CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 7.

For the want of…..?

With each update of news since the Pandemic commenced, I have been reminded of a childhood story told to me about how a king lost a war against an invader. The story went something along the lines of; For want of a nail, a horseshoe was lost; for the want of the shoe a horse was lost, for the want of the horse, the rider was lost, for the want of the rider, the message was lost, and for the want of the message the battle was lost. I also remember reading the story to my young children from a Ladybird book and then explaining its meaning to two four year olds. Later I reminded them of the moral when something occurred which illustrated the point from their immediate experience and not something only relevant to childhood fiction.

Surely this moral is, in one narrative form or another, a universal story based on many chains of cause and effect with costly negative consequences. If it was taught to at least two generations of working class kids in a moderate sized industrial town in Lancashire, surely it cannot have passed by the Eton, Harrow, Oxford, and Cambridge trained elites, many of whom sit atop our governmental, medical and scientific institutions. Are we not informed that they are in receipt of jaw-dropping salaries, perks and pensions precisely because they are the most intelligent and far-sighted individuals we have on this sceptered isle?

Perhaps future children should be taught a more updated narrative based upon events and elite incompetence so far but making the same obvious points of the consequences of a lack of foresight and due diligence. Such as;

For the want of compassion – bush meat was bled.
For the want of diagnosis – a virus was spread.
For the want of restrictions – a pandemic was fed.
For the want of protection – doctors and nurses were dead.

For the want of precautions – the contagion went wide
For the want of hand gel – infection came like a tide
For the want of testing – people were herded inside
For the want of ventilators – weak patients then died.

For the want of hospitals – empty buildings were sought
For the want of health workers – volunteers were taught
For the want of truth and honesty – excuses were thought
For the want of an alternative – a bailout was bought.

For the want of humanity – big-business came first
For the want of a home – some were not nursed
For the want of a carer – many victims felt cursed.
For the want of a conscience – not much was reversed.

If the full costs are not clear yet – they will be before too long. The cost of this want of preparation for a pandemic will be extremely high. This BIG ONE has long been predicted by dozens of scientists dealing with the nature of viruses, their effects and trajectories. Adequate preparations could have been made for a few billions of pounds, dollars, Euros etc., from tax-payers contributions, with only moderate to high levels of social and economic disruption. But under the present ‘elites absent whilst at work‘ system, the costs to endure the pandemic will now be tens of billions in currencies and the social, economic and human costs will be astronomical.

Not only will many more thousands of people lose their lives, but thousands more will lose, their jobs, homes and health. Furthermore, if the system of capitalism survives intact, the past, present and post-pandemic costs will have to be born by the remaining tax-payers who survive. In effect British, European and American countries, now and even more so post-pandemic, will be seriously and obviously bankrupt. The pre-existing sovereign loan debts states already incurred were un-payable, before Covid – 19, now after further loans, they are even more beyond a countries ability to pay.

The sensible outcome would be for countries to parallel what many firms will have to do post-pandemic crisis. Declare bankruptcy, cancel all debts and close down all liability activities. In the case of a whole country – since national self-determination is a right – this could be done. The day after cancelling debts a country could start up economic activity again by printing money (as they keep doing for banks) and immediately employ every adult citizen of working age in one or other of the range of public services (if needed create new ones) and pay them on new averaged out (egalitarian) pay scales.

Such countries could then use the skills and labour of all citizens to put right all the decades of damage done to the built and unbuilt environments, the air and water quality, clean up the seas and re-orientate production for sustainability and need. Thus, at the same time, provide a good example for other countries to follow. What could be a better collective incentive than saving the planet and ensuring everybody has a decent home, enough food, drink, clothing, heating and health care?

Of course, that revolutionary-humanist perspective is not going to happen. Those who are in power and have led us into decades of existential mess, including this one are incapable of learning from mistakes – if their interests in obtaining wealth override the parts of their brains which should contain such insights as; for the want of a sustainable economy; the human species was lost. Instead, they will use their knowledge and ingenuity to block any change which would threaten the current hierarchical system and their parasitic place within it.

