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ireland / britain / miscellaneous / press release Tuesday May 12, 2020 19:58 byHaringey Solidarity Group

We might all have our own campaigns. Some may see disability rights as most important; some housing; others refugees. All are equally important. We don’t want a hierarchy of needs. Fight for your particular cause yes – but link up with others. An injury to one is an injury to all. The state always tries to divide us. Too often we fight amongst ourselves and miss the real enemy. We need to stick together because once Covid-19 is over the state will come for us like they have never done before. And we need to be ready and supporting each other.

For years we had to accept “austerity” as Britain didn’t have any money. Ordinary people had to “tighten their belts” while the rich became super rich. But Britain was “skint”. We ‘couldn’t afford’ pay rises or increases in benefits. Hospital beds were lost, NHS staff were treated like scum. Jobs we knew were important were seen as “low skilled” so bosses paid minimum wage and use zero hours’ contracts. Prisoners and asylum seekers were “evil” so the only option was to lock them away. 

Well isn’t it funny (no) what a virus can bring about! 

Look how politicians change their tune when it suits them. Millions are having to claim Universal Credit (UC).  Because these new claimants ain’t the “great unwashed” or “scroungers”, suddenly even the government realise living on £75 a week isn’t possible. So up goes Universal Credit a week by £20. After no increase for 5 years, suddenly we can increase it by nearly 30%. Funny that! Working Tax Credits is also increasing by the same amount, as apparently Boris & Co were forced to realise that was too low as well. 

“Conditionality” requirements for UC have also miraculously been dropped. These were stupid hoops you had to jump through to get your benefit. The main ones were about what you had to do to find work. With corona virus they claim there isn’t work around so the conditionality will be relaxed. There never was a range of decent bloody jobs around – it was just a way to make us suffer and a way to kick people off UC for not “complying”. 

The “minimum income floor” for the self-employed has also been suspended. Before corona most self-employed over 25 on UC were assumed to earn minimum wage (presently £8.72 an hour) for 35 hours – or £305.20 a week. Earn less than that and tough, benefits are still worked out on £305.20 pw. Tons of self-employed lost huge sums and the government made a killing. But now our glorious leaders had to realise this is a bit out of order for our hard working “deserving” self-employed.  

Before corona, if you were sick most of us didn’t get paid for the first three days. What a surprise, now the state will pay us sick pay from day one. Why was it ok with every other illness (many also being contagious)?  NO ONE should have to go to work when they are unwell, EVER. 

Before “C Day” (corona virus to most of us) we were told criminals, asylum seekers and “foreigners” were all evil people who need to be locked up in case they continued their evil ways. What rubbish. Funny then that now 8,000 prisoners are now “low risk” and it’s Ok to let them out of the hell hole we call prison. That’s about 5% of the prison population of England and Wales. 

The Tories have also released at least 300 people from detention centres. The speed and scale of the release is unprecedented in recent years. Detainees and charities estimate that more than a quarter of those currently locked up will be set free. 

And talking about our ‘foreign’ friends, normally getting an extension on your visa is really difficult as the racist politicians claim we are “swamped” by foreigners. Now NHS workers will get an automatic one-year extension. The Home Office announced on 31 March that around 2,800 doctors, nurses and paramedics who have to leave the UK by 1 October 2020 will get a free one-year extension. Family members are included and there are no fees involved - where there’s a will there’s a way. 

And only recently apparently we are flying in up to 600 people from Romania to help pick our crops. Even the Sun and Daily Mail had to bite their lips and agree these workers were needed. 

Then there is that homelessness “problem” the state and successive governments can never “manage” to solve. But wait what’s this? Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have found £1.6bn of additional funding for councils to respond to pressures during this national emergency. Apparently 4,000 of an estimated 5,000 homeless have been housed in hostels and hotels in a matter of weeks and they hope to house them all soon. How is this possible in such a small space of time we hear you ask?  

