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 IMF declared at the beginning of April that we have entered into “the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression”. Yesterday, their perspective was confirmed when figures released for the US showed a rate of 4.8 percent decline. Today, the figures are out showing a 3.8 percent contraction in one quarter in the Eurozone. The disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic sharpened an economic crisis that was already in the making.

Watch our interview Josh Holroyd, writer for the British Marxist paper Socialist Appeal, about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Europe. The myth of European Unity has been shattered by this outbreak. The fraternity of EU member states has been replaced with new borders, hoarding of medical resources and mutual recriminations. Caught in the middle are the European workers, who are suffering the consequences of this emergency while their national leaders squabble. Strikes have already erupted in Spain, Italy etc., and the next period will see renewed class struggle sweep the continent.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions tried to prepare for social isolation like they would for a blizzard—stocking up not just on toilet paper and sanitizer, but also on pantry basics like milk, eggs, flour, and beans. Faced with this sudden surge in demand, grocery stores across the country were completely overwhelmed. Not just shelves but entire stores were cleared out, so “one-per-customer” rules were established on select items and notices were posted detailing which were out of stock. As we have written elsewhere, the capitalists can’t efficiently sustain supply

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This article was produced in Spanish some weeks before the coronavirus pandemic, which has obviously affected the situation in Haiti. There are around 70 confirmed cases in the country, and its fragile healthcare system means the virus could have a catastrophic impact if it takes hold. The hated president Jovenel Möise declared a state of emergency and lockdown in March. Protests continued all the way up to the lockdown, and violent clashes between the army and police over pay disrupted carnival in February, showing splits in the repressive state apparatus. Clearly, none of the fundamental issues have changed since this piece was written.

COVID-19 is bringing economic and social dislocation with no parallel since the Second World War. It is a huge burden on working-class people, and a real concern for the strategists of capital.

Kano has become the epicentre of the spread of Covid-19 in northern Nigeria. A large number of so-called “mysterious” deaths was recently reported, but the state government of Kano blatantly claims that the sharp rise in deaths is not due to Covid-19. Here we provide an eyewitness account from an IMT comrade in Kano.

A major political crisis has broken out in Brazil. The Minister of Justice Moro resigned yesterday after president Bolsonaro removed the head of the Federal Police (FP) Valeixo, who had been nominated by Moro. The now former minister of justice has accused Bolsonaro of wanting to appoint a new FP head from whom he could get information in relation to cases involving Bolsonaro's sons, including the assassination of PSOL councillor Marielle Franco.

Every day, people in Egypt hold their breath as they follow the daily reports on the spread of the coronavirus. Currently, there are 3,659 cases of contagion and 276 deaths (as of 22 April). The country is facing widespread uncertainty.

The COVID-19 outbreak that started in Wuhan, China has now affected all the nations of the world. The developed countries, like the USA, Spain, UK and Italy have been hit severely by the spread of the virus. China has been able to control the virus to an extent after three months of lockdown in Wuhan. In India, the first COVID-19 case was detected in January in the Southern state of Kerala.

A Moroccan proverb goes: “the sheep spends his whole life being afraid of the wolf, but in the end, who feasts on the sheep? The shepherd!” Well, some months after China and 10 days after Italy, Moroccan authorities announced the country’s first cases of COVID-19 on 2 March and attributed them to “external factors”. Specifically, a Moroccan returning from Italy, then French tourists. The epidemic has worsened, infecting 2,024 people, of whom 126 have died (as of 15 April, 45 days after the first infections) according to official data.

The following article was written at the end of February and the first days of March, just before the world was hit by the crash of the stock markets on the 9 March and the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This sharp change in the situation obviously also changes the plans of the ruling class. But the underlying economic and political tendencies at play are still the same, although the issue of climate change obviously was pushed to the background. In the case of the Green parties, their character as parties of the ruling class is even-further confirmed in these times of crisis.

Since the beginning of the healthcare crisis, the decrees issued by the Conte government have, one after the other, increased the number of restrictions. This is on top of the ordinances from the different regions. A campaign has developed and has promoted social distancing through calls to stay at home, hashtags and appeals. But all this fervour did not affect the millions of workers forced to continue going to work in non-essential companies and services.

The speech we publish today was given at a meeting of the leadership of the International Marxist Tendency, held yesterday by video link with the participation of comrades from 25 different countries. The IMT is a Marxist revolutionary organisation with sections all over the world. Read more about us and how you can join!