Their prefered alternative is to continue to despoil environments whilst still consuming far too much and the poor in their countries too little. Yet revolutionary transformations such as that indicated above will need to be done at some time and will need to be done in spite of elite opposition to it.

Roy Ratcliffe (April 2020)

[For details of the ‘dark secret’ of US bailout preferences see the following; http://www.counterpunch.org/2020/04/02/the-dark-secrets/ ]

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 6.

A world upside down.

The primary target for all the financial measures taken by pandemic-struck governments has been to provide aid to industry, commerce and banking. Such ‘largesse’ is not actually to save the ‘people’ but the existing economic ‘system’. Even money given directly to working people, will go to landlords, electricity, water, gas and mortgage companies, and supermarkets etc. Some will keep them fed, watered and housed, but it will also find its way back to the economic elite.

In this way, the pandemic has starkly revealed that, for the pro – capitalist elites, the connection between people and economic activity is viewed upside down. They think ordinary people exist to serve the economy and not the other way around. For them economic activity definitely does not exist to serve the people. In fact capitalists view the entire world as existing to supply the needs of their economic system. Indeed, they and their major shareholders act as if the world is there to service them.

From the bourgeois perspective the ‘health of the economy’ has always been of more importance than the ‘health of the people’.

Only immediately after the Second World War, was that viewpoint muted in some countries. Welfare reforms, with health services, pensions, education, sickness benefits etc., were evidence of this. But even then the fundamental view – of all political shades of opinion – was that a healthy economy needed a healthy workforce. Even post 1945, the world was still viewed upside down. The reluctance to initiate an early quarantine lock-down and the bailout package in March 2020, indicated that protect the economy first was still the priority.

But that is nothing new. Among the pro-capitalist elites, left, right and centre, it has never crossed elite minds that economic activity should primarily serve the needs of the majority of people. That would require a genuine humanist perspective, which could not arise among an elite who need the heavy taxation of working people to support their well-heeled life – styles. Yet this upside-down elite view directly clashes with the perspective which arises among working people and from the natural world.

The hopes and dreams of many, if not most, working people is not to stop work and do nothing. Rather it is to earn enough (or win enough) to stop working in relentless mass – producing industries and to do so early enough to enjoy a fuller range of activities and experiences. Interestingly, that viewpoint is essentially a perspective also rooted in nature. For no other animal species labours all its active life so that it can support a relative small number of its species in extravagant luxury, while the rest struggle to survive.

Natural life, other than human, is based only upon securing a desirable level of basic needs, such as food, water, shelter and procreation. No other animal amasses non-essential products. Moreover, no other species engages in a mode of production which in pursuit of economic and social inequality, consciously degrades and destroys the ecological basis for its own survival. Capitalism is thus a totally unnatural mode of production.

Even more contradictions.

Previous zoonotic viral epidemics (eg EBOLA, AIDS, SERS, MERS etc.) have brought to the fore a further development of capitalism’s fundamental contradictions. By leaving no part of the world un-plundered and un-connected, its extractive activities incubate and then enable new strains of virus – that would have otherwise remained in their places of origin – to infect whole countries and regions. In addition the Covid-19 pandemic illustrates that these infections can now spread to the whole planet and restricts capitalism’s own economic activity to the supply of limited amounts of food, water and shelter.

The general response to this pandemic also reveals that capitalism has to be rescued from its eco-cidal, economic and financial follies, not by better capitalisms, (there are none) but, – as in 2008 – by non-profit based public service organisations. Without public services and governmental organisations stepping in, capitalists concerns would have collapsed progressively or continued production until everything collapsed. The socialised bailout and quarantine measures, needed to keep societies alive and ticking over due to this Covid-19 pandemic, show that competition and private capital could not have saved the world’s population from the worst. It took non-profit institutions – albeit some very badly managed ones –  to belatedly act to save the social system and many lives.

This pandemic also demonstrates that when crises of such magnitude occur, societies need the cooperation of all citizens to survive and function properly. It has also indicated something else. Social structures with pro-capitalists at the top wielding power, not only create the conditions for such epidemics to flourish and spread, but reveal that it is the bottom layers of society, the workers, (the least paid) who are the most important to societal maintenance and survival. It is they – as they do in normal times – who are keeping the health system, food distribution, water, electricity, sewage, rubbish removal and other essential services going.

The elite hide themselves away enjoying their perks and privileges, while the working class staff the front ranks again and give their energies and lives, to keep this new viral enemy at bay. True some elites meet in committee and push paper about, but it is not those who keep us directly supplied with essentials. Under capitalism it is clear, social importance and rewards are upside down, for even the rich need food, water, electricity, sewage processing etc., before they ‘need‘ anything else.

In normal periods as well as in crisis, the rich need working people more fundamentally than they need their own elite neighbours. We all depend not only the above named categories but teachers, engineers, technicians, plumbers, builders, transport workers etc. Crises sharply demonstrate we need working people, far more than the barely competent elites in Parliaments and governmental agencies. Yet the wage and salary levels do not reflect this. The world in 2020 and beyond, badly needs turning the right way up.

Roy Ratcliffe (April 2020)

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 5

After initially downplaying the combined contagion capability of Covid-19 and its conduit along the global supply chain, many governments, have started to rehearse a self-serving narrative. It is a narrative which will dominate contemporary and future discussions and evaluations of political performance in a post-pandemic return to normality (!). Already excuses are being made, particularly in the advanced countries of Europe and the West, as politicians and senior government advisers seek to justify their considerable salaries, expenses and pensions. Early ones are as follows.

A. This is a new virus, so we are still learning. There is a tiny gram of accuracy in this official line of ‘spin’, but it hides a pound of deceit. Covid-19 is a new zoonotic (from animals) corona virus and specialists in this field have experience of all kinds of viruses, their origins, methods of transmission, contagion capabilities and how to contain them.

If we discount the lessons learned prior to 2000 (eg. HIV; H5N2), then there have been six: SARS; HPN1 (avian); H1N1 (swine); MERS; H7N9 (avian); EBOLA; and ZIKA. Covid-19 is part of a family of viruses that can produce mild to serious respiratory problems. But more to the point the lessons of how they spread and how dangerous they can be was readily known at the highest levels of government and World Health Organisation. There is even a journal, ‘Emerging Infectious Diseases’. And as one author on the a future pandemic perceptively wrote;

“Will the Next Big One come out of the rainforest or a market in southern China?” (‘Spillover’ David Quammen.)

Indeed, the problem of virus pandemics, including corona ones, is so well known and anticipated that a series of preparatory stages had been proposed to governments by those most up to date in this area. In non-medical language these amount to the following.

1. Expect new zoonotic viruses and be alert. 2. Put health concerns before economic ones. 3. Have, well-funded and prepared health services already in place. 4. Respond rapidly once infection is detected. 5. Provide honest, clear and consistent communication. 6. Begin diagnosis, quarantining and treatment early. 7. Invest sufficiently in scientific research and prevention strategies. 8. Mobilise the public in active preventions.

1 Most western and European governments and their specialists seem not to have been on the alert. 2 Indeed, even after news came out from the source in China, economic concerns were the primary ones. 3 The health services in most neo-liberalised countries, we’re underfunded and under-prepared. 4 Response was far from rapid once the problem became obvious. 5 Information was far from, honest, clear or consistent from most capitalist governments. 6 Diagnosis and treatment is still not fully operational three months after the first alert. 7 In some countries scientific research and prevention strategies were either static or in some cases (USA) had been reduced. 8 In some countries the public were not mobilised but at first largely ignored, then asked to isolate themselves.

However, in the UK faced with having effectively defaulted on stages 1 to 7 the well-heeled government politicians and officials here have finally decided to mobilise ordinary citizens and as key workers become sick, will need to mobilise more. Already in some countries care homes are woefully understaffed. How are the old on medication to get their tablets if they cannot leave home without risking contagion? Furthermore, as transport workers and supermarket operatives become sick drivers and shelf-stackers will be needed. As in the case of Brexit, the UK elite demonstrate that nothing seems to have been thought through quickly or effectively.

B. The Government is taking the right measures at the right time. That political rationalisation is devoid of any connection with reality as the above section makes clear.