As for all those companies manufacturing crap for us to buy. All of a sudden their products are pointless and they all want to “help” by manufacturing testing kits and PPE. If they can make useful stuff now, why have they been making, promoting and ripping us off with rubbish for years? We even heard a proposal to ask armament factories to switch to making ventilators - a proposal we heard made with a straight face and no-one called them a hippy dreamer or dangerous radical.

And finally, quoting the New Statesman’s sister publication City Metric “On the morning of 23rd March 2020 the rail franchising system that has been in place in Britain since 1996 came to a rather unceremonious end. With travel limited to only critical workers it was likely that government would have to step in. And step in it has. Rather than taking the franchises back in-house (as with LNER and Northern), the government has essentially re-awarded the franchise holders with quick-and-easy “stay-put, we’ll pay you” contracts. This isn’t full-blown nationalisation.” But it is as good as.
 
If we can manage to do all this when we are meant to be in the worst financial crisis we have been in since the war, then we can bloody well do it when this crisis is over. Austerity was never about money or protecting us – it was always all about moving money from the poor to the rich. 

But now they have gone and started making things slightly better for a few of us – we need to make sure they don’t go back on these when corona virus is a distant memory. But of course they will. Unless we get organised and fight the bastards. Because we know this and they will want to put us back in our place once it is all over.  

We might all have our own campaigns. Some may see disability rights as most important; some housing; others refugees. All are equally important. We don’t want a hierarchy of needs. Fight for your particular cause yes – but link up with others. An injury to one is an injury to all. The state always tries to divide us. Too often we fight amongst ourselves and miss the real enemy. We need to stick together because once Covid-19 is over the state will come for us like they have never done before. And we need to be ready and supporting each other.
 
Haringey Solidarity Group

ireland / britain / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Wednesday April 29, 2020 16:19 byAnonymous

We need to politicise the struggle with a clear internationalist response that unifies all of us, our work, our mutual aid and our care. For as long as profit rules, there can be no peace. We need to requisition all health, manufacturing and transport sectors and provide all workers, currently unpaid or paid with fair wages and safe working conditions. This is not a public relations crisis with seemingly unfortunate logistical difficulties, this is an emergency stoked by the greed of those for whom our deaths are only a motivation for the accumulation of their capital.

Scrubs: The Story from the Bottom Up

Much like the elderly forced to walk laps and climb stairs to raise money for the NHS, the scrubs movement has been popularised by mainstream media as part of a ‘national effort’ at a time of ‘war’ fighting an ‘enemy’ we allegedly cannot see. We are being encouraged to paint rainbows and clap for the bravery of the health workers, when in reality we are sending them to their deaths. As of today (19/4/2020), at least 86 health and social care workers have died of COVID-19. The enemy is not invisible, it has been sitting in the leathered seats of parliament, imposing years of austerity which have left the health system bare to the bone; it has criminalised and worn down benefit claimants with strategies of surveillance, sanctions and deterrence; it has exploited the labour of key workers living hand to mouth, whilst endowing inessential services with bonuses, tax rebates and bailouts.

The current PPE scandal is no different

At the end of January 2020 it was already clear that a country like the UK, which had been de-industrialised through decades of neoliberal economics, was not going to be able to cope with the demands for PPE. The Tories had a simple answer: “people are going to die” and their fellow eugenicists chimed about “herd immunity” and supposed facts based on “science”. And once again, the working class was put to slaughter. After years of vilification and abuse, they were placed at the knife edge of this crisis. COVID-19 is not the touted ‘great leveller’, it is disproportionately culling the elderly, the disabled, the poor, and BAME communities. 70% of NHS workers killed by COVID-19 are BAME. Workers who have been brought to the point of desperation and are starting to fight under the slogan “no kit, no care”, facing suspensions and potentially prosecutions for negligence if they fail to continue to work, in spite of a lack of protection.

