We want to share some critical articles with anarchist and anti authoritarian perspectives we think need wider reading. Here’s one for starters, from https://gal-dem.com:
” An open letter, on what we must do to mitigate this crisis.
We are a group of migrant solidarity, prison abolitionist and anti-racist organisers. We wanted to write this statement from an abolitionist, anti-racist perspective, highlighting the reality that the causes of the current crisis lie deeper than the outbreak of disease itself: it is rooted in the very way our economy is organised, how our society is gendered and racialised. See below our open letter, which details what we must do in the face of this crisis.
Coronavirus is a political issue. At root, this pandemic is a disease
of global capitalism, both in its genesis and its transmission. Without
the drive towards overproduction,
the particular conditions for the increased occurrence of infectious
disease would not exist; without global commodity chains and regular
labour migration, the spread of disease would not be so rapid; without
the ruling classes’ vested interests in maintaining capital flow, people
would not be forced to continue to work, further exposing themselves to
As abolitionist organisers, our resistance to the effects of this
virus are rooted in a vision of a world without borders, prisons, or the
police – structures that exclude and exploit the most marginalised. The
world we need now is one that we have always needed: a world where
everyone can access healthcare, where everyone has a safe place to live,
where no one is locked in a cage, where there is no imperative to work –
a world that is accessible to disabled people. What this pandemic puts
in sharp relief is the fact that the same conditions that already place
certain communities at greater proximity to death are detrimental to the
health of all.
In the UK, Boris Johnson’s flip-flopping from “take it on the chin” to “develop herd immunity”, all the way to last week’s pitiful mitigation strategy – that scientists calculated would’ve left 260,000 dead
– has betrayed our government’s casual disregard for the lives of those
most at risk of death from the virus. Belated and half-hearted calls
for social distancing have completely failed to address the inability of
many to safely and effectively practise social distancing and
self-isolation. Meanwhile, we have witnessed familiar patterns of fear
leading to scapegoating and racist violence in the upsurge of attacks
against people racialised as East Asians and other migrants. What is
clear is that for our government, the lives of the elderly,
immuno-compromised people, undocumented migrants, asylum seekers, people
of colour, disabled people, people experiencing homelessness,
incarcerated people and poor people do not matter.
“Our resistance to the effects of this virus are rooted in a vision of a world without borders, prisons, or the police”
In light of government inaction, many are calling for exceptional
measures, framing this moment as one of “crisis” requiring urgent action
and attention. It is true that we need urgent action, but we also must
recognise that the very idea of ‘exception’ obscures the reality that
the people that our government is effectively willing to let die have
always lived in precarious conditions, subject to the vicissitudes of an
economic system designed to place profit and power above people’s
lives. Not only does the logic of “crisis” exceptionalise, it creates an
opportunity for the state to consolidate power – increase surveillance,
restrict freedom of movement – in the name of addressing the “crisis”.
Indeed, it was recently announced that police and immigration officials
will be granted emergency powers to detain people suspected of having
Covid-19. If we have learnt anything from the ongoing racist
surveillance and criminalisation of Muslims and other racialised
communities under the “War on Terror”,
we know that we must be vigilant against the intensification of police
and border violence in the name of a racialised “War on Disease”.
When we call for the state to act to prevent death as a matter of
urgency, then, we do so with the knowledge that the underlying crisis is
ongoing, and with the hope that any actions taken now will reverberate
beyond this seemingly “exceptional” moment. And when we emphasise the
urgency of “quarantines” and physical distancing, we do so as a method
of collective care that reduces the very real risk to the most
vulnerable, whilst resisting a parallel expansion of state coercion and
With this in mind, we propose the following non-exhaustive urgent demands to ensure that all can safely practise recommended social distancing to contain the virus, and to ensure that all can safely self-isolate and access healthcare:
1. End the hostile environment
As an infectious disease, Covid-19 is exempt from the hostile
environment healthcare charges, and the government has claimed that the
NHS will not share data with the Home Office regarding cases of
coronavirus patients. However, we are concerned that migrants will still
have legitimate fear about accessing healthcare while detention and
deportation orders, and data-sharing between the NHS and the Home Office
2. No new police powers
For Covid-19, we believe increased police and immigration officer
powers will only be used to target those already targeted by law and
immigration enforcement, including black people, Muslims, and people of
colour, undocumented migrants, homeless people and sex workers. The
government should invest in providing fast and general testing for
Covid-19, rather than investing in the expansion of the carceral regime.
3. Access to welfare for all
Migrants with no recourse to public funds, or who are otherwise
unable to access welfare and housing assistance, are at risk of
homelessness and destitution. Many migrants who are already in
precarious working and living conditions will need to be able to access
welfare and housing support to be able to practise social distancing and
self-isolate if necessary.
4. End in-person immigration reporting
Migrants who arrive in the UK without permission to remain are
usually required to regularly attend appointments at immigration
reporting centres. There are 14 centres in the UK and many migrants are
forced to travel long distances to make their appointments, which is
particularly difficult especially if they do not have recourse to public
funds. This process is designed to make life difficult and deter those
seeking asylum from continuing with their claim.
