Covid-19 Capitalism: Big Farms Make Big Flu

8 Week Reading Group:

The year 2020 has brought together a devastating viral pandemic and what is shaping up as the deepest cyclical crisis of capitalism in history. Covid-19 is not the first such episode rooted in the risky practices of capitalist agribusiness, as detailed in Rob Wallace’s Big Farms Big Flu. We need to set ourselves to the task of how to respond that will have an impact on the causes of the circumstances we are facing as a species. To do this requires organizing and knowledge of the science that is behind the origins and spreading of Covid-19 so that our anti-capitalist activities and campaigns can be effective both in the short and long term.

Rob Wallace’s book is an indispensable handbook to the inevitable pandemics stemming from agribusiness. Monthly Review is making it available at a big discount until April 17. We at the MEP are hosting an online reading and discussion group to share the comprehensive research and writing that is contained in Wallace’s book. We will cover all seven sections, plus the two-part update being published in Monthly Review’s next two issues.

From the Introduction to Big Farms Make Big Flu:

“…humans have built physical and social environments on land and sea that have radically altered the pathways along which pathogens evolve and dispense.

“Pathogens, however, are no mere protagonists, buffered to and fro by the tides of human history. They also act of their own volition, if you will excuse the anthropomorphism. They display agency. And they have by their evolutionary changes forced agribusiness to the bargaining table, a place where that ilk, given their prior successes, think they excel.”

The book is offered by Monthly Review in paper at $10 or as an ebook at $5 until April 17:

Fees for the MEP zoom sessions are sliding scale; no one is turned away for inability to pay.

Working The Phones: Control and Resistance in Call Centers

An author presentation & discussion with Jamie Woodcock

Co-sponsored and hosted by Interference Archive

Call centers have become synonymous with low-paid and high stress work, dictatorial supervisors and terrifyingly precarious job contracts. However, rarely do we have access to the experience of workers in this context. For Working the Phones, Jamie Woodcock spent time working undercover in a UK call center in order to provide insights into the daily experiences of call center workers, and to understand and analyze methods of control and resistance that exist within the highly regulated environment. Call center work has become emblematic of the shift towards a post-industrial service economy, and all the issues that this produces, such as the destruction of a unionized work force, isolation and alienation, loss of agency and, ominously, the proliferation of surveillance and control which affects mental and physical well-being of the workers. The talk includes three parts: first, it makes an argument for the use of workers’ inquiry as a method to study contemporary work conditions, in this case involving an undercover activist ethnography; second, it draws on heterodox and critical Marxist theory to understand the transformation of work; third, it focuses on the challenges of resistance and organization in contemporary work through a concrete example.

Jamie Woodcock completed his PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is currently a fellow at LSE. His research interests include: digital labour, technology, management, critical theory, and the sociology of work. Working the Phones: Control and Resistance in Call Centres is published by Pluto Press, further information: