Volume 2, No. 3, March 2020
Editor: Rashed Rahman
The headline of the business daily Les Echos expresses alarm at the fall of the stock markets and the general crisis of the production system. It is not the Coronavirus that is provoking the economic crisis, but it is a revealing and accelerating factor.
The fragility of the world capitalist system in crisis is brutally expressed. The parasitic nature of the economy, what is called “financialisation”, is subject to the slightest risk in the world situation. Even before the declaration of the pandemic, the world economy was already on the verge of breaking apart, with the oil crisis and the fall in the price of a barrel of crude oil, as well as Trump’s trade war unleashed against China and the European Union. For several months now, the arrival of a new financial crisis, deeper than in 2008, has been predicted. The pandemic is accelerating this crisis as a whole.
The reaction from the governments of the great imperialist powers is telling: Trump is disbursing several tens of billions of dollars to safeguard American businesses. The FED, the US Central Bank, has disbursed $ 1.5 trillion for businesses (the profits of these businesses last amounted to $ two trillion last year). The European Union governments, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy, are doing the same. On the other hand, the workers are subjected to new restrictive measures, unemployment or worse, dismissals, with the result that their subsistence income is in any case reduced.
This crisis has revealed all the reactionary and rotten features of the world capitalist system. One only has to look at how the destruction of the health systems in Europe (closing of beds, job cuts) has brought hospitals today to the brink of explosion, with the impossibility of treating all the sick.
In the United States, where there is no public health system, a great many Americans find themselves deprived of any access to healthcare, and this in the world’s foremost imperialist power.
And what can be said of countries, such as in Africa, which, as a result of looting by the great imperialist powers, find themselves deprived of real health systems, unable to treat their populations?
In all countries, in the name of the pandemic, the governments are calling for “sacred union”. Using the pandemic, they tell the workers and their organisations that this is no longer the moment to make demands, while billions are being handed over to the bosses. All organisations are being called upon to close ranks around the government, that is, the representatives of the capitalists. In Algeria, the Prime Minister, in the name of the pandemic, is calling for the demonstrations to stop and, after refusing to close the mosques, he finally had to decide to close them because of the protests. In Spain, demonstrations are banned, but churches can stay open.
The pandemic is a serious thing that must be fought to preserve humanity, but the governments, which seek to preserve the capitalist system, are incapable of ensuring the protection of humanity.
This capitalist system, as demonstrated by the example of public health – but this is just one example – is incapable of ensuring the defence and survival of humanity. Its policy of pillaging and destroying rights causes humanitarian disasters. Malaria, a disease that we know how to treat, caused 435,000 deaths in 2018 (80 percent of the cases in sub-Saharan Africa) due to a lack of financial and health resources to treat these patients.
Capital means pillage and wars. In Syria, out of a population of 20 million inhabitants, there have been 380,000 deaths and six million refugees since the triggering of the war by the imperialist powers.
As the great German revolutionary, Rosa Luxembourg, said, the alternative is indeed: “Socialism or barbarism”.
Courtesy Informations ouvrières, no. 496, March 19-25, 2020, p. 10