What Took the Social Out Of Society?

The following article was written in Speak Out Now’s workplace newsletter at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

802! That’s how many deaths from fentanyl were recorded in San Francisco last year. Frontline city workers and BART workers are familiar with the situation. People afflicted by the epidemic are on the streets, in the stations, riding the trains and sometimes falling onto the trackway. Many are disabled, bent over or twisted by the injection of this powerful drug, that affects the muscles, weakens the bones and can damage the brain.

It’s easy to criticize those who fall into the trap of addiction and are often blamed for the crisis facing San Francisco. But it’s not “dope fiends” that brought the city into this situation. It’s the “money fiends.” It’s the billionaires who have been celebrated, with their massive wealth and shiny steel and glass buildings (that are now 30% unoccupied).

The vibrant community that made San Francisco what it was has been destroyed by the tech boom and the soaring cost of housing, which forced many working class people to leave the city.

The politicians are helpless dealing with the crisis they have overseen. Their job is to protect the status quo – the needs of the rich and powerful. They just want the problems, and for many of them that means the people who have been pushed to the streets, to disappear. And they are – one fatal overdose at a time.

Every day this system is put on trial by the crises it has created. There are ways to address this and other problems. But it would take a real mobilization of resources, both human and financial.  And it is even more difficult today because the community isn’t there to provide support for people who have been cast aside if they try to recover from this abuse.

So, what took the Social out of Society? This social desert is the result of the system of capitalism that puts profit above human lives. But there is a solution. If we could put the Social back into our society, then we could create a society which encouraged the full development of all our potential. We would have Socialism – a society run by and for the people who do the work.

No one will hand that to us. It’s up to us to take the steps, at work and in other aspects of our lives, to build the connections and organize ourselves, to defend our interests and our future.