If you enjoy shaming people who don’t wear masks in public during a pandemic, that’s cool. Highly desperate times demand consequences for such risky, inconsiderate behavior. But I also need you to understand that if shame’s the only tool at our disposal, we’ll still see COVID-19 spread at an evermore devastating rate. Capitalism has again tricked us into overestimating the power of individuals. And individual solutions won’t fix this systemic disaster.
To me, the whole purpose of a democratically elected government is to assign leaders who will make decisions based on what’s best for most people. But we don’t have that here in the United States. Instead we have a government that responds to the needs of corporations and billionaires. You might say, “Well screw the idiots who elected Trump,” but this isn’t just a Trump problem. Hell, this isn’t even just a Republican problem. Both of our political parties are beholden to the 1%. The system is rigged. But instead of blaming the greedy bastards who benefit from that system, we blame voters. Tricked again.
In this country, the onus is on YOU to figure out how to act right under a pandemic. Stay home. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. If you can’t socially distance (because maybe you live with a lot of people or you work in tight quarters) that’s your fault for being poor. You didn’t try hard enough in life. You think the government should keep paying you $15/hr to stay home and not work? Oh we couldn’t have that, so we reopened to force workers off unemployment. Most people in this country didn’t want to reopen. But we did anyway, and we mainly blamed that decision on gun-toting reactionary yokels and Karens whining about haircuts. Look, I despise the yokels and the Karens as much as anyone, but they aren’t the main reason we ignited the second wave. Our capitalist ruling class simply wouldn’t concern itself with managing the healthcare and financial needs of everyday people living under a pandemic, because that isn’t profitable. And we certainly can’t allow plebs to expect more money or healthcare. That sets a dangerous precedent! Better to let millions suffer.
So that’s this country’s game plan for handling the virus. Everyday people can either act right or just do as they please. You might get sick even if you acted right, because none of us can or should live in complete isolation indefinitely. The virus doesn’t care about your personal morals, and neither does the ruling class.
We will never slow the spread of COVID-19 until our government institutes a widespread system of testing and contact tracing — a laughable dream based on the federal response so far. Can you imagine having a government that immediately invests in figuring out who’s sick, isolating them, caring for them, while also looking out for every person they encountered before they got sick?
Here’s the thing — I can imagine that scenario and I’m determined to help make it a reality. That’s why I’m a socialist. To the mask-shamers I say, let’s work together to target our real enemies. Collective action is the only way to win a government and economy that responds to everyday people’s needs. I see your passion for telling others how to act right. It’s time to funnel that zeal into socialism. Alone you might convince a handful of people to wear their masks. But together we can demand systems that push back on the virus and our ruling class. Our survival depends on us working as a massive team rather than as individual actors just trying to get by.