Radical Thinking in Time of Pandemic [Reading List #9]

Radical Thinking in Time of Pandemic [Reading List #9]

Radical Thinking in Time of Pandemic [Reading List #9]

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.

Social Movements

¿por qué no una economía popular de plataformas?
El veloz crecimiento de las aplicaciones de reparto y traslados motivó ingentes debates sobre su conveniencia o perversidad. Por un lado emplean a miles de trabajadores, mayormente jóvenes; y ostentan soluciones tecnológicas en el terreno digital, como glamoroso sello de modernidad. Por el otro son verdaderas usinas de la precarización laboral y prácticamente no contribuyen al fisco de los países donde aterrizan. Ahora, con la pandemia, dieron un paso clave: alcanzaron el estatuto de actividad esencial. Por lo tanto, ya no hay margen para eludir el dilema de su regulación. ¿Y si en vez de regularlas pensamos en la creación de aplicaciones públicas con sentido social?

Delivering Food in a Pandemic
On Monday, Italy began to ease COVID-19 restrictions, with more than 4 million returning to work. But some, like delivery workers, never stopped working — nor organizing for labor rights in an industry deemed “essential” and putting workers at serious health risk.

Movimientos en la pandemia: desobedecer en tiempos de cuarentena
La red de cooperativas de Barquisimeto (Venezuela), los proyectos de apoyo mutuo en las favelas de Río Janeiro (Brasil) y las experiencias frente a la virus en las comunidades del norte del Cauca (Colombia) son los escenarios de esta nueva entrega de “Movimientos ante pandemia”, una serie realizada por el periodista y analista uruguayo Raúl Zibechi.


Naomi Klein: How big tech plans to profit from the pandemic
As the coronavirus continues to kill thousands each day, tech companies are seizing the opportunity to extend their reach and power.

Por qué están ganando las tecnológicas: Netflix y el ‘lumpenartista’
El auge de las firmas tecnológicas durante la pandemia es también el triunfo de los oligopolios. Y la cultura es el sector que anticipa el futuro de la sociedad.

Low-tech solutions for the COVID-19 supply chain crisis
A global effort is ongoing in the scientific community and in the maker movement, which focuses on creating devices and tinkering with them, to reverse-engineer commercial medical equipment and get it to healthcare workers. For these ‘low-tech’ solutions to have a real impact, it is important for them to coalesce around approved designs.

AI after the pandemic
A reflection on necropolitical neural networks and the need to develop ‘knowing-caring’.

Rethinking Digital Platforms for the Post-COVID-19 Era
As long as COVID-19 is a global concern, many aspects of daily life will be mediated by platform companies that see human interactions as content to be moderated, and as sources of data to be monetized


Stretched, secret supply chains hold Covid-19 patients’ lives in the balance
The drug supply chain is largely hidden from public scrutiny to protect commercial interests. But without transparency, shortages of drugs are often poorly understood, with problems at any stage leading to a patient not being able to receive potentially life-saving treatment.

Bioethics for the Pandemic
Our existing ethical frameworks for health-care decisions were not devised for a pandemic – and it shows. The principles that have been enshrined, while important, do not address the difficult question of what to do when medical resources are suddenly in short supply, as they are now.


The COVID-19 Crisis and the End of the “Low-skilled” Worker
The COVID-19 crisis is causing working class people lots of pain and suffering. Beyond the deaths of loved ones, unemployment and income insecurity are creating an uncertain future. But the crisis is also leading to some quite contradictory (and potentially interesting) outcomes in the world of work. Right in front of our eyes, the COVID-19 crisis is dissolving the foundations upon which the traditional division of labor between intellectual and manual labor was based. In particular, this crisis is interrogating the legitimacy of that skills-hierarchy that places at the bottom all those skills and jobs that are necessary for the reproduction of life and society. Suddenly, workers in the food chain, from agricultural laborers, to workers in food factories, to warehouse and logistics workers, supermarket employees, waste collectors, and cleaners, as well as healthcare and care workers, are called “key,” or “essential” workers, or are given other specific legal entitlements that are reminiscent of wartime economies and would have been unimaginable earlier this year.

