Struggles in the Shadow of the Pandemic

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2082 ... May 7, 2020

Struggles in the Shadow of the Pandemic

John Clarke

It is a principle of historical materialism that social consciousness reflects social being and it is, therefore, inevitable that the former will tend to lag behind the latter. At a time like the present, human societies are being buffeted by rapid and deeply disturbing changes and the thinking of hundreds of millions of people is in flux, unable to take in everything that is happening. The biomedical, economic and ecological components of the unfolding situation interact and produce new developments at every turn.

We can be sure that the solutions to these devastating developments that those in economic and political power will seek to implement will require working class people to suffer greatly increased levels of exploitation and devastating reductions in their living standards. Shocked passivity is not a viable option and there is an acute need to fan the flames of resistance to the greatest extent possible, so as to generate the conditions of mass social action, out of which a leap in social... consciousness is possible.

This year, our still very important May Day celebrations had to move online and, as we tried to take stock of the situation, something I have long considered vital about International Workers’ Day struck me as especially significant in 2020. The struggle in Chicago that we honour each year was rooted in the most practical of issues, the reduction of the working day to 8 hours, yet it was undertaken and led by those who advanced a bold vision of a very different society to that operated in the interests of profit and greed. As the lockdown causes so much hardship for so many, immediate struggles for survival that are shaped by clear anti-capitalist politics would be very much in line with the traditions and lessons of May Day. How can this be taken forward and what are the possible key sites of struggle?

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