Watch Alan Woods (editor of marxist.com) discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the worst-ever crisis of capitalism.
The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a savage blow to the world economy and political situation. The leaders of most countries initially downplayed the severity of the emergency in an attempt to keep business going, and are now desperately scrambling to stabilise the situation and avoid social unrest.
They are breaking all their own rules in the process: underwriting wages, taking certain industries under state control and spending huge sums of money to keep the system afloat. They will try to retract these short-term solutions and investments when the dust settles, and issue a bill to the working class in the form of cuts and austerity, but appetite comes with eating, and the bourgeoisie might not find it so easy to take back tomorrow what they give today.
The bosses, meanwhile, are pressuring the workers to choose between health and employment. In countries like Italy, the bosses’ organisations are pushing back against the government to keep the factories open, by arguing that arms manufacture and textiles are “essential industries”, for example. At the same time, health services everywhere are struggling to cope, with health workers increasingly becoming casualties in the fight against the virus.
Despite a temporary ‘wartime spirit’ of national unity causing people to rally behind their governments for a time, as the body count rises and the rotten nature of the capitalist system is laid bare, millions of people will undergo a political awakening. The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed a new, tumultuous period in world politics.