The Coronavirus and The Collapse of Capitalism

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30/03/2020 by socialistfight

By Dov Winter

Coronavirus (Covid-19 or 2019-ncov) Infographic showing Incubation, Prevention and Symptoms with icons & infected person.

This could possibly be the biggest crisis of capitalism ever. The system cannot deal with the coronavirus, and it is beginning to fall apart. World-wide, there are over half a million cases of people infected with the virus. In the US alone there are over 81,000 cases of coronavirus and over 1,000 deaths. But you should know that by time I will finish writing this article, the numbers of cases could double or triple easily, because the number of cases is rising exponentially:

“It took 67 days to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases worldwide. The second 100,000 cases took 11 days, and the third 100,000 took only four days.” https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/26/what-the-coronavirus-curve-teaches-us-about-climate-change-148318

It took 67 days to reach 100,000 coronavirus cases worldwide. The second 100,000 cases took 11 days, and the third 100,000 took only four days

Nothing of this scope has happened in the last 100 years. Capitalism is totally unprepared for this. Throughout the world hospitals do not have enough beds, and the numbers of ventilators is very small for the needs of the sick and dying. So many patients that can be kept alive by ventilators are dying. Stories are abundant about overstressed emergency rooms, where the doctors try to help one patient, while the others die because of lack of doctors and resources to save them.

Capitalism as an economic system is collapsing. Unemployment is rising exponentially at a rate never seen before:

“One in three Americans say they or an immediate family member have been laid off or lost their job as a result of the coronavirus pandemicaccording to a new survey by ABC News/Washington Post. .. More than half – HALF – of Americans reported a cut in pay or work hours, it found.” (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2020/mar/26/coronavirus-us-live-house-vote-2tn-stimulus-package-bill-senate-news-updates-trump, bold in original)

And the Guardian adds that:

“it reported a record number of unemployment claims – 3.3 million in just one week.” (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/27/coronavirus-pandemic-americans-health-insurance)

 ‘A million or more US workers will lose their jobs in April alone. Consider what this means for health care in this country.’ Photograph: Peter Foley/EPA

So, at third of American workers are unemployed or have cut in pay and hours. This collapse in employment has taken place within weeks. The capitalist press is getting hysteric about this for good reasons. Such an economic collapse never happened in such a short time:

“The shock to the global economy from Covid-19 has been faster and more severe than the 2008 global financial crisisand even the Great Depression. In those two previous episodes, stock markets collapsed by 50% or more, credit markets froze up, massive bankruptcies followed, unemployment rates soared above 10% and GDP contracted at an annualised rate of 10% or more. But all of this took around three years to play out. In the current crisis, similarly dire macroeconomic and financial outcomes have materialised in three weeks. Earlier this month, it took only 15 days for the US stock market to plummet into bear territory (a 20% decline from its peak) – the fastest such decline ever.    …Now, markets are down 35%, credit markets have seized up and credit spreads (like those for junk bonds) have spiked to 2008 levels. Even mainstream financial firms such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley expect US GDP to fall by an annualised rate of 6% in the first quarter and by 24% to 30% in the second. The US Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, has warned that the unemployment rate could skyrocket to above 20% (twice the peak level during the financial crisis).

“Unfortunately for the best-case scenario, the public-health response in advanced economies has fallen far short of what is needed to contain the pandemic and the fiscal-policy package currently being debated is neither large nor rapid enough to create the conditions for a timely recovery. As such, the risk of a new Great Depression, worse than the original – a Greater Depression – is rising by the day.” https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/25/coronavirus-pandemic-has-delivered-the-fastest-deepest-economic-shock-in-history

And:

“Calls to reopen America have disturbing intellectual roots. And the millions of deaths that could ensue would fuel a depression beyond our imagination” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/26/coronavirus-us-economy-health-lives-trump

The capitalist press is panicking for good reasons. They realize that that the great depression of the 1930s could look like the good old days in comparison to what’s coming because:

“In a single week, the pandemic wiped out a year and a half of job gains.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/business/economy/coronavirus-unemployment-claims.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

Nothing like this happened before, as panic over the crisis, not seen before is taking over many places in the world.

