Two-tiered Lock Downs

April 12, 2021, Editorial of the Workplace Newsletters of the Etincelle fraction of the NPA, Translated from French

Hundreds of euros worth of meals, cooked by star chefs in private apartments, repurposed as clandestine restaurants. This is how the upper crust of the bourgeoisie spends its lockdown. Bosses, magistrates, police officers, but also politicians, deputies, even ministers or former ministers, invite each other to dine, without masks. Like Brice Hortefeux, caught red-handed, who claims good faith by pretending to have believed in the legality of these selective restaurants. No one is supposed to ignore the law… except the rich and powerful!

Excuses for the rich

Métropole Television reported on these dinners, and it is still causing panic in the government, fearing that one of its own could be implicated. It can breathe easy: none of them was caught in the act, and each of them can claim to be unaware of these illegal practices… while also claiming to have declined the invitations!

The same disregard of the rules occurred at the Ministry of Higher Education, where relatives of the Minister Frédérique Vidal were filmed dancing without masks at 10 pm in the Ministry’s cafeteria. But this is not a “party”, only a “moment of fun” … Is it the virus that makes it different? And the minister rages against the “society of denunciation.” One can no longer freely enjoy one’s privileges!

Yet it was the same minister who justified the closure of universities in January with the supposed inability of students to respect boundaries, singling out “the student who takes a coffee at break time, or a candy that is lying around on the table.”

Cops for the poor

While the bourgeoisie escapes scrutiny in their secluded lounges, the police have multiplied their interventions against restaurants serving discretely in working-class neighborhoods. Barbecues organized outdoors among neighbors have been dispersed, sometimes violently, in places such as Creil or Saint-Denis.

One year after the start of the pandemic the restrictions are more of a burden. Everyone is fed up with it, and rightly so. But it weighs even more on the working people, who live in cramped apartments, without yard or garden, and are only able to go to work on crowded public transport.

These are the same people who suffer the full force of school closures, finding themselves without childcare overnight, let alone able to organize home schooling. It’s easier to afford a nanny when you have money.

And fighting the pandemic comes last

This situation is all the more scandalous as solutions to fight the virus exist. But vaccination is still lagging, despite the government’s great bursts of communication. Hospitals continue to be overwhelmed, especially intensive care units, which have once again had to triage patients in the most affected regions. The saturation of hospitals has led to the postponement of other kinds of care, and to further risks. It is as if nothing had changed since the first lockdown!

In the past year, there has been time to recruit staff and open up more hospital beds; instead, the opposite has been done, with continued budget cuts. The government chose to ignore the warnings of caregivers. Its financial largesse and stimulus packages went to big business and its shareholders. Health care and vaccine production were given the short end of the stick. As a result, we will soon reach 100,000-dead (translator’s note: the population of France is between 65 and 66 million).

The government denounces the irresponsibility of young people and the working classes, while turning a blind eye to the banquets of the rich. But the government is the most responsible for this situation that is dragging on, because priority has been put on safeguarding profits over our lives. Let’s hope that this does not last forever. Because once our anger has been released from lockdown, things could take a turn for the better.