On Tuesday, May 26, 20120, starting at 10:00 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time), a global network of scholars, trade unionists, development specialists, and democracy movement activists are launching the second online Global Teach-In to address the COVID-19 crisis and economic depression. Speakers include Hillary Wainwright, David Graeber, and Dario Padovan. To learn more about the Teach-In, visit http://GlobalTeachIn.com.
A taut editorial published in the British Medical Journal provides a concise indictment of Donald Trump’s failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Put simply: “He downplayed the risk and delayed action, costing countless avertable deaths.” The editorial concludes with an appeal to social movement action:
To get through this, the US will need unprecedented social mobilisation. The dislocations call for a new social movement, inspired by the AIDS movement of the last 40 years—one that pushes local, state, and federal leaders to provide universal health coverage, universal sick pay, and rent and food assistance, focusing particularly on people who are poor, homeless, marginalised and those in jail or juvenile and immigration centres. Trump’s astounding incompetence was a political determinant of the US covid-19 epidemic. A new “politics of care” could be the corrective.
In a recent op-ed, Victor Wallis, S&D’s Editor-at-Large, contrasts how capitalist and socialist imperatives shape our responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Wallis addresses the full range of issues from distributional questions including access to health care and prevention to macroeconomic matters and the immediate demands that we should address both nationally and globally. One of the more striking differences between systems, one that shatters the myth of capitalist abundance, is that leaders in capitalist countries simply lack the infrastructure and productive capacity to address the material needs, let alone organizational ones, required to either care for ill or bring a quick end to the pandemic. Decades of globalizing production and supply chains and shifting to a just-in-time production model makes for “efficiency” while leaving the entire system vulnerable to disruptions at multiple points and ensuring that very few countries and regions actually have the necessary productive capacity to immediately address these shortages. Reflecting on the specific healthcare dimension of this crisis, Wallis notes that a “socialist approach to healthcare… builds an infrastructure that can respond to emergency needs. This was strikingly shown just now in China, where urgently needed temporary hospitals were built (in Wuhan) in just two weeks. Moreover, a fully socialist approach, with its corresponding culture of cooperation, makes it possible, as Cuba has repeatedly shown, to extend health services on a large scale to people in other countries.” Read the full article at Political Animal Press’s magazine.
In a recent post, James Hansen, who first sounded the catastrophic climate change warning bells before the US Congress, notes the public’s increased literacy about the nature of growth curves and particularly the impact of early interventions. Regrettably, at this stage, we are late in the game of carbon mitigation and while the public may better understand the physics behind the exponential growth rates we are confronting, literacy about the social relations that drive the physics remains grossly inadequate. Hansen however cautions against despair, there are actions that can be taken. He notes, though, that the “present graph suggests that we have a lot of mitigation to do before we can flatten and bend downward the global temperature curve.”
In this excerpt from the first Shelter & Solidarity* episode, Johanna Fernández, a historian at Baruch College and most recently the author of The Young Lords, A Radical History (UNC Press 2020), explains the history of mass incarceration. She traces it to the anti-imperialist uprisings in the Global South and with the United States. The reactionary, harsh “law and order” response from the state – to lock up the working class and especially its black and brown ranks explain the phenomenon we now call, “Mass Incarceration.” With the decline of U.S. economic power and industrialization, sections of the white working class are also drawn into the phenomenon, both as the jailers and the jailed. (Further excerpts to follow.)
S&D’s co-sponsored online show, Shelter & Solidarity, launched on Thursday, April 9, 2020. The first episode, Disease and Detention, featured Johanna Fernandez, Jose Saldana, Kevin Rashid Johnson, and several other activists in conversation with Joe Ramsey. We will be posting further excerpts from the show. In this video, Jose Saldana explains the rationale for his urgent COVID-19-related challenge to New York state’s Cuomo: clemency now!
A few hours ago, the House passed a $2-trillion relief package to stimulate the economy. We will share analyses of the measure in the coming days. However, Senator Bernie Sanders has used his Senate platform to offer a critique, one that writer John Nichols believes models the role of an opposition party. In Nichols’ article, posted at the “The Nation,” Sanders describes the hypocrisy underlining the Republican approach to the to both tax cuts and the stimulus: “…these very same folks had no problem a couple years ago voting for a trillion dollars in tax breaks for billionaires and large profitable corporations… But when it comes to low-income workers, in the midst of a terrible crisis, maybe some of them earning or having more money than they previously made—oh my word, we gotta strip that out.”
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