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.

MH
decadence and population levels

Curious really this discussion petered out...

This 2017 scientific article on the growing threat of zoonotic animal to human infectious diseases like coronavirus highlights increasing population levels, particularly in areas of rain forest and mammal diversity, as a key risk factor (sorry I can't seem to paste the graphs here).

It also shows (Fig 3) the biggest global hotspot for this risk is almost the entire extent of East Asia (India, China, South East Asia, Japan).

This strongly suggests we are seeing the consequences of capital’s unrestrained and increasingly destructive ‘growth’ as a result of its survival for over 100 years, and specifically the dramatic economic growth of East Asia since 1980.

There is clearly a link between the exacerbation of capital’s inherent tendency towards overproduction in its decadent phase and the continuous growth of the global population which we need to be able to explain more clearly.

 

jk1921
MH wrote:

MH wrote:

Curious really this discussion petered out...

This 2017 scientific article on the growing threat of zoonotic animal to human infectious diseases like coronavirus highlights increasing population levels, particularly in areas of rain forest and mammal diversity, as a key risk factor (sorry I can't seem to paste the graphs here).

It also shows (Fig 3) the biggest global hotspot for this risk is almost the entire extent of East Asia (India, China, South East Asia, Japan).

This strongly suggests we are seeing the consequences of capital’s unrestrained and increasingly destructive ‘growth’ as a result of its survival for over 100 years, and specifically the dramatic economic growth of East Asia since 1980.

There is clearly a link between the exacerbation of capital’s inherent tendency towards overproduction in its decadent phase and the continuous growth of the global population which we need to be able to explain more clearly.

Sars-Cov2 is the third Corona virus to emerge in the last 20 years. It does seem like humanity is encountering these "novel pathogens" at an acclerating rate (although its likely that some of these germs have been circulating for some time and were just missed--it is suspected that there may have been a deadly Corona virus pandemic in the 1890s, the responsible virus having settled down to become a cause of the common cold today): SARS1 (2003), Swine Flu (2009), MERS (2012), and now Sars2 (2019-20), several Ebola outbreaks, Zika, various forms of Dengue, etc. not to mention the emergence (or discovery) of numerous tick borne pathogens. While many of these have been limited in geographic scope or overall mortality, perhaps it is only a matter of time before a virus with the mortality of MERS (30 percent) develops the ability to spread like SARS2. That would be more than a public health and economic crisis, it would be a civilizational threat. Maybe there is some evolutionary reason this doesn't happen--it has been argued by some virologists that there should be an inverse relationship between virulence and ease of spread, but that doesn't seem to apply to the 1918 flu, at least in its pandemic phase. If some pathogen emerges with those characteristics, we might not have to wait for climate change to do us in.

On the issue of "over population": This is contentious generally speaking and within the milieu itself (I can't find it, but I remember an ICC article arguing against the notion of "overpopulation"). Perhaps, this is due to the concept's Malthusian (eugenics) and at times xenophobic associations, but it is interesting that in this phase of capitalist history, we see opposite trends on fertility: explosive population growth in some "developing" countries, but a near total collapse of fertility in the developed world, such that whatever population growth occurs is fueled almost entirely by immigration and the maintenance of above native average birth rates among immigrant communities for a generation or two. This, of course, is a factor in the emergence of populism, the collapse of democratic forms of political legitimation, the emergence of new ethno-bloc politics and theories of racialist essentialism that cut against the core of the universalist-democratic ideology inherited from the Enlightenment.

Still, in the developed West, neo-liberal captialism, with first (1970s, 1980s) the "two-earner family" (and the subsequent rise of feminism) and later (late 1990s, through today) the promotion of "professionalism" has caused fertility to decline, while elsewhere the population is soaring, raising all kinds of issues regarding the relationship of the human species to nature with attendant threats (climate change, pandemics etc.). This raises the question of just what stage of capitalist development places like East Asia are in and if there are dynamics in that development that would eventually address the population issue through the "invisible hand," as it has done in the West (although the decline in fertility there raises its own problems around an aging population, the reliance on immigrant labour, etc.). Here is a piece that suggests world population growth will "virtually stop" by 2100, with flattening beginning around 2070.

MH
the consequences of globalisation?

jk1921 wrote:
Sars-Cov2 is the third Corona virus to emerge in the last 20 years. It does seem like humanity is encountering these "novel pathogens" at an acclerating rate

Which would presumably fit with the scientific view that increasing population levels in global hotspots like East Asia is the key factor?  

As you point out world population is projected to "virtually stop" by 2100 although the study you cite also says it is still projected to reach 10.9 billion. Interestingly most of this growth is expected to be in Africa, which I suppose begs a question about the nature of the link between population growth and economic development, let alone capitalist overproduction?

Leaving the question of population on one side for the moment and comparing the economic impact of previous pandemics:

1.1 million died in the ‘Asian flu’ pandemic 1957-58, ie. during the post-war boom

1 million died of ‘Hong Kong’ flu, 1968-70, ie. the return of capital’s open economic crisis.

So in terms of deaths these are comparable to the current pandemic but the economic contexts are clearly different.  Both previous pandemics appear to have led only to short economic downturns. The depth of capital’s global crisis and the acceleration of its decay must surely be key factors here, but research suggests that economic interconnectivity is also key: “By 2002 the global economy had become reliant on international connectivity and 1.6 billion people were travelling the globe by air in 2002 compared with just 310 million in 1970”. In other words, the accelerating appearance of pandemics, and their effect on the capitalist economy, is at least in part due to the effects of 'globalisation' in response to the deepening of the economic crisis in the 1980s.

 

jk1921
MH wrote:

MH wrote:

Which would presumably fit with the scientific view that increasing population levels in global hotspots like East Asia is the key factor?  

Possibly, but see here this interesting article (there might be some subscription wall for that), which suggests East Asian countries' compartively better result with this pandemic so far is possibly due to its population having pre-existing (partial?) immunity to corona viruses, having already encountered numerous zoonotic exposures. If that's true it would be yet another comparative advantage this area has in the era of globalization over the West. Not only do they have built up immunity to these viruses, but because of how they spread, corona viruses risk causing pandemics that weaken their rivals. Note also how the article frames vaccine research in "national security" terms. I don't know if the medical principles here are valid or not, but he suggests the West must develop vaccines that promote specific immune reponses, not only to SARS-COV2, but also to future viruses from this family, which seem almost certain to emerge, otherwise the West risks ceding the competitive advantage to China. 

MH wrote:

Leaving the question of population on one side for the moment and comparing the economic impact of previous pandemics:

1.1 million died in the ‘Asian flu’ pandemic 1957-58, ie. during the post-war boom

1 million died of ‘Hong Kong’ flu, 1968-70, ie. the return of capital’s open economic crisis.

So in terms of deaths these are comparable to the current pandemic but the economic contexts are clearly different.  Both previous pandemics appear to have led only to short economic downturns. The depth of capital’s global crisis and the acceleration of its decay must surely be key factors here, but research suggests that economic interconnectivity is also key: “By 2002 the global economy had become reliant on international connectivity and 1.6 billion people were travelling the globe by air in 2002 compared with just 310 million in 1970”. In other words, the accelerating appearance of pandemics, and their effect on the capitalist economy, is at least in part due to the effects of 'globalisation' in response to the deepening of the economic crisis in the 1980s.

This pandemic may or may not be on the scale of the Hong Kong and Asian flu (adjusted for population), but not only is the economic context of these pandemics different, but so are the political, social and cultural dynamics. This must in part account for the very different reactions to the current pandemic compared to those two. Many of those who lived through those pandemics report never having known they were even happening. Compare that to today when it is almost the only news story, there are daily updates on case counts and deaths in the media and the internet, but most importantly everything is politicized from the epidemiology to the medicine and every question is submerged into the culture wars with vicious recriminations on all sides. There must be the weight of "superstructural" decomposition going on here, which prevents a unified national response and narative form forming in the more central Western countries? Not sure its all down to populism either--witness the bizarre sniping between New York Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor De Blasio (both Dems) in March and April, which certainly complicated the response.

MH
revolutionising effect of pandemics

jk1921 wrote:
This pandemic may or may not be on the scale of the Hong Kong and Asian flu (adjusted for population), but not only is the economic context of these pandemics different, but so are the political, social and cultural dynamics. This must in part account for the very different reactions to the current pandemic compared to those two. Many of those who lived through those pandemics report never having known they were even happening. Compare that to today when it is almost the only news story, there are daily updates on case counts and deaths in the media and the internet, but most importantly everything is politicized from the epidemiology to the medicine and every question is submerged into the culture wars with vicious recriminations on all sides. There must be the weight of "superstructural" decomposition going on here, which prevents a unified national response and narative form forming in the more central Western countries? Not sure its all down to populism either--witness the bizarre sniping between New York Governor Cuomo and NYC Mayor De Blasio (both Dems) in March and April, which certainly complicated the response.

The differences in the economic context are definitely worth investigating further. To what extent was the Cold War a factor influencing the bourgeoisie’s response to pandemics in the 50s and 60s? There has been an emphasis in our response to the current pandemic on the lack of a coherent and unified response by the bourgeoisie but this must surely have been undermined by the existence of the blocs? Similarly it must have influenced the way they were used in propaganda. 

Re the effect of ‘superstructural’ decay, I agree, although I think it is important to ground this first in the economic and political context.

If we look at the role of pandemics in history, even the most superficial bourgeois histories emphasise their revolutionising effect and the fact that they tend to be a manifestation of the decay of the old society. We know the Black Death accelerated the rise of capitalism. Interestingly economic interconnectivity was a key factor there as well in spreading it to Europe.

This obviously prompts all sorts of questions about the potential impact of the current pandemic. Again even superficial bourgeois propaganda is already highlighting possible economic changes, the rise of new businesses, the fall of other industries, ‘normalisation’ of virtual technologies in business and even government etc. This should hardly surprise us, given that it is the very nature of capital to constantly revolutionise the means of production… But it does beg the question of how far the bourgeoisie can go without endangering its own relations of production and its class rule.

jk1921
MH wrote:

MH wrote:

This obviously prompts all sorts of questions about the potential impact of the current pandemic. Again even superficial bourgeois propaganda is already highlighting possible economic changes, the rise of new businesses, the fall of other industries, ‘normalisation’ of virtual technologies in business and even government etc. This should hardly surprise us, given that it is the very nature of capital to constantly revolutionise the means of production… But it does beg the question of how far the bourgeoisie can go without endangering its own relations of production and its class rule.

The last sentence is important. Many have suggested that we are living through a kind of revolution today--a new kind of Jacobinism is emerging in the context of a "moral revolution" around anti-racism and other identity issues, in which the old legitimating ideology of liberal democracy is being discarded in favor of a kind of revolutionary moral puritanism. But to what extent is this the reflection of a revolutionizing of the means of production and its attendant social effects and requirements under neo-liberal capitalism and how much of that is in keeping with the idea of a superstructural intellectual/ideological decomposition? Obviously, the move to virtual technologies will be acclerated by the pandemic, as will all the existing social, political and cultural cleavages. But to what extent is this the emergence of something new versus a decay of the old?

The Black Death acclerated feudalism's decline by raising the price of labour, such that a class of free labourers distinct from the reliance on feudal bonds, obligations duties and protections could begin to emerge, but is what we are witnessing today on that level or is it more like the dreaded "recomposition of the proletariat," in which the class is divided along social lines between those who can take advantage of virtual technologies to telecommute, etc.,and who are thus constructed as "privileged" (although working from home has its own problems) and those who still have to report to a place of work and are thus subjected to the full risks of the pandemic (often racially constructed)?

It is clear though that there has been a completely different reaction to this pandemic by the bourgeoisie compared to previous ones. Some of that probably has to do with the unknowns surrounding this particular virus, but much is likely the result of the highly divided and contentious state of bourgeois society, already present before it.

MH
a moving contradiction

jk1921 wrote:
…to what extent is this the reflection of a revolutionizing of the means of production and its attendant social effects and requirements under neo-liberal capitalism and how much of that is in keeping with the idea of a superstructural intellectual/ideological decomposition? Obviously, the move to virtual technologies will be acclerated by the pandemic, as will all the existing social, political and cultural cleavages. But to what extent is this the emergence of something new versus a decay of the old?

(my emphasis)

It has to be both I think doesn’t it? If as Alf says in the Luxemburg thread capitalism is a ‘moving contradiction’ then we have to try to comprehend all the aspects of this; the acceleration of decay as well as the revolutionising of the means of production as capital is driven to ever-greater extremes in order to continue to accumulate.

“The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society” – I think sometimes we really ought to have this nailed to our foreheads. But clearly this can’t go on forever, or rather, the consequences of doing this given the historically blocked situation of the mode of production, become ever more destructive for humanity and the planet.

I was criticised a while back on the decomposition thread because I used the metaphor of capitalism in decadence as a “the slow-motion wreck of a high-speed train”, I think some comrades misunderstood it to be implying some sort of future ‘crash’ but the whole point I was trying to make was that decadent capitalism doesn’t just ‘rot on its feet’, its uniquely dynamic nature is actively and continually driving humanity (and the planet) towards destruction, bits metaphorically flying off it even as it hurtles forward...   

jk1921 wrote:
It is clear though that there has been a completely different reaction to this pandemic by the bourgeoisie compared to previous ones. Some of that probably has to do with the unknowns surrounding this particular virus, but much is likely the result of the highly divided and contentious state of bourgeois society, already present before it.

It’s very true the reaction to this pandemic has been completely different, and I don’t think we (including the ICC) have yet been able to convincingly explain why. Is it down to the divided state of bourgeois society? Superstructural decay must be a factor but you could also argue that across the world (with some obvious exceptions like Trump in USA, Bolsonaro etc), the response of the bourgeoisie has been remarkably uniform despite the threat to its economic interests. Are there deeper (conscious or unconscious) economic motives at work here? As I think has been pointed out elsewhere it is certainly one way of dealing with chronic overproduction without an all-out war...

jk1921
MH wrote:

MH wrote:

It’s very true the reaction to this pandemic has been completely different, and I don’t think we (including the ICC) have yet been able to convincingly explain why. Is it down to the divided state of bourgeois society? Superstructural decay must be a factor but you could also argue that across the world (with some obvious exceptions like Trump in USA, Bolsonaro etc), the response of the bourgeoisie has been remarkably uniform despite the threat to its economic interests. Are there deeper (conscious or unconscious) economic motives at work here? As I think has been pointed out elsewhere it is certainly one way of dealing with chronic overproduction without an all-out war...

Interesting take that suggests that the bourgeoisie's response is more instrumentalized than perhaps we have detected, although in a different way from the "they want to use Covid to create a dictatatoship" line . But how does that work exactly, how is the pandemic being used to deal with overproduction? Here is an article that attempts to situate the issue in terms of "inequality," one of the main features of neo-liberal captialism (as opposed to post-WWII Keynsian-Fordist period, which saw a "compression" in inequality). This author sees the Covid pandemic as distinct from previous ones like the Black Death in that it likely will not lead to a compression of inequality by raising the price of labour, but its opposite, becasue Covid is just not deadly enough:

"Yet COVID-19 looks like the great exception to the well-established historical pattern. If anything, the current pandemic is exacerbating inequality. In their attempt to flatten epidemiological curves, governments across the world have upended the livelihoods of the least advantaged. In March, the U.S. economy lost more jobs than over the entire Great Recession, with workers with less than college education taking the largest hit. To add insult to injury, in June American billionaires were 20 percent richer than at the start of the shutdown in the United States in mid-March. So why is this time different?"

In other words, Covid, but more specifically the state's response to it, will lead to a glut of labor power and a lowering of its price, exacerbating all the tendencies of neo-liberalism, which has destroyed the purchasing power of the working class. If true, how would that help address overproduction? The author's point of comparrison is the Black Death, which happened centuries ago; he doesn't say anything about the more recent pandemics that are perhaps more comparable to Covid in their scope: the 1957-58 Asian flu, the 1968-69 Hong Kong flu, which, as MH points out, occurred under different economic contexts--the post-war boom and just at the cusp of the remergence of the open crisis. But, the essential question remains why has the bourgeois state's response to Covid been dramatically different from those of more recent pandemics?

This difference, moreover, seems to be present not just at the level of "high politics," but throughout the socio-political space. In the two previous flu pandemics, the idea of "shutting down" society to prevent the spread was mostly rejected by medical and epidemiological authorities on the grounds that this would likely accomplish nothing in the end and lead to all kinds of collateral social damage. Now, that argument seems only to be advanced by dissidents in those fields and it is politicized by mostly right-wing and populist political actors, which creats a kind of visceral rejection of it in liberal circles and in the media.

Part of this is likely due to the unique features and unknowns of this virus--it is the little cousin of SARS and MERS, but it seems to me like the reaction of states was driven by the fear of a potential legitimacy crisis should hospitals become overrun and people were left to die in the streets. This, so far, has not happened, except in exceptional circumstances, but the fear was nevertheless not entirely irrational in March and April.

In terms of Trump and Bolsonaro--I don't know about Bolsonaro, but it is clear that Trump had a much different legitimacy problem having based his reelection hopes around the booming Trump economy, which was blown-up in a matter of weeks by the virus and the response of state and local officials--as recommedned by elements in the professional medical bureacracy (Fauci, Birx, etc.). He thus had an incentive to shift responsibility for the virus response to lower levels of government, so as not be seen as neutering his own economy and allowing him to rail against the failings (Cuomo's nursing home disaster), but also to play to certain base political sentiments around freedom and liberation from overbearing and increasingly arbitrary public health measures enacted on those levels. But contrary to the propaganda on both sides, the US had neither a full-on "lockdown," nor has its response been this caricature of a populist "let-it-rip" strategy. It has been more of a chaotic back-and-forth, between different levels of government, regions and partisan actors, with the drama fully inscribed by the media as moments of the ongoing culture war. Liberals favor lockdowns and deferrence to public health authorities, while conservatives and populists put the well being of the economy and the social fabiric over the Promethean, but increasingly authoritarian, and ultimately fruitless attempt to save "all lives."

Globally, two examples though complicate the analytical attempt to see these two sides neatly as a contest pitting irrational populism vs. rational science based disease management: Sweden and the Philipines. Sweden's government, whatever one may think about its "light touch" strategy for addressing the pandemic, is difficult to characterize as "populist." Its response seems driven again more by legitimacy concerns (perhaps overblown?), with its epidemiological authorities consistently stating their belief that "lock downs" and "virus suppression" are not sustainable in "modern democracies," but also an interpretation of the science that says the spread of the disease is inevitable and can only be managed, not defeated or eradicated--i.e. the approach taken in 1957 and 1968. But the fact that so many governments of varying persuasions seem to be concerned about their legitimacy is its itself an important issue to understand.

Meanwhile, conversely, Duterte--described by many as a "populist authoritarian," has vowed to shoot those who violate Covid restrictions and has stated that schools will not open until there is a vaccine. Clearly, whatever its overstatement, this approach has more in common with the Ardern government's eradication stategy in New Zealand in adopting a kind of war like footing towards the virus than any populist denialism. While they might not shoot you in NZ, they will lock down an entire city for an outbreak that they are now trying to play off as "minor."

So clearly, the response of the bourgeoise, its uneveness, its contradictions in relation to previous pandemics needs explaining by us. But to what extent a "rational" vs. "irrational" model helps us here is not clear. The pandemic is now 8 months old and it appears to have followed a predictable pattern where it has emerged: introduced to a new area it rages for 6 to 8 weeks and then dies down pretty much regardless of what measures have been taken. Why is this case? I don't think anyone knows. Has some level of "population immunity" been reached and it is therefore reduced to a slow burn or are there future waves waiting to break-out? I don't think we know, but we should have some indication in the coming months, when fall returns to the northern hemisphere. Still, will it be possible to tease out to what extent any future waves are the late borne fruits of state interventions or a natural feature of the virus? I don't know. But I think we need to be careful, at this point, of constructing it in terms of science vs. populism, as it is clear that the science has itself been politicized, even if it is true that populists have a preferred narrative of what "the science" shows (T-cell immunity suggests this will be over soon). Still, if the promises of this all going away soon are clearly ideological, its not clear that the other side of that argument, i..e that the virus can be driven back into nature, is any less ideological, irresposible, irrational or any less an exercise in gas lighting.

It many make sense to suppress the virus as much as possilble pending an imminent vaccine (more can be said about the vaccine issue in another thread), but we are already seeing the goal posts on that shift, with many suggesting these extraordinary measures will have to continue even after that is delivered.

So, this was a long way around to say that I think what we are witnessing today with the bourgeois response is more a feature of social decomposition with its reciprocal effects on intellectual life, which complicates an already unclear science when it comes to this virus and the trajectory of the pandemic.

KT
Why the lockdown?

It might take a while to get there, but this is a post in response to the question posed several times on this thread and at different moments: why, contrary to its reaction to previous pandemics, did the ruling class shut down production (as far as it did so)? Why close the borders; why disrupt world trade and production? What did it think it was facing and what was it going to do about it? Note: it’s a response, not an answer, and neither does it tackle the question of the ‘cure’ (lockdown, in a word) being worse than the disease…

JK wrote: “The pandemic is now 8 months old and it appears to have followed a predictable pattern where it has emerged: introduced to a new area it rages for 6 to 8 weeks and then dies down pretty much regardless of what measures have been taken. Why is this case? I don't think anyone knows.”

Is this really the pattern, say in India? Is it really predictable? Have the measures taken had no impact and how do we assess this issue? And what of mutation and the ‘second wave’ and re-infections? I’m asking, I don’t know. As JK also says, no body really knows the dynamic of this novel virus.

Some say that, in context (medical advances), it’s far more virulent and deadly than the 1918 outbreak which claimed millions upon millions of lives. Gavi, the vaccine organisation linked to The WHO, The World Bank and Bill Gates’s foundation said in June: “The current COVID-19 pandemic seems unlikely to be over any time soon, with various scenarios for the future estimating either several overlapping outbreaks or another ferocious wave later in 2020. What should sound a note of caution for the world is that the second wave of H3N2 was also much more fierce than the first one, potentially because it mutated to become more deadly.”

In terms of numbers infected and dead, Covid-19 (also called SARS-CoV-2) hasn’t (yet?) claimed top-spot in the last 60 years.

But… It’s obviously still evolving, the past viruses (H2N2 1958-59 – ‘Asian flu’; H3N2, 1968 and H1N1pdm09 (2009) haven’t disappeared but continue to take a toll on humanity, despite the development of certain vaccines. Moreover, some research claims that “The population risk of admission to the intensive care unit is five to six times higher in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 than in those with the fairly mild 2009 influenza pandemic.” (Lancet, July 3rd)

If true, this has a bearing when we try to account for the actions and reactions of the bourgeoisie (which, in essence, I agree here with MH and others earlier in the thread, has been pretty uniform).

Also pertinent to analysing the bourgeoisie’s behaviour, I would argue, are the different sectors considered most vulnerable to the virus. The US Centres for Disease Control says this about the most recent pandemic prior to the current outbreak, that of 2009. “Globally, 80 percent of (H1N1)pdm09 virus-related deaths were estimated to have occurred in people younger than 65 years of age. This differs greatly from typical seasonal influenza epidemics, during which about 70 percent to 90 percent of deaths are estimated to occur in people 65 years and older … the 2009 flu pandemic primarily affected children and young and middle-aged adults”.

Were the ruling class and its medical ‘enablers’ expecting more of the same: a short-lived, predictable, containable episode, perhaps a little more threatening since they too have access to figures for global inter-connectivity and its increase since 2009 and also know the accumulative effect of pre-existing viruses not to mention their own ‘massacre’ of national health ‘facilities’? Were they seeking to 'shield' the current and future workforce in order preserve the capacity to extract surplus value now and for tomorrow? Is this what led them to evict the elderly from hospitals and dump them in unprotected care homes (Britain, Sweden, etc) in order to ‘not swamp’ the depleted health services? Is this why they went, following China’s lead, for the ‘short, sharp shock’ treatment of 'shutting down'?

I believe so. I refer comrades to the seemingly off-the-cuff comments made by two members of the British bourgeoisie quoted by me on this thread, post #46, March 25:

“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.”

Another comrade in the discussion said: 'it’s far easier to order a lock-down than to end it.' That’s decomposition, in the light of the actual, not predicted, pathway of the pandemic. 

jk1921
 

 

The following will have the character of a series of random thoughts, so please nobody take them as some kind of postion statement on anything:

It is clear that nobody really knew what to expect from this virus and the early experience in Northern Italy was not hopeful for thinking it would be a manageable outbreak, like the 2009 Swine Flu. China appeared to many to have figured out the answer to the extent there was one: a brutal lockdown to suppress the virus, which could then be followed by a relatively swift reopening in a month or two. The dramatic predictions from the mathematical modelling for what would happen without such measures in the West were more reason for the bourgeoisie to take the route it did.

But so far, those models haven't quite panned out: the virus appears somewhat less deadly than initial predictions, if still much more deadly than seasonal flu, and there is growing suspiscion that many people may have some kind of pre-existing immunity to the virus, but that remains highly speculative. As KT points out though the risks are not evenly distributed and nobody can know beforehand what their personal risk profile might be--even if some dissident epidemiologists (Ioannidis, Gupta) try to explain that the risk to anyone under 60 is minimal--if it is not 0.

Still, if the bourgeoisie seems to have hung its early hopes on a quick suprression of the virus so "normality" could be resumed as quickly as possible that has now shifted to the idea that normality will not be possible until there is vaccine, which is neverthless expected shortly. But perhaps too quickly, as there is serious speculation it is being rushed for political purposes. Others, associated with the libertarian right, suggest that a vaccine dependent recovery is a false promise, as there has never been a vaccine for a human corona virus and we are going to have to learn to live it.

But yes, as KT suggests--it is far easier for the bourgeoisie to have ordered the kinds of mesures it took, far more difficult to end them. But beyond that there is the issue of the precedent this all sets. If we do this for Covid, why not the flu? While it is true that Covid is some order of magnitude more deadly than the seasonal flu, for those who subcumb to the flu every year, it makes you no less dead. When right-wing actors compare Covid to the flu, perhaps they know what they do? "If we do this for Covid, why not the flu?," is generally said today to downplay the latter, but it could just as easily be used to elevate the former. Should we, going forward, lockdown society from December to March in the Northern hempisphere to prevent unecessary flu deaths? The flu kills fewer people than Covid, but it may be harder on the young, who are exposed to it every winter in the schools and daycare facilities. Its actually not a preposterous question.

jk1921
KT wrote:

KT wrote:

"Is this really the pattern, say in India? Is it really predictable? Have the measures taken had no impact and how do we assess this issue? And what of mutation and the ‘second wave’ and re-infections? I’m asking, I don’t know. As JK also says, no body really knows the dynamic of this novel virus."

Well, yes. Mostly, I think. I suppose there are exceptions. But the pattern seems to be there, albeit a little more drawn out in places where the curve was more successfully flattened. But yes, it is not clear the extent to which the subsequent decline in cases is a result of the emergence of some level of "population immunity" versus the effects of human interventions--lockdowns, etc. It doesn't seem very easy to tease that out, although there seems to be growing suspiscion that "population immunity" is now a factor in some places: NYC, Stockholm, Manaus, etc. Still, that doesn't mean the virus is no longer a threat. Even if cases have slowed down, it is still out there and anyone could still get it and become very sick, meaning that there is still a problem of risk assessement in the population affecting the "recovery", with sociologists starting to talk about a growing divide between the "careful" and the "careless" (opening another divide in the culture war).

Moreover, it is not clear the extent to which future "second waves" are in the offing. Europe appears to be entering the stage of the epidemic the US was in in the summer--spread among younger demographics freed from lockdown: well, except for Sweden, which is now looking pretty good compared to the rest of the continent. How long that holds I think is anyone's guess at this point, because I don't think the scientists have a very great handle on what is going on--this virus appears to behave in some ways like a seasonal virus, even though it is in a pandemic phase (targets the old mostly) and it appears the human immune system may regard it that way to some extent too, such that it is not clear how long whatever immunity is gained from surviving an infection will last, especially if it was asymptomatic. If all you got was a cold, the body might not see the virus as a huge threat necessitating a prolonged immune response and you could be vulnerable again. But they don't really know.

From the social perspective, this means much more uncertainty ahead and more friction as the epidemiological questions become increasingly politicized: Fauci (hunker down, normal life not possible until end of 2021); vs. Trump (the epidemic is almost over, vaccines will be here soon). I doubt this ends when/if Trump loses the election and it is possible with no more stake in whatever vaccine is developed he turns against it in opposition to the "deep state" that delayed it, further complicating whatever recovery might be possible.

jk1921
"Covid: Is it time to learn

"Covid: Is it time to learn to live with this virus." I don't know if this portends a shift in the British bourgeoisie's approach to the pandemic, but its from the BBC and it contains some second thoughts that the lockdowns to combat Covid don't make much sense anymore:

"Prof Carl Heneghan, the head of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University, says the current situation is 'utter chaos' with a constant stream of new restrictions and schools sending whole year groups home when just one person tests positive. All this at a time when the level of infection is still very low. This, Prof Heneghan says, is the consequence of trying to suppress the virus. Instead, he argues we should accept it is here to stay and try to minimise the risks, while balancing that against the consequences of the actions we take. In particular, he's concerned the Covid test is actually so sensitive it's picking up what is effectively dead virus as it spots traces of it months after the person has stopped being infectious. 'We need to slow down our thinking. But every time the government sees a rise in cases it seems to panic,' he said."

And:

"That process (herd immunity) could take years, even decades some think. But others are more optimistic. Prof Sunetra Gupta, of Oxford University, believes there may well be more immunity already than we think because of a combination of natural immunity and more exposure than screening suggests - she says the antibody markers that are relied on to identify previous exposure are not so reliable for this particular virus. She says allowing young and healthy people to be exposed over the winter will be of benefit in the years to come. 'This is how we have always managed viruses. Why is this so different? If we keep introducing restrictions and lockdowns while we wait for a vaccine it will be the young that suffer the most, particularly those from more deprived backgrounds. We can't keep doing this - it would be an injustice.'"

Obviously, the British bourgeoisie has a severe credibility/legitimacy problem when it comes to managing this crisis, given its early herd immunity debacle, but couple the rather tepid restrictions being put in place at the moment with the revelation that the Johnson government is now taking advice from the Swedish epidemiologists and it appears there is a growing recognition that this virus will not be "surpressed," and that it will be a fact of life for some time to come.

Still, the government seems quite nervous over the possibility of a "second wave" (really just the continuation of the first among younger demographics) and the uncertainty and contradictions in the scientific/medical and epidemiological advice mean that nobody can say what will happen with either the virus or the government's repsonse.

