Despite the spread of the devastating “third wave” of the coronavirus pandemic, all European governments are pursuing deadly policies to reopen schools and the economy. The Network of Rank and Files Committees for Safe Education (Netzwerk der Aktionkomittees für Sichere Bildung) met on Monday last week to organize opposition to this policy.
“We are faced with the need to impose a serious lockdown across Europe which includes schools, child care centers and industry,” said Gregor Kahl, Bundestag candidate for Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (SGP, Socialist Equality Party in Germany), opening remarks at the start of the meeting. “As long as this is not done, hundreds of thousands of lives will be at stake in Germany and Europe.”
However, the government continues to open schools and the economy. “In conditions where the pandemic is increasing and more lives are being threatened than ever before, the ruling class is moving to end all protective measures against the coronavirus. The bourgeoisie has decided to let the virus spread. “
But resistance to this “profit before life” policy is becoming more pronounced, Kahl added. “This pandemic is increasingly developing into an open class struggle of the international working class against the ruling capitalists in every country. The first lockdown was imposed by independent and courageous intervention from workers in Italy, Canada, France and the US, making it increasingly clear to those in power that they could do nothing without risking their own necks. “
Kahl pointed to the newest figures from ZDF The political barometer, which 36 percent of respondents said “current Covid action” is “not resilient enough,” increased 18 percentage points compared with the previous month. There is no major point in favor of easing these measures, survey agencies report.
This opposition, and the class struggle that is developing around the world, reveals the fundamentally conflicting interests of the capitalist and working class, which are expressed in the capitalist and socialist program: “The capitalist program states that pandemic policy must be guided by the interests of profit. Socialist programs argue that health policy must be guided by science. “
The same contradiction is expressed in the halting vaccination campaign. “Vaccination programs must be stolen from anarchist and destructive profit motives and pursued scientifically.” Vaccination “becoming a pandemic that spreads” without the lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19, Kahl said, was “a recipe for increasing evolutionary pressure and the potential for vaccine-resistant mutants to emerge.”
Regarding the policy of reopening schools, following a capitalist program that schools should be reopened and lies spread that the risks for students and teachers are low. The socialist program, on the other hand, demands “full income compensation for workers and small businesses during the crisis, paid for by taking advantage of the pandemic and major capitalists and turning banks into public institutions under working class control.”
The international character of these developments is illustrated by the contributions of Jordan Shilton, a member of the Socialist Equality Party in Canada and from the newly formed Trans-Canada Educator Ranking and Files Security Committee. A network of teachers and educators across Canada was developed in a struggle against decades of trade union efforts to divide educators in Canada along provincial and territorial lines and keep them unaware of events in other parts of the country.
“Although studies from Canada and around the world show that schools are important vectors for COVID-19 transmission, governments of all major parties continue to open schools with union protection,” said Shilton. Citing the appeal of the network’s founders, he said, “At every point of the pandemic, the Canadian government has prioritized the selfish class interests of the capitalist elite over saving workers’ lives.” This is an international question, he said: “The situation of educators and teachers in Canada is similar to that of workers around the world. Whether in Brazil, Germany, France or the US, teachers are being sent to the front lines amid the pandemic under the most dangerous conditions. Since the pandemic is global in nature, it can only be fought by the working class internationally. “
After the introduction, there was a lively discussion between the students, workers and teachers present. Florian, a high school student from Baden-Württemberg, points to the devastating role of ‘vaccination nationalism’ and attributes it to tensions between Europe, the US and China that have been heightened by the pandemic. Even within the EU, there are “fierce national tensions,” he said: “Countries like Hungary have ordered vaccines from Russia and China, which the EU fiercely rejects for damaging its path of confrontation with these countries.”
The threat of war between the US and China – where comprehensive action has led to a pandemic decline – is further exacerbated by the Biden administration’s anti-China agitation, Florian noted. “The aggressive US actions against China, however, put the German bourgeoisie between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, China is a very fast growing market for many German companies; on the other hand, the US remains Germany’s largest export market, the most important destination for foreign direct investment. “Germany countered this confusion with a massive military buildup to further assert its own geostrategic interests, he said.
Madeleine, who has suffered a family death from COVID-19 due to the criminal policies of the federal and state governments, spoke of the need to “turn things around” with a joint strike: “We all have to come together and strike to take control for the good of our health! We all have to stay here. home for 14 days. “
Member of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), Clemens pointed out that an international strike movement is growing. Quoting from a statement of solidarity sent by the Network of Rank-and-File Safety Committees to the German WISAG union staging the strike in Frankfurt, he concluded: “WISAG workers are not alone: Resistance is forming internationally. Workers in France, Spain, Great Britain and Italy went on strike, as did teachers in Chicago and Sao Paulo. In order to lead this struggle to victory, we must organize independently of the trade unions and build the Socialist Equality Party and its sister parties around the world. “
Philipp Frisch, a teacher from North Rhine-Westphalia and a member of the SGP, reports on the increasing resistance of teachers to the “pre-life profit” policy. In his own school, he said, this was evidenced by, among other things, collective pain. But this only raises questions about the organization, he said. Only independent ranking and file committees “are willing or able to facilitate international cooperation between teachers and a wider section of the working class.”
In the midst of the vaccination and testing disaster, Frisch continued, the brutal character of the reopening policy became increasingly visible. The government’s “apparent zigzagging” path resulted from “efforts to safeguard the interests of the financial elite in the face of overwhelming popular opposition,” he said. “The rulers in all countries are aware that they are sitting on gunpowder barrels and that there is massive opposition to their policies.”
Eylem, a former taxi driver from Hamburg, stressed that the pandemic can only be eradicated internationally. “In Turkey, 13 percent of all tests are currently positive. It’s really a tsunami of infections that continues to spread, and all because workers are forced into factories. Many German car companies are supplied by companies in Macedonia and Serbia. As long as the plants keep going here [in Germany], they will also try to keep crops open in these countries. “
Tamino, a student from Baden-Württemberg, concluded by talking about the relationship between social issues and the government’s COVID-19 policy. He said that the reopening policy only served the interests of big banks and companies, as Big Finance’s recent excitement over the cancellation of Germany’s “Easter lockdown” was shown. “Workers are forced to return to work in lethal conditions and at the same time face mass layoffs and cut wages.” This inhuman correlation, he said, was most sharply illustrated by the increase in the death toll of COVID-19 and the value of the DAX shares together.
Our next online meeting will take place Monday, April 12th at 7:30 p.m. (German time) in respect of the Rank-and-File Committees for Safe Workplaces network. Join with Facebook events and sign up here to build action committees in your schools, institutions and workplaces.