The coronavirus is both a symptom and factor of the intensifying crisis of civilization. It is exposing all the pre-existing fault lines of the global capitalist system, not least the interrelated and increasingly interacting spheres of the climate emergency and ecological breakdown with the crisis ridden global economy.
The scale of the health pandemic and the way it has precipitated a global economic recession / depression will mean that the impact of this new crisis will be experienced for at least a decade. At the same time, the weaknesses it has engendered in the global system makes the system more vulnerable to a range of new unpredictable exogenous shocks.
Hence, as we try to take stock of the impact of the crisis on our society, on indigenous peoples, women and poor and working class people in the South and consider the immediate responses needed to protect our people and nature, our attention has to turn to the alternative paradigms and systems which sustain life, protect bio-systems and guarantee livelihoods based on equality and freedom.
And all the time we must do so, cognizant of the power relations and dynamics driving the current destructive system with a clarity that offers strategic insights for fundamental transformation. In this regard, we have to focus on the three inter-related dimensions, namely;
- the tremendous power of transnational corporations, not least those that dominate the financial system, and the global value chains they have constructed, which, subordinate and commodify all aspects of life;
- the changing geo-political power relations marked by the weakening of US imperial domination and the rise of new powers, not least China and a tendency towards increased rivalries of states, regional blocks and spheres of influence;
- the inter-related crises of organization, consciousness and ideology that constitute the crisis of an emancipatory politics of a counter-power capable of leading transformation and reconstruction.
The People’s Dialogue held four discussions to develop these ideas around the following themes:
a) Locating the coronavirus pandemic within processes associated with the extractivist model, such as the intensification of industrial agriculture, its encroachment into natural ecologies and the broader food system with its dispossession and displacement of indigenous and peasant small-scale agriculture;
b) Examining the crisis through a feminist lens, examining the impact and implications for social reproduction, the specific impact on women in the care economy and the role women play in the health system;
c) Analysis of the economic dimensions of the crisis and how the financialization and globalization of the economy under neoliberalism has made the global economy so crisis ridden and the implications this has for decent work and livelihoods
d) The multi-dimensional nature of the crisis of civilization which involves the intersection of the economic, ecological, social and political elements.
People’s Dialogue organised the following webinars:
COVID-19 in the Age of Extractivism and Climate Change – Voices from the South (April 22)
COVID-19 in the Age of Extractivism and the Care Economy – Voices from the South (April 29)