As the Corona crisis is set to produce an unprecedented challenge to the reproduction of both capitalism and life, Plan C’s Covid-19 cluster is launching the #DemandANewNormal campaign.
After a long time in isolation and fear, the desire for a ‘New Normal’ is very strong. A recent large poll found that having enjoyed cleaner air, better food and stronger social bonds, only 9% of Britons want to go back to the way things were. People are experiencing change, they now know that change is possible… They want a ‘New Normal’. In fact, in the dominant political discourse the ‘New Normal’ has become the new soundbite. But what does this actually mean? Is it about being able to go to the pub? Spending time with our friends and loved ones? Going on holiday? Being able to attend a funeral or a wedding? Unfortunately not.
This New Normal could be harsher than the old one. As Naomi Klein made clear, the capitalist class is never shy of making use of a crisis. Those that survive, indebted, will, as Critisticuffs points out, “have to produce economic successes to justify and pay off their new debt burden.” And this means “pressing more performance out of their employees at reduced costs, i.e. wages, to maximise profits.” The unemployed may find that the current so-called “generous” benefit system does not remain that way for long. In other words we will be made to pay the price.
What is more, as Haiven says, “It is likely that the chaos and deaths of the pandemic will be blamed on too much democracy, liberalism and empathy. In the wake of the pandemic we can be sure that fascists and reactionaries will seek to mobilize tropes of — racial, national, economic — purity, purification, parasitism, and pollution to impose their long-festering dreams on reality.” The Coronavirus Bill has given the State extraordinary powers for two years.
For us, the world’s majority, we are hardly likely to welcome being even more exploited, abused and in a fairly constant state of hyper-vigilance about enough money, enough food and keeping rooves over our heads. So if this is the new normal, the time is more than ripe for us to rise up to make and demand changes.
Covid-19 has created change. It has shown us that capitalist realism is a myth and that capitalism is killing us. It is the work of those least valued in our society, migrants, working class women and people of colour that is keeping us alive. Lots of key workers have gone on wildcat strikes demanding to be valued for their work and compensated for the extra risks they take everyday. Radical demands for permanent policies of care and solidarity have emerged all over.
For others, the site of resistance and connections has shifted to our homes, gardens, balconies, physical and virtual neighbourhoods, care homes, hospitals, schools and community projects. Physically isolated from one another, craving to be with others, we have developed thousands of creative ways to get together online, or by singing, partying and playing music across our balconies and gardens. What we see are hundreds of thousands of mutual aid groups springing up all over the country and over 2.5 million people volunteering.
Related autonomy is developed through practices of solidarity and balanced mutual care. In practicing mutual aid and care we are learning that we do not need the state or the market to care for us. We are learning how to become ungovernable by either states or markets. It is this that is making us powerful to demand OUR New Normal.
“The sweet taste of freedom — real, interdependent freedom, not the lonely freedom of the market — lingers on the palate like a long-forgotten memory, but quickly turns bitter when its nectar is withdrawn.”
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