Monday, May 04, 2020

The Peoples’ Agenda Must Be Socialism

In the light of the COVID-19 crisis we must thoroughly re-examine the type of society we live under that left us so vulnerable. This crisis could be a catalyst to create a different kind of society. We can choose to ensure every person has free access to the necessities of a good, healthy life, guaranteeing everyone quality affordable housing, securing clean air and pure water for every person.

Governments across the world deployed a militarised response representing the pandemic as a national security issue rather than a public health emergency which reinforced many authoritarian nations law-and-order approach by framing every crisis situation as a "war".

Livelihood, travel, housing, nutrition, sanitation, and healthcare have become especially precarious for socially vulnerable groups. As work was suspended, both those with contracts and others holding casual jobs lost them or were subjected to imposed flexible working conditions  with reduced pay. Underpaid essential workers were left to make to endure perilous commutes to places of employment on crowded crippled public transport. Without income and savings, or the freedom to ply a trade and find ways to put food on the table, people were made to depend on unreliable and insufficient government hand-outs.
Barely able to survive, the poor have struggled to keep themselves safe and healthy. As hospitals suffered the chaos of an overload of patients and severe shortage in essential equipment and personnel, the poor's access to healthcare fell further. No other social group has been as terribly disadvantaged by the pandemic and the state's inefficient responses to it than working people. 
Lockdowns aggravated and reproduced inequalities. Reckless and inept responses to exceptional circumstances reveal fundamental faults in the way capitalist institutions are organised and actually function, which in normal times already fail to address social needs.
Socialists think beyond our fellow-workers merely "making a living." Our concern is about the quality of that life, not just simply surviving but thriving. We can re-purpose hotels to shelter shanty-town dwellers and home the homeless. We can provide all with nutritious food as well as health and hygiene essentials. While some governments are enacting unprecedented emergency measures, the Socialist Party insists upon a more radical imagination. It demands a people-centred restructuring of the whole of society. No more waiting until "next time." Next time is now.

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