Coronavirus

covid 19 map Image PixabayThe COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has plunged the capitalist system into a deep crisis. The stock markets are plummeting, a recession seems inevitable, and the ineptitude of the ruling class’ political leaders is being ruthlessly exposed everywhere.

Rather than a concerted, global response to the outbreak, protectionist tendencies in the world market have been accelerated, as governments rush to throw up borders to horde medical supplies and scramble for exclusive rights to vaccines.

The bosses and bourgeois governments have attempted to force the working class to shoulder the burden of this emergency, banning mass gatherings at the same time as sending people to work without adequate safety measures. This has been met with a backlash, with a wave of strikes in badly affected countries like Italy forcing the bosses to backtrack. This is despite the woeful response of the leaders of the workers’ mass organisations, who have mostly fallen in line with their governments rather than fight back.

While this pandemic was the catalyst, it was not the cause of the current social, political and economic crisis. This was already prepared in the last period of capitalist crisis and austerity, which savagely cut health services, brought increasingly degenerate leadership to the fore, and caused huge resentment to accumulate in the fabric of society. COVID-19 was accidental, but the calamity it has provoked was inevitable.

This virus marks the beginning of a new, tumultuous period in world history, one in which the consciousness of the masses will rapidly advance as the totally rotten state of the capitalist system and its leaders are laid bare.

 

The ruling class in Bangladesh announced a nationwide lockdown following 10 days of Independence Day celebrations, in which they cosied up to the reactionary Modi regime of India. Meanwhile, workers are facing death and infection on a massive scale, and the health sector is in a parlous state. Anger beneath the surface is building towards an eruption.

Capitalist governments the world over are making the most of the COVID-19 pandemic to criminalise protest and to clamp down on dissent while the real criminals of this pandemic – the bosses – get away with murder. It is vital that the workers' organisations fight back to defend these basic democratic rights.

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags into its second year, it continues to expose and intensify the contradictions of world capitalism. The madness of vaccine nationalism clearly demonstrates that a system based on private property, and the division of the world into antagonistic nation-states, is not equipped to deal with a viral threat that has no respect for borders, profit margins, or narrow nationalist interests.

Today marks the one-year anniversary since Britain first entered into lockdown. One year on, and tens-of-thousands of lives have been lost because of the Tories’ crimes. To gain justice, workers must organise to kick out this rotten government.

A number of countries in Europe halted the use of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine over the past two weeks, due to an unproven association with blood clots. Following a review by the European Medical Agency, they have now resumed, but this politically driven decision has seriously dented public confidence in the vaccine, which was already low.

Brazil is beating records for the number of daily deaths due to COVID-19, and at the time of writing, the country has exceeded 260,000 casualties. Added to this is the collapse of the country’s health system, with the occupation of beds exceeding 80 percent of capacity in 16 states and the Federal District, with nine states exceeding 90 percent capacity. Read the original in Portuguese, originally published 4 March.

About a year has passed since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Over two million people have died directly from the virus itself thus far. Many more have died from ancillary causes. While the vaccines now in circulation offer a ray of hope for the masses, who are trapped in a cycle of isolation and precarity, the crisis is far from over. Not least because protectionism and “vaccine nationalism” are preventing billions of people from actually accessing these lifesaving resources. When will it all end?

The latest twist in the vaccine deployment saga has exposed the contradictions within the European Union and the limits of the capitalist market to deal with a crisis. In the last few days, we have witnessed the beginning of a clash both between the EU and the UK, and within the EU in something that reminds us of the debt crisis of 2011 and 2012.

“This autumn, too many people have neglected to follow advice and recommendations." This was the explanation for the deadly wave of coronavirus sweeping over Sweden given in late November by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in an address to the nation. While shifting blame to the general public, he was conveniently silent about the government's responsibility for decades of cuts to healthcare, understaffing in the elderly care sector, and lacklustre testing capacity. Now the government has been forced to introduce several measures that they for a long time argued against. But it is all too, little too late.

With the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine recently approved for use in the UK; and products by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and others already being administered around the world, one would think we are approaching the end of this pandemic. However, pharmaceutical profiteers and political representatives of the ruling class are bungling the rollout in some of the worst-affected countries. In their haste to return to ‘normal’ and get the economy moving again, they are ignoring the science, cutting corners and

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Johnson and the Tories have attempted to blame a new variant of the virus for the catastrophe that is unfolding. But it is their recklessness that has landed us in this situation. We need a bold socialist response to the pandemic.

The COVID-19 vaccines slowly entering circulation offer a glimmer of hope for millions of ordinary people who have spent the best part of a year trapped in the seemingly endless nightmare of this pandemic. For the pharmaceutical capitalists, these essential resources (whose development has been funded largely by public money) are a goldmine to be plundered. Meanwhile, stockpiling by the imperialist powers, and Big Pharma’s bottom line put a working vaccine out of reach for the poorest parts of the world.

The capitalists are eagre for the COVID-19 crisis to come to an end, and many anticipate a rapid economic bounceback. But the new normal will be one of crisis, chaos and class struggle.

A second wave of COVID-19 is ravaging Europe. This was not inevitable, but a deadly consequence of governments prioritising the wealth of the capitalists over the health of the population. We say: make the bosses pay to protect lives and livelihoods! To fight the virus, abolish capitalism!

The world’s poorest countries are going through a vicious cycle of spiralling debt. The coronavirus epidemic has added a further heavy burden to their state coffers. These mainly raw material producing countries were already struggling to deal with the collapse in raw material prices, and this latest crisis makes the situation completely untenable, which has major implications for the advanced capitalist countries as well.

The Black Death of the 14th century dealt a mortal blow to the feudal system, which was decaying even before the plague hit. Similarly today, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the bankruptcy of capitalism – and the need for socialism.

The workers and poor of Bangladesh are crushed between the COVID-19 pandemic and a severe economic crisis, while the government throws money at big business and wades in a swamp of corruption. For millions of people, winning a better society is a matter of life or death.

The Colombian workers and youth are trapped in a nightmare. The parasitic bourgeoisie has totally failed to curb the coronavirus pandemic, and has used the economic crisis as an excuse to carry out further cuts and attacks on the working class. Socialist struggle is needed to free Colombia from its unbearable condition.