C. ‘We are all in this together.’ I have dealt with that nonsensical  political sound bite in  Corona Virus Pandemic – 3. However, it is worth adding that if you are self-isolating in a palace or mansion, with your own private grounds, with your own gym, swimming pool, games room, wine cellar and all the other luxury that goes with our unequal class system, is different. That is obviously a vastly different ‘all in it together’ experience than a poor pensioner in a terraced cottage or a single mum in a high – rise or low rise apartment with a young child.

We are going to have much more of this self-serving denial of reality pouring out of the mouths of the elite and refined and amplified by the sycophantic middle – class in the media outlets. They are simply trying to buff-up the rusting hulk of capitalist social structures. Middle-class professionals like the ‘idea’ of there being communal equality, but shrink at trying to achieve it in ‘reality’. Our only hope lies in the stoicism and humanism of ordinary working people, who will keep basic services running and also step up and help each other in the community. Each community, as soon as possible, should create neighbourhood Covid-19 defence committees, who will monitor the the situation, keep an eye on the most vulnerable and ensure any government initiatives get to those in need and not siphoned off for private gain.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2020)

[For lessons learned from Epidemics and Pandemics, see for example; ‘The end of Epidemics’ by Dr. Jonathan D Quick.]

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 4.

The battle against the Covid-19 virus now has all the characteristics of  a World War. As yet this new ‘World War ‘, is not against the citizens of another nation, as were the last two. Nevertheless, practically every nation has introduced variations of Martial Law to defeat this microscopic ‘enemy of the people’. Talk of an ‘army’ of volunteers has also been heard. Even the most pro-capitalist elites in UK and Europe have come close to ‘nationalising’ everything, as they did in the Second World War. This is being done in order to weather the crisis and ensure an eventual return to capitalist forms of production. As in previous wars, everybody must do as they are told and make sacrifices (some on this front line by dying) to save the system, with it’s divisions between rich and poor, and elite form of governance.

As in previous wars, the elite invite us to look away from the events leading up to the outbreak and focus on immediate problems. This allows them to shift responsibility away from the system, it’s governing elites and blame the victims of the virus when things go wrong. If the virus spreads uncontrollably, it will not be the fault of neo – liberal policies of the past decades, of elite under-funding of public services, low pay and homelessness, nor of exporting production to sources of cheap labour abroad. Instead, the finger will be pointed at the systems victims – we should have stayed indoors!

The fact that people do not trust the motives of politicians and governing elites because of years of broken promises and factual manipulations, will also be ignored. Those, who in the current dire circumstances, have sensibly conformed to the draconian measures will be encouraged to direct their anger at those who stockpile essential products, or decide not to self-isolate. Citizens may even be asked to report each other for transgressions to ‘public order’ provisions, just as they were in previous wars. We only need the national coordination of essential foods and clothing (ie ‘rationing’) and the similarities to other world wars will be obvious.

The experience of extensive national control during the Second World War, led people to mistake nationalisation for socialism. This led working people to support successive post-war governments to fully nationalise and modernise businesses – at public cost – after that war. This policy invited de-nationalisation (privatisation) when circumstances were favourable to the elite. Whether the capitalist and pro-capitalist elites can get away with the same trick after this Covid-19 war remains to be seen.

The fact that capitalist-minded governments have decided to help out ordinary people via massive cash donations to businesses and by extending illness and out of work benefits, may appear as a sincere concern for working class majorities in various countries. However, that concern is transparently thin. It has not been extended to front-line medical workers and other key workers. They still lack sufficient protection against infection or testing systems to determine who has the virus and who hasn’t. Yet some of these current anti-viral ‘remedies’ may be extended after the Covid-19 War is over.

The concept of a universal basic wage – paid to everyone, has already been suggested which will allow the unemployed and low-paid citizens to continue purchasing commodities which will make recovery for capitalist concerns possible. However, a post-war steep economic downturn and probable collapse is more likely because, like any other chain, economic and financial chains are only as strong as their weakest links. The current weak links are many – as a month of virus pandemic has already demonstrated.

