Corona Virus: More evidence that capitalism has become a danger to humanity

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jk1921
Corona Virus: More evidence that capitalism has become a danger to humanity
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Clearly, there is a need to update the analysis since mid-February with the disease becomming a "global pandemic," and now posing an immediate and grave threat to the global economy. We need to understand the media and the various parts of the political class' behavior, where it is not clear if there is politicized hysteria (predictions of millions of infections and deaths), or if there is a real fear of a loss of control of the epidemic in the so-called Western democracies, where the measures taken by China would be more difficult to implement. Still, the reaction of the state has been nevertheless draconian with an unprecedented campaign to effectively shut down any large social gathering. The unprecented measures seem to portend the possibility of an economic catastrophe on a scale that would pale the post-9/11 conditions and perhaps even surpass the 2008 financial crisis, but there is much that is unknown here. Just how much is media fear mongering in the age of populism and Trump? What is the scale of the coming catastrophe? Deaths in the thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions?

Moreover, how is it possible to struggle collectively, when you are being told by all the authorities that just meeting in groups is now medically dangerous?

 

 

 

 

 

 

baboon
It's not good conditions for

It's not good conditions for class struggle, that's for sure. The heights of the revolutionary wave,1917-21, were reached despite an influenza pandemic but the latter became an element in the counter-revolution from the blow it delivered to the proletariat - along with other diseases and sicknesses. And the present state of the class struggle is far different from then.

There is a lot more to be said about this virus, its beginnings, development and consequences, the fragility of health systems world-wide and the way the older generations are already having their lives cut short - I don't think that this is a deliberate "cull" in respect of Tagore's possibility, the capitalist state does this "naturally", but an expression of capitalist decomposition which, faced with a threat to its whole system is totally incapable of coming up with a unified response. Right from the beginning, this microbe became a significant factor in imperialist rivarlies and "put the nation first" and that's intensified ever since. The "national response" is completely inadequate, will only worsen the situation and gives you an idea of the worth of any "global response" in relation to climate degradation.

jk1921
baboon wrote:

baboon wrote:

It's not good conditions for class struggle, that's for sure. The heights of the revolutionary wave,1917-21, were reached despite an influenza pandemic but the latter became an element in the counter-revolution from the blow it delivered to the proletariat - along with other diseases and sicknesses. And the present state of the class struggle is far different from then.

There is a lot more to be said about this virus, its beginnings, development and consequences, the fragility of health systems world-wide and the way the older generations are already having their lives cut short - I don't think that this is a deliberate "cull" in respect of Tagore's possibility, the capitalist state does this "naturally", but an expression of capitalist decomposition which, faced with a threat to its whole system is totally incapable of coming up with a unified response. Right from the beginning, this microbe became a significant factor in imperialist rivarlies and "put the nation first" and that's intensified ever since. The "national response" is completely inadequate, will only worsen the situation and gives you an idea of the worth of any "global response" in relation to climate degradation.

 

The role of the "Spanish Flu" in the development of the post-WWI revolutionary wave is a topic that has not been given due consideration. In regards to the current pandemic, the generational aspect of it in the West should not be underestimated, where there is some indifference to a "boomercide" among younger generations. Still, as a class that can only express its historical mission through collective solidarity, all the expert talk of "social distancing" is obviously disorienting. Mass assemblies would be denounced not for political reasons, but on expert medical grounds as inherently dangerous, given an uncontrolled and highly contagious respiratory virus pandemic. While some elements of the ruling class like Trump pray for a miraculous turn in weather conditions to save his own fortunes, others are predicting mass death on the scale of WWII.

Tagore2
> I don't think that this is

> I don't think that this is a deliberate "cull" in respect of Tagore's possibility

Precisely, the state does not proceed with a "laissez faire", let them die. This is what is amazing.

Why did the Italian state pronounce the quarantine of all the country? It is not, however, out of a humanitarian spirit.

These world drastic measures, for only 4,000-5,000 dead, confuse me. They disrupt the economy. But they increase the power of the state. This is why I hypothesize that the real purpose of these measures is to strengthen the power of the state.

The two threads are merged.

Tagore2
What a mess for less than 10

What a mess for less than 10,000 dead, world wide!

The mortality rate is less than 0.2% among those under 40 years of age.

This panic makes no sense!

The states and the mass media make a tornado of shit!

baboon
Herd immunity

The UK, or rather the government of England and Wales, seems to be going along with the de facto "cull" appoach. The Prime Minister, his "saintly" medical experts and their so-called "scientists" that deal with human behaviour have opted for the idea of spreading the virus as much as possible (i.e., by refusing to limit mass gatherings) in order for "herd immunity" to build up. This is risky and dodgy science. Herd immunity is real but it takes time to build up. The approach of HMG seems to be to blitz everyone with the virus and we come out of the other side stronger, more immune, etc. This approach is all very well if robust plans are in place to protect the most vulnerable, that is the older generations and those with serious underlying health problems. But no such plans are in place anywhere in the UK to the point where they should be and the main line of the government's advice seems to be "wash your hands to a song". Herd immunity is real but it takes time to build up - I'm no expert on this but I'm sure it takes longer than a couple of weeks or a month or two. In the meantime the strategy is to let the virus go around freely carrying the known risk of the "cull" element on those most vulnerable. The strategy of the British government and its "advisors" of allowing as many people as possible to get the virus as quickly as possible while a herd immunity builds up is extremely risky.

The whole global response is fractionated, piecemeal and contradictory. There are now de-facto borders within the EU that are being policed with force for example.

 

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

What a mess for less than 10,000 dead, world wide!

The mortality rate is less than 0.2% among those under 40 years of age.

This panic makes no sense!

The states and the mass media make a tornado of shit!

I share Tagore's confusion over the extreme measures being taken by the state that will basically take a hatchet to the economy, but there are a few things to consider:

1.) Deaths from known pathogens and killlers are in a way "built in," to economic, epidemological and social models. This new Corona virus, although not the most deadly pathogen in the world, is just that, new. Whatever death and carange it will cause will constitute a surplus management issue for the state, even at comparatively low death rates.

2.) There is still much that isn't known as this virus has only been infecting humans for about three months: While most people get a mild respiratory syndrome, it is a deadly killer in the elderly and the infirm. For some reason children seem mostly immune from its worst effects and nobody knows why. In short, it is impossible to say with much certainty how exactly the pandemic will play out. Will it attentuate in warmer weather? Are people who recover immune from future infections? Could the virus mutate like the 1918 H1N1 virus and become more deadly? Again, noboy knows. It has laready mutuated once in order to infect humans.

3.) Therefore, the state has a serious crisis to manage and we have seen a certain reassertion of the national state (against the economy in the strict sense) in order to try to combat the virus's spread: China's draconian measures, Italy's national lock down, etc. For its part the United States has handled the pandemic realitvely poorly: failing to have a proper testing protocol, allowing the virus to become established in such a way that there is now community spread. The dramatic measures announced by the state, but also private capital (NBA, NHL. etc.), such as closing schools, seem at this point to be more about trying to prevent the fractured health care system from becomming overwhelmed, rather than actually stop the spread of the virus, which it seems it is pretty much acknowledged is likely impossible now.

4.) Although there is some online speculation about the state seeing the virus as a chance to clear much of the aged boomer generation from the social security rolls, its also the case that the older generations are among the most enrolled in the democratic mystification and are an important political consituency for populist politicians. In any event, the rapid emergence of surplus death is a major issue for the state and the moment at it is repsonding in an assertive way after decades of taking a back seat to pure economic interest. The fact that the state's response will likely prove inadeuate to stop the viruses ravages completly, doesn't change the political dynamic of what is transpiring. Already, as part of the US stimulus package there are hints that elements of the Sanders agenda will be put in place on an emergency basis, regardless of his woeful showing in the primary elections: paid sick leave for those forced to stay home, expanded unemployment insurance. They are even talking about a moratorium on student debt payments. All of this has emerged in about the span of two weeks, when it became clear that community spread of the virus would be inevitable.

jk1921
baboon wrote:

baboon wrote:

The UK, or rather the government of England and Wales, seems to be going along with the de facto "cull" appoach. The Prime Minister, his "saintly" medical experts and their so-called "scientists" that deal with human behaviour have opted for the idea of spreading the virus as much as possible (i.e., by refusing to limit mass gatherings) in order for "herd immunity" to build up. This is risky and dodgy science. Herd immunity is real but it takes time to build up. The approach of HMG seems to be to blitz everyone with the virus and we come out of the other side stronger, more immune, etc. This approach is all very well if robust plans are in place to protect the most vulnerable, that is the older generations and those with serious underlying health problems. But no such plans are in place anywhere in the UK to the point where they should be and the main line of the government's advice seems to be "wash your hands to a song". Herd immunity is real but it takes time to build up - I'm no expert on this but I'm sure it takes longer than a couple of weeks or a month or two. In the meantime the strategy is to let the virus go around freely carrying the known risk of the "cull" element on those most vulnerable. The strategy of the British government and its "advisors" of allowing as many people as possible to get the virus as quickly as possible while a herd immunity builds up is extremely risky.

The whole global response is fractionated, piecemeal and contradictory. There are now de-facto borders within the EU that are being policed with force for example.

Herd immunity results from vaccination, of which there is none for this virus. Its not even clear that those who recover obtain a long term immunity from future infection. Sounds like complete bunk and the UK is the one country Trump exempted from his travel ban! Surely, this little bug will result in major economic, geopolitical and social restructuring--probably after much upheaval in the mid-term. In the US, the rosiest predictions are for two months of near total shut down, a shut down that likely be impossible to completley enforce.

d-man
Sverdlov's death 1919

(passage from Klavdiya Sverdlova's memoirs about her husband Yakov Sverdlov, the first head of the Soviet Union,  who died in March 1919 due to Spanish influenza):

Already in Kharkov, in the days of intense struggle for the unity of the Ukrainian Bolsheviks, Yakov Mikhailovich felt the first bouts of illness. But he did not want to give in to her, he firmly believed that he would overcome the disease, as has happened more than once, as was the case in tsarist prisons and in Maksimkin Yar, in Kureyka and in the Monastery. There were too many cases, important and urgent cases, and he did not consider himself entitled to lose at least an hour.

On March 6, speaking at the III All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets, Yakov Mikhailovich left Kharkov [back] for Moscow, but he continued to work hard on the road. Telegrams flew to Belgorod, Kursk, Oryol, Tula, Serpukhov. [...]

Dozens of people who headed the provinces and the army went on the train of the chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, reported to Sverdlov on the state of affairs, consulted, and received instructions. And the temperature of Yakov Mikhailovich crawled up ...

In Belgorod, learning about Sverdlov’s passage, hundreds of peasants, walkers from villages and villages, gathered at the station. Yakov Mikhailovich came to them in a demi-season coat in which he walked constantly. It was all the same coat that he received back in 1909 in Yekaterinburg, upon leaving prison, from the shoulders of a local liberal. Sverdlov never acquired another.

The peasants had many questions for the chairman of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, the conversation dragged on for almost two hours, and when Yakov Mikhailovich got into the car, he felt so bad that he had to lie down.

