Protestors around the world have shouted and carried signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” alongside the names of people of color killed by police locally – Adama Traoré, in France in 2016 and several cases in Britain – in ways similar to George Floyd. Demands to remove symbols of racist and imperialist oppression such as statues of Belgian King Leopold II who murderously exploited the Congo as a private capitalist space, or statues of slave traders in Britain, center of the transatlantic slave trade, echo demands to remove Confederate statues and Southern (pro-slavery) flags.
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The struggle against coronavirus is a struggle against the chronic undervaluing of workers in the care sector, both materially and symbolically. Emotional labor has never had the value attached to it that it should have. The jobs that women have traditionally undertaken have not had their importance recognized.
It will be impossible to return to the so-called normal state before the Covid-19 crisis – which was a capitalist “normality” that threatened the future of humanity and the planet. It is urgent to change to a new society based on social needs, organized by and for the working classes with public ownership of banks and the main means of production. That is why a radical socio-ecological transformational perspective is necessary.
George Floyd’s recorded pleas of “I can’t breathe” are painfully reminiscent of the police murder of Eric Garner by New York city police in 2014… The political climate that encourages this is stoked by a president who openly flirts with the most racist and reactionary forces in the country with the tacit complicity of one of the parties that rule us and the hollow dissent and ineffectuality of the other.
It appeals to the white British exceptionalist world view that is more likely to be older, more overweight, unhealthy and in more dangerous jobs than the average. As with Trump’s voters they’ve opted for a reactionary, nationalist reponse to what’s happening in the world which is actively putting their own lives at risk. It’s an ideological choice which requires an explicit refusal to consider the consequences.