Capitalism in Extreme Decay is the Source of the Pandemic

Nature is not the source of the pandemic. Capitalism destruction of nature is the MAIN source of the pandemic. Only 25% percent of nature remains more or less OK after capitalism’s assault. The destroyed nature is harnessed for raising animals and crop for profit by the mega imperialist corporations. Human population around the remaining areas of nature has become susceptible to deadly diseases. Unhealthy, and stressed forests affect the animals in the forests adversely. Weak and stressed animals’ immune systems cannot stop deadly viruses from invading their bodies.  These viruses may not be deadly to the animals, but as we are learning they are deadly to people who live near the forests, as the viruses, including the coronavirus, jump from animals to humans. And from these infected areas, the viruses move to other areas, and attack people worldwide.

There is a lot of unjustified racism against Chinese people has developed since the outbreak, which Trump called “the Chinese virus”. But the virus could have inflicted itself on humans in other areas of the world. China is not the only place in the world where people slaughter wild animals that they bring to the market. But it is true that in China this practice is widespread. China was oppressed and exploited by imperialism for many decades. The emergence of China as one of the biggest economies did not change the extreme poverty in China, particularly in the countryside where old traditions of slaughtering wild animals and bringing them to the marketplace is common. In fact, scientists knew all this and they expected this epidemic to evolve:

“Andrew Cunningham of the Zoological Society of London tells The Guardian, ‘The emergence and spread of Covid-19 was not only predictable, it was predicted [in the sense that] there would be another viral emergence from wildlife that would be a public health threat.’ He cites a 2007 study of the SARS virus that found, ‘The presence of a large reservoir of Sars-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb.’

 “Cunningham says. ‘They are stressed and immuno-suppressed and excreting whatever pathogens they have in them. With people in large numbers in the market and in intimate contact with the body fluids of these animals, you have an ideal mixing bowl for [disease] emergence. If you wanted a scenario to maximize the chances of [transmission], I couldn’t think of a much better way of doing it.’” https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/25/nature-is-trying-to-tell-us-something-is-anybody-listening/

So, this is exactly what happens when humans mix with wild animals in fragile forests, where the people kill the animals and bring the animals and their deadly viruses to the marketplace.

Climate Change and the Destruction of Nature is the source for Coronavirus

Climate Change in combination with the destruction of nature is the source of the epidemic. As I wrote a number of times, Climate Change is going through a quantitative leap that causes suffering and destruction throughout the world. For example, we just have learnt that the great barrier reef in Australia is going through the third big cycle of bleaching, that could be devastating to fish not only in Australia, but throughout the world. This combination of Climate Change and the assault on nature is what behind the current epidemic. Nature had enough and it is telling us to fuck off and suffer:

“Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Program, tells The Guardian that nature is sending us a message, and part of it involves climate change. She says loss of habitat caused by a burgeoning human population and warmer average temperatures is forcing humans and animals into closer contact, which increases the odds that animal-borne diseases will be transmitted to people.” https://cleantechnica.com/2020/03/25/nature-is-trying-to-tell-us-something-is-anybody-listening/

Every year the proximity of humans and nature is getting closer and now we see the results. Climate Change and capitalism’s destruction of nature cause the trees and the animals to be more vulnerable to viruses, and diseases in general. This virus is the first big warming. Failure to heed to nature warning will result in other dangerous viruses causing havoc and death within the human population.

Meanwhile, the leader of the free world is threatening to ignore the advice of health officials to maintain social distancing for at least 2 more months. Instead, he claims he wants America back to work in 2 to 3 weeks, spurred no doubt by the knowledge that an economy in the toilet will doom his chances of being re-elected. Would the Great and Powerful Trump put Americans at risk for his own selfish reasons? You can bet on it.

