The number of people infected with the Covid-19 virus has been rising sharply in recent weeks in many parts of the world, especially in Europe, which has once more become one of the epicentres of the pandemic. The “possibility of a second wave” announced several months ago by epidemiologists is now a reality and it is highly likely that it will be much more virulent than the previous one. In several countries, the daily death toll already stands at several hundred and the intensive care units needed to treat the most seriously affected patients are already reaching capacity, and some are even overflowing as in Italy, even though we are only at the beginning of this new wave. Faced with the seriousness and the rapid deterioration of the situation, more and more states have no other option than to impose local or national curfews or stay-at-home orders to minimise the spread of the virus... outside of working hours, of course.
The criminal negligence of the bourgeoisie
In recent months, the media in many countries have been broadcasting unsympathetic and misleading messages coming from the authorities, repeatedly making accusations about “irresponsible and selfish youth” assembling in large groups “to organise clandestine parties”, or of those holidaymakers who want to enjoy the few remaining warm days of summer outdoors, and having removed their masks, drinking at the pavement cafés (when the governments of the Mediterranean region strongly encourage this to happen to “save the tourism sector from collapse”!). This widespread campaign aimed at “public irresponsibility” is nothing more than a smokescreen for the negligence and the lack of preparation which the dominant class has demonstrated over many years [] which has been replicated in recent months with the “first wave showing a relative retreat”.
While governments were well aware that there was no effective treatment, that the development of a vaccine was far off and that the virus would not necessarily go away on its own, no steps were taken to prevent a potential “second wave”. The numbers of staff employed in hospitals hasn't been augmented since last March, nor have the number of intensive care beds increased. Policies dismantling the health care systems have even continued in some countries. All governments have therefore pushed for a return to “the way things were”, reminiscing about “the good old days”, with only one thought in mind: “It's necessary to save the nation's economy!”.
Today, it is with the same concern that the European bourgeoisie is requiring the exploited to once again lockdown, while at the same time urging them to still attend their workplaces, disregarding the fact that people mixing with one another leads to the proliferation of the virus (especially in the large metropoles), and when there is a lack of sanitary measures to ensure the safety of people in the workplaces as well as in the schools!
The carelessness and irresponsibility shown by the ruling class in recent months shows it to be once again incapable of controlling the pandemic. As a result, the vast majority of European states are clearly tending to lose control of the situation. The great misfortune rests with those required to go to work worried and fearful of contamination, for themselves and their loved ones.
Profit or life?
Contrary to what is claimed, there is no doubt that the objective of the ruling class is not to save lives but to limit as much as possible the catastrophic effects of the pandemic on the life of capitalism, while trying to avoid the tendency towards worsening social chaos. For this, the functioning of the capitalist machine must be assured no matter the cost. In particular, it is essential that companies are able to make a profit. No work can take place and no profits can be made if workers are not being employed in the workplaces. This is something that the bourgeoisie wishes to avoid at all cost and so production, trade, tourism and public services have to be kept at a maximum level; the consequences to the lives of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of human beings are of minimal importance.
The ruling class has no other choice if it is to guarantee the survival of its own system of exploitation. Whatever it does, it is no longer able to stop capitalism sinking into its inexorable historical crisis. This irreversible decline therefore sees it exposed for what it really is, completely insensitive to the value of human life and ready to do anything to preserve its own rule, including letting tens of thousands of people die, starting with senior citizens, considered “useless” in the eyes of capital. The pandemic sheds a harsh light on capitalism continuing to survive, rotting on its feet, and its threat to humanity.
Only class struggle can put an end to all pandemics.
The exploited therefore have nothing to expect from the states and their governments which, whatever their political colours, are part of the dominant class and remain at its service. The exploited have nothing to gain by accepting without question the “sacrifices” imposed on them to “save the economy”. Sooner or later, the bourgeoisie will be able to limit the damage to health of this virus by deploying an effective vaccine. But the conditions of social decomposition that led to this pandemic will not disappear. In view of the war being conducted between the states in the mad “race for a vaccine”, its distribution already seems to be highly problematic.
As with industrial or environmental disasters, it is more than likely that humanity will be confronted with fresh global pandemics in the future, even more deadly diseases. In the face of the economic catastrophe aggravated by the pandemic, the explosion of unemployment and the increasing pace and pressure of the poverty it will bring, the working class will have no choice but to fight to defend its living conditions. Already there is widespread anger and the bourgeoisie is trying to attenuate it in the short term by promising all working families that the end of the year celebrations will still take place (even if it will be necessary to limit the numbers who can meet). But this “pause” in the lock-down for the truce of the confectioners (to benefit the hospitality sector) will change nothing of substance.
It is clear that 2021 will be no better than 2020, with or without a vaccine. At some point, the fight will have to be resumed, once the shock of this pandemic has been overcome. It is only by resuming the path of struggle against the attacks of the bourgeoisie, its state and the employers, in both the public and private sectors, that the working class will be able to develop its unity and solidarity. Only the class struggle, by breaking the holy bond that ties it to its exploiters, will be able, in the long run, to open a perspective for the whole of humanity threatened with extinction by a system of exploitation in full decay. Capitalist chaos will only continue to worsen, with more and more catastrophes and fresh pandemics. The future is therefore in the hands of the proletariat. Only the proletariat has the capacity to overthrow capitalism, to save the planet and to build society anew.
Vincent, 11 November 2020
See the various articles on our website denouncing the dismantling of the hospital system worldwide: “Special dossier on Covid-19: The real killer is capitalism!”