Friday, April 10, 2020

The Great Divide

A lot of scary things are happening with the continued spread of the coronavirus. It is hard to find good news in these dark days of this pandemic. One lesson working people have discovered is capitalism is built on a house of cards. The bosses are scared because the people, living payslip to payslip, have learned that it is they and not big business CEOs which makes our world run smooth. We hold the power. It is our labour that creates the wealth. COVID-19 has undermined the rationale of the capitalist system. It has highlighted the profound inequality that exists in our society where no country had prepared for the lack the resources necessary to cope with the crisis, despite repeated early warnings.

Today when various governments asked their citizens to keep their distance from each other, prisoners cramped into various overcrowded prisons and the asylum seekers are in detention centres. There are the millions of vulnerable migrants crowded into refugee camps, where even before the pandemic, death was prevalent from malnourishment, diarrheal diseases, measles and malaria.. Guidance to frequently wash your hands is met by reactions of disbelief among billions of people living in the shanty-towns, slums, and favelas and the landfills in  cities like Johannesburg, Nairobi, or São Paulo. One thing severely lacking in these places is sanitation and clean running water. And not to be forgotten are those regions in the middle of armed conflict and wars. Calls for ceasefires are falling on deaf ears.

People who live from one day to the next, who can only eat or feed their family on a daily basis find no help in tax or mortgage payments being postponed. They are not part of the tax system nor can they afford to buy themselves a house. What they need to do to survive is to work. All along the rich have been self-isolating, living further and further apart from the rest of the population in gated communities and their skyscrapers, moving with ease between all their residences located in different countries. When this crisis ends, the capitalists should not be allowed to re-impose their rule.

The pandemic has shown how unsustainable our economy really is but also how resilient it can be. People are rising to the challenge of a crisis unlike any we’ve ever experienced. Around the world, grassroots initiatives are addressing basic, immediate needs such as shelter, food, and replacing lost income. While others are providing ways to keep spirits up during lockdown. These contributions are meaningful and important.

The greatest calamity of all will be if we do nothing to stop the continued catastrophe of capitalism.

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