Without reproduction there is no production

No to new lockdown and the closure of leisure

Once again, there are restrictions on social life, on leisure - on the sphere of reproduction. Juanma Moreno, President of the Andalusian Regional Government, keeps repeating "that 70% of the country's economic activity takes place between the morning and five o'clock in the afternoon". So, according to Moreno, bars can be closed (and all "non-essential" activity) at 6pm, curfews can be brought forward to 10pm to stop contagion, and they do so from Tuesday 10 November. And they have already banned botellones (meet-ups of mainly young people in public places, usually involving alcohol), they have brought forward the closure of parks in many cities (in Seville at 21:00). It seems that the only thing they are allowing us to do is work.

But they forget one important aspect. We are neither machines nor slaves. To produce, we also need reproduction, we need to recuperate energy, we need to regenerate ourselves. We cannot work day after day without not only a rest (which we are allowed), but also a life beyond work that allows us to recharge our batteries. How do you think we do this? Watching TV? Playing video games? Consuming pornography online (pornography consumption has increased a lot since the beginning of confinement)? Drugging ourselves with alcohol or other drugs?

As Isodoro Moreno says in a recent article in El Diario de Sevilla, "Absolute isolation, total detachment, life in microfamily bubbles converted into physical and emotional bunkers only communicated by digital means, is a science fiction scenario and a chimera because social relations are for human beings like oxygen for the lungs: they can only be interrupted for a very limited period of time".

We need this oxygen to live, to work. Relating to other people is not just for enjoyment, it is essential for our mental (and physical) health, for our reproduction, to recharge our batteries.


No to denial

Criticizing the measures and restrictions does not mean denying that we live in difficult times, that the pandemic is real, that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is dangerous. However, accepting that we live in exceptional times does not mean that we cannot criticise the capitalist and mainly biological/epidemiological management of the crisis. Health goes beyond physical health. Not only does the virus kill, but so do the restrictions. How many people have died or are suffering serious consequences because they have not been diagnosed with another serious illness, a cancer, or another infection? How many elderly people in residential homes have died prematurely from sadness and isolation, from lack of contact and interaction? How many elderly people in residential homes have suffered and deteriorated in health - from Alzheimer's or dementia - because of isolation, probably leading to a premature death?

How many people are suffering from severe anxiety or depression? How many people are 'medicating' themselves with alcohol or other drugs, because they can no longer cope with their anxiety or depression? How many people this has led to suicide already, or are at high risk of suicide?

Of these deaths there are no statistics, while the COVID-19 statistics are presented almost in real time. All that is lacking is for the media to put a counter on their websites that is automatically updated when another person is diagnosed, another person is admitted to hospital, to the ICU, when another person dies. This is all very serious and tragic - I don't want to diminish the seriousness of the situation, let alone the pain it is causing to many people - but this news of COVID 24/7 does nothing but create panic and fear, while what we need is calm and clarity to learn to live with the virus.

Other people have already made other proposals to curb the virus, such as Zeynep Tufëkçi in an article in The Atlantic. There are alternatives to confinement, there are alternatives to taking away the will to live.


Creative resistance to the new restrictions

We cannot allow them to take away this oxygen, which we need to live, which Isidoro Moreno talks about, even though they want to do so. If they close the bars in the afternoon, we have nothing left but to meet in our houses, and better if we have a terrace. Or in the parks and squares (beware of the ban on alcohol bottles. We can have a picnic, but better without alcoholic drinks, so that we are not fined). And if we want to stay for dinner we can bring our sleeping bag and stay at our friends' houses to sleep - as going home before 10pm is simply ridiculous, even more so in Andalusia.

They take away our leisure time, and we have to organize ourselves to keep on having a life. We can have a home cinema night, and stay over. We can socialize in public and private spaces, better if possible in the open air, assuming individual and collective responsibility for the health crisis, but still have a life worth living.

Perhaps we need to overcome our fear of the police. Remember: the police do not have the right to enter your home without a warrant. Although it's better not to have a party with 20 or more people, we also don't have to take the limit of six people as absolute. Life is not like that.


Self-care and resistance

Without reproduction there is no production. Taking away our options to regenerate makes us sick. So, we call the doctor, we take medical leave for anxiety, for depression, for burnout syndrome, for whatever. Health is more than just COVID-19, and although we are lucky not to be infected, it is very likely that we are suffering from the exceptional situation, from the restrictions of our life. To take this seriously and get sick-leave is an act of self-care, but also an act of resistance. There is no point in putting up with our anxiety without the possibility of sharing it with friends, hugging friends, and even more so for us who are already struggling with our mental health. The personal is political, and taking a medical leave is a way of saying "enough is enough".

Better still would be if the unions would call a strike, as we cannot continue working without the oxygen of social life. Unfortunately, at the moment this seems unlikely.


Organising the anger

"The non-articulated street anger will be carried away by the ultra-right", says Basque political scientist Jule Goikoetxea according to an article in El Salto. "In a polarised situation, anger has to be articulated to be effective and solve the urgent needs of the life of those who have less. And this discourse must be articulated from the neighbourhoods and with the people".

The networks of mutual support that have emerged during the lockdown of spring and are now resuming work are very necessary, but not sufficient. We have basic needs beyond food and housing - the oxygen of a social life. In addition, there is a lot of anger, there is a lot of indignation, and this anger needs spaces for articulation, public spaces, the street.

"We have given the narrative of legitimate criticism to a handful of mindless fascists who are knowing how to channel legitimate hate in the face of a capitalist management of the pandemic that goes from bad to worse," says Aitor Jiménez in an article in El Salto. It is already late, but we have to regain the initiative, build a critical narrative from the left, and give space to the anger. Why don't we organise rallies (with a face mask and distance) against the curfew, against a policy of capitalist management of the crisis that further disadvantages the population already in a situation of vulnerability (whether economic or for other reasons: women in toxic relationships, queer or transgender youth in homophobic families, or in general young people in families that do not understand them - which are many)?

The alternative would be to leave this space to the right, and we know that nothing good can come of this. And it would be dangerous in the long term. If the right now draws on the anger of many people, especially young people, our future will be very black.