Radical Thinking in Time of Pandemic [Reading List #8]

Radical Thinking in Time of Pandemic [Reading List #8]

Radical Thinking in Time of Pandemic [Reading List #8]

1022 641 Into the Black Box

In tempi di pandemia anche il pensiero critico deve interrogarsi su come sta cambiando il mondo. Quali categorie politiche, economiche e sociali possono essere utili per analizzare l’impatto del Covid-19 sugli spazi urbani, l’organizzazione del lavoro, le catene globali del valore, il progetto neo-liberale, gli equilibri geopolitici su scala mondiale, le forme di lotta e i soggetti resistenti?
Into the Black Box curerà in questo periodo una lista settimanale di letture utili per interrogarsi attorno a tutti questi nodi.
Qua tutte le reading list.

In times of pandemic, even critical thinking has to question how the world is changing. Which political, economic and social categories can be useful to analyze the impact of Covid-19 on urban spaces, work organization, global value chains, the neo-liberal project, geopolitical balances on a global scale, forms of struggle and resistant subjects?
Into the Black Box will be producing a weekly list of readings during this period, which will be useful to ask questions about all these issues.
Here are all the reading lists.


The coronavirus decade: post-capitalist nightmare or socialist awakening?
Tech giants offer a new dystopia in the wake of the pandemic. Socialism presents a hopeful alternative. Which post-capitalist world will emerge?

China Is Happy to Fill the Leadership Vacuum Left by the U.S.
In the global jostling amid the coronavirus crisis, Beijing is extending its influence while U.S. President Donald Trump continues to squander America’s leadership role. The pandemic could mark the beginning of a new Chinese era.


La economía del petróleo y el clima (en tiempos de pandemia)
Desde el comienzo de esta crisis económica, vinculada a la crisis sanitaria por covid19, hemos visto vertiginosas caídas de las bolsas, e incluso alguna suspensión de las cotizaciones en Wall Street; el derrumbe del valor de las compañías aéreas y del fabricante de aviones Boeing, y de otros sectores hasta ahora muy sólidos; planes de estímulo billonarios en dólares y en euros para rescatar la economía a ambos lados del Atlántico; decenas de millones de trabajadores que pierden su empleo y de autónomos que cierran su actividad; largas filas de personas hambrientas a la espera de su ración de comida diaria en ciudades tan emblemáticas como Nueva York. Nos cuesta imaginar que este es el tiempo en el que vivimos, este escenario de gran depresión.

Epidemics and capitalism
In the context of the spread of COVID-19, a number of left and progressive thinkers, scholars, and activists have deliberated upon the linkage between contemporary capitalism and epidemics. Many of them tend to argue that such epidemics originate due to tendencies inherent in the capitalist system of production. While these interventions present some useful critical analyses, they also tend to present a one-sided view of this relationship, founded on a deeper confusion regarding the human–nature relationship under contemporary capitalism.


Coronavirus: How Are Countries Responding to the Economic Crisis?
The coronavirus pandemic is slowing global commerce to a crawl, but many of the world’s largest economies are taking extraordinary actions to propel them through the crisis.

Perché il sistema capitalistico è praticamente morto
Gli Stati Uniti, dal 2001 in poi, hanno messo l’economia reale a sostegno della finanza. E ora i mercati stanno entrando silenziosamente nella fase preliminare della nazionalizzazione, dove l’intervento pubblico e il sostegno della Fed sosterranno un modello di capitalismo che è praticamente finito

The value of social distancing is not equally distributed
Governments around the world have implemented social distancing and lockdown policies designed to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus by restricting the movement and everyday activity of billions of people. This column uses the Imperial College London COVID-19 Response Team’s epidemiological model to estimate the benefit from a set of social distancing and suppression policies in different countries. A younger population, less susceptible to the disease and less willing to exchange economic wellbeing for risk reduction, means that lockdown measures are likely to be less valuable in poorer countries.