We are now entering our fourth week of running one of the many autonomous scrub production units that have sprung up as forms of mutual aid across the country. We provide scrubs to all sorts of health workers who are lacking access to them in their workplaces. Staff who have had to perform C-sections on women wearing soiled clothes, scrub-less doctors bringing infections back to their family homes, workers on respiratory wards without protection, homeless nurses, social care providers looking after the elderly and disabled, trainee nurses sent to COVID wards wearing flimsy plastic aprons and bin bags. These are just to name a few.

Some of us are mothers, some of us lost our jobs, some of us just want to help or need something to take our minds off the crisis, and a large majority of us are professional seamstresses and tailors, providing an entirely unfunded service, save for public donations, across the entire country. A number of these local groups have up to 300 people, working from the safety of their homes. Delivery companies and independent workshops have offered their help in cutting and distributing fabric pieces to sewers, some of which are decentralised into smaller neighbourhood collectives, able to help each other out through the use of WhatsApp chats.

These local initiatives are sometimes receiving up to 1000 orders and are having to suspend taking more requests, as volunteers grapple with long hours, balancing paid and unpaid work. It doesn’t take much to realise that the network of these groups combined, exceed the workforce presently employed by large manufacturing companies, who have only recently received contracts to make changes to their production lines in order to deal with the demand for PPE.

There is no official scrub production in the UK. Scrubs are primarily made overseas, in countries such as China, India and Pakistan, often by informal labourers for extremely low wages. They are then entered into convoluted distribution systems and finally reach the hospitals which allocate the scrubs according to an equally tragic priority chain. Our particular scrub collective aims to remedy this by making them locally and delivering them directly to the health workers in need.

Many of these groups have managed to enter production with professional atomised systems within a week. You would think that we would be able to supply hospitals with stock, however we have been unable to contact procurement departments, who are often externalised from the main hospital sites and thereby have little connection to the health workers themselves. In fact I was told by unions reps, that if I ever did manage to contact them, it would be a miracle. General managers in hospitals are likewise fairly unresponsive, and those who have responded, told us there was plenty of PPE, when in fact nurses on their wards couldn’t even access basic items such as masks. Some hospital trusts are accepting donations only and are failing to pressure those further up the chain to release funding for their production.

The absurdity of this dilemma runs deep within the heart of the capitalist system. While the government is engaged in international profit-wars, back in the UK, Deloitte has been approaching friends and well known textile brands such as Barbour and Burberry, in effort to manage a temporary solution to the problem. Smaller scale manufacturers on the other hand, have heard nothing from the government after filing in their survey nearly two months ago, and instead are asking our scrub groups for material donations in order to start their production. Groups, who are at the forefront of providing immediate solutions to the problems, which more often than not, fall to women and their continuous underpaid and unpaid labour.

Burberry is expected only to start production in another week, other companies facing difficulties with the required certifications for water-resistant gowns are not to start in another two, at the very least. On the horizon is also a shortage of fabric, and the incessant greed of distributors who have hiked up even the cheaper cotton poplin to nearly half of its original price. Many are now resorting to use old duvet covers and bedsheets in order to make scrubs.

We also have to mention the struggles of our fellow workers internationally, such as in India, who are likewise fighting against the privatisation of hospitals; a lack of PPE; a lack of welfare provisions for informal factory workers, and a recent government decision to revoke the Factory Act of 1948, in order to standardise 12 hour working days, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushes to restart manufacturing in the middle of a raging pandemic. In Bangladesh the COVID infection rate is increasing faster than many hard hit countries.

We need to politicise the struggle with a clear internationalist response that unifies all of us, our work, our mutual aid and our care. For as long as profit rules, there can be no peace. We need to requisition all health, manufacturing and transport sectors and provide all workers, currently unpaid or paid with fair wages and safe working conditions. This is not a public relations crisis with seemingly unfortunate logistical difficulties, this is an emergency stoked by the greed of those for whom our deaths are only a motivation for the accumulation of their capital.

ireland / britain / community struggles / news report Monday April 13, 2020 06:40 byHSG

This is a statement from some activists from Haringey Solidarity Croup express its support and solidarity to UK National Health Service (NHS) and other workers. In the meantime expresses its anger about that people been asked to pay the money to NHS while the health system is being suffered for almost two decades on the hands of the current government of conservative party and the former one of Labour. The demand is unreasonable while the UK is 3rd richest country in Europe and 6th richest country the world. The statement clarifies the current position of NHS and treatment of the government to NHS.

