Multitudes of workers are protesting racism in every American city and all over the world. The crowds are multiracial, mostly young, disciplined and militant. Nothing like it has been seen in over 50 years – it is indeed awe-inspiring.
As the movement continues for its second week since the police murder of George Floyd, it is settling on demands ranging from abolishing to defunding the police. So powerful is the movement that many politicians are even promising to take action on these fronts.
There are millions of useful jobs that could improve our quality of life. The Covid pandemic requires the mobilization of millions to provide healthcare, food, outreach, and the production and distribution of protective gear. The US and other countries also need infrastructure overhauls to prevent collapsing bridges and further climate devastation. There are great deficits in education, transportation, housing, and health care that need to be addressed. Unemployment plagues workers, especially black, Latin, and young people. Why is there so much unemployment when our needs are so great?!
This post reports on unemployment, why it exists, how communism can prevent it, and the ways US activists fought it during the Depression in the 1930s.
We cannot feel anything but horror upon seeing the latest video of police executing a black man. We cannot help but feel gratification at watching the guilty precinct burn. But we also must reflect that many decades of tearing down symbols of racist oppression have not caused racism to end or even abate. What else must be done?
The corona crisis, on top of so many others, shows how lethal capitalism is. Poverty and racism are the pre-existing conditions that inflate the rates of death and disability. For billions of people around the world, this disaster continues the misery at the hands of the 1%. It hopefully wakes up other people to the inequalities, negligence, and outright murder of global capitalism.
How has public health responded to such inequities and pandemics? What can we learn from previous infectious disease outbreaks caused by smallpox, TB, and cholera? When public health is good, it is very good, but when it is bad, many people die. When public health gets ugly, it destroys our lives and future security and aspirations.
Public health today operationalizes the prevailing political ideology: personal responsibility, the philosophy that individuals make decisions about what to eat, where to live, how to work, or whether to graduate, and then pay the consequences. Public health has blamed the individual for poor health habits and focused on educating people rather than dealing with systemic issues. Even now, when many talk about social determinants of disease, such as housing, racist police violence, immigration policy, and employment, actual interventions still focus on individual behavior.
This article identifies some of the qualities of successful and failed attempts to control epidemics with examples from selected countries since the late 19th Century.
“There will come a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.”
Those were the last words of August Spies on November 11, 1887 as the hangman’s noose was tied around his head, murdered along with three of his class brothers by the U.S. ruling class for having helped organize the working class of Chicago and the country in the fight for the 8-hour day.
It was out of that struggle that May Day was born, an event proclaiming the solidarity and common goals of the international working class. It represents the revolutionary communist aspirations to create a world run by workers without the atrocious inequalities so transparent today. Many groups organize May Day strikes and marches to demand fairer conditions, and an end to wars and occupations.
In New York City and all around the country, activists are finding creative and safe ways to demand the release of prisoners in jails, prisons, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention. Yesterday, about 25 cars and as many bikers and those on foot from Close the Camps/Cosecha and other groups stood, rode, and drove around New York Governor Cuomo’s office. The cars honked and the standing protestors chanted, gaining much support from the few onlookers on the street. We demanded that Cuomo use his emergency powers to release immigrants and prisoners in NY state custody in order to save their lives. The caravan then proceeded to circle Times Square and ended at an ICE office on 26th St where Close the Camps had its first civil disobedience action last summer.
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.