In a crisis, the federal government is gone. Here’s how Seattle fends for itself – we've done it before.
On January 20, 2021, the people of Seattle will mark a year since the first documented case of the novel coronavirus in America was reported in Snohomish County. In that year, the political and economic landscape for Seattle's people will have transformed more than any year in the century before – more deeply than the Great Recession or even the Great Depression.
On the very same day, over two thousand miles away, a controversial and disputed inaugural ceremony will be held in front of a small group of socially-distanced cameras, journalists, and public officials. The candidate to emerge from a pandemic-scarred election beset by accusations of fraud and interference will be regarded as illegitimate by vast swaths of the country. Governors of the opposite party will take little heed of the federal directives, and the man swearing an oath on the Bible on that day will face four years of crumbling influence, constant impeachment, and declining command over a population that no longer trusts its distant institutions.
In Seattle, though, the embattled ceremony will barely get watched. Repainted vans that once carried the dull gray Amazon Prime livery will pull up to warehouses, hauling boxes of vegetables from community-supported farms seeing more direct interest than ever before to the kitchens of once-shuttered local restaurants everywhere, cooking thousands of meals a day to distribute in their neighborhoods.
With no in-person classes, area schools will become neighborhood hubs, with lines of people six feet apart collecting groceries and home goods for their families. Dockworkers will keep goods flowing even after the international corporations they work for go under. Local universities' graduate students and researchers will continue testing and response to the disease, and workers in Seattle's biotech firms will ensure hospitals are supplied with enough medicine and equipment for everyone. With no tourists, hotels and short-term rentals will house workers and families, ending homelessness. Unemployed masses of skilled workers will find ample opportunity replacing Seattle's failing infrastructure and keeping our self-sustaining power and water systems operational and continuing to export our surplus to a region in need.
This optimistic vision is only impossible if you believe the working people of Seattle are less numerous, less resourceful and less prepared than they were 101 years ago, when the 1919 Seattle strikers demonstrated that all elements of the supply chain could be quickly and decisively repurposed to feed and supply everyone.
In 1919, waitresses and line cooks stepped up to fed thousands from their restaurants. Electrical workers kept power plants operational. Immigrant workers, banned from the national unions due to racism, joined the strikers in solidarity. The events of 1919 were brought on in support of just one sector – striking dockworkers. In 2020, all of Seattle's working people recognize the need to help one another as their governments fail.
Understanding how to get from the current moment of despair and police oppression to this vision of a possible future is the function of The Kestrel, an irregular publication by a milieu of transgender women studying the emergent workers' movement currently gaining power in the United States.
The Kestrel is an irregular publication devoted to the study and understanding of the emerging new communism, with a focus on practicability. It is created by a mostly-Seattle-based collective of transgender writers. A print version will be distributed upon the completion of its first issue. This publication is licensed under the "Anti 996" License Version 1.0.