“Clap for Carers” but now they want our money as well
Another statement from some of us in Haringey Solidarity Group
For the last three Thursdays we have been asked to “clap for carers”. As we have said before, we fully support all NHS staff (and in fact all workers) and the appreciation they are getting. But, we also need to remember why we are in the position we are in, where the NHS is under staffed; doesn’t have enough beds; and many staff have to claim benefits to top up their disgustingly low wages. Presently staff don’t have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); we are scrambling around to find more beds; we don’t have enough ventilators; and testing is woefully short. All of this didn’t happen overnight – it’s because of years of successive governments not giving a damn about NHS staff and ordinary people’s health. This was never a “mistake” or “over-sight”. It was a cynical, calculated policy by our so called leaders.
Now, on Thursday 9th April we are being asked to not only clap for the state underfunding our health service and putting our health workers lives at risk (and maybe up to a dozen have already died due to this), but we are also being asked to donate.
These donations go to an organisation called “NHS Charities Together” and they are asking for a fiver from all of us. It seems, this money then goes to the charitable trusts most hospitals have to set up to beg for money from local people, because the state under funds them.
It seems we can bail out the banks with millions, if not billions when they screw up. We can give millionaires and billionaires like Mike Ashley (Sports Direct), Richard Branson (Virgin empire), Joe Lewis (Spurs football club) huge bailouts during the Corona virus crisis, but yet again, when it comes to a public service like the NHS hard working people are asked to cough up (excuse the pun).

Loads of us are being “furloughed”; Lots more are having to now try and navigate the minefield that is Universal Credit; millions of us were already surviving on benefits, food banks and debt.
And the irony doesn’t stop there. We are gob smacked that one of the very people who voted time and again to cut the HNS and leave workers either redundant or on cripplingly low wages (dear old Boris) is now desperate for those same workers to try and save his life. If we are short of resources …….
Is it just us few who think all this is just taking the piss?
Whether Johnson lives or dies doesn’t really matter. Once this crisis is over the crisis in funding in the NHS won’t stop. And after the glowing words and press statements for our health service and all its workers from all those in power is a distant memory we will be back to funding cuts, staff having to claim benefits to top up their salaries, and hospitals having to have charity events to save lives.
People have told us we shouldn’t swear in these statements. Generally, we agree. But in this situation anger gets the better of us. So fuck you Boris and all your mates in government and business. When the corona virus scare has subsided, we need to get fucking angry, and fight for what we believe in. And that’s more than clapping and ordinary people giving sticking plaster donations, they can ill afford. Even though we know everyone who does donate will be doing it for incredibly genuine reasons.

ireland / britain / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Saturday April 04, 2020 22:40 byWSM

It is within times of crisis when the thin veil of neoliberalism slips to reveal the emperor is not wearing any clothes. It exposes the sheer inefficacy of capitalism to cope with human crises and cater for the most basic human needs. In these times, when the capitalist state is left reeling, we see glimpses of community, solidarity and interdependence emerge once again - the very ideals neoliberalism has for the last 40 odd years attempted to erode and eradicate. It exposes that the ‘common sense’ manner of organising our lives, work and economy is entirely at odds with the will of the people but also, very importantly, it provides us with the opportunity to imagine a transformed world

There is a very distinct layer of poinency in reading the late Mark Fisher’s ‘Capitalist Realism’ at this moment in time. Fisher wrote the book directly preceding the global financial crash in 2008, prior to this, imagining a break with neoliberalism felt impossible; a major stagnating point of the left has been it’s failure to prefigure or create at scale a vision of what a transformed world should look like. He argued that the greatest success of neoliberalism was to limit our imagination of what social movements could achieve in building towards a revolutionary world. Fisher lived to see the fallout of the financial crisis, accelerated inequality and how society was organised upwards. It certainly felt as though the ideological bond with neoliberalism was broken and this was becoming steadily more recognisable throughout the decade. However, in absence of a strong, organised left, a viable alternative felt out of reach. Despite the fact most acknowledge the current system is inherently unjust.

