|Volume 50 Number 15, April 25, 2020||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
In the conditions of the pandemic, working people are speaking out in their own name as they strive to take up responsibility for society and the direction in which the economy should be headed. The concentration of decision-making power in the hands of the rich and powerful has created all the difficulties of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. There has to be an alternative!
The Queen's Speech asserted that "we are all in this together". But this was a guideline out of sync with the times, when the working people do not have decision-making power. The powers-that-be have pushed to make the working people powerless. In opposition, working people have stood up for their rights and the rights of all, and refused to be duped into thinking that this is once more a fight against fascism. Other voices too have been raised about a national government, while the reality is that society is divided along class lines, and the emphasis on "we are all in this together" tries to impose a "one-nation" conception so that the ruling elites can act with impunity and say that this is alright because everyone shares the same values.
Now that the government and the captains of industry are speaking about an "exit strategy" and restarting the economy, workers have the responsibility to step up their struggles and speak out even more forcefully to tell governments and the owners of private enterprises what wages and working conditions they require to do their work. They will not stand the prospect of redundancy either after being furloughed. The pressure for an "exit strategy" is to ensure that the private interests whose businesses are suffering can be rescued even further by the government. What the working people are demanding is that the economy must be run in their benefit, be human-centred, and that an "exit strategy" is not an excuse to dragoon working people back to work only to suffer a further surge in Covid-19 infections and increased loss of life, particularly among the elderly, the minority communities and other sections, among which must be mentioned those public sector workers who are already suffering the brunt of the crisis, as well as construction workers, for example.
The health and safety of the workers and of the population as a whole must be safeguarded. It cannot be "business as usual", where governments at every level have engaged in a vicious anti-social offensive. This anti-social offensive must be brought to an end, where working people fight for the alternative and raise their voices higher in speaking out about the injustices of society. To emerge from the pandemic cannot be on the basis of "business as usual". The wisdom of the working people in putting forward solutions must be implemented in practice. To put an end to this "business as usual" anti-social offensive, which is what is being pushed under the rubric of an "exit strategy", workers must continue to speak up in their own name.
Care is about the NHS having equipment and people being attended to properly, whether in hospital, in care homes or the community at large in people's homes. In contrast to Britain, Cuba, for example, treats people in their living spaces when necessary with the means it has, despite the blockade. People stay indoors but they are not "isolated".
The details of the government's "exit strategy" clearly do not consider what the people suggest. It concentrates on policing the situation. The welfare state in Britain, social security and other forms of responsibility towards the citizens and their security have already been unravelled and destroyed, so that all that remains of the state are its arbitrary and police powers.
The populist mantras of "getting things done" and "getting it sorted" have tried to disarm people and take any initiative out of their hands. Yet people have made demands upon the decision-making process.
By speaking in our own name, we can find out what we need and how we think we can get it. The only way forward is one which takes account of human relations, and to what they are revealing, which is that the people cannot afford to entrust their fate to the self-serving elite.
Decisions have become matters of life and death. Decision-making needs to shift from the ruling elite to the people, who need to be more organised and strive for their empowerment. Together let us defend the rights of all!