COVID-19 is the virus, capitalism is the disease!
Capitalism isolates us from seeing our impact and reliance on one another. We go about our lives mostly unaware of the ties that hold us together. This pandemic has shown us who the movers and the shakers of the economy are, it is us, the working class: grocery clerks, healthcare providers, delivery persons, laborers, tradespeople, and teachers.
Apparently when we all stay home for a couple weeks the entire system comes to a screeching halt.
Wall Street crumbles when main street stays home.
Now the owners of industry and their selected politicians want to send us all back to work sooner than public health scientists know is safe, regardless of the loss of human life.
Wanting to pretend COVID-19 deaths don’t matter as much as economic losses do is not unprecedented. Capitalism has always flourished on the loss of life. Whether it’s in the form of long hours toiling at work straining our backs and our minds, to the chemicals we’re exposed to without protective equipment, to the pollution that industry pumps into our air, water and soil. The ruling class have always deemed our lives expendable.
What is unprecedented now is the scale of one particular drain on human life, COVID-19, and this singular source of misery has shown us all the machinations of capitalism and its reliance on our constant work and disregard for our health and lives.
So the question is, what is to be done?
We have seen great acts of selflessness in the face of this pandemic. The masses of people by and large have put themselves more or less in confinement for the preservation of our vulnerable community members’ lives. That is to say that many of us have sacrificed our normal lives for their lives. We are in a way, confining ourselves in solidarity with vulnerable community members.
This act of solidarity may slow down the virus of COVID-19 but it has absolutely slowed down the disease of capitalism. This system which was built atop the bodies of the indigenous, the blood of black slaves, the tears of the third world, and the sweat off the brow of the working class now wants to consume us to appease the market. Do not sacrifice yourself at the altar of Wall Street. Do not die or become ill for the boss’s bank account or the bloodsucking politician’s poll numbers and stock figures.
Instead, see the potential your solidarity with your fellow working people holds. See that when we act together Wall Street crashes and the halls of Congress tremble with concessions we could only have dreamt of: subsidized healthcare, paid leave, student loan deference, talk of universal basic income, and more.
The solutions to our misery are the very things they told us would ruin us. We have learned what could truly ruin things, for them at least, and that’s us acting in solidarity, now to stop the spread of the virus, but in the future, to stop the disease that is capitalism.