Daniel Jadue is the mayor of Recoleta, a commune that is part of the expanding city of Santiago, Chile. His office is on the sixth floor of a municipal building in whose lower reaches one can find a pharmacy, an optical shop, and a bookstore run by the municipality that are dedicated to providing fairly priced goods. On the walls of his office are emblems of his commitment to the Palestinian people, including flags and an iconic cartoon of Handala created by Naji al-Ali, a Palestinian cartoonist who was assassinated in 1987. ‘I am Palestinian’, Jadue tells me with pride. ‘I was born on 28 June 1967, just days after the Israelis took Jerusalem’. The struggle of the Palestinians, which has haunted much of his political life, he says, is ‘not so different from the struggle of the Chilean people.
Activists in the U.S. have debated race and class for decades to no resolution. Nonetheless, in this moment of U.S. imperial decay and crisis, the debate over whether race or class takes precedence in the struggle for liberation from U.S. capitalist and imperialist domination rages on. Two prominent strands of the debate have emerged over the last year which intersect with the rise of Bernie Sanders-led “democratic socialists” and the uprising against racist policing led by the slogan “Black Lives Matter.” For many leaders of the Sanders camp, white supremacy is either a distraction or a secondary issue that can be addressed through the amelioration of class exploitation vis-à-vis policies such as Medicare for All.
Trade unions are on the defensive all over the world, under immense pressure from strong economic and political forces. We are facing a multiplicity of crises. Employers are attacking on all fronts, and the pandemic is being used as an excuse further to undermine unions, wages and working conditions. Since the neoliberal offensive began around 1980, we have experienced an enormous shift in the balance of power, from labour to capital. In spite of that, large parts of the trade union movement have continued to cling to the ideology of social partnership – with social dialogue as its main method of influence – which, in the current situation, is proving counterproductive.
With mass unemployment on the cards, many are comparing the current crisis to the Great Depression of the 1930s. In both cases, however, these crises were not 'accidental', but a product of capitalism's insoluble contradictions. Capitalism is entering into what looks set to be its deepest crisis ever. Although COVID-19 provided the trigger, a deep slump has been in the making for many years. With the stock market in turmoil, mass unemployment, and the perspective of a global depression, parallels are being drawn to the Great Depression of the 1930s – although even that may fall short as a parallel.
"The teaching of history in our schools is not an impartial or neutral discipline. It is at its core about justifying the power of the ruling elites in the present by defining the ruling elites in the past. This means that history as it is taught in our schools is distorted and at times fabricated to achieve these ends. Racism, injustices, lies and crimes of the ruling elites are minimized or ignored. Problematic historical figures such as the overt racist and imperialist Woodrow Wilson are transformed into mythical social archetypes whose darker actions, including the decision to re-segregate the federal government, are whitewashed or ignored."
The antithesis to a vision of austerity and increased privatization is the set of principles endorsed by hundreds of community organizations and groups across Canada known collectively as a just recovery. The pandemic has shown how crucial investments in communities and public services can be to lift vulnerable folks out of poverty and contribute to stronger public health outcomes. David Bleakney, a representative of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, argued that any stability felt during this crisis has been dependent on frontline labour, including healthcare workers, postal workers, or those on the front lines of warehousing in the gig economy. “We need new terms of value in our recovery,” he said. “We can’t continue to have frontline people used as fodder and sacrifice. We can’t continue to punish women. We can’t continue to treat indigenous people like they’re just an add-on to white society.” When speaking about consumer choice, Bleakney said that, in our current system, choice is virtually nonexistent
For weeks on end, the George Floyd protests against racism and police violence shook America. Support for the movement overflowed all demographic boundaries as an estimated 10% of all American adults—some 25 million people—participated in at least one protest. However, although mass gatherings have continued unabated in some cities, in most of the country the torrential river has inevitably receded into its banks as it was deprived of a revolutionary outlet—for now. The revived BLM movement has been a treasure trove of practical experience for the millions who drove it forward.
“Police Killings in the US: Inequalities by Race/Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Position" examines the databases of police killings contain important demographic information like race, gender, and age. But they do not contain socioeconomic information like education and income. This analysis shows that socioeconomic position plays a big role in police killings. The highest-poverty areas have a police killing rate of 6.4 per million while the lowest-poverty areas have a police killing rate of 1.8 per million, a 3.5-fold difference. A similar class skew exists within each racial group as well. Whites in the poorest areas have a police killing rate of 7.9 per million, compared to 2 per million for whites in the least-poor areas. Blacks in the poorest areas have a police killing rate of 12.3 per million, compared to 6.7 per million for blacks in the least-poor areas.
Most billionaires don’t work harder, don’t think harder, and don’t know more. They have nothing over your average person except: a) luck b) sometimes inheriting a fortune and c) being more sociopathic. So I guess you could say they’re extraordinary on the sociopathy front. They are more willing to crush other humans to get what they want and thereby they are more able to get what they want. Billionaires in the U.S. have seen their fortunes skyrocket, increasing by 12.5 percent since the pandemic began. The Institute for Policy Studies released a study “showing that, in the eight weeks between March 18 and May 14, the country’s super-wealthy have added a further $368.8 billion to their already enormous fortunes.”
The intensity and scope of the mass rebellion that has gripped the U.S. and expanded internationally has shaken global white supremacist capitalist patriarchy to its knees. The people have tasted a real sense of their own power and as a result some very unexpected developments have emerged. Among them is the demand to “defund the police,” which is even being acknowledged by some lawmakers in a few jurisdictions. To be clear, this is a momentous development for the movement. Supporters often advance two primary arguments: the first is that defunding is a necessary step towards the ultimate goal of abolishing the police altogether.
The looting of stores is inherently a class issue, whether you look upon it favorably or not (there are always exceptions of course). The act of looting is a long-standing American tradition, dating back to the theft of Native lands and African enslavement. And today, while wealthy people don’t loot strip malls, they are adept at looting natural resources and labor, from the coalfields of West Virginia to Jeff Bezo’s Amazon warehouses. The poor, exerting their nominal power—even in a destructive and violent manner—display an entirely natural reaction to a continually powerless state of being. For them, looting is a cry for help, an expression of hopelessness. Economic and racial oppression in America has finally reached a boiling point. Systemic change will take a systemic realignment of the economic and political structure in the United States.
It is a well-known feature of revolutionary history that the individual soldiers and sailors who make up the armed forces can be affected by the overarching mood in society and play a key role in the class struggle. The cramped quarters of Navy warships have been likened to “floating factories,” and given the proletarian background of most of their crews, these conditions can breed a fierce class hatred. Add a deadly virus to the already volatile mix, and the stage is set for a social explosion. In late March, after a port stop in Hanoi, an outbreak of COVID-19 began to ravage the crew of the US Navy’s Nimitz class supercarrier, the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Routine safety measures were no match for the virus on a ship with 4,500 sailors interacting in close quarters. By March 31, as many as 200 members of the crew had tested positive for COVID-19—a figure that would continue to multiply in the following weeks.
A survey of small businesses and workers conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management published on April 1 finds that small businesses and workers are being hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis. Their findings reveal the real class divide in the United States in that those workers who are essential, such as those who work in construction, manufacturing, transportation, education, and food, have the highest rates of not being able to meet their basic needs because of the shutdown while professionals are less affected. This poll highlights the need to demand financial security for everyone during this time of necessary physical distancing. We need a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, full coverage of health care by the government, higher pay for essential workers and adequate unemployment benefits for those who are unable to work.