But the same thing happened in Kursk. Overcoming treacherous weakness, Yakov Mikhailovich carried out all the intended work, and talked with the envoys of the Kursk peasants. Eagle got worse. And in Orel in the railway depot in connection with his arrival gathered about a thousand workers. Yakov Mikhailovich went to the rally. When he appeared on a makeshift platform, he was greeted with a standing ovation.

It was cold in the depot, through the broken glass the wind whistled.

The Oryol railwaymen listened with great attention to Yakov Mikhailovich. This was the last speech of Sverdlov, the last speech of comrade Andrei [his nickname].

When Yakov Mikhailovich arrived home, he was no longer on his face. Measured the temperature: 39 degrees or more. However, in the morning he got up and, no matter how I resisted, left. Indeed, during his absence, a mass of urgent urgent matters has accumulated. He was especially worried about the course of preparations for the VIII Party Congress.

At the end of January, when the question of the timing of the congress was decided, Yakov Mikhailovich telegraphed members of the Central Committee who were not in Moscow:

"We have scheduled a party congress on March 10. The estimated order of the day: 1. The program. 2. The Communist International. 3. Martial law and military policy. 4. Work in the countryside. 5. Organizational matters ... The right to elect (congress delegates, - K. S.) the party members who entered 6 months before the congress have members who have joined before the October Revolution, and I ask you to immediately inform your attitude.

Sverdlov. "

In mid-February, Yakov Mikhailovich handed over to the Central Committee Secretariat for distribution to all provincial committees a circular written by him on the procedure for preparing for the congress. February 20, he spoke at a meeting of communists in the Rogozhsky district of Moscow with a report on the tasks of the VIII Party Congress. On the same day, he wrote to one of the members of the Central Committee, asking him to send an outline of part of the party’s program, since "the program committee is finishing the preliminary work."

Just before leaving for Kharkov, Yakov Mikhailovich wrote to the leaders of several provincial committees: Samara, Vologda, Voronezh, giving them advice on how to conduct an election campaign for the congress.

So now, immediately upon arrival, despite the illness, Yakov Mikhailovich went into business with his head, resolving pre-Congress issues. The day after his arrival, he participated in a meeting of the Council of People's Commissars, held a meeting of the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, convened comrades involved in the preparation of the party congress, and by night he felt very ill. It was March 9th.

However, he did not want to give up here either. At the request of Yakov Mikhailovich that same night I sent Ilyich several documents with which Yakov Mikhailovich wanted to immediately acquaint Lenin.

Secretly from Yakov Mikhailovich, I attached a short note from myself to these documents. I wrote to Ilyich that yesterday Yakov Mikhailovich had a temperature of 39 ° C, and today by night it rose to 40.3 ° ...

The next day, without asking Yakov Mikhailovich, the doctors were called for the first time. Two major experts were invited, convened a consultation. The diagnosis was brief - Spanish. The Spaniard, something like the current viral flu, was rampant then in Russia, in Europe, and mowed down thousands of people. But Yakov Mikhailovich was young, his heart worked uninterruptedly, and the doctors hoped for a successful outcome. However, he was getting worse.

The sisters of Yakov Mikhailovich did not leave our apartment for a minute, the old father came from Nizhny, from Saratov - our old friend from Perm, a doctor by education, Alexander Nikolaevich Sokolov. Vanya Chugurin arrived, Varlam Avanesov appeared incessantly ...

A string of people went to Yakov Mikhailovich. There were members of the Central Committee and workers of the Moscow organization, members of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, people's commissars, and delegates of the VIII Party Congress who had begun to gather. How many comrades were among them, how many combat comrades-in-arms, friends! Everyone was worried about the question, what about Sverdlov, how is he? Everyone wanted to cheer, say a friendly word, no one thought about the sad end.

But there was no way to let everyone go to Yakov Mikhailovich. Every day he became weaker, the disease seized the lungs. Only some members of the Central Committee, the closest comrades, came to Sverdlov’s room and only remained there for several minutes. Dzerzhinsky came. Stalin, Zagorsky, Yaroslavsky, Smidovich, Petrovsky, Vladimirsky, Stasova came ...

Vladimir Ilyich left these days in Petrograd. He returned on March 14 and immediately called Yakov Mikhailovich, but it was already difficult for Sverdlov to speak. On this day, he began to lose consciousness, delirium began. In delirium, he kept talking about the VIII Party Congress, trying to get out of bed, looking for some kind of resolution. It seemed to him that the resolutions were “stolen by the left communists”, he asked not to let them in, to select the resolutions, to drive them away. He called his son, wanted to tell him something ...

Sverdlov’s body was desperately, painfully struggling undermined by prisons and exiles, an incredible load and tension. Everything was in vain.

March 16, on the eighth day after returning from Ukraine, there was a sharp deterioration. News of this instantly spread throughout the Kremlin. All members of the Central Committee, dozens of closest comrades, gathered in rooms adjacent to the one where Sverdlov waged his last battle with an implacable death. We did not let anyone in to Yakov Mikhailovich. Together with the sisters of Yakov Mikhailovich, with Avanesov and Sokolov, we did not leave his headboard for several days ...

Despite the fact that the neighboring rooms were full of people, silence reigned in the apartment. We heard almost no sound. Suddenly, at about four in the afternoon, a movement was heard outside the wall, the door opened quietly, and Ilyich entered. Two days after returning from St. Petersburg, Vladimir Ilyich rushed to Yakov Mikhailovich, but he was not allowed. After all, anyway, he could not help with anything, and the risk of infection was too great. But on March 16, learning that Yakov Mikhailovich was even worse, Lenin waved his hand at all the bans. Nobody could stop him, and did not dare. Having quickly passed through the crowd of comrades, Vladimir Ilyich entered Yakov Mikhailovich. At that moment, Sverdlov regained consciousness for an instant. He recognized Ilyich and affectionately, but piteously, somehow in a childishly helpless smile. Vladimir Ilyich took his hand and gently, gently began to stroke this weakened hand.

Ten minutes, fifteen minutes passed in a terrible, excruciating silence ... The hand of Yakov Mikhailovich fell lifelessly onto the blanket. Vladimir Ilyich somehow frantically swallowed, lowered his head and left the room. He was surrounded. He silently took his cap from the table, sharply pulled it over his very eyes and, without looking at anyone, without saying a word, still bowing his head low, left.

A few minutes later, Yakov Mikhailovich died. “As long as my heart beats in my chest, while blood flows in my veins,” Yakov Mikhailovich said, “I will fight.” And he fought to the very end, to the very last minute, giving himself completely to the party.

“Comrades, the first word at our congress,” said Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, opening the VIII Party Congress, “should be dedicated to Comrade Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov ... if for the whole party as a whole and for the entire Soviet Republic, Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov was the main organizer. .. then for the party congress he was much more valuable and closer ... Here, his absence will affect the entire course of our work, and the congress will feel his absence especially sharply. "

Countless telegrams flew from Kharkov and Ufa, from Kyrgyzstan, Peter and Tula, from Poland, from the Urals and from Kiev, from Germany and Hungary, from assemblies of communists and Komsomol members, from fronts, from factories and from villages to Moscow. In Moscow, Petrograd, Kiev, Kharkov, mourning was declared. The whole country, millions of working people of foreign countries expressed their grief over the bereavement.

On March 18, 1919, Moscow escorted Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov to his last journey. Tens of thousands of proletarians of the capital gathered on Red Square, adjacent streets and alleys. Members of the Central Committee, members of the Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and People's Commissars stood on the guard of honor at the tomb. Near the Kremlin wall, in the very center, under the memorial plaque there was a deep grave. Lenin stepped forward. “We lowered into the grave,” Vladimir Ilyich mournfully said, “the proletarian leader who did the most to organize the working class, to win it.”

Tagore2
The wsws is squarely asking

The wsws is squarely asking to stop the auto industry in North America. How do you trust such impressionable people?

There is also something funny: they ask to be modeled on China, to paralyze industrial production, but at the same time, to maintain wages.

Question: if you stop producing, what will you buy with your salary? Maybe they believe that money creates production? If you stop production, you can print as much paper money as you want, it will not increase wealth. Money has no value, money is just a certificate that entitles you to withdraw a certain portion of the wealth produced.

If production decreases, wealth decreases, whatever the amount of money in circulation: this is the B-A BA of the economy.

Tagore2
AGE    "DEATH RATE all cases"

AGE    "DEATH RATE all cases"
80++ years old    14.8%
70-79 years old    8.0%
60-69 years old    3.6%
50-59 years old    1.3%
40-49 years old    0.4%
30-39 years old    0.2%
20-29 years old    0.2%
10-19 years old    0.2%
00-09 years old    no fatalities

Source.

It is clear that only the elderly and people in poor physical condition should be subject to special supervision.

The state takes the pretext of Covid 19 to establish a de facto dictatorship:

  • ban on gatherings,
  • suppression of freedom to come and go,
  • border closure,
  • meticulously instituted terror.

All this stinks, not because of the epidemic, but because of the establishment of a dictatorship without any opposition.

baboon
 

 

 

As Jk says it is just one of the absurdities of the international situation that Trump exempts the UK from travel restrictions while it takes an enormous gamble in its strategy of allowing the virus to spread as much as possible.

 

It's true that herd immunity comes with a vaccine but herd immunity, according to the government's chief medical advisor, Sir Patrick Vallence, will come from more than 60% of people (in the UK, forty million people he's talking about) getting the virus and getting over it. The government, or rather the clique that runs this government, doesn't seem to be that bothered about how many of the sick and elderly go to the wall in the meantime despite the noises it makes. However dubious this "science" may sound, and it is extremely dubious and dangerous, it has in fact been the policy of HMG since the beginning for the greatest number of people to get the virus - with the deadly consequences "factored in". At the beginning of the crisis, ex-government medical advisor, Professor Jane Andrews, said that "taking people out of the system", i.e., letting them die, "would free up NHS facilities from 'bed-blockers'".

 

This government clique had already shown itself open to the ideas of eugenics and it looks to me that is what it's tried to put in practice here. You only have to read the words of the Chief Scientific Advisor to the British government to see that very little of what he says is based on scientific research into this virus and more on an ideological gamble.

 

 

 

 

 

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

AGE    "DEATH RATE all cases"
80++ years old    14.8%
70-79 years old    8.0%
60-69 years old    3.6%
50-59 years old    1.3%
40-49 years old    0.4%
30-39 years old    0.2%
20-29 years old    0.2%
10-19 years old    0.2%
00-09 years old    no fatalities

Source.

It is clear that only the elderly and people in poor physical condition should be subject to special supervision.

The state takes the pretext of Covid 19 to establish a de facto dictatorship:

  • ban on gatherings,
  • suppression of freedom to come and go,
  • border closure,
  • meticulously instituted terror.

All this stinks, not because of the epidemic, but because of the establishment of a dictatorship without any opposition.

 

But how do you provide "special supervision" for the old and the infirm? They can quarantine themselves indoors, but what about the many who live in multi-generational households? Imagine being the vector that kills your parents or granparents. My dad (currently in the 8 percent fatality rate category) adopts the motto "old people die every day, don't worry about it." Probably sound advice in each individual case, but aggregate that even at the low death rates cited and it is still a social catastrophe. Of course, there is the Stalinist logic of "every single death is a tragedy, but a million is just a statistic." We may be about to experience that as it is clear the Western democracies are just winging their response at this point.

Demogorgon
Another point to consider is

Another point to consider is that although the death rate seems low, when you aggregate this across the population you are talking very large numbers indeed. In the UK, the current working hypothesis is that 80% of the population will be infected, 1% will die. That works out to half a million people in the UK alone. And that's not even the hospitalisation rate - i.e. people who will survive but only if they are hospitalised, potentially for weeks. The restraints put in place are to "protect" health services from being overwhelmed and thus having their total inadequacy exposed.

As for instituting dictatorship, I think this raises a number of questions. The first is, perhaps a nitpick: we are already living in a dictatorship, the class dictatorship of the bourgeoisie! But a more important question is why the bourgeoisie, especially the entire Western bourgeoisie, suddenly wants to abandon a political system that has served it incredibly well for the last 100 years. A system that:

  • Enabled them to mobilise the population of entire continents to fight the Second World War;
  • Enabled them to mobilise against the Soviet Union in the Cold War;
  • Is a far more orderly way of managing bourgeois faction fights that the coups and purges that take place in openly despostic states;
  • Was the most effective weapon in confronting a resurgent working class in the 60s and 70s, beating back its struggles and finally bringing it to bay.

In short, if the virus itself is not actually a threat, what other reason have they for abandoning the dominant ideology?

That's not to say that the state won't be using this opportunity as a chance to test "disaster" protocols that may prove useful in future confrontations with the working class or as prepartion for the social breakdown that is becoming more widespread across decomposing capitalism. But I don't think they see a need to abandon democratic ideology at present.

On the other hand, what they are extremely concerned about is the possibility for the virus to expose the brutality of this society. The virus itself may be "natural" and thus difficult to pin on capitalism. But the question of how many it kills and who dies is fundamentally a social question and the answer is "survival of the richest". Then there is the nationalist insanity of countries blocking the export of precursors for many basic drugs (e.g. India with regard to paracetamol and ibuprofen) or, even more bizarrely, Trump turning down German offers of testing kits and methodology.

The economic crisis this will unleash will also pulverise the poorest in society, which may not go down well in a population that has already been called upon to make significant sacrifices for the "greater good". The idea of the state as protector - a key component of bourgeois ideology in the present age - is also going to be brutally exposed, especially if there is any form of community self organisation.

In short, I don't think they're doing this for fun. They are attempting to mitigate the social impact of the virus in a way that will minimise any threat to their class rule, with the ultimate aim of returning to business as usual. How competent these attempts are and how successful is another question entirely ...

Tagore2
According to the wsws,

According to the wsws, workers' strikes broke out sporadically in factories in Italy, to "escape" from the contagion. The extent of this phenomenon is unclear. But the economic crisis which is the consequence of containment measures is much more dangerous than the epidemic itself.

Production is falling, and if key sectors of the economy are hit, requisitions and other dictatorial measures can be expected.

Regarding the epidemic, we should not count the dead, but see the overall impact on life expectancy, which is low. Some epidemiologists point out that with the economic downturn, there is less pollution, therefore less chronic lung disease, and therefore less mortality. In developed countries, pollution kills far more than contagious diseases. Paradoxically, the mortality rate among the elderly could be lower this year due to the reduction in pollution.

Demogorgon
The aggregate effect on life

The aggregate effect on life expectancy is always low. UK life expectancy rose in every year of World War 2, except 1940. By 1942 it had exceeded its previous peak. I don't think  that quite captures the extent of disruption to the social order..

baboon
I called Sir Patrick Vallence

I called Sir Patrick Vallence the government's chief medical officer above but he is in fact the government's chief scientific advisor and I'd like to look more closely about his idea of "herd immunity". Here's the gist of what he had to say: England's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance told Sky News on Friday morning that the COVID-19 virus could become seasonal, and that the only way to protect people in the future is to develop 'herd immunity'.
He said: 'If you completely locked down absolutely everything, probably for a period of four months or more, then you would suppress this virus. All of the evidence from previous epidemics suggests that, if you do that and then you release it, then it all comes back again.
'So the other part of this is to make sure that we don't end up with a sudden peak again in the winter, which is even larger and which causes even more problems.
'We want to suppress it, not get rid of it completely - which you can't do anyway - not suppress it so we get the second peak, and also allow enough of us who are going to get mild illness, to become immune to this to help with the whole population response, which would help everybody.'

Whatever this is above from the Chief Scientific Advisor to the government it doesn't bear much relation to science; at best it's a dangerous assumption roughly on the same level as Trump's "hunch" - probably lower given its scientific "authority". As Jk points out above, herd immunity only comes with mass vaccinations and that's possibly many moons away. Vallence's junk science is not just the ramblings of a deluded individual - probably working to a bigger script handed to him - but one that is, from his strategy of "manipulating" the virus,  absolutely willing to accept the "collateral damage" of many, many deaths "which will help everybody".

Epidemiological studies are a vital part of science and from these it's possible to make certain conclusions regarding the outbreak and spreads of diseases. But, as we found out with Sars and Ebola, all viruses are different, and they change, and change again holding general specifics that take different routes for contagion and spread. There have been no studies whatsoever done on covid-19 because while science knows a lot about it now it also knows very little; it is a completely new virus. There is no scientific basis for Vallence's claims and many other scientists are now beginning to call his works "unethical". What's more all the government's other pseudo-sciences, modelling for example (which again can be useful in the right context), are fixed and based on "facts" about the virus that are changing by the day.

But what would you expect from decomposing capitalism: ethics? Morality? A unified international effort? Those times are long gone. The ICC's article on the virus shows that this event is one more indictment of the danger that capitalism poses for humanity while it also denounces the "moral scruples" of the democracies (as opposed to the demonisation of China by the west in this aspect). The strikes in Italy show that this has immediate consequences for the class struggle and that we need to keep this under close review.

 

 

jk1921
First, good to read from you

First, good to read from you again Demo. I think the situation is absolutely serious; this is not some manufactured crisis to exploit for political purposes to create a dictatorship; although it certainly will be used to condition the population for dramatic emergency measures. As far as the democratic ideology in the West, this is certainly a huge question mark at this time: it seems unlikely that this virus can be surpressed without abandoning many of the traditional "rights and freedoms," that are a fundamental part of democratic ideology. In the US the absolute blunderousness of the Trump administration's response is being laid bare, but it also goes beyond that, where the fractured nature of the US state, divided into a multitude of state and local entities is apparent. Some have closed schools, others have not, etc. There have been previous suggestions that Trump may not leave office, if he were voted out. You have to think that at this point he wants no part of the Presidency having to deal with this crisis, but how can the US possibly hold a legitimate election in these conditions? And the Democratic Party's answer to Trump is Biden?, who looks so frail at times he has to be at the top of the list for possible COVID-19 mortality. Whoever the VP is, would have to be kept in total isolation, as Pence himself should be now, but oddly is not. (Ands why isn't Dr. Anthony Fauci in a bubble?).

As far as the virus itself, there are suggestions that it may peak in the West sometime toward the end of April or May, but that appears to be a total "guesstitmate" at this point. Nobody knows what the ultimate trajectory of society might be at this point. There are reports of reinfections from S. Korea and Japan.

Demogorgon
Following the herd ...

Just a quick point on herd immunity. This can come about either through natural immunity, acquired immunity or vaccination. Vaccination is simply the most assured and safest way to rapidly generate it. I don't think Vallance is working from "junk science" - at least, not more so than anybody else. I think there are genuine divisions in the scientific community over this, all of whom are shooting in the dark because there's not enough evidence to form firm conclusions. Any approach at this moment is a gamble, as it is based on assumptions that have not yet been tested.

If exposure to CV19 does create immunity and if herd immunity is achieved before the virus mutates to overcome immunity (the way the flu virus does), then the UK strategy does make a kind of sense: allow the virus to circulate in the population, protect the most vulnerable while those most likely to survive become immune, and the virus will be largely finished. Maybe. Of course, the success of this strategy depends on both of those assumptions being correct.

I think there will be two strands in government at the moment. The first, the "rationalists", will be trying to work out the most effective (not necessarily the most intuitive) way to contain the virus. People are going to die, but they will be looking beyond invididual tragedies and solely at the numbers. The second faction, "the PR team", will be in favour of being seen to do something, regardless of whether it is effective or not. And lock-downs are certainly dramatic and look like action, even though no-one really knows if they're ultimately effective either.

On democracy, it is certain that democratic norms are going to be put under enormous pressure by this crisis. Interestingly, one of the facets of the British response, seems to be worry that they'll be unable to enforce the long-term requirements of a lockdown strategy anyway. Even countries that are used to authoritarian rule have not found this easy; it's extremely likely that cultures based on individualism are going to struggle with such containment long-term. If people start flouting the rules, this is going to pitch the state against the population which will undermine both its authority and ideological role as "protector".

In any case, as communists, we don't know any more about this virus or its epidemiology than the bourgeoisie and we're not in a position to pronounce on the science either.

Our role is to show how capitalist society exacerbates these sorts of crises, even if the response is actually motivated by the best of intentions (from a capitalist point of view), and to think about how a communist society might cope with a disaster on this scale, so here are some thoughts:

  • A unified global response - no hoarding drug precursors, or trying to buy vaccines for exclusive national use in the way that the German and US state is trying to do at the moment.
  • A far more robust and humane health system. While it's questionable whether a communist health system could completely prevent such an occurance, it would certainly be far better placed than the moribund systems in place at present.
  • One would hope that in a society where good quality food and healthcare is abundant, people would be more generally healthy in any case!
  • No panic buying of essentials.
  • Better preparedness - the scientific community have been waiting for this to happen for years and some parts of the bourgeoisie responded. But budget constraints shut down a lot of this. Communism may not have limitless resources and compromises on priorities might have to be made, but the decisions wouldn't be made on the basis of making sure the Barclay brothers can afford that extra luxury yatch they've been wanting ...
baboon
Demo says above that

Demo says above that communists "are not in a position to comment on the science" (of the bourgeoisie in relation to this pandemic). I get what he's saying especially if one gets drawn into secondary and specific arguments on aspects which are entirely unknown to us, let alone most scientists. But I think that it's one of their responsibilities amongst others at the present stage. In the past the ICC has been exemplary in respect of analysing the various "scientific" theories of the bourgeoisie through articles in the Review, sometimes a series of articles and articles in its territorial press looking at global and historical scientific issues as well as those developing from specific nation states or specific or general national ideologies. I think that some of these discussions also assisted it on various organisational questions. These discussions started well before the ICC developed its position on decomposition and I think that these previous discussions around science also helped to frame and develop the position of the decomposition of capitalism even if only in a "background" way.

My concern here is not to put one element of bourgeois scientific thought against another or the attempts of China, France and so on against the UK in the confusion that exists now, but to look at the specific response of the British bourgeoisie to this crisis which the bourgeoisie and its media constantly tell us "is based upon the science". We can't know about individual scientific trends or developments in this respect but we can look at the fraudulent nature of the British bourgeoisie's response - a response that is not fundamentally different across the globe.

From the beginning the strategy of the British bourgeoisie has been abundantly clear and that is for as many people as possible to get infected and for a "herd immunity" (in the absence of a vaccine no less) to build up. As Demo says, it is guesswork and you don't have to be a communist or know very much about science to know that guesswork is not science. In this case it is ideology disguised as science. Whatever fancy names the government and its media are giving this policy, up to now it is been: "let the fire burn and let the weak go to the wall". It is Francis Galton's "survival of the fittest" - always attributed to Charles Darwin - that is the underlying basis of its policy. It would be extremely naive and a great mistake to think that eugenics in its general form is now confined to the loony, libertarian wing of the bourgeoisie or the Nazis of the past. On the contrary, it has always been part of all government policies, particularly over the last decades, to de facto get rid of the useless (as far as capitalism is concerned) and let them go to the wall as undesirable expenses. This has been an increasing factor in all the specific and general austerity policies of the ruling class over the last decades. The present clique in Downing Street is known for its overt leanings towards eugenics and its search for "wierdos, misfits and radical thinkers" which could be the particular ideological dynamic underneath the strategy fronted by the "science" of the government stooge and potential fall-guy, Chief Scientific Officer Vallence. Under the pressure of the weaknesses of this plan and the indignation that it has aroused the government tonight now appears to be taking a different approach.

The strategy of the British ruling class, such as it is in relation to this virus and whatever "adjustments" it makes, comes not from a small clique but from the general approach of capital to labour which has been expressed globally in its developments of austerity over the last couple of decades not least the abandonment or curtailing of work in the vital area of restricting epidemics or pandemics and wholesale cuts to health services and the care sector.

Demo says above that, within its framework, the strategy of the British government is to "protect the most vulnerable". That's what it says it is but these are just lies. The strategy of the British government has been to maintain the production of surplus value while letting the virus spread as much as possible and making some pathetic and contradictory gestures about "protecting the vulnerable" while leaving them more vulnerable and scared.

The government's Chief Scientific Officer has put forward his theory of "herd immunity" (much to the astonishment of many sciences) which has absolutely no evidential basis. Covid-19 is not like flu and it will not necessarily follow similar paths.The search for scientific evidence of the way this virus acts and spreads now, at the moment - let alone its future adaptions - and its relationship to "herd immunity", has hardly started so Sir Patrick Vallence's assumptions about it and Covid-19 are based on absolutely nothing tangible because there are no studies or evidence to this effect. It is, at best, guesswork - it is not science.

On food: In all the major capitals food will become a big question. Like Toyota, the automobile and other major industries the food industry is organised along "just-in- time" (globalisation) efficiency.  This global crisis will affect this sector of the economy most adversely. People will panic buy, particularly when distrusted governments tell them not to, and when the supermarkets say we will step up supplies to fill up empty shelves they are lying because food is not warehoused in the way it was ten or twenty years ago. The food to replenish stocks simply doesn't exist and, for a country like Britain, that produces only half the food its needs, this is very bad news.

The ICC article on this question drew some general and quite valid lessons but mainly concentrated on China which was essential for examining this expression of the outbreak. We now need to broaden this out to include the responses and the potential developments of the democratic world.

Demogorgon
Protection ...

Quote:
Demo says above that, within its framework, the strategy of the British government is to "protect the most vulnerable". That's what it says it is but these are just lies. The strategy of the British government has been to maintain the production of surplus value while letting the virus spread as much as possible and making some pathetic and contradictory gestures about "protecting the vulnerable" while leaving them more vulnerable and scared.

I don't think it is that simple. Certainly, the bourgeoisie is limited by capitalism in the level of protection it can offer. But I don't think they're lying, or at least not in the way you're implying. From the bourgeois point of view, they are doing what they can within the limits of the system which, to them, is the limit of reality. In bourgeois consciousness, maintaining the production of surplus value is essential to maintaining society and thus the capacity to provide healthcare. For them, the two are one and the same, and bourgeois morality should be understood from this standpoint.

Secondly, even if one takes a cynical view and assumes that the bourgeoisie has no moral scruples whatsoever, there is still an ideological requirement for them to at least be seen to be protecting the vulnerable. This is true even in normal times, which is why they maintain vastly expensive (for them) welfare systems. Although these are totally inadequate with regard to human need, the ruling class nonetheless protects them as far as it is able, within the limits of the system.

The general trend for cutting back health services is not simply a matter of policy choice, as the leftists would suggest, but one that is forced on the bourgeoisie by the very structure of their system. Similarly, the range of bourgeois responses to this crisis, are all constrained by the limits of capitalism. The function of bourgeois ideology is not simply propagandist, i.e. to make these limits acceptable to the general population (and the bourgeoisie itself), although this is certainly an important part of it. It is also the organising principle of bourgeois consciousness and activity.

Tagore2
Promising treatment, the government is lost in the 15th century.

Hydroxychloroquine in combination with Azithromycin show promising results against covid 19. These are old and well-controlled drugs.

Professor Didier Raoult, director of the IHU of Marseille, member of the scientific council of the French government, has just completed a clinical trial which confirms the results of other Chinese and South Korean studies on the effectiveness of these drugs.

It calls for more tests, more treatment and condemns the general quarantines of the population. According to him, generalized quarantines are solutions of the pre-scientific area of the 15th and 16th century. In the area of technological society, it is necessary to test and treat, and if quarantine is necessary, isolate only the sick people.

https://www.20minutes.fr/sante/2742011-20200317-coronavirus-hydroxychloroquine-efficace-selon-professeur-raoult-ihu-marseille-apres-premier-test-restreint

Telling sick people to stay home while waiting for the disease to get worse before going to the hospital is nonsense! This is the best way to saturate the resuscitation services. Test and treat, follow the scientific method and stop spreading terror!

The government uses the covid 19 to spread fear, irrationality and dictatorship.

jk1921
I think that it is true that

I think that it is true that the mass quarantines are as much a political as a medical measure. But this belies the situation of the Western democracies. It is possible that doing nothing would lead to a faster conclusion to the pandemic and a speedier return to business as usual, but there will be much carange during that period, not just from the ravages of the virus itself on the vulnerable, but from the incapacity of the health care system to treat everyone in need of assistance, many of whom might have otherwise lived. The spectacle of this taking place in a political system in which the state needs some level of ideological consent from the population through enrollment in the democratic circus and the idea that the state is a protector appears to have been too much to bear for the Boris government, which appears to be pulling back from its "let it ride" strategy. Although, the Netherlands appears to be actually moving in that direction. We will see how long that lasts.

As far as treating the virus, there may be a number of things that could help treat it: anti-HIV drugs, anti-malaria drugs, etc. but that science is not quite ready for primetime. ICUs will be overburdend and the spectacle of 'social triage" or "death panels," will likely become common place.

Tagore2
This epidemic will do "pschitt!"

The disease can be treated with chloroquine, a common antimalarial.

We are at the beginning of the end, already in China and Korea, the number of new cases is decreasing.

It's spring in the temperate countries of the northern hemisphere, all coronaviruses will regress, as every year.

The national quarantines will be a monumental economic disaster. Many states, in particular France, will be covered with shame for their calamitous management of the crisis.

Chloroquine : pourquoi les Chinois se tromperaient-ils ?

Coronavirus, analyse des données épidémiques dans le monde : diagnostiquer doit être la priorité

If you do not understand French, search in your language: chloroquine.

Demogorgon
There are all sorts of drugs

There are all sorts of drugs that might be effective against Covid-19. A particularly promising one is favipiravir, which has been positively received by China (despite being a Japanese drug!). But, so what? All the studies on this are in their infancy and there is simply no way they can possibly know at the moment whether any drugs will be effective on a mass scale, even if early signs are promising. The studies are so limited that they're barely beyond being annecdotal! Although off-label use of drugs is common, it is usually for well-tolerated drugs that have extensive literature supporting safe use for their indicated purpose.

Doctors are generally cautious with experimental treatments and are certainly not going to recommend it as a containment response in a situation of pandemic!

 

 

Tagore2
No, this is soon the end

Covid 19 will soon decline, like all coronaviruses, even without treatment. It's spring. Viruses are extremely sensitive to the change of seasons. Although not strictly speaking alive, viruses nevertheless follow the laws of natural selection, but on a much shorter time scale, in the order of the season. In temperate countries, they are adapted to the cold season.

In addition, treatment, hand washing and good organization of health services effectively combat them. Covid 19 may not even resurface next winter, as was the case with SARS.

The peak of the epidemic has already been reached in China and Korea. This will also soon be the case in Europe and North America.

jk1921
I wish I could be as

I wish I could be as optimistic as Tagore. It has been suggested that this virus may be susceptible to seasonal change, but most experts reject that saying it is not appropriate to compare a new virus that nobody has any immunity to to one that is well established as an infector of humans. In any rate, it is simply not clear that the virus will dissipiate anytime soon and it looks like states around the world are preparing for the possibility of rolling lockdowns for at least the next 18 months, until a vaccine is ready (if it is, there is currently no vaccine for any human coronavirus). What this does to the economy, indeed the basic structure of bourgeois society is anyone's guess at this point. I couldn't fathom to predict.

In terms of the virus, I am just a lowly social scientist, but there does seem something interesting in the wide ranging effects this virus has on people by age, etc. If it is true that most healthy people fight it off with mild symptoms then it must be the case the immune system  recognizes this virus in some imperfect way and is able to deploy some antibodies against it.Those who get into trouble, appear to be those unable to mount an effective immune response, allowing the virus to damage multiple organ system. This isn't like the Hanta Virus, an infection so rare that when when it does happen the immune system of even healthy people goes into overdrive and produces a so-called "cytokine storm," that leads to something on the order of a 40-60 percent fatality rate. There is a principle in virology that the more communicable the virus, the less deadly it should be--but that is not entirely applicable to novel viruses, in which a kind of homeostasis with the host species, through the development of immunity, etc. takes some time to develop.

Again, take that all with a grain of salt, but I think the species is for a long haul here and the question then becomes what alternative perspective can the proletariat offer the world. We are a class defined by solidarity, but how does that work, when solidarity implies "distancing."

baboon
Early on in the spread of the

Early on in the spread of the covid-19 outbreak, the British government and its Chief Scientific Advisor came up with a brilliant wheeze in order to confront and overcome the emergency and its longer-term effects. This wheeze consisted of uttering empty platitudes about looking after the vulnerable while doing nothing effective and letting the virus do its work. It was a theory unknown to any ethical science unless you include the ideas of Francis Galton and eugenics. It was an attractive policy for HMG because, apart from spouting its meaningless platitudes it didn't have to do anything very much at all; the "solution" was cheap and it had the added benefit of wiping out a great number of unnecessary and costly mostly older people blocking beds in the NHS and many with serious illnesses who were a drain on the health services.

