Everything Must Change!

THE WORLD AFTER COVID-19


Edited by Renata Ávila and Srećko Horvat


Contributors: Tariq Ali, David Adler, Gael García Bernal, Larry Charles, Noam Chomsky, Brian Eno, Daniel Ellsberg, Kenneth Goldsmith, David Graeber, Johann Hari, Maja Kantar, Stephanie Kelton, Stefania Maurizi, Evgeny Morozov, Maja Pelević, Vijay Prashad , Angela Richter, Saskia Sassen, Saša Savanović, Jeremy Scahill, Richard Sennett, John Shipton, Astra Taylor, Ece Temelkuran, Yanis Varoufakis, Roger Waters, Slavoj Žižek, and Shoshana Zuboff.

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About the Book

Everything Must Change! brings together prominent commentators from around the world to present a rich and nuanced weighing of progressive possibilities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In these pages you’ll encounter influential voices across the left, ranging from Roger Waters to Noam Chomsky, Slavoj Žižek to Saskia Sassen. Gael García Bernal, Brian Eno, and Larry Charles examine the pandemic’s more cultural and artistic consequences, touching on topics of love, play, comedy, dreaming, and time. Their words sit alongside analyses of the paradoxes and possibilities of debt, internationalism, and solidarity by Astra Taylor, David Graeber, Vijay Prashad, and Stephanie Kelton.

Burgeoning surveillance and control measures in the name of public health are a concern for many of the contributors here, including Shoshana Zuboff and Evgeny Morozov, as are the opportunities presented by the crisis for exploitation by financiers, technocrats, and the far right.

Against a return to the normal and, indeed, the notion that there ever was such a thing, these conversations insist that urgent, systemic change is needed to tackle not only the pandemics arising from the human destruction of nature, but also the ceaseless debilitations of contemporary global capitalism.

332 pages • Paperback ISBN 978-1-68219-305-1 • E-book 978-1-68219-248-1

About the Editors

Renata Avila editor photo

© Martin Corvera
Renata Ávila is a Guatemalan international human rights lawyer and author. She co-founded and is a Council member of the Progressive International and is a member of DiEM25’s Coordinating Collective. She also co-founded the <A+> Alliance for Inclusive Algorithms. An expert in digital rights, she studies the politics of data, the evolution of transparency, and their implications on trade, democracy, and society, highlighting a phenomenon she describes as digital colonialism.
Srecko Horvat Editor photo

© Oliver Abraham
Srećko Horvat is a philosopher born in Croatia (former Yugoslavia) in 1983. He has published over a dozen books, most recently After the Apocalypse (Polity Press, 2021) and Poetry from the Future (Penguin, 2019) and has been active in various social movements. He was one of the founders of the Subversive Festival in Zagreb and is a co-founder of DiEM25.

DiEM25 is a pan-European movement that aims to democratize the European Union, in the knowledge that it will only survive if it is radically transformed.

Despite the promise of the European Union, today, a common bureaucracy and common currency divide the peoples of Europe. We have a duty to regain control over our union from unaccountable technocrats, myopic politicians, and shadowy institutions. Against the non-choice of retreating to nationalism or surrendering to Brussels, there is another course of action, and it is the only one that can save the EU from disintegration: Democratize Europe!

Read an Excerpt

Noam Chomsky and Srećko Horvat, March 25, 2020.

Srećko: Noam, you witnessed the Second World War, the bombing of Hiroshima, and many important historic events from the Vietnam War, the 1973 oil crisis, Chernobyl, the fall of the Berlin Wall, 9/11, and, more recently, the financial crash of 2007–2008. In terms of your background in being a witness and protagonist in major historical processes, how do you see the current Covid-19 crisis? Is it an unprecedented historical event? Is it something that surprised you?

Noam: My earliest memories, which are haunting me now, are from the 1930s. I can recall, when I was a young child, listening to Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies over the radio. Though I couldn’t understand the words, it was easy to understand the mood and the threat, and, I have to say, when I listen to Donald Trump’s rallies today, it resonates. It’s not that he’s a fascist—he doesn’t have that much of an ideology, he’s just a sociopath, an individual concerned with himself—but the mood and the fear is similar, and the idea that the fate of the country and the world is in the hands of a sociopathic buffoon is shocking. Covid-19 is serious enough, but it’s worth recalling that there is a much greater horror approaching. We are racing to the edge of disaster, far worse than anything that’s happened in human history, and Trump and his minions are in the lead in racing to the abyss. In fact, there are two immense threats that we are facing. One is the growing threat of nuclear war, which has been exacerbated by the tearing apart of what’s left of the arms control regime, and the other is of course the growing threat of global warming. Both threats can be dealt with, but there isn’t a lot of time. Covid-19 is horrible and can have terrifying consequences, but there will be recovery. As for the other threats, there won’t be recovery. If we don’t deal with them, we’re done.

Saskia Sassen and Srećko Horvat, March 27, 2020.

Saskia: I do find this coronavirus event a telling event. It enters the picture at a moment when we already had quite a few unsettlements. The question of climate change, which many of the younger generations are really gathering around, is something that we elders have never taken very seriously, but we are also being pulled in now, because we realize something has changed. And one way of thinking about that something that has changed is that we have crossed the limits of a system. With one foot, we have stepped out—and it’s just a bit too much. We are dealing with systematicities that can’t quite fully narrate themselves. I want to look at this microbe as an invitation for us to sit down and think. This invisible microbe that is without smell, without sound, is a call to attention to things that we hadn’t thought about.

David Graeber and Maja Kantar, April 15, 2020.

Maja: Suddenly, when a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic happens, we can see that everything that was deemed impossible somehow becomes possible, whether that is writing off the National Health Service’s debt in the UK, the nationalization of private hospitals, or squatting a McDonald’s in Marseilles and turning it into a food bank.

David: There has been a thirty- to forty-year war against human political imagination. In the 1930s through to the 1960s, it was just assumed that we were living in a somewhat terrifying, but nonetheless exhilarating, new age where almost anything was possible. Creations such as the United Nations or the space program were epical feats of statesmanship. This is inconceivable now. We are given this line that there are economic machines beyond our control that are propelling us toward a better future and we just have to trust in them; we certainly can’t intervene in history. Today, it has gotten to the point where even those in power can no longer control the mechanisms they have created—they seem at a total loss in the face of urgent calls for them to mobilize on a global scale.

Roger Waters and Yanis Varoufakis, April 20, 2020.

Roger: The question is: How do we arrive at a place where we can make even a small amount of progress? Where we can implement even something as simple as a nuclear arms reduction deal—something you would think anybody with an IQ above room temperature would immediately agree with? If Bernie Sanders was to become president of the United States, perhaps he would do that. But he won’t because he’s been railroaded by the Democratic National Committee for the second time—the only viable candidate who might have made any impression upon the Trump voting base has been wiped out because he doesn’t represent the plutocracy that is the United States. Biden obviously does. Biden is perfect: he’s got the false teeth and he has horrible ideas about everything, so he’s perfect!

Yanis: Biden has no policies, he is simply the depository of all the policies of the status quo. It is very easy to lose heart, because every time there is a glimmer of hope it is snuffed out, whether it is Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders. So, what do we do about this? Firstly, we have to take a leaf out of the books of the bankers and the fascists. Because the bankers and the fascists understand one thing: that the only way to succeed is through internationalism and solidarity. We need to learn from this. We need to build a progressive international movement that has one agenda for the world but finds its specializations in different parts of the world.

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