As the United States embarks on a transition in presidential leadership, the coronavirus pandemic has upended the world’s economy, and thrown into sharp relief the systemic racial, gender and class inequalities that were embedded in the New Deal-based social compact. That social compact is now fast eroding. At this crucial juncture, working people face five interrelated crises of historic proportions: dysfunctional systems of health and care; racial and gender injustice; climate emergency; economic disaster; and an ongoing weakening of democracy. History reveals that such moments of upheaval are transformative, offering a window of opportunity that is ripe for large-scale, innovative structural change. The current political and socioeconomic system has profound shortcomings. The pandemic, alongside ongoing changes in capitalism, has created a unique moment to envision and advance a bold new social compact for the 21st century that centers working people’s security and needs over calls for austerity.
In April and May of 2021, we convened scholars, activists, and young leaders from around the world for a multi-day conversation on forging a new social compact. In the coming months, we will continue that conversation as we work to address the crises we face and build toward a just, sustainable world.