One of the key fault lines in post-pandemic politics is likely to be the return of ‘normality’. The pandemic won’t have an off switch, as this useful piece explains. If ‘herd immunity’ is achieved it will likely be a fleeting achievement within national boundaries, leaving countries bound up in a logic of biosecurity which could intersect in worrying ways with the neo-nationalism which precedes the pandemic.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what reconstruction will look after pandemic, as well as how it will compare to older periods of social reconstruction. There’s something of this captured in Anne Helen Petersen’s newsletter last night about the potential significance of online communities after the pandemic. Will the trend of bowling alone be reversed as we begin to leave the crisis stage of COVID-19?
From Post-Capitalist Desire by Mark Fisher, pg 77: I just think about the Beatles. What does a post-work society look like? It kind of looks like what life was like for them, doesn’t it? They didn’t have to work. They’d made enough money, surely, by the early Sixties to just […]
Do people annoy you more than they used to? I’ve found my levels of irritation with people in public spaces rising over the last year and I’ve found it interesting to think about why
What about the people who can’t afford a smart phone? Or can only afford one to share between a household? Furthermore, should we be concerned about the implications for surveillance capitalism of mandating smart devices as a means of personal identification?
It’s a position I’d understood intellectually but reading it left me with a momentary flash of this obscene totality weaving itself materially and immateriality through social reality as it orchestrates its own expansion and continued ascension.
If our desires are imbricated in the circuits of capital, if we feel and dream in terms of commodities and within the horizon of the existing system, what does this mean for the possibility of moving beyond it?
I’m particularly interested in what this means for how we conceive of the ending of pandemics. As Jeremy A. Greene & Dóra Vargha point out in their contribution to Boston Review’s excellent collection Thinking in a Pandemic: “The history of epidemic endings has taken many forms, and only a handful of them have resulted in the elimination of a disease”.
I thought this was brilliant from Ruha Benjamin, in the forward to Critical Digital Pedagogy, describing the responsibilities of educators. It applies more broadly than our present crisis but it feels even more pertinent against the backdrop of the pandemic: So, what are the responsibilities of educators and educational institutions […]
Much of the commentary on the possibility of post-Trump Trumpism has tended to focus on the possibility of a much more competent populist emerging to lead this movement i.e. one who is disciplined, strategic and serious in contrast to the impulsive and instinctive character of the outgoing president. However this […]
“The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear” ― Antonio Gramsci This quote from Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks has been a mainstay of social commentary grappling with the longer term implications […]
I’ve been preoccupied by a phrase used by Anand Giridharadas in his most recent newsletter. As he puts it, some people are clearly “wanting to be left alone by history for a little while”. It points to the hyper-mobilisation which characterises contemporary society, as well as the exhaustion which can […]
I thought this was a really interesting analysis which captures a split in my own musical tastes, as an interest in provocative music co-exists uneasily with a desire for collective experience through live music: Afro-American music is still cherished for its tragic yet affirmative sense of life. But it got […]
Early 20th century social science was driven by a vision of social reconstruction, described here by John Scott and Ray Bromley in their Envisioning Sociology, loc 323: What would a 21st century post-pandemic reconstruction look like? What role would social science play?
In his recent book of essays, Will Davies draws a comparison between securitisation and digital platforms. From pg 15-16 of This Is Not Normal: These are just some of the ways in which the credit derivative and the platform have transformed our political world in the twenty-first century. But there […]
I thought this was a great account of Zygmunt Bauman’s style by David Beer in his newsletter. It’s the same quality which can be found in the trilogy of books by Giddens in the early 1990s which, along with Bauman’s oeuvre, facilitated my transition from philosophy to sociology. These works […]
From this disturbing piece by Richard Seymour: A glance at the crowd shows it to be younger and more heteroclite than one would expect. The heavily armed protests in the US mostly resembled outings of a Duck Dynasty fan club. Granted, in these English displays, there is the inevitable quorate […]
The closing passage from Richard Seymour’s latest essay has been reverberating in my mind since I read it: Should we fail to posit the alternative, the constructive reworking of civilisation that is so urgently required, and that accommodates us to inhospitable nature, we do not get the boom years and […]
From Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry by Caroline Lee pg 6. I thought this was a really interesting account of how the contemporary valorisation of debate goes hand-in-hand with a widespread sense of civic decline, with often negative results: Pure civic settings are in high demand in […]
From Do-It-Yourself Democracy: The Rise of the Public Engagement Industry by Caroline Lee pg 36-37. Her book illustrates how public engagement professionals have a vested interest in this narrative, offering to facilitate participation in order to address this civic withdrawal: The late 1980s and early 1990s were a time of […]