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Forum XV (Summer 2020)

The Politics of Care

From the COVID-19 pandemic to uprisings over police brutality, we are living in the greatest social crisis of a generation. But the roots of these latest emergencies stretch back decades. At their core is a brutal neoliberal ideology that combines deep structural racism with a relentless assault on social welfare. Contributors to this volume not only protest these neoliberal roots of our present catastrophe, but they insist there is another way forward: a new kind of politics—a politics of care—that centers people’s basic needs and connections to fellow citizens, the global community, and the natural world.

The Politics of Care

From the COVID-19 pandemic to uprisings over police brutality, we are living in the greatest social crisis of a generation. But the roots of these latest emergencies stretch back decades. At their core is a brutal neoliberal ideology that combines deep structural racism with a relentless assault on social welfare. Its results are the failing economic and public health systems we confront today—those that benefit the few and put the most vulnerable in harm’s way.

Contributors to this volume not only protest these neoliberal roots of our present catastrophe, but they insist there is another way forward: a new kind of politics—a politics of care—that centers people’s basic needs and connections to fellow citizens, the global community, and the natural world. Imagining a world that promotes the health and well-being of all, they draw on different backgrounds—from public health to philosophy, history to economics, literature to activism—as well as the example of other countries and the past, from the AIDS activist group ACT-UP to the Black radical tradition. Together they point to a future, as Simon Waxman writes, where “no one is disposable.”

Essays

Amy Kapczynski, Gregg Gonsalves
The right response to COVID-19 is to rebuild our economy from the ground up, putting people to work in a massive jobs program to secure the public health of all.
Vafa Ghazavi
We may feel individually powerless to contribute to social transformation. But each of us bears responsibility for helping to create a more just world.
Amy Hoffman
During the AIDS crisis, different contingents of the LGBTQ movement set aside their differences to prioritize mutual care. What can we learn from this strategy today? And why is it still so difficult to talk about AIDS?
Sunaura Taylor

Nineteenth-century reformers understood the deep connections between public health and environmental protection. That's why struggles for Medicare for All and a Green New Deal are two sides of the same coin.

Adele Lebano
With few restrictions and no tracing of the disease’s spread, the government is relying upon Swedish character and traditions to see it through the pandemic.
Paul Hockenos
Germany's low death rate and quick payout of relief to workers makes a case for social democracy as preparedness.
Leandro Ferreira, Paul R. Katz
Despite President Bolsonaro's COVID-19 denialism, a small Brazilian city has one of the most ambitious responses in the world.
Anne L. Alstott
Society relies on the unpaid, invisible work of parents—mostly mothers—to care for children and to buffer kids from trauma and stress. Supporting that work during COVID-19 requires direct cash support to families.
Julie Kohler
Neoliberalism rests on the myth that “good” families can provide for their own without public support.
Manoj Dias-Abey
A new geoeconomic order is creating opportunities for organizing along supply chains.
Simon Waxman
Despite the myth that deaths of the elderly are never untimely, the author mourns a friend, fifty years his senior, who succumbed to COVID-19. She taught him that a moral life entails wanting those rewards not only for yourself but for everyone.
Shaun Ossei-Owusu
COVID-19 is having a disproportionate effect among vulnerable populations.
Colin Gordon, Walter Johnson, Jason Q. Purnell, Jamala Rogers
Black Americans are dying of COVID-19 at much higher rates than whites, and nowhere more so than in St. Louis. This is the result of racist policies which collapsed the social safety net while setting blacks in the path of danger.
Dan Berger
Jalil Muntaqim, a Black Panther imprisoned since 1971, is one of thousands of elderly prisoners the United States has refused to free during the pandemic.
Melvin Rogers
The rage on display in Minneapolis is not only about police violence. It is also about the country’s utter disregard for the pain of black Americans.
Alex Vitale, Scott Casleton
Sociologist Alex Vitale explains how the U.S. policing crisis begins with politics—the decision to embrace neoliberal austerity and to turn the social problems it creates over to police.
Robin D. G. Kelley
As a culture of protest took hold in 1960s LA, communities of color also prioritized a radical tradition of care, emphasizing mutual aid, community control, and the transformative power of art and politics.
Farah Jasmine Griffin
“In a season of unimaginable death, my students emerged as visionaries. I hope to live to see the world they create." 

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