Pandémie logistique. La crise sanitaire depuis les infrastructures du capitalisme avancé
Toute crise – qu’elle soit économique, politique ou sanitaire – exacerbe et rend visibles les structures, les logiques profondes et les contradictions d’une société donnée. Dans celle que nous traversons actuellement, la logistique s’affirme encore une fois comme un domaine stratégique et le « talon d’Achille » de l’économie globalisée. Des ouvrier.es des entrepôts catapultés en « première ligne » aux chaînes globales d’approvisionnement diffusant le virus, des avions cargos livrant des masques depuis la Chine aux scandales sanitaires dans les entrepôts, le secteur logistique emprunte à tour de rôle l’image du sauveur et celle du coupable. Afin de dégager des lignes d’analyses et des perspectives d’intervention politique, une enquête collective a été lancée depuis la mi-mars, à travers la création d’un Groupe d’Enquête sur la Logistique (GEL). Ce texte est la première synthèse d’un travail collectif toujours en cours.

Abandoned at Sea: Sailors and COVID-19
On the list of COVID-19 afflicted countries tallied by the Johns Hopkins University Corona Resource Centre there is one entry that is not like the others: a cruise ship, the Diamond Princess. With 712 confirmed cases (out of 3,711 passengers and crew) and thirteen dead, at the time of this writing the cruise ship’s number of cases falls somewhere between those of Latvia and Lebanon. The ship, which flies the British flag, was quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, on 2 January 2020, after which, the number of those onboard who tested positive rapidly escalated. Although the world press, and especially the press in Britain, focused on the stories of passengers complaining about the quarantine, very few news outlets reported that of the 712 confirmed cases, nearly 150 were members of the crew, many of them from Indonesia and the Philippines. The quarantine had only really been enacted for the passengers, with the crew members still being forced to work and sleep in close quarters, often sharing tiny cabins with other crew members, some of whom were symptomatic.

A Post-Pandemic Reality Check for Transit Boosters
After lockdowns ease, public transportation ridership in the U.S. is likely to remain low for years. But some see a way forward for a new understanding of transit’s role.


How Life in Our Cities Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic
The pandemic will change urban life forever. We asked 12 leading global experts in urban planning, policy, history, and health for their predictions.

The Harsh Future of American Cities
History has unfolded in waves of profound depths followed by the relief of buoyant times, only for the depths to return with unsentimental speed. The French Revolution and the Reign of Terror gave way to Paris’ jolly Incroyables and Merveilleuses, young men and women who dressed ostentatiously and had a cathartic frolic — for about four years until Napoleon took power. After World War I and the pandemic Spanish Flu, the Roaring ’20s carried Berlin, London, and New York into a new age of hilarity. But then came the global Great Depression.

18 lessons of quarantine urbanism
To what world will we reemerge after the distress and devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic? Calling for a geopolitics based on a deliberate plan for the coordination of the planet, design theorist and The Terraforming Program Director Benjamin H. Bratton looks at the underlying causes of the current crisis and identifies important lessons to be learned from it.

How Technocrats Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Quarantine
While COVID19 has been a catalyst for several important reflections, it has also led to unfortunate propositions whose format is closer to a sales pitch than to a serious contribution. In his recent essay ‘18 Lessons of Quarantine Urbanism’, Benjamin Bratton does precisely that; asking for ‘broadly-gathered, rigorous, statistically valid models as a key medium of public governance’, suggesting these ‘should persist beyond the virus’. In highlighting the role that digital services platforms and apps have had during COVID19, Bratton, as many others have rightfully done, begins to draw-out a few principles useful in dealing with the climate breakdown. Bratton’s proposal consists of a ‘planetary green new deal’ that articulates ‘public health systems and economic and ecological viability’, and suggests the ‘geoengineering’ of ‘planetary-scale design effects’. No denying that these ambitions have their merits. But, the ways in which such a project could further reinforce colonial forms of exploitation and capitalist expansion seem neither a concern nor flickering thought in Bratton’s mind.

Why COVID-19 can—and should—change how our cities are designed
It would not be wrong to say that the manifestation of COVID-19 in India has an urban bias. As of 4 May, of the 42,533 people who had tested positive for COVID-19, a disproportionately large number were in large cities. Mumbai alone had 8,800 cases, while the National Capital Territory of Delhi had 4,549. In most states, major cities were the epicentres of the pandemic, with 472 of the 1,082 cases in Telangana being from Hyderabad alone and 1,458 of the 3,023 cases in Tamil Nadu being from Chennai. Since the lockdown measures were enacted, it has been easy to slip into catastrophic thinking about cities. The economies of cities have ground to a halt. It seems natural to ask: will Indian cities survive this onslaught?

