All Together Now

Covid-19 All in it together – Wishful thinking or reality?

The Beatles All Together now recorded in 1967 and released in 1972 is a feel-good tune, expressing peace and love for everyone.

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All Together Now released by Liverpool band The Farm in 1990 was inspired by the unofficial Christmas truce between British and German soldiers on the front lines in the first world war. That moment of international solidarity was a manifestation of the human desire for co-operation. It lasted until the workers in uniform were ordered to fire on each again in someone else’s interest. We are a co-operative species humanity developed our productive forces because we are social and communicative animals. That collaborative nature has to be schooled, beaten, propagandized or trained out of us. One of the hardest tasks of any army is to train soldiers to ignore their humanity and kill others.

It is why every war is launched in the name of ‘peace’. Why every cut in benefits is framed as helping people back into work, or every cut in safety legislation is promoted as extending freedom. It is why Boris Johnson stands outside No10 clapping for nurses, having previously voted to cut NHS funds and stop pay rises, or Trump and the Democrats talk about helping working Americans while giving Trillions to company directors. They have to pretend- moments like this pandemic reveal the truth; our lives are less important than their economy.

Two songs from different generations that perfectly express our desire to bring people together for the common good. The problem is that while the emotion is great the reality is different.

The virus is super contagious and takes no notice of income or wealth, although you will find your way to a test if you are an NBA player, or Tom Hanks or Prince Charles. The virus has and will dis-proportionally affect those who live and work in close quarters. In New York it is in the poorest areas that the virus has taken hold, as shop workers, cleaners, nurses, warehouse workers continue to work and use public transport. Partly because they can’t work from home or can’t afford to, despite the relief has that been promised, people know it won’t put food on the table this week or next.

Remember when there was no magic money tree in the UK? Or ‘how are you going to pay for it?’ was the only question asked about ‘medicare for all’ in the US?

When their system is at risk they pull no punches in organising to defend it. Working people will need the same level of clarity and determination.

Who comes out of these crises stronger will determine life for the next generation- organise in communities, workplaces, unions, as a class- as the Beatles said ‘Pink, brown, yellow, orange, and blue,’ for a government and a state that defends and protects workers – with the same determination and ferocity as Trump and Johnson protect their class.

As The Farm sang in 1990;

The boys had their say they said no
Stop the slaughter let’s go home, let’s go, let’s go

Published by jackbyrnewriter

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