Working Class Vision: Our Lives Come First
Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick shamelessly issued a declaration of class warfare. He told Fox News on April 20, “there are more important things than living, and that’s saving this country” by ending coronavirus stay-at-home orders. He said America should get people working and shopping to rescue businesses, even if that will cause more to die. This outrageous statement echoed Indiana Congress member Trey Hollingsworth’s earlier assertion that America’s choice was to either lose an economy by having continued lockdowns or lose more lives to the virus – and losing lives was “the lesser of these two evils.”
Other politicians are also willing to sacrifice lives for employers. On April 22, Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that if Nevada’s state government would lift COVID-19 business restrictions from her city, its people could become a “control group” for researching whether restrictions really protect lives. Like a Nazi doctor experimenting with the lives of prisoners, Goodman explained that “when you have a disease, you have a placebo [group] that gets the water and the sugar, and then you get those who actually get the shot. We would love to be the placebo side, so you have something to measure against.”
It doesn’t worry these monsters that their plans bring people disease and death, not sugar-water. They are only interested in increasing corporation’s profits. Nevertheless, many workers keep fighting for workplace safety as a basic need. Between March and May, there were 175 spontaneous strikes against unsafe working conditions caused by the coronavirus. On May 1st workers simultaneously struck Amazon and other companies in various states. Other strikes involved Baltimore Wastewater workers, Chicago’s Pizza Nova and United Scrap Metal, McDonald’s in San Jose, and workers at the Port of Oakland and San Pedro’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
A diverse force of Southern workers joined this fight, despite right-to-work laws that have weakened or prevented unions at their workplaces. To cite only a few, New Orleans public library workers held a sick-out on March 15, and garbage workers struck on May 5, demanding hazard pay and safety equipment. In Houston, truckers blocked Interstate 610, and workers walked out of the Perdue chicken plant in Perry, Georgia (see COVID-19 Strike Wave Interactive Map https://paydayreport.com/covid-19-strike-wave-interactive-map/).
To protect themselves, these workers have to violate employer orders. Meanwhile, people in a number of cities are openly violating property laws in a wave of takeovers putting the homeless into vacant houses. These Americans are declaring that lives matter more than laws. It’s preparing them to accept the revolutionary idea that there’s no guarantee workers will survive, so long as the power of the ruling class does.
Our ruling class has designed an artificial, market-driven scarcity of health care. If the resources of this richest society on Earth were allocated differently, there would be no shortage of ventilators and no fears that there aren’t enough hospital beds or doctors for everyone who needs care. No plan by either political party can make our existing health care system function in a moral way since a health care system based on private property is fundamentally immoral.
The pandemic is helping to consolidate the new fascism that has merged government with corporations because this health crisis is part of a larger systemic crisis. Electronic technology has transformed the old mechanical base on which industrial capitalism developed, which once required capitalists to educate and employ an ever-increasing mass of workers for the sake of profits. Automated production now enables them to generate more profits with fewer employees, producing a crisis of shuttered factories, homeless encampments, and raging diseases. A corporate-dominated government is part of the problem, not the solution.
What should the government be doing? First, it should immediately use this country’s enormous resources to respond to the people’s growing demands for health care, housing, and enough money to obtain their basic needs during this crisis. The rising social energy of these widespread struggles provides the solid foundation on which to unify and force the government to do it. That united energy could also win the next step, the nationalization of the health care system, making private property public property that operates in the interests of society as a whole.
We can’t afford to be pulled into fighting for what once was, we must fight for what can be. The ruling class and their capitalist system can be replaced by a society that utilizes today’s technologies to produce and distribute food, housing, and health care based on people’s needs, not their ability to pay. Revolutionaries have a responsibility to present this understanding to the fighters alongside whom they struggle to make the government do what is necessary to protect lives.
(For more Rally, Comrades! articles on the coronavirus crisis see our series “Ray of Light Within the Pandemic” ).
The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011