Pandemic, Measuring Class Consciousness Suppress Social Jealousy

"The rich protect the poor so they can live properly and the poor protect the rich so as not to transmit the disease, this is an important collaboration," said a government spokesman for the COVID-19 case some time ago which reaped many negative responses.

The rhetoric is full of messages of solidarity, but what comes out of the mouth of the state official is rhetorical rhetoric that is not built on class consciousness. Negative responses from the wider community can certainly be taught. Although in the end, he explained that he didn't intend to corner the lower economic community, the ratio in him that eventually caused a speech was a form of sentiment towards the lower economic community; that they are the source of this disease.

Of course, we agree that this epidemic virus doesn't look at the class in transmission. Anyone from any socioeconomic class can get it. We can also agree that this incident has an impact on all lines of life: the economy has plummeted, the community has become physically distant, the educational process has been hampered, and so on.

So in reading this phenomenon, I think we need a class framework in understanding it. In all affected situations, there are some compromises done by the community such as working and learning from home, postponing or cancelling events that gather many people, and so on. However, in some cases, we can also see that there are things that cannot be compromised.

People who depend on daily income must continue to work and leave the house. They are a group that can't get the luxury that some other groups have. From this standpoint, it has been seen that socioeconomic class distinguishes people in the same situation.

In other eyes, access to health services is also often a problem. Whom has access (capital) to get health services also thickens this class line. Even though the virus does not look at who will be infected, recovery providers may still see it. Beyond health procedures in determining the priority scale for handling people, some groups have been made comfortable by default from their conditions.

Of course, the message of the government spokesman above can be a trigger for us to be in solidarity, in the existing social facts, without bringing bad sentiment to each class. We can eliminate the notion that the lower economic class is a source of problems while on the other hand the upper-middle class as a figure who is always ignorant.

The image of ignorance certainly remains. Some time ago, there was a rumour that The House (DPR) members and their families would get an infection testing facility. Then this reaps a lot of scorn until finally, the president gives his statement. We can agree that members of the House of Representatives do not deserve to be the priority of infection testing, despite all the luxuries they get and a track record of unsatisfactory performance because basically according to the procedure is not a priority. On the other hand, the more vulnerable groups need to be protected and guaranteed, both by the state and the community.

We can continue to curse these people who do not know themselves even though that does not necessarily solve the problem. While we can continue to discuss mutual cooperation in which all communities help each other with their respective roles. So from here, class awareness that one group has more luxury than other groups can be directed towards solidarity.

Solidarity Is the Saviour Angel

If inequality is a necessity, in a state of "crazy" as it is today solidarity within or between classes becomes important. Social-democratic societies depend on inter-class solidarity, especially during interdependent times like today. When we can understand the privilege and political and economic behaviour in each class we can see, then one thing that may be of concern today is the possibility of class conflict, social jealousy between classes.

There are several things that need to be understood to be able to see this phenomenon and what we must prepare. Based on Lewis on Class Consciousness and Inter-Class Sentiments, the first things is that the manifestation of an awareness that a system of stratification exists in society; second, the willingness of a person to designate where he feels he belongs in this system; third, the manifestation of interests in common with others who feel they belong in the same aggregate; fourth, the possession of presumedly accurate knowledge of the interests of the class to which one feels he belongs, and as a consequence, a manifestation of interests similar to these; and fifth, a feeling of solidarity with those who are identified as belonging to one’s self-assigned class, and a feeling of estrangement from those not identified as belonging to one’s self-assigned class.

Now we can direct each class's awareness that the only enemy that must be faced right now, and this is the only thing that matters, is COVID-19. When we can realize that every line of life is also affected, then one and the same importance can be realized to immediately end this all. So one of the challenges in terms of forming these same interests is a fit of jealousy that can perpetuate cynicism and sentiment of each class. The cynicism created by inequality might cause a conflict that we might never have imagined before.

The economic crisis that is happening today can be truly felt by us. If we look back, there are several stories of social conflicts that came after the monetary crisis. We can trace the class (even ethnic) sentiments that existed after the monetary crisis as the mastermind of the riots and social disharmony. Of course, social disharmony will be counterproductive to the business that should be a major concern, the handling of COVID-19.

That is why solidarity becomes our saviour angel today that we can accept the inevitability that exists. Now is the time for us to work together to face the same goal.
April 16, 2020