“What the Covid-19 pandemic has done is expose even further the endoskeleton of the world.” —poet and novelist Dionne Brand
We recently had the pleasure of participating in a virtual launch event for the book, Dead Epidemiologists: On the Origins of Covid-19 by Rob Wallace. Activists and scholars reminded us that, as politicians weigh the pros and cons of shoring up the economy versus putting lives at risk, the system that created this pandemic cannot save us—and should not be saved.
It’s no coincidence, argues Dead Epidemiologists, that global centers of capital—London, Hong Kong, and New York City—have been the worst Covid-19 hotspots, hubs of both finance and disease. And for the most part, says Wallace, epidemiologists under neoliberal capitalism are “funded to clean up the system’s mess” rather than address its root causes and prevent future outbreaks.
During the online book celebration, medical anthropologist Adia Benton referenced a powerful essay from Canadian poet Dionne Brand who laments the “commentators, experts, and politicians as they attempt to manage the pandemic as narrative, as calculus, but not yet as reckoning.” And our friend Raj Patel shared a quote (appropriately) from the dead epidemiologist Rudolf Virchow, who said, “politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale” calling on us to practice what Raj termed “radical immunity.”
In this US election, we vote to make our voices heard: The Covid-19 pandemic is not a mere calculus nor is it a narrative to spin. We demand a reckoning with the system that created it.
And we will continue building radical immunity well beyond November 3rd, by growing the global movement for peasant food systems and agroecology, standing with workers, decolonizing our relationships to the land and to each other, and calling for the abolition of institutions of punishment and harm.
Yours in radical immunity,
Tanya, Anna, Christina, and Tiffani