Reflecting on one of the worst years in recent history and the need for a mass movement to better our lives.
There is no going back to ‘normal.’ Even if there was, our normal was woefully inadequate. Half a million people went bankrupt every year from medical bills. Nearly 80% of American workers lived paycheck to paycheck, and an entire generation of people are damned to a lifetime of debt for the crime of pursuing an education. Our normal was absurd as it was, and COVID only exacerbated our already precarious position. Through it all, I still believe that a better world is possible.
I used to believe in the political process. I used to believe that representative democracy could work. I no longer believe these things. Well, I no longer believe that we can expect anything from them if we aren’t willing to threaten their careers & image the entire time that they’re in power. I'll begin by sharing what my priorities are. I want to live in a world where everyone’s basic needs are met & their human rights are protected. More specifically, everyone should have a home (shelter), food, fully comprehensive healthcare, & basic safety, especially from state-sanctioned violence. I believed that the government was supposed to guarantee those things, but this year has proved me completely wrong.
I want to be abundantly clear; I believe that the government can provide its citizens with these things. In the words of the great Dr. King, “there is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will.” The United States government has everything it needs to provide for its citizens, using its citizens’ money, might I add, but it makes a conscious choice every single day not to. As I am writing this, a bipartisan group of Senators voted to forgo a $2,000 survival-check for the people in favor of a $740 billion military defense bill. Survival checks would have, at the most, cost ~$600 billion. Even with survival checks costing less than the military budget, it still got 80 of the possible 100 votes. I want everyone that reads this to understand the direct correlation between what our government spends on weapons of war & what it doesn’t spend on our problems here at home.
Furthermore, what exactly are we defending ourselves from if it isn’t the pandemic? What is more threatening to the safety & wellbeing of our citizens if it isn’t COVID-19? The jig is completely up, and the scaremongering is falling on deaf ears. There is no bigger boogeyman than the coronavirus and subsequently lost jobs (along with healthcare), evictions, and financial ruin that millions of families face in real-time. The war machine and its servants in both political parties refused to pause their march to global hegemony to save its own citizens from death and despair. What other conclusion is there to possibly draw from this sequence of events?
I’ve said all of that to say, never stop fighting. However, it is clear that we cannot rely on the ruling class to meet our needs. We must build dual power to meet our needs & the needs of others in our communities. We have to feed each other. We have to take care of each other. We have to engage in mutual aid. Most importantly, we must begin serious organizing for a general strike, as farmers are doing right now in India. The government will do whatever they please, but it’s time for us to fight back. We must no longer beg for our rights from callous elites; we have to seize them ourselves.
This country can’t function without our labor, as we saw from the very beginning of the shutdown. Foodservice/grocery workers, truck drivers, sanitation workers, farmers, and delivery drivers are just a few examples of the most disrespected & exploited workers in our society. However, they were the ones that had to go out & risk their lives at the beginning of the pandemic to keep our society afloat. This proved something that many of us knew all along. The people that are the most overworked & underpaid are the ones that we rely on the most. We must center our essential workers in this fight, and support them however we can.
We can no longer leave our human rights up to the ruling class. In fact, we need to seriously consider if we even need a ruling class going forward. 2020 may be gone, but the problems we face remain. It’ll take us all fighting together in solidarity to achieve the future that we want. We can no longer hold government officials in admiration. We need to treat them as what they are, our employees. If they don’t deliver on their lofty promises or meet our basic needs, then we need to fire them. We need to meet our communities' needs as we fight for policy changes to prevent the existence of their problems. The only way out is through, and the only way through is together.