In ‘CORANA VIRUS PANDEMIC 24’ in July on this blog, it was suggested that ending the Covid-19 lock-down in most countries in that month was far too soon. As predicted, the virus was allowed to continue circulating by populations some not willing (some not able) to resist the urge to congregate together. Consequently, senior governing elites are again informing their citizens that ‘the virus is not yet under control‘, or similar words to that mistaken effect. In fact it is people who are not exercising sufficient long-term self-control and presenting the virus with an alternative to dying out.
During the first wave of contagion, we had the spectacle of governing elites who were soon more anxious to preserve the capitalist system than they were to preserve human life. With their later ‘relaxation’ and encouragement, we then had large numbers who were more anxious to preserve their entitlement to go to bars, disco’s, parties and eating out, than to preserve the lives of their neighbours and family members.
All this incompetence and indifference for the welfare of others, presents a dismal prospect for any early end to the daily Covid-19 death toll.
Many countries are now having to reintroduce legal measures to try to restrict the spread of contamination before it again overwhelms their still underfunded and under-resourced health services. Although stopping short of the full national lock downs of the first wave of Covid-19, (Spring 2020) nevertheless governments are now well on a path leading to that probability.
Moreover, the dismal strategy they propose is still essentially the same in September as it was in March. First; wash hands, keep a distance, wear a mask, don’t congregate in numbers more than six. Second; outsource the important process of testing and tracing to private companies who are more concerned with cutting corners and making profits than providing an efficient and effective service. How reassuring is that?
It has become something of a cliché that – to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result – is a form of madness. Be that as it may, it is at least a level of irrationality – bordering on stupidity – to keep attempting to implement the same half-baked strategy and expecting it to succeed. But then, from a humanist standpoint, stupidity has been the defining characteristic of the governing elites from the very outset of the pandemic.
Governing elites, the world over, knew a pandemic was coming and had documented strategic plans to deal with it, only to stupidly ignore their own documents and strategies when it arrived. Still they weren’t stupid enough to allow their own incomes and lives to suffer from the pandemic – were they?
They, like many other sections of the elite have remained on full pay, conditions and pension rights, paid for from the public purse! Think for a moment what a brilliant idea that is for the lucky ones. It keeps self and family together and allows income secure shielding during any major catastrophe now and in the future. It makes one wonder why it hasn’t caught on generally.
Indeed, with regard to stupidity, an alternative one-sided level of it seems to have permeated the general population and the left, as well as the governing elites. We now have considerable numbers of people in some countries holding demonstration – not demanding to be taken on to the same secure economic footing as the elite – but to be allowed to go back to the precarious positions they held before lock-down! And with the added danger of catching and passing on the virus to each other. How irrational is that?
Not quite as irrational as those who think that the virus doesn’t exist and is just a conspiracy invention, or those who think some imaginary, invisible male super-being located in an imaginary heaven will protect them from it. But it does represent a fairly high level of irrationality, particularly among nations and peoples that officially champion equality. Why not demand such equality now rather than settle for continued inequality?
The elite must be counting their blessings that the multi-ethnic workers around the world are more focused upon propping up a bar, or the outcome of present and future elections or re-educating their already well schooled law enforcement officers, rather than demonstrating and campaigning for everyone to be on a guaranteed income pitched at a level deserving of the contribution they make to society. And what about the so-called left vanguard in 2020?
Presented with the plain to view social class situation revealed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the left in general seem to be avoiding the one reform worth fighting for and the only one which would have a chance of uniting all working people, irrespective of all identities, ethnicities and political affiliations. Reforms in periods of revolutionary upheavals, need to be those which, in the circumstances, are seen by most people to be necessary, reasonable and fair.
If the governing elite claim ‘we are all in this together’, then they should be held accountable to that claim. If elites carry out a temporary furlough of a percentage salary or wage payment to workers, as many have, workers would be wise to campaign for it to become a full remuneration and a permanent feature. In a new epoch of wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and pandemics, any ruling elite refusing a request/demand that everyone in a disaster should be as securely paid as the elite are, would be further exposed as deserving to be overthrown.
In the crisis and episodic collapse of modes of production, there are ‘peace, bread and land‘ moments as well as ‘no taxation without representation’ moments. Radical and revolutionary changes occur when such moments are seized and populations become galvanised into going beyond dreaming that ‘another world is possible‘ and start actively creating it.
There is no question that the fabric of the capitalist mode of production, globally is crumbling fast. The relationship between human labour and economic production, was previously dislocated by automation and advanced computerised techniques. It has now been profoundly stopped in its tracks by the inability to cram as many bottoms onto seats as will create profits – without spreading viral death and destruction.
The same technology has also profoundly dislocated the relationship between humanity and nature as ecology and environments have been gouged and trashed on land, sea and air to provide obscene levels of wealth for a relatively small elite. At the same time creating petty entitlement distractions for a large number and poverty for the increasing millions left out.
The capitalist system is not fit for humanity in general and this is recognised by the elite who have embraced the security of public service and in crisis engineered regular public handouts for their cronies. The system is well overdue for a radical change but it will need a radical change in thinking among greater numbers, before such change occurs.
There is no going back to a previous (imaginary) healthy stage of capitalist development, or no possibility of stabilising the current neo-liberal stage. There is only going forward to something fit for humanity as a whole. Readers, in or out of lock-down, dare to think, speak and do things differently – you have nothing to lose but your chains – to this terminally destructive system of exploitation and oppression.
Roy Ratcliffe (September 2020)