The theory, fronted and defended by the Chief Scientific Advisor to the government, was a natural building up of "herd immunity", something that science generally knew nothing about. In fact, though it was hardly reported by a compliant (and hysterical) media many eminent scientists were criticising this policy from day one: "unethical" said one scientist, another eminent epidemiologist upon reading the detail of the "theory" thought it was a hoax and a couple of days ago the editor of the Lancet, Dr. Richard Horton, expressed his bewilderment at the policy of the government and said that it had and would continue to, cost unnecessary lives. This policy was promptly and unceremoniously dumped when the government was shown that it would cost the lives of around a quarter-of-a-million people in Britain, mostly the sick and the aged. The cynical bastards then said they had changed the policy due to "the science" and the government and its Chief Scientific Adviser (I don't think he believed in this policy for one minute but that makes his actions even more reprehensible), along with the media, have acted as if the idea of a "herd immunity" from the sacrifice of the weak ever existed.

Demo and I have clashed before on the question of the denunciation of the bourgeoisie. For Demo above (he can clarify himself) it is cynical to denounce a bourgeoisie that is just a pawn of a blind economic system. For me, the cynicism belongs entirely to the bourgeoisie and its denunciation (not enough on its own) is an important element of class analysis and propaganda. Capitalism is an outmoded and senile system, blind, ruthless and unfeeling but the pawns of its management, completely amoral, very powerful, well-organised and more or less conscious of their actions and extremely adaptive, control significant amounts of ideological and material forces that have to be confronted by the working class and the denunciation of its cynicism and hypocrisy and the confrontation against it is part of the class struggle. In this respect, the latest article on the virus is to be welcomed for exposing how Galton's "survival of the fittest" ("Social Darwinism") is commonplace among the bourgeoisie and how eugenics and methods close to it are endemic in the practices of the bourgeoisie and its "health services".

One social aspect of this crisis that is already expressing itself - and always does at the time of disasters, etc. - is the solidarity and mutual assistance of the exploited and the poor. Mostly at a local level, various organisms have sprung up of concerned groups coming together to help their neighbours, the vulnerable and the weak. As the article above suggests, it would be very positive for elements of the working class to come to a greater defence of health workers and carers for whom government policies, for decades and especially now (not least with the original fixation on "herd immunity), have left them wide open to danger of catching and spreading the effects of the virus on the front line. Along with this phenomenon, another aspect that always appears around serious disasters is the strengthening and posturing of the repressive arms of the state where once again we see the instinctive consciousness of the bourgeoisie that sees threats to itself and takes the necessary pre-emptive actions.

In the context of the denunciation of the bourgeoisie, its utter cynicism and hypocrisy, then the article above on "Syrian refugees: no limit to the cruelty of the ruling class" should be read. The explicit murderous intent of the bourgeoisie, particularly those of the "democracies" (who were slagging-off China and Iran a couple of weeks ago) is evident here. Thousands and thousands of refugees, sick, weak and exhausted, young and old, and surely open to any sort of virus, treated in the most abject way by capitalist logic and by it pawns that frame its response. Outside and additional to threat of the virus is a real holocaust building up on the doorstep of Europe.

 

 

 

Tagore2
There is no health crisis.

In 2016, the flu killed 14,000 people in France. We didn't stop the country for that. Nobody talked about it. Covid 19 will kill a few hundred, maybe a few thousand. Statistically, this is not significant.

We must stop panicking for nothing. As in China and South Korea, the epidemic in Europe will soon peak and decline.

We must test and treat calmly, not shout "wolf!" nonstop. Within two or three weeks you will see who is right.

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

In 2016, the flu killed 14,000 people in France. We didn't stop the country for that. Nobody talked about it. Covid 19 will kill a few hundred, maybe a few thousand. Statistically, this is not significant.

We must stop panicking for nothing. As in China and South Korea, the epidemic in Europe will soon peak and decline.

We must test and treat calmly, not shout "wolf!" nonstop. Within two or three weeks you will see who is right.

I marvel at your confidence in this Tagore. There are suggestions that China has only temporarily halted the epidemic--a second wave could be coming. They are even now beginning to get reinfections from the rest of the world. I imagine the death toll from COVID-19 will be quite a bit higher than what you are citing--look at Italy, which has now passed China in number of deaths. Of course, why would we accept the official Chinese death toll to be accurate?

It may be the case that viral transmission subsidies, but the ruling class and its experts are not counting on that. There are rumours of expert predictions that the global economy will basically need to be shuttered for up to 18 months and there will be multiple waves of this virus. Whatever backpeddling the Johnson government has had to do in recent days on its "herd immunity" strategy, the Netherlands appears to be going ahead with it and by default that appears to be the strategy in the US, where the situation appears to have gotten out of control with a dearth of testing and community spread across the country; yet Trump is not signalling he will go for a nationwide shutdown. It is Demcoratic Governors like California's Gavin Newsome talking about "martial law," being imposed and NYC Mayor De Blasio actually begging Trump to send in the army.

KT
Agree with JK’s comments,

Agree with JK’s comments, above, plus….

  • This new pandemic is not a ‘rival’ or alternative to known influenza strains but an addition;
  • The mortality rate per infection, and the rate/ease of transmission appear far higher;
  • There is no inoculation against this strain at present;
  • The ‘victims’ are being welcomed into ‘health services’ decimated by cuts to the social welfare: shortage of masks and gowns, let alone ventilators, life-support systems; isolation units and the trained staff to run them;

The idea, explicit in Tagore 2’s posts (“This is why I hypothesize that the real purpose of these measures is to strengthen the power of the state.”)  that the bourgeoisie is deliberately using this crisis to ‘lock down’ and subjugate the population in general and the working class in particular ignores the damage done to the ruling class’s own political economy as a result. In war, the capitalists attempt to destroy the consequences of over-production and the falling rate of profit due to the weight of constant capital by destroying their rivals and capturing their markets. This is not the case today.

To deny the origins and severity of the present social and economic crisis and its ramifications, to join with Trump (sometimes!) and Musk, is to bury one’s head in the sand about the real trajectory of decomposing capitalism and to rob the proletariat of another powerful reason and necessity to over-throw the present order.

Demogorgon
Some very salient points from

Some very salient points from JK and KT.

In general, I think any firm predictions as to how this may turn out are simply creating hostages to fortune. Even the experts don't know. One can, of course, speculate about various scenarios and their implications.

Of course, it's possible that the change of seasons will suppress the virus. Indeed, much of the bourgeois strategy in many countries is already based on this hope. That well known epidemiologist, Donald Trump, was stating that it would all blow over by summer. Lesser minds than DT have also managed to grasp this concept. Much of the social measures are based (or justified) on the idea that by delaying transmission now through social measures, the peak infection rate will be pushed towards the summer months when it will be more easily dealt with. This is because pressure on health services tends to be less at this time in the normal course of events; and because they hope COVID-19 will also be naturally suppressed.

It's also worth remembering that the reason why, for the moment, the death toll appears relatively low is precisely because of all the measures that have been taken to slow the spread of the disease.

But this says nothing as to what will happen next winter. SARS, and especially MERS, never had the chance to be established on a wide scale. They were identified and combatted largely locally and regionally and were successfully contained. CV19 is global now. Infection rates in the northern hemisphere may indeed start to decline. But winter is approaching in the south, where the virus will happily circulate, possibly mutate, and then return for round 2 when winter returns to the north. This is how other human coronaviruses survive and propagate, including the ones that are responsible for around 15% of common colds.

Comrades may find this series of graphs interesting: https://informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/covid-19-coronavirus-infographic-datapack/

 

Tagore2
General containment measures

General containment measures in France INCREASED the rate of contamination.

What decreases the rate of contamination is to isolate sick people, not healthy people.

Currently, France's policy is to NOT TEST, and to send sick people back to their families, "to see if it gets worse". Confining sick and non-sick people together is the best way to spread the epidemic. Obviously when it gets worse, the patients overload the intensive care units.

In addition, France's policy is to NOT TEST recovered people. However, recovered people can still be contagious for a few days. By sending them back to their families without testing them, in a confined environment with other people, the state increases the risk of contagion.

The PCR tests exist since the end of January. France is 3 months late. Instead of using the scientific method, which consists of testing suspicious and recovered people, and isolating only contagious people, France uses a method from the Middle Ages when there were no reliable diagnostic and no microbiology.

These irrational methods of containment, mixing infected and uninfected people, increase the rate of contamination. This is what has happened in China and this is what is happening in Italy.

Just because a method is brutal, radical, doesn't mean it is fonctional.

Look at this fool:

"If systematic testing makes sense during the initial phase of an epidemic, it becomes useless when it is installed on a territory. ", Olivier Véran, French Minister of Health, France Inter, March 18.

"Since entering phase 3, the tests are no longer systematic" Olivier Véran, Le Figaro, March 19.

Yes! What is the use of diagnostic in modern medicine?

Do you realize that in France there is a shortage of masks? Note that 10 years ago, we had an over-stock of 1 billion masks. What carelessness...

LUCKILY the covid 19 is not that bad.

jk1921
Of course, I think it is true

Of course, I think it is true that the current extreme containment measures cannot be kept in place indeterminately. The economy will be reduced to nothingness and there is a risk of social disturbance from people who do not appreciate the danger or who cannot stand the isolation anymore. There will be much collateral damage from the isolation itself: medically, socially and psychologically. At some point, people will have to return to work.  The ruling class' hope, as Demo states, is that the virus does exhibit sensitivity to seasonal climatic forces and that the peak will be reached by summer. But that is just a hope. Also as Demo points out, the virus will continue to circulate in the Southern hemisphere and likely eventually return to the North in the fall. The risk for reinfections from international travel in a "globalized world" is real. There are still over a billion people in China who are potential fresh fuel for the contagion. Whatever, its scientific merit--the notion that the best way to deal with this crisis is to do whatever we can to build "herd immunity," is based in part on a realization that without that, there really are no good options until a vaccine or other treaments are developed, but even those would pose their own problems--how to scale that up to the entire world? Who gets it first and in what order?

Tagore2
Since the epidemiology exists

Since the epidemiology exists, it has always been observed that the coronaviruses regress in the spring. The fact that this covid 19 was discovered recently does not change the case. In addition there is a reliable diagnostic test and a treatment. The epidemic has completely disappeared in China, and is regressing in South Korea.

It is simple logic to say that the epidemic will also regress and disappear in Europe.

As for the possibility that the covid 19 will return next winter, it is possible, but that is not a reason to worry. 10,000 dead, or even 100,000, is nothing globally. There are more than 60 million deaths a year. The leading cause of preventable death is tobacco, with 6 million deaths (10%).

Rather than a shutdown of all "non-vital" businesses, we should have organized a shutdown of all the tobacco shops. Paradoxically in France, tobacco shops have been considered as "vital businesses" and are open. Nothing like a good cigarette to pass pneumonia!

Apparently, it doesn't bother anyone to let the tobacco industry kill 6 million people around the world. But one coronavirus kills 10,000 people, and it's total panic.

-

I'm tired of staying locked up because of this bunch of government morons who know nothing about epidemiology! We had the dweeb from bird flu, now we have the dweeb from Covid 19!

