Compelling Quotations on Covid-19

A collection of quotes on the themes of gender, Covid-19, and capitalism.

“COVID-19 … revealed that the Essential Economy is underpinned by the Caring Economy. Without child care, elder care, health care and education, the ability to generate GDP is hobbled.”

– Armine Yalnizyan and Kerry McCuaig[1]

“We can’t make this work. That’s the thing. That’s why moms are choosing to spend their nights – their precious moments of child-free time before the next endless day begins—screaming into the darkness. We can’t do this. It isn’t fair. It isn’t sustainable. Then we do it anyways. We hope that when this wave ends, we’ll have a brief respite to compose ourselves before the next one comes, and dream—in the few hours we actually sleep—of finally washing up on the shore of that more normal world we’ve been waiting for all this time.”

—Melinda Wenner Moyer[1]

Mike Davis, American writer, political activist, urban theorist, and historian

“A volcanic rage is rapidly rising to the surface in this country and we need to harness it to defend and build unions, ensure Medicare for all, and knock the bastards off their gilded thrones.”

–Mike Davis[3]

“Make no mistake: when the pandemic finally recedes, people will remember whether it was their lives and dignity that were ‘essential’ or just their labor on behalf of those who had the privilege of working from home.”

-Brent Orrell[4]

“Corona main to baad main marenge, pahele to bhukhe marenge” [“By the time Coronavirus catches with us, we will all be dead of hunger.”

– Ajay Rajnish[5]

“Vaccines were meant to end this pandemic, yet rich governments allowed pharma billionaires and monopolies to cut off the supply to billions of people. The result is that every kind of inequality imaginable risks rising. The predictability of it is sickening. The consequences of it kill.”

—Gabriela Bucher, Oxfam International executive director”[6]

“…the current trend in India suggests an epidemic, still more a pandemic, forces social divisions more starkly into the open, transforming fissures into fault lines.”

– David Arnold.[7]

“If you’re a worker in a plant bursting with Covid-19, it’s a shitshow for you…The industry is getting away with murdering people.”

– Debbie Berkowitz, National Employment Law Project.[8]

“Not only are we witnessing in real time the vulnerable and tentative nature of our current societal structure, we are coming to realize in stark relief, the value and importance of those who form the foundation of that structure. Truck drivers, grocery clerks, warehouse workers, personal service workers, cleaners, municipal works personnel, food service employees. Farmers and their season migrant workers. You know, the people we most take for granted, when life is ‘normal.’ It should be obvious by now that, without that sturdy foundation, the rest of our ‘advanced’ society would come crumbling down, in a hurry.”

– Scott Urquhart[9]

“The commodity fetish is completely naked now. From the meat-processing plant to the grocery store, the workers who are made to risk their lives for our food are now revealed.”

– Julie Livingston[10]

“Over the past two weeks socially pointed anecdotes about the coronavirus have become extremely popular. I shall relate just one of them, which came to us from Europe: “You pay millions of euro a month to show-business stars and footballers”, a scientist complains, “and 2000 euro to biologists. Now you want a vaccine. All right then, go to the ‘stars’, and see if they can come up with a vaccine for you.” In this joke, as in many others, there is an element of tragic absurdity: the world of late capitalism, after sustaining itself through the production of simulacra (stars, derivatives, brands, trends, hype), has turned out to be incapable of either preventing or solving the virus problem (and it may be that it set the virus loose on the world, dooming hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to sickness and the threat of death). This world has to be changed.”

– Aleksandr Buzgalin[11]

“Straight from home to work to ICU to morgue.”

– Mike Davis on front-line workers.[12]

“Look, there’s no ‘we’ here.  There never has been. There’s well-off, economically stable professionals like yourselves who can count on support and continued career and a life. And then there’s a bunch of us who have no stability, no support, and absolutely nothing to look forward to in the years to come. Even when this pandemic ends (if it ends, which it sounds like it never will), we have no reason to expect that our lives will get any better or that we’ll ever make up what we lost…. This pandemic has turned the last decade of my life into  waste, and the next decade into a black hole.”

– “Leo,” commenting on Kevin M. Esvelt and Marc Lipsitch.[13]

“Clapped, applauded, betrayed. Our key workers were rapturously cheered in the early weeks of the pandemic for their sacrifice and effort from windows, balconies and pavements. Now, in what is already being described as the ‘cap for carers,’ they are to be rewarded with a renewed attack on their wages.”

