Chapter News

Capitalism is the Virus

June 1, 2020

Over 400,000 workers in Oregon have lost their jobs since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. That’s hundreds of thousands of working families that are struggling even harder to put food on the table. But why does a pandemic let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? And what do people mean when they say re-open the economy during a pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen for over 100 years?

Capitalists can’t stand it when their profits slow down, not even for a moment. That’s why the bosses are so eager to “re-open the economy” or, more accurately, to sacrifice the lives of working-class people to make as much money off this crisis as possible. Capitalism didn’t invent viruses, but it has led bosses to invent new and more sinister ways to exploit human suffering for profit. And although capitalists try very hard to hide the ways in which they exploit and divide workers, the sheer scale of the pandemic crisis has made it more obvious than ever that we need to build a better world.

The healthcare system in the US is in the spotlight because of coronavirus, and all its failings are on display. One popular way to think about healthcare is that “the system is broken,” but really, it’s just doing what it’s designed to do: make money off of sick people. Even one preventable death is too many, and the capitalist response over the first three months of COVID-19 has already killed over 100,000 people in the US alone. For years now, DSA has been organizing for Medicare For All, and is currently pressuring Congress to do the right thing and pass the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act.
Tenants—that’s anyone who doesn’t control their housing, from apartment-dwellers to people living between couches or on the street—are being hit hard by the pandemic. Even while employed, too many workers struggle under always-rising rent and other predatory landlord practices. Now that so many have lost their jobs, renters can’t pay and landlords are getting desperate. There has never been a better time to organize with your neighbors to form tenant councils and make collective demands against your landlord, and DSA is helping tenants be safe and effective in their organizing.

DSA is fighting for strong unions to end the boss’s dictatorship in the workplace, and to give workers democratic control on the job. That’s a big task, but an easy first step is to sign our petition to unite Oregonians in demanding a state budget that puts workers first—we’ve seen enough corporate bailouts that stick workers with the bill. We’re in danger when we aren’t making collective demands: the news is full of stories about workers receiving thank-you notes or military jet flyovers instead of face masks, paid sick leave, and hazard pay, and we know the boss is laughing all the way to the bank. DSA is supporting workers doing emergency organizing at work to fight the boss for their lives.

If any of that sounds important to you, I invite you to join us and fight for a world that values people over profit.