Faculty Writing: Neoliberalism and Human Rights, Concrete Utopias and the Power of Strikes during Pandemic

In Spectre, Anthony Alessandrini reports on the strikes taking place within the University of California system, exploring the work of boycotts within the context of global pandemic. About the violent and dismissive response to the strikers he writes: “[O]ne of the most ‘liberal’ institutions in the world had them beaten, arrested, fired, left exposed to the whims of Trumpian immigration policies, and told, with actions that spoke louder than words, that as far as the university was concerned, they could all drop dead.”

For Guernica, Joseph Osmundson shows us the connections between queer theory, “concrete utopias,” and our current moment in midst of pandemic. He writes: “I’ve argued for some years that climate change may make us all queer, a worldwide people without a future. For now, though, this is inverted: We are all without a present, living only for a future when things won’t be like this… At the least, we’ve practiced caring for one another in the face of mass death and an uncertain future. And we know that going back to “normal” should not, must not, be our end goal here.”

In Jacobin, Rafael Khachaturian and Samuel Moyn discuss the history of “human rights” and its relationship to neoliberalism and increasingly stark inequality globally: “Human rights were never intended, even on paper, to advance distributive equality… The things that human rights have been trying to advance were not as deeply challenging for the neoliberal transformation of political economy, and could even promise a ‘humane’ form of it.”

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