the stark class divide in healthcare: those with good health plans who can also work or teach from home are comfortably isolated provided they follow prudent safeguards. Public employees and other groups of unionized workers with decent coverage will have to make difficult choices between income and protection. Meanwhile millions of low wage service workers, farm employees, uncovered contingent workers, the unemployed and the homeless will be thrown to the wolves. Even if the Washington ultimately resolves the testing fiasco and provides adequate numbers of kits, the uninsured will still have to pay doctors or hospitals for administrating the tests. Overall family medical bills will soar at the same time that millions of workers are losing their jobs and their employer-provided insurance. Could there possibly be a stronger, more urgent case in favor of Medicare for All?


But universal coverage is only a first step. It’s disappointing, to say the least, that in the primary debates neither Sanders or Warren has highlighted Big Pharma’s abdication of the research and development of new antibiotics and antivirals. Of the 18 largest pharmaceutical companies, 15 have totally abandoned the field. Heart medicines, addictive tranquilizers and treatments for male impotence are profit leaders, not the defenses against hospital infections, emergent diseases and traditional tropical killers. A universal vaccine for influenza – that is to say, a vaccine that targets the immutable parts of the virus’s surface proteins – has been a possibility for decades but never a profitable priority.

As the antibiotic revolution is rolled back, old diseases will reappear alongside novel infections and hospitals will become charnel houses. Even Trump can opportunistically rail against absurd prescription costs, but we need a bolder vision that looks to break up the drug monopolies and provide for the public production of lifeline medicines. (This used to be the case: during World War Two, the Army enlisted Jonas Salk and other researchers to develop the first flu vaccine.) As I wrote fifteen years ago in my book The Monster at Our Door – The Global Threat of Avian Flu:
Access to lifeline medicines, including vaccines, antibiotics, and antivirals, should be a human right, universally available at no cost. If markets can’t provide incentives to cheaply produce such drugs, then governments and non-profits should take responsibility for their manufacture and distribution. The survival of the poor must at all times be accounted a higher priority than the profits of Big Pharma.

The current pandemic expands the argument: capitalist globalization now appears to be biologically unsustainable in the absence of a truly international public health infrastructure. But such an infrastructure will never exist until peoples’ movements break the power of Big Pharma and for-profit healthcare."
mikedavis  2020  coronavirus  covid-19  health  healthcare  priorities  capitalism  globalization  infrastructure  medicine  sustainability 
22 days ago
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