Darrah Teitel, Suppress the Virus Now! co-founder
WE CAN’T “LEARN TO LIVE WITH IT”. Nor should we. That’s the simple premise of Suppress the Virus Now!—a growing movement of citizen activists dedicated to a radical alternative strategy to squeeze the life out of COVID-19.
Daniel Sarah Karasik was spurred to found the Suppress the Virus Now! movement by strong support for the ideas he laid out in an article with the same title in the November Briarpatch magazine.
Suppress the Virus Now! is structured as a coalition to gather together and focus the energies of the dozens of groups already active in fighting the virus. Their January 25 formal statement of intent boasts endorsements from 43 groups and 293 individuals.
The Suppress the Virus coalition has two main objections to what our governments are doing to fight COVID-19:
- First, our governments take widespread sickness, suffering, and death as acceptable and unavoidable
- Second, our governments ignore the reality that such a policy singles out those among us, who are already the most vulnerable, for a heavy and disproportionate share of the suffering.
The Suppress the Virus Now! statement includes a demand that “our elected officials adopt the humane goal of eliminating community spread of COVID-19; to be accomplished by way of “a just, equitable #COVIDzero approach”.
Put people first
Karasik says he sees a big difference between what governments did in the spring and what happened when the second wave hit. “Big ideas got implemented quickly in the spring,” he says. “But the response now is restricted by the logic of capitalism. Profits are the priority—not people."
The result, writes Karasik, amounts to “social murder” and “capitalist eugenics.”
The strategy now is completely incoherent, says Karasik, “It is full of magical thinking, unfounded wishful thinking."
“That’s giving too much credit to politicians,” says Darrah Teitel, a co-founder of Suppress the Virus Now!. “I don’t think it is any kind of a strategy. I don’t think they are thinking at all.
“They are making moves to protect their reelection. They are not making any moves to protect any person in our society.”
That’s why $6.4 billion allocated for covid relief is unspent, she says. She believes the politicians are keeping it to “fight the deficit” and gain votes in the elections that will come when the pandemic is over.
“There’s nothing mysterious about what to do and what works,” says Teitel “others have done it. We have to close down all the workplaces we can, flood those we can’t, and all other high risk places, with testing and tracing and testing and tracing and give busloads of direct support to everybody, everywhere.”
Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Australia, used similar strategies to get to near-zero community spread. Each is committed to root out the virus completely, that “living with it” means murderous abandonment of vulnerable people and is simply a non-starter.
Australians call it “aggressive suppression”: a conviction that even one more COVID death or infection is too many.
Suppress the Virus Now! shares the same vision combined with a commitment to militant action ranging from disruptive street-based mobilizations to widespread strike action.
“We need to fight for what radical sociologist Alan Sears calls 'health from below',” writes Karasik , “where a public defines its own health needs and organizes to win provision for them, refusing to accept the state’s paternalistic dictates of what’s best.”
Karasik maintains that what we call “public health” amounts to protection for the ruling class and “staggering risk for the rest.”
“That isn’t right. Let as many of us as possible come together to say it, and become ungovernable if those in power won’t listen.
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