More from the article:

"The argument put forward by Prof Heneghan and a number of other experts is that more weight needs to be put on disease rather than cases. While hospital admissions have started rising they are still incredibly low compared to the spring and the increase is much more gradual than it was. What is more, rising admissions for respiratory illness and, sadly, deaths are what you would expect to happen at this time of year as you head into autumn and winter when these viruses always spread more. Some years are worse than others. In 2017-18 there were 50,000 extra deaths over winter compared to the rest of the year, mainly because of the cold weather, a virulent strain of flu and an ineffective vaccine."

Prof. Heneghan seems to be suggesting that Sars-Cov2 will become like the flu, a virus that has bedeviled humanity for eons and which still kills hundreds of thousands around the globe every year, even though there is a vaccine--although not a particularly effective one. Still, there are reports that this year the Southern Hemisphere had almost no flu epidemic, because of anti-Covd measures. So, it is not as if the flu can't be suppressed with very harsh measures, but nobody has thought to take them until now and there has been no warp speed project trying to develop a more effective universal flu vaccine. Why not?

Maybe because the population has been conditioned to accept flu deaths as normal and natural, as thousands of private tragedies not worthy of a socio-political response on the level that would effectively suppress it?:

"In fact, Prof Robert Dingwall, a sociologist and an adviser to the government, believes the public may well be now at the stage where it is 'comfortable' with the idea that thousands will die from Covid just as they are that they die of flu. He believes it is only a particular element of the public health and scientific leadership who worry about driving down the infection level and is critical of politicians for not being 'brave enough' to be honest with the public that the virus will be around 'forever and a day' even with a vaccine."

Tagore2
Like any species, the

Like any species, the expansion and regression of coronaviruses depend on the environment. Among the environmental conditions is the season, and the seasonality of the virus has not yet been determined. Is it a winter virus like the flu? Or a mid-season virus that thrives in spring and fall? It is not established.

In addition, certain viruses make a temporary incursion into the human species, and are rejected by the collective immune system. This was the case for SARS-CoV-1. Otherwise, the virus adapts and becomes less virulent.

Indeed, from an evolutionary point of view, it is not in the interest of the virus to kill its host too early, or even to excessively stimulate its immune system. This is exactly what the virus was doing in the spring. Since June, the virus has mutated at high speed, and its mutations have been associated with reduced virulence. These mutations can lead to a better adaptation to the human species, or to the complete degeneration of the virus which will lead to its disappearance (like SARS-CoV-1).

Finally, there are unreasonable hopes for vaccines, which lead to unreasonable measures.

A vaccine is not a panacea.

The benefit-risk ratio must be favorable. However, with a lethality of less than 0.4%, it will be necessary to test the vaccine on hundreds of thousands of people before being certain of its safety. It will take time. Starting early in a vaccination campaign with poorly tested vaccines could lead to an increase in mortality a few years later, as has already been the case with poorly conducted vaccination campaigns.

The vaccine must be effective. However, the target population, the elderly, have an immune system that responds little to vaccines. As for the others, they are rarely sick from Covid-19, and die even less from it. Here again, the question of the risk-benefit balance arises for them.

The vaccine must be necessary. Much of the population is already immune to SARS-CoV-2 due to the cross-immunity between coronaviruses. These immune people do not get sick, and do not infect others, because their viral load is zero or very low. Their vaccination is therefore unnecessary for themselves and for society as a whole, and does not justify any vaccine risk.

Next, a vaccination policy must be integrated effectively and efficiently into a broader health policy, particularly in relation to other disease control instruments: prevention measures, screening, isolation of contagious people and treatment.

In addition, let us not forget that the virus mutates and could even disappear, which would make a possible vaccine ineffective, useless, even harmful due to an unfavorable balance of benefit and risk.

Research can continue in this area, but with the necessary caution and reasonable expectations about it. In particular, waiting for a vaccine should not justify irrational measures, such as confining non-contagious people. Well-tuned PCR tests (35 CT) allow precise detection of contagious and non-contagious people, with very few false positives and false negatives.

Tagore2
I add that a rational,

I add that a rational, science-based public health policy is of needed. In Île de France, in the Grand Est, and in the South of France, serological tests revealed comparable contamination rates: 9%, 10% and 8%. However, there was excess mortality only in Île de France and the Grand Est, while in the South of France, there was under-mortality, in comparison to the last year. A rational policy of prevention, screening, isolation of contagious people and treatment is of utmost importance.

Like the human body, society has an "immune system" against disease, through its health care system.

In an epidemic, unreliable, incapable, panic-prone leaders can disrupt the health care system, causing it to react against public health, just as Sars-CoV-2 causes the immune system to react against the host.

Because of the lockdown, many diagnoses and treatments have been postponed, meaning many people will die of cancer and cardiovascular disease diagnosed or treated too late.

Because of the panic, emergency departments and general and specialized medicine practices emptied of people who were afraid of being infected or of cluttering up hospitals (-45% in emergency department attendance in March-April), which led many people not to be diagnosed and treated in time and therefore to clutter the intensive care units later.

Due to desperation, many doctors and nurses injected Rivotril into the elderly in nursing homes, instead of just treating them. The panic led to a veritable homicidal frenzy in nursing homes with Rivotril, specially authorized by the government, while hydroxychloroquine was strictly prohibited by the same decree.

A government of incapable people is far more dangerous than any epidemic, and makes all problems worse.

