COVID-19 and Classes



JOE REDFERN


After Boris Johnson’s long and rambling speech left the country a little bemused, uncertain, and unsupported, people have started thinking about returning to ‘life as normal’. Some schools and shops are set to open next month and construction workers are being told to get back to work. Yet, Boris and his newly adopted slogan of ‘Stay Alert’ seem set out to only please the ruling class.


Back to Work -> Catch the Virus -> Save the Billionaires


Asking manufacturing, processing, and elementary trades to go back to work will sentence many to death. Without clear guidelines or protective equipment Boris ‘actively encouraged’ people to risk infection and increase the spread of the virus by returning to work. New findings show that men working in low paid manual jobs are almost four times more likely to die for coronavirus compared to that of white-collar workers. Additionally, black and minority ethnic (BAME) people are “disproportionately” affected by coronavirus, with deaths of black African Brits three times higher than white Brits.


It seems the studies showing how COVID-19 affects working class and BAME communities with greater intensity must have landed in Boris’s junk box. Despite these studies highlighting the medical effects of social inequalities, the government’s response is “actively” putting these groups under threat through daring a further spike in cases.


Be Vague -> Cover Our Backs -> Shirk Responsibility


If we say that Boris gets lucky and the new guidelines do not cause a new spike in infections and overrun the NHS, what impact could his new advice still have on people? Let us take Stan as a hypothetical example. Stan is a 29-year-old construction worker. He lives with his wife who suffers from asthma, two children and stepmother who is 77. Stan has been working on a new housing project 4 miles from his house and usually takes the bus to work. Stan doesn’t own a bike, or a car and Stan doesn’t have a magic carpet or a pair of wings. Boris is ‘actively encouraging’ Stan to go back to work but Stan is anxious that doing so will threaten the health of his family. Boris has put Stan in a very difficult situation, with constant fear and possibly fatal results.


The government response is shockingly quick to see the working class as expendable. Too quickly have they forced Stan and others like Stan to make difficult decisions. Too quickly have they risked overloading the underfunded and neglected NHS. Too quickly have they been inhumane and unsupportive of the most vulnerable groups in society.


Back to Work -> Save the Billionaires -> Kill your Nan


COVID-19 is an example of how governments and society will react to a crisis which “impacts us all”. Sounds familiar right? A global crisis which will impact everyone on earth? However, some will feel the impact more than others. Is this just? Is this fair? Why is it that those with generally the least to blame for global crises are the ones who feel the impacts the most?


The climate crisis is expected to impact communities in the Global South with more intensity and disproportionately impact the working class. What care and support can we expect from the government as, beyond coronavirus, we plunge all together deeper into this climate crisis? What will the government look to protect? Will we, the foundations of the economy, the “key workers”, the “normal people” be yet again asked to sacrifice so much to protect something so out of reach to us?


Will the benefits of “trickle down” capitalism finally reach the working class and boost our society or has the corrupt river of money somehow become dammed? Can we rely on the billionaires and the government to protect us, protect the vulnerable, protect the scared? Will the future governments protect Stan and his family by giving him a real living income and freedom to protect his family?


Or is it time for something new? Something revolutionary? Can the positions of power, the pillars of capitalism be shifted to a fresh more just, more caring, more green world?

It will not happen by itself. Real systemic change won’t magically become the norm. The holders of the keys, the dictators of the power won’t allow it without resistance. It will be hard, and it will be long. To create real positive systemic change, we need the energy of the youth. The power of youth. The connected driving force of young people all over the world will be something unstoppable.


Rise up and meet the world head on.

Rise up and make the world you want to live in.

Rise up and protect your future.


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