FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Power in a Time of Coronavirus

Every day now we’re waking up into an extreme real-life nightmare, while responses are still routinely lagging far behind what’s at stake. Urgency is reality. The horrific momentum of the coronavirus is personal, social and political. In those realms, a baseline formula is “passivity = death.” The imperative is to do vastly better.

Consistent individual actions — such as “social distancing” and extensive handwashing — are absolutely necessary. People should stay home if at all possible. Other steps include disinfecting potentially contaminated surfaces and following the admonition to not touch your face.

Meanwhile, a huge social burden has fallen onto charities and other nonprofit organizations with resources that are tiny in relation to the scale of this catastrophe. Even in normal times they can’t do much more than slightly ameliorate the shredding of government social safety nets, the shrinking of the public sector and the profit-obsessed cruelties of corporate capitalism.

Under the weight of the coronavirus emergency, the crucial political challenges involve fighting the bastions of dominant political malfeasance, lies and plunder at the top of the U.S. government.

“In order to save lives, protect working families, and boost our economy in sustainable and healthy ways,” Oxfam concludes, “we need to take actions that are swift, bold, and well beyond what Congress has thus far been willing to approve.” After partnering with Data for Progress to do national polling, Oxfam released a report that shows public opinion favors much more drastic legislation in response to the coronavirus rampage.

“Registered voters in the U.S. strongly support immediate, aggressive action in response to both the public-health and economic crises,” the March 20 report says. “Among the measures they endorse: paid sick leave for all workers, emergency funding for food supplies for those affected by the crisis, free testing for the virus, and moratoriums on evictions, foreclosures, and utility shutoffs.”

An immediate necessity is to galvanize political power from the grassroots to step up the pressure for an all-out government mobilization against this pandemic. That means continually pushing to generate maximum resources toward people who need them most — now and for a long time to come.

Rather than being a respite from political power struggles, the coronavirus emergency is greatly intensifying them. More aid for those immersed in greed will mean less for those in desperate need. The quest by corporate profiteers to mercilessly exploit dire situations has never flagged.

Showing the vital importance of his national voice as a presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders has outlined some of the gluttonous corporate maneuvers now underway.

“Just in the last few days,” he pointed out on Sunday, “we’ve seen numerous examples of lobbyists and their agents fighting for special favors: the airline industry is asking for $50 billion, the private space industry is asking for $5 billion, the hotel industry wants $150 billion, the National Association of Manufacturers wants $1.4 trillion, the International Council of Shopping Centers wants a guarantee of up to $1 trillion, Adidas wants to sneak in a long-sought provision allowing people to use pretax money to pay for gym memberships and fitness equipment — even when many gyms and retail stores are closed nationwide, and corporate pork producers are using the coronavirus to push Congress to expedite guest worker visas, even at a time when international travel and immigration is largely shut down.”

In this time of “unprecedented crisis,” Sanders said, “we need an unprecedented legislative response that focuses on the emergency health care needs of the American people and that puts working families and the poor ahead of CEOs and huge corporations.”

With this pandemic, fueled by the intentional neglect and greedy stupidity of Trump and Company, we have profuse reasons to heed words from legendary labor organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones: “Mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living.”

To fight like hell for the living — to protect people from the ravages of the coronavirus and a harsh economic system — will require unrelenting work from progressive movements willing and able to organize effectively in every political arena.

More articles by:

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail