By Ed Dalton
Austin Mayor Steve Adler announced this Tuesday that the city was not only shuttering bars and restaurants, but barring all gatherings of more than ten people, threatening a $1,000 fine for violators. This number goes beyond the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation of cancelling gatherings of more than 50.
According to the ruling class newspaper the Austin American Statesman, “Adler and Eckhardt signed the twin orders putting in place restrictions that align with recommendations from President Donald Trump. They go one step further than Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to restrict gatherings to fewer than 50 people.”
The excessive fine is leveled against an angry and out of work population who often cannot afford their rent and other bills, it is a deterrent to keep the people compliant and prevent resistance.
The unreasonable ban on public gatherings is valid until May 1st, International Workers Day, a day on which workers and revolutionaries take to the streets in combative protest in Austin. This announcement comes on the heels of a controversial decision to cancel South by Southwest (SXSW), a major source of income for many low-level service workers who rely on the festival to survive Austin’s high cost of living. While the festival itself is a motor for the city’s gentrification, the workers are beset on both sides, crushed under rent increases and now a lack of work. A significant number of young people from Austin’s working-class rely on the shuttered service industry jobs (more than 40,000 people), which are not simply temporarily closed, but are actively firing increasing numbers of people.
While the city has taken the temporary precaution of ceasing evictions, rent is still charged and accumulates, this is nothing but a diversionary effort by the ruling class to falsely appease workers in conditions where one of four households are now out of work. The city has continued charging for utilities regardless of whether or not a person has been laid off.
The ten-person restriction on gatherings does not extend to the businesses which remain open, so capitalists are still able to bring together more than ten people in the interests of profit, without concern for human health. This exposes the ruse behind the scare, there is not a single community-spread COVID-19 case in Austin, and there is no reasonable fear of it spreading among mass gatherings as long as basic sanitary precautions are observed.
In recent years Austin has been a hotbed for revolutionary groups and activism, and the trumped up COVID-19 concerns only serve to further restrict the rights of the masses and suspend the democratic freedom to assemble, effectively banning any mass protest response to put forward the demands of the people that have been recently cast out of employment.
COVID-19 is still less deadly than the seasonal flu, with 2020 being a particularly bad year for the flu which has already claimed more lives (over 22,000) than the mysterious Coronavirus. Fears are increased and encouraged by the ruling class with the collaboration ofthe media, its loyal servant. For working people there is always a fear of getting sick, and it is usually related to missing work, medical costs, and not being able to pay bills or support ones family. For a large number of workers, not just in the service industry but in, logistics, retail and entertainment as well, this nightmare has already arrived with no Coronavirus symptoms.
Politicians take every opportunity to pose as part of the solution, in part by expounding illegitimate fears and restricting society in ways to prevent resistance to the massive economic crisis which was evident long before the Coronavirus ‘pandemic.’
Revolutionaries and activists call upon the recently unemployed workers, and echo the demand, “give us work, or give us wages!” No amount of restrictions or laws that only allow the wealthy to survive can be accepted when the city is capable of paying all fired workers their lost wages. A mass protest movement is increasingly necessary when confronting such crisis, and it is the elite ruling class who want the people tucked away at home where they cannot resist, where they cannot demand their wages. For those ‘lucky’ enough to have a job, the ruling class wants the same thing, work and stay at home, with no time or ability to organize among ourselves for our rights, let alone a better world.
If you are interested in fighting back and standing in solidarity with the recently unemployed workers contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The real sickness is US imperialism and the cure is socialist revolution!