Death Camps for Prisoners Inspire New Ways to Protest

by Ellen Isaacs

April 25, 2020

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.

Continue reading “Death Camps for Prisoners Inspire New Ways to Protest”

Who’s Behind the “Death Marches”

by Peter Scheckner April 22, 2020

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.

Continue reading “Who’s Behind the “Death Marches””

The Role We Must Play in Countering Racist Scapegoating Around COVID-19 — A Union View

by Manny Ness and Tony O’Brien

reprinted from CityLimits, April 16, 2020

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.

Continue reading “The Role We Must Play in Countering Racist Scapegoating Around COVID-19 — A Union View”

The New Normal: Cascading and Multi – Layered Crises

by Vincent Emanuele, 4-15-2020

Excerpt from The New Normal, the failures of capitalism. Click the link below to see the complete article at CounterPunch

“Without question, capitalism will survive COVID-19. The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and economic crises will alter the future of capitalism. The real question is: how can workers and ordinary people nudge things in a preferred direction, a path that leads to more collectivism and cooperation? How can we exploit the contradictions within the system? How can we ruthlessly expose the inherent limitations and internal contradictions of capital accumulation.

Every single aspect of our society is under extreme stress. Even the most passive populations can only take so much. Human beings can only take so much. The living world can only take so much. Eventually, things will explode.

The question is: how? Will poor and working class Americans turn that despair and cynicism into a righteous anger and rage? And if so, who will that anger and rage be directed toward? Each other? Or the powerful elites?

The current social context in the U.S. and across the globe is ripe for radical political change, but that change doesn’t necessarily have to be progressive in nature. It could also be reactionary and fueled by religious extremism, xenophobia, racism, and tribalism. That’s up to us. “

Racism and Epidemics from the Plague to Covid-19

by Karyn Pomerantz and KT Conner

Social Murder: “Infection Meets Inequality” 

A NYC physician described the Covid-19 pandemic as “infection meets inequality.” As the pandemic spreads here in the US, evidence shows that it reflects the same racist health and social inequities that capitalism created in the 15th Century. 

This post offers examples of racism during times of plagues and other epidemics, and reports early April 2020 data on Covid-19 morbidity and mortality rates among different racial and ethnic categories. These revelations of disproportionate deaths and illness have elicited vows to change the underlying causes of such inequity. This blog argues that the root cause is capitalism and that no reform, including elections, will eradicate racism, change the ways capitalism operates, or weaken the powerful owners of corporations and financial institutions. Capitalism cannot exist without racism, and we cannot live with capitalism. 

Continue reading “Racism and Epidemics from the Plague to Covid-19”

Racism: Highlighted by Covid-19, Needed by Capitalism

by Ellen Isaacs

April 12, 2020

The current pandemic has made the racial inequality in the US glaringly apparent if there was anyone who was not already aware of it. Countless articles have been written which document the much higher rate of infection and mortality for black and Latin workers in the US. Most reports, however, have responded to these glaring statistics with the hope or a vow to find a remedy, to cure the inequality which we have known has existed for hundreds of years. What few have acknowledged is that the capitalist US economy depends on racism for its functioning. Thus what we can actually expect, bar a mass movement to the contrary, is a return to hiding racial inequality and blaming the victims.

Continue reading “Racism: Highlighted by Covid-19, Needed by Capitalism”

Working People Have been Destroyed by Pandemics Throughout History

By Peter Scheckner April 9, 2020

Review of The Greater Leveler: Violence and the History from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century Inequality by Walter Scheidel (Princeton and Oxford, 2017) and “Pandemics and the Shape of Human History: Outbreaks have sparked riots and propelled public-health innovations, prefigured revolutions and redrawn maps.” by Elizabeth Kolbert, from The New Yorker, April 6, 2020 edition, written March 30, 2020

In March of this year, commenting on the novel coronavirus pandemic, Vijay Prashad wrote the following in an editorial that appeared in the April 8, 2020 edition of Consortium News, an independent on-line political review:

“We won’t go back to normal, because normal was the problem. Certainly, the coronavirus is a serious matter and certainly its spread is a consequence of its own danger to the human body; but there are social issues here that bear serious thought. Key to any discussion has to be the sheer collapse of state institutions in most of the capitalist world, where these institutions have been privatized, and where private institutions have operated to minimize costs and maximize profit.

Neoliberalism is the political philosophy that has urged governments over the course of the past 50 years to cut social spending, cut taxes and allow the magical markets to allocate resources effectively. The virus has done damage; but the real damage has been done by this political philosophy. Now, in the midst of the novel coronavirus, it seems impossible to imagine a return to the old world, the world that left us so helpless before the arrival of these deadly microscopic particles. Waves of anxiety prevail; death continues to stalk us. If there is a future, we say to each other, it cannot mimic the past.”   Continue reading “Working People Have been Destroyed by Pandemics Throughout History”