Socialist Worker

2020—it’s been a year of horror and hope

Issue No. 2735

The Black Lives Movement gave us a glimpse of the forces that could change the world

The Black Lives Movement gave us a glimpse of the forces that could change the world (Pic: Xavi Ariza/Flickr)


This year has seen the horrors that flow from the capitalism system, but it’s also seen mass resistance. Coronavirus dominated the year, exposing and accelerating all the failings that already existed. 

Governments failed to save lives but ensured that profits were protected. They calculated that the avoidable death was a price worth paying.

Boris Johnson wouldn’t enforce a lockdown until two months after the first reported cases in Britain.

Donald Trump dismissed the pandemic as the flu and advised Americans to treat themselves with bleach.

Back in January, pre-pandemic, the system already delivered poverty, racism, war and climate chaos. Now we can add the recurrent pandemics to the charge sheet of the bosses’ system.

Coronavirus brought misery for most, but it was highly profitable for a few.

Amazon owner Jeff Bezos became the first person to have grabbed wealth of $200 billion, just as hundreds of millions of people globally faced malnutrition and starvation.

In Britain, already gutted by ten years of Tory policies, the NHS is on its knees. Food bank use and homelessness have skyrocketed.

A week before Christmas there was more grim news about jobs. There are 819,000 fewer employees on payrolls since February, and a record rise in redundancies in the three months to October—despite the furlough scheme.

But 2020 has not just been a year of suffering. It has also seen resistance and a glimpse of the forces that can change the world.

The police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May was followed by an eruption of Black Lives Matter protests. It became the largest mass movement in US history. Fury at years of systematic racism exploded into a global revolt—including in Britain.

Repression

Calls for defunding the police and system change showed there is potential to do more than call for limited reform.

After Alexander Lukashenko stole the Belarusian presidential election in August hundreds of thousands took to the streets

Strikes followed and showed the power of workers, although the dictator has so far survived.

In Poland women took to the streets against attacks on abortion rights. Protesters in Guatemala burnt the national Congress, and in Thailand thousands rejected the country’s monarchy and military dictatorship.

Farmers in India joined a 250 million-strong general strike. Resistance in Nigeria saw ordinary people rejecting state violence and repression.

Capitalism creates crisis, but also pushes people into struggle.

The solutions we need won’t come from the Labour Party or its equivalents. The experience of Jeremy Corbyn and what has happened since should tell us that.

And far too often trade union leaders have held back the struggles we need.

It’s time for real resistance, and to fight for socialism in 2021.


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