“On Capitalism, Socialism and Coronavirus” traces the materialist history of capitalist social structure that leaves urbanized societies sitting ducks for fast-spreading contagion due to inequality and the prioritizing of accumulation over preparation. “Reject the Return” tracks the way capitalist practices that gripped us through workplace and consumer marketplace are totally upended by COVID-19’s effects; here, the case is made that the last thing we need is a return to that market-dominated, austerity-fetishizing version of normal.
As organizers plot the on-the-ground response to systemic breakdown, “The Tyrant Virus” explores the modes of response to the health-economic crisis in left organizations – inward-facing protection and care, outward-facing alertness to organizing paths – as the pandemic illuminates the weaknesses of capitalism. “Fear at Work” provides a meditation on the way sureties of the system have broken down, shard by shard, – shattering the human routines but potentially sharpening solidarity.
But any future must be informed by the pitfalls of the past; and if you can remember life before COVID-19 (those memories fade fast), two pieces impart a historical perspective of the socialist movement. From the 1985 local chapter’s Democratic Socialist, “Reflections from the Past” reproduces a lengthy interview with legendary labor organizer Victor Reuther, resurfacing crucial insights to the victories and failings of the labor movement. With mind to the coming end of the primary election cycle, “The (Incomplete) Triumph of Harringtonism” outlines and contextualizes the high tide of DSA’s efforts to become a reforming movement within the Democratic Party during the 1980 election – a paradigm of a debate that has continued in the organization ever since.