State of emergency:

What is to be done?

This article is a continuation of the statement “Coronavirus compels us to not only be patients, but citizens as well,” accessible at actualno.com

Patients are those, who, having no other options, wait in isolation for something to happen to them. Citizens on the other hand are those, who are aware about their choices, their ability to ask: “What can we do?” to find solutions and to roll up their sleeves together with others. Well, what can we do to not only restore some kind of normality in our lives, but to also find ourselves in a better world afterwards.

We don't have the luxury to wait for the state to lead us to the Promised Land—as its repressing hand becomes more and more ominous, its other, the caring one, is as hesitant and weak as it has been for a very long time. Otherwise, citizens and civic organizations wouldn't have been forced to voluntarily organize the gathering of donations, consumables, and deliveries. Even the virtuous image of the European Union, supposedly built on solidarity between nations, has evaporated within days. There's no significant cooperation visible at all between the bloc's countries, especially in support of Italy or Spain. The complete border closures signal isolation within the realms of nation states and a race to act the “most alone,” unprecedented in the history of the EU's unification.

As citizens, we need to have quite a different view on inspiration and activities for the future. Besides the already known health measures, sufficient for a patient, here is an incompletable list of examples and directions, to which to turn as citizens.

1. Let go and resist!!

First, it is necessary to let go of being involved in activities, which are harmful to me and those around me. Examples from all over the world show that this makes sense and is the precondition for activities afterwards.

Examples of successful resistance: click arrow on the right

  • Pressured by the requests for leave by 85 doctors, nurses and health assistants, the plan to turn the Second City Hospital of Sofia into a hospital for infectious diseases without the necessary training and equipment was abandoned.

  • Workers in Haskovo protested against their employing company, demanding leave for the time of the crisis.

  • After successful mobilization by the trade unions, strikes in all productive industries hit the whole of Italy.

  • In Italy and France, after strikes at local facilities, the giant Amazon was forced to suspend part of its operations and to reorganize working place conditions.

  • In the United States workers in fast food chains and car companiesput down work demanding guaranteed paid sick leave and safe working conditions.

  • Students in Ohio and Massachusetts occupied their universities after pressure by the authorities to leave their dormitories although most have nowhere to go.

  • Rough sleepers in Los Angeles occupied empty houses in order to protect themselves.

2. Organize!

Second, it is imperative that the weaknesses and deficiencies in the state organization are compensated and where necessary even replaced by various solidaric forms of self-organizing and mutual aid. Surrounded by examples of such activities, can we begin to not only see them, but to also nurture and develop them for the future?

Examples of self-organization and mutual aid: click arrow on the right

3. Exert pressure and attract others!

In order to have a lasting and all-including effect from our activities, it is imperative to exert pressure on the official authorities to adopt new high-quality policies. Parallel to this, it is of critical importance to not only to inform each other on the development of the crisis, but to also attract others to the struggle for a better world. Still, ahead of us lies the task to make much more massive and bold demands in all sectors.

Examples of positions and activities: click arrow on the right

  • For instance, the nurses' demand to eliminate profit-seeking in healthcare, which had been swiftly washed aside by the government as insane just weeks ago, was recently fulfilled in Spain, while the president of France declared, that “free healthcare without consideration of income, place of living, or profession, that our social state aren't expenses or burdens, but valuable blessings and indispensable advantages.” As pointed out already, politics is whirling in front of our eyes in all its elements, filled with as many threats as opportunities. It's indispensable for us to do and demand much more and some early signals for it are already visible in our country.

  • The association “Solidaric Bulgaria” proposes a packet of necessary measures to tackle the socio-economic crisis and to protect the working and the sick.

  • Democratic Bulgaria and Bulgarian Helsinki Committee came up with detailed positions regarding the State of Emergency Measures Act, which deserve to be considered also for their argumentation on what is worth fighting for, regardless of the legal developments.

  • Looking ahead, climate activists and the movement against the climate catastrophe continue to seek ways even throughout the state of emergency to sound the alarm and to demand sustainable policies.

  • In defense of several territories around the country activities to stop ecological destruction continue.

  • In solidarity with the most vulnerable globally today—refugees—activists continue to seek support and ways to protect those fleeing war and misery.

4. Protect your mental health!

In times of global crisis, flooded with catastrophic images and predictions, depression and existential anxiety are real threats for all of us. Drowning in the media stream condemns us to panic and stupor. It is important to practice self-care, to uphold some kind of rhythm of life and to feel truly useful.

Examples of mental health care: click arrow on the right

Translation from Bulgarian: Dennis Kienzler

Icons by Kiranshastry.