The Naked City

Traversing Toronto in Pandemic Times

The multiple crises that have come together in the current pandemic harbour great dangers, including rampant Social Darwinism and a move to authoritarian rule. At the same time, they offer openings for all who are looking for emancipatory ways out of the crises. In this conjuncture, Rosa Luxemburg’s dictum “Socialism or Barbarism” is as pertinent as ever. Indeed, it does not take much to reframe it as “Health or Capitalism.” Equally pertinent is the idea that a future worth living can only be built in egalitarian, ecological, and democratic ways, through a combination of popular self-management and socio-ecological planning that might yield a “radical democratization of the economy.”

The premise of the following snapshots, inspired by Stefan Kipfer’s daily walks and bicycle trips in the emptying streets of Toronto, is that to understand the dangers and possibilities of the current situation, one needs to attend to the manifold tensions of everyday life. One way of unearthing these daily disjunctures is to follow Marshall Berman’s advice and read “the signs in the street.”

Socialist Interventions Pamphlet No. 19.

Stefan Kipfer is a member of Free Transit Toronto and teaches at York University, Toronto. Follow his tweets at @StefanKipfer1.