The toll of Covid-19 as of April 22 (grossly underestimated):
Global cases: 2,492,107 today
Global deaths: 171,211
U.S. confirmed cases 804,548
U.S. deaths: 40,167
Overwhelmed healthcare workers across the country are taking to the streets to demand safer working conditions and more personal protection equipment to help them fight the coronavirus pandemic.
New York City transit workers have suffered 68 deaths and 2400 illnesses due to lack of any safety measures until April 15. Amazon and other “essential” workers are protesting their lack of protection and growing illness rate.
While some states are beginning to see a leveling off of new cases, others have not yet reached their peak. Public health experts warn of any attempt to re-open society at all until case rates have fallen for at least two weeks and widespread testing is available to track any new outbreaks. The CDC warns that a second wave of infections is likely in the fall. There will be no true safety until a vaccine is widely available.
Over a week ago, the first of 22 cargo planes laden with medical supplies from China landed in New York. Nevertheless, Chinese workers continue to be derided by our President. Prior to that, a photographer captured an image of President Trump’s notes during a coronavirus taskforce press briefing; the word “Corona” was crossed out and replaced with “Chinese” in ‘coronavirus’. Trump’s latest attempt at scapegoating through racist rhetoric is not only shameful, but dangerous as well. The deep reservoir of bigotry and xenophobia in our country that Trump has been deliberately stoking since the launch of his presidential campaign has spilled over. Again.
The poorest, most desperate and most dedicated are working and dying during this disastrous epidemic. Many are angry and hungry and most will not even notice that Sanders is dropping out. But many of his young and idealistic followers are dismayed. They shouldn’t be.
If we wish to achieve an egalitarian, healthy, well-educated and housed society, a society without racism or sexism, it will have to be a society that we run. The ruling capitalist class is not going to give it to us. In fact, they will fight with all the means at their disposal to maintain their hegemony. This means that, ultimately, we must be prepared for a violent struggle to defeat them. Of course, this cannot happen until we have built a movement of millions – workers, students, and soldiers – with experience and political understanding. That understanding can only grow as workers are involved in many reform struggles from which they learn about their own power, leadership ability, and how the enemy functions.
Since this article was written, most factories in Italy and the rest of Europe have shut down, but not until worker protests forced them to. In the US, auto plants are still operating and have only promised more cleaning and safe practices as the UAW pressures them to close.
“We’re not cannon fodder!” cried millions across Italy as wildcat strikes erupted in every major industry to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease. Workers were protesting government and corporate attempts to force them to keep the factories open, risking their lives in unsafe factories so the bosses could jam them into cramped assembly lines to pump out profits.
“Fuck the police” or “let’s build cooperatives.” Does either anarchist slogan point to a pathway for changing the structure of society? This is the question we must ask in deciding whether to follow the anarchist road or aim for communist revolution. Is it essential to aim to replace the capitalist rulers of the world or is it enough to poke at the enforcers of their power or reorder the lives of small groups of individuals in an ideal way and hope for a gradual evolution of society? We hope to raise this broad question while not attempting an exhaustive investigation of the long history of multiple variations of anarchism.
One of the most heartbreaking encounters of my life occurred in 2011 when my husband and I were on a Global Exchange environmental justice trip to Ecuador. One stop on our trip was to the area of a former oil drilling town called Lago Agrio (“sour lake”) in eastern Ecuador. We met a family that lived close to a toxic waste pit from an oil drilling site of Texaco, which drilled there for twenty years beginning in 1972.
The metropolitan Washington DC area contingent of Doctors for Camp Closures (D4CC) demonstrated at the Customs and Border Patrol headquarters to protest racist immigration policies that divide and deport migrants along the Texas/Mexico border. Eight hundred and fifty thousand (850,000) to one million (1,000,000) people were arrested at the border in 2019, including 50,000 families and 76,000 children traveling alone! The US Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program requires asylum seekers and others to stay in Mexico while the US processes their claims. US immigration sent back approximately 50,000 people to Mexico to live in squalid and dangerous areas while they waited. (Washington Post, October 8, 2019; PBS News Hour, October 30, 2019).
On October 24, 130 mechanics and bus and garage workers at the Cinder Bed Road Metro garage in Lorton, Virginia walked out to demand equitable pay and benefits. Like auto and food industry workers, they receive lower wages and higher health insurance costs than other Metro employees performing the same jobs who are part of the same union.
WMATA, or Metro, is the publicly funded transportation system of bus and subway routes serving the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 represents the 8,000 workers who operate out of bus garages, offices, and subway stations. Members earn relatively high wages, health benefits, and pensions compared to other jobs that don’t require advanced education.
On Tuesday, November 5, 2019 in Philadelphia, PA over 80 members at the American Public Health Association (APHA) meeting and several local activists from Puentes de Salud (Bridges of Health, an NGO) protested detention centers, deportations and borders with a spirited march to the ICE office four blocks from the Convention Center, chanting “No Borders!” to recognize that borders only help the capitalists and divide workers. Thirty (30) marchers signed up to be contacted in the future to strengthen the fight against racist deportations and ICE.