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

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Internationalis...
In solidarity with international communist current

In solidarity with international communist current, Internationalist Voice introduced the article of the ICC “Either the world working class puts an end to capitalism, or capitalism puts an end to humanity” on its Telegram channel and is circulating on social media.

Internationalist Voice

Homepage: www.internationalist.tk

E-mail: [email protected]

baboon
As the bourgeoisie sees

As the bourgeoisie sees "glimmers of hope" everywhere, the Times reported last week that at the beginning of March, a full two months after Covid-19 was becoming legion and already hitting Europe, the entire team of scientific advisers to the British government (with one exception and he was iffy), told the cabinet that the risk to the UK was "moderate".  Five weeks after that, the policy of the British government, along with many other countries, is still a de-facto, herd immunity. When the "never again" public enquiry is undertaken in Britain, it's the scientific advisers who will be scapegoated but they are just doing the job that the capitalist state and its ideology demands of them. It was similar for Scotland's Chief Medical Officer who, after telling people to stay indoors, was taking regular visits with her family to her holiday home on the coast. And it was similar for Professor June Andrews, medical advisor to the Scottish government, who said in March, that a pandemic, clearlng away bed-blockers by killing them would work out "quite useful".

This present idea of "herd immunity" comes from the "natural science" of the bourgeoisie: eugenics; it is part of a long line from Malthus, through Francis Galton up to today. Dr. John Holdren of Harvard was President Obama's "Science Czar" in the 1970's and a keen advocate of eugenics likening humans to "bacteria on a culture dish" and "fruit flies in a jar..." Eugenics has been endemic to the policies of capitalism and the capitalist state since its inception and it is still very much a part of its policies playing a role in the conditions which created this pandemic and in the effects of the pandemic itself..

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

The number 1 of English infectologists, number 2 worldwide, is Alimuddin Zumla. In an interview on April 1, 2020, he warns of the "distraction" represented by covid-19, which diverts us from the real public health problems of tuberculosis, HIV, malaria and maternal and infant health. He is concerned that medical resources are being diverted to the detriment of other diseases, such as cancer. He hopes that this crisis will shed light on other much more fatal lung diseases, such as tuberculosis (1.5 million deaths per year). He points out that this disease is mainly caused by malnutrition, poverty, stress and poor living conditions.

Obviously, it is not the rich people who die from tuberculosis...

Alimuddin Zumla is also concerned that measures of "social distancing" (euphemism for "irrational quarantines") could in fact deprive TB patients of care and children of vaccines, which could have far more serious health consequences than covid-19 itself.

The wsws has been censored on Reddit.

The mass media give us a completely distorted view of reality.

Unlike the "government experts" who are specially appointed to give a "scientific" varnish to government fear, the real experts (like Raoult or Zumla) are not particularly worried about the epidemic itself, but rather about the social, economic and health consequences of the panic that surrounds the epidemic. The point of view of serious science is stifled.

I appreciate the position Tagore is attempting to develop here, but there is a big difference between Tuberculosis and Covid-19. For one thing, the PM of GB is unlikely to get Tuberculosis. Covid-19 is a raging pandemic that nobody, no scientist-no politican, fully understands the trajectory of. There is no consensus on how deadly it it, how long it will last, whether or not there will be multiple waves of infection, how to treat it, how long it will take to develop a vaccine, etc. There are just too many giant unknowns. What we do know is very limited, but very scary: it spreads easily and kills some percentage of people who get it. Tagore chides the bourgeoisie for its irrationality but also seems to denounce the communist left for tailending its catastrophism. But its not clear what is supposed to replace that? Stubborn contrarianism: "Covid-19 is no big deal in the context of other modes of death;" "Covid-19 can be treated by commonly available drugs;" "Covid-19 is unlikely to be much worse than the seasonal flu in the end." Any of that may be true, but its not clear what basis we have to believe any of that either at this moment at time. Isn't that just tail ending another faction of the bourgeoisie in its denialism and promotion of uncertain cures?

jk1921
baboon wrote:

baboon wrote:

This present idea of "herd immunity" comes from the "natural science" of the bourgeoisie: eugenics; it is part of a long line from Malthus, through Francis Galton up to today. Dr. John Holdren of Harvard was President Obama's "Science Czar" in the 1970's and a keen advocate of eugenics likening humans to "bacteria on a culture dish" and "fruit flies in a jar..." Eugenics has been endemic to the policies of capitalism and the capitalist state since its inception and it is still very much a part of its policies playing a role in the conditions which created this pandemic and in the effects of the pandemic itself..

"Herd immunity" is less a strategy and more a description of how the pandemic ends. There is an absurdity there in that if you have achieved herd immunity that is likely only because you have experienced the ravages of the pandemic already (barring a vaccine, which by the time it is developed may be superfulous). Herd immunity would be a good thing to have, but the question is how to get there. Letting the virus run rampant and kill millions on the way to protecting hundreds of millions? Obviously, that was rejected by the UK government and even Trump when they were informed of the most dire modelling predictions. The other option is the Dutch/Swedish approach, which is apparently based on mitigating the spread, but not trying to suppress it altogether, such that young and healthy people gradually build up immunity so the more vulnerable can in the end be protected. It is true that there is no precedent for such an experiment, at least not with this virus. So it is, as Baboon described it, a giant gamble. But it is no less a gamble to shut down entire socieites for months on end in the hopes of staving off deaths is the 1 percent range until a vaccine is developed. The collateral damage to human life from such actions would be no less severe in the end if somewhat less quantifiable and visible, perhaps less fodder for the inevitable investigatory commissions that will follow this disaster. Speaking of which, there is some building sentiment that China should be made to pay the world for this catastrope--having suppressed news of the outbreak and likely having lied about the severity of its own situation. Already, UK government ministers are suggesting the virus may have originated from a Chinese lab.

But in terms of eugenics, consider this: There was a time when smallpox plagued the world with its 30 percent fatality rate and ease of spread, that socieites would innoculate themselves from the more deadly form of the disease, variola major,with its less virulent cousin variola minor, which offered some protection from the ravages of the disease. Of course, variola minor itself had a 1 to 2 percent fatality range. So basically, societies would subject themselves to Covid-19 level death rates, in order to stave off even greater levels of death and disaster. Such is the logic of pandemics, people will die--the questions are how many and which ones? Is there really a choice here between a bad immoral policy that amounts to eugenics and one that is somehow more humane? Already, advocates are raising concern about a hidden pandemic of domestic violence and child abuse, not to mention, as Tagore points out, the inevitably deleterious effects of lockdowns on others with chronic illness, disability, etc. Is there an issue of morality here or political optics for the bourgeoisie?

Nivolet62
Covid19

just testing to see if i can post

Nivolet62
Covid19

seeing i was able to post,  i first would like to greet the comarades and thank you all for your contributions and interventions which are helping me make sense of what is going on.  i am the comarade who left NY some 4 years ago.

regarding Tagore 2's position about this topic, i think  a comparison with other diseases and epidemics that seem to have a more detrimental impact on humanity does not grant the conclusion that Covid19 is being blown out of proportion.  It is true that infuenza alone has killed so far this year many more people than  Covid19 seems set to kill. It may be that Covid19 won't kill more.  But it is really still too soon to tell, because it is not yet known how many people have been infected.  One major issue with Covid19 is its rate of contagion.  It is so high that it results in the swamping of the health care systems everywhere, which  have been impoverished through decades of cuts, resulting in the open inability to care for all the infected people that show up sick at the hospitals. 

We have all read the stories of people who have not been tested even as they showed up sick at the hospitals......., the absurd protocols put in place to 'qualify' for testing.......not to mention the harrowing stories of health care providers having to choose who to let die, observing patients dying in total loneliness and, unable to cope with that sense of failed solidarity, even committing suicide..... This is not the case with an influenza season.  In poorer countries this situation is obviously even more dire, and there is no telling what is in store for the populations of Africa and South America, just to mention 2 continents .  In Guayaquil, Ecuador, for instance, people are forced to put the bodies of people deceased at home out in the streets, at times setting them on fire to prevent the spread of diseases, without reaching the numbers of Covid19  deaths we have seen in the 'advanced' countries.

From the stanpoint of understanding the level of decomposition of capitalism, it is important to see the contradiction of a system that has plenty of weapons and armaments in its stockpiles, but that when a real human need is created, there is LACK of essential, basic equipment and labor power. In this sense, opposing or contrasting Covid19 with other diseases, and concluding that the bourgeoisie is spreading panic and fear to divert our attention and make us prey of a test of social control  ---- all of which is probablly something the ruling class sees an opportunity for--- takes the trees for the forest.    What i mean is, the denunciation of the ruling class's and capitalism's inability, impossibility to face up to society's real needs--in the case of Covid19, we all know what they are-- is not just an exercise revolutionaries engage in for propaganda purposes.  It has to do with a methodology of understanding the dynamics of decomposing capitalism, or, in other words, of being able to explain why a revolution has become absolutely urgent.  On this thread comarades have illustrated brilliantly and clearly how each bourgeoisie has taken the exact same steps to the management of this crisis.  Comrades have talked about the raising of protectionist barriers that have made it impossible for countries affected to get desperately needed equipment, test kits, ........., the agreemnet on the lock downs, the loss of precious time in locking down for the benefit of the capitalist economy, the beefing up of the repressive apparatus, the spreading of a war-like set of mind........Comrades have talked about the irrational urbanization of decomposing capitalism, at the root of the spread of this virus, coupled with awful hygenic conditions humans are forced to live in.  And we will have to see how the ruling class envisions the return to work.  A real problem for it:  how to restart production and avoid a second wave of contagion......It is not simply that CoronaVirus does not kill as many people as other diseases.  Or that vital resources for the care of TB or cancer will be redeployed ---there is ALWAYS SCARCITY of things that can satisfy real human needs.... under decomposing   capitalism.  It is that capitalism can no longer offer any viable solutions, contain or manage any crisis that capitalism itself triggers in the first place. To me, it seems more vital to understand this first of all.  Then we can get in the specifics of how the ruling class utilizes this crisis to flex its repressive apparatus etc etc etc.

regarding the economic question...of how the ruling class will have to manage a crisis as a result of the present economic slowdown....Economics has always been a hard nut to crack for me....Will it not actually be of

 some benefit, clearing up some of this overproduction???