We, the French, we have the most stupid dominant class on Earth! Our president Macron is even more stupid than Trump!

jk1921
I appreciate the attempts of

I appreciate the attempts of Tagore to put the Covid-19 danger in perspective with other "preventable deaths." There is no doubt that there is much truth in pointing out the irrationality of what kind and how much mortality is accepted as "normal" under capitalism. However, I think this still misses the point of the gravity of the current situation in which the system is about to be flooded past capacity with sick people who might otherwise have been saved. The critical statistic is not so much the absolute death rate, but the percentage of cases that will need hospital level care: (20 percent). There is simply no capacity for this and the social and political fallout will be dramatic.

Tagore2
What has saturated some

What has saturated some services is panic and disorganization:

Quote:

I waited more than three hours confined with hundreds of people one behind the other, it was very hot. When my turn came and I explained my symptoms, I was told that I would not be tested because I did not have a medical prescription, nor made a recent trip. This was the case for several people who did not insist and left. But I had my daughter at home. They didn't want to test me, but I absolutely wanted to know. So I invented a contact with a positive ...

So they ended up testing me and then sending me home with a mask telling me that I could consult the result on the hospital platform with a code, and that I would be contacted anyway if it were positive. So I came back, with the fear of contaminating my baby and my partner, or anyone would cross my path. I kept the mask 24 hours and to date I still haven't received the famous code to read my results!

On Friday evening, when I called Timone [hospital] for news, a gentleman told me that it took 9 hours for the test and not 6 hours as initially indicated. Saturday morning, still nothing, until 12:15 p.m. when they call me. A doctor explains to me that my test is positive and that the Samu will pick me up for 48 hours of hospitalization.

It is the hospitals themselves that are spreading the epidemic. The nursing staff does not have enough masks or gloves. They mix contaminated and non-contaminated people. They do not test suspicious people. They send contaminated people home. They hospitalize people for 48 hours, while the duration of the contagion is on average 20 days. The result is that the disease is getting worse and spreading, and that is what is eventually clogging up hospitals.

Fortunately, this woman was finally taken care of by professor Raoult, who gave her chloroquine and an antibiotic. Although she was very sick and almost died, she was healed in a few days.

There are simply rational people who know how to manage an epidemic, and other irrational ones who make it worse. This is a collective problem: this is the state as a whole that manage this epidemic in an appalling manner.

https://www.lyonne.fr/paris-75000/actualites/plaquenil-contre-le-coronav...

jk1921
Apparently, since Trump

Apparently, since Trump touted the wonders of Chloroquine in a press conference the other day (much to the dismay of the esteemed Dr. Fauci) there has been a veritable run on the stuff. Fox News has been running with idea that it is a miracle drug in a desperate attempt to report some good news for the President. Good luck getting any right now, despite its as yet only anecdotal efficacy.

KT
Capital is responsible

Tagore 2 wrote: “This is a collective problem: this is the state as a whole that manage this epidemic in an appalling manner.”

Yes: this is true. I share your anger and indignation. And we have yet to hear the effects of this new virus on the concentrated refugee camps on the fringes of Europe – in Turkey, in Greece, across the water in Libya. Or in the slums around many cities in Africa or South and Central America. In North America, the massive tent cities and relative absence of ‘universal healthcare’ is presently making itself felt.

But it is 100 times more true on an historical, not an immediate level:

It is the nation state – territorial expression of capitalist competition and organisation – that is responsible for the 50 million dead in the Spanish flu epidemic following the conditions engendered by the world slaughter of 1914-18. This war marks a watershed in social life: it marks the entry of capitalism into its decadent period and the opening up of the major contradiction between what is possible given the humanity’s growing control over its own destiny – its science, its methods of production – and the social relations of competition based on profit which dictate that the latter dominates and subverts the former.

It is the nation state which, since the reappearance of the global crisis of over-production in the late 1960s, has consciously eroded any structures - such as the National Health Service in GB – set up after WW2 to organsise society for reconstruction. The profit motive, the exploitation by capital of labour power, wasn’t born yesterday!

As the ICC article on the Covid-9 epidemic quoted earlier says: “We are not revealing anything new when we point out that the danger of this disease lies not so much in the virus itself, but in the fact that this pandemic is taking place against a background of enormous degradation, over decades and on a global scale, in health infrastructures. It is, in fact, the “administration" of these increasingly leaner and more defective structures that is dictating the policies of the various states…. (my emphasis).

If we want to know the stakes, the real situation, if we must descend to the level of empiricism, then let us look again and the chaotic scenes in the hospitals shorn of paper masks and gowns; at the troops on some streets, the self-isolation on others, and compare these visions with the uncountable trillions of dollars, roubles and Renminbi spent on this week’s boastful launch, announced in the midst of all this epidemic, by the Pentagon of a hypersonic missile, as Russia and China rush not only to make their own, but to deploy weapons systems to counter this new piece of imperialist one-upmanship. Capitalism means war, not health.

baboon
In the temporary hiatus in

In the temporary hiatus in the discussion and following the Sunday Times accurate report - in my opinion, on the Cabinet's clique's, "let them die" policy, I want to make a few further observations on the way the British government's strategy for confronting the virus developed. It starts with the last election campaign where the clique around Johnson, embarrassed at him avoiding questions and hiding in fridges to escape reporters, singled out the BBC's senior political correspondent as an "independent" conduit for their policy. Every night, in exchange for the privilege, she gave the government's propaganda a boost, even giving it the right inflections and nuances. How much it helped the Tories win the election is a moot point but it didn't do them any harm.
 
Forward to the covid-19 outbreak and the government's response took a similar line: keep Johnson away from everyone and, this time, give exclusive access to ITV's senior political correspondent who can then deliver the government's strategy. Unbelievably the government's strategy for "fighting the virus" was unveiled over about four days of secret government briefings courtesy of ITN. What did these briefings say? What were the ITV reports based on them: nothing about basic safety equipment in hospitals, nothing about protecting health staff and carers or the population in general, nothing about food supplies or the protection of the sick and vulnerable but plenty about expected numbers of deaths - sixty to eighty thousand was acceptable to the government clique - and how temporary mortuaries were to be set up and land appropriated for the expected number of burials. Other elements might have mentioned as a matter of course but the emphasis was on deaths, mortuaries and burials; a deliberate and ruthless strategy and it was clear that the Johnson clique smelt an opportunity to be exploited.

After a few days other newspapers, excluded from the loop, kicked-up and made a fuss so we had the daily press conferences  fronted by Johnson who could say he was "following the science" while the only science he was following was the "let them die" strategy. The secret briefings had done their work and Johnson could afford to stand in front of the cameras and talk about "the science" (of doing very little) with the Chief Scientific Advisor backing up his words.

 

Tagore2
Professor Raoult has decided

Professor Raoult has decided to screen everyone who comes to his institute and has symptoms of Covid 19, and to treat them, if necessary, with Chloroquine and Azothromycin.

The Ministry of Health is enraged. The official recommendations of the government are to stay at home and especially not to go to the hospital if you are sick, and to call the emergency room only if the illness worsens.

https://twitter.com/MinSoliSante/status/1241819436492812289

Regional health agencies and the central administration of some hospitals are on the warpath to deter people from getting tested.

On March 21, the central administration of the university hospitals of Marseille, relayed by the Paca regional health agency, wrote for example:

Quote:

!! Attention Facknews
# COVID19 # SCREENING
Please note the IHU Méditerranée Infection does not carry out systematic screening.
Do not come spontaneously to Timone Hospital or any other hospital for testing.
#Stay home ! #Help caregivers!

https://twitter.com/ARSPaca/status/1241342097501929472

On the 22nd, the IHU Méditerranée Infection replied with a press release on its official website that, on the contrary, the tests are in progress at the Timone Hospital, and that people who test positive will not be sent home, but neat. Hundreds of people gather quietly in front of the institute to be tested.

https://www.mediterranee-infection.com/epidemie-a-coronavirus-covid-19/

Other hospitals, including those of Caens, Nancy, Nice and Corsica, announce that they already imitates the methods of Professor Raoult. Opposition members, public figures and doctors announce that they have been screened and successfully treated with Chloroquine.

On the 23rd, the Ministry of Health announced that it had adopted a decree limiting the prescription of Chloroquine to patients hospitalized in serious condition.

On the 24th, Professor Raoult replied in an interview that in reality the patients in the intensive care unit had almost no more covid 19 in their blood, but a bacterial superinfection which killed them, so treatment with chloroquine was no longer indicated. It is only in the beginning of infection that chloroquine is effective, preventing the multiplication of the virus, and which ultimately prevents superinfection.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFkUnJ46MVI

On the internet, war is raging between the supporters of containment and those of screening.

A petition gathered more than 200,000 signatures in 5 days in favor of mass screening, against general confinement. Faced with mounting comments increasingly hostile to the government, the initiator closed the petition, affirming his confident in the authorities and his support to the containment measures.

https://www.change.org/p/petition-fermee-4b162973-a584-4244-a0cc-95bac7f...

MH
comment and a question

 

As the first ICC article clearly shows, the emergence of new infectious diseases like Covid-19 is fundamentally a consequence of the increasingly destructive dynamic of capitalist development in its epoch of decay, due in particular to urbanisation, overcrowding, poverty and the destruction of the natural environment, the effects of local wars together with improved international communication and the growth of the global population.

More specifically Covid-19 shows the consequences of the acceleration of the decay of capitalist society in the last 30 years, due in particular to cuts in health services and research, degradation of the infrastructure of capitalist society, the weakening of the political apparatus of the bourgeoisie including mechanisms for international co-ordination and the decay of the democratic system itself.

The unprecedented measures of state control being taken in the face of the threat from the virus may have an attenuating effect on the acceleration of this decay – but this can only be temporary in view of the depth and irreversibility of this process.

More significantly, the measures currently being taken by many capitalist states are having a potentially catastrphic effect on an already fragile world economy, risking a world slump. In this sense, it is the US bourgeoisie which now appears to be adopting an entirely rational approach from a capitalist point of view that safeguarding the economy is a priority over the deaths of its citizens.

It may be that other bourgeoisies are adopting the same approach but more covertly or discreetly, but frankly I still cannot quite get my head around why so many capitalist states seem prepared to risk economic collapse over the coronavirus, especially in countries with already weak economies like Spain and italy. What am I missing here?

 

Demogorgon
A ruling class ... rules ... until it can't

I think we sometimes forget what it means to be a ruling class. A ruling class, to justify its position in society, must be able to rule it effectively. When it loses this capacity, as Lenin said, it opens up the way to revolution:

Quote:
To the Marxist it is indisputable that a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, it is not every revolutionary situation that leads to revolution. What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms: (1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action.

