Friday, March 05, 2021

On breaking solidarity

After nearly a year of a declared pandemic (and several months of inaction before that), far too little has changed in Saskatchewan's political discussion of our response to COVID-19. In particular, the Moe government has regularly insisted on pushing to reopen as much as it can get away with - leaving people to plead for somebody to look out for public health.

That contrast between Moe's message and the realities of a pandemic all the more striking even as it becomes all the more clear that the end is in sight if we remain responsible for just a few more months - or conversely, that we face the risk of more threatening variants if we don't maintain (and indeed tighten up) our existing public health rules.

The main explanation for Moe's position has generally been his well-documented propensity for treating the corporate lobby as the only actor deserving of a say in policy choices, under circumstances where businesses have chosen to prioritize immediate profit over human life. But as we approach a possible endgame in dealing with COVID-19, there's another explanation entering the picture. 

The fight against COVID-19 has generally been recognized (with only the most destructive of opponents) as calling for mass mobilization toward a common goal. And the result has been regular analogies to World War II as the last time we faced that type of all-consuming effort. 

And in making that analogy, it also hasn't escaped attention that the end of WWII gave rise to the strongest welfare state and regulatory structure we've ever seen - as the people who had been called to mobilize to fight a war rightly demanded a peace dividend which recognized their efforts. 

Needless to say, the corporate lobby which spent several decades undermining the progress made in the middle of the 20th century likely isn't eager to see a modern version emerge. And the surest way to avoid the prospect of a popular movement for social change is to undermine any sense of solidarity before the pandemic is over.

We'd fully expect that strategy to include holding out a "carrot" of telling people they won't long need to sacrifice for the greater good. And we'd also expect the longstanding pattern of government handing out niche benefits and minor concessions to the general public - as cover for far greater concessions to the wealthy - to find its way into the handling of COVID restrictions.

From that standpoint, the new round of relaxed efforts against COVID-19 - even as both the promise of vaccination and the threat of variants loom over us - may best be seen as as a plan for premature demobilization to ensure we're not prepared to fight for a new peace dividend. And we should be all the more outraged at the war effort when it involves conceding battles to a common enemy in order to serve one's political financiers at home.

[Edit: fixed typo.]

1 comment:

  1. under-rocgnized tactic of the power class. disruption of the masses by any and all means available. thank you for putting it out there