By Alex Kelly
Reset Reading Group resources for discussion curated and introduced by Alex Kelly. Groups are encouraged to hold discussions of these readings during the week starting 25 May.
Please note we encourage all participants in RRG to read the introduction and watch the main discussion-starter Coronavirus Capitalism. There’s also further resources on the theme including manifestos on climate justice and disaster recovery – we don’t expect everyone to get through all of these prior to meeting for discussion.
Reset 3: Revitalising Democracy readings will be available 1 June. If you haven’t signed up to receive the fortnightly emails yet you can do so at Welcome to Reset Reading Group. The readings for each theme will be available in the Reset collection on an ongoing basis.
Moments of shock are volatile. We either lose ground, get fleeced by elites, and pay the price for decades, or we win progressive victories that seemed impossible just a few weeks earlier. This is no time to lose our nerve. – Naomi Klein
A crisis amplifies everything that is already broken and unfair in society. Arundhati Roy recently likened COVID-19 to a societal MRI revealing what lies beneath the surface. A shock this huge, this global, reveals faults that run deep, many of which are built on centuries of exploitation and extraction. This moment of upheaval calls on us to reflect and think deeply, to articulate fairer and kinder ways of organising our world – and then commit to making these visions central to the recovery – together. First though, we have to make sure that we stop worse decisions being locked in while we are focusing on the pandemic itself.
As laid out by Naomi Klein in her seminal work The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism a crisis opens up opportunities for rapid change, most often exploited by conservative forces. It’s clear from responses to many other crises – from Hurricane Katrina to the Global Financial Crisis and bank bailouts – that the elite will always seek to reassert their dominance and suck up public money to protect themselves. They will also seek to take advantage of the shock as cover to push through new policies as well as reforms that might otherwise be met with significant opposition.
Recent examples include:
- Victorian onshore gas drilling moratorium being overturned under the cover of COVID-19
- An obscure fertiliser plant being championed by the National Covid Coordination Commission
- The make up of the National Covid Coordination Commission itself and the fact it looks like it is going to push for a “gas lead recovery” to COVID-19’s impacts
- The fact that universities are not able to claim JobKeeper and are going to lose thousands of staff
- New spy laws enabling tracking and targeting young people
These are recent examples (mid May 2020) but there are unfortunately a plethora each week and likely more to come.
What can a people’s response to disaster capitalism look like? The resources here give some clues. In particular it’s important to:
- Be prepared to tell the story of the crisis and paint a picture of your vision of the future.
- Have a plan for what a just recovery should look like.
- Resist narrow definitions of wealth and growth and the ways these are used to play on people’s fears.
- Shine a bright light on attempts to further a conservative agenda during the crisis and resist strongly.
- Build a unified progressive movement that can support each other and avoid the usual divide and conquer tactics of conservatives.
I look forward to hearing your ideas on this theme as we collectively envision a just future.
Main discussion-starter: Coronavirus Capitalism
Coronavirus Capitalism – and how to beat it, Naomi Klein for the Intercept, 8.57 minute video. This video is about the ways the still-unfolding COVID-19 crisis is already remaking our sense of the possible. Whilst this clip comes from North America the core messages are just as relevant to us here in ‘Australia’ especially when we see the fossil fuel lobby pushing for reforms and bailouts already.
During moments of cataclysmic change, the previously unthinkable suddenly becomes reality. In recent decades, that change has mainly been for the worst — but this has not always been the case. And it need not continue to be in the future… This crisis — like earlier ones — could well be the catalyst to shower aid on the wealthiest interests in society, including those most responsible for our current vulnerabilities, while offering next to nothing to the most workers, wiping out small family savings and shuttering small businesses. But as this video shows, many are already pushing back — and that story hasn’t been written yet. – Naomi Klein
The Shock Doctrine
You can read an excerpt from The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein, 2007. The full e-book is now available for $2.
A Critical Framework for a Just Recovery
Just Recovery resists disaster capitalism at every step – from the disaster collectivism that models people-powered, heart-centered, socially just relief to the long-term organizing and actions that reclaim the right of peoples to define their economies and govern their communities. Read A Critical Framework for a Just Recovery from Movement Generation (USA).
Campaign and demands for a crisis response that builds from emergency to transformation from The Leap (Canada). Find out about the People’s Bailout.
Responding to the Covid-19 Outbreak: A Blueprint for Climate Justice
An an initial (March 2020) blueprint from Friends of the Earth Australia setting out key ideas for a response to the Covid-19 crisis addressing systemic issues in society and the economy while acting on climate change. Read FOE Australia’s Blueprint for Climate Justice.
Both the Covid-19 outbreak and the recent bushfire disaster have confirmed that society and the economy depend first and foremost on the health, wellbeing and safety of the community and nature… Based on our principles of justice, solidarity, resilience and care and action, we have set out our initial view of what a short-term economic rescue package should include to act on climate change while protecting people whose livelihoods are being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. – FOE Australia
Prompts for discussion
- Can you think of an example of disaster capitalism – something being passed under the cover of this crisis (or any other crisis)?
- Can you think of ways in which communities can take advantage of this rupture to create (and demand) a better world?
- What would a green and just recovery from COVID-19 look like? If you’ve read FOE Australia’s Climate Justice Blueprint, Movement Generation’s Framework for a Just Recovery, or The LEAP People’s Bailout, what stood out?
- How can we ensure no-one is left behind in a crisis – be that the bushfires and other climate driven extreme weather events or a pandemic on this scale?
About Alex Kelly, Reset 2 curator
Alex Kelly is a settler Australian filmmaker and artist committed to social and climate justice. Alex has worked in organising, film, theatre, communications strategy and troublemaking in many forms. This includes taking part in blockades from Jabiluka, Kakadu to la zad, France and working on creative projects such as Ngapartji Ngapartji and Something Somewhere Film Festival as well as the documentary films; Queen of the Desert, THE ISLAND, Island of the Hungry Ghosts and In My Blood It Runs. Alex was the Global Impact and Distribution Producer on Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything project. In 2013 Alex was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and explored models for social change documentary impact and engagement in the UK, Canada and USA. Alex was also a 2016 Sidney Myer Creative Fellow. Alex is currently developing The Things We Did Next – a multiplatform speculative futures and climate change project. For project details see echotango.
Reset 3: Revitalising Democracy readings will be available 1 June. View the full program and sign up to receive the fortnightly emails at Welcome to Reset Reading Group.
- Climate action
- Coronavirus infections_COVID 19 (Disease)
- Crisis management
- Movements_Campaigns - Anti capitalism_Corporate
- Reset Reading Group