Ruling cannot simply mean maintaining its position at the top of the tree and imposing its dictatorship upon society. As a historic class, it must also show leadership to other social strata, rallying and unifying them behind its agenda. It means, to some extent, accommodating the aspirations of the other strata in society if only as far as the system allows. Only in this way can a ruling class maintain the ideological fiction that its own interests are identical with the rest of society. As I said earlier on this thread, this ideology is not simply a weapon of propaganda - the bourgeoisie, along with other ruling classes throughout history, really does believe this.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say it has to believe this, or it wouldn't be able to function as a ruling class at all. So it's simply naive to believe that the ruling class doesn't have a "morality" which organises its actions. For example, Herbert Hoover wrote a scathing report of the Morgenthau Plan in post-War Germany: "There is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations can be reduced to a 'pastoral state'. It can not be done unless we exterminate or move 25,000,000 people out of it." And, even though bourgeois society is the basis for racism, they ruling class can still maintain the delusion that they are morally superior to the masses: for example, Gordon Brown's dismissal of Gillian Duffy as a bigot because of her concerns about immigration. Just as the unions are only able to fulfill their function due to their co-option of the true believers, so too bourgeois rule depends ideologically on at least some of their number having genuine moral convictions.

The problem is that because bourgeois interests are materially opposed to those of the rest of society (and even more so in the period of decadence), they must also be able to act in contradiction to their stated moral principles. In these situations, two things happen.

Firstly, those who are most devoid of human empathy are pushed to the forefront of the bourgeois ranks, both the psychopaths but also those who represent Arendt's "banality of evil" ("In our view, the "banality" that Arendt describes is that of a world – the capitalist world – where human beings, reified and alienated, are reduced to the status of objects, commodities, cogs in the machine of capital." Hannah Arendt: in praise of thought.). Secondly, bourgeois ethics rationalises the actions that the bourgeoisie must take through the basic conceptions of the "lesser evil" and "the end justifies the means".

Together, these elements, are able to create a contradictory moral consciousness that can produce a genuine belief in democracy, "human rights", etc. ... while simultaneously enabling the same society, the same ruling class and even the same individuals to carry out the most appalling acts seemingly in direct opposition to those beliefs, while maintaining some element of inner moral conviction.

The power of this moral consciousness (which, incidentally, is reproduced to greater or lesser extent in other strata in bourgeois society, including the proletariat in so far as it remains dominated by bourgeois ideology) has enabled the bourgeoisie to lead human society to the pinacle of civilisation while simultaenously plumbing its depths.

But with the advent of decomposition, this capacity to lead society has begun to disintegrate in unprecedented ways. COVID-19 confronts them with an impossible situation where their material and ideological needs directly confront each other. They cannot lead society in the fight against this pandemic without directly undermining the economic bases of that society and their own class rule, i.e. by destroying their own economy. They cannot save their economy without abandoning their moral leadership of society and displaying to the whole of society their own historical and ideological obsolescence.

For the moment, they are attempting to square the circle by temporarily enacting the measures we have seen, but already the edifice is crumbling and the most decomposed parts of the bourgeoisie (e.g. Trump) are openly demonstrating the decadence of the ruling class. (This is one of the reasons for the genuine, unfeigned hostility in the more "rational" parts of bourgeoisie towards Trump - they see in him the inevitable future of their class.)

jk1921
Trump is being denounced for

Trump is being denounced for reverting to  a "let 'em die" strategy, faced with the impossible contradiction of trying to contain this virus and destroying economic life as we know it. But as MH says, there is some rationality in this: the US is not China, it simply lacks ther Chinese state's capacity to shut society down in such a draconian way. State level quarantines were already being flaunted and it is increasingly clear that all the other half measures would ultimately prove fruitless--its not like you can't get Covid-19 in a grocery store.

Why wreck the economy with so little to be gained, other than as Demo points out some amorphous moral credibility Trump never had anyway? Still, his approval rating is up amidst the crisis and its not like his new position is without its defenders, both on Fox News and in the populace in general. we will see what happens when the death toll starts to reach the thousands and then tens of thousands in the next month or so.

Its also worth remembering how the bourgeoisie reacted to the Spanish flu pandemic: with a press black out and by declaring "war production" must go on! Trump stands on some tall shoulders there.

MH
Some thoughtful posts from

Some thoughtful posts from Demo and jk to reflect on here. I think what Demo is describing - the need of the ruling class to appear to lead society - suggests this is an attenuating factor on 'decomposition' which, although now under sustained pressure, needs to be more thoroughly taken into account in our analysis of the current period. 

KT
Elements in response to MH

Good question from MH: Why is capitalism seriously if temporarily disrupting production and the hunt for profit to fight the virus?

Has it become a class with a social conscience, one which takes the moral high ground with the aim of saving as many lives as possible?

Agree with the main thrust of Demogoron’s intervention: the response of the bourgeoisie is driven by self-interest and the preservation of capitalist social relations: ie its class rule. In the short term such considerations are as much political and social as they are economic.

The strategy was spelled out by UK Health Minister Lord Bethell in the House of Lords Tuesday (24.3.2020); “We are buying time”.

Also on Tuesday, in the UK House of Commons, Tory MP Kevin Hollinrake, ‘champion of small businesses’, said: “As a business owner I would much rather have a short sharp shock in which everything shut down for 30 days or so, in order to get this disease under control.”

This is the same approach as the Chinese Communist Party, the first ruling clique faced with the problem, which then provided the template for the rest of its class.

It’s no accident that the ‘unreconstructed’ state capitalist line-up of China with its top-down, state-driven response to the social crisis was of necessity adopted in the West where decades of ‘free-market’, ‘trans-national’ guff was swept aside in a matter of days and the state revealed in its true nature: the repressive bedrock of capitalist social order. Monentary and fiscal policy was thrown out of the window: billions were pledged to ‘ride out the storm’, to close down or to prop-up businesses and, to a much lesser extent, individuals; thousands of troops mobilised…. A further sterilisation of capital and flight into debt.

As Lenin said: “There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

***

Faced with workers going sick, middle management buckling and potential disruption to global supply chains, the bourgeoisie of China, the workshop of the world,  at first tried to hide and lie its way out of the epidemic before concluding that its priority was to restore confidence internally and externally by concentrating on halting brutally the spread  of the virus by isolating, ‘locking down’ an entire province of 60 million plus.

It’s true, as JK points out, that the west, or at least Europe, doesn’t have the same mechanisms of social control as in China – at least on the level of technology. In fact, its mechanisms are stronger! We shouldn’t forget that democracy is a far more effective means of mobilizing the population than mere repression alone. A bit of dithering (real or staged) here; some governmental delay and confusion there, some ‘anti-social elements’ enjoying the sunshine elsewhere and virtually the entire political class with the vast majority of the population behind it, is clamoring for ‘citizens’ to invoke the ‘wartime spirit’, to remain isolated at home, with police on the streets to enforce it all. This is the situation in GB at any rate. Perhaps it’s different in the US.

When we talk of the ruling class being unable to continue as before, we should recall that the proletariat is not the only non-exploiting class in society. While the working class is quiescent, the petty-bourgeoisie and lumpen proletariat is certainly capable of creating social chaos: it’s a short step from panic buying to looting; from roadblocks in Wales and Cornwall warning second-home owners from the big city to stay away and not stretch regional resources decimated in the previous decades, to a much more serious situation of ‘every man for himself’. Long-term economic planning gives way to short-term political expediency. In this sense, one can acknowledge that if the present crisis was in no way created to control the population, control of the population is a necessity arising out of the present crisis.

***

There is a further reason why mere economic considerations have been thrown to the wind: even if money talks and can mitigate risk and open up access to medical care, members of the bourgeoisie also catch the virus! Ask Mrs Trudeau or Mike Pence’s staff. Or the vulnerable heir to the British throne, HRH Prince Charles.

Following three successive cholera outbreaks in GB - largely due to the contaminated water supply - which claimed an estimated 30,000 lives between 1831 and 1854; following ‘The Great Stink’ which drove the ruling class from the capital in 1858, the British bourgeoisie reorganized its administration, allocated unprecedented quantities of money and mobilized thousands of workers to construct the sewerage system still in use today. Flouting economic orthodoxy in the face of disease has precedents.

***

The emphasis is on ‘short term’. The ruling class ‘hopes’ for business as usual asap. The self-oscillating Trump expresses this clearly, if prematurely. The return to work in China – before any real knowledge of re-infection rates, preventative vaccine measures or other work is completed – reveals the same old contempt for life and lust for profit. None of this has disappeared, despite appearances to the contrary. (Edited)

 

Link
'Ruling cannot simply mean

'Ruling cannot simply mean maintaining its position at the top of the tree and imposing its dictatorship upon society. As a historic class, it must also show leadership to other social strata, rallying and unifying them behind its agenda. It means, to some extent, accommodating the aspirations of the other strata in society if only as far as the system allows. Only in this way can a ruling class maintain the ideological fiction that its own interests are identical with the rest of society. As I said earlier on this thread, this ideology is not simply a weapon of propaganda - the bourgeoisie, along with other ruling classes throughout history, really does believe this.'

Excellent explanation by Demo of a difficult point.   Recognising this also puts the idea of decomposition into a clear context, ie its increasing inability to manage its society and its economy effectively.

Can I add here that the contradiction that Demo explains can also be found in the Bourgeoisie approach to equal opps and political correctness in the last 50 years.  Why in the midst of economic crisis did the B become so concerned to tackle racism, lack of equal opps for women, better health and safety at work and so forth.  These issues were no longer just the concern of the radical left but became mainstream issues for both right and left wing governments.  Without being able to solve the problems or eliminate the contradictions  the B pursued these policies as an approach to maintaining order in its society.  My point is i guess its been developing this approach to managing society for some time

jk1921
I think the Johnson

I think the Johnson government got scared off its original "herd immunity" plan, after the Imperial College analysis that showed up to a 250,000 dying and the NHS being completely overrun (and 1.7 million dead in the US). The Netherlands has seemingly also backed away from this approach, although supposedly Sweden is still forging ahead. Another study, however, challenges the premises of the Imperial College analysis, suggesting that it is possible far more people are already immune to this virus and that the incidence of serious illness could be as low .1 percent of those infected. This claim would of course have to be validated with serological testing of the entire population; although there is some correspondence with limited data out of China and italy. The Imperial College study has basically called for the global economy to be "shut down" for up to 18 months until an effective vaccine can be scaled up to the level of the entire planet.

With this kind of expert perspective its no wonder, Trump has decided to switch course and now adopt the orignial UK model. How is it even possible to shut the world down for 18 months? Basic services would go into a crisis, there would be the threat of social revolt and all kinds of collateral damage. Trump is not wrong when he says lockdowns do their own damage. Already, emergency room doctors are starting to see an uptick in child abuse and domestic violence, while they no doubt fuel the already raging mental health crisis. The possibility of police-minority youth encounters on the streets is also a concern. Even if many will die, Trump and his Fox News advisors, reason at least the basic order of society can be perserved. Most people will survive, work will carry on as it did in 1918-1919 during the raging flu pandemic. This of course raises the question of whether scenes of dying patients in the media creates its own legitimation problems--which is apparently what moved the Johnson government to change course, but that is a problem for a different day for Trump, whose entire Presidency has been about the soaring economy, which if he followed the doctor's expert advice, he would have to smash back to the stone age to save a few million vulnerable, who might have died in a car crash anyway.

zimmerwald1915
Democratic Response to Crisis

KT wrote:
A bit of dithering (real or staged) here; some governmental delay and confusion there, some ‘anti-social elements’ enjoying the sunshine elsewhere and virtually the entire political class with the vast majority of the population behind it, is clamoring for ‘citizens’ to invoke the ‘wartime spirit’, to remain isolated at home, with police on the streets to enforce it all. This is the situation in GB at any rate. Perhaps it’s different in the US.

