Pandemics and the Threat From Adults

Self-defense is one of those terms that is revered. In a political context, it is regarded as a hard-won revolution with its sacredness and instruments enshrined in amendments and on t-shirts. 

You have the right to defend yourself.

This month (August 2020), politicians must decide if schools are going to reopen during an active pandemic. Parents are, also, facing a similar decision, will they send their children to these reopened schools — during an active pandemic? 

“Kids need to be back in school and that (sic) school leaders across the country need to be making plans to do just that,” education secretary Betsy DeVos said on CNN’s State of The Union.

“The President and his administration are messing with the health of our children,” speaker of the house, Nancy Pelosi replied

“We have to open our schools,” president Donald Trump said. He added that, “they don’t want it to happen,” referring to “the Democrats and the radical left.”

“The lower they are in age, the lower the risk,” Trump added in a briefing. He argued that not reopening schools carried a cost potentially greater than child death — economic death and death by economics, “We have to remember that there’s another side to this. Keeping them out of school and keeping work closed is causing death also. Economic harm, but it’s causing death for different reasons, but death. Probably more death.”

More death.

Kayleigh McEnany, us press secretary, reiterated the president’s position, “The president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open … and when he says open, he means open in full. The science should not stand in the way of this.”

What are parents to make of this? 

Economic death vs death by economics vs child death! Along with death there is the risk of medical debt from a healthcare system broken, at every level, by artificial scarcity. There is the growing evidence that this virus structurally changes your heart causing lasting damage. We know it dramatically impacts the respiratory system, but it also damages the liver, kidneys, and brain. Then, if you survive, there are still questions about whether you will be immune to additional exposures or if such an immunity will last. 

It’s a lot for a politician and a parent to consider. 

Open schools, spin the chamber for your child; keep schools closed, pull the economic trigger. 

“The lower they are in age, the lower the risk,” they say, but your “lower age” children can still bring the virus home with them for the family. It apparently spreads fast among children and they can carry “at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults” So if your child dodged that bullet (they might have to dodge a lot of bullets), they will have survivors guilt and debt to tuck them in at night. 

For those politicians and parents invested in this violent and stupid arrangement called the US system, it is a psychopathic calculation and terrifying submission respectively. There is another party involved in these considerations: children – kids, teenagers, young adults, adolescents, etc, etc — those forced, one way or another, to attend school. 

It is easy to leave children out of the conversation; our society is organized around adult legibility. But when it comes to forced education during an active pandemic, children need to know they have the right to defend themselves.

The default position of governments with regard to self-defense is you can defend yourself from those that want to harm you… unless those moving to harm you are in positions of power. So this conversation regarding reopening schools has defaulted to a debate between politicians and parents, not children. Regardless of the threat from the active pandemic, children are just expected to acquiesce and endure it.   

 As a matter of necessity, the first freedom erased by governments is the right to self-defense. You have the right to life, liberty, property, happiness… unless the government wants them (and they do want them). They might allow you to defend yourself from your fellow citizens – maybe, sometimes – but never from the police, never from the NSA or FBI, never from ICE, never the IRS, never the truancy officer — never from the state.  

Anarchists disagree. Anarchism resists. Anarchy is hostile to this inconsideration, this arrangement of power and this abuse. For the anarchist, self-defense is obvious, primary, expected, and elevated to an expression of self-care — and it is a right that even children have. 

Children have the right to escape, organize, and defend their lives from those that wish to take it. If politicians or parents will not protect the children under their care, from abusers of any kind, then children do not have to acquiesce and endure the threat. 

If politicians and parents decide to reopen schools during an active pandemic, children have the right to not show up — let the schools reopen empty. If children must, they may sabotage and organize safer alternatives. And when the government sends their enforcers, the police, to destroy these alternatives or to capture the escapees, children have the right to self-defense. 

If you are interested in reading more about Youth Liberation, a good start is the NO! zines series.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory