Having a moment: the revolutionary semiotic of COVID-19 (Michael Flexer)

The time of COVID-19 represents a distinct, but currently under-defined and under-theorised, temporal moment. Using semiotic methods, this paper examines how the mechanical actions of the virus, through becoming social, create a new viral time, heralding an already-arrived new historical epoch. This epoch, which is simultaneously both homogenous and undifferentiated at one tempo, and supercharged with change, events and radically uncertain futurity at another, is riven with revolutionary potential. The existential challenge posed to the faltering socio-economic order is evidenced by a panicked political response combining reactionary attempts to reimpose temporal certainty and fixity, with desperate material concessions to a public suddenly expelled from a previously subsuming dominant productive time of capitalism. As such, this temporal crisis offers the necessary, if not sufficient, moment for profound re-imaginings of our productive and social relations, and an opportunity to look beyond the possible end of the world, and towards the end of capitalism.

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