El uso de robots toma fuerza con el coronavirus mientras avanza el miedo laboral en los humanos
La utilización de robots en los procesos laborales se va a incrementar para solventar esta crisis frente a los intentos de frenar la automatización de la economía que se vivió en la Gran Depresión.

El teletrabajo afecta ya al 32% de los empleos, pero aumenta la desigualdad
El covid-19 ha acelerado la tendencia a trabajar desde casa. Sin embargo, España está muy atrasada respecto de la UE. Aun así, el 32% de los trabajos se pueden hacer ya desde casa.

Low-paid workers more likely to die from Covid-19 than higher earners
People in low-paid, manual jobs face a much greater risk of dying from coronavirus than higher-paid, white-collar workers, according to official figures. Men in low-skilled jobs are four times more likely to die from the virus than men in professional occupations, while women working as carers are twice as likely to die as those in professional and technical roles. The findings have prompted calls for clear guidance for employers and employees as the government called for people who could not work from home to return to work.

Protecting Gig Workers During Covid-19: What Platforms Must Do
The estimated 50 million gig workers worldwide have been particularly hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.  How are their platforms responding, and what more should platforms do? Reports indicate half of gig workers have lost their jobs. Those still working perform functions essential to society, yet they have lost two-thirds of their income on average.  Many face the impossible choice between destitution and infection, as summed up by one worker: “either I’m starving or I’m dying of coronavirus”.

Covid-19 and inequalities at work: a gender lens
Politicians love platitudes, especially when trying to persuade us to accept a policy, the burden of which is likely to be unevenly spread and unequally borne. Just as the rallying cry for austerity was ‘we are all in this together’ – though nothing could be further from the truth in a decade during which the rich became infinitely richer while the poor plunged further into poverty – so now we are reminded in those dismal daily briefings that COVID-19 is the great leveller which does not discriminate, affecting prince and pauper alike.


The asymmetric impact of COVID-19 confinement measures on EU labour markets
The COVID-19 economic crisis is having a huge impact on employment in the EU, calling for swift policy action targeting the most affected sectors and countries. This column makes an assessment of the labour market impact of the confinement measures put in place by EU governments. It finds that these restrictions are likely to have a very asymmetric effect across EU labour markets, with the most negative employment impact concentrating in the most vulnerable countries and categories of workers.

The Global South’s Coronavirus Debt Crisis
The staggering exodus of capital from the Global South is pushing developing economies to the brink of default – making it increasingly likely that the greatest cost for the coronavirus crisis will be paid by the world’s poorest.

The economic impact of Covid-19 in Europe and the US: Outbreaks and individual behaviour matter a great deal, non-pharmaceutical interventions matter less
The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns have led to unprecedented economic costs around the world. Using high-frequency indicators, this column shows that while COVID-19 is a global shock, European countries and US states with larger outbreaks have suffered significantly larger economic losses. The impact of COVID-19 is mostly captured by changes in people’s observed mobility whereas, so far, there is no robust evidence supporting additional impact from the adoption of non-pharmaceutical interventions, especially in the US. The results indicate a crucial role for communication and trust-building.

How COVID-19 is transforming the world economy
In the wake of the Global Crisis, uncertainty in the world economy led many firms to reassess their business models. Rather than relying on global supply chains, an increasing number of firms invested in robots, which prompted a renaissance of manufacturing in industrialised countries. This column argues that changes in the world economy due to COVID-19 make a V-shaped recovery from the coming recession unlikely. Instead, COVID-19 will accelerate the process begun after the Global Crisis by encouraging firms to re-shore activity back to rich countries.

The cost of the COVID-19 crisis: Lockdowns, macroeconomic expectations, and consumer spending
Business cycles are rarely a matter of life or death in advanced economies, but the COVID-19 crisis is forcing policymakers into painful trade-offs between saving lives and saving the economy. This column uses several waves of a customised survey to study the economic costs of US lockdowns in terms of spending, labour market outcomes, and macroeconomic expectations. It finds overall spending drops of more than 30%, unemployment expectations climbing more than 10%, inflation expectations falling, uncertainty rising, and plans to purchase large durables plummeting.