– Owen Jones[14]

Saleyha Ahsan, British MD

“Politicians like to refer to us as heroes when it suits them—that is, when we are dying as martyrs in the service of profits. But only when we fight, in our workplaces and in the streets, do we deserve the title of heroes.”

– Robert Narai[15]

“We can do all our social distancing all we want. But without food, we will see how long that lasts.”

– Anthony Pahnke.[16]

“The mass closure of schools globally has been touted as the biggest edtech experiment in history or as a microcosm for education in the future.”  

– Ben Williamson and Anna Hogan.[17]

“If you were disposable before, you’re sacrificial now.”

– Naomi Klein.[18]

“It’s a great moment…All the red tape that keeps things away is gone and people are looking for solutions that in the past they did not want to see…Real change takes place in deep crisis. You will not stop the momentum that will build.”

– Andreas Schleicher, OECD education director[19]

“I’m being forced to make a choice. Either I live in poverty or I kill my client.”

– British PSW in conversation with Aditya Chakrabortty[20]

“Moneybags for Billionaires, Body Bags for Workers.”

– Sheri Davis Faulkner and Marilyn Sneiderman.[21]

[1] Armine Yalnizyan and Kerry McCuaig, “Pandemic realities offer hope of new approach to child care,” Globe and Mail, 26 September 2020; Link to source.

[2] Melinda Wenner Moyer, “COVID Parenting Has Passed The Point Of Absurdity,” The Atlantic, 20 January 2022; Link to source..

[3] Mike Davis, “Reopening the Economy Will Send Us to Hell,” Jacobin, 27 April 2020; Link to source.

[4] Brent Orrell, “The Not-So-Soft Bigotry of COVID Indifference,” The Bulwark, 15 September 2020; Link to source.

[5] Rajat Roy, “The Sudden Visibility of Sangram Tudu,” pp. 76-82.

[6] John Queally, “Billionaires ‘Had a Terrific Pandemic’ While Inequality Killed Millions: Oxfam,” Common Dreams, 17 January 2022; Link to source..

[7] David Arnold, Pandemic India: Coronavirus and the Uses of History Vinayak Chaturvedi, ed., The Pandemic: Perspectives on Asia (New York: Columbia University Press and Associations for Asian Studies, 2020).

[8] Jane Mayer, “How Trump is Helping Tycoons Exploit the Pandemic,” New Yorker, 20 July 2020.

[9] Scott Urquhart, “Now is the time to demand a more just and sustainable society,” Hamilton Spectator, 20 April 2020; Link to source.

[10] Alex Langstaff, “Pandemic Narratives and the Historian,” Los Angeles Review of Books, 18 May 2020; Link to source.

[11] Aleksandr Buzgalin, trans. Renfrey Clarke, “The coronavirus is stirring the impulse to communism,” Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, 17 April 2020;

[12] Mike Davis, “Reopening the Economy Will Send Us to Hell,” Jacobin, 27 April 2020; Link to source.

[13] Kevin M. Esvelt and Marc Lipsitch, “We lost to SARS-CoV-2 in 2020. We can defeat B-117 in 2021,” STAT, 9 January 2021; Link to source, comment of “Leo”

[14] Owen Jones, “The planned public-sector pay freeze betrays the heroes Johnson clapped for,” Guardian, 20 November 2020; Link to source.

[15] Robert Narai, “Peru’s COVID-19 crisis, ” Monthly Review online, 1 October 2020; Link to source.

[16] Anthony Pahnke, “Appreciated or exploited? Key workers in a coronavirus world,” Aljazeera, 26 March 2020; Link to source.

[17] Ben Williamson and Anna Hogan, EdTech: Commerialisation and privatisation in/of education in the context of Covid-19  (Brussels: Education International Research, July 2020), 57; Link to source.

[18] Karen Viner in conversation with Naomi Klein, “We must not return to the pre-Covid status quo, only worse,” Guardian, 13 July 2020; Link to source.

[19] Ben Williamson and Anna Hogan, EdTech: Commerialisation and privatisation in/of education in the context of Covid-19  (Brussels: Education International Research, July 2020), 21; Link to source.

[20] Aditya Chakrabortty, “Care workers with coronavirus face an awful choice: live in poverty or risk killing your patient,” Guardian, 9 July 2020; Link to source.

[21] Sheri Davis Faulkner and Marilyn Sneiderman, “Moneybags for Billionaires, Body Bags for Workers: Organizing in the Time of Pandemics,” New Labour Forum, 6 October 2020; Link to source.