I want to welcome the serious work of preparation expressed in the Balance-sheet of the 24th Congress. Intrinsically it is a very strong statement of where we are today and of the orientation of the ICC’s necessary work in the coming period.
The first thing to say is that focusing on the current pandemic of SARS-Cov-2 and continuing to draw wider lessons from this is the correct approach to take. Future pandemics and serious medical emergencies will be a feature of capitalism as long as it lasts; for example, the spread of malaria into the northern hemisphere is becoming a real threat with global temperature rising and where in sub-Saharan Africa 90% of global malaria cases are still responsible for nearly half-a-million deaths per-annum (2016 figures). But it is necessary to concentrate on the present pandemic because of the destruction that it’s already caused, where its roots lay, the lessons that it has exposed and the continuing threat, along with other moving parts of decomposition that it poses to the working class and humanity in general.
In Britain, following the murderous sacrifices imposed on the weak and vulnerable by the bourgeoisie on behalf of its economy at the beginning of the pandemic (an ideology of “herd immunity” which has never gone away despite vaccination) more sacrifices are demanded by the British state which has clarified, quantified and calibrated its policy of “an acceptable number of deaths” faced with the demands of the economy and profitability. While the British state has been particularly ruthless with the number of deaths (along with democratic USA and the totalitarian regimes) all states have, more or less acted the same and the working class everywhere has been kept in the firing line and under the cosh.
Why is it important to keep the present pandemic to the fore of analysis? Because it is a very significant feature of the advancing decomposition of the capitalist system, part of the coagulation of the effects of the decay of society and the threat that it holds and for elements of the communist left to talk about capitalist growth as if it indicates a fundamental health of the system rather than its demise, seems at least a long way off the point of what is necessary in the circumstances.
This predictable and deadly virus, comes alongside the COP21 “summit” whose hot-air was more than matched by the fumes and greenhouse gases generated by large-scale military manoeuvres taking place not far away on the Russian border; tornado’s now capable of gouging out a 200 mile corridor of devastation in the USA as the ecological crisis of capitalism goes to another level; economic crisis and the generalisation of every man for himself along with the waves of refugees and “displaced”. Against fantasies about “return to normal” all these elements come together and it is necessary for communists to confront this reality.
The historical decadence of capitalism has accumulated all its contradictions and synthesised them into a final stage of an accelerating decomposition.
The bourgeoisie is increasingly ineffective and chaotic because of the fundamental demands and the very nature of its system. This pandemic is not an isolated “health crisis” but one significant indication among and following others of the global crisis of capitalism. It is hardly credible that the analysis of the ICC is seen as “apocalyptic” by elements of the Communist Left showing that despite their Marxist basis they are unable to use it in order to look reality in the face.
The serious instabilities and uncertainties that lay ahead will affect the working class and its struggle and in this lays the danger of the proletariat being overwhelmed by the generalisation of barbarism. The “victory of capitalism/death of communism” is wearing thin and the other side of this is the proletariat as the source of all productions and wealth and, explicitly from the pandemic, the only and most “coherent” force in society and finding and strengthening itself through the struggle is key. For revolutionaries, debate and discussion is fundamental for the way forward and polemics with other groups are an essential part of this.