Europe

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.

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.

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 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.

Spanish royal household is entering one of the greatest crises it has had to face since the coronation of Juan Carlos I in November 1975. The findings of the Swiss public prosecutor's office of irregular accounts and trust funds in tax havens, which have transferred more than 100 million dollars in the last decade, in the name of Juan Carlos I and Felipe VI, has sparked popular outrage.

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.

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.

The media, bourgeois and reformist leaders have all been whipping up a “wartime” spirit of national unity against the threat of COVID-19. Recently elected leader of the British Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, has even made overtures about joining a government of national unity with the Conservatives. But the coronavirus pandemic is exposing the class lines in society more than ever. National unity is a reactionary fiction. What is needed is workers’ unity in the face of this crisis, and against the rotten system responsible.

After this article was written, the Procavi has stepped up its anti-trade union harassment. Comrade Nadia Garcia, the SAT shop steward at Procavi, has received a formal complaint from management which threatens her with disciplinary action for the distribution of leaflets as the company alleges this could potentially “spread the coronavirus”!

Since mid-March, the National Education system is supposed to ensure pedagogical continuity for nearly 12 million primary and secondary students. Far from the meticulous preparation praised by Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer, pedagogical continuity has been set up with a mixture of approximation and improvisation. This has plunged students and staff into great confusion, while, at the same time, reinforcing social discrimination.