The last two years put the world in an extreme state of emergency and responding government measures were accompanied by a strong individualization of our lives. Many of us experienced for the first time what social isoaltion means and what consequences it has for the human psyche. Private space became the the center of life and the symbol of the unequal distribution of wealth. While rich people got even richer, the pandemic hit people who were already in a precarious position with full force. The crises that are inevitably inherent in capitalism further came to the surface. It quickly became apparent that this was not just a health crisis, but above all a social crisis. That is why we, as an association of various radical leftist groups and individuals, want to show with the campaign “Un Commun – Solidarisch durch die Krise(n)” (“Un Commun – In solidarity through the crisis(es)”) that the pre-pandemic normality was already rejectable and that Covid-19 only reinforced this fact for us.
Following hygiene concepts, such as the wearing of FFP2 masks, hand washing and disinfection, keeping a distance, regular testing and vaccination are unquestionably necessary to protect vulnerable groups. Differentiation of government corona measures is essential in this regard, as an early curfew simply does not hold any scientific basis and is of no use in combating the pandemic. At the same time however, businesses and ski resorts remained open. This illustrates the contradictory nature of the government’s efforts to combat the pandemic, since it is precisely businesses with particularly precarious working conditions, such as slaughterhouses or postal distribution centers, that have been proven to be breeding grounds for the virus. Once again, the absurdity of the capitalist system is demonstrated. In a different social and economic system, where profits are not the only priority, all non-essential sectors could be restricted in order to contain a new wave of infection. Within a capitalist social and economic system on the other hand, state action is oriented toward the profit motive of corporations. Therefore workers continue to get infected at their place of work. Meanwhile, private and public space were severely restricted by the Corona measures. Through enforcing them the police presented themselfes with an extremely repressive and arbitrary approach, as they have done so often in the past. Once again, it is evident that even in the matter of containing a pandemic, there is no reliance on the state, which in its system-maintaining function will always prioritize profit interests.
While concepts for preventing infection are useful for pandemic containment and indispensable, they led to an extreme shift back into the private sphere. Paid and unpaid work increasingly take place within one’s own four walls. Private living space enormously gained importance during the pandemic; in addition to its function as a living space, it has been converted into a childcare facility as well as a workplace. At the same time, rents have continued to rise and thus became unaffordable for many people. Once again, FLINTA*s (women, lesbians, inter, non-binary, trans and agender people) in particular are suffering. Patriarchal violence increased sharply due to the throwback into private spheres during the pandemic, in the worst cases resulting in feminicides. In this context, the oppression – hence violence – and double exploitation of FLINTA*s must be considered a central part of capitalism.
Furthermore FLITNA*s carry twice the burden due to their unpaid reproductive work in addition to often precarious wage work. Reproductive work is clearly distinguished from productive work (wage labor). It often takes place in the private sphere, is unpaid and thus often becomes invisible. Reproductive work includes, for example, care work, domestic work, and nursing (work); basically all work that, apart from wage labor, serves to maintain the capitalist system and is predominantly performed by FLINTA*s. At the same time, the pandemic enables an ongoing intensification and consolidation of existing relations. In addition, FLINTA*s make up the majority of the labor force in critical infrastructure such as in grocery stores, health and social sectors. This is reflected in the precarious working conditions that have been increasingly exacerbated by the pandemic.
All areas of life are being extremely restricted with the aim to contain the pandemic, while at the same time people who do not have the opportunity to work in a home office are being forced to take on an increased risk of infection on a daily basis. In the process, the need to work and perform is being placed above physical health.
People employed in the health and care sector are particularly affected. The increasing economization of the health care system and the accompanying profit and cost pressures are incompatible with the necessary care and attention that patients would need. The economization of hospitals manifested itself in numerous savings, such as the reduction of intensive care capacities or cuts in personnel. This led to a constant work overload and insufficient care for patients. Covid-19 should be seen as a catalyst that exacerbated the already dire situation of the health care system.
At the same time, access to health care and what life is considered worth saving and living is tied to citizenship and residency status. People who were already marginalized and systematically excluded before the pandemic found themselves even more marginalized by Covid-19. This included people who are living in poverty, are homeless, have a disability, mental health issues, or are incarcerated. As well as people with insufficient language skills, are affected by racism, anti-semitism, and/or sexism, and especially people with precarious or no residency status.
During the pandemic, refugees also found it considerably more difficult to protect themselves from the virus and to get access to medical or the basic needs of everyday life. In the social and political debates, the catastrophic conditions under which people on the run live were hardly addressed. Rather, a social state of emotional brutalization and indifference continued. Securing national borders became the top priority, which lead increasingly to pushbacks and racist police violence under the excuse of fighting a pandemic. In the process, Europe sealed itself off in its usual inhuman manner and deliberately accepted the death of people in the Mediterranean and the Polish-Belarusian border area.
The reorientation to the national state as a focal point for pandemic containment turns out to be ridiculous when we understand the imposed concept lying behind a nation. A virus will not stop at constructed borders.
Furthermore, collective and global thinking is necessary to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. A first step to give all people access to a vaccination would be the release of vaccine patents. Therefore the health system would be relieved and no further human lives would fall victim to profit interests.
From our point of view, a radical leftist critique of anti-corona protesters and state corona policy must reject the existing conditions and point out alternatives. At this point, an honest admission is also necessary: Past attempts to take leftist, progressive perspectives to the streets have failed, precisely for this reason another attempt is essential! In the course of this campaign, we would like to make various leftist analyses available to the general public and thus initiate substantive debates; however, these are always subjected to our current state of knowledge and are thus always limited to a certain degree. We therefore do not claim any absolute truth for ourselves.
The feeling of powerlessness to counter the anti-corona protesters and the frustration about the existing conditions, which became even more obvious through the state mismanagement of the corona-crisis, must be answered with collective, emancipatory solutions. We have to get out of the observer perspective, participation is needed! Because only through common exchange and the connection of social struggles can a better future for all of us emerge. Public space must be taken back again and the anti-scientific, inhuman and anti-Semitic discourses of the anti-corona protesters must be countered by a discourse on solidarity. Our concept of solidarity goes beyond the one suggested by the state – which only specifies for compliance with corona measures – and strives for a liberated society for the benefit of us all. Stop this state of powerlessness – another world is possible!