Most of the current neo-liberal economic links are built on a combination of low-waged overproduction supported by leveraged debt and low-interest speculation. Keeping all the nearly-dead businesses, alive may be beyond the ability of even a new Marshall Plan. In 2019, the system was ready to collapse – given any source capable of sufficiently breaking the chain – as in 2008! Importantly, this virus-triggered world economic and financial crisis, occurs when the economic system has been routinely over producing for decades whilst polluting and destroying nature faster than can be remedied. Capitalism is Gaia’s cancer.

And the recent crash in financial markets does not fully indicate the depth or severity of the underlying crisis, for much of that ‘wealth’ is fictional capital. Its just paper promises leveraged and counted more than once, before being shredded. Its nothing new;

“With the development of interest – bearing capital and the credit system, all capital seems to double itself, and sometimes treble itself, by the various modes in which the same capital, or perhaps the same claim on a debt, appears in different forms and in different hands. The greater portion of this ‘money-capital’ is purely fictitious.” (Marx. Capital volume 3 page 460.)

Because profit is the motive to capitalist production there is constant rift between the limits to consumption, based as it is on the ability of enough people to buy everything for sale, and the amount which can be mass-produced in the hope of obtaining profits. This gap between production and consumption regularly leads to product dumping, destruction, bankrupt firms and recessions. The capitalist economic sequence has long been; full productionover-productioncrisisrecession/stagnationrecoveryfull productionover-production – crisis….repeated.

The depth and duration of recession after crisis has tended to be in proportion to extent and duration of the over-production. This current one will be a BIG one. Until production and employment is disconnected from profit and sustainably connected to egalitarian human needs, then crises will continue in a destructive downward spiral until societies can no longer recover on a capitalist basis. It would clearly be better to stop the decline before it reaches that point. Hopefully the current virus-triggered global crisis could be the catalyst for further disconnecting production from profit and making all production, people-led, need-based, egalitarian and ecologically sustainable – but not without a struggle.

Roy Ratcliffe (April 2020)

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CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 3

Covid 19 and Capitalism.

Viruses are an ancient life-form and they pre-date the capitalist mode of production by millions, if not billions of years. Yet viruses and capitalism do have something in common. A virus is a member of the planets microscopic bio-mass, yet it is a predatory/parasitic member. It continues to live by exploiting the energy and material of other life-forms to promote it’s own welfare. It enters our internal system by inserting itself into weak points of our skin. It then moves into the circulatory part of our internal eco-system. Once there it attaches itself to healthy cells, pierces their protective layer and uses what is inside to reproduce itself. If not prevented, by a strong internal resistance, it moves on leaving behind it death and destruction.

On a larger scale capitalists are also predatory members of the planetary biomass. However, they only began to seriously enter the human socio-economic circulation systems a few hundred years ago. They too entered the weak spots in human environments and attached themselves to nearby economic activity. They then progressively penetrated and destroyed the healthy hunter-gatherer, pastoralist and agricultural economic cells of activity they encountered. This parasitic invasion was done, first at local and national geographic levels, then via colonialism and imperialism, to international ones as well. Countless millions of human beings and their sustainable life-styles were destroyed during the process of capitalism’s parasitic invasion of Gaia’s healthy body.

Anyone not totally blinded by ignorance or self-interest cannot fail to acknowledge that the capitalist mode of production, through its frenetic profit-motivated activity, has destroyed much of human, animal and plant life. It has also polluted so much of the land, seas, air and ground water, that many more forms of extinction are now inevitable. Capitalism’s pandemic invasion of the planet, in many ways mirrors the action of corona viruses on the human body. Of course, the analogy cannot be applied too far, because the virus does not know it is being parasitic and creating death and destruction in its wake.

For example, this virus cannot tell our healthy cells that ‘we are all in this together’ or ‘what we are doing is only natural’ or ‘the benefits of our activity will eventually trickle down’ or ‘isn’t this the best of all possible worlds…’. Nor can a virus so completely befuddle our immune micro-biotic agents with such propaganda that they ignore the destruction around them. But a parasitic elite class can. The human internal immune system if not compromised or sidelined, will automatically fight back. However, our external citizen antibodies have only intermittently rejected capitalism and not always effectively.

Returning to the contemporary Covid19 virus situation it is worth examining the recent statements made by the political representatives of capital as referenced in italics above.

1. ‘we are all in this together’. Perhaps in a biological sense, but we are not equally financially or economically protected. The billions set aside for business support will not really come to us all. Struggling, poorly paid working class people are likely to get a very small fraction of the bailout to capitalists. [and even 80% of low pay is still a huge 20% reduction.] Nor will they get interest free loans or council tax reductions. Those required to use pre-payment meters for electricity and gas, are not at all in the same boat as the well-heeled. Nor does everyone have access to private health care. We are not all in this pandemic together.

2. ‘what we are doing is only natural’. Capitalism is not a natural form of production. It is entirely social and on a historical scale – fairly recent! Nature does not produce billionaires on the one-hand and poverty-stricken hard working people on the other. These are social results imposed by human laws and elite enforcement agents. Indeed, capitalism is so unnatural that capitalists and pro-capitalists in crisis want bailouts – not from nature – but from social funds. Those dishing out social bailouts, such as politicians, government officials and advisors are themselves not directly employed by private capital, but by non – profit based forms of social organisation!

3. ‘the benefits…trickle down‘. The decades since Reagan, Thatcher and their enablers, instituted neo – liberal economic and financial policies, are informative in checking out what benefits have trickled down. Certainly not ‘benefits’ themselves. Moreover, reductions in public services since then are at the root of many current problems we face from Covid 19. Underfunded health services in practically all capitalist countries have insufficient intensive care beds, staff, testing kits, ventilators to cope. Even cheap face masks are not sufficiently available for front line staff. Millions of low – paid, zero – hours workers and part – time workers have for decades been unable to save anything for a rainy day or a quarantined month. Yet the 1% and the 10% have far more than they need tucked away.

4. ‘isn’t this the best of all possible worlds?‘ Not for those mentioned above, or the elderly ill, parked in hospital corridors, or those in many profit-based, ill-staffed care homes. That is before we draw attention to the rest of the world, where proxy wars have been fueled by the capitalist greed for oil, copper, zinc, aluminium and many other raw materials. For economic refugees and political seekers of asylum this is far from the best of all possible worlds. Only an elite are likely to really think that it is.

Whilst a virus is an unconscious parasite, capitalism’s parasitism is far from unconscious. A great deal of thought and planning go into how capitalists can best exploit global human and natural resources. Sadly, as greed motivated transmission ‘vectors’ most capitalists will continue their path of global invasion and destruction until enough larger life-forms recognise this death-dealing intrusion and resist. The global equivalent of the bodies immune micro-organisms rejecting Covid 19 are ordinary people who when this is over, need to begin a fight back and seek an end to capitalism’s virus – like pandemic of global destruction.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2020)

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BEGINNERS GUIDE 18.

On Revolution.

The decline and fall of empires.

Historical evidence indicates that elites governing previous historical empires have never voluntarily ended the socio-economic system over which they ruled. Indeed, the evidence indicates they fought ideologically and practically to continue their preferred socio-economic of exploitation despite clear signs that it had become moribund and unsustainable. Yet those immense historical empires, such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Greece and Rome nevertheless did collapse and came to an inglorious end. The elites dominating the current immense empire of global capitalism – are no different in this regard.

It cannot have escaped the readers attention, how in other countries – as well as our own – that legitimate citizen protests are met with the calculated force of the states armed police forces in order to dissuade protesters from continuing their campaigns for better pay, working conditions or environmental improvements. So the fact that it has been known for decades, that capitalistic mass production and consumption has been undermining the natural foundation of food production, (soil, climate, fresh water, plant pollination) threatening major coastal cities from rising seas and depleting and damaging the oceans sea-food resources, does not mean elites will end this practice.

Their general reactionary position with regard to the extinction probabilities now highlighted by ‘extinction-rebellions’ and many concerned scientists is that; a) populations should leave existing elites in charge; b) allow capital to carry on producing and consuming in similar destructive ways, and that; c) citizens should simply adjust to new realities of increased fires, floods, epidemics and pollution. We should – just get used to it!