Una nueva economía moral
Por tercera vez en la historia de la democracia se produce una falta de circulación del dinero. Pero a diferencia de las de 1989 y 2001, esta crisis encadenada con medidas sanitarias no se mide sólo en términos cuantitativos. La pandemia multiplica las desigualdades estructurales generadas por la pobreza. El efecto del hacinamiento, del trabajo informal, de la brecha digital, del acceso a la salud y de la exclusión del sistema bancario actúa de una manera acelerada, encadenada y aguda. Ante la ruina de las otras distancias sociales, la economía moral.


La pandemia, una oportunidad para darle la vuelta al modelo de las ciudades
Expertos en movilidad sostenible llevan tiempo denunciando la hostilidad de las ciudades hacia su propia ciudadanía. Ahora, esperan un cambio. Uno de los hechos que más se ha evidenciado en los últimos días, tras las primeras medidas de desescalada, ha sido la falta de espacio para los peatones en la ciudad. Entre las medidas que se proponen para el transporte público destaca un escalamiento a la hora de entrar al trabajo, que se determine entrar a distintos horarios.

COVID-19 Crisis Capitalism Comes to Real Estate

Proptech is leading to new forms of housing injustice in ways that increase the power of landlords and further disempower tenants and those seeking shelter.

Viaggio nelle città cambiate dal Virus: commercio, data center e logistica
Spesa online, autostrade digitali, nuovi hub della logistica e “dark kitchen” per il delivery: come il Coronavirus cambierà gli spazi di città e hinterland.

COVID-19 has turned cities’ greatest assets into disadvantages
The Covid-19 outbreak has radically altered our conception of large cities. The density and connectedness of urban areas, once viewed as key economic strengths, now appear as weaknesses that put citizens at greater risk from the virus. Rune Dahl Fitjar asks whether this change in perceptions is likely to be temporary, or whether we may see a lasting shift toward a less global, less urban and ultimately less prosperous world.

Dobbiamo fare spazio (pubblico)
Secondo il collettivo orizzontale, se il distanziamento richiede di aumentare lo spazio intorno a noi, dovremo espandere i confini degli ambiti collettivi, per costruire una città che possa accogliere tutti, in sicurezza e senza discriminazioni.

How Covid-19 will reshape our cities
Can we contain future pandemics by changing the way we design buildings and urban spaces?

Megacity slums are incubators of disease – but coronavirus response isn’t helping the billion people who live in them
Having ravaged some of the world’s wealthiest cities, the coronavirus pandemic is now spreading into the megacities of developing countries. Sprawling urban areas in Brazil, Nigeria and Bangladesh are all seeing COVID-19 infections rise rapidly.


A Foucauldian enquiry in the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic management (Critique in Times of Coronavirus)
Is the substantially global management of the coronavirus pandemic a novelty or would it be possible to trace its origin in an earlier order of things? Could the specific model selected for the governance of the ongoing pandemic be subjected to a certain genealogy? According to the text on “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” (1971), Michel Foucault defines genealogy, or otherwise “effective” history, as a method of analysis of the descent, or the emergence of a specific practice.1 Referring to descent in the context of Foucauldian genealogy entails analysing the nexus of complex, multiple and multiform relations of power and knowledge at the origin of a given practice.

COVID-19, the Freedom to Die, and the Necropolitics of the Market
While reading Giorgio Agamben’s (2020) anthropological note on the “danger” of habituation of Italians to bare life under a state of exception invoked in the name of an allegedly “manufactured” crisis, what comes to our minds – also within the broader context of the pandemic and its deaths – is Achille Mbembe’s (2003) classic essay on necropolitics. According to Mbembe.

Zoomism and Discipline for Productive Immobility
The virus lurks on car door handles, on doorknobs and the floor, on the breath of others or in a friend’s hug, on onions in the supermarket, and on the hands of the valet who parks your car. If you venture outside, everything and everyone is a threat. So, it is better to stay home, safely locked away with your previously disinfected computer which connects you to a world that is innocuous because its virtual and therefore “virtually” harmless. What makes you sick lurks outside your door. The fear of what we know to be real, but which only materializes in suspicion, is enough to keep us locked away. This individual sensation of anguish in the face of a threat leads to voluntary confinement and that is the success of social control. Fear is used as a disciplinary device.