In  more general terms, i think that the image of an economy that is a tyrant, an uncontrollable monster that has the power of life or death over humans, while imposing scarcity ---it is in the name of the economy that the shutdowns were delayed, and it will be in the name of the economy that many "mistakes" will be made about when to send the workers back to work--, in the contest of a bourgeois ideology that touts prosperity and freedom is not only appropriate, but a good denunciatory tool of capitalism and what it does to humanity, and workers especially.

KT
Return

Very good to have you back on these boards.

baboon
From the Reverend T. R.

From the Reverend T. R. Malthus:
"We are bound in justice and honour to disclaim the right of the poor to support... (W)e should facilitate, instead of foolishly and vainly endeavouring to impede, the operation of nature in producing this mortality, and if we dread the too-frequent visitation of the horrid forms of famine, we should sedulously encourage the other forms of destruction, which we compel nature to use. Instead of recommending cleanliness to the poor, we should encourage contrary habits. In our towns we should make our streets narrower, crowd more people into houses, court the return of the plague. In the country we should put our villages near stagnant pools, and particularly encourage settlements in all marshy and unwholesome situations. But above all we should reprobate specific remedies for ravaging diseases, and those benevolent, but much mistaken men, who have thought they were doing a service for mankind by projecting schemes for the total expirtation of particular disorders".

Despite the words of "... those benevolent, but much mistaken men" of capitalism at the time, Malthus' theory was essentially the bedrock of British foreign and domestic policy (Irish and Indian famines for example) for a whole period and the fight-back against it came not from the "benevolent wing" of the bourgeoisie, but from the struggle of the working class and the poor (who's solidarity and basic morality was a great puzzle to Malthus).

Malthus's words might, at first sight, look like something from the dim and distant past, a particularly harsh, brutal early capitalist regime that no longer exists and that now, we are ruled by more "enlightened" figures, more "concerned" about the masses, who are doing their best, within the difficult, even impossible circumstances that they are working in, to make things better. That would be an underestimation of the strength, organisation, ruthlessness and force of a bourgeoisie that is bereft of morality and an underestimation of the necessities of the class struggle as they have developed under decadent capitalism.

Malthus's words above might look like they came from "another time" but they don't. Examine them and they contain some of the main policies of decadent and decomposing capitalism that not only apply to the "Third World" of today but to the heart of capitalism. Churchill was a eugenicist who promoted famine as a weapon (going further than Malthus in this case) and various world leaders and governments have promoted policies that are eugenics based throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. "Herd immunity" (genuine herd immunity takes generations to build up) as a weapon against the dangers of the present Covid-19 virus is a form of eugenics that has been promoted by the British government and many others.  Malthus's words above demonstrate the basis for the conditions for the spread of pandemics, laid by the bourgeoisie that exists in the twenty-first century right across the world of capitalism.

I agree with jk's and Nivolet 62 responses to Tagore and regarding jk's question about the choice between a "bad, immoral policy (of the bourgeoisie) and one that is somehow more humane" is not really a choice. As Nivolet says, there is no choice; capitalism cannot offer any solutions, it can less and less manage the crises that it has generated. The revolutionary perspective is the only solution and the Covid-19 crisis is one more example of that necessity.

zimmerwald1915
zimmerwald1915 wrote: baboon

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
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.


Follow-on from this with another bit of leftist confusion and fantasy that points out a few strike hotspots. https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/z3b9ny/coronavirus-general-strike

For confusion: extrapolating from a few hotspots to a so-called "general strike." Muddling the general strike, which is already largely accomplished today by capital's voluntary shutdown of production, with the political mass strike.

For fantasy: a political mass strike that can include such absurd tableaux as workers picketing with six feet of space (4 or so scab-widths) between them. 

baboon
A couple of points:

A couple of points:

Speaking at Murrayfield ahead of Scotland’s Six Nations clash with France, Dr Catherine Calderwood said: “I’ve looked at the scientific evidence very carefully, and what’s emerging is that there’s actually very little impact on virus spread from mass gatherings, particularly if they are in the open air. This is not a risk to the Scottish population in hosting this match.” Calderwood (the same Chief Medical Officer to the Scottish government who was driving backwards and forwards to her holiday home on the coast) was giving her "expert" opinion on March 3 as to whether the Scotland/France rugby match could go ahead a few days later. The match went ahead on her advice because, as she says, after looking at the evidence very carefully, there was little risk of the spread of the virus in mass gatherings. Astonishing!

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, was at the England/Wales rugby match around the same time - along with tens of thousands of others. He was filmed shouting, spluttering and spitting over all those around him. Around the same time or a few days later, he was filmed shaking hands with a number of suspected coronavirus patients at a London hospital, something he insisted at his later press conference that he would continue to do. The medical and scientific advisers flanking him looked at the floor.

I mention these two incidents because it shows the ignorance, arrogance and contempt for people that these representatives of capital have. It demonstrates (like "General" Macron) the class nature of the response of the bourgeoisie.

On the "domestic violence" spike during the lock-down mentioned by jk above: like the dictatorship of capital, domestic abuse was with us before the virus and will be with us after it but there's no doubt that the present conditions will highlight it. In Britain already there has already been two or three "family slaughters" where one member of the family has killed all the other which usually includes children. These are not driven by poverty or want because they are usually relatively "better off" families. This is a trend that's been growing in Britain over the last couple of years with, usually a male but not always, killing all the family. Coronavirus conditions may exacerbate this phenomenom but it was becoming well-established beforehand.

The present expression of every man for himself and imperialist tensions over responses to this virus are a much more profound echo of  the China/US tensions over malaria in the 1980's and France/US over HIV/Aids although there was considerable cooperation (mainly directed by the WHO) to eradicate smallpox. But the "war on terror" largely displaced this cooperation and, horror of horrors, the possibility of terrorists with a deadly virus. At the beginning of the millennium, various countries, including Britain, had "emergency exercises" in order to confront and contain such a threat. They were greatly publicised as "successes". We can see now how hollow it all was.

jk1921
The virus death toll in the

The virus death toll in the US is still on the rise with each day brining a new record, yet the ruling class is already starting to celebrate its "success" in an expected peak that will likely see fewer deaths than the dreaded Imperial College model predicted. Already, the CDC is preparing new guidelines to get people back to work: those exposed to the virus can return to work, providing they have no symptoms, wear a mask and check their temperature twice a day. Its pretty clear that even the esteemed doctors and scientists are wininging it in order to appease Trump and his cronies in opening the country back up as soon as possible. Its not clear what temperature checks actually do, when the virus can be spread by asymptomatic carriers for up to two weeks. Even Dr. Fauci has been pressed into a more optimistic tone, predicting the possibility that people will be able to take their summer vacations, schools will open in the fall and baseball will be played. On what basis he is making these predictions is unclear, other than a gut level sense that the peak is near. Of course, it is not clear why once social distancing measures are relaxed, there won't be another peak after that. It seems they are all still hoping that the warmer weather will tamp the rate of transmission down to the point where public health authorities can identify, isolate and contain the remaining cases before they spread. Some talk about building a "Rooseveltian army" to track and trace infections and their contacts. Why anyone thinks a Trump led country can build the state capacity to pull this off is not evident.

On Dr. Raoult and hydroxychloroquine: he is being denoucned in liberal-left circles in the US as a quack and hydroxychlorquine is being described as snake oil, precisley because Trump is pushing it. We have no idea about the actual medical benefit of this stuff, but it is clear what Trump is doing--in true populist style he is promoting it against the "experts" who need their clinical trials before they can recommend it, but Trump figures that the public won't give a damn about clinical trials in the middle of a pandemic and he will be their champion against the tyranny of the experts who would let their loved one die, because the evidence for the drug is only "anecdotal."

Tagore2
Observational study at IHU

Observational study at IHU Méditerranée Infection Marseille, pre-print (peer review in the next few days):

Abstract

Table 1

The rest will be published shortly.

jk1921
Raoult's entire institute has

Raoult's entire institute has come under assault in the left-liberal media.

Tagore2
One of the problems with the

One of the problems with the current estimate of the Covid-19 mortality rate is that they only test people who come to the hospital, possibly in serious condition.

So German researchers tested a representative sample of 1000 people without discrimination, in a canton where there had been a high contamination rate (Heinsberg). Preliminary results for 500 people have been pre-published. They found that 14% had developed IgG-type antibodies, indicating their current or past contamination with sars-cov-2, while only 2% were currently positive for the virus by PCR test. Researchers have also found that the rate of carriers with no or mild symptoms is very high.

In other words, the virus is much more widespread than we imagine, with a high rate of healthy carriers, but conversely, the actual mortality rate is infinitely lower than we had been told: around 0.37%.

In addition, if 14% of the population of certain German cantons is already immunized (have developed specialized antibodies and are not sick), this suggests that herd immunity is already well advanced.

This also underlines the emptiness of mass containment measures: the virus is already widely circulating in the population, without major damage; a reasonable public health policy is therefore to protect vulnerable people, to test suspect cases, to isolate contagious people and to treat them to reduce the period of contagion. Protect, test, isolate and treat, these are the four early things to do that have contained the epidemic in China.

Source.

schalken
Quote: The wsws has been

Quote:
The wsws has been censored on Reddit.

I posted the ICC's new leaflet "Generalised capitalist barbarism or world proletarian revolution" to the /r/coronavirus subreddit. It was removed in less than fifteen minutes. I might not have tried if I had seen this post earlier!

I also posted the leaflet to /r/leftcommunism, whereupon the post was likewise immediately removed and I was permanently banned. This is more depressing, but perhaps no more surprising, than the /r/coronavirus treatment. It's a shame that the most visible (or only?) left communism subreddit is dominated by a clique of condescending, abusive people who only tolerate rehashes of mid-century bordigism.

zimmerwald1915
schalken wrote:

schalken wrote:

 

Quote:

The wsws has been censored on Reddit.

I posted the ICC's new leaflet "Generalised capitalist barbarism or world proletarian revolution" to the /r/coronavirus subreddit. It was removed in less than fifteen minutes. I might not have tried if I had seen this post earlier!

I also posted the leaflet to /r/leftcommunism, whereupon the post was likewise immediately removed and I was permanently banned. This is more depressing, but perhaps no more surprising, than the /r/coronavirus treatment. It's a shame that the most visible (or only?) left communism subreddit is dominated by a clique of condescending, abusive people who only tolerate rehashes of mid-century bordigism.


The attitude seems to be that the communist left is a historical curiosity rather than a living millieu still doing important work worth assimilating.
Alf
support the effort

Thanks for trying anyway Schalken. We have been stepping up our efforts to distribute the leaflet on social media but appreciate any help readers and supporters can give us on this. 

baboon
A brief response to welcome

A brief response to welcome the leaflet/statement of the ICC on the coronaviurus and its consequences. Although distribution will be more difficult than usual, I think it an important decision nevertheless. As well as laying out the role of capitalism as a whole, it doesn't hesitate to denounce the very material responsibility and hypocrisy of its ruling class.

baboon
We've seen the dreadful

We've seen the dreadful reports from care homes in Spain and Italy where the dead sit next to the dying alongside the living in some of the wealthiest capitals of the world. "Care" for the elderly, is in general just another weight on the economy that can be isolated, minimized and open to not a little abuse.In Britain there is no mechanism for recording covid-related deaths in care homes or in the homes that carers visit and find someone dead or sick from the virus. The local doctor simply writes a death certificate from a phone call and the general "diagnosis" seems to be pneumonia. These are not recorded as covid deaths at all and are therefore outside of the official figures.Estimates say they rival the official figures of deaths in hospital and anecdotal reporting suggests that's correct with reports of dozens in just a few care homes. The carers who visit homes ("back to the community" on the cheap) could pick up the virus here and take it everywhere. No covid cases, no tests (not that they're available anyway), no check on the virus; it's allowed to spread and to spread among the most vulnerable.

Tagore2
As in France, the confinement

As in France, the confinement caused in India a massive exodus of population outside the cities.

But India is not France, and it is not the same populations that flee the cities: in India, it is the poor, deprived of jobs, wages and therefore food, who go to the countryside to the subsistence research.

As transport is paralyzed, many leave on foot, with few provisions, for a journey of hundreds of kilometers, with the risk of starving to death on the way, or of stealing for food.

The police lock these poor people in ad hoc concentration camps: in schools, on a racing circuit near Delhi...

Currently, there is no indication that the epidemic is serious in India: 324 dead to date. Recall that there are 1.3 billion inhabitants in India, and 10 million deaths per year, all causes combined.

The Indian state is itself launching a terrible catastrophe, because its leaders are in the grip of panic without real base. It is unable to measure the real magnitude of the threat and to use rational and proportionate measures against an epidemic which is actually very moderate.

https://www.franceculture.fr/economie/inde-le-confinement-le-plus-grand-brutal-et-risque-au-monde

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

One of the problems with the current estimate of the Covid-19 mortality rate is that they only test people who come to the hospital, possibly in serious condition.

So German researchers tested a representative sample of 1000 people without discrimination, in a canton where there had been a high contamination rate (Heinsberg). Preliminary results for 500 people have been pre-published. They found that 14% had developed IgG-type antibodies, indicating their current or past contamination with sars-cov-2, while only 2% were currently positive for the virus by PCR test. Researchers have also found that the rate of carriers with no or mild symptoms is very high.

In other words, the virus is much more widespread than we imagine, with a high rate of healthy carriers, but conversely, the actual mortality rate is infinitely lower than we had been told: around 0.37%.

In addition, if 14% of the population of certain German cantons is already immunized (have developed specialized antibodies and are not sick), this suggests that herd immunity is already well advanced.

This also underlines the emptiness of mass containment measures: the virus is already widely circulating in the population, without major damage; a reasonable public health policy is therefore to protect vulnerable people, to test suspect cases, to isolate contagious people and to treat them to reduce the period of contagion. Protect, test, isolate and treat, these are the four early things to do that have contained the epidemic in China.

Source.

 

The idea that much more of the population has been infected with this virus than the tests show--perhaps even approaching herd immunity, is a new fascination of the "back to work" right in US politics. We don't know if this is true or not. Certainly, many experts have thrown cold water on this wishful thinking. Scott Gotlieb, former director of the US FDA, has said he thinks at most 1-5 percent of the population has been exposed to the virus. If true, that leaves alot of fuel left to burn. Moreover, it is not even clear that having had Covid offers anthing like lasting immunity to its ravages. There is suspicion that those who have mild courses do not develop lasting antibodies and reinfection is possible. Other more common corona viruses only confer immunity for a limited amount of time.

It may be true that the death rate from Covid has been overstated. But we just don't know. Nobody really knows. That is what is troubling and vexing about this crisis. Its not clear what is to be gained by revolutionaries adopting either an alarmist or a contrarian take on the science, which it has to be said, leaves a lot to be desired right now. Certainly, the lockdowns extract their own toll on society, hurting the most vulnerable above all. But the disease itself is nothing to sneer at. Healthy young people are dying from it the same as the elderly wharehoused in facilities, if not at the same rate. Still, look at Boris Johnson, he could have gone either way and while a portly man, he certainly wasn't on the list of those slated to "die this year anyway." Obviously, this is something worse than than flu, even if its in its randomness.

Tagore2
At this time, covid-19 has

At this time, covid-19 has not reached the mortality level of a normal seasonal flu epidemic of 290,000–650,000 deaths. Even under this assumption, this would not change the global mortality rate, which in 2015 amounted to 55.8 million for 7.341 billion inhabitants, or 7.6 per thousand.

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

At this time, covid-19 has not reached the mortality level of a normal seasonal flu epidemic of 290,000–650,000 deaths. Even under this assumption, this would not change the global mortality rate, which in 2015 amounted to 55.8 million for 7.341 billion inhabitants, or 7.6 per thousand.

 

No, it hasn't, yet. But there is still a lot of the world left to go. It hasn't really hit the third world yet and I would take China's official numbers with a grain of salt. The death toll we have seen so far is with social distancing in place in most of the central countries.

Tagore2
New Cases of COVID-19 In
baboon
"Flattening curve", "numbers

"Flattening curve", "numbers falling", "numbers levelling off", "returning to normal", "exit strategies", "winning the war", etc., etc., are all variations of the bourgeoisie's lies about "light at the end of the tunnel", usually applied to the economy but now relating to the "success" of states against the spread of the virus. The make-up of the Covid-19 virus has been mapped out for some time by the Chinese but no-one, no-one knows its particular properties and how it will mutate. That work is only just underway and greatly hampered by a lack of any sort of international cooperation which comes from the fundamentals of decomposing capitalism's growing tendency of "everyman for himself". The real figures for the effects of the virus in the most advanced capitals of the world seem to underestimate the number of deaths by up to 50% (Britain for example) but no-one really knows because of the criminal negligence and incompetence of the state as well as its deliberate lies. One case has been reported in Yemen for example and there are only a few cases in the hordes of refugees and the displaced, which is probably not the reality on the ground.

In Britain, there have been a number of reports over the last month that the government has abandoned its "herd immunity" strategy, i.e., let the old and the weak go to the wall. It doesn't look like they've abandoned it at all but refined it and made it more effective. Here we are not interested in the complicity in this policy by individual components of the ruling class and our concern should be the effects of this policy.

The Care Quality Commission, the body in charge of care homes, didn't bother to ask about deaths in their care homes until six days ago. The government has turfed about 4000 people from hospitals, mostly old and very sick ("bed-blockers") and put them into care homes and the latter cannot refuse to take them under government rules. They did not go into the new "hospitals" like Nightingale - a warehouse full of empty beds - but straight into care homes where the virus would be absolutely guaranteed to spread among the old, infirm and weak and then through carers visiting different premises, not least because of the great lack of protective equipment which has always plagued this sector. Whether individual components of the ruling class deliberately effected this move is beside the point. The point is that through this policy the British state, as others, is getting rid of a lot of useless hangers-on and this policy effectively existed prior to the outbreak of this virus and contributed to its spread.

jk1921
It may be the case that the

It may be the case that the curve has been flattened in some places and new infections have levelled off, but it may also be the case that this pandemic will be less one summit and more like a mountain range. Still, it is clear that more and more the state recognizes that the draconian lock down mesures can't continue indefinetly and there will be growing pressure to "open it back up," in the coming weeks and months as people struggle to stay a float and the economy craters. Therefore, Baboon is probably right that the default policy will become a promotion of "herd immunity," as long as it is done "responsibly" and "safely." But it is also clear that there is little state capacity to pull this off, regardless of the will or lack thereof.

Tagore2
Economic balance of premature deaths

Why didn't the state just let the elderly die? The economic results of the Covid-19, excluding confinement, are largely positive.

In France 89% of people who have died from the coronavirus are over 64 years old: in other words, they are retired.

French retirees consume more than € 25,000 per year per person without producing.

Their premature death therefore represents savings of around 3.6 billion euros.

10% are between 45 and 64 years old.

For these people, the economic balance is neutral or positive, insofar as what they do not produce due to their premature death, they do not consume it either at the time of their retirement. The later these people die, the more positive their economic banlance results. Their untimely death therefore constitutes only a shortfall, not a loss.

1% are under the age of 45.

For these, the economic balance is negative. Indeed, either they consumed without producing anything, being children, or, young adults, they have not yet produced the equivalent of what they consumed as children.

Note, however, that the economic picture is approaching neutrality between 35 and 45 years of age, and that around 0% of premature deaths from covid-19 occurred before the age of 15, which reduces the negative impact of the coronavirus on the economy.

Thus, what is a major event in history is not covid-19, which has an insignificant direct impact on the economy, but the confinement and the brutal, disproportionate and irrational measures which accompanied it.

baboon
Tagore, at the beginning of

Tagore, at the beginning of this discussion you told us that this virus was no worse than the flu, that it wasn't spreading, that it was a hoax, panic and that chloroquine would cure the sickness, sunlight eliminate it and now we should go back to work. You're not going to tell us to drink bleach next are you?

Tagore2
I especially wonder how

I especially wonder how baboon would explain why the bourgeois state did not simply let the elderly die. Out of kindness, perhaps?

Besides, the flu kills between 290,000 and 650,000 people each year. Tuberculosis 1.2 million. The Covid-19 is 206,000 today.

The disproportionate resource mobilization on covid-19 places the risk that other patients may not receive appropriate care or that children will not receive their vaccines on time, as Alimuddin Zumla points out.

For me, the panic caused by the Covid-19 is more linked to the fear of seeing old wealthy people die than to the desire to protect the population, as underlined the almost total indifference of the bourgeoisie to much more serious and more deadly diseases.

The UN has stressed that prolonged confinement could lead to food shortages or even famines linked to the interruption of food production and trade. It could also lead to epidemics, linked to the cessation of vaccination campaigns.

Just as an overreaction of the immune system can kill the patient before the disease itself (as is the case with Covid-19), so does an over and irrational reaction of the public health system to a single disease, neglecting the others and hampering essential functions of the economy such as food supply or water sanitation, can lead to more deaths.

jk1921
Tagore suggests that the

Tagore suggests that the lockdown measures have been "irrational." It is true that today, with an apparent peak being reached in many places, the bourgeoise is looking for an exit strategy from the lockdowns. But as they are finding out, ending a lockdown may be harder than starting it. What if infections soar and they have to lockdown again? The government's credibility will then be questioned. But this pandemic is still barely four months old and the science on this disease is still very weak. There is no consensus on basic things, like the real death rate and whether or not recovery infers immunity and if so for how long. Will the virus show seasonality? These are all things that even the least partisan scientists can still not provide clear answers to. Tagore likes to compare COVID to tuberculosis, but comparing a pandemic with an endemic disease may not be the best comparison. Perhaps a better parallell is the 1968 Flu pandemic, which killed a million people across the globe. There was no lockdown and society proceded as before, albeit with economic problems associated with absenteeism, etc. That was also a year of a wave of a different kind, a wave of class struggle.

A few weeks ago, Trump remarked that if he listened to the doctors, he would have to shut the world down for two years. For the last two months, he has reluctantly gone along with the medical and epidemiological consensus. But there are suggestions now that this will end, his adminsitration will push those voices to the background and he will switch to a focus on economic recovery. The esteemed Dr. Fauci, hero to anti-Trump liberals, himself suggested a few weeks back that he didn't believe the dire predictions of the economists in the face of the global shutdown, rather pollyanishly claiming the economy would simply bounce back when the disease is under control, a true believer in the V shaped curve along with the likes of Kudlow, Mnuchin, Moore, etc. Is that any less irrational than the lockdowns?

 

Tagore2
The mass media give a totally

The mass media give a totally distorted view of the causes of death. Last years, we were only talking about terrorism, homicides and suicides (almost 70% of press coverage). These causes constitute less than 3% of mortality, knowing that the more rare a cause of death (terrorism) was, the more mass media talked about it.

Today, watching TV, you would think that everyone is dying from Covid-19!

People don't realize that even considering the uncertainty of this disease, Covid-19 is literally not important at all.

Cause of death in the US: What Americains die from, what they search on Google, and what the media reports on

Causes of Death

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

Today, watching TV, you would think that everyone is dying from Covid-19!

People don't realize that even considering the uncertainty of this disease, Covid-19 is literally not important at all.

Cause of death in the US: What Americains die from, what they search on Google, and what the media reports on

Causes of Death

Covid-19 IS the leading cause of death in the US right now. That is probably not surprising given it is a pandemic, which compresses these deaths into a short period of time. One can relativize and perspectivize the pandemic a number of ways. It is clearly more dangeorus than the seasonal flu, but probably much less dangeorus than the Spanish flu. It will likely overtake the 1968 flu pandemic in deaths before it is done, but then you would have to adjust for population. And this is exactly what the back-to-work faction of the bourgeoisie (rapidly becomming the dominant faction, even if it is divided between those who want to to it "cautiously" and those who couldn't care less how many people it kills) will attempt to do in the period ahead. Still, this will be far from easy for the bourgeoisie to pull off. The population has been made terrified of this disease, such that it is difficult for indivduals to properly assess their own personal risk. Everyone is at some risk of dying from it, but then again everyone is at some risk of dying from the flu. We have been told that the risk is greater with COVID, but its not clear what the order of magnitude of that risk is and with the uncertainty about immunity, asymptomatic transmission and the role of children in the spread of the contagion, the ruling class in the ostensibly "free market" societies in the West, may find it difficult to motivate their populations into believing that normality is possible until there is a vaccine.

And even if there is an increasing consensus that the lockdowns can't continue forever, there are still powerful voices in the bourgeoisie who seem to think that everything has to stay shut down to some until there is a vaccine: Fauci has said there is no economic recovery until the virus is defeated (which can only be done with a vaccine or a very effective treatment), Bill Gates has cautioned that normality will not return until there is a vaccine and many professional epidemiologists continue to model doomsday scenarios once economies are reopened, millions of deaths in subsequent waves, the coming combination of the flu and Covid overwhelming hospitals next winter, etc. Governments who reopen their economies risk severe political turbulence should there be an uncontrollable resurgence, not to mention further economic ruin and potential social unrest. There is no obvious way out of this; no clear "rational" policy vs. and irrational one. There are risks and uncertainty no matter what is done. Trump, fo his part, probably realizes there is little liklihood of some kind of definitive victory over this virus on his watch, so he will turn his focus to the economy and run on having gotten everything going again. But this hinges on controlling subsequent waves, such that they do not overwhelm the system and it is not clear there is an effective plan in place to prevent that. Right now, the strategy seems to be push ahead and hope for a miracle abatement in the virus from the weather. How does that stack up in the rationality department to shutting it all down until there is a vaccine?

Tagore2
In 2019, death rate for

In 2019, death rate for United States of America was 8800 per million people. Currently, Covid-19 has killed 165.7 per million people.

There is indeed a temporary excess mortality linked to the epidemic, but over the whole of 2020, this will probably not have an impact on the national mortality rate.

What you're saying is interresting.

> Fauci has said there is no economic recovery until the virus is defeated

If Fauci really said that, it's because he's crazy, LOL.

"Rather starving than die of Covid-19!"

Even in France, which is a developed country, several sections of the proletariat are running out of food: illegal immigrants, moonlighting workers, and even some students.

Saving the elderly rich is important, but avoiding hunger riots is also important:

Quote:
I dread hunger riots. We have between 15,000 and 20,000 people who, between the slums, emergency accommodation and homes of migrant workers, will find it difficult to eat.

Says Georges-François Leclerc, prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis, to Michel Cadot, prefect of the Ile-de-France region.

Quote:
The underground economy, of rapine, the "uber-economy" and the collapse of the temporary work caused a significant and brutal fall in the incomes of the precarious people of Seine-Saint-Denis

Confinement : le préfet de Seine-Saint-Denis s'alarme du "risque alimentaire" pour les plus précaires

Outside the United States or France, India has pursued the most brutal and absurd policy of containment.

0.6 people per million died from Covid-19.

But a great part of the population lives on the informal economy. India takes a huge risk of killing its population from hunger, lack of drinking water and/or access to healthcare.

Confinement constitutes a huge and real risk for certain sections of the proletariat, several orders of magnitude greater than that of the Covid-19.

baboon
Matt Hancock, British Health

Matt Hancock, British Health Secretary, claimed on April 28 that support for care homes "has been absolutely centre of mind from the start". There's a certain perverted truth to this. Sir Patrick Vallence, government "advisor", insisted that the "risk to care homes" had been discussed by Sage "very early". Yet the existing government advice up to the middle of March, was that it was "unlikely that people in care homes or the community would become infected" (Independent, April 30). It's clear that the government was not ignoring care homes - "centre of mind" - but were looking at them with a view to dumping as many "bed-blockers" in them as they could. It wasn't a matter of ignorance but a matter of policy.

Further government guidance after mid-March said: "Hospitals around the country need as many beds as possible to support and treat an increasing number of Covid-19 cases. This means the NHS will seek to discharge more patients into care homes for the recovery period" (Independent). The article goes on to express the disgust and dismay of care home owners (they are mostly privatised) and speaks of elements of coercion with examples like ambulances pulling up at care homes with patients, with no notification and at care homes which are already full. The government advice above continued to say that medical assessments on the discharged patients (let alone tests for the virus) "will not be possible".

So within all this there is an obvious government/state policy, a strategy, a plan, an organisation.A week or so ago I saw a headline in the Daily Telegraph (April 24) that mentioned "operation stiff broom" in relation to hospital "discharges". It was behind a pay-wall so I moved on. The next day (April 25), the Daily Mail carried an article entitled "Care home blames death toll on reckless "stiff broom" policy to send back hundreds of coronavirus patients to free up hospital beds. The article went into some detail about the growing scandal in care homes but mentioned nothing, except the name, of "Operation stiff broom". Given the circumstances this is all a bit suspicious.

If you googled "operation stiff broom, nhs" a day ago, both the references to the Telegraph and Mail stories were there and none other. Now the Telegraph one has been taken down and the great majority of the references are, unsurprisingly, to stiff brooms. But given this is a named, Whitehall, government-based policy that's been directly referred to by two national newspapers within the context of the pandemic, wouldn't one expect this to be on a website even if it was all propaganda? That's unless it's supposed to be secret.

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