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When coronavirus began spreading, we stopped arguing about sovereignty – and survived. But failing to address racism caused the world to erupt

I had one intoxicating gulp of the old days this week, when I got into an argument about feminism. When I say “old days”, I don’t mean the kind of intrafeminist schism we used to get into three months ago, pre-pandemic: I mean a true, vintage argument, about class, consumerism, Sheryl Sandberg, rabid possessive individualism, race, Bridget Jones, depoliticising the political, Edwina Currie, the resilience myth, social fragmentation, the whole works. (No one actually mentioned Edwina Currie, but whenever gender equality smashes against the neoliberal order, I always think about her nostalgically, if not necessarily fondly.)

If you want to know more about those weighty themes, I strongly recommend the new book by the sociologist Angela McRobbie, Feminism and the Politics of Resilience. Here are some more general observations: we have spent most of this year in intellectual hibernation, where nothing seemed important except what to do in the next 12 hours. Everything else – feminism, racism, Brexit, the climate crisis – quietly receded.

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