Mon, Jun 15 at 8 p.m. | 75 minutes
Olios: Drop-in classes led by professors
For all the great thinkers that the socialist movement has produced, it has not been able to overcome the damning words of Homer Simpson: “In theory, communism works...in theory." This olio will take up Homer’s challenge by using socialist theory and a healthy dose of imagination to present the concrete details of what an ordinary day would look like in a socialist society facing the challenge of coronavirus.
Capitalism isn’t doing such a good job with coronavirus. The richest country in the world hasn’t been able to provide its people with nearly enough tests, personal protective equipment, or even correct information. Faced with a generational challenge that requires global cooperation and long range strategic planning, countries and companies are instead competing with one another over vaccine research and medical supplies--and trying to disastrously force their populations back to work under the absurd idea that we can get back to business as usual while a deadly virus still rages.
But while the Covid crisis is new, complaining about capitalism isn’t. Ever since Adam Smith first praised the “invisible hand” of the market, there have been critics calling that hand a thief. The very word capitalism was coined by one socialist, Pierre Proudhon, and popularized by another, Karl Marx, as a way to criticize a society governed by the interests of capital. But for socialists then and now, the main challenge hasn’t been proving that capitalism is flawed, but that a better way or organizing society is possible. For all the great thinkers that the socialist movement has produced, it has not been able to overcome the damning words of Homer Simpson: “In theory, communism works...in theory."
This olio will take up Homer’s challenge by using socialist theory and a healthy dose of imagination to present the concrete details of what an ordinary day would look like in a socialist society facing the challenge of coronavirus. How would your job and health care be impacted in a society not governed by profit? Would there be the same racial and economic disparities in health outcomes? Would a socialist society sacrifice individual freedom in the name of the common good? What about the motivation to look for vaccines and develop new ways to meet people’s changing material, social, and cultural wants and needs when they are forced to stay at home? Let’s find out.
**"This description was written before the start of the nationwide protests. Rest assured that questions of racism, policing, and democracy will very much be part of this discussion."
Danny Katch is an activist and humorist often accused of not knowing the difference. He is the author of Socialism... Seriously: A Brief Guide to Human Liberation and has contributed chapters to Occupying Wall Street: e Inside Story of an Action that Changed America and 101 Changemakers: Rebels and Radicals Who Changed US History. He writes regularly for Socialist Worker and Jacobin.
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