The earthquake that struck Morocco on September 8, and the spectacular floods that followed the bursting of two dams in Libya shortly afterwards, once again confront us with the daily horror and murderous madness of capitalism.
The responsibility of capitalism
After Turkey, where the earth shook this winter, claiming 46,000 victims and displacing two million people in makeshift tents, it's Libya and Morocco's turn to plunge into mourning. The very violent earthquake in Morocco, measuring 7 on the Richter scale, can be explained by the fact that the region is criss-crossed by fault lines, where large tremors can occur, causing widespread damage and casualties. In the 1960s, the city of Agadir in Morocco was already more than 70% destroyed, and more than 12,000 people perished in this major earthquake. In 2004, more than 600 people died in Al Hoceïma. Like the torrential rains in Libya, these phenomena are always presented by the bourgeoisie as mere consequences of the whims of nature. Humanity thus seems powerless in the face of what looks like fate, exposed to the implacable laws of nature.
But while all these phenomena are indeed natural, the catastrophes they engender are anything but! Not only are they multiplying and accumulating as a result of global warming and decaying infrastructures, but they are also transforming these situations into veritable social catastrophes. In Libya, for example, the flood figures are staggering: in the northeastern city of Derna, the World Health Organisation has put the death toll at close to 4,000, a figure which it believes to be far below reality. A veritable hecatomb! And the bourgeoisie's responsibility for the disaster is far more visible than in Morocco. It's clearly obvious! The terrible destruction of Derna was not only due to storm Daniel, but essentially to the fact that the two dams that collapsed had not been maintained, despite desperate warnings of their dilapidated state. The collapse of the Libyan state and the total absence of any form of operational infrastructure or coordinated response greatly exacerbated the impact of the disaster.
These events are yet another indictment of capitalism. It is the poorest populations who are exposed and sacrificed on the altar of profit, of laws that are not "natural", but linked to the commercial logic inherent in capitalism and its deadly dynamic. In the province of Al Haouz, south-west of Marrakech, the victims and destruction were most numerous in working-class neighbourhoods or in poor, outlying, neglected rural areas. The cheaper, flexible multi-storey buildings systematically collapsed. Not only are cheaply constructed buildings legion, but anti-seismic standards dating back to 2002 remain ineffective in these areas of dilapidated buildings. And yet, this is where the vast majority of the proletariat and working classes live, in stark contrast to the much less-affected, or even spared, upmarket districts. The same applies to the flooded areas of Libya, where the poorest were the most exposed. The monstrosity of an obsolete and chaotic mode of production is causing endless suffering and massive destruction.
The cynicism of the bourgeoisie
Thanks to the corruption and negligence of the ruling class, and the lack of prevention and anticipation, the population is now forced to put up with cynicism and abandonment and rely on individual resourcefulness. Even children are being called upon to help clear the rubble! While during wars, such as in Ukraine, the means of destruction deployed with impressive logistics and meticulous organisation are beyond compare, the relief offered to the victims of disasters appears to be pitiful. The chaos and cacophony at disaster sites (when help is available!) reveals time and again the true face of capitalism and the ruling class.
The trap would be to see a genuine surge of "solidarity" in the proposals for aid from the various States and international humanitarian structures. On the contrary, they are barely disguised "interference", a cover enabling the countries involved in the relief efforts to extend their influence and strengthen their positions in defence of their sordid interests: what is modestly called "soft power". During the period 1990-2000, it should be remembered that it was in the name of "humanitarian" interventions, under the cover of the UN and complicit NGOs, that the major imperialist powers advanced their pawns in geostrategic zones, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. All to the great benefit of the "hard power" of arms! The fight for reconstruction contracts is, in the final analysis, secondary. The lies and hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie on humanitarian issues know no bounds!
On the other hand, there is a repugnant chauvinist and nationalist rhetoric that refuses "foreign aid" on the grounds that "Morocco can look after itself". The refusal of French aid in favour of other countries such as Qatar was very explicitly an expression of imperialist rivalry. And so much the worse for the good people of His Majesty who will die in silence for the "greatness" of the Moroccan Kingdom!
As the decomposition of the capitalist system accelerates, all these destructive phenomena will become increasingly frequent and amplified by the context of growing chaos, acute economic crisis and military conflicts, such as the one raging in Ukraine.
A, 29 September 2023