THERE IS A HEALTH CRISIS IN THIS COUNTRY that goes beyond a single virus. The mandates which neoliberal governments have imposed on working people for nearly two years have not stopped Covid-19—but they have worsened the pre-existing health disasters that enable the disease. That is not social justice or public health, it’s class war from above.
The crisis is deeply racialized. Working-class Black and indigenous people suffer from the underlying conditions of Covid-19 at twice the rate that whites do: diabetes, obesity. respiratory ailments. Yet that is a fraction of the overall health disparities that Blacks face (A 2019 study found that African-Americans have body parts amputated at three times the rate of whites.) These inequalities existed before coronavirus and will continue to exist with or without a lockdown.
Lockdowns in fact worsened inequality: Studies show that people of color were three times more likely than whites to lose work under the policy. Rather than fall into a binary of economy vs. lives, we should’ve recognized that economic adversity is known to undermine people’s mental and physical health, in turn causing the very co-morbidities that make them vulnerable to the virus.
The counterpart to the lockdown is this year’s lockout of the “unvaccinated.” This policy also disproportionately hurts minorities and workers–beginning with the 34,000 healthcare heroes who were fired for declining the unproven Covid vaccines without even being given unemployment relief.
The fact that such material concessions are not being made is just one indication that this New Normal is not about protecting the vulnerable and oppressed; instead it only serves the corporate state and the rising biosecurity–industrial complex,
The “collapse of capitalism” and “empowerment of workers” that many leftists told us would come from lockdown never materialized. Instead the stock market soared, the billionaires were bailed out, and the masses sank deeper into impoverishment, even while Democrats and the labor unions largely stood on the sidelines. The George Floyd-Breonna Taylor protests momentarily broke through this impasse, but they were diverted into a narrow anti-Trump movement. We need to take up the non-partisan spirit of resistance in a battle against neoliberalism. and for the long-term health of all New Yorkers.
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Learn how lockdown is harming the elderly, the very people it’s supposed to protect
Left Against Lockdown
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