The U.S. is approaching “back to normal.” Millions are vaccinated, the CDC nixed its mask guidelines, and states everywhere are eagerly lifting restrictions in time for summer.
Stepping back to assess the damage of the first year of the coronavirus pandemic is sobering. As of March 2021, there have been 123 million confirmed cases and a staggering 2.7 million deaths worldwide. That’s equivalent to the entire population of Chicago city or Manchester being wiped out in the space of a year. If there was any doubt about the ferocity of Covid-19 as a disease, these figures, which are undoubtedly an underestimation and in any case only a snapshot in a rapidly escalating total, speak to its real, unabating threat.
At the time of writing, the third Covid surge is threatening to overwhelm hospitals, North and South. There are significant differences between the health systems, and they are not alone globally as others have faltered. Under capitalism, health is a commodity. Worldwide, we see public health care systems suffering from lack of funding and increasing marketisation, with deadly consequences for working-class people.
November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. For us socialist feminists, the fight for an end to violence against women must be an anti-capitalist fight.
This crisis was not inevitable. Stormont has had months to strengthen our health service in preparation for a resurgence of Covid. Instead, they were focused on reopening the economy as fast as possible in the interests of big business, which is a key reason for the current spike
Workers generally should follow the example of the Royal Mail staff in Derry. We have a legal right to refuse to work in unsafe conditions, without penalisation. However, in order to make that right a reality, we need the power of collective organisation.
Covid infection rates are on the rise across the country, with some areas experiencing levels of infection five or ten times what would have triggered intervention a couple of months ago.
The most glaring of these contradictions is that, while we can no longer visit friends and family in their homes, we can meet them in a cafe, pub or anywhere else there is a till, alongside countless other people. Meanwhile, most of us are in close proximity with others in workplaces, schools and on public transport on a daily basis.
It’s not new that people feel that society is being run in interests other than their own. Historically, recognition of this fact – that bosses and the rich dictate what happens in our lives, even in supposedly democratic societies – is why working-class people organised in trade unions and workers parties to fight for their own interests.