What Hannah Arendt can teach us about work in the time of Covid-19
The philosopher’s distinction between work and labour should guide our attempts to build a better society.


Pipistrelli e epidemie vecchie e nuove
In tempi di pandemia, all’inizio dello scorso marzo, alcune specie selvatiche come il pangolino o alcuni serpenti, inizialmente indicate come “responsabili” della genesi del nuovo coronavirus sono state ufficialmente “scagionate” dai media. Le notizie più aggiornate hanno puntato l’indice contro i pipistrelli, già ritenuti probabili “serbatoi” del coronavirus della SARS diffusosi tra il 2002 e il 2003. Il pipistrello non è davvero nuovo a questo genere di accuse. Al di là delle valide motivazioni che vengono addotte per spiegare le ragioni che lo renderebbero “unico” come causa o vettore dello sviluppo di virus, sul piano culturale l’associazione del pipistrello con le epidemie ha una lunga storia in Occidente. In particolare, il pipistrello, in quanto più classica delle metamorfosi animali del vampiro, si ricollega direttamente al nesso esistente tra pestilenze ed epidemie vampiriche in Europa tra Sei e Settecento

La folla e il contagio
1840. Nella Londra vittoriana un uomo seduto in un caffè osserva il movimento disordinato della metropoli. L’osservatore è preso dalla confusione che abita la vita urbana, dal movimento frenetico nelle strade, dal viavai chiassoso. In Europa la vita metropolitana è molto diversa da quella della grande città americana dalla quale viene.


The COVID-19 Conjuncture
In this interview, Warren Montag argues that the COVID-19 pandemic is being used by capital to enforce — through the instrument of the state — unheard-of levels of market discipline to secure profits at the expense of working people’s lives.

Neofeudalism: The End of Capitalism?
In Capital is Dead, McKenzie Wark asks: What if we’re not in capitalism anymore but something worse? The question is provocative, sacrilegious, unsettling as it forces anti-capitalists to confront an unacknowledged attachment to capitalism. Communism was supposed to come after capitalism and it’s not here, so doesn’t that mean we are still in capitalism? Left unquestioned, this assumption hinders political analysis. If we’ve rejected strict historical determinism, we should be able to consider the possibility that capitalism has mutated into something qualitatively different. Wark’s question invites a thought experiment: what tendencies in the present indicate that capitalism is transforming itself into something worse?

Crisis of a New Type
The future looks bleak. Here in the United States, nursing homes are reborn as temples of death, city governments clear trenches for anonymous corpses, farmers destroy tens of millions of pounds of unsold food, unemployment approaches Great Depression levels, the President encourages us to ingest poison, and politicians force Americans to sacrifice themselves at the altar of profit. Though perhaps avoiding the lunacy of our particularly kakistocratical administration, those living outside the crumbling capitalist capital of the world fare little better. The virus is killing tens of thousands, disrupting normal patterns of life, eroding entrenched institutions, and putting into question the future of life itself.


How plagues change the world
Could the coronavirus pandemic have an effect as lasting and profound as the Black Death?

Jérôme Baschet : “Le Covid-19 est une maladie du Capitalocène”
Symptôme d’un basculement, le Covid-19 est, selon l’historien Jérôme Baschet, le pur produit du système capitaliste et de son productivisme exacerbé. Selon lui, il est temps d’agir en conséquence.


Los alcances políticos del covid-19 a nivel mundial
El mundo enfrenta hoy una crisis sin precedentes. La emergencia de salud provocada por el surgimiento del covid-19, que se ha propagado globalmente desde la provincia china de Wuhan, ha orillado a los gobiernos y a la población civil a un grado de incertidumbre que va más allá del tema de salubridad, alcanzando también al económico y al político. Ante esta situación, estamos siendo testigos de quiénes podrían ser los ganadores y los perdedores de este juego mundial político, pero, sobre todo, del impacto que tendrá en prácticamente sobre múltiples rubros en todo el orbe.

Coronavirus has presented China with a historic opportunity — will it take it?
For years Beijing has spoken of its global leadership. As democratic states score Covid-19 own goals, that narrative is stronger than ever