The current crisis is not a banking crisis or a crisis of debt as it was in 2008, it feels much more concrete and immediate than that. Today’s crisis forces us to rely on the tools humankind have always relied upon: solidarity, care and interdepence. It is through these tools that we find the means to cope but also we can begin to imagine and prefigure what a transformed world should look like. 

A politics of care is the politics of anarchism
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What could reveal the limitations and indeed failure of neoliberalism more than a global pandemic. An ideology based on cultivating individualism will not assist us in overcoming this crisis; social solidarity is acknowledging the concessions we all collectively make by isolating ourselves are acts of care and are there to protect those who are most vulnerable to the virus. This is largely seen in the wide scale compliance with physical distancing and isolation measures made on behalf of public health expertise. It is seen also in the numerous mutual aid, community and support groups that have sprung up over the last number of weeks.

As anarchists, communists and leftists we do not speak at an individual level, we instead strive for the communal, we build social bonds and break down power dynamics and hierarchies that may arise in the process. To do this we must look at our interdependence on the people around us and see how thoroughly we are indebted to the assistance of others. Kropotkin defined solidarity as ‘the unconscious recognition of the force that is borrowed by each man from the practice of mutual aid; of the close dependency of everyone’s happiness upon the happiness of all’. When speaking on mutual aid, Kroptokin himself acknowledged that merit should not be awarded based on our individual contributions towards a comunal aim but rather on the multitude of efforts by innumerous others that allows any one person to contribute, by doing so he placed dependency above our ability to contribute and considered human vulnerability as a key virtue.

To organise a society around need opposed to profit requires us to acknowledge our dependence on community and social bonds; in this sense interdependence is a revolutionary aim:

“All things are for all men, since all men have need of them, since all men have worked in the measure of their strength to produce them, and since it is not possible to evaluate every one’s part in the production of the world’s wealth. That each and every person has a right to well being; there is a right to well being for all”

As well as being a revolutionary aim, it provides us a basis to fundamentally rethink what we consider necessary and valuable, why forms of labour that focus on care are undervalued and how to resist against the privatisation of care work - both by private firms creating two tier health systems and by the state who push care work back into the realm of the nuclear family where it’s seen as a ‘private’ family issue. The latter is becoming increasingly prevalent, in an article by Helen Lewis in New Atlantic, she outlines now with child care facilities and schools closed, caring, nurturing and educational responsibilities are now taking place as unpaid labour inside the home. Women who generally occupy caring roles, while also being more likely to hold jobs that are part-time, more flexible and pay less; women - out of obligations both traditional and practical - are more likely to pick up the additional workload compared with their male counterparts in the home. 

An anarchist definition of care and nurturance must firstly break with the maternal archetype but also expand upon our notion of care, the Care Collective define this as “not only the ‘hands-on’ care people do when directly looking after the physical and emotional needs of others. ‘Care’ is also an enduring social capacity and practice involving the nurturing of all that is necessary for the welfare and flourishing of human and non-human life.”

The implications of such a definition of care are far and expansive. It has the potential to encompass community based spaces and infrastructure, public green spaces, community libraries, recreational and educational centres. We are now presented with a chance to redefine our localities and communities, to claw back resources against neoliberalism’s insatiable urge to privatise all and to create these resources outside the central authority of the capitalist state.

Does the state ‘care’? Social democracy versus revolutionary change.
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“We’re all Keynsian now” - Richard Nixon

A common feature of the crisis has been the scrambling of right wing states to implement more socialised measures in terms of income protection and health care. In the space of two weeks we have witnessed Fine Gael state they are abolishing the two tier health system (at least temporarily), the DUP calling for universal basic income and the Tories offering up to 80% of earnings for self-employed and salaried workers. While these measures are surely welcomed by all those trying to survive with loss of income, we should not be duped or placated by social democratic measures but use them as a springboard to organise for the world we want to see and live in.

