FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this What motivates some people to dominate and/or destroy, based on their illusory sense of superiority, even when it is against their own interests? Who are these people who profess to be acting in the name of “freedom and individual liberty,” while gathering together and refusing to wear protective masks in the midst of a pandemic, potentially infecting others?NURSES in scrubs and masks joined Amazon workers to protest against the lack of coronavirus protection for frontline employees as part of a retail giant mega-strike.They indignantly protest loudly and menace health care workers who urge them to desist. They are influenced by the president and other right-wing demagogues, who incite them to take to the streets to oppose lifesaving shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, while they promote racism and terror.Despite the dangerous epidemic, class relations assert themselves: Bosses fire “frontline” health care workers for demanding personal protective equipment so they can perform lifesaving services in hospitals. Prison guards neglect and abuse prisoners who have little protection against COVID-19, while they are also susceptible to it. (See “On Prison Guards” by Mumia Abu-Jamal posted May 5 at workers.org.)What motivates a person to act against their own interests, even their survival, to harm others? The most important basis for how one sees the world is formed in one’s earliest human interactions. That first sense of one’s place in the world can expand, depending on how much broader contact is allowed with new people. One learns to cooperate with peers and to value others’ needs.But prohibitions and restrictions on the development of relatedness, stemming from early experiences with significant people, can stunt that growth and prevent a person from respecting others’ needs. These restrictions take the form of barely noticed negative assumptions about others, becoming prominent at times of crisis or an opportunity for change. This can be true with bigoted thinking, which is learned, and can become more entrenched in a crisis. Or it can be unlearned.To loosen restrictive thinking requires challenging and critically viewing unnoticed assumptions. The individual can then reject previous assumptions or hold onto them and reject the person who challenged them. The outcome depends on a person’s degree of connectedness to other people and how powerful the original prohibitions were and still are.Some people who only see their personal circumstances can be educated to gain an understanding of the wider world. If they can rid themselves of old thinking and can change, learning to connect with others and develop solidarity, then they can progress.Pandemic: capitalist and socialist countries’ outcomes The imperialist countries are being challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. As of May 9, the U.S. leads the world with 1,347,309 cases and over 80,000 deaths (242 deaths per million people).Yet Socialist Cuba has reported 1,754 cases and 74 deaths (7 deaths per million people). It has sent medical workers to over 20 countries to share their medical and community health expertise to fight the virus. China, where the disease hit first, has no new deaths. Vietnam has 288 cases and no deaths.The U.S. media’s response to Cuba’s offers of assistance to other countries is to attack those accepting Cuba’s aid. They explain away the relative success in socialist countries like China, Cuba and Vietnam in overcoming the pandemic by attributing it to so-called “authoritarianism” and “obedience” of their populations in accepting quarantines.These distortions, promoted by big business, serve to maintain the illusion that the U.S. and other capitalist countries are “free,” that workers exercise their freedom by ignoring the dangers of infection, rejecting protective measures and returning to work during the pandemic.But a growing number of workers of all nationalities and genders are resisting return-to-work orders and protesting, demanding a safe workplace, PPE and hazard pay. As the death toll mounts, some people are rejecting their old assumptions and waking up to the reality of the crisis, understanding they share a common situation with those around them.When they resist, they see themselves in a new way. They are scared, but they may feel more effective and part of humanity. Those who hold onto their fixed positions, in a world that is crumbling around them, fear the abyss and grip their self-image even tighter.But what makes real change, which has a vast influence on society, is the united struggle of the multinational, multigender working class, the rejection of all bigotry and the building of solidarity. With that comes the growth of class consciousness. Then an anticapitalist, pro-socialist perspective can develop.Harris is a clinical psychologist in New York City. Kathy Durkin contributed to this article.
Press Release Governor Tom Wolf was joined by Attorney General Josh Shapiro today to announce that he signed an executive order that protects Pennsylvanians from foreclosures or evictions through July 10. The action builds on a Pennsylvania Supreme Court order which closed court eviction proceedings until May 11 and ensures no renter or homeowner will be removed from their home for 60 more days.“At a time when people need to stay home to protect their heath, they should not have to worry about losing their homes,” said Governor Wolf. “Ensuring that people can remain in their homes will help them to better protect their loved ones. It gives families the comfort of knowing they will have a place to live while all of us work together to fight COVID-19 and prepare to move Pennsylvania forward.”“I commend the Governor for his decision to delay eviction and foreclosure proceedings. We know it’s critical for public health, and for our economic recovery, that people stay in their homes during this emergency,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “This order gives people struggling with lost income something they can count on — a roof over their heads.”In almost all circumstances, renters and homeowners are required to continue making monthly payments. If you are a Pennsylvanian struggling to make your monthly payments, you should contact your landlord or mortgage servicer immediately.The Wolf Administration provided recommendations last week to stem foreclosures, evictions and help people experiencing homelessness. The Department of Human Services activated the commonwealth’s Sheltering Taskforce and is working with local and state partners to coordinate resources for people without housing. The Department of Community and Economic Development is also accepting applications for Emergency Solutions Grants to assist with the rapid rehousing of people experiencing homelessness, street outreach, homelessness prevention, and emergency shelter activities.PHFA is also taking action to help homeowners and renters. The agency has stopped foreclosures and evictions and is offering forbearances with late fee waivers to homeowners with a PHFA mortgage who are experiencing a financial hardship because of COVID-19. PHFA also developed a list of renters’ rights and responsibilities to clarify the situation for apartment residents and is working with landlords and property managers to distribute it to renters. PHFA is also encouraging Low-Income Housing Tax Credit building managers to be flexible on rent payments and to waive late fees for tenants whose employment has been affected by the crisis.“During the past few weeks, we’ve had great cooperation from Pennsylvanians who understand that staying home is not just about protecting themselves, it’s about protecting everyone in the community,” said Gov. Wolf. This executive order takes one more burden off people who are struggling and gives them more time to get back on their feet.”More helpful information is available from the following:Pennsylvania Housing Finance AgencyUnited Way of PAConsumer Finance Protection BureauU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)HUD Approved Housing Counseling AgenciesFannie MaeFreddie MacFHFA Foreclosure and Eviction AssistanceView this information in Spanish. SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Gov. Wolf, Attorney General Shapiro Announce Protections from Foreclosures and Evictions Through July 10 May 07, 2020