This may be the year folks. The economy is already mostly shuttered, let’s shut it the rest of the way down! For once a general strike on a massive scale may be an achievable goal. Oh what a joyous May Day indeed.
Last month launched the April 1st rent strike, where almost a third of the citizens of the entire so-called united states refused to pay their rent, either because they could not afford to or in solidarity with others who could not afford to. As unemployment reaches record levels far outpacing that of the Great Depression, rent strikes are only going to increase out of necessity. Hell, even some businesses are participating in the rent strike! Supporters have been gathering to block evictions and help to move people into empty houses. Not to mention that tenant organizers are attempting to reach common ground with landlords by uniting to fight for mortgage freezes, in addition to the calls from tenants to place a moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs.
Prisoners are on strike in record-breaking numbers worldwide, far outnumbering the participation in previous prisoner strikes over the past few years which had also seen record numbers at the time. I imagine that the fear of dying from a viral plague outweighs the fear of additional punishment or retaliation that inmates face for going on strike. Outside supporters have been rallying outside various prisons in solidarity, while continuing to practice social distancing and proper masking, hygiene, and safety precautions. Many politicians and government officials are even pushing to release non-violent inmates to reduce crowding and thus the spread of disease. Similarly, protesters have also been protesting ICE detention centers and calling for the halt of immigrant detentions and deportations in order to instead practice proper social distancing.
School is already shutdown aside from online classes so here’s the chance to turn off the computer and engage in some good old fashioned unschooling.
Most non-essential businesses are shutdown anyway so it’s a lot easier to avoid purchases for the day.
Debt strikes are not only gaining momentum but some politicians are even proposing debt forgiveness as a bailout for the people.
Many of us are already forced out of work so a work strike won’t be all that difficult for most. And many forced to work in “essential” jobs are already organizing to increase access to PPE, better safety practices, and increased hazard pay. Employees from Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, Whole Food, Target, FedEx, and so many more are pulling off their own strikes to fight for the safety of those who are continuing to work to provide us with the necessities and comforts we need and desire. And while others who are out of work are also protesting to re-open the economy, we have to realize that, while there are the conspiracy theorists among them, many of them do take the pandemic seriously and wish to practice social distancing but have not received any of the financial assistance they were promised from the state and feel they are forced to choose between risking their lives to feed themselves and their families or continuing to self-isolate without income and risk homelessness and starvation. This is the same tough decision that “essential” workers are also faced with and both are shit options. That’s why we need to help find that common ground and fight to establish means of survival that don’t require us to risk our lives for the economy.
This is our year folks. We have every opportunity to make this happen for May Day and to even keep it ongoing if we play our cards right and sustain our communities via mutual aid and alternative distribution networks. So don’t pay rent, don’t attend classes, don’t go to work, don’t buy anything, go on debt strike, support striking prisoners, and together we can show our strength and take back some control in the midst of such chaotic times.
Happy May Day.