How Capitalism and the Coronavirus Attack the Working Class

It is true that the coronavirus does not discriminate: it attacks everybody regardless of his/her class. Some capitalist politicians in Congress got sick. But the virus attacks on the working class is more intense. To begin with, workers throughout the world live in crowded conditions that create more favorite conditions for the coronavirus. Hence the mass infections in working class neighborhoods in Italy. In the US a worker who is infected has to have thousands of dollars when the hospital that treats her:

“ AHIP confirmed that out-of-pocket expenses for the treatment would not be waived, and could cost patients thousands of dollars. The average amount for someone admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, a respiratory condition that many coronavirus patients are facing, was $20,000 in 2018 for patients covered by private insurance, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Peterson.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/26/us-insurance-companies-coronavirus-hospitals

How can workers pay $20,000 to the hospital? They have to choose between food and paying the rent, and they could end up in the streets as many lose their jobs. With mass unemployment reaching historical levels in many countries, the people who live on the street are swelling to millions throughout the world. Here is an example of the plight of many workers:

“Chris Brown lost his job as a waiter as soon as Kansas City’s mayor ordered the closure of restaurants and bars. ‘I was lucky that I had a little money in my pocket when this happened. Not a lot. Maybe $100. But that’s more than a lot of people, especially in my industry. I know a lot of my comrades out there only had $20 in their pocket when the restaurant closed. I don’t know what they’re doing,’ he said.”(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/26/coronavirus-americans-poverty-kansas-city)

As the epidemic rise dramatically, many sick workers stay at home and possibly die. Yet the most oppressed workers such as Black and Latino workers are more at risk then others. They don’t always have luxury of “social distancing” when they live in shanti towns throughout the world. They are also the first to get laid off; and unlike more privileged workers, they cannot work from home. They must go to work, when there is work, and they are at high risk for infection:

“Low-wage workers — many of them black, like Ms. Moore-Caraway, or Hispanic — have been hit especially hard by the sudden economic reversal. Many work in the industries most affected by the outbreak, such as restaurants and travel, and few can work from home. They are also less likely to have sick leave or other paid time off, and they have less money saved to help overcome a missed paycheck.” https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/business/economy/coronavirus-unemployment-claims.html?action=click&module=Spotlight&pgtype=Homepage

The Virus is Smarter Than Trump

This virus is much smarter than Trump, who contradict himself regularly as he is trying to minimize the danger from the coronavirus. This is an extremely “clever” virus that is expertly jump from one host to the next.  Two features make this virus one of the most dangerous virus in human history. It can remain undetected in the human body for 15 days. That does not only allow the virus to overtake the body without detections, but the unsuspected host can easily spread the virus to a number of people. Another feature of the virus is the ease at which it can jump from one person to another. A slight cough or heavy breathing is enough for the virus to jump to another host, if the people are not separated by at least 6 feet. This by itself can create a lot of anxiety, and harm the daily interactions between people. 

Socialism or Barbarism is on the Agenda NOW

What going on is unprecedented in recent human history. Without a vaccine or a drug to treat the coronavirus, the virus will continue to spread like wild fire out of control. Unemployment throughout the world could reach unprecedented height within months. We could see the capitalist system collapse. The capitalists are worried or even terrified. But the only thing they can come up with is to start the economy and working as soon as possible. This, of course, will backfire and create a surge in coronavirus cases. In a website run by Bill Gate and company says that:

“Event 201 was a 3.5-hour pandemic tabletop exercise that simulated a series of dramatic, scenario-based facilitated discussions, confronting difficult, true-to-life dilemmas associated with response to a hypothetical, but scientifically plausible, pandemic. 15 global business, government, and public health leaders were players in the simulation exercise that highlighted unresolved real-world policy and economic issues that could be solved with sufficient political will, financial investment, and attention now and in the future. . . The exercise consisted of pre-recorded news broadcasts, live ‘staff’ briefings, and moderated discussions on specific topics. These issues were carefully designed in a compelling narrative that educated the participants and the audience.” (http://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/event201/about)

Try to read it and try to read it again. You will see that the big capitalists and bankers are clueless. The only thing they can say is abstract suggestions that any bourgeois politician can say in his/her propaganda: gibberish words that mean nothing, without one concrete proposal. In reality they may be storing food and other stuff in their underground bunkers with guards protecting them against the masses’ rage.

The masses will react. Ironically, any mass demonstration, or rally, in which the workers are in close proximity to each other can cause infections. But the workers have nothing to lose but their chains. Unheard of levels of unemployment and suffering will bring the working-class together. As the situation gets further out of control, mass uprisings are possible. The main problem will be a lack of leadership to lead the workers to power. This leadership is urgently needed to be built.

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