I submit that the most significant effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US is sociological. The break with the “normal” that the population is experiencing, virtually universally, is without precedent in the post-WWII era. With this amazing moment, we are being provided with an incredible opportunity to organize and to support real resistance to the Establishment. We should make the most of it.
All other effects—to health, civil liberties, electoral politics, etc.—are secondary (besides being matters of seemingly infinite debate). By contrast, the fact that people’s faith in the system is being seriously shaken right now is a big deal, and—as a phenomena—is undeniably real.
Those of us who oppose war, capitalism, injustice, authoritarianism and ecocide have often wished that the population could be roused from their seemingly unquestioning acceptance of the status quo and consider new perceptions and ideas. Well, here we are. There’s a real chance for something to happen. The last thing we should be calling for right now is a return to “normal.”
Personally, I’ve been opposed to “normal” since I was made aware of its existence at the age of 11. My understanding—or “analysis” as the intellectuals like to say—has grown more sophisticated over time, but the core has remained the same, and that is a visceral revulsion for the status quo, its values and its actions, which—I don’t need to tell you—are anti-people and anti-planet.
The System of “normal” has seemed unassailable: a machine of massive scale and seemingly unstoppable inertia. But it is vulnerable. We are seeing that now. We need to seize this moment.
In the context of taking action during the pandemic, many details are unimportant, like whether these particular statistics are accurate or those specific polices are over-reactions, or even if the whole thing was planned by Bill Gates.
Of course the elite is taking advantage of this crisis to consolidate power and riches. That’s their MO every other day of the week too, and that doesn’t make this moment special. But every ruling class in history has faced a day of reckoning when they fall from power, sometimes abruptly. The circumstances have varied, but what most instances had in common was a population that experienced a break with “normal.”
Right now, in 2020, a door has opened a crack. We don’t know what’s on the other side, but it’s a way out of this miserable place. We should grab ahold of it before the powers-that-be slam it shut again by “re-opening.”
So, is this just another flu? Did Governor so-and-so overstep his bounds? Are the counts in New York City exaggerated? Maybe, maybe not. What I’m saying is that such things are trivial compared to the magnitude of the opportunity that life is offering us now, with the spell broken for so many people. This really could be a once-in-a-lifetime shot at big change. Let’s go with that flow.
What exactly should we do? Ha! I know better than to make any specific suggestions. Anything I say would just become something else to argue with.
Personally, I’ll be looking for ways to support people who are taking advantage of the new space and who are trying to expand it—the people for whom “normal” is just not cutting it anymore. Maybe we’ll see each other along the way.