However, when ruling elites will not allow changes to a mode of production which has clearly not provided what it’s citizens require for a very long time, then a revolutionary transformation of that mode becomes necessary – if existential disasters are to be avoided. The good news is that we are already part way there. As noted in previous ‘guides’, elites in control of the capitalist mode of production have already introduced non-profit forms of organisation where capitalist enterprise has proved unsuitable. The bad news is that these same elites stand in the way of completing the logic of this economic transition. Neo-liberalism deliberately interrupted the move from private enterprise organisations to public service institutions and cooperative production. What is now required to complete and consolidate this economic transition is a two-fold revolution – political and economic.

Revolutionary transformations.

Sooner or later, the present political system will have to be ended at local and national levels, for it is designed from top to bottom to eliminate direct decision making from the majority and place it in the hands of a hierarchical elite. This system of political control will have to be abolished and a new non – hierarchical decision making process created. Clearing away the current disfunctional social infrastructure would facilitate a rapid completion of the transition to non-profit making, co-operative forms of organisation. The ethos of which would be for sustainable production and eco-friendly distribution, consumption and waste disposal – for all! Concurrently, the hierarchical internal structure of social organisations and productive bodies will also need to be replaced with genuine staff democracy.

Of course revolutions against entrenched and privileged elites do not just happen by recognising their necessity. Historical evidence demonstrates that certain developments are needed before revolutionary transformations occur. However, these developments are mostly outside of the control of individuals and even campaigning groups. Research on revolutionary processes elicits the following general – often overlapping – stages.

1. Widespread dissatisfaction and questioning the legitimacy of the system among populations.

2. Local collective activities and grassroots organisations broadcast the dissatisfaction and begin active opposition.

3. Regional/national organisations of dissatisfaction and coordinated action are created.

4. Dissatisfaction appears within the ruling and governing elite and these make links with regional and local developments.

The above four stages create the basis for popular uprisings. However, the success of such uprisings also depend upon the following three developments.

5. Irreparable splits appear within the ruling elites on popularised solutions to the problems.

6. Non-hierarchical civil-society organisations prepare themselves to resist being forced to back down and actively press their demands.

7. These civil – society movements organise alternative forms of national community structures in opposition to existing state organisation.

If the above stages become established, then the uprisings demands tend to be transformed into self-activity measures. In this way the general uprising ‘against‘ conditions can become transformed into revolutionary action ‘for‘ solutions. Then:

8. Existing socio-economic production systems are taken over by the protest movement and new ones created. Interrupted supplies of basic necessities are restarted and developed.

9. Decisions on production and distribution stay with the community organisations and their liason links with other community organisations are extended.

10. Future planning and coordination of production and exchange remains based upon negotiated community across models. Individual administrative or facilitator posts (deemed necessary) are by election on the basis of ability and are revocable.

In previous guides it was noted that in advanced capitalist countries, the bulk of the social organisations have already been instituted on a non-profit public service ‘needs’ basis. These need to be democratised and pay and conditions equalised to eliminate elite sabotage, misdirection and disruptive production. Even those remaining organisations based on private profit have long been reliant upon huge social support before, during the increasingly frequent economic and financial crises. They are but one step away from being fully transferred to the public sector and similarly democratised and equalised.

The era of globalised capitalism has reached the point where, within a generation, a rapid decline or sudden collapse, now seems inevitable. Already aggressive resource extraction has drastically de-stabilised the ecological and climate balance of the planet. The only remaining question is the speed in which this will happen. If humanity does not wake up and replace production for profit with production for sustainable need, then accelerated decline or sudden collapse is the likely outcome.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2020)

[For why capitalism might suddenly collapse not gradually decline: See http://www.counterpunch.org/2020/03/13/four-reasons-civilisation-wont-decline-it-will-collapse ]

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THE CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC – 2

Capitalism and health-care.

In Corona Virus Pandemic – 1, it was briefly pointed out how global supply chains on the ‘just in time’ basis both extended the range of potential epidemics and accelerated the speed of their spread across the globe. One countries epidemic more frequently and more quickly becomes a Pandemic. However, the neo-liberal phase of the capitalist mode of production has also undermined the ability of communities to isolate an epidemic, to contain it’s spread and to slow it’s increase down.

