2020 in Review: Workers Struggle Under the Weight of the Pandemic
Dan DiMaggio and Saurav Sarkar
Workers will feel the ramifications of this unprecedented year long into the future.
The coronavirus pandemic has claimed 300,000 lives, destroyed millions of jobs, busted gaping holes in public budgets, and magnified the myriad inequalities that have come to define life in the United States.
Notwithstanding a few bright spots, the labor movement struggled to find its footing in the biggest workplace health and safety crisis of our lifetimes.Read More »
Leo Panitch, Intellectual Pillar of the Canadian Left, Dead At 75 of COVID-19
Leo Victor Panitch, one of the intellectual pillars of the Canadian left and a leading scholar of the global depredations of neoliberalism, died Saturday from COVID-19. He was 75.
Born into a working class Jewish family in Winnipeg in 1945, Dr. Panitch was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and Distinguished Research Professor in Political Science and Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy at York University in Toronto. He was one of the world’s most respected students of the writings of Karl Marx.Read More »
DISCUSSIONS ON SOCIALISM
In Memory of Leo Panitch (1945-1920), Mentor, Colleague, Friend, from his comrades at Monthly Review.
This essay is a slightly shortened version of the Introduction to Renewing Socialism: Democracy, Strategy, and Imagination by Leo Panitch (Westview Press, 2001). It is reprinted here by permission.
Ring the bells that still ran ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
—Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”
What has happened has happened. The water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again, but
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
—Bertolt Brecht, “Everything Changes”
To make the thief disgorge his booty,
To free the spirit from its cell.
We must ourselves decide our duty,
We must decide and do it well.
—Eugene Pottier, “The Internationale”
Does it make any sense to speak in terms of socialist renewal at the beginning of the twenty-first century? The massive anti-capitalist protests from Seattle to Prague to Quebec that captured the world’s attention at the beginning of the new millennium attest to the fact that the spirit of revolution, one of the central facets of political life over the previous centuries, is hardly a thing of the past. If “the revolutionary spirit of the last centuries, that is, the eagerness to liberate and to build a new house where freedom can dwell, [which] is unprecedented and unequaled in all prior history”1 properly begins with the bourgeois revolutions of the late eighteenth century, few would dispute that this eagerness for fundamental social transformation was in very large part carried into the world of the twentieth century by socialism’s revolutionary aspirations to transcend the capitalist order itself. It was socialism that expressed the past century’s struggle for liberation from the paradoxical freedom of the bourgeois revolution, that is, from the competition and exploitation upon which capitalist social relations are founded; and it was socialism that embodied the aspiration to build a fully democratic, cooperative, and classless society where freedom and equality might realize rather than negate the sociability of humankind.Read More »
Empire, Socialism and November /w Leo Panitch
Sanjiv Gupta interviewed Leo Panitch in early September 2020. They discussed two issues which Panitch has studied and written about for decades. First, whether the pandemic has fundamentally altered the geopolitical balance between the U.S. and other great powers, specifically China. And second, how socialists in the U.S. should approach the November elections. For Panitch, the two issues are intimately connected.
RIP Leo Panitch (1945 – 2020) was Professor Emeritus of Politics at York University in Toronto. He was co-editor of the Socialist Register and author of several books, most recently Searching for Socialism: The Project of the Labour New Left from Benn to Corbyn, co-authored with Colin Leys and published by Verso.
Sanjiv Gupta is the host of Socialism in the Time of Corona.
Read More »
PERUVIAN AGRICULTURE WORKERS’ PROTEST
Peruvian Agricultural Workers’ Strike Met With Violent Repression
José Carlos Llerena
Police repressed agricultural workers on the Panamerican highway in the Chao district in Virú. Photo: Gian Masko Angulo
On December 21, hundreds of agricultural workers from Peru embarked on a fresh agrarian strike, blocking highways along the Peruvian coast, in rejection of the failure of Congress to pass a new agrarian law. The new law would guarantee the labor rights of workers in agribusiness and would seek to improve what workers have deemed “slavery work conditions” that they have suffered under for nearly 20 years under the former Agrarian Promotion Law.Read More »
CHINA’S SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS
Now China Achieves Quantum Supremacy — What Does this Mean?
Newsclick | December 20, 2020
Chinese quantum computer Jiuzhang achieved quantum supremacy. It is only the second quantum computer to ever do so, after Google’s Sycamore. How does this computer work and what does quantum supremacy mean for us?Read More »
On Anniversary of Sudanese Revolution, the Cry for Course Correction Rises
On December 19, the second anniversary of the December revolution, thousands of protesters took to streets in Sudan. The protesters demanded that the committee formed to investigate the massacre of 127 protesters on June 3 last year should publish its result.Read More »
THE STATE OF U.S. ECONOMY
Chart of the Day
David F. Ruccio
Both the number of initial unemployment claims for unemployment compensation and the number of continued claims for unemployment compensation are once again on the rise, signaling a worsening of the Pandemic Depression.
This morning, the U.S. Department of Labor (pdf) reported that, during the week ending last Saturday, another 935 thousand American workers filed initial claims for unemployment compensation. While initial unemployment claims remain well below the peak of about seven million in March, they are far higher than pre-pandemic levels of about 200 thousand claims a week.Read More »
INDIAN FARMERS’ PROTEST
Resilience of Farmers Protesting on Delhi’s Borders Instils Hope in India’s Future
The Wire | December 24, 2020
Farmers protesting for the repeal of Central farm laws have their meal on a highway in Delhi. Photo: Rohit Kumar.
Not too many in India would disagree that 2020 has truly been annus horribilis.
For those who have felt the scourge of COVID-19 or know someone who has, it has been a year of disease and death; for those who have lost their jobs or livelihood, it has been a year of deprivation and depression; and for those who have dared to speak out against the excesses of a dictatorial state, it has been a year when they have had to pay a heavy price for their courage.
And yet, for all the tragedy and trauma that the year has brought, it is worth remembering that 2020 has also been bookended by two of the largest non-violent protests that independent India has ever seen. The countrywide, anti-CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) and NRC (National Register of Citizens) protests at the beginning of the year, and the massive farmer protests at the end of it.Read More »