The “Normal” We Live In

By Pasqualina Curcio on August 23, 2020

San Francisco, CA, Photo: Bill Hackwell

We have been invited, as humanity, to a “new normality”. The call is made to us by the United Nations System.

The normal is the “widely accepted”, it is the known, the usual, the ordinary, whether we like it or not, whether we consider it fair or not. Before such a responsibility the question we must ask ourselves is why is it that and not another normality that characterizes the world today? Who benefits from that normality today and therefore who are those who decide what is normal and what is not? How have they managed to convince us of that normality? Is what is considered normal today appropriate for the 7,500 million beings that inhabit this planet? What must be changed?

They seem to be very complex and philosophical questions, but since we have been summoned, since we think as we would like the new world, let’s question and reflect on the current “normality”, let’s get rid of the paradigms that have been imposed on us, let’s imagine something different, let’s guess another possible world.

Galeano said, quoting Fernando Birri: “What is utopia for? Utopia is on the horizon, and if it is on the horizon I will never reach it, because if I walk 10 steps utopia will go away 10 steps, and if I walk 20 steps utopia will go 20 steps further back, that is, I know that I will never, ever reach it. What is utopia for then? For that, to walk”.

The “normal” today

It seems that what is “normal” is that around 820 million people in the world today are in a situation of food insecurity, of these, 150 million suffer from hunger despite the fact that, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every day there is enough food produced for each and every one of the inhabitants of planet Earth.

It is estimated that by the end of 2020 some 12,000 people will have died of hunger every day as a result of the impact of the pandemic, a greater number of which are estimated to die from the Covid-19 itself. Hunger is now the cause of 45% of deaths of children under 5 years of age in the world. This is the “normalcy” that we are experiencing as 8 of the largest food and beverage companies have distributed more than $18 billion to their shareholders since January of this year, in the midst of the pandemic. This is 10 times more than what the United Nations estimates is needed to keep people from going hungry.

It seems “normal” is that  1% of the world’s population should own 82% of all world production, or at least that has been the case for decades. It is also “normal” that more than half of the 7.5 billion people on this planet live in poverty.

It is “normal” that in the face of a situation of contraction of world production, some 450 million people are unemployed, as it is also “normal” in this world we live in today that, while these millions of unemployed workers have nothing to take to their children to eat, the 12 largest billionaires in the world have set a record, increasing their wealth by more than 40% since January of this year. Normal?

It looks “normal” or at least that is what we have been made to see and understand for many decades, that relations in the social process of work should be one of dependence, of domination and exploitation. Why is it “normal” that those of us who truly produce and those who add value are the ones who have to punch in and out, who are barely given half an hour to eat, who are told about deductions from our work time, and to top it off, we only get 18% of everything we produce in spite of being 99% of the population, while the other 1% gets 82%? It becomes “so normal” this issue of worker exploitation that sometimes, some, are not even aware of belonging to the exploited class, and rather, falling out of the class is “normal”.

Let us imagine for a moment that “normal” is not capitalism that the bourgeoisie does not continue to appropriate the value of our labor force. Let us think of more humane labor relations, of the just distribution of wealth in terms of contribution to the productive process.

It is urgent to think how capital will reinvent itself in this “new normality” that will also incorporate not only new labor relations based on domination but new technologies. It is necessary to move forward to avoid being imposed, once again, on us by another “new normality”.

What is “normal” is that, for example, women and girls around the world spend 12.5 billion hours a day on activities such as caring for children, the elderly, sick or disabled, in addition to household tasks such as cooking, washing or fetching water or firewood, without these being recognized as value added to the economy and much less remunerated.

Economic blockades are already part of the “normality” of this world, or at least that is what the interests of big capital are trying to make us see. It is already “normal” to go to the United Nations Assembly every year and for all but two countries to vote against the blockade of Cuba, just as it is “normal” for the US to be prevented from voting “even more so”. The impositions and criminal threats by the US to the peoples of the world are part of that “normality” that must be changed. Why should one country decide the fate of other peoples?

It is “normal”, since Bretton Woods in 1944, that only one currency, the US dollar, is the world reference and that only one payment system, SWIFT, is the scope of financial transactions. Since the 70’s it has been “normal” for oil to be bought and sold in dollars, with all countries seeing the need to have the “precious” currency. Perhaps it is time for a “new monetary and financial normality,” to take away the privilege and power that was granted to the US in the post-World War II “normality. Perhaps it is time for the normal to have many reference currencies to trade with and a lot of compensation systems for payments.

We would lose a great opportunity as humanity if, in these times of pandemic, having been summoned to a “new normality”, we limited ourselves to think and propose only a new world in which the mouthpiece becomes an indispensable accessory of our daily attire.

We deserve a world of equals, without exploited or exploiters, without distinction or exclusion, without racism or xenophobia, ecologically sustainable. The world we want must guarantee the right of peoples to self-determination, must be multi-centric and multipolar, without imperial domination, in which cooperation and solidarity prevail. A world in which international norms are respected and fulfilled by all.

We want a world where justice, true freedom and peace are the norms. Let us walk, without deviation, towards that horizon.

Source: Ultimas Noticias, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau