Report on the Pandemic and the development of decomposition - discussion

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Report on the Pandemic and the development of decomposition - discussion
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Some comments on the above

The ICC's texts, Orientation Text on Militarism and Decomposition (1991) and the Thesis on Decomposition (1990) have, in my opinion, turned out to be seminal texts defining a seminal period of capitalism where it sinks into a barbarism while its effects threaten the existence of human life on the planet.

The pandemic caused by the Covid-19 virus is a significant element of the decomposition of capitalism and analysis of it by elements of the PPM outside of the ICC has been lamentably weak to the point of non-existence. At the beginning of this capitalist plague, elements within and around the Communist Left saw it as just another passing "problem" generally unrelated to the system of capitalism, even nothing to do with it simply coming "from nature" - i.e., it was a perfectly natural event and certainly nothing to get excited about. While some elements have moved on from this position, the ICT seem stuck with this blinkered vision.

 As the Report says at the end it is possible that through state capitalist measures the bourgeoisie could eventually overcome this particular "wave" of infection and get on top of the situation. Many people, including within the ICC and a whole range of medical science, talk about second and third waves of the pandemic but to be precise there's only been one wave of the SARS-Cov-2 virus and that began in China right at the end of 2019 and swept across the world being interrupted here and there by lock-downs and partially suppressed here and there by vaccinations while gaining some strength through minor variations. This wave, that began around 20 months ago is far from over and has a very long way to go. The bourgeoisie's propaganda now is about "getting back to normal" (circuses, exploitation and oppression) in the face of what could remain a threat for years. The bourgeoisie are aware of this with their phrase about "learning to live with the virus". The strong possibility of more dangerous variants will be a problem for society, the bourgeoisie and its economy.  The Report talks about how, relatively well some countries on the peripheries did because of their experiences with such diseases but they have been rapidly overwhelmed by the development of this one. These weaker states tend to have rigid structures which only allow their information and their numbers to get out easily giving false impressions. Harvard University, along with other such bodies, estimate that the amount of infections and deaths in India for example is under-reported by a factor of 10 which makes its four hundred and twenty-five thousand deaths to date over four million. Throughout the greater part of the world today the conditions exist for the development of much more serious strains of this disease that could outpace vaccination efforts. The disease hits the working class, the poor and the less able while the mantra of "learn to live with it" shows the unashamed and ruthless Social Darwinist ideology of the bourgeoisie at work. This wave of Covid-19 and its consequences is by no means over. The recent G7 underlined the inability of states to confront this issue with tendencies to each for themselves dominating and the paltry vaccine promises made by the big powers to smaller countries now cut back or not materialised at all.

Prior to this pandemic, according to the "The Lancet", chronic respiratory disease increased by a staggering 39.8% from 1990 to 2017 affecting 545 million people. These types of diseases are spread by exactly the same conditions that have paved the way for the present pandemic of Covid-19. Climate change - more heat waves and wetter weather - along with increasingly polluted air can only further exacerbate all sorts of breathing problems while lowering general immunity and opening up more avenues for the spread and depth of such diseases. Capitalism is choking to death more and more of the world's population and, despite its "climate change strategy" (more austerity) this trend can only increase.   

If, understandably, it wasn't totally rounded on decomposition, the "Resolution on the International Situation" (1989) was prescient and very clear about the situation of stalemate between the two classes opening up a new period of capitalism's decay. The Orientation Text on Decomposition provides the explanation for events such as the present pandemic and its relationship to capitalism which comes from: "the fundamental impotence of the declining capitalist mode of production... indicative of the blockage and putrefaction of bourgeois society". The pandemic doesn't mark a new phase of capitalist decay - that was already expressed by the collapse of the world's bloc structures - but it does mark 30 years of a decay that seems to be gaining more momentum.

This pandemic is no passing event; it is not a "blip" that can be "returned to normal" but it does shows a further loss of control by the bourgeoisie which is unable to overcome the effects of capitalism's innate tendency to self-destruction. When the Soviet Empire collapsed it demonstrated a loss of control by the Stalinist bourgeoisie but what might have been underestimated was the degree to which this loss of control affected the more "stable" states of the Western Bloc. This has been a growing tendency throughout 30 years of decomposition and populism is certainly an expression of it.

As the Report says, the weakening of co-ordination and co-operation at the economic level globally has meant that decomposition hits the economic base. It wasn't something that just affected "behaviours" or inter-imperialist rivalries but something deeper, more profound. The collapse of the Eastern Bloc was triggered by economic issues in the first place and imperialism is much more than rivalries between states. Imperialism, as a fundamental expression of decadent capitalism, has an economic effect itself which in turn affects the economic basis of capitalism and this is even more accentuated with decomposition.

None of these weaknesses of the bourgeoisie strengthen the working class; in fact we've seen how the bourgeoisie use them to further disorient the working class as a matter of course. With the working class more or less absent from the social scene for now, there's a profusion of irrationality, demonstrations and riots against pandemic restrictions and, more widely, riots and protest showing despair and anger within identity movements, anti-corruption protests and the like which, while expressing elements of revolt against the state show no working class perspective. The exhaustion of very wide scale protest against the Lebanese government recently (the ethnic and religious gangsters united and sent the militias to repress them) and the events in Tunisia this week express an "Arab Spring" that was over a long time ago.


"Corona blues"

This ICC-Report caught praise from the French Maoist site (which, as I wrote, I regularly check - because I know they read the leftcom press), devoting 2 posts to it yesterday. The first post contrasts the ICC's decomposition analysis to a Maoist text that sees the Corona-situation, by contrast, as a result of the success/expansion of capitalism in the last 30 years. It raises the question for the ICC:

Les auteurs du premier document doivent en effet prouver que la décomposition a bien lieu depuis trente ans, et de plus trente ans de décomposition, c’est long… comment expliquer que le capitalisme tienne encore?

The second post contains the praise for the ICC's Report:

"C’est le document le plus intéressant du moment [...]"

e-translation of a passage:

Over thirty years ago, every left and far left organization would have done the same and produced a long assessment of the situation. That was the norm, because many things were involved: credibility, uninterrupted analysis of events, the need for guidance.

The fact that there is none of this any longer highlights how much intellectual and practical heritage has been lost. We must also say practical, because how to militate or act without direction? But today the "militants" have taken up one of the fundamental principles of capitalism, namely to oppose theory and practice, reason and action.

The reasons for this are numerous: the inféodation to social networks and their immediacy (with the attention-grabbing and the spectacular at all costs), the triumph of anti-political union ideology, the French confusionism called anarchism...

These two documents are therefore important things, because they serve to raise the level of consciousness.