| Idiom of the Month|
Cambridge Dictionary: to be so late in taking action to prevent something bad happening that the bad event has already happened
My Top Coronavirus Pieces for Quarantine
Firtsly, if you’re part of that small group of 7.8 billion people who didn’t read my last post, go there for Tom Pueyo’s excellent back-of-the-envelope analysis of the COVID-19 figures.
A long read (but fuck it, what else have you got going on):
A brilliant analysis situating COVID-19 where capitalism and nature collide – brought together by the vanity of techno-politics and the inescapable contradiction in their supposed dichotomy. Fear not though, unlike my own ramblings, this is a detailed and very accessible explanation; as the authors put it:
“Now is not the time for a simple “Scooby-Doo Marxist” exercise of pulling the mask off the villain to reveal that, yes, indeed, it was capitalism that caused coronavirus all along! That would be no more subtle than foreign commentators sniffing about for regime change. Of course capitalism is culpable—but how, exactly, does the social-economic sphere interface with the biological, and what kind of deeper lessons might be drawn from the entire experience?”
For those who enjoy, can I recommend Rule of Experts by Timothy Mitchell!
The Economic Consequences of the Chaos
An ill-forgotten word of warning and call to arms from the wise one:
A Brave New World
Yuval Noah Harari warns that the pandemic might unleash Surveillance Capitalism in a way not yet seen outside of China, as people, choosing essential security over essential liberty, walk willingly (and with 2 meter distancing) into the Panopticon. As Harari puts it simply, “The same technology that identifies coughs could also identify laughs.”
Laurie Penny’s reverie on how epidemics exploit the weaknesses in our societies:
There’s been a fair bit of commentary recently on the environmental benefits to the shut-downs we’re seeing around the world and, for sure, the satellite images of GHG emissions dissipating have been great fun to watch. Eric Holthaus, however, provides a nice corrective to some of the more short term and lazy discussions. The threat COVID-19 poses to emissions is transitory and minimal; the threat is poses to economic inclusion (essential for environmental sustainability) and green transitions is real and deadly.
Very short feel good story:
Not for the first time in Revolutionary Cuba’s short history have so many owed so much to so small a nation…
Martin Wolf raises important concerns for the threat the virus poses to the developing world.
Tomas Pueyo update
Bill McKibben of 350.org urges the House to attach conditions to the coming bail-outs and too fucking right, there’s no shortage of historical precedent!