Sally Levereaux used to volunteer at her local food bank, but today she was protesting it. “The need is so damn high that the non-profits can’t keep up with demand,” she said, angry tears welling up in her eyes. “We need socialism now!”
She adjusted her COVID-19 mask and hoisted her end of the banner that demanded “Socialism or Extinction.” And then she raised her voice in concert with the other 150 protesters: “The failure of non-profits is the failure of capitalism!”
In between chants, Sally told me why she was protesting.
“When the state ordered us to shelter in place, everybody got selfish and started hoarding, and the food bank stopped functioning,” she told me. “Volunteers like me stopped volunteering, for-profit groceries couldn’t keep their shelves full, and non-profit food banks had nowhere to get their food.”
The crowd started another chant, and I counted 23 repetitions of “Socialism or Extinction!” before the effort died out.
“We need a centrally-managed not-for-profit economy because people are selfish,” Sally said. “We need armies of volunteers who get a living wage to carry out the orders of a small group of experts who aren’t controlled by the special interests. And everybody needs to give according to their ability to everybody else according to their need!”
I asked her what would happen if selfish people refused to go along with the new plan, but the crowd had broken down the locked gate outside the food pantry and the looting had begun.
Sally thoughtfully rolled up her banner and said something to me over the sound of the frenzied crowd. It sounded like “Socialism or Extinction!”
I tried to tell her “we can have both,” but Sally was already climbing over the chain link fence.