“‘Afterwardness’ saturates the present. We didn’t know we were entering a new era until it arrived.”


It’s not going to be the same. Normality as we know it has been altered, and whatever the exact configuration of the future, it’s not going to be the same as it was.

You Can’t Go Home Again, by Alex N. Press (Jacobin)

We didn’t know we were entering a new era until it arrived. We can never go back.

 … I take a break from work to force myself to read an essay I’ve had open on my laptop for a while. In it, the author reflects on his failed efforts to evade commodification as a young writer. He writes: “I realize now that I was trying to undo by writing what could only be undone by action, not alone but with others — and through connections that incantation alone would not conjure.” I’ve been wondering why writing feels so meaningless during this pandemic, even emptier than usual, but it’s because action, right now, is so hard to come by. The emergent wave of walkouts and sickouts by essential workers at Amazon, General Electric, Whole Foods, and more — not to mention the tenant organizing — are the actions needed to force the hands of the rich and powerful, who are busy attending to their own problems. Writing isn’t totally useless, of course; the future is open, now more than ever, even if the forces of left and right that seek to shape it are nowhere close to being on a level playing field. But when the system is so hostile to reform, much less radical change, no amount of correct phrasing or clever proposals can shape history.