In normal times we would be talking about leaving behind a year in which much work was done to build our movements. We would be going into the summer break not only to renew our energies for the coming struggles in the new year, but to also use the space to review, analyse and theorise the work of the past year. Unfortunately we do not live in normal times. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything for a long time to come. As we come to the close of 2020, even those of us who thought the COVID-19 crisis was a health crisis, or who thought it would pass just as fast as it appeared, now know that COVID-19 and its effects will be with us for a long time. Vaccine or no vaccine, we will face a brutal struggle against COVID-19 and its sponsors in the form of capital and the state for a long time.
COVID-19 has taught us, in a manner more brutal and forceful than anything could have taught us, that the system of capitalism under which we live has to be overthrown – it has to be changed so that we can live. In 2020 we also learnt that all electoral parties are deeply compromised by their relationship with the capitalist class, and that none of them even attempted to mount a defence of the working class in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
We know that our movements are weak; we know that much still needs to be done to organise the working class; we know that our cadre needs much political education and the building of its organisational and strategic capacity. These weaknesses notwithstanding, we threw ourselves with everything we had into the struggle to defend the working class against the twin evils of COVID-19 and neoliberal capitalism. We went into our communities to educate about the pandemic; we delivered food parcels to food insecure working class families; we fought for PPEs to be delivered to frontline workers against a ruling elite whose only interest was illicit accumulation of wealth; and we organised for the working class to access even the meagre social security grants and unemployment insurance from capital and the state. These were important interventions. They showed that working class militants have to be with the working class to defend and serve its immediate needs, even as we raise the flag of struggle against capitalism itself. This was in sharp contrast to the established trade unions, which spent the best part of 2020 in collusion with capital and the state against the working class.
As we close this year we have many ongoing and new challenges ahead of us. The coronavirus is ravaging through our communities, and is showing that no amount of government and big media lies about ‘infections slowing down’ and ‘mortality rates falling’ will suppress the virus. As it was at the beginning of the pandemic, so again it is in this new round of battles: it will again fall to the working class and its activists to defend our communities, to raise the alarm about the state and capital’s neglect and to begin the long and hard work of organising and raising the consciousness of our communities.
There is no time for the traditional rest of the ‘festive season’. As activists we should spend our time warning our communities of the dangers of a false festive promoted by the state and capital while they pretend to ‘warn’ us; we should spend this time preparing for a new round of retrenchments, of food insecurity and of the unnecessary deaths of those close to us.
Forward to the intensification of the struggle against the state and capital!
This article was submitted on 24 December 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.