How The Pandemic Radicalized Me

When the world is going mad, it’s insane to not change

This last year has changed me and I hope it’s changed you. If we stay the same while the world goes to hell, we’re not being sober. We’re dying drunk.

Know Your Enemy

They say when the tide is out, you see who’s swimming naked. COVID-19 really pulled the tide back across the world, and the western empire had no clothes. From Europe to the UK to the US, all of the countries that ranked themselves highly on pandemic preparedness were woefully, madly unprepared. All of these colonial, settler countries have used words like ‘development’, ‘advanced’, and ‘aid’ to launder their settler colonialism for years. It took just one COVID-19 to blow it all away.

What does development mean if you don’t have basic public health? The UK will end up spending 5x the entire GDP of Rwanda on a test and trace system that doesn’t fucking work. That shambles is projected to cost £37 billion. The UK has spent more than the entire output of many countries to output nothing. Is this development? Just looks like naked corruption to me.

What does advanced mean if you can’t pull a mask over your face? If you spend time in a pointless health vs. economy debate, and lost both? Europe has looked good next to the dumpster fire of America, but places like Germany still had worse outbreaks than Iran, and infinitely worse responses than much poorer places like Vietnam. These are the advanced nations of the world? Looks more like naked incompetence to me.

Finally, what the fuck does aid mean if you’re hurting people during a global pandemic? Rich nations are hoarding vaccine and blocking us from manufacturing generics at the WTO. It’s a crime against humanity, during a pandemic. They make a big show of donating money to COVAX, but as the WHO says, money is not enough. We need actual cooperation. The EU, US, and UK are tripping over each other in their greed, and stampeding over the world.

I grew up in America, I have a Canadian passport, and deep cultural connections to the western world, but fuck them for this. Fuck them for life. Living in Sri Lanka I’m furious at western leadership, and the consequences will only get more dire. The Global South and decent people living in the west need to unite around this realization.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. In my personal life, I’ve found out who real friends are when times get tough. The west is not our friend.

Know Your Fight

This realization is important, because COVID-19 is just a teaser. Climate change is about to fuck us right up, and if we go into it trusting western leadership, they’ll delay, deny, and then panic us into an even bigger mess than today.

The only way to get out of the greater mess to come is to change global leadership. We have to attack and dethrone the centuries of western colonialism that has laundered itself into capitalism and given us climate change. These are not separate issues. It’s cause and effect.

Before the pandemic I would write about health and climate change and race as separate issues. Now I write about them all through the lens of power. It’s not about following science, it’s about who controls the science. It’s about power. There has to be a worldwide awokening that we are actually a majority, and that we cannot depend on white powers and NGOs to save the world. They’re full of shit.

We cannot depend on the consciences of white folk because, to paraphrase Kwame Ture, they have none. If this bothers you to hear, then please renounce your whiteness and join the human race.

We cannot fight climate change without fighting the power structure that profits from it, just as they are profiting from coronavirus. The same people getting rich while we suffer are going to keep getting rich until we take their money and power away. Power concedes nothing without a demand. We must demand.

And I think this is happening. I’m not the only person getting radicalized by the radical shit going on. You can feel the global zeitgeist changing — everything from Black Lives Matter to the school strikes for climate to the farmer protests in India. This is as dangerous as it is hopeful, but we have no other choice. We’re entering an age of survival. It’s adapt or die.

If you’re being conservative while the Earth is being destroyed, what are you conserving? We have to change. We have to change leadership. We have to start questioning assumptions, organizing, and taking radical action now. That’s how the pandemic has radicalized me. Inshallah, out of all this death, may it radicalize you.

Indi Samarajiva is a writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sign up for my newsletter at www.indi.ca, and you can reach me at indi@indi.ca.

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