Can Cities Fix a Post-Pandemic World Order?
The global multilateral system has failed to rise to the coronavirus challenge. It is time to let local leaders step in.

The Abolition Geographies of COVID-19
The lack of housing for returning residents reveals the intertwining crises of our housing and carceral systems—crises that COVID-19 exacerbates, but does not create. Though not often considered as part of the same struggle, housing constitutes a crucial piece of the abolitionist puzzle.

Cities will endure, but urban design must adapt to coronavirus risks and fears
The long-term impacts of coronavirus on our cities are difficult to predict, but one thing is certain: cities won’t die. Diseases have been hugely influential in shaping our cities, history shows. Cities represent continuity regardless of crises – they endure, adapt and grow.

Storia semiseria della cartografia esattissima delle epidemie, Anno Domini 1690-2020
Le epidemie hanno segnato anche la storia della cartografia, e viceversa: le carte ci raccontano come sono state pensate e quindi affrontate le epidemie. Ci dicono cosa cambia e cosa, ahimè, non cambierà mai. Il primo esempio si deve a Filippo de Arrieta: peste, Bari, fine del ‘600.


Coronavirus is giving us a glimpse of the future of work – and it’s a nightmare
Women working at home are doing more childcare and housework, while virtual work has no knocking-off time. Will this end along with the lockdown? Don’t bet on it

El teletrabajo llega para quedarse, con escasa regulación y riesgo de efectos psicológicos
Este modelo permite a las empresas ahorrar costes (alquiler, luz, internet…) pero, por la falta de regulación, estos gastos puede recaer de forma directa sobre la espalda de cada empleado.

Where next for the gig economy and precarious work post COVID-19?
The global pandemic exposes the inherent precarity at the heart of the gig economy for governments, organisations and individuals. But will conditions for precarious workers change post the crisis?

Governing through insecurity: what COVID 19 tells us about precarity under (neo)liberalism
COVID 19 not only highlights the hierarchy of precarity experienced by the population; but demonstrates the ways through which neoliberal discourses of ‘strong’ versus ‘weak’ are used to mask structural inequalities and to justify state (in)action in the face of a global pandemic 

Siervos por Uber: temporeros y Covid-19 en Europa
Las restricciones de movilidad decretadas para frenar el avance de la pandemia ponen en riesgo las cosechas de la UE. Pero este shock es asimétrico, y quienes más lo sufren son los trabajadores migrantes, tanto europeos como extranjeros.

Coronavirus : salariés en Uber forme
En période d’urgence sanitaire, des dizaines de milliers de travailleurs plateformes continuent leur mission sans protection particulière, faute d’obligation des plateformes sur ce point à leur égard. À la lumière de récentes jurisprudences, envisageons ici de placer ces indépendants sous le statut de salariés et imaginons un instant quels seraient leurs droits en cette période de crise.

Social Movements

The Making of the Tech Worker Movement
On November 1, 2018, more than twenty thousand employees and contractors of Google walked out of their offices.[1] They walked out in fifty cities around the world: in Silicon Valley and Sydney, Dublin and São Paulo. They were enraged by a story in the New York Times reporting that Andy Rubin, creator of the Android mobile operating system, had been protected by Google management—and given a $90 million exit package—despite allegations of sexual harassment that management itself had found credible.

Los movimientos en la pandemia: el retorno a la vida sencilla
La verdadera autonomía está en la comida, ahí está el Buen Vivir”, explica Delio, del área de educación de la Asociación de Cabildos Juan Tama, en el sur de Colombia, en el marco del Consejo Regional Indígena del Cauca (CRIC). Desde que la organización decidió enfrentar la pandemia con la Minga Hacia Adentro, los cultivos y el trueque ganaron centralidad en sus vidas.

