Europe

The coronavirus crisis in Italy has brought out the real nature of the capitalist system that is now evident to millions of working people. Profit is being placed before lives, but the working class is reacting with militant strike action. What lessons can be drawn from this experience for the workers of other countries? Fred Weston explains.

The Spanish government has proven itself powerless to deal with the spread of the coronavirus. It urges the population to “prepare for hard times”, a forecast which data from the Ministry of Health confirms. On the other hand, the right wing lacks alternatives and simply engages in demagoguery. In fact, their austerity and privatising policies under Rajoy have, for decades, largely been responsible for the pitiful state of public health in the Community of Madrid, as well as in other regions.

Filling the vacuum created by the Tory government’s ineptitude, local community groups have sprung into life across Britain, providing essential support to the most vulnerable. These could become a powerful tool in the fight against austerity.

Watch our second livestream with Claudio Bellotti, editor of the Italian Marxist newspaper Rivoluzione, right here on marxist.com! We will discuss the ongoing political crisis and strike wave in Italy, where the working-class are showing the world how to fight the bosses’ attempts to make them shoulder the burden of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic shifting to Europe, the region now faces its most serious crisis since the Second World War. All of the pillars of so-called European integration are buckling under the pressure.

As of midnight 23 March, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has declared a UK-wide lockdown. All non-essential businesses are being closed to contain the coronavirus outbreak. It is clear that this is too little too late from a big business government that places profits ahead of human lives.

While the Italian government has closed non-essential factories, production continues unabated in Germany, irrespective of the dangers to workers’ health.

Faced with strike action by the working class and pressure from the bosses, the Italian government has flip-flopped on shutting down non-essential production to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Now the workers in Lombardy are preparing a general strike, with other parts of the country set to follow. A stormy new period is being prepared.

Following Labour’s election defeat, a massive battle has opened up to determine the future direction of the party. With the right-wing seeking to regain control, all sorts of ideas are being put forward, sowing confusion on the left. So not to be left out, the so-called left journalist Paul Mason, already discredited amongst a wide layer of activists, offers his contribution in a 21-page pamphlet: “After Corbynism, Where next for Labour?” His answer, unsurprisingly, is a shift to the right!

Strikes have broken out in several Amazon warehouses in France, to demand the closure of the sites and full payment of wages. Gregory Lavainne, activist and delegate from the UNSA trade union on the ORY1 site in Saran (close to Orléans), explains the situation.

The global coronavirus epidemic and the declaration of the state of emergency have caused the most drastic change in the life of the Spanish population since the first days and weeks of the 2008-2009 crisis. Millions of people remain secluded in their homes and it was announced that more than a million will, temporarily or permanently, lose their job. We agree with the need to take bold and vigorous measures against this. But is the plan approved by the government the most effective way to fight the epidemic and ensure the employment and living conditions of working families, or is it just "bread for today"?