The Coronavirus: The Slide to Barbarism Has Begun and Will Not Go Away

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16/04/2020 by socialistfight

By Dov Winter

Food being distributed in Indonesia earlier this month.Credit…Antara Foto/Reuters

Nobody knows how long the crisis will last. But a growing number of doctors and researchers don’t think it will go away in a year. Some think that it will be two years, and others worries that it will re-emerge on a regular basis regardless of the development of a vaccine:

“The overall numbers of cases in the next five years, and the level of distancing required, were found to depend crucially on the overall current levels of infection and whether all those who are infected gain immunity and, if so, for how long. The authors [researchers] cautioned that these are big unknowns and that a precise prediction of the long-term dynamics is not possible.

“Under all scenarios considered, however, the models found that a one-time lockdown would result in a resurgence after restrictions are lifted.” [1]

This is one of the most devastating viruses that ever attacks humans. It does not only attack the lungs, but other vital body’s organs as well, as one of the scientists said:

“That’s a huge number of people who have this problem [the virus attacking the kidney]. That’s new to me,” Kliger said. “I think it’s very possible that the virus attaches to the kidney cells and attacks them.” [2]

And the coronavirus does not spare the heart. It attacks it as well:

“Clinicians in China and New York have reported myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and, more dangerous, irregular heart rhythms that can lead to cardiac arrest in covid-19 patients.” [3]

In fact, the virus attacks any organ in the body that it can attack:

“In a subset of covid-19 cases, researchers have found, the immune system battling the infection goes into hyperdrive. The uncontrolled response leads to the release of a flood of substances called cytokines that, in excess, can result in damage to multiple organs … The virus can attack a number of organs in the body, including the eyes and the liver.” (Ibid).

This is one of the most powerful viruses the human race has encountered. We know that there are other similar viruses in the disintegrating wilderness that are waiting in line for an opportunity to emerge and inflict us. This devastating virus has opened a gate. It is likely that in the future this gate will remain open for other viruses that are as dangerous as the coronavirus.

Capitalism has caused a devastating Climate Change that in combination with systematic destruction of nature have caused unprecedented destruction throughout the world. Nature is now only 25% of what it used to be. Forests have been destroyed or partially destroyed in areas of dense human population. The weakened forests and the climate warming made life for the animals in the forests difficult. The stress has weakened the immune system of these animals, that can easily now get viruses such as the coronavirus.

The Wuhan wild animal market

These animals were brought to marketplace in areas such as Wuhan, China, where the tradition of selling and buying wild animals exists for many generations. At some point the virus jumped from the animals to humans who started the epidemic in China and throughout the world. Many reactionaries, and even people like Paul McCartney, blame China for the virus. But another similar virus could have emerged in other areas in the world where wildlife is sold in poor sanitary conditions. We must note that the restoration of capitalism in China have caused more poverty and desperation for the poor workers and farmers, who rely on slaughtering wild animals to eat and survive.

The combination of Climate Change, the destruction of nature, and the decaying capitalist system will bring similar disasters. The gate has been opened widely, and it will not close without a dramatic social and economic changes: ultimately, only the international socialist revolution can handle, and stop the regular emergence of similar deadly virus.

Climate Change is nature control system. Ironically, Climate Change’s task, that includes devastating diseases, is to restore nature balance. The human race grew from about 1 billion people in the 20th century to over 9 billion now. The combination of capitalism’s vile contamination and destruction of nature for the sake of profit with unprecedented 9 billion people, have destroyed nature’s balance and biodiversity, and nature has been reacting violently. Millions of people already lost their homes or their homes were damaged because of storms. Many more died from increasing heat from Climate Change. If 30 years ago it was correct to say that the gate of climate change has opened, we can say that now the gate is flooding; and a second gate has opened for deadly diseases.

We are already in the greatest and gravest economic crisis. The economy is totally shattered, with many millions counted and uncounted are unemployed. Millions of unemployed are going hungry as food distribution is broken. There is food for now, but the farmers cannot get it to the supermarkets, and they destroy the food as hunger is growing. Hunger and unemployment are growing fast, and they are likely to reach unprecedented levels:

“More than 15 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits, but in poor countries some two billion people face joblessness without benefits. Unemployment insurance in developed countries typically covers six out of 10 workers who lose formal jobs, compared with just one out of 10 in developing countries — where most people do not hold formal jobs.

“As a result, many officials in the emerging world say they can’t simply copy the measures adopted in wealthy countries. Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, recently tweeted that South Asia is ‘faced with the stark choice’ between ‘a lockdown’ to control the virus and ‘ensuring that people don’t die of hunger and our economy doesn’t collapse.’” [4]

The world has many cities with millions of people. This is where the infection can spread like wildfires. The only way to stop this is to have a lockdown whereby the cities have become ghosts’ cities, with many reports of wild animals walking on the streets.

Skinning rodents in Wuhan wildlife market.

Barbarism is Knocking on the Doors

As time progresses doctors admit that there is too much that they don’t understand about the virus, and how it will evolve. Nature is a living organism that is constantly evolving. With Climate Change, humans, via brutal capitalism (against nature and humans) destroy biodiversity, that is disappearing even in the remote areas of the world. If the cure for the virus take years, and another vicious virus knocks on the door, unprecedented level of barbarism will dominate the world. Barbarism can be used as a cliché, describing the collapse of civilization. But it is likely that pockets of people will prevail in some areas, most likely valleys in which life is still possible.

Before the virus hit the world, Climate Change was surging with rapidly higher temperature with devastating effects. As Climate Change worsens, more devastating diseases will inflict the human race.

There is a growing talk, that includes bourgeois scholars, about lack of “normality”, and the fact that what was normal in past will not return. Capitalism cannot stay in a permanent crisis, in which the economy is devastated and millions are dying or are unemployed and hungry, without reaction from the masses. This instability of capitalism provides perfect conditions for revolutions. Therefore, the talk about no-more normality, is an expression of fear by ruling class for the potential mass uprisings and revolutions.

Amazon worker at Staten Island Facility JFK8 (Image Credit: @AngeMariaSolis)

Workers Response and the Possibilities of Socialism

Workers strikes continue, against unsafe and dangerous conditions at work, that include the lack of masks and protective gears in the workplace. The latest example is the strike in Wholefood supermarkets. The sporadic strikes need to better coordinated, and as the crisis intensifies there is a need to coordinate a workers’ general strike. Below are transitional demands that revolutionaries should agitate within the working class and its organs, such as the trade unions, the factories, and workplaces:

1. Against the drive for profit by the health industry at the expense of patients, the workers should demand the immediate nationalization of all the pharmaceutical companies, and the entire health system, including all the insurance companies, without a penny of compensation, and under workers control. The entire health industry under health workers control, should coordinate tirelessly to develop a vaccine as soon as possible. This should save many lives. And as importantly, this would open the door, for the workers to run the entire economy. We also demand that all coronavirus patients (excluding the rich), should get full treatment for free, to be paid directly by governments and capitalists’ profit.

2. The working class, its unions, and other workers’ organs such as workplace committees and neighborhood committees should coordinate the workers’ response to the crisis. Capitalism coordination of the crisis already has demonstrated the bankruptcy of the bourgeoisie and its inability to control the situation. Necessary items in the supermarkets such as toilet paper and hand sanitizers disappear from the supermarkets’ shelves, as panic hoarding take precedence. Workers committees led by unionized food workers should organize the distribution of these critical items in the supermarkets and the workers neighborhoods, and stop selfish hoarding.

3. Unemployment throughout the world is becoming massive supplanting any unemployment in recent history. With such massive unemployment Trotsky’s Transitional Program with demands such as 30 hours of work paid for 40 hours of work (30 for 40) could change for 20 for 40, due to the enormity of the rising unemployment. We must demand that all workers and the unemployed should get unions wages and benefits. We demand that a massive public work program must be instituted. The infrastructure throughout the world is sick and needs massive infusion of funds and resources to fix it. Millions of new jobs can be created to fix the infrastructure, bad roads, etc. We demand massive public work for critical projects, fully paid by capitalists and their governments. We also demand that the capitalist class should pay to fix the homeless crisis of the unemployed. Workers throughout the world can be employed to build new housing for those in need.

