Disobedience, Protest, and the Pandemic: Climate Change and Citizen Action under Conditions of Social Distancing
Civil disobedience is not just a checklist of components, but a tradition of morally purposeful action and an expression of citizenship, CUSP Fellow Graeme Hayes writes. As the pandemic ushers in new social norms, and political and economic interests may seek to capitalise on the crisis to further deepen social inequality, how social movements rethink their tactics may have profound consequences for the effectiveness of future protests.by
So far, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of over 200,000 people; if we measure excess deaths against the five year average, the figure is even higher, at over 300,000. To stem the tide, liberal and authoritarian states worldwide have introduced social restriction regimes with varying intensities, speeds, and success. By the end of March, 2.6 billion people, or a third of the global population, were living under some form of ‘lockdown’. The social and economic consequences are profound, with the IMF predicting the global economy to shrink by 3% in 2020, the ILO emphasising the devastating effects of workplace closures on 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy. Poorer and more marginalised populations are not only more likely to be exposed to the virus; they are less likely to be able to adapt to and cope socially and economically with conditions of lockdown. This is, as Richard Horton writes in The Lancet, a global health crisis whose meanings are not biological but biographical, located in the vast social inequalities and organisational assumptions that underpin late capitalist societies.
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