Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency: War Communism in the Twenty-First Century
by Andreas Malm
What can a virus tell us about climate breakdown, in its causation and in humanity’s response? And what can both tell us about capitalism and communism? These are the questions that Andreas Malm addresses in his new book forthcoming next month. It is a remarkable work, a tour de force. It portrays capitalism not simply in metaphorical colors as a meta-virus run by parasites, but as the godfather of actual viruses, the patron of parasites. Written at whirlwind pace, one of its leitmotifs is tempo: the varying velocities of climate collapse, locust swarms, zoonotic pathogenic leaps, and the dynamics and gear changes of political response and strategy. While others were hesitantly piecing together analyses of COVID-19 and its links to climate change and the capitalist system, as the familiar coordinates heaved all around in April 2020, Malm seems to have summoned the energies of the crisis and guided them onto the page. The prose crackles—this is an urgent book.
When a senior UN climate official warns that the world is ‘heading for a heart attack’ (The Times, September 23, 2013), there is clearly no time to lose in taking the radical action necessary to avert disaster. But we also have to understand why it is that no matter how many scientific warnings and ‘wake up calls’ are issued, we are still headed for climate chaos.
On FAIR TV this week: CBS covers the Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal by asking Bush-era NSA chief Michael Hayden for help. And NPR wonders if media coverage of marriage equality is too tilted in favor of… equality? Plus network TV doesn’t cover Obama’s climate speech–but the fake newscast at Comedy Central does.
The NSA has a “brand new” technology that enables one billion cell phone calls a day to be redirected into its data hoards and stored, according to the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, who said that a new leak of Snowden’s documents was ‘coming soon.’
The reality of and the outward toll inflicted by greenhouse gas engendered Climate Change is clearly evident (to all but the corrupt and devoutly ignorant) e.g. increasingly destructive and deadly tornadoes and hurricanes, destruction of marine life, severe droughts and rapacious wild fires — landscapes of death, scattered debris and shattered lives.
Sometimes we get so sick of the phrase ‘history in the making’ that the brain tends to switch off. What is it this time?, we sigh. A new high-tech piece of military technology that will boost US killing power? A big jump in a newspaper’s online advertising revenue? The world’s best footballer, Lionel Messi, joining ‘an exclusive list of adidas athletes to have their own signature product’? Sometimes the ‘history’ in question only stretches back a few years, maybe a century or two. Only very occasionally, if the claim is truly deserved, does it stretch back to the earliest era of written records.
“There is a great divide between what freedom means to the capitalists and workers. For capitalists it means freedom to exploit, how and whenever they please…For workers it can mean nothing less then liberation from the chains of poverty and oppression.”
Alaska is a good-sized part of the Arctic, the world’s epicenter of climate change, where sensitivity to human-caused global warming is magnified much more than in the 48 lower states, but the likely consequences of this climatic drama have not sunk in with the public, just yet.