Free readings!

by Ingrid Robeyns on March 21, 2020

Many of us are currently locked up, in one way or another. For some of us this means no time for leisure – the people who are ill, the health workers currently making heroic double and triple shifts, workers struggling to get their work done in a virtual way, and parents and other careworkers being overwhelmed by the 24/7 homeschooling and carework. But for others, it means more time to read or watch movies, since there is nowhere to go. And given that acts of kindness and solidarity are now especially important, it’s nice to see that some publishing houses are putting out some of their book for free for everyone to download. Thanks!

Let’s share what we know is available. Here’s a start – Verso is offering 5 books (in ebook format) for free, which are all contributions to the post-pandemic world we might want to strive for.

And of course, pandemic or no pandemic, fully open access academic publishers, such as Open Book Publishers, are always providing us with free readings. Not all PDFs are for free, but some are, including Noam Chomsky’s Delhi Lectures on Democracy and Power.

Have you come across other intellectual, artistic, entertaining or otherwise valuable resources that have been made freely available to all?

Crises and the case for socialism

by John Q on March 21, 2020

The coronavirus crisis is very different, at least in its origins, from the Global Financial Crisis. Both differ in crucial respects from other crises in living memory, notably including the Great Depression and World War II, as well a string of severe but not catastrophic crises that have affected the global economy and society. But thinking about them all together brings home the point that major crises are quite common events. The crisis of the past took each took between five and ten years to resolve. Even if the current crisis is shorter, we can draw the conclusion that crisis of one kind or another is not an aberration, but a regular occurrence in a complex modern society.

What they have in common is that they result in a need for urgent government action. The greater the capacity and willingness of governments to act to protect society from the economic damage associated with such crises the better, in general, the outcome has been.

The most immediate requirements for dealing with a crisis are * a strong and comprehensive welfare state, protecting everyone against falling into poverty through sickness, old age and unemployment * strong protections for workers, protecting them against arbitrary dismissal, and with a public commitment to restore and maintain full employment These will have to be made up as we go along, plastered over the existing patchwork, then properly integrated into the welfare and industrial relations system In the aftermath, we need a substantially expanded economic role for government, including control over infrastructure and financial enterprises and increased public provision of health, education and other services. All of this will require a substantial increase in the public share of national income, which can only be financed by reducing the share going to high income earners, and particularly the top 1 per cent. In short, we need socialism.