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Dark times – David Ruccio

In the dark times, will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing. About the dark times. – Bertolt Brecht (trans. John Willett, from the Svendborg Poems)

Right now, in these dark times — as the number of confirmed cases of, and deaths from, the novel coronavirus pan- demic around the world continues to soar — we’re focused on immediate measures, individually and socially, to stay safe. And, of course, capitalist economies are in meltdown, not only in stock markets, but also with massive unemployment (which the U.S. Trump administration wants to hide from view) and with increasing precarity for millions of already precarious workers.

The provision of much-needed medical supplies, school closures and other measures that encourage social distancing (or, my preference, distant socializing), “stay at home” orders, lots more testing — all are desperately required. As well as are funds and policies that protect workers who have few protect- ions against unhealthy and unsafe working conditions and, through no fault of their own, are losing their jobs and being forced to find ways of surviving in the midst of the current chaos.

Immediate measures are required then, to keep people both safe and financially secure.

But we also need to be thinking about what all this means, for ourselves and for our economy and society as we go forward. We need to discuss and to debate not only the immediate meas- ures being proposed and adopted, but also what this portends for our collective future.

As for myself, I am particularly interest- ed in the way that the existing common sense may be shifting – in darker direct- ions, to be sure, but also in opening up new possibilities. As a friend wrote to me just yesterday, maybe there’s some hope in the fact that “at least some governments feel compelled to feed, house, and save people, [which] may be a great lesson in the reality that stands behind property and the ‘laws of economics’: social labour that we can socially allocate.”

That, it seems to me, is our challenge in the days, weeks, and months ahead — to think seriously and critically, perhaps against all odds, about our current situ- ation and to be ruthless in that criticism “both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.”

Source: RWER blogs

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