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#Corona-Splitter: Why we have to take to the streets on May Day

On Indymedia DE a discussion about this year’s May Day has started. What follows is a text about Corona, May Day and the complicity of large parts of the radical left with the authoritarian formation in the pandemic state of emergency.

Originally published by Indymedia DE. Translated by Enough 14.

Further texts of the discussion (German): and

We still can’t quite believe it, despite our knowledge of George Orwell’s novel and our experience with Wolfgang Schäuble’s politics. We often ask ourselves these days whether we are in a dream from which we are about to wake up. When we then come physically close to each other to tweak each other, the certainty also comes: No, the whole spook will not be over that fast.

Isolated and alone at home every single one of us gets stupid. When we hardly ever meet people, we miss the exchange. We are left alone with all the horror stories. We hear and read about increasing numbers of infected people, about house arrest in other countries, about considerations for sharper restrictions in this country. The police are enforcing them, and some cities are already calling the German Armed Forces for help, which is getting ready for its domestic mission. Cell phone providers have long since passed our movement data to government agencies. And all this without a legal basis, but for the supposedly good cause. They know what they are doing.

We know very little. How contagious and dangerous is the virus? How long will the measures that have been decided upon last? Because there are still no answers, experiments are being carried out in Italy and other countries on patients with malaria with a drug to treat malaria and a high dose of interferons. Because of the lack of answers, there are preventive precautions with serious effects. We all live in a big experimental laboratory.

The prevailing conditions promote insecurity, desperation and often irrational fear. This also explains the great need for communication of the people we meet on streets and squares. The news does the rest, from the pictures of empty supermarket shelves to the pictures of coffins in northern Italy, which are piling up because anxious undertakers have also stopped working. Death is omnipresent.

And death does not pass us by either. You can die from Corona even if you’re not infected. Depression drives people to suicide. When we had to read the obituary of a friend, rage and sadness boiled up inside of us. As leftists, we obviously had no offer to save him either. In the current death statistics of the system crisis our friend will not appear.

*Distressed times*

People have to continue to drag themselves to paid work and there are no more parties. The need of the hedonists is huge. While we hear voices that food is the only thing left to enjoy in these times (and hopefully there will be asparagus soon!), others worry about how to satisfy their hunger. In the end, many will become impoverished.

In the current debate, the view of the global North prevails. More than ever before, it is all about our own country, and to some extent also about Europe and its neighbours, but at the very most and rarely extends as far as Gaza or Rojava. Internationalism is the big loser of this time.

Looking at other continents, where post-colonialism has never made comprehensive healthcare systems possible, where there are hardly any coronate tests and therefore no frightening figures, where masses of people have been dying every day for decades, this view makes it clear to us that here in the metropolis we still suffer from luxury problems.

And yet social catastrophe threatens here too. It is not the virus that is changing conditions, society and individuals, but the way we deal with corona (and how we react to it) and the state measures (and how we react to them). ” In case of doubt, a much is expendable”, we hear from different sides. Contradiction seems impossible. But both social contacts and human rights are indispensable. The human being is a social being and depends on meeting, exchanging and dealing with others. How else could we be in solidarity? Human rights are nevertheless suspended, such as the one on asylum, while at the same time refugee camps are burning elsewhere.

Against the catastrophic situation in the camps on the Greek islands, people take the streets and leave traces; one of the very few issues against which protest is currently being organised. A solidary and internationalist voice, a voice for the economically exploited and politically oppressed, which the revolutionary May Day has always been, is more necessary today than ever before.

*Major parts of the left were involved*

Many of us belong to the vast majority in this country who have so readily accepted the measures or called for even tougher measures. The Left was even in the vanguard. Authoritarian proposals for isolation of the sick, for registration and for control from above have come from our ranks. To this day friends behave like government spokespersons, an own opinion or even criticism of the ruling policies are rare.

We still have them well in our ears, their words of rejection of the voting marathon at the Olympic Stadium. Today the same people are suddenly expressing euphoria about the chances of success of online petitions. We still remember their sympathetic fundamental criticism on the cops. Now the same friends are speaking out in favour of curfews – because of the “unreasonable ones” who are still on the streets and squares. In this logic it is also clear who is responsible for the contact bans and the harsh crackdown by the law enforcement forces: Not politics and the state, but we ourselves. We are the danger and are being punished. The migrants themselves are to blame for the police violence they suffered when they were still on the streets, when they let their children play in the squares instead of locking themselves up in their cramped flats. And we were not on the spot, did not intervene against the thugs in uniform and did not bring the state attack to a political level. The way things are going at the moment, the AfD can use it as a model.

When we question insecurely and cautiously, when we formulate our critical opinions or suggestions, we are often harshly reprimanded or simply receive “no” or “bullshit” as an answer. An argument is no longer necessary. If you agree with the vast majority, you do not need to give further reasons. This authoritarian behaviour is intimidating. We will all have to struggle with this for a long time to come. And the effects can no longer be reversed. How will we meet these predominant people after Corona?

*Not system-relevant but system-blasting*

The basis of radical left-wing politics, the fundamental contradiction to the here and now, has also suffered major damage in recent weeks. From the left virtual world, we are currently hearing many radical and realpolitik demands on government agencies. Unfortunately, we rarely hear proposals as to what we can and must do to make the implementation of the demands made a reality. Is that even possible when we sit within our own four walls?

We are not as optimistic as some moderate friends. We are convinced: Nothing will be socialized. Those who do not pay their rent contracts will not be terminated at the moment. But the rent will be paid later, otherwise the landlords will be tough, no question. The evictions are suspended. But the evictions are only postponed, they will all still take place, no question. And it will get worse, with more evictions, more unemployment benefit sanctions, more repression than before, we will have to pay for the crisis in the coming years if we don’t act now.

If hospitals are run as commercial enterprises, we are not surprised about a miserable health care system. We want to eliminate the cause and overcome the capitalist system. Perhaps these times offer the tranquillity and opportunity to agree on what needs to be done in the near and distant future to achieve this. The radical left provides intelligent theoretical texts on this. Other hopeful companions are visible with banners and graffiti on house walls, with rallies in public space. They even squat houses. These gatherings (everyone calls them pleonastic “responsible”) stand for a liberating action against isolation, for an encouraging reunion with friends, and for a collective experience that is so necessary in these times.

Yes, we must be more courageous and resist the authoritarian formation. Yes, we must fight for democracy, human rights and freedom of assembly. Yes, we must preserve our spaces for social exchange and, if necessary, laboriously organize new ones. Yes, we must remain capable of political action under emergency regulations. And yes, we must practise clandestinity and practice it before it is too late for that. Because ultimately, what we are concerned with at all times is nothing less than the violent overthrow of the prevailing conditions. The Revolutionary May Day was and always is a suitable occasion for this.

H&S, Berlin, April 13, 2020.

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