Like many other co-operative organisations we at Nerve have been reassessing our role and function in a world changed drastically by the Coronavirus. We were on the point of printing a special environmental issue of the magazine, with many articles ready to be put on the page. We still feel that Climate Change is the biggest threat to the well-being of humanity, but as we live through this pandemic, the Climate Crisis has been upstaged somewhat by Coronavirus. And what is the virus saying? It’s saying all the things that environmentalists have been saying. There are things we can’t control for which the technocratic saviour has no immediate answer; our Canute-like attempts to control globalisation are fruitless; our descent into isolationism is inappropriate when a problem is global, requiring co-operation, not competition; our governments have failed us by not prioritising the safety of the people when they knew this was going to happen, and by pursuing life-threatening policies such as austerity. The virus has highlighted all that is wrong with our systems in the nightly horror-show of government press statements advocating (at its worse moment) what amounted to a cull of the less socially “useful” citizens, or squirming to excuse a lamentable lack of preparedness, at the same time that it revealed all that is important for our survival: those “unskilled” workers who are merely saving our lives, transporting and selling food to us, taking away our rubbish, bringing our mail; holding the hands of those who are dying. The co-operation of ordinary people in caring for each other’s needs and the empowering result this is having at a grass-roots level is significant and could produce fundamental change. In demonstrating the juggling act which governments are performing between keeping the economy off the ground, whilst keeping people out of the ground – not necessarily for compassionate impulses, but rather from a standpoint of political survival – the virus is questioning the whole basis of our political and economic systems. This is a moment of increased awareness and angry political realisation for many people – how often have the middle classes had to negotiate the vagaries of the benefits system – and it must be marked and seized. The virus is a potent metaphor for the Climate Emergency, which governments have largely ignored.
We need to speak out about how this virus and the Climate Crisis require the same urgency. With this in mind we will be launching our special environmental of Nerve magazine online soon, giving a platform to those working tirelessly on Merseyside to protect our environment, to publicise the issues they work on and the campaigns they run. The articles will appear over the course of the next few weeks, and we invite further contributions on environmental issues. We also need articles written from the perspective of people caught up in the present crisis. What practical things are being done now that can be continued and expanded in the future to bring about real change? There is a lot of grass-root collaboration happening, despite the slowness and reluctance of the authorities to react to the crisis. Community initiatives like local people getting supplies to each other, hospital bags from pillow cases, and the adaptation of small shops and organisations to the restrictions. We need to hear about these coping mechanisms and also your views of what a post-virus world will look like. Although the Nerve office is currently closed you are welcome to get in touch via email or Facebook, and as ever, we welcome contributions on any topic during this time. Nerve is a fantastic resource that can and should be used. We need your contributions!