DSA COVID-19 Bulletin #8

DSA COVID19 Bulletin

The DSA COVID-19 Bulletin from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is designed to keep working-class people informed about the evolving COVID-19 crisis and its political implications. If you’d like to get the DSA COVID-19 Bulletin by email, sign up here, and share this link with your friends and comrades! Anyone can sign up. New bulletins come out several times a week.

In This Issue

The Evolving Crisis In Europe

As the lockdown enters its fourth week, Italians have stopped singing on their balconies as fear and uncertainty increase. But one thing is for sure: Italy’s difficulty dealing with the coronavirus crisis is not because of its single-payer system. In fact, Italy’s public healthcare is saving it from collapse — what’s really making the crisis worse is neoliberalism.

Decades of austerity budgets imposed by the European Union have forced the Italian government to spend less on health, resulting in the low number of ICU beds compared to other EU member states. They simply lacked the funding to provide the beds and personnel needed to address this crisis. We’re seeing the same dynamic in the United States, where the situation is even worse.

The Italian response is also hindered by its regionalism, making it difficult to allocate resources between local and regional health systems in a timely manner. The situation in Italy shows us that this massive organizational challenge demands rational organization of medical resources based on need, not profit. The patchwork American system of independent, private, and for-profit hospitals is not up to the task.

Italy and Spain, another of the hardest hit countries, are demanding help from Brussels to keep the economy going amid shutdowns. They advocate “Corona Bonds,” a new eurozone-wide borrowing scheme that would let poorer nations take out cheap loans guaranteed by the union as a whole. But the proposal was considered unacceptable by the fiscally conservative governments of the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Finland.

Despite hopes that European solidarity could prevail in a time of crisis, there is little recognition among these richer northern European countries that “solidarity is not charity. It is the recognition that the struggle of one is the struggle of all.” Indeed, if European governments are unable to extend solidarity and find a common solution for such a genuinely universal crisis, it might undermine the Eurozone as a whole.

Government (In)action

After first adopting the unscientific strategy of “herd immunity,” Boris Johnson’s conservative UK government has now switched to a policy of social distancing. In practice, this policy bought an extra week of normal economic activity — shoring up the ongoing profits of the rich — at the likely cost of thousands of lives. Similarly, Sweden has yet to mandate strict lockdown measures, raising criticism from its neighbors Norway and Denmark.

On March 30th, the Hungarian parliament ruled to extend the country’s state of emergency measures, giving far-right president Viktor Orbán the power to rule by decree indefinitely. People living in Europe gravely need a coordinated response that protects civil liberties and democracy, but with most European countries focused on managing their own national crisis with little intervention from supranational institutions like the EU, it could already be too late to form one.

Homeless people living in crowded shelters, without access to private places to self quarantine with proper sanitation, are at increased risk of suffering from the virus. Local governments in Berlin and Manchester have started housing their unhoused populations in hotels. All cities should follow suit — it’s impossible to “shelter in place when you have no home, and homelessness is incompatible with public health.

The Irish and Spanish governments have nationalized private hospitals. The Irish health minister said that the “state will take control of all private hospital facilities and manage all of the resources for the common benefit of all of our people.” Rep. Ilhan Omar has suggested that the US should follow suit. While the Irish government insists the measures are temporary, many welcome the move and insist that there should be no going back to a semi-private system.

Portugal started treating migrants as citizens — all migrants with pending residency and asylum applications will be given regularized status to allow coherent response on COVID-19 testing, access to medical care, welfare and other services. The United States should follow suit instead of leaving millions of undocumented people in legal limbo under threat of detention or deportation, especially while so many continue to perform essential labor at enormous risk to their health. During a pandemic or at any other time, a society is only as protected as its most vulnerable members.

International Solidarity: Better Dead than Red?

On March 22nd, more than 50 Cuban doctors arrived in Italy to help the country deal with the crisis. Meanwhile, the US State Department advises other countries against accepting help from Cuban medical brigades. Would the US government rather see its citizens die than accept help from communist doctors? Let’s hope we don’t have to find out again.

US sanctions are killing people in Iran and must be stopped. Germany, the UK, and France have bypassed the sanctions to provide medical supplies and a 5 million Euro aid package. A crisis like this demands international solidarity, not more economic warfare.

Exciting News for Workplace Organizing!

Our Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee is picking up steam! We are excited to announce that this week we entered into an official partnership with UE, the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America. UE is a democratic, rank-and-file run union that represents 35,000 workers in across a broad spectrum of sectors, and was one of the first unions to endorse Bernie Sanders in the 2020 election cycle. We are grateful to stand side by side with them in this time of crisis.

Over 700 workers from all over the country have filled out our form asking DSA organizers for help and we’re expecting many more! Help us scale up our distributed organizing team by signing up to make calls here. We need volunteers at all experience levels to join in this effort. Finally, please share our form far and wide.

DSA Announcements

  • If you want to organize your workplace in response to COVID-19 or know someone who does, fill out this form, and share it far and wide.
  • Is your chapter organizing to fight back in this crisis? Let us know. And, if you want to start a project and need help getting it off the ground, email [email protected].
  • Want tips on organizing in the time of coronavirus? Have tips to share? Check out the Collaborative DSA Covid-19 Resources One-Stop!
  • DSA’s Socialist Forum is looking for submissions for its next issue, themed “Social Responses to Crisis.” Editors will blind-review pitches and notify you about the status of your submission by Monday, April 27th. If your pitch is chosen, Socialist Forum will expect a full first draft by Monday, May 11th. Submit here.

Online Political Education Events

  • On Saturday April 4 at 3pm ET, DSA Madison is co-hosting a discussion on “Coronavirus, Crisis, and Class Struggle,” featuring public health workers, experts, and socialist organizers.
  • On Monday April 6 at 6:30pm ET, Metro DC DSA is hosting a Socialist Night School on Sanctions as a Weapon of US War, featuring speakers Cavan Kharrazian & Kevin Cashman from the Center for Economic and Policy Research and journalist Sarah Lazare.
  • On Tuesday April 7 at 8PM ET, DSA will be hosting a political education call to discuss the capitalist nature of the COVID-19 crisis, with Mike Davis, Marianela D’Aprile and Nafis Hasan. RSVP here, and read Davis’s article “In a Plague Year” to prepare.
  • On Thursday, April 9 at 5PM ET, join DSA, Haymarket, The Leap, and Debt Collective for Part 2 of “How to Beat Coronavirus Capitalism.” RSVP here.

How’s it going out there? We want to hear about your mutual aid efforts, organizing wins, and how you’re taking care of one another and avoiding despair. We’ll be featuring stories from chapters across the country — submit your stories!

We will be sending these bulletins several times a week. If you’d like to keep receiving them, sign up here, and share this link with your friends and comrades! Anyone can sign up.

Global health crisis, economic collapse, and a democracy in peril. It’s hard to imagine a better time to join the largest socialist organization in America.

During the pandemic, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is practicing social distancing for our members’ safety and to slow the spread of COVID-19.

As the largest socialist organization in the US, we believe it’s essential to share information about what is going on in the world during these unprecedented times — the nature of the pandemic, the looming depression, the responses (or lack thereof) of our government, the deadly negligence and abuses of for-profit corporations, as well as the heroic organizing, resistance, and mutual aid by workers fighting for a working-class solution to the coronavirus pandemic. We also want to share ways that you can get involved in this fight.

There has never been a more important time to be in DSA. Join, renew your dues, or switch to monthly here.