These Are the Conditions in Which Revolution Becomes Thinkable

Twenty years ago, I was arguing that the anti-globalization/anarchist left should cultivate the anti-globalist right as its natural allies, and that the cultural differences between the two were largely irrelevant because of those, you know, classic anarchist principles of anti-statism, free association, decentralization, federalism, etc. I continued making the same argument all through the Bush and Obama years. My efforts were denounced as “fascist” while the Left embraced pathological rightwingophobia instead. Now, we have Trump, the tossed aside Sandernistas, and neoliberal bootlicking “progressives” instead.


In a few months, Covid-19 has remade our political horizons entirely.

History moves slowly, then all at once. The coronavirus crisis has catapulted us into the latter rhythm. The pace of events has accelerated sharply; the course of events has become impossible to predict. In retrospect, 2020 may end up being a 1968 or a 1917: a year of leaps and ruptures, and a dividing line between one era and the next.

How might we characterize the new era? It’s difficult to draw definitive conclusions about a period that is in the earliest phases of its formation. Still, even in fast-moving moments, it’s possible to work up a preliminary sketch. For such a sketch to be useful, though, it must capture, albeit in rough strokes, the sharpness of the break and the newness of the situation produced by it. As Stuart Hall wrote:


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