4. Open the books. Governments’ conduct in this crisis is cloaked with secrecy without any accountability. Trump constantly lies or exaggerates about what his administration is doing to make him look good. Other capitalist politicians throughout the world are minimizing the scope of the crisis. In Brazil, the fascist President Jair Bolsonaro calls the coronavirus “a little cold”. The truth about the full impact of this deadly virus must be available for every worker who may risk his/her life by being exposed to the virus at work and on the streets. We demand that all information about the virus should be open to the workers in different countries. Workers committees led by health workers should be erected in different localities to assess the data. The information should be given to health workers, who can assess the data, and implement tactics to effetely combat the virus. Resistance by the capitalist governments to open the books, should be countered with massive strikes until the workers win access to all vital information.

5. The fight for workers governments throughout the world to coordinate world effort to defeat the virus. Selfish nationalism and imperialism create uneven efforts to battle the virus. While the big imperialist countries are constructing masks and other equipment for hospitals, the poor semi-colonies have little to combat the epidemic. The indifference in this regard is already costing thousands of lives. Trump and other imperialist politicians do not use their “war” powers to force many industries to make millions of masks and other necessary equipment. We must fight to replace the capitalist governments with workers governments throughout the world, that can force many industries to shift their production for masks and equipment to fight the pandemic. Such governments will make sure that poor countries in the semi-colonies will get their fair share of masks and equipment.

6. We know that workers governments will not be materialized from thin air. The working class can guarantee the creation such governments only through revolutionary means. The horrific crisis can be fully resolved only though workers power. Discontent and desperation can lead to mass uprisings. We saw this after the horrific disaster of First World War, that created millions of deaths, but also the material conditions for the 1917 revolution. There is certain confusion about the difference between Workers Government and Soviets. The dynamic of the revolutions will likely to dictate how exactly workers power will be formed. The critical thing is that any workers government whether it develops as country-wide workers committees or Soviets must be controlled directly from below. The workers should not only elect the representatives for the workers committees or Soviet. But such elected representatives can be recalled at any time. This guards against corruption and any attempts by elected officials to hoard extra masks, medicine and food in this historic crisis.

7. Forward to the International Socialist Revolution. None of the above Transitional Demands can be fully implemented in capitalism. Only the successful international socialist revolution can guarantee the eradication of the coronavirus and other infectious diseases that are inevitable because of Climate Change and the destruction of nature by capitalism. Only planned economy defended by the dictatorship of the proletariat can battle successfully Climate Change and stop the destruction of nature. It may take few generations to accomplish this fully, and ultimately build an egalitarian socialist society.

8. This cannot end as a propaganda by some left organizations. As the workers experiences the disastrous way by which the private health system deal with the crisis, the working class is becoming open for the need to fight and implement such transitional demands. It is urgent that revolutionaries stand in front of the workers and agitate for this. The workers control of the health system, is an important step in the struggle for workers power, and the socialist revolution. The terror from the Covid-19, with the glaring incompetence of the world bourgeoisie to effectively fight the virus, could open the road for the socialist revolution, provided that coordinated international revolutionary parties can evolve quickly. Forward for the Fourth International!

Notes


[1] Hannah Devlin Science correspondent, The Guardian, 14 Apr 2020, Coronavirus distancing may need to continue until 2022, say experts Scientists say one-time lockdown will not bring pandemic under control Coronavirus, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/14/coronavirus-distancing-continue-until-2022-lockdown-pandemic.

[2] New York Post, Tamar Lapin April 15, 2020, Coronavirus may damage your kidneys, heart and liver, https://nypost.com/2020/04/15/coronavirus-reportedly-damages-patients-kidneys-heart-liver.

[3] Ibid.

[4] New York Times Ruchir Sharma, April 12, 2020,  Some Countries Face an Awful Question: Death by Coronavirus or by Hunger?, The pandemic makes it nearly impossible in some places to social distance and to get food at the same time, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/12/opinion/coronavirus-poverty.html

3 thoughts on “The Coronavirus: The Slide to Barbarism Has Begun and Will Not Go Away

