Whether Trump likes it or not, the new coronavirus is not Chinese. It was born from nature, as an illustration of materialist dialectics (Karl Marx, 1845) and of the laws of biological evolution (Charles Darwin, 1859). He contaminated the human race because of world relations of production based on the private ownership of the means of production and on the quest for profit. As a matter of fact, declining capitalism damages the environment and transforms the relations with the domestic species and with the wildlife to an unprecedented extent. It makes easier the strain mutations of bacteria that resist antibiotic drugs and the appearance of new viruses that hurt humans, like the Covid-19, ebola, the SARS-Cov, the hepatitis E, the Nipah… (see David Quammen, Spillover, Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, 2012; Rob Wallace, Big Farms Make Big Flu, 2016…).
In March, the coronavirus epidemic precipitated a new world capitalist crisis that put an end to a phase of capital accumulation (2009-2020). The slowdown in the world economic growth and the decline in the international trade of goods as soon as late 2019 had announced the recession. It started as a financial crisis; it has continued with a price decline in oil and then with a collapse in the industry output and in the services producing commodities. The economic crisis would have inevitably occurred in 2020, but it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The world GDP is collapsing.
The ruling class is failing to prepare society to weather-related and health catastrophes. When its State is forced to face it, it reveals itself barely competent and he keeps acting against the majority of the population.
At one end of the world imperialist system, the dominated countries barely have any health public system. Only the bourgeoisie and the upper layers of the petite bourgeoisie have access to quality care. Yet, on the other end, the imperialist countries (China, Italy, Spain, France, Britain, US…) had not prepared supplies of masks and respirators, except Korea, that suffered particularly from epidemics of SRAS in 2003 and from MERS in 2015. The public health systems have been deliberately strangulated and weakened during the previous decades, either because of the reactionary counterattack against the social gains, or because of the restoration of capitalism (China, Russia…). The governments – and not only Johnson, Trump or Bolsonaro – did not even take the opportunity of the time lag between the start of the pandemic in China and the spillover to their own population to prepare the health shock, to build up stocks of equipment and to switch industrial production for this purpose.
Therefore, the populations paid the short-sightedness of the bourgeois States and the ad hocery of the government with thousands of their lives. For lack of appropriate health resources (respirators), of detection facilities (tests) and of prevention commodities (hydro-alcoholic lotions, coats, masks), the States resorted to the most binding and the authoritative measure, the most damaging to social life, the most unequal between social classes: the general home confinement of the population.
On the one hand, a part of the proletariat was forced to work anyway, as an exemption to the confinement (workers in health, transport, garbage collection, food retail), sometimes without any equipment, especially in the beginning of the epidemic. On the other hand, most of the workers in the informal sector in the ruled countries cannot stop working without facing the risk of starving. There is no equality among those who are confined. Some housings are safe, spacious and connected; others are uncomfortable, overcrowded and even unhealthy. In the refugee camps, in the slums, in the senior homes, in the prisons… social distancing is not really an option.
The combination of the crisis of capitalism with the pandemic leads millions of self-employed workers to insolvency and millions of wage earners to unemployment. Meanwhile, every State (parliament, government, central bank) pours money to its capitalist groups to aid them in surviving the crisis and in competing the others for the recovery: 8 000 billion dollars on the whole world on April 9th according to the IMF, including 3 000 billion dollars in the US, 1 100 billion euros in Germany, the equivalent to 150 billion dollars in China, to 475 billion euros in Britain… That goes with an upsurge in protectionism, and even with reactionary claims of autarky (an old fascist myth, sometimes presented as an “ecological transition”).
In countries most hit by the coronavirus epidemic, everybody could measure how superfluous are capitalists (bosses of SME, managers of great groups, shareholders …), and how essential are some self-employed workers (home helpers for elderly people …), and foremost numerous wage workers (caregivers, electricians, postmen, public transport drivers, lorry drivers …), in particular the least esteemed and the least paid ones (garbage collectors, cashiers, service agents in hospitals …). As in each catastrophe, a part of population manifested its solidarity and altruism, either by devoting themselves to essential work, or gratuitously by a voluntary aid to hospitals, to neighbours, to elderly people, etc., which sketches the future communist society.
At the opposite, the defence by each State of the private property of the means of production and the rivalry between them hindered international cooperation, the coordination and rational distribution of care, of equipment, of research products, of the search for treatments and means of prevention (tests, vaccines …). For each bourgeois State, the sanitary and economic crisis is the occasion to try to reinforce nationalism, to restrict freedoms, to challenge the right to work, to bestow more powers to the police and the army. Numerous political leaders dared to designate as responsible of the epidemic, the WHO, another country, migrants. Some made use of it to discharge their parliament (Hungary). Several governments succeeded in causing to forget their criminal policies: endangering migrants at the American border or at those of the European Union, war crimes in Syria, antimuslim pogroms in India and Burma, colonisation of the West Bank, etc.
Nevertheless, most workers’ organisations, trade unions and parties, accept to divide the world working class and to submit to their own bourgeoisie, by accepting the national union around the bourgeois State and the government at the service of capitalists.
Humanity is confronted to the risks run by maintaining capitalism, a mode of production that has ended its progressive role. If capitalism is maintained, the State will make the producers bear the reimbursement of public debt, capitalists will hire again while lowering wages and/or raising the work time. One must prevent the recovery to be brought, as in 2009-2010, on the back of workers.
The great problems of economy, of environment, of health are not national and cannot be solved within the limits of a State. To put an end to wars and to economic crises, to limit epidemics, one must put an end to capitalism and collectivise the economy. This goes through the construction of a revolutionary workers’ international and a revolutionary workers’ party in each State, the self-organisation of masses, the struggle for the break of mass workers’ organisations with the bourgeoisie that leads humanity into barbarism.
Free healthcare! Masks and tests for all, ventilators in sufficient quantity! Requisitioning without compensation of private clinics, of pharmaceutical groups, of enterprises that can produce masks, blouses, ventilators, tests, antiviral drugs …! Workers’ control over those productions! Cancellation of all patents on medical equipment and antiviral treatments!
Immediate satisfaction of the demands of healthcare staff! Financing of urgent health and social protection measures through a very progressive income tax, by ending subventions to capital, military expenses, subventions to religions!
Prohibition of any laying off, uphold all jobs! Leave paid by the State for those who must look after their children!
No expulsion from housings, requisitioning of hotels and unoccupied housings (for the mildly diseased, the homeless, battered women, families living in overcrowded or ramshackle housings …), suspension of rents for personal housings, of payments to banks of mortgages and consumer credits, guarantee of sufficient food, water, energy and communication for the whole population!
Immediate legalisation of all migrants, forces of repression and army out of towns, self-organisation of workers and neighbours to control the respect of necessary measures to stop the pandemic!
Coordination of the production of medical equipment, and international distribution of it to the rhythm of the progression of the epidemic! International collaboration for the distribution of means and research for vaccines, antiviral treatments, new antibiotics!
Workers’ control on the activity of essential enterprises and services and on the closing of non-essential ones! Expropriation of capitalist groups! End of military interventions and closing of foreign bases! Stop deforestation, the destruction of mangroves or coral reefs, encouragement to food crops, limitation of industrial fishing and intensive farming!
Workers’ government based on workers’ councils, destruction of the bourgeois State and dissolution of bodies of repression! Production plan decided by the population to satisfy social needs while sparing environment and the future of humanity! World Socialist Federation!