Possibility and Radical Change

April 20, 2020 by Judith Marcuse, Founder and Co-Director, ICASC News /

As we face the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, more aware than ever of how we are both connected to and disconnected from each other, I send all best wishes for your good health and that of all in your circles. As we adapt and try to live as fully and kindly as we can, I offer some thoughts about possibility for positive change after this crisis is finally over. At this moment, it may seem premature to imagine future scenarios in a post-Covid-19 world. But, in the looming reality of coming economic and environmental chaos, we must imagine and work toward new ways of being in the world. This is the time to reframe and enact the values and structures that many have deemed impossibly radical. The pandemic reveals the deep cracks within current economic systems around the world.  In the West, it is clearer than ever that neo-liberalism has been a disaster. Inequality is rising exponentially, especially now as we see the hugely disproportionate consequences of the pandemic for individuals and whole communities. The world’s twenty-six richest people own as much wealth as half the Earth’s population. Of our hundred largest economies, sixty-nine are transnational corporations. In the face of environmental disaster, governments are paralyzed and corrupted by powerful private interests and we are running out of time. Massive unemployment, the collapse of supply chains, increased poverty, rising militarization, and widespread civil unrest are all possible in a scenario that predicts the consequences of a rush to re-establish and expand old, inhumane systems. But we do not have to accept these predictions. We see the extraordinary capacity of individuals to be creative, empathetic, collaborative, selfless and heroic…qualities that have always been present, especially in times of crisis. And, in a remarkably short time, we have witnessed public and private policy changes that we previously thought (or were told) were impossible…from housing the homeless and the retooling of businesses to provide healthcare equipment, to many new forms of local and global cooperation. We can see very clearly that we are “in this together” and that, ironically, we cannot continue to live in isolation from each other. We see also strategies in operation that we were told were too radical ever to be realized (such as guaranteed income supplements and debt forgiveness). We see extraordinary mobilization, imagination and collaboration leading to innovation. Solutions for more equitable and sustainable systems governing all aspects of our individual and collective wellbeing are staring us in the face. The solutions are right in front of us. Cultural expression is everywhere, making it clearer than ever that the arts in all its forms provide connection, comfort, insight and empathy within and across communities. We listen, observe, reflect, create and share what really matters to us. Cultural democracy grows as we increasingly recognize that creative expression and artmaking are not frills but essential human rights. Imagine a world where the enactment of love in its many forms strengthens our spiritual connections with each other and with the natural world. Head, heart and hands…. After the pandemic, the world will be a very different place; we have choice about how we adapt. The powerful forces that presently control the unjust and unsustainable systems within which we live will not cede territory easily. But I must retain the belief that power for change resides within each of us – that the lessons of the pandemic will push us to collectively act on our experience and change the world in ways we previously thought impossible. More to come in future blogs.  Next time, an exploration of the place of arts and culture in a new world. Be well, Judith Judith Marcuse, LL.D. (Hon.) Artistic Producer, Judith Marcuse Projects Founder/Co-Director, International Centre of Art for Social Change (ICASC) Fellow, Ashoka International



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