Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Social security

I usually approach a George Monbiot column with a mixture of caution and dread. Not because he's habitually wrong, but because there's often a lot of hyperbolic rhetoric to wade through - and when you do, the grim truth laid bare makes for depressing reading. So you can imagine him taking a perverse pleasure in reflecting on the current crisis and delivering an uncharacteristically upbeat piece that dwells on the ways in which the pandemic has illustrated "the unexpectedly thrilling and transformative force of mutual aid".

The sheer number and variety of public community initiatives he cites is undeniably impressive, as is their global spread. Yet the prevailing consensus - at least as far as I'm aware - is that coronavirus is actually exacerbating existing inequalities or at least throwing them into sharper relief, and the claim that "there are no neoliberals in a pandemic", and there is therefore no such thing as disaster capitalism, would be given short shrift by Naomi Klein.

For once, though, I really want to believe (not just get a nauseous gut feeling) that Monbiot is right - that his assessment of the present is valid and his optimism for the post-pandemic future isn't wildly misplaced.

Of course, the column was written three weeks ago, so he may have changed his mind since then...

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