By Hadley Willow
While the U.S. government has comfortably resigned itself to a criminally negligent stasis regarding any effective long-term COVID-19 response, Workers World Party, Queen City Workers Center, and the Green Party hosted a live-streamed press conference in downtown Buffalo on Dec. 28, demanding immediate relief for the multinational working class and small businesses.
People held signs with slogans such as “COVID is capitalism’s last breath” and “Planned economies respond better to crises.” Local resident Laskesha Johnson spoke about her long struggle during the pandemic and aptly highlighted the need for us to “learn to fight together for our rights.”
Carol Sandy Przybylak, vice-chair of the Erie County Green Party, described the glaring hypocrisy of politicians like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who rest on their laurels while dooming us to lasting economic catastrophe, even as corporations like Amazon profit immensely from our misery. Behind the speakers was a banner listing WWP’s socialist demands for the COVID-19 crisis. (A full list of these demands can be found at workers.org.)
The divisiveness over issues like mask-wearing, economic shutdowns, and government provision of financial relief is not arbitrary. It is a purposeful attempt by the capitalist class to divide and weaken us. As Mary Lister, organizer with the Queen City Workers Center, put it: “The ruling class is forcing us to choose between two unacceptable options — to either work in unsafe conditions or to refuse to work and face homelessness, with no way to put food on the table.”
In order to cut through the government’s deadly game of inaction, we demand a national economic shutdown and financial relief for all affected people. This includes free health care for all, rent and eviction cancellation, paid utilities – including Internet access – and direct payments to all members of the working class, including im/migrants and hard-hit low-income and oppressed communities.