Thursday, March 19, 2020

People's Power Against the Pandemic

There are moments in history when something such as natural disaster changes everything. They change politics, they change economics and they change public opinion in drastic ways. These are called “trigger events.” During a trigger event, things that were previously unimaginable quickly become reality, as the social and political map is remade, which have major repercussions on daily life, leading to social changes that would have been difficult to predict beforehand.

COVID-19 is a combination of natural disaster and an economic collapse happening at the same time and it is creating create confusion and uncertainty. Politicians know how to use such unsettling times to push forward their agendas. The right-wing’s proposals are conservative and reactionary, designed to pass harsh austerity measures and spread xenophobia.

Butthere exists an alternative, rooted in a commitment to democracy and a deep sense of collective empathy, communities can flourish, even amid a crisis, examples of humanitarian efforts to deal with disaster. At the prospect of thousands of people, perhaps possibly hundreds of thousands of people dying around the world the only way we can prevent some of the worst tragedy and destruction is with such a response. Socialists hold a vision through which people can join in and collectively take part in a mass social movement to create the solutions our society needs. A movement fill in the gaps left by capitalist government infrastructure. We can build a people’s power that brings us together and uses our combined knowledge and skills to re-shape our communities for what is politically and economically possible.

During the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, the LGBTQ community came together to respond to the sickness and death of thousands of individuals — even as society ostracized people who were HIV-positive, and the medical establishment often turned a blind eye to their suffering. At a time when the doctors and hospitals were either indifferent or antagonistic, they stepped up to fill the gap and meet basic human needs. ACT UP worked tirelessly to raise public awareness about the crisis, rallying under the motto “Silence Equals Death.”

After Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012, the mutual support operation Occupy Sandy — which drew on networks and infrastructure built during Occupy Wall Street — coordinated thousands of people into a fast and efficient response, providing food and medical attention to those in need. It also opened a collection and distribution center for needed supplies, kept track of individuals who might otherwise have been isolated and abandoned, and moved debris from homes and streets.

 Common Ground was one of the most significant relief organizations to quickly form and respond in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans — served some of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods, set up temporary medical clinics and repaired damaged homes.

Beyond mutual aid, a common strategy was that people began to make political demands that might otherwise be deemed impractical. For our own sake, and that of our society as a whole, let us propel ourselves towards solidarity.

Adapted from

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