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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/23/20

COVID-19 And The Deferred American Revolution

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Before the coming of the 21st Century's first global pandemic the world was already in a low-level, simmering protracted struggle between labor and capital. But for the United States of America that struggle was distant, far removed from the American body politic, and unlikely to "come home to roost." In fact, most Americans, basking in the faux security of an energized economy, looked the other way as working people fought for and demanded better wages, more health benefits, and better living and working conditions in countries across the world. Then came COVID-19. And with it the embarrassing exposure not only of the abysmal failures of the American capitalist system, particularly in its glaring social and economic inequalities, and creaky for-profit healthcare system that bordered on criminal genocide, but the fumbling, bumbling, incompetence and inefficiency of an insensitive government kakistocracy.

And as the American oligarchic ruling class became petrified at the prospects of an equal opportunity virus, they spun the misleading media cliche' and narrative that COVID-19 was a virus that treated everyone the same - it did not discriminate. But the fact is that it does not. Specifically, Covid-19 has exacerbated and aggravated long-standing preexisting socio-economic conditions of inequality all across American society. And that has spawned, in the midst of the pandemic, and DESPITE the paltry pittance grudgingly given to over 38 million unemployed Americans, a creeping social unrest and anger in almost all 50 states of the nation. Before very long, this phenomenon will cause acute social turmoil, up to and including uprisings and potential revolutions, not only right here in America, but across the world.

Sure, I know that it's easy, very easy to play ostrich, bury our collective heads in the sand, and say "that can't happen here." That's because for most Americans, accustomed to their Coca Cola and hamburgers, it's unconceivable that the kind of unrest that happens "over there" could never, ever happen here. But revolutions - radical changes - are NOT bound by wishful thinking and conjecture. No, they are influenced and triggered by immutable natural social, economic and political laws COMING TOGETHER at a specific point in history along the evolutionary developmental continuum. Consider the following: Social unrest was already increasing around the world before COVID-19 and the pandemic struck. There were over 100 large anti-government protests since 2017, from the mass riots in a rich European capitalist country like France to demonstrations against strongmen in poor countries like the Sudan in Africa, and Chile in South America. Not reported by the complicit mainstream corporate media is the fact that 20 of these uprisings toppled leaders, while several were suppressed by brutal crackdowns, and many others went back to simmering just under the surface - until the next outbreak.

Let me put the American Revolutionary Moment in perspective by outlining both the objective and subjective criteria necessary for any revolution to happen:

1. Today, in America, the ruling class and the oligarchs have lost the ability to rule as evidenced by the government's response to COVID-19 and its continuing mistakes and missteps. This inability to rule is but one of the requirements for a people's revolution to take place.

2. When it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the "upper classes", a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. (V.I.Lenin). Today, all across America we're witnessing this "discontent" in one form or the other.

3. When the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual. Consider the following: 38 million poor and working- class Americans unemployed, with no health insurance, finding great difficulty to feed their families while millionaires and billionaires have amassed more wealth ($434 billion) since the Coronavirus pandemic.

4. When, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in "peace time", but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the "upper classes" themselves into independent historical action.(V.I.Lenin).

5. But these conditions that create "a revolutionary moment" are NOT ENOUGH to cause a revolution - the masses MUST BE ORGANIZED and led by a VANGUARD PARTY (subjective conditions) - a party of the new type.

In the context of the American (and global) present political situation, Covid-19 has dampened most forms of unrest, as both democratic and authoritarian governments force their populations into mandatory lockdowns and banning large groupings. But no matter. For behind the doors of quarantined households, in the lengthening lines of soup kitchens, in prisons and slums, and refugee camps around the world wherever people are hungry, sick and worried even before the coronavirus outbreak every day that goes by tragedy and trauma are building up. The social and political explosion may be contained for now but one way or another, these pressures will erupt. Time will tell.

Moreover, the coronavirus contradiction has thus put a larger magnifying glass on America's historic inequalities and between and within countries. Nowadays, the rich are "self-isolating" on their luxury estates or swanky yachts - away from the "contaminated" working class that clean their bedrooms, wash their clothes, and fix their meals. Even the pampered middle class feel pretty safe working from home via Zoom, Skype, WebEx or Slack. But for millions of "other Americans" who don't have that option they are forced to work in environments that expose them and their families to COVID-19. The blunt fact is that the less money you make, the less likely you are to be able to work remotely "from home." Lacking savings and health insurance, these workers in precarious employment have to keep their jobs, if they're lucky enough to still have one - just to make ends meet.

All of the above conditions are some of the triggers that spawn revolutions or at a minimum, acute social unrests. A WORD HERE: Revolutions need not be violent or bloody. A radical socio-economic and political change can be revolutionary but ONLY IF it changes social relations and alters the political superstructure. Why is an American Revolution in this time deferred? Well, there is no revolutionary political party capable of articulating, energizing, and mobilizing poor and working-class Americans to effect deep-going social, economic and political changes. The Democratic and Republican parties are two political parties that are, in effect, one corporate party that seek the interests of big businesses and the rich. Don't believe that? The much touted and ballyhooed "Cares Act" but $50 billion in grants and loans in the airline industry but gave ordinary poor Americans a paltry and insulting $1,200 one-time payment that cannot even pay the rent in a city like New York.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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