Note — May 19, 2020

These Are Conditions in Which Revolution Becomes Thinkable

By Ben Tarnoff, founding editor of the excellent Logic magazine. He ends on revolution and potential new forms of socialism but mostly gives a good overview of how the virus and confinement affects the service economy in the US (and elsewhere in varying degrees), and how that reverberates in the economy, unemployment, social reproduction (wasn’t aware of that term, worth a look just for that bit at least), and capitalism.

In retrospect, 2020 may end up being a 1968 or a 1917: a year of leaps and ruptures, and a dividing line between one era and the next. […]

Social reproduction refers to the various systems—formal and informal, waged and unwaged—that make capitalism possible by raising, socializing, educating, healing, housing, and otherwise sustaining the workers whose labor power it runs on. […]

Imagine a near future of 30 percent unemployment, widespread food and housing insecurity, and millions dead from the pandemic and from the increased mortality of an overwhelmed healthcare system. These are essentially wartime conditions. They are the conditions under which revolution becomes, if not likely, at least thinkable. […]

[T]imes of crisis are also opportunities to generate new socialist ideas: new modes of organizing, new horizons for social transformation. The socialist tradition is a valuable source of inspiration and insight. It also does not hold the answers to every question posed by every conjuncture, for the simple reason that every conjuncture poses different questions. […]

For this project to be credible to the people on whom it depends, it must be equal to the radicalism of our reality. It must offer a socialism that is not a branch of progressivism or a wing of the Democratic Party but a truly anti-systemic alternative, one that promises, however improbably, an end to the death cult of capital and the elevation of human health, dignity, and self-determination as the supreme organizing principles of our common life.