  1. The above article is replete with all the very ideas of “leftism” that have PREVENTED the building of a modern-day Bolshevik movement.
    “Soviets and the workers government need to be controlled from below” is anarchism – NOT Leninism.
    Dov says: “The dynamic of the revolutions will likely to dictate how exactly workers power will be formed. The critical thing is that any workers government whether it develops as country-wide workers committees or Soviets must be controlled directly from below. The workers should not only elect the representatives for the workers committees or Soviet. But such elected representatives can be recalled at any time. This guards against corruption and any attempts by elected officials to hoard extra masks, medicine and food in this historic crisis.”
    No; correct Leninist politics have to be developed and spread to the vanguard of the class so that the PARTY is firmly in power. Read what Lenin said about charlatan “revolutionaries” who contrasted “dictatorship of the leaders” with “dictatorship of the class”. He scorned this as the nonsense of counter-revolutionary middle-class social-democracy.
    His Bolshevik party and the October Revolution was made precisely AGAINST all the frauds who HATED his scientific proletarian revolutionary approach.
    Anti-Leninist thinking is in thrall to petty-bourgeois notions of “real democracy” and “workers democracy” – all DESPISED by Lenin – not because he didn’t want workers’ rule but precisely the opposite – because he wanted to win revolutionary state power and hold it.
    It is for the same reason that you throw China’s proletarian dictatorship beautiful baby out with the revisionist bathwater.
    The world-shattering Chinese Revolution took place in 1949. It has gone through all manner of difficulties, including some of its own making. After briefly flattering itself with all kinds of Maoist “red” “internationalist” talk, its revisionist leadership lapsed into “permanent peaceful co-existence” idiocy and the enjoyment of anti-Soviet games with US imperialism. Today, it OVERuses NEP-type capitalist economic methods on a grand scale.
    But it has also succeeded in lifting HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of people out of poverty and bringing them healthcare, literacy, education and GOOD GOVERNMENT on an even grander scale.
    Dov says: “We must note that the restoration of capitalism in China [has] caused more poverty and desperation for the poor workers and farmers, who rely on slaughtering wild animals to eat and survive.”
    But capitalism does not rule China. There is NO capitalist ruling class; the Chinese CP remains in power DESPITE all the excessively pro-capitalist reforms and consumer culture inflicted on the population. Millionaires and billionaires abound, and many are in the party BUT there has been NO counter-revolution.
    The West has unleashed all manner of vast conspiracies to undermine the CCP’s rule; and there have been some narrow squeaks – like the Gorbachev-era attempt in June 1989. Or like today’s ongoing CIA-provoked disruptions to Hong Kong and the Islamic Uighur regions.
    The excessive use of capitalist economic methods causes problems throughout China – but has also provided the wealth and impetus that has enabled China’s rapid development in industry, tech, military power, infrastructure and healthcare.
    Proof that China remains hugely a planned economy and a WORKERS STATE is there for everyone to see who wants to see it – its UTTERLY BRILLIANT defeat of the COVID pandemic, which has left the West’s lethal incompetence and fascist callousness in tatters.
    Not impressed? Think that South Korea or Singapore did better? Think that Germany could show them a thing or two? Think again; all the numbers in deaths per million say different; PLUS every other country in the world had both a WARNING and China’s example in battling the virus to learn from.
    China did not have any warning; the coronavirus just started striking people down in Wuhan and they had to work out what was going on. They then mobilised the entire country behind rational scientific medical leadership to defeat the pandemic, which they did in weeks, so that, now, even Wuhan is emerging from lockdown. China’s PLANNED economy will allow it to revive rapidly.
    China’s strategy was “SAVE LIVES”, the exact opposite of the US Empire’s “let them die, protect the stock market, and use the chaos to hide capitalism’s collapse” approach (called “herd immunity” and embraced by the Nazi mentality of Johnson’s Tory government to stay on-side with Trump.)
    And this is where Dov’s analysis above is breathtakingly thin: exactly what is going on with Trump and Johnson? Is it just a lethal shambles as the capitalist press is implying? Or is the Piers Morgan-type exposure of the murderous incompetence hiding a deeper truth? The virus DIDN’T CAUSE the Crash; it only triggered it – the US Empire’s world market system was collapsing in Marxist “over-production” crisis ANYWAY. The pandemic is being EXPLOITED as only a capitalist RULING CLASS doing its Nazi strategizing would ever do. They want to blame communist China – check! They don’t mind wiping out “burdensome” old and sick people – check! They can use the chaos to HIDE the economic collapse which was coming ANYWAY and would otherwise totally embarrass them – check! They can get everyone riled and divided up on further diversionary grounds – check! They can get the police and even troops on the street – check! They can stop meetings of more than 2 people – check! etc, etc.
    On top of all that, massive financial bailouts can be diverted to the billionaire class and the scale of national financial support to domestic economies can be used in intensifying international trade war. Can Greece, Spain or Italy match the USA? Can the EU survive? Everything will get more on a world war footing. Socialist revolution is the ONLY sane answer to this global capitalist crisis.
    Which is why all the Trotskyist “transitional demands” sloganizing, “demanding this” and “demanding that” falls down. It is “leftism”, not Bolshevism.
    Health workers are already demanding PPE and the great mass of the public are looking for a vaccine. Street rebellions and supermarket raids are surging in southern Italy. Shouldn’t doctors and nurses in New York be turning into the Dr Fidel Castros and Dr Che Guevaras of the future?
    Instead of the super-reformist approach, all comrades should be looking to deepen understanding, build Leninism, study Lenin vs Trotsky material; think again about the nature of workers states and the proletarian dictatorship; read and view more material about China so they can appreciate what it has achieved (revisionism needs criticising but for goodness sake see what a socialist state can do to fight a pandemic and glow in its victory!); and think even harder about how dirty, fascist, warmongering has been the US Empire’s strategy.
    Dov says: “The dynamic of the revolutions will [be] likely to dictate how exactly workers power will be formed,” and says: “Only planned economy defended by the dictatorship of the proletariat can battle successfully Climate Change and stop the destruction of nature. It may take few generations to accomplish this fully, and ultimately build an egalitarian socialist society.”
    Yes; this is right; so allow China its historical baggage and give China a generation or two to make further socialist development and argue with (not attempt to overthrow, as per Trotsky) its CP leadership.
    Meanwhile, all militants should discuss further to battle to better conclusions about what has gone wrong with the workers movement (anti-communism, anti-Sovietism, support for social-democratic treachery) and what it needs to go right (objectivity, Leninism, the role of theory).

