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Mar 3, 20

This Is America #108: “A New Age of Antagonism”

Cover Image from Vitalist International

Welcome, to This Is America, March 2nd, 2020.

On today’s show, we bring you an interview with Indigenous militant on the unfolding anti-colonial uprising taking place across so-called Canada in solidarity the Wet’suwet’en and against the invasion of the RCMP and Coastal GasLink onto their unceded territory. We discuss the evolving movement, recent repression, attacks by the media, and how people can support.

Also on today’s show, we feature a discussion with two anarchists involved in the ongoing #COLA4All struggle and wildcat strike popping off across University of California campuses. We talk about how the movement has grown in the face of threats from the UC President and where the strike might go now, after over 80 grad workers have been laid off for participating in strike activity.

All this and more, but first, let’s get to the news!

Living and Fighting

As of this writing, the situation surrounding the coronavirus is evolving at an alarming rate. Multiple people are now dead in Washington state and people across the country from California to Rhode Island have been found to be infected with the virus. The death toll worldwide has now reached 3,000. While information is changing by the minute, The New York Times recently wrote:

Washington State has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus, and researchers who studied two cases there say that the virus may have been spreading for weeks, with the possibility that up to 1,500 people may have been infected.

In the cases in Washington state and in California, the infected have not been found to have a connection to anyone infected, nor had they traveled to centers of the outbreak. As one report wrote:

Since the virus has a two-week period before symptoms occur, and because most cases do not require hospitalization, the disease is likely already present in a much broader population.

In recent days, Trump and his minions at press conferences, campaign rallies, and at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), have pushed the idea that fear of the coronavirus is simply a “hoax” popularized by the Democrats and the media to make the Trump administration look bad. This downplaying underscores both the bureaucratic disaster of the State’s response, its near lack of any attempt to mobilize resources, as well as the reality that the Trump administration has been attacking the State’s health infrastructure for years.

As Joseph Kishore wrote:

Only a small handful of locations are prepared even to carry out testing for the disease. Without proper testing procedures, no individual quarantine measures – the only effective way to contain its spread – can be implemented.

The reaction of the Trump administration has been focused entirely on attempting to bolster the stock markets while utilizing the spread of the disease to escalate its trade war policies and shut down travel to the United States from even more countries, building off of its xenophobic travel ban.

In January, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declared that the outbreak of coronavirus in the world’s second largest economy could be good for the American economy. “So I think it will help to accelerate the trend of jobs to North America,” Ross said of the epidemic. “Some to US, probably some to Mexico as well.”

Yesterday, Trump again dismissed growing warnings from doctors and scientists that the outbreak could quickly become a pandemic affecting the lives of millions of people. “It’s going to disappear, one day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” Trump proclaimed. “And from our shores you know it could get worse before it gets better, could maybe go away, we’ll see what happens, nobody really knows.”

Vice President Mike Pence, a religious obscurantist who rejects the reality of evolution, has been appointed to oversee the administration response to the outbreak. Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, the wife of Trump’s fascistic adviser Stephen Miller, will be in charge of all coronavirus communications.

Trump’s acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney went as far Friday as to dismiss the threat of the coronavirus, blaming the media for playing it up. He declared, “[T]hey think this will bring down the president, that’s what this is all about.” These remarks were delivered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was held under the theme of “America vs. Socialism.”

The US government has done nothing to prepare for predictable disease outbreaks, which in the age of globalization and mass air travel can spread very rapidly from one part of the globe to the other.

One Harvard scientist speaking to the Wall Street Journal predicted that 40-70% of the US population would end up getting infected with the coronavirus, which kills by people’s lungs filling up with fluid, and would lead to the deaths of potentially 1-2 million, just in the US. Moreover, the economic impact, which is already rocking financial markets, would be massive, with many gauging that it would swing the US economy into a recession.

As with most pandemics, those hit hardest will be the poor and working-class; especially those crammed together in tight quarters with no access to medical care. What happens when coronavirus hits the over crowded prisons and detention centers in the US, to say nothing of schools and workplaces.

From the initial attempts by the Chinese state to silence and disappear those bringing attention to the outbreak to Trump’s recent push to use the virus as an excuse to clamp down on immigration, the response from governments across the world has simply been to protect the economy and not human life. Both the privatized world of corporatized medicine in the so-called West and China’s socialist authoritarian techno-dystopia offer no solutions in this moment; on the contrary, governments are rushing to, as Agamben recently argued, use the pandemic as another excuse to launch a State of Exception in which the State can control more and more aspects of everyday life. As he wrote in an editorial recently:

We might say that once terrorism was exhausted as a justification for exceptional measures, the invention of an epidemic could offer the ideal pretext for broadening such measures beyond any limitation.

As with any disaster, the best hope for humanity lies in our ability to appropriate the means of existence into our own hands and in our ability take care of each other on our own terms, without looking to the State and its bureaucracy to save us.

In resistance news:

  • On Monday on University of California campuses, thousands of staff, faculty, and student workers took part in continued wildcat strike activity. So far, both UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis have joined the strike, with student workers at UC Davis agreeing to not turn in grades and UCSB student workers pushing for a full on work stoppage. Other campuses rallied in support of those at UC Santa Cruz, who are now in their third week of the strike and have recently watched over 80 grad students have been fired from their teaching positions for refusing to turn in grades, as part of an ongoing push to win a cost of living wage increase.

  • In Colorado, antifascists once again mobilized against far-Right bigots who came out to protest a Drag Queen Story Hour event. Local neo-Nazis only were able to muster up two individuals, one being William Scott Planer, once a member of the now-defunct Traditionalist Worker Party who also took part in the stabbing attack of antifascists in Sacramento in 2016.

  • Across so-called Canada, from acts of sabotage, blockades shutting down train tracks, encampments, and mass protests, actions in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en struggle against Coastal GasLink and the RCMP invasion of unceded territory have continued non-stop.

  • In Chicago after a video of police shooting someone at a transit station went viral, people took to the streets, talked with riders, and marched behind a banner reading: Cops Off CTA.

  • Finally, in Raleigh, North Carolina, over 50 anti-racists converged to counter a gathering of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans.

Upcoming Events

  • March 6th – March 15th: Appalachian Climate Action Camp. More info.
  • March 7th: Racists Out of Chapel Hill. More info.
  • March 7th – 8th: “In, Against, and Beyond the Capitalist Hydra.” Oakland, CA. More info.
  • March 22nd: Anarchist Assembly. Caguas. More info.
  • March 26th – 28th: The Undercommons and Destituent Power Conference. Indiana University. More info.
  • May 29th – 31st: Call to Oppose White Nationalist American Renaissance Conference. Burns, TN. More info.
  • April 9th – 12th: Conference on Jewish Anarchism. Chicago, IL. More info.
  • April 25th: Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair. Oakland, CA. More info.
  • May 16-18th: Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. More info.
  • July 3rd – 5th: Dan and Spit Antifascist Music Festival. Asheville, NC. More info.

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