5. Safe housing for all
We have always needed safe housing for all and it is all the more
necessary now, at a time when social distancing and self-isolating are
the only ways to prevent the outbreak from spreading further. Currently,
self-isolating and social distancing are not possible for rough
sleepers, people living in overcrowded housing and people incarcerated
in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in prisons and detention
centres. Self-isolation and social distancing in the home is dangerous
for those experiencing domestic violence. Hotel rooms, student
accommodation, and suitable empty properties with private rooms and
bathrooms should be requisitioned to house those who cannot otherwise
safely self-isolate, including people experiencing homelessness,
travelling communities and survivors of domestic violence.
6. Release people from prisons and detention centres
Keeping people locked in cages is inhumane, especially in a time of
such fear and panic. Prisons and detention centres are also notorious
for overcrowding and lack of hygiene. There is, as migrant rights groups
have pointed out, “a very real risk of an uncontrolled outbreak of
Covid-19 in immigration detention”. The UK must follow the example of
Iran, which has released 85,000 prisoners to stem the spread of disease.
Incarcerated and detained people must be released, and placed in safe
housing and accommodation, with the necessary support and access to
7. Periods of Negotiated Stopping for travelling communities
Enforced movement of encampments is likely to create an additional risk of unmanaged spread of the virus. Negotiated Stopping involves Local Authority officers making an agreement with travelling communities on unauthorised encampments, allowing travelling communities to either stay on the land they are camped on or move to a bit of land more suitable for all parties.
8. Suspend rent, evictions, and utilities payments
As the coronavirus outbreak continues, more and more people will be
put out of work, making it impossible to meet rent and utilities
payments. The government has announced “mortgage holidays” for landlords
and homeowners; however, it has not, as in other cities, committed to stopping evictions.
Without a roof over their heads, people will not be able to stay safe
and healthy, nor to self-isolate if they have symptoms or practice
social distancing to prevent the spread of disease.
9. Provide free essentials such as cleaning products and soap to all
Panic buying of products such as hand sanitiser and toilet paper has led to shortages across the UK.
Those who cannot afford the steep rise in costs, or who do not have the
time or money to scour multiple supermarkets for daily essential
products, are suffering the brunt of this hoarding. People must be
provided with free cleaning products and soap to protect themselves and
their communities. Food banks and frontline service providers must be supported as they continue to support those in our communities.
10. Full pay for sick leave and a universal basic income for all
Social distancing and self-isolation are a practical impossibility
for many workers. As it stands, it would leave many workers with reduced
or no income, with precarious workers suffering the brunt of this loss
of income. The government’s current proposal
for statutory sick pay of £94.25 for one week’s sick leave or
self-isolation is insufficient for living and rent costs. We therefore
echo demands from unions
to ensure full pay at living wage plus costs for sick leave or
self-isolation. We are concerned, however, about provisions for those
self-employed people and those on zero hours contracts. Sex workers are
already suffering a loss of clients, forcing many into situations of
greater precarity; migrant domestic workers, particularly those who
live-in, are vulnerable to exploitative working conditions. We therefore
believe that guaranteeing a universal basic income that is sufficient
for food and home security would best enable workers to practice social
distancing and self-isolation.
11. Safe working conditions
Medical workers, care workers, cleaners and delivery workers at the
frontline of dealing with the outbreak will be forced to continue
labouring in increasingly dangerous conditions – often with insufficient protection
from their employers and the government. Those precariously employed in
these sectors are disproportionately migrants, particularly black
people, people of colour, and Eastern Europeans.
12. Make private clinics public
The NHS will soon be at breaking point, particularly in regards to being able to provide critical care or ICU beds. Healthcare workers
are already being stretched beyond capacity. The root of this is
austerity, which has seen major cutbacks to investments in the public
healthcare sector and increasing privatisation of services under
successive Conservative governments. How much you can pay should have no
bearing on whether you can access essential healthcare.
We have already been fighting violent systems, and not just now that
they are having a knock on effect on the health of the ruling classes.
The health of the ruling classes has always been premised on the
exploitation of workers and the exclusion of marginalised people.
We are aware that the state is ultimately concerned with crisis
management and reconsolidating its power. However, we believe organisers
can and should pressure the state to prevent death today, whilst
staying critical and building autonomy. We recognise that marginalised
communities have always, and will continue, to engage in practices of
mutual aid and community care to create safety outside of those
structures that they have never been able to rely on. We need each other
now and always.
Community Action Against Prison Expansion (CAPE)
Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants (LGSM)
Migrants in Culture
North East London Migrant Action (NELMA)
Prisoner Solidarity Network (formerly IWOC)
SOAS Detainee Support
South Asia Solidarity Group
Unis Resist Border Controls (URBC)
Wet’suwet’en Solidarity UK