Jan 18, 2021
We are witnessing a political crisis in this country, the likes of which we have not seen in decades—the result of an overrun of the Capitol Building by some hundreds of right-wing rioters while thousands of Trump supporters looked on.
Though the real State, those millions of administrators and the armed forces they command, was never in danger, the news media, joined by government officials, have projected helplessness and panic and have called for thousands of armed forces to protect the inauguration. But after that push, then what?
The growth of the right wing in this country is a serious problem. But the dual crises that determine our futures are the pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis and destruction of the infrastructure.
The promised defense against COVID-19 has not been forthcoming. With millions of vaccines available in the U.S., only a small percentage of the population has received a shot. Shortages are already impeding the process; the second shot that is necessary to boost immunity may not be delivered, undoing the effectiveness of the vaccine. Already officials are saying that the main population won’t receive vaccines until the fall.
Pfizer, the drug giant producing one of the two vaccines developed and paid for by U.S. tax dollars, has proposed to slow down—yes, slow down—vaccine production as national death tolls climb to four thousand a day! New infections are at record levels, and the economy has been slowed to a crawl. A million more have joined the unemployed in just the last week.
Who can stop the drug companies from making decisions that are against the public interests? Who can make them open their hands and bank accounts?
Certainly not those who are participating in the multimillion dollar inaugural event at the Capitol.
The troops that are being mobilized across the country for this one event could be dispensing vaccines! Building hospitals!
Isn’t that more important than the event they have planned to attend? Isn’t it apparent already that this system has no real solutions to offer? Isn’t it clear that we are about to be told to be patient and wait a little longer?
The new government under Biden will put forward plans to address the pandemic and the economic disaster that is getting deeper. But they have no authority to release the billions necessary to accomplish a speedy fix. Wall Street tells them what to do! The handfuls of rich powerful families who control all the corporations and banks and constitute the U.S. ruling class also control the government.
And the only power that can force them to release the money needed to boot the economy back up, while fighting the virus, is the working class. In every neighborhood, in every town, in every city, the forces are there to get to work, to produce vaccine, to distribute it, to reinforce the failing hospital systems, to feed the hungry and to build housing for the population. Ask the people around you if they would be willing to mobilize. Most will say “Yes!”
We have seen the beginnings of organization in hospitals where doctors, nurses, aides and attendants demand protection against the virus. We saw the power of withholding our labor when people walked off the job to protect against the virus. We shut whole plants and industries down.
In every workplace links can be made to neighboring workplaces, to make real decisions about real problems like vaccine production and distribution. To work alongside engineers and scientific research teams to ensure that it is safe. To defend ourselves against not just the virus, but against those who would try to stop us from doing what we have to do.
Hard? Not harder than what we are enduring under this pandemic and economic crash. Through organizing, people can find their voices again, and overcome the divisions that have been created between us.
We see the population knit itself together during disasters like floods and fire and earthquake. No one cares about the skin color or ethnicity of the person lifting them into an emergency vehicle.
We can make this change in direction when we pull our eyes away from the sideshow of national politics and focus on our real possibilities.