The emphasis on profitable returns on capital and capitalist forms of efficiency has led to decades of low wages, precarious employment and cut – backs in public services. Thus measures suggested to contain or slow down the spread, cannot be fulfilled by sufficient numbers to make it effective. Self – isolation at an early stage – in order not to become infected and not to infect others – is only possible for those with sufficient income for them to stay home. Large numbers of low-paid workers, without sick pay entitlement and self-employed will not be able (or willing) to deprive themselves or their families of the income they need.

Workers over many decades have gone into work suffering from a wide range of injuries and illnesses, to keep food in their mouths and roofs over their heads. The mixed response to this new outbreak of contagion will be no different. Bear in mind the health service, which will be charged with caring for those most effected, also has large numbers of vacancies, shortages of beds along with a low-paid, over stretched workforce – all of whom – will face the same dilemma. If the pandemic does go on the most extreme rampage, the increasing numbers of infected people, shortages of doctors, staff and beds in hospitals and care homes, will be a neo-liberal created problem of huge proportions.

Although the old, the young and the sick may be the ones most vulnerable to death from a virus which overwhelms an already compromised immune system and those most vulnerable to it, that will not be the end of the serious global problems, triggered by Covid19. For there are those countries around the world which have little or no health services or sewage and clean water, yet still supply more advanced countries with raw materials or goods in numerous exchanges. The poor and low-paid in these countries will probably suffer more problems than more developed regions and the contagion will last much longer there before possibly finding it’s way back – just in time – for xmas.

So the neo-liberal phase of capitalism’s self-harming existential spasms will continue in one form or another. At the economic level, any serious pandemic of global proportions will of course trigger a cascade of economic collapses as supply chains become restricted or curtailed. That in turn will trigger shortages and financial collapses as loan payments funded by sales become defaulted and debts cannot be rolled over as credit dries up. Furthermore, the already crisis levels of national debts will increase as government tax receipts and income streams fall. Those effects in turn will create more unemployment, more poverty, more homelessness and another downward spiral of deprivation, dislocation and social protest.

In Europe and the UK the Covid-19 epidemic has also already revealed the chasm between private profit-based motivations and public service provisions. In this crisis, as in the 2008 finance crisis, no one turns to the private sector for general guidance on how to respond to a medical, economic, financial and social crisis. Everyone understands that governments and non-profit public services – as bad as some now are – are the only framework for national and international strategies to manage and combat epidemics.

For example, non-profit public organisations would never think of taking advantage of the present crisis by hiking up the prices of essential goods and medical supplies. However, the private sector has already done this with face masks, hand washing gels and many other things. When essential food supplies start to dry up, other sections of the private sector will undoubtedly view this current epidemic as an opportunity to manage their own type of profit-based killing.

But that’s not all. Government agents and health officials will also be calculating how best to manage the stages of infection, the progress of immunity and the number of deaths resulting from it. The calculation will be based around the need to ensure that national immunity gained (through survival) will leave intact the largest possible number of productive, tax – paying adults and children – the future tax-paying generation.

Thus from the neo-liberal capitalist perspective, the epidemic/pandemic must be allowed to spread but not at too great a pace to disrupt the economy and not in too great numbers to overwhelm the poorly funded, under – resourced health services. Hence, a policy of self-isolation for the majority and the under-resourced health services, as far as possible, being reserved for the old, the sick and the vulnerable. If, or rather sadly, when these latter categories become too great for the health service in countries with large ageing populations, the strategy of triage will be adopted. The badly infected will be formally or informally separated into the following categories:

Patients who are likely to survive, no matter what level of care they get;
Patients who with immediate care will probably survive.
Patients who are judged unlikely to survive no matter how much care they get.

When health resources are insufficient for expensive intensive care for all, as they invariably are in neo-liberal capitalist economies, then the judgement will be made to utilise them on the first two categories and not ‘waste‘ (sic) them on the third. Many ‘loved ones‘ will be ‘lost before their time’ as UK’s Boris Johnson intoned. That is the inherent logic of any socio-economic system not based on the humanist rights of all. Capitalism creates rich and poor and resources for the poor are always in short supply. Yet again many will die before they should.

Roy Ratcliffe (March 2020)

[For more details See http://links.or.au/coronavirus-agribusiness-risks-millions-deaths%5D

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