Fine Gael do not feel that workers are owed the concessions they are being shown, nor do their sympathies lie with workers whose income has disappeared overnight. The roll out of centre left measures is much more likely to be the result of their hand being forced by the public. Firstly, by the fact that Fine Gael’s free-market driven ideology cannot cope with a crisis like this and secondly, in February the electorate gave an abundantly clear message on what it would be willing to tolerate. There was no viable option other than to concede ground to moderate left policies or see their party crumble. We should not forget the cynical nature with which these measures are being rolled out, and the insistence that “under normal circumstances” such measures would “economic suicide”. Nor should it be forgotten the disdain and contempt they treated health care workers over a year ago who they now patronisingly deem as heroes. They are heroes undoubtedly, but this needs to be acknowledged with material gains not with hollow applause.

Varadkar as Minister for Health in 2016 stated in an article in the Independent: “‘What can happen in some hospitals is sometimes, when they have more beds and more resources, that's what kind of slows it down.’

When asked why, he replied: "Because they [hospital staff] don't feel as much under pressure.”

Directly preceding the nurses strike in February 2019 Simon Harris stated in another article by the Independent that financial penalties would be considered for striking nurses by pausing increments and pay restoration guaranteed by the Public Service Stability Agreement.

The history of the various peaks of social democracy is a curious one. The strongest movements for social democracy occurred after times of intense crisis: the New Deal in the US after the Wall St. crash in the 1930s, the rise of the SPD after the First World War in Germany or the establishment of the welfare state in the UK in the aftermath of World War 2. Taking the UK as an example, after WW2 the British state was left in tatters. The huge loss of life and massive destruction of infrastructure meant the capitalist state could not organise itself as it did prior to the war. Large scale labour movements also ensured workers demands were met. Vast swathes of public/council housing was built, education was largely free and well funded and perhaps most significantly the NHS was established. Even the most hardened of leftists cannot deny these measures brought about very notable improvements to people’s quality of life and well-being. So what went wrong? How did social democracy fade into history and essentially provide zero resistance for Thatcherism despite large labour movements, strong trade unions and massive public consent?

It’s famously said social democracy was the greatest saviour of capitalism, and indeed how could the capitalist state survive such crises like world wars or global pandemics without socialised policies? One could argue that through bureaucracy, the Labour party and union leaders themselves became a new elite, as they rose through the ranks of their respective institutions only to become corrupted by state power. The traditional left institutions of the union and the party were undemocratic and self compromising, to paraphrase Stuart Hall they were no longer representatives of the working class but managers of the working class. When rates of profitability could no longer be maintained social democracy was wiped out with the stroke of a pen.

After forty years of neoliberalism, there is something still to be salvaged from the era of social democracy and that is the sense of community and solidarity that surrounded it. The SPD in Germany could never have become the political force it was without the grassroots organisation. SPD members established beer halls, sports clubs, women’s groups, youth clubs to name just a few. It created social ties that bred a strong sense of solidarity within the locality. Without community British mining towns and villages could never have survived as long as they did when Thatcher brought war to their doorstep.There is no doubt that these are incredible examples of the programs of care and nurturance we spoke of earlier. Presently, we can see these bonds emerging once more. We must ask ourselves as anarchists will it be the state that can take your kids for the evening, will it offer to pick you up a few groceries or check on your eldery relatives if you are working? As anarchists and revolutionaries how do we take the institutional gains of social democracy, democratise and commuminse them?

Now we are left with the question: how do we build movements for revolutionary change in isolation? The fight of our lives is coming so what are the tools we need to learn to build capacity in our communities and workplaces and what can we do to get ready now? A steep learning curve is ahead of activists whose power has traditionally, and for good reason, been in the streets. We need to adapt to entirely new ways of organising at least in the short to medium term if we are to have a chance of winning a transformed world. We have the principles now what we need are the tools.