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  2. Incidentally, Dov’s analysis gets its knickers in a twist about climate change, and is not sufficiently suspicious of all the hyped-up media talk that portrays the global crisis as “climate change because of human impact”. The world needs to follow Leninism, NOT Greta Thunberg-ism. This misapprehension results in Dov stating a piece of enviro-twaddle mysticism.
    Dov says: “Climate Change is nature control system. Ironically, Climate Change’s task, that includes devastating diseases, is to restore nature balance. The human race grew from about 1 billion people in the 20th century to over 9 billion now. The combination of capitalism’s vile contamination and destruction of nature for the sake of profit with unprecedented 9 billion people, have destroyed nature’s balance and biodiversity, and nature has been reacting violently.”
    The words: “Climate Change’s task, that includes devastating diseases, is to restore nature balance” imply a magical, anthropomorphic nature, straight out of Walt Disney.
    Diseases come and go, and humanity suffers, dies and prevails. Human civilisation has to make socialist revolution because the rule by the monopoly-capitalist ruling class will constantly plunge mankind into devastating world war crises AND is also incompatible with tackling and defeating pandemics in a civilised way.
    Nature doesn’t rebalance itself; socialist revolution is necessary to enable mankind to rebalance its relationship with nature.

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  3. Mass rebellion across America expresses the rage of oppressed people towards police brutality and the social injustice built into society ruled by the mega-rich. Democrat and liberal calls to “end violence” are an attempt to damp down the protests and preserve the status quo. But it is a total fraud that “peaceful protest” will solve decades of police brutality, foul exploitation by the billionaire class and the Great Crash that has already put 41 million people put out of work. Surely it is clear by now that Trump has been stoking up the racial divisions and the alt-right fascist boot boys for counter-revolutionary purposes? The only answer is to get even clearer that socialist revolution is needed to end rule by the banks and corporations and bring in the dictatorship of the proletariat behind a Bolshevik party. The fact that all bourgeois “democracy” is a total deception of the working people is highlighted by the cops arresting and assaulting journalists. The same Trump fascism is now responsible for 100,000 deaths by failing to fight the pandemic, but instead using it as an excuse for the Crash of capitalism, that was going to happen anyway from “over-production” crisis. Time for this filthy system to go. Build Leninism. See epsr.org.uk

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