By Jarosław Urbański, 31.03.2020
It turns out the constitution doesn’t protect our freedom in times of the biggest danger. The epidemic is used to strip away citizens from their social rights; when we are isolated in our houses and under surveillance on the streets, when we can’t gather to protest against the authorities that are ruining the current structure and are taking back what left of our freedom; claiming it is for our own benefit. There was no dictatorship claiming otherwise. On the contrary, it doesn’t mean there won’t be unrest because it is forbidden.
Despite Poles are self-disciplined, authorities say: too little. I read that in the last day 700 people broke the quarantine order, but it is only the 0,3% of the population. We are being threatened by the Italian case, but it is a swindle. It is not true that society is self-threatening. Considering the number of cases, this year’s skiing trips to Alps were a bigger threat to Italy and Europe. Of course trips for that part of society that can afford them. Another thing was the dramatic lack of respirators – resulted of the austerity policy. Lack of equipment, staff and knowledge was the cause of the breakdown of the Italian healthcare system and high mortality. After all it shows out that countries like Spain or, Germany (a model of discipline for every Pole), most probably France and UK are following Italy. Also in USA the virus spreads quickly. Perhaps Poland is going the same way.
Politicians and high-ranked officials were surprised by the epidemic. To hide their incompetence and total lack of strategy against COVID-19, they’re bullying us and empowering themselves more, without asking for permission. They act chaotic and panicked. They don’t know when the burst of new cases will be, how long the epidemic will last, what will be the result, and if the virus will return in autumn. Despite the polish authorities had time to prepare for Coronavirus, at least from early February, they didn’t do anything. It is clear that the ruling party was just listening to their US mentor who was stating that we were not endangered, because China was far away. Those are probably the last murmurs of the western contempt. I think, they were even keen on believing, that Coronavirus is another leftist figment, to some stage. When the problem reached Europe, the Governments’ reaction was just as regularly- flexing muscles as their heads were empty.
Today, the only thing elites know is how to deprive our freedom and social benefits, and how “to act” to have it covered well. At the same time they work on regulations saving middle class-corporate status quo – the cornerstone of modern authority. New deals are favouring big and small businesses. Exploitation of the workers is set to fuel economy, after the pandemic – source of accumulation and new fortunes.
On the other hand, the engine of all those acts is anxiety of losing power of the post-solidarity elite. The pandemic can turn upside-down the pre-existing balance in the world, and that includes Poland. It is proven by facts that it wasn’t good after 1989 (as PO, liberal party claims) and it won’t get any better in the future (as PiS, the conservative party claims). We are saying goodbye to the myth of III and IV Republic. Elites are usually acting similar in such cases. Democracy and constitutional rights were good for them till they were defending their power earned 30 years ago. As the floor gets slippery they don’t want to play to this rule set. The new theme starts and is to prevail-keep power with any means necessary, even over dead bodies.
Of course there is the question on what will be the answer to this crisis. Closed borders, strong central power, nationalism can be the new cornerstone of politics and ideology. Does such system answer to climate change, epidemic threat, hunger and military conflict? Perhaps not. We have run through this already. Right-wing answers will only accelerate ecological and economical collapse, increase class and national conflicts. It means the return of the XXth century nightmares. That is why we should demand fair global order, abolishing class divisions, more liberties and equality – freedom and vaccines for all!
About the author: Jarosław Urbański (born 1964) is an anarchist active since 80’s. Participant of Anarchist Federation, co-founder of Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Workers Innitiative) nation-wide anarcho-syndicalist workers union. Urbański is an author of several books covering globalisation, squatting, meat-industry.