Two Articles Published Elsewhere

28 April 2020

I reflect on the corona crisis and the concomitant “Rebirth of Tragedy” at The Public Seminar. And I summarize France’s just-announced deconfinement policy for The American Prospect.



  • Brent says:

    With characteristic erudition your rebirth of tragedy essay, following Valéry, speaks for “rational man,” whom you refer to as “us.” What you say there about the bewilderment occasioned by the sudden descent of disaster rings true–for “us,” the affluent, Western, bourgeois beneficiaries of many decades of orderly prosperity. But it would be useful to recognize that most of the world’s peoples enjoy no such conceptual distancing. Even in our own overblown economy we suddenly discover–but it was looking at us all along–that so many of our ‘essential’ workforce, Black, Brown and immigrant, working multiple jobs, often in the gig economy, living off credit, without access to medical care, stand permanently poised on the brink of ‘tragedy’ or at least immiseration. Your three flavors of rationality are not interchangeable in this context. It’s the neoliberal vision that has condemned the lower ranks of our affluent society to this permanent circle of hell. It’s the social democrats who offer inadequate relief–characterized in your essay as “compromise.” And it would require some form of command economy, some version of ‘socialism’ or at least socialization of the vast wealth consolidated in the hands of a tiny minority, to restore some rational balance to the lives of these ‘essential’ but utterly marginalized workers. What you call ‘existentialism’ on ‘our’ behalf is known to those ‘others’ as ‘survival.’

  • Tom Fiorina says:

    I’m in total agreement with your article in The American Prospect about France’s déconfinement policy–that it highlights the chaotic and wishfulness that are hampering the U.S.’s efforts to end its lock-down. Toulouse, where I live, has largely been spared from this pandemic (this is curious, given the large Airbus and Air France presence here).
    Since late March, we’ve received a grand total of four weekly magazines and an Automobile Inspection Notice for our car’s Contrôle Technique that expired in mid-April. This notice was mailed in early March, but it arrived in our mailbox in late April. I don’t think, given the fact that they’ve apparently stopped delivering the mail, that the French Postal Service should be given any role in providing people with masks. And my experience with French websites (which IMHO are among the worst-designed and worst-functioning ones in the world) leads me to believe that any attempt to implement an e-commerce endeavour by the Post would be catastrophic.

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