It is not, at least in broad strokes. Governmental delay and confusion was the order of the day from mid-February to mid-March, when all of a sudden the spread of COVID-19 became a national emergency (with much blame and calumny directed at Spring Break beachgoers in Miami), pressure mounted to invoke the Defense Production Act, police (ordimary municipal police and federal immigration police) ramped up raids on sweatshops where workers were compelled to keep up production, and Andy Cuomo of all people vaulted to the head spokesmanship of the bourgeoisie in its crisis response, chiding the national government for its failure to shield the hollowed-out health-maintenance system from having to serve more people than it possibly can. 

That last point is, as Demogorgon points out, one of the major priorities of the bourgeoisie in this crisis. The procurement of health-maintenance for broad swaths of the population (whether by the development of national health services or the wide disbursement of vaccines) was a major factor legitimating the rule of the bourgeoisie after the Second World War, and in enshrining the state in its role as protector of the people. In those countries where it remains undone or partially undone, the image of a national health service is a powerful ideological weapon used to recuperate masses of unengaged people into democracy - that was the service the Sanders campaign performed in the US, and because the crisis provides everyone with an excuse for every failure, it might not even be undone by his inability to capture the leadership of the official left party.

jk1921
Make no mistake about it,

Make no mistake about it, whatever the initial dithering of the UK government, the US has stood out in front almost alone in its utter incompetence in reacting to this crisis. It is now on track for a national disaster worse than Italy, unless some miracle of the weather saves it. And its not all down to Trump, the US simply lacks the state capacity to contain the outbreak on the level of China or even S.Korea. The failures with early testing at the CDC were hardly Trump"s fault. At some level and at some time in this past, the state structure/social arrangement in the US with the ideogy of personal frredom and competitive individualism must have been a comparative advantage, but in a crisis like this, it clearly is not. There are suggestions this may be the terminal crisis of US global hegemony, to the benefit of China. Perhaps that is right, but for the clique advising Trump right now, it seems the only thing left to is to do is try to get a jump on the competition and start the economy back up as soon as possible, everything else is already past tense at this point.

Demogorgon
National Ideological Services

As a brief follow-on from Zimmerwald's comments on the ideological power of health services, last night across the UK there was a "clap for carers" event, although it was really a "clap for the NHS". Health care workers do, of course, do a vital job and often at great personal risk (especially when they're not given the right safety equipment). There is also nothing wrong with showing individual or collective appreciation for what they do.

I don't know whether the idea arose spontaenously or was planted by some state operative (it doesn't really matter at the end of the day) but, as usual, genuine solidarity and gratitude has been recuperated into an exercise in nationalist state-worship. It segues seamlessly into the continual ideological barrage from the government about our "wonderful" NHS - the same wonderful NHS that has been unable to supply its workers with basic protection as they are asked to risk their lives. A key element of government messaging has been how we have to "protect" the NHS ... a rather strange turn of phrase given that the NHS is supposedly there to protect us.

MH
solidarity?

demo wrote:
I don't know whether the idea arose spontaenously or was planted by some state operative (it doesn't really matter at the end of the day) but, as usual, genuine solidarity and gratitude has been recuperated into an exercise in nationalist state-worship.

Well, I don't know. I was pretty sceptical myself beforehand but as it turned out my whole neighbourhood seemed to be out clapping, banging pots and pans, calling to each other, even fireworks, and I have to say I found it unexpectedly moving. I think it's partly people needing some kind of relief from being cooped up in their houses but it does have a genuine communal element to it, as well as being an expression of support for health workers. There are also the hundreds of thousands of people who have signed up to help out the NHS and of course the government is capitalising on that in its propaganda. But would we prefer it if people didn't do that? If no one volunteered, would that be a sign of class consciousness or a further weakening of basic human solidarity, which is surely the basis for any future class movement...?   

Demogorgon
Context

Quote:
But would we prefer it if people didn't do that?

As with all these things, it depends on the circumstances. If thousands of people signed up to the unions in order to take part in emerging struggles that would be a positive thing. Similarly, if thousands of people left the unions because they were tired, exhausted and no longer gave a shit that would be a negative thing. It doesn't change the fundamentals of what the unions are, though.

In this sense, the volunteering, etc. is an expression of basic human solidarity (which should be celebrated) being co-opted into a legitimization of bourgeois rule (which should not). I'm glad the first exists and dismayed at the second, even if at the moment, no other form of expression is possible outside of very limited circumstances.

 

baboon
The phenomenon of this type

The phenomenon of this type of support for health workers started in Italy and Spain where the "balcony culture" is much more evident than in the climes of the UK. But, as demo says above, it is both an expression of the genuine human solidarity that has been shown in all capitalist disasters so far and an element of the way that the bourgeoisie has learned to manipulate this expression for it own political and nationalist ends.

Food supplies are going to be a big problem in the UK. See here from the Guardian today: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/27/millions-to-need-food-aid-...
Similar problems are affecting the US where, in addition, many strikes and walkouts are taking place. Any news from the US on this?

MH
Agreed

demo wrote:
In this sense, the volunteering, etc. is an expression of basic human solidarity (which should be celebrated) being co-opted into a legitimization of bourgeois rule (which should not). I'm glad the first exists and dismayed at the second, even if at the moment, no other form of expression is possible outside of very limited circumstances.

Agreed. I suppose the point is we are forced to focus on these basic expressions of solidarity in the absence of any real class alternative. But if we talk about the need for the politicisation of the class struggle at the very least I think we need to be alert to signs of this, or at least the potential for it, in the current crisis, for example (in the context of what you were saying earlier about the need for the bourgeosie to appear to 'lead' society) if the response of the bourgeoisie is completely exposed as grossly incompetent as well as cynical.. 

baboon
In jk's post above he

In jk's post above he mentions that the US has stood out alone in its incompetence in its response to the contagion. From what I see, apart from one or two secondary characteristics, there is a complete uniformity to the reactions of all the major capitalist states, following the complete uniformity of their ruthless cuts to the "social wage" and "uneccessary spending" over the past decades which, predictably, has brought us to where we are today. Despite the general warnings about pandemics over decades and the specific example of the spread of the virus in China - known about in medical circles since last December - the bourgeoisie globally has shown its absolute contempt for the working class and the population in general in its actions and especially in its general indifference of the weak going to the wall with people dying like dogs in health care systems that have been deliberately and consciously cut year on year. Earlier this week, the Spanish and British governments launched the same lie about the life-saving equipment available (even down to giving exactly the same numbers which were greatly exaggerated) and both were quickly forced to accept their words were lies - which they did shamelessly and moved on to the next set of lies. I can't see any fundamental difference in any of the nation state's policies in putting the capitalist economy first against the health of its workers as it has done in the last three or four decades and let the weak go to the wall. That's been the policy of decadent capitalism and it is its general policy now. There's a lot of "war-time" associated talk in the chattering circles about how everything will change after this, how society won't be the same anymore, how the "poor" will be valued in future, how the bourgeoisie will change for the better etc., etc. All of it part of the general and international lying machine of the ruling class everywhere whose "war-time" spirit is invoked in order to protect the national interest and the capitalist state..

 

 

jk1921
China has brought its

China has brought its domestic outbreak to heal in a matter of two months (if you believe the party line). Similarly S. Korea, Singapore, etc. have handled it quite well in avoiding a complete shut down of their economies. China's problem right now is that its main market--the United States, is in a crisis of as yet unknowbale proportions. There is a story here about "state capacity" in this epoch of captialist society that is something more than secondary?

zimmerwald1915
baboon wrote: Similar

baboon wrote:
Similar problems are affecting the US where, in addition, many strikes and walkouts are taking place. Any news from the US on this?

Pretty sure that for now these are sporadic and limited by geography, industry and workplace. 
https://apnews.com/Strikes
https://www.nytimes.com/topic/subject/strikes
https://www.thecut.com/2020/03/what-does-a-general-strike-mean.html

First two links are to news story aggregators, and none mentions ongoing strikes in the US (hardly surprising). Third is to what looks like a leftist blog, which calls out strikes of garbage collectors in Pittsburgh, PA and what I'm pretty sure are meatpackers in Perry, GA.

Alf
Class struggle and Coronavirus

This article from libcom suggests that a number of the strikes in the US were wildcats, against the advice of the unions who were hand in hand with management to keep workers at work. http://libcom.org/news/march-25-workers-launch-wave-wildcat-strikes-trump-pushes-return-work-amidst-exploding-coro. These expressions are important because they show that the current crisis - despite all the appeals for national unity and the wartime spirit - will not entirely efface the growing class discontent that we saw welling up in France for example.  However, the strikes can only really call to be allowed to stop work and stay at home, and in the present situation the conditions for a general movement with mass assemblies and demonstations are not at all present, for obvious reasons. We can only expect any real drawing of lessons from this whole experience in the longer term; in the short term the crisis is going to make it very unlikely that we will see the struggle developing in an open and mass way. Since we had seen a tendency in that direction prior to the crisis, we have to say that the pandemic is currently acting as a blow against the struggle (as does the process of decomposition in general)

Regarding the mass clapping and the efforts to help neighbours and vulnerable people: of course they spring from a genuine desire to resist total isolation and express some kind of solidarity but they should not be confused with a class response (which some in the anarchist milieu in particular are wont to do) and they are certainly being instrumentalised by the bourgeoisie which never stops praising the "heroes" in the health service that they themselves have been cutting to shreds. Neither do health workers themselves always feel unequivocally in favour of them. For example, this statement by a hospital doctor in Belgium: 

 

“I think I am perhaps feeling a bit sour, having been on 24 hour call with very little sleep. But on the whole I can’t really put up with all the applause: the hospitals didn’t wait for Covid-19 to be like slave galleys, permanently oversubscribed. The emergency services also didn’t wait to be overloaded because of a lack of staff, especially nurses, and through working in inadequate, undersized facilities. The fact that the Saint-Pierre hospital has to go ducking and diving for ventilators is really shameful.

Where are we now? Will Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) arrive to save us? A lot of the people now applauding vote every time around for idiots who reduce the budgets, or spread the hashtag #keepsophie in support of the Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, forgetting that she was the finance minister in a government which withdrew several billion euros from healthcare.

And are they really afraid because we are risking our lives? People who have stressful jobs through lack of any alternative don’t generally die of infection. They die because of the hellish pace of work which takes 10,15 or 20 years off their life expectancy.

So thanks for your applause anyway, but hospital personnel have been working in shit conditions for years and risk their health by trying to do their jobs we well as they can.

The next time you see demonstrations calling for health care to be re-financed, support us!

And next time you go to the polling booth, think twice about all this.

An emergency doctor in Liege, jointly signed by an emergency nurse in Bruxelles.

 

PS If you applaud at 8pm, think as well about all the workers involved in distribution, those running the nurseries, the refuse workers, who are also very poorly paid for carrying on with their work”

https://www.levif.be/actualite/belgique/un-medecin-urgentiste-je-ne-supp...