May 28, 2020
The demonstrations this week in Minneapolis mark a historic watershed in the COVID-19 era. As we argued in March, there are some things that are worth risking death for. Perpetuating capitalism is not one of them. But some of us face threats even more deadly than COVID-19. It is worth risking our lives to fight for a world in which no one will be murdered the way that George Floyd was—and what is happening in Minneapolis shows that people are ready to.
Even before the pandemic hit, the United States was a powder keg, with rapidly escalating inequalities polarizing the population. Since March, we have experienced historically unprecedented unemployment alongside lethal risks that have been distributed throughout the population along the same lines of race and class as the preexisting disparities. The government has invented billions of dollars to pour into the pockets of executives, while leaving ordinary people high and dry; corporations are forcing those who still have jobs to risk their lives daily, while introducing new surveillance technologies and seeking to hasten the pace of automation. In short, we are being treated as a surplus population to be controlled by state violence and culled by the virus.
Politicians across the political spectrum are complicit in this. Some are relying more on brute force to stabilize the situation, others more on more rational management, but no one holding power has a real plan for how to address the systemic factors that got us here in the first place. At best, they borrow rhetoric and talking points from campaigns that we start, showing—just as the firing of the police in Minneapolis did—that the only way we will see social change is if we take grassroots action to bring it about by force.