Category: Covid-19

A few days ago, I tweeted* a complaint to a public transport operator in frustration at how few people were wearing masks on their services and the seeming lack of enforcement by the operators. I was visiting my parents, who’ve been shielding since March and I was growing increasingly concerned that I was exposing them […]

I can’t stop thinking about these words from David Harvey, recirculated by Richard Seymour in this excellent post: Capital, right now, is too big to fail. We cannot imagine a situation where we would shut down the flow of capital. Because if we shut down the flow of capital, eighty percent of the world’s population […]

In a matter of months, the world has changed beyond recognition. Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented reorganisation of everyday life, with half the world’s population subject to lockdown measures at the peak of governmental response to the pandemic. These measures are being eased across the world, with uncertain and worrying consequences in the continued […]

This piece by James Meadway paints a bleakly plausible future for post-pandemic labour. Firstly, the economic costs of social distancing on businesses with already thin profit margins incentivises a renewed push towards automation, something which has been stalled by the relatively cost of labour heretofore. Why risk the large capital investment in robots when humans […]

This extract from today’s Protocol newsletter hinted at something which has been on my mind in the last few weeks. Could new consumer behaviours which might once have seemed implausible quickly take hold during the current crisis? We could ask the same question about non-commercial social media which I’ve always thought was brilliant in principle […]

From today’s Protocal newsletter: There are three kinds of video chat, Zuckerberg said: One is video calling — “when you call someone and their phone or computer actually rings.” It’s good for quick, ad-hoc interactions. Two is video rooms, “where you create a link, send it out to people, and they can go ahead and join […]

I found this passage from Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement pg 147 deeply unsettling to read in the context of the current crisis. The comparative aspect applies slightly less to Covid than it does in the current crisis but the fragility of affluence seems obviously correct: It is not impossible, for instance, that in dealing […]

From Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement pg 30-31: Yet now our gaze seems to be turning again; the uncanny and improbable events that are beating at our doors seem to have stirred a sense of recognition, an awareness that humans were never alone, that we have always been surrounded by beings of all sorts who share […]

I thought this was a really insightful passage from Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement. I’m trying to deepen my understanding of the socio-environmental at the moment (not least of all because you can’t understand Covid-19 without it) and conjunctures like this built around a specific causal relationship between the material and the social over time seem like […]

I found this section by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore really arresting to read a couple of months into the Covid-19 crisis, from loc 216 -231 of their A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things. Cascading failures brought feudalism to an end but there were long struggles as elites resisted demands for change but without having the […]

I’m slowly getting my head around how the arrangement of agriculture, with its co-ordination of animals in time and space, creates the conditions in which viruses are incubated, as Catharine Arnold explains in her Pandemic 1918: Little did doctors suspect, during the First World War, that ducks operated as a ‘reservoir’ for bird flu viruses, littering […]

This was a succinct summary by Laurie Macfarlane of the emerging interface between a US national security apparatus seeking to ward off the growing power of China and a Big Tech apparatus in Silicon Valley seeking to ward off the threat of regulation. His excellent essay shows how this will become more significant in the […]

This is the last thing I’ll post about Žižek’s Pandemic! eBook but I thought these observations about what I’ve come to think of as Covid temporalities, the distinct temporal experiences of crisis and lockdown, were very useful. On loc 396 he considers the inevitability of ‘dead time’ during those who can lockdown during this crisis […]

There’s a familiar dystopian character to the (middle-class) experience of lockdown, conveyed by Slavoj Zizek on loc 384-396 of his Pandemic: Many dystopias already imagine a similar future: we stay at home, work on our computers, communicate through videoconferences, exercise on a machine in the corner of our home office, occasionally masturbate in front of […]

From Zizek’s Pandemic! loc 396: The abandoned streets in a megalopolis—the usually bustling urban centers looking like ghost towns, stores with open doors and no customers, just a lone walker or a single car here and there, provide a glimpse of what a non-consumerist world might look like. The melancholic beauty of the empty avenues […]