31 Jul Reframing Politics – the multiple crises of our age
ROAPE believes that our times are radical, and we need to radicalise with them in theory and practice – we have been attempting to do this. We inform our readers and supporters that in order to return revived and refreshed to the struggles we have been covering, ROAPE will be pausing activities in August on journal production and the website and social media.
For all of us, the last few months have been extraordinarily intense. The crisis of Covid-19 and the devastation it has caused to human life is linked, as we wrote in March, to capital accumulation: ‘We must also see the increase in the rates of viruses as intimately connected to food production and the profit margins of international businesses.’
Yet, as we know, the crisis has not fallen evenly on the rich and poor – the absurd idea that ‘we are all in this together’ is no longer even repeated by the right-wing press. Poor, working-class and BAME communities (in the UK, where this is being written) have been ferociously and disproportionally targeted by the virus. Around the world it has been the poor who have been killed in their thousands.
Yet there has been an astonishing and connected riposte. The global protests linked to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by the police on 25 May has been astonishing and promises to re-establish the parameters of radical change around the world. The New York Times reported that on 6 June, people turned out in nearly 550 places across the country to protests. In early July up to 26 million people had participated in demonstrations in the US. These statistics prove that the recent action has been the largest protest movement in the history of the country.
ROAPE’s Hakim Adi, in a recent webinar hosted by ROAPE (together with the Walter Rodney Foundation and others) stated that there had been ‘260 protests’ in villages, towns and cities around the UK since the murder of George Floyd. In other countries across the world the figures have been as impressive.
Today, in the context of multiple, connected movements and anti-racist struggles, and the urgent search for an alternative to capitalism, ROAPE has attempted to keep up. We have published blogposts on the pandemic (and its underlying causes) on the continent, invited activists to write and inform us about the ‘crackdown’ that has followed Covid-19 and how it has impacted communities and activist groups. We have also held a number of webinars on the pandemic across Africa, on the progress of Sudan’s revolution, surveillance and digitisation in the context of Covid-19 and on slavery, colonialism and Black Lives Matter.
We believe that the Black Lives Matter movement and the ideas around it are reframing politics, similar to the period around 1968. There is a huge political and ideological crisis amidst the historical disasters of the pandemic, the economy, and the climate emergency. Our times are radical, and we need to radicalise with them in theory and practice. ROAPE is attempting to do this (see Tunde Zack-Williams’ recent blogpost on BLM movement and radical African studies here).
So that we can rest, to then return revived and refreshed to these struggles in September, the website is entering a short period of hibernation. As we stated last year, ‘Over the last forty years, during what David Harvey has termed the “neoliberal counter-revolution”, ROAPE has sought to analyse these processes and trends across Africa. Deepening capitalist penetration in the economies and societies on the continent, and the expansion of a neoliberal “new economy”, has been the target of our politics and interventions. The impact of the renewed offensive on the “working day” has been devastating for labouring classes in both the Global South and the Global North.
‘The academic and research world has followed the pack. Across all areas of work, we now accept as normal that we are available around the clock, to answer emails – on our phones or computers – at all hours, and in all circumstances. New technologies and social media – potentially means for improving the quality of our lives – enable, as Marx wrote in the 1860s, the expansion of our exploitation and labour.’
This will mean that roape.net and social media will not be emailing, posting, tweeting or updating for a few weeks. Review of new and revised manuscripts will be paused, and only those papers already accepted, and the imminent issue, will have their journey to online publication brought to completion during this period. However, we will be back to continue our coverage of the multiple crises of our age, and the epoch-defining protests and struggles of contemporary capitalism.
Editorial Working Group
Featured Photograph: A Black Lives Matter demonstration organised by the Left-Green Youth in Bad Mergentheim, Germany (6 June 2020).