Amazon is cracking down on protesters and organizing, workers say
Amazon’s revenues topped $33m an hour in the first three months of the year as the coronavirus pandemic locked down large parts of the world. The sales boost has handed Amazon the biggest dilemma of its 25-year life: how to deal with a growing chorus of critics within the company. So far its reaction has only made matters worse.

Rent Strikes Grow across the US
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the housing crisis to a breaking point, but it is not what prompted it. Much like other systemic problems, housing injustice has plagued the country’s biggest cities with a cycle of poverty that affects students, low-income, and communities of color the hardest.


Leviathan in Lockdown
The famous frontispiece to the first edition of Leviathan (1651) was designed by the engraver Abraham Bosse in close collaboration with Hobbes. The figure of Sovereignty, the massive composite body that looms over town and country, outsize sword and crozier in hand, is disquieting, at least to a modern sensibility. The subjects, all orders of men crammed together in the artificial body as if it were an early modern Wicker Man, gaze up at the crowned head. Sovereignty’s face, ringed with Stuart curls, is meant to radiate benignity, but the glass-eyed stare looks vacuous to me.

Retrieving Agamben’s Questions
There is tremendous disquiet all around — enough for a lifetime and a half, lived and unlived.  But in this time of crisis, scholars otherwise keen to pick through Heidegger’s Nazi enabling complicity, attuned to what he said or wrote — or failed to say or failed to write — find themselves repeating currently standard government edicts.

Learning from the virus
If Michel Foucault had survived AIDS in 1984 and had stayed alive until the invention of effective antiretroviral therapy, he would be ninety-three years old today. Would he have agreed to confine himself in his apartment on rue de Vaugirard in Paris? The first philosopher of history to die from complications resulting from the acquired immunodeficiency virus left us with some of the most effective tools for considering the political management of the epidemic—ideas that, in this atmosphere of rampant and contagious disinformation, are like cognitive protective equipment.

Thinking Through Covid-19 Responses With Foucault – An Initial Overview
Over the last months, there has been a true explosion of critical scholarly contributions aimed at making sense of the political responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only is the multiplicity of interventions and contributions that have been made at a global scale increasingly hard to track, writing during a pandemic also risks illuminating pre-established theoretical frameworks more than the unfolding events themselves. This is especially true where theorists use the pandemic as “raw material for metaphysical speculation”, as Warwick Anderson (2020) has pointed out with respect to authors such as Giorgio Agamben and Slavoj Žižek. It is our conviction that some of the ideas of Michel Foucault, whose methodology has always been oriented towards differentiated empirical and historical analysis rather than abstract theorization, can avoid this danger while illustrating possibilities for making detailed sense of ongoing events.

Social distancing and its discontents
Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents is often read as a text about unnecessarily privileging the needs of the dominant culture and society over those of the individual. The book describes how, for individuals to get along in society, we all must agree to give up, or repress, our own immediate individual pleasures and desires. For theorists ranging from Herbert Marcuse to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, liberation depends upon casting off the demands of culture to liberate our desires.


The Great 5G Fracture
Over the past few years, the US has stepped up its efforts to contain China’s technological ambitions and global influence, not least by attempting to block the Chinese 5G giant Huawei from global markets. But, on the whole, this effort has failed, suggesting that global bifurcation of network technology is in the offing.

Contact tracing, data and privacy: Technological choices in response to COVID-19
The emerging controversies around plans to use apps for contact tracing in response to COVID-19 are once again highlighting the issue of the best ways for scientific knowledge to feed into policy making, where politicians must take decisions on behalf of society, writes Edgar Whitley.

Test, trace, track: the biopolitics of COVID-19
For a week or so now the public discourse on the UK’s COVID-19 epidemic has been shifting from the horror of the daily death count to the hope that there may be a way of relaxing the restrictions that have been placed on citizens’ freedom of movement and assembly. The restrictions were exceptional and indiscriminate.[1] Relaxing them will mean taking a more discriminating approach. What is at stake is enabling people to move about, interact and express themselves in different ways, to make friends, love and money. To enable this safely, a system of contract tracing has been proposed. Put simply, rather than locking down the whole population, contact tracing allows the selective isolation of confirmed cases and those thought to have be at risk of infecting others until their status is determined.