In a way, I hope this epidemic will serve as a lesson for the Communists. I don't want fools or panic-stricken people at the heads of the revolutionary state. Civil war will result in millions of direct and indirect deaths, including from famines and epidemics, and the revolutionary state will not have to take stupid and harmful measures like lockdown and disorganization of health services. Lenin, Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg are our models; models we must imitate in determination, organization and composure; even if the universe is to collapse; and sooner or later it will collapse.

jk1921
Tagore2 wrote:

Tagore2 wrote:

In a way, I hope this epidemic will serve as a lesson for the Communists. I don't want fools or panic-stricken people at the heads of the revolutionary state. Civil war will result in millions of direct and indirect deaths, including from famines and epidemics, and the revolutionary state will not have to take stupid and harmful measures like lockdown and disorganization of health services. Lenin, Trotsky, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg are our models; models we must imitate in determination, organization and composure; even if the universe is to collapse; and sooner or later it will collapse.

While, I think there are some major differences with Tagore2 regarding the nature of the post-insurrectionary state, he raises an important point regarding the reaction of Communists to the pandemic. So far, I don't think we have gotten a very clear statement of the ICC's orientation to the policies of the various governments in response to the virus, other than a denunciation of the UK government's original "herd immunity" strategy and some other indications that governments that did not take measures to suppress the virus were acting "irresponsibly," or "negligently."

This goes back to a question I tried to pose earlier: Just what is the communist orientation in all of this? Clearly, whatever one thinks of the ability of a future communist society to avoid pandemics on this scale, one could almost certainly emerge, as Tagore2 suggests, in the period of transition. What then is the communist policy? Its all too easy to say, as liberals do today, "follow the science"--but that leaves the problem of the politicization of science unadressed. While there may be only one science, there certainly isn't one scientific opinion on anything. Besides, this seems like a cheap way out of the responsibility of formulating a social policy that cannot be neatly reduced to scientific imperatives.

Tagore2
In the midst of chaos and

In the midst of chaos and destruction, the Soviet government must be the beacon of reorganization, relying on the inexhaustible energy of the masses. It must encourage individual initiatives which soon turn into collective organizations for the expansion and deepening of the revolution, coordinate it into a single movement, ready to crush under its steel fist all the debris of the old regime.

It must surround itself with the most competent and courageous specialists, ready to face the calamities of the civil war without wavering, including among the former cadres of the fallen bourgeoisie.

For example, I would see no objection to entrusting great responsibilities to Professor Raoult in his specialty, although he is an inveterate Gaullist, with the necessary precautions such as association with a political commissar, and the close supervision of his work by the Soviet government.

Indeed, Raoult brings together the best characteristics one would expect from a specialist who excels in his field:

  1. World number 1 in infectious diseases according to expertscape ranking,
  2. at the head of one of the world's largest centers specializing in infectious diseases,
  3. surrounded by the greatest French experts who admire and follow him,
  4. knows how to be obeyed but is disciplined: military spirit,
  5. is passionate about his work,
  6. has a sense of duty,
  7. has strong nerves.

He has demonstrated in practice his competence in the event of a crisis: of the three French regions having had a high rate of contamination, his is the only one to have seen its mortality rate drop compared to last year, and the case fatality rate at its IHU is one of the lowest in the world, if not the lowest (0.5%).

Conversely, people like Véran and Delfraissy are paranoid imbeciles who have only been able to progress professionally through maneuver and politics, through conflicts of interest and compromise; they are weak and cowardly, scientific and technical nullities; panicky, depressed and desperate.

They have proven to be zeros in practice, and furthermore, they are corrupted by the pharmaceutical industry; they are mere agents and not leaders, puppets who collapse completely as soon as you stop pulling on their strings. These people are irrecoverable: the best we can do is put them under house arrest, so that they can no longer disrupt the health services with their stupidity and inconsistency.

So, yes, there are solutions, there are capable and competent people and it is up to the Communists to know how to choose them, to give them responsibilities and to supervise them.

This epidemic proved that the bourgeois state was much less solid and organized than one might imagine; never in the history of capitalism has the state shown itself to be so weak and cowardly in dealing with a relatively benign crisis, far inferior to the wars and epidemics it has already experienced. If the bourgeoisie is not able to cope with such a minor disturbance, it is because it has long lost its ability to rule, although no one has really noticed.

d-man
I read about chloroquine

I read about chloroquine already on 12 March (here), and did a twitter-search in order to find that some already even days prior had predicted/speculated that (profit-minded) pharma-companies would wage propaganda against it.

I don't know what the best criteria is for estimating the seriousness, but if we base it on eg the mortality rate for hospital admissions, it seems quite high (some countries perhaps 50%), whereas in case of a disease like eg malaria that rate seems to be only maybe 6%. I guess you can always argue that comparisons are misleading.

The initial worry was due to alarming reports, of eg Chinese people collapsing in the street (which might be due to drunkeness, in which case it would be fake news), but for me it was the young Chinese doctor who died.

I first heard the story from the start in early January, and after mid January when Wuhan closed, that measure felt already like it was late. Btw, it's only at that date that WSWS apparently reported on the story, so they were quite late. Throughout February most people were already anxious.

Stock market crashed on 9 March. It's only after that crash, in that same week that widespead lockdown measures were announced, so perhaps governments first came to realise the seriousness due to the stock market crash.

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