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 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!

The Spanish government has decided to continue "non-essential" economic activity as of last week, disregarding the scientific opinion of expert epidemiologists as well as the sentiment of most of the affected workers. The government has thus yielded to employers, condemning thousands of working families to the risk of contagion and losing loved ones.

The Finnish government, led by Social Democrat PM Sanna Marin, faced a challenging spring even before the global crisis caused by the pandemic. Hailed as a left-winger and a radical reformer by liberal outlets and the international media upon taking office, her coalition government includes centre-right parties on the same platform as her predecessor Antti Rinne. She has already withdrawn her earlier stated support for reforms such as a six-hour workday and a four-day work week.

With the whole world’s attention turned towards the coronavirus crisis, the western-backed Saudi war on Yemen has continued unabated. The war machine and arms industry, fueling this savagery, have been deemed to essential to shut down during the pandemic.

The Ecuadorian province of Guayas has become ground zero for the coronavirus in South America, which has intensified in recent weeks. Its capital, the city of Guayaquil, has a disproportionate number of cases with respect to its size. It is home to most of the country's diagnosed cases and deaths. With funeral homes saying they are out of space and coffins, there are corpses in the streets and others in cardboard boxes distributed by the authorities. With the morgues filled beyond capacity, the government has organised refrigerated trucks as makeshift morgues. The responsibility for this disaster lies with the government's neglect and the crisis of capitalism.

The wealthiest man in Egypt has sparked outrage by suggesting that “life must go on” after the coronavirus pandemic: which is to say, business should resume as quickly as possible, whether or not it is safe for workers, in order to keep the profits rolling in. This reveals the naked contempt of the Egyptian bourgeoisie towards ordinary people, whose class anger is bubbling just below the surface.

The breakneck speed of events is evident here in New Zealand. On 1 March we had one confirmed case of COVID-19, a NZ resident returning from Iran. Two weeks later, we had 10. Then over the space of a week, the number of cases soared to more than 100. On the weekend of March 21-22 the government closed the borders to all but returning NZ citizens and residents. Finally, on 25 March the country was put into a complete lockdown. All worksites are now closed except for an approved list that provides essential services, such as food and medicine. Apart from essential workers, no-one can travel more than 2km from their place of residence. People can buy groceries and go for a

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An open split has emerged within the Tories, between those who are desperate for business to return to normal; and those who are terrified of the backlash if private wealth is put above public health. We must fight to put lives before profits. Originally published 7 April.

The first Honduran cases of coronavirus were confirmed in the early hours of Wednesday, 11 March. Just under a month later, infections in the country already number in the hundreds. The coronavirus is spreading so rapidly that the government has adopted "emergency measures" to try and contain the pandemic. However, the state is not prioritising the people’s wellbeing. As a result, the measures taken are insufficient and largely inapplicable to most Hondurans' lives.

Macron’s latest speech has confirmed what we already knew: that his priority is not to save as many human lives as possible, but to safeguard the profits of the capitalists. The measures he announced during his speech on Monday are motivated solely by the defence of the material interests of the ruling class. The MEDEF (the bosses’ organisation) was surely satisfied.