References
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https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/petr-kropotkin-mutual-aid-a-factor-of-evolution#toc8
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/mitchell-cowen-verter-undoing-patriarchy-subverting-politics-anarchism-as-a-practice-of-care
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/03/feminism-womens-rights-coronavirus-covid19/608302/
https://www.versobooks.com/blogs/4617-covid-19-pandemic-a-crisis-of-care

ireland / britain / miscellaneous / opinion / analysis Saturday April 04, 2020 22:35 byWSM

The Covid-19 global health crisis is one that required a global response led by health workers but with the consensus of almost everyone. Instead we face a piecemeal response, often in the form of repressive policing solutions that are not even particularly effective and where the borders between the states have undermined collective action and allowed the virus to multiply in the gaps.

Fear has led many to wish for harder state clampdowns as if a policing apparatus had any hope for substituting for collective solidarity between neighbours. The very ideology of neoliberal capitalism and its mantra of everyone looking after themselves has cut into the sort of community solidarity essential to popular enforcement of physical distancing. Thankfully in Ireland we discovered this process was not complete and a sufficient sense of solidarity remained that almost everyone implemented physical distancing measures before the state backed that process.

This virus is not a threat at the distances of national borders but in the short space between us and our friends, neighbours and fellow workers. Rather than wishing for the state to get tougher policing that space, we need to think and act collectively to organise this ourselves by building a common consensus around what needs to be done.

Popular action
This has already happened in some places where popular action was ahead of state action, in Hong Kong in the early days and in Ireland in March where against all stereotypes popular demands mobilised through social media saw just about every pub close its doors ahead of the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. We would presume there are many, many other examples yet to reach our ears, but stories of people self-organising seldom make it into the media.

None of this is to deny a potential need for draconian action in self defence. If the anarchist army of Ukraine could summarily execute those who spread anti-Semitic propaganda to prevent pogroms being triggered we are in no way uncomfortable measures to lockdown the virus.

While we would prefer to be in an anarchist society where these would be by popular consensus this is not yet the world we are living in so we are no more necessarily against justifiable state measures in this context than we are against laws requiring the observation of traffic lights or banning drunk driving. Our role thus is not some sort of absolutist opposition but rather to push for popular alternatives and limits on attempts to expand state power in anything but the most temporary and medically justified way.

On the other hand we don't see the state as a solution and this crisis illustrates that. States in general have made things worse by covering up and preventing action in several places. State imposed lockdowns have not been very successful where community consensus did not exist. How would you impose them between neighbours without either popular consensus or a cop in every household. And who then watches those cops.

Border racism
Of course shut the border racists have tried to use the crisis for fascist propaganda but any reasonable analysis shows this distracted from the real long distance routes of transmission. The virus did not arrive in Ireland via the highly policed, slow and murderous routes refugees are forced to follow but via the fast jet travel of wealthier Irish citizens who were taking skiing holidays in northern Italy. Many of these were school kids, did those who saw closing the borders as a magic solution, were they seriously proposing leaving 10,000 school kids locked out of the country? It is clear that was an impossible ‘answer’ to long distance transmission - and distracted from what was needed and later introduced, a requirement that anyone arriving isolate themselves as far as possible for the subsequent two weeks.

Indeed in a general sense border racism has magnified the threat we all now face. Greece which has over the last couple of years created super concentrated unsanitary camps where refugees have been packed in and restricted. These camps are places where the people living there cannot self isolate or even regularly wash their hands. The people in these camps need to be allowed to disperse immediately and hotels and ferries provided so they can reach ‘own door’ shelter where those who become infected can self-isolate. This is not only essential for their survival but also for ours.

On a local level the long standing acceptance of racist structures has left us more rather than less vulnerable as a collective. In particular the cruelty of Direct Provision has created overcrowded conditions where self isolation is impossible but out of which a section of the capitalist class has made huge profits from such suffering. The halting sites where many Travellers live are over crowded and underfunded, and thus an example where our unique Irish acceptable racism has now magnified the risk we collectively face. Neoliberal Capitalism and increasing rents have created conditions where we have over 10,000 people in emergency accomodation, and increasing numbers of people who are homeless in our republic. In such conditions Covid 19 will rip through the most marginalised and discriminated people in our society.

