Friday, May 8, 2020

Don't let the capitalists fool you...we have the social wealth to properly fight the pandemic

As socialists and leftists we need to differentiate between two things: the needs of the capitalist economy versus what could be done collectively in countries like Canada and the United States with our social wealth.

It is absolutely true that with the system as designed now people are desperate to get back to work given that they face destitution, homelessness and bankruptcy. It is also true that the capitalists want everything open and want us all back at work tomorrow.

Damn the torpedoes full speed ahead is their mantra and so it would be. They could not care less about the lives of workers and especially about the lives of those workers most likely to die...women, racialized workers, marginalized workers.

That those workers are far more likely to die is a fact. That is already how it is playing out. Calls to rapidly reopen are inherently racist and misogynist, classist and colonialist.

A study in the UK found that "Black people are more than four times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people". We all know that the situation will be even worse in the US.

We, as a society, absolutely have the amassed social wealth to get through a pandemic without throwing workers, women, people of colour and marginalized communities into the death machine we are throwing them into.

We can absolutely afford to lockdown most industries, services, enterprises and to allow shopping for necessities in a disciplined and socialized way. If there is any doubt about this simply reflect on the fact that, after massive infusions of cash into the "free market" by the government, Wall St. had its best month for stocks in decades. 

Instead we have constructed a society based on the needs of profit, individual consumerism, and vast inequality.

Global military expenditure is estimated to have been $1917 billion in 2019, the highest level since 1988. Of this the United States accounted for $732 billion, more than the next ten largest military spenders combined. Just imagine what a fraction of that could do to alleviate the suffering and economic displacement due to Covid-19.

Under a socialized economy with socