I've gotten very riled-up politically in the past few days. I'll be honest, I'm at best wary of the government. Have been for quite some time now, ever since a certain billionaire-who-shall-not-be-named got elected president. But its gotten worse in the wake of COVID-19, when it seems to me like our entire economic system is faltering because it can't endure a sustained shutdown of production. I see people cheering stay-at-home orders and curfews, and I become concerned for the safety of others and for our freedoms as well. So far the government of my state is making sure everyone is taken care of. So far. Again, I am at best wary of government. In truth, I'm distrustful of it. I do not put a lot of faith in those who hold power over others.
I know I'm not the only person who shares these views, in part because I've taken to social media to express them. That, as you may have imagined, has backfired tremendously. I am the sort who gets very involved in political discussions, and very heated up during arguments. I get real angry, really quickly, and I am very opinionated. This has lead to many political arguments about how we go forward, what the best methods are for containment, how useful is the government, and who is being left behind. I have not always shown the best of myself in those arguments. Quite often, I leave them behind feeling angry and ashamed at my own conduct.
With that in mind, I have decided to back off from political arguments, and instead propose a thought experiment. Imagine that when this is all over, we have found a new system that doesn't rely on the same methods of production. In this system, there are no employers, nor employees. There are no government officials, no presidents, no congress. There are only people and what they can provide for each other.
Imagine a community in this system. Each person contributes what they can to the community. Some of them grow food. They have gardens, which they tend to, and which produce extra food that they can give to their neighbors. Others in this community cook. They take the food of the gardeners, and turn it into delicious meals, hosting community potlucks and dinner parties. Still others in the community brew their own beer, make their own tea, make clothes, and other things, and share them with the community. Everyone has something to give, and everyone has something they need.
Now imagine this community is linked to other communities through communication and infrastructure. Other communities are producing other goods, including furniture, medical supplies, books, and other things. These things are delivered from community to community through a decentralized network. Each community has something they lack, and that other communities can provide. Each community has something to provide, and that other communities lack. Like the cells of a gigantic organism, the communities each have a number of functions, and rely on each other to survive and prosper through the system of Mutual Aid.
Under such a system, the community self polices, and is able to encourage people to stay home if they are ill. There is no rent, nor any need for money, so work is able to stop and quarantining can happen on the community level without the need for government intervention. At least that is the theory; I am neither a political scientist nor an epidemiologist. But it seems to me that such a community would be able to withstand a pandemic without things like video-game retailers claiming they are essential.
This may seem like a pipe dream, but the beginnings of such a society are already beginning to form. In the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, mutual aid initiatives are springing up all over the country. People are beginning to realize that a better future can be built out of the present, and that corporations don't have the public's interest at heart. Class consciousness is beginning to build. What Ursula K Le Guin called the "Social Organism," has been conceived, and is now waiting to be born.
I can only hope that this comes to pass, because there is another future that I see. One in which things mostly continue as they did before, but people have to carry around a card saying if they've been tested for the virus. If they are found to be immune, they have free reign to join society. If they have the virus, they are quarantined and treated. If they can't afford treatment, nor the test, they are prohibited from interacting with society. Maybe some kind folks will take pity on them, and they can form a functional colony, not unlike a leper colony, where they will live as second class citizens, unable to go to work outside the colony. Or maybe they'll simply be left to die in the street.
These are both hypothetical futures. Only one of them may come to pass, and it's possible neither will. But of the two of them, I don't think I have to explain which one I favor.