We can already say, and be sure of now, that the health crisis we have been experiencing for more than two weeks now is affecting our society at all levels. The strategy that has been adopted to reduce the death toll and the collapse of the public healthcare system has been the confinement of all the citizens at home. This has also meant the suspension of all programmed actions of the climate movements, and the restriction of any protest action in the streets.
While the flora and fauna of the city take to the streets in our absence, and we can breathe the cleanest air of this century, we also see how the economic and social crisis unleashed by COVID-19 highlights the failures of a system- that it does not guarantee the well-being of people or life on the planet, but exacerbates social inequalities, precariousness, and is causing a mass extinction of species. The health crisis and the economic consequences of the confinement are already affecting the poorest neighbourhoods and the most vulnerable groups more sharply: lay-offs, forced holidays, suspension of wages; difficulties to pay rent, gas, water, or the electricity bills; and the saturation of public services after years of budgetary cuts by governments subject to economic interests, are some examples.
After the traumatic experience of the 2008 crisis, civil society has organized quickly this time to demand measures to the government, so that this time the most vulnerable groups and life are placed at the centre. This is how the Social Shock Plan was born a few days ago, which is structured on different topics: the strengthening of the public health system, a defence for the right to housing, the defence to work and working conditions, a basic income for the people most affected, the intervention of private resources at the service of the general interest, the maintenance of prevention measures, detection of male violence, and the closure of the CIES, among others.
Extinction Rebellion Barcelona adheres to the Social Shock Plan. We have to listen to the science community and follow its advice to overcome this health emergency, however, this can not serve as an excuse for our governments to continue protecting the benefits of a few. The collapse of our social structures that we are experiencing is due, in large part, to the irresponsibility of leaving everything in the hands of unlimited economic growth, which is plundering ecosystems, and of a neo-liberal system that has privatized public services and destroyed the commons.
Furthermore, we reject the militarization of the narrative about the coronavirus crisis, as it hinders the understanding of its real causes. The situation is presented to us as a war: another fight against a new enemy that we must overcome at all costs and by all means. No sacrifice is too small when it comes to preventing the system of collapse. However, it is the economic system itself that has led us to this coronavirus crisis. There is evidence that the destruction of ecosystems and the cutting down of forests caused by massive commercialization of raw materials, urbanization, and the expansion of the agro-industrial system, have led to the spread of COVID-19 to humans.
Therefore, we must act, yes, but not to win the “ war” on COVID-19, but to rebuild and regenerate our societies; to devise a more sustainable system at all levels, and to start learning how to decrease.
It is no longer possible to go back to normal. When the confinement is over, we don’t want to go back, we want to go forward. Our ultimate proposal is clear: put life at the centre. If governments don’t do it, we will make sure we do so: resilience is also self-organization.
Love and Rage,
Extinction Rebellion Barcelona