Profits & rents
A minority making huge profits from rent & low wages has meant many of our often migrant hospitality workers have been forced into living 4-6 to a room and afraid to call in sick when as a collective we need them to be able to. Again a situation that many of us have simply tolerated as it has worsened over the last decade.

Chronic underfunding of the health service will mean many many more deaths and it's not just ICU shortages, it becomes clear that the HSE had no stocks and no realistic plans for acquiring PPE equipment in the context of a pandemic. Rather than levelling with health workers, and telling them the truth as the facts emerged they sought to silence them while lying to the public. Another example of where in this war we need to dispense with spin and communications gurus and be transparent and honest with the workers and the public. The current hope is that all volunteer crews of Aer Lingus workers will save the day by flying multiple flights to China to collect essential PPE supplies while having to live aboard their planes.

What can and should anarchists do? A lot of us are already doing it. Help organise community solidarity, build the power of health and other frontline workers, guard against state attempts at power grabs that go beyond immediate threat, expose dangerous racist lies that obscure what needs to be done to halt the virus.

The Direct Provision and overcrowding crisis means that vacant apartments, particularly REIT ones kept empty to evade rent controls must be put into use to provide homes that small groups can self isolate in. Hotels may be used to allow the population in homeless shelters to disperse to their own door rather than shared rooms.

Workers and activists in those sectors will have a much better sense of what should be demanded and routes of implementation but clearly we can say no one should be in unsafe overcrowding while potential homes lie empty to protect profit. National Traveller organisations are already trying to ensure provisions are made for Travellers in this pandemic.

We can support actions where workers self-protect - eg in Finland bus workers and elsewhere transport workers refuse to collect fares and ask that people access & leave the bus by the middle or back doors and not the front door which is beside them. Workers on construction sites and sanitation workers are still expected to work without it seems even basic steps like the provision of PPE, staggered lunch breaks & shift starting times to avoid overcrowding and the end of work that cannot be done safely because of the need to maintain physical distances.

Our only power is collective
What the Covid-19 virus does not do is discriminate. All humans can be infected, regardless of wealth, class, where you live, what you do, or how you think. Therefore, it will not be defeated by us acting as individuals, it will only be defeated by us acting collectively. As anarchists, we have always maintained that power resides in the collective, and in these conditions, given what we know about this, we the people are doing the right things, to prevent the virus spreading. This is done from a basis of self-defence, but it also resides on the foundation of solidarity. Together we are stronger. There is an Irish - saying that goes ‘Ní neart go cur le Chéile’ - There is no strength without unity. That goes back to the 12th century long before Capitalism, but not before plagues like the black death which wiped out half of all Europeans in the 14th century. Now, in the 21st we face this enemy again, and we know that it is only by facing it as a collective that we will prevail.

Above all else though we need to prepare for the time after the virus. A lot of things like eviction bans that our rulers insisted were impossible have suddenly turned out to be almost instantly achievable. The health crisis has laid bare the unequal nature of our society and the way that inequality puts us all in danger. Authoritarian politicians turned out to be incapable of acting rationally and fast, organic grassroots responses were swifter and more effective. A lot of people have noticed these things and with all those people we need to draw everyone into a conversation about what sort of society we want to live in, one that no longer treats the economy as a separate sphere best left to find its own way. The strength that we will draw on as a collective in this time will be brought to bear on this system which is proving, at this time of greatest need, to be unfit for purpose.

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Neste 8 de Março, levantamos mais uma vez a nossa voz e os nossos punhos pela vida das mulheres!

Neste 8 de Março, levantamos mais uma vez a nossa voz e os nossos punhos pela vida das mulheres!

Ireland / Britain

Mon 25 May, 08:16

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