Victims and perpetrators.
Recent media references to catching the virus have been more often than not couched in terms of, ‘it hasn’t gone yet’; ‘it’s not over’; ‘it is still there’! Its as if they imagine Covid-19 was actively seeking to infect people like some invisible ninja assassin lurking around to get us. In fact the only active agents we can blame in the actual transmission of a virus – is ourselves.
A viruses success in invading human bodies is in direct proportion to human failure to avoid spreading it. Viruses do not spread themselves and kill or damage the health of those it infects. It is we who spread it to our families, friends, neighbours, contacts and strangers. We – and our current way of living – are the main problem in ending this or any other pandemic.
So the real tragedy of the high numbers of deaths, now in the tens and hundreds of thousands in each country, is that this biological weapon of mass-destruction hasn’t been delivered by an enemy – but by our own side! Although not intentionally, many of us have spread viruses around communal environments as well as to family, friends and strangers.
Prior to the current Pandemic scientific panels of those specialising in contagious diseases and viruses had produced documented strategies for avoiding or minimising the risks of us spreading the virus. These were duly noted, shelved and largely ignored by the political elite who had their own pecuniary interests to concentrate upon.
A too-late lock-down was all they could think of, which in effect meant the ordinary citizens not the elite, had to stop the virus from spreading – by hiding away from each other. Thus overall responsibility was evaded and handed over to the community. Our tax-funded elites then sent out mixed messages, ignored their own advice and joined in the ‘we are all in this together’ nonsense by clapping once a week.
Meanwhile, the doctors, nurses and other ‘essential’ workers staffing the hospitals and care homes were left to improvise and do their best not to pass the virus on.
But despite, the general confusion and mixed messages, by hiding away from each other most ordinary people succeeded in not passing it on to their fellow citizens. Consequently the contagion slowed and the rate of Covid infections and deaths continued to reduce. That is until the political and capitalist elites realised their mode of production was collapsing. Hardly any wage-slaves were at work supplementing their profits and investments.
So – to save their economy – elites globally have urged everyone to get out and start infecting each other again. They know ordinary people have not got the right equipment and resources, nor sufficient information to make fully informed decisions on how to keep each other safe. The elite know that many are caught in the decades long economic poverty trap deliberately created for them by successive pro – capitalist elites.
They also know that sending working-class kids to school and their parents out to work is a risk the elite will not have to take.
A mixture of confusion, boredom and financial need along with allowing businesses to open up again is creating another round of the virus being handed on like an invisible but deadly relay baton. A second wave of contagion is well on its way in practically all the countries that encouraged their populations to end lock-down and help capitalist economic activity to start up again.
Despite hopes to the contrary, the finishing line for many more people in this race to create a new capitalist normal has been (and will be) an intensive-care bed or a coffin.
Hope versus probability.
Hope 1. Those who catch it will only get it in a mild form and soon recover. That is the Trumpian and Johnsonian hypothesis, but it also the hope of many who gather on beaches, in bars, cinemas, shops and restaurants. However, since this virus is new, clutching at such straws is based upon evidence which may prove unreliable. We know Covid-19 can be fatal for some in vulnerable categories but evidence is emerging that when the lungs have ceased to be dangerously infected, Covid-19 can still be damaging other internal organs.
It may turn out that recovery from Covid-19 could be followed by long-term, debilitating, damage for some of the population. It may be the case that the amount and frequency of the viral load internalised has a bearing upon the lethality of infection. Furthermore, it cannot be assumed that the virus will not mutate and infect yet again.
Hope 2. That at least a partial return to normality can soon be achieved and some of the activities (eating out, holidays abroad, night clubs, etc.) we have come to think a right to can be resumed. For many people this is never going to happen. The coming economic collapse will be so great that much of what some have come to consider as entitlement will be unaffordable under the current mode of production. In all probability there will be mass unemployment in advanced, poor countries and middle – income countries. What many of us did before Covid-19 – will never return.
Hope 3. That a successful vaccine will be soon be developed which will allow a nearly full return to the pre-Covid-19 capitalist normality. This is not going to happen soon enough to ease the economic and the many health problems which are now unfolding. And of course, like the hope for many other vaccines, it may never happen.
Moreover, does anyone think the neo-liberal regimes of the globe, are capable of ensuring the development of a safe, effective vaccine, along with a fair and equitable mass inoculation procedure? They have not even ensured plastic aprons, masks, gloves and swabs were available in sufficient quantities and qualities. Their promise of effective universal testing and tracing procedures – still unfulfilled!
Hope is no substitute for initiating direct community action aimed at ending; poverty, homelessness and virus transmission.
[For a more detailed projection of the coming economic crisis, see Rob Urie article at https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/07/17/economic-crisis-and%5D
R. Ratcliffe (July 2020)