What can we learn from the role of people power in the Great Depression and in the first year of the Coronavirus Depression? Based on the seven preceding commentaries on the New Deal and the popular movements of 2020, this commentary maintains that popular direct action can play a significant role in shaping the Biden era. It examines the emerging political context and suggests guidelines for navigating the complex landscape that lies ahead.
In the first year of the Coronavirus Pandemic and the ensuing Coronavirus Depression, “people power” played a little-acknowledged but critical role–recounted in the previous commentaries in this series–in protecting health and economic wellbeing. Despite change in the national political context, they are continuing into the Biden era. Movements utilizing people power direct action may be just as important in this era.
The climate plan released by Joe Biden in August presents a wide-ranging program for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The previous commentary, “The Biden Climate Plan: Part 1: What It Proposes” summarizes that plan. This commentary identifies the points of conflict on climate policy and related social policies that are likely to emerge within a Biden administration. It concludes by assessing how advocates of a Green New Deal can take advantage of the Biden program to fight for a climate-safe, worker-friendly, socially-just outcome.
This commentary analyzes Joe Biden’s “Plan for Climate Change and Environmental Justice” released in August. The following commentary, “The Biden Climate Plan: Part 2: An Arena of Struggle,” will consider the struggles that are likely to emerge over what parts of the plan can and should be implemented.
The Coronavirus pandemic and the economic depression accompanying it are already engendering new movements of both employed and unemployed workers. In some ways these resemble the worker and unemployed movements that emerged in the first years of the Great Depression; in other ways they are very different.
In a fiery October 10 speech, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign CEO, said that at 10 or 11 o’clock November 3 Trump is going to walk into the Oval Office “having won Ohio, and being up in Pennsylvania and Florida,” and he’s going to say, “Hey, game’s over.”
Photo: Corazon Aquino swears in as President of the Philippines at Club Filipino, San Juan on February 25, 1986 Wikimedia Commons.
Even before the 2016 election, Donald Trump hinted that if he lost he might not accept the outcome. Now, far behind in the polls, Trump is taking action to disrupt the 2020 election and laying obvious groundwork for refusing to leave office if he loses.
While the number of trade union strikes this year are lower than previous years, there have so far been hundreds of wildcat strikes without union authorization, primarily in the fight for worker safety amid COVID and racial justice. The Strike for Black Lives, which took place on July 20, 2020 is one such example.
In response to COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Depression, workers have developed unique strategies and forms of organization to protect their lives and livelihoods. We saw in “Fighting the Great Depression — from Below” how in the early years of the Great Depression conventional trade union strikes became a rarity, but workers organized themselves in community-based, “horizontal” ways to fight for their survival. This commentary and the next describe the emergence of strikes for protection against COVID-19. This series will conclude with an evaluation of the prospects of “people power” in the Coronavirus Depression.