People are taking to the streets with arms to protest government overreach…in a most spectacular display of ignorance.
While I am extremely sympathetic to those out of work and struggling, who expected relief money that never came, and are now worried about not being able to feed their family or even losing their house and I am extremely sympathetic to those protesting police state measures while continuing to practice proper social distancing and masking standards, I am not at all sympathetic to those who wish to blatantly ignore modern medical science and professional medical advice based on half-baked conspiracy theories. Nor do I sympathize with those who believe we should sacrifice the weak to keep the economy going. I am also not at all sympathetic to those who think that being asked to wear a mask in public for the safety of others is a form of oppression.
Yeah, because the state was totally looking for a reason to force everyone to wear masks that make it harder for their facial recognition technology to track us. It’s almost like these people don’t think through their own theories. And how odd that so many of the “all lives matter” crowd are the same ones suddenly willing to sacrifice lives to keep the economy going. It’s almost as if they didn’t actually believe what they were saying.
Yes, we absolutely should be protesting police state measures. They should not be arresting people for hanging out on empty beaches far away from others, or for boating well past 6 feet from land, let alone another person, or for watching the sunset from the safety of their vehicle. Nor should people be arrested for attending church services that keep health and safety standards in mind, such as by holding drive-in services or requiring attendees to sit at least 6+ feet apart and wear masks. Especially when those arrested are thrown into a cell with others making social distancing impossible. That defeats the entire point of calling for these measures in the first place and helps absolutely no one. And now we’re discovering that over 70% of tested inmates have COVID-19.
It’s not like there haven’t been other protests since the start of this pandemic, most of them were just smarter about it. Tenant unions and rent strikers have been staging protests calling for a moratorium on rent, mortgages, evictions, and utility shut-offs, have been engaging in eviction blockaides, and have even been reopening empty houses for residents. Prison abolitionists have been protesting outside of prisons, immigrant detention centers, and government buildings, calling for a halt in ICE arrests, detentions, and deportations, and calling for the release of all non-violent inmates from all jails and prisons to reduce overcrowding. Striking workers and labor unions have been taking to the streets to protest for PPE, adequate workplace safety standards to protect people from the virus, and employee leave for those who are sick or most vulnerable, or, in the case of workers who view their jobs as non-essential during a pandemic but are forced to continue working anyway under threat of being fired, for their boss to close up shop until things are safe. The difference is, those protesters understand the risks involved and do their best to minimize those risks by wearing masks and gloves and maintaining distance from others where possible. They are protesting to help save lives and decrease risk, not to sacrifice lives for the sake of temporary and fleeting comforts.
Don’t sacrifice lives for the sake of capitalism. Yes, people are worried and struggling, but instead of fighting to re-open the economy, more of us need to be focusing on mutual aid and syndicalism. Let’s distribute food and supplies to those in need to keep people from going hungry. Let’s support rent strikers and encourage others to join to keep people from losing their houses. There’s no need to risk your life to work a job to afford these things when we can claim them for ourselves.
Let’s fight to push more politicians to join The Squad (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib) and others in calling for a “progressive bailout” that includes a moratorium on rent, mortgages, evictions, and utility shut offs, student loan forgiveness (because why should we have to pay back into a system our stolen tax dollars funds in the first place?), and the release of non-violent prisoners. If the state is going to push through more relief bills, let us push them to aid individuals instead of corporate interests by pushing more to join The Squad, Justin Amash, and others in calling for a UBI.
Let’s use this time to attempt our own startup businesses, either as sole proprietorships or teaming up with others to form cooperatives and collectives. Let’s push to work from home as much as possible. Let’s increase union organizing among workers to fight for safer and more fair conditions. Let’s join the rent strike and strategically ally with landlords and corporations actually willing to fight to halt rent and mortgage payments in response to this crisis. Let’s strive for greater control over our homes and workplaces. Let’s strive for more just communities based on mutual aid, free trade, and cooperative economics.
Financial anxiety is real and a large portion of the country is feeling it, but let’s be smart about our demands and take this pandemic seriously. It is not worth dying at the altar of capitalism just to keep the economy going when we have other options to care for ourselves and our communities. Let’s use this opportunity to build up our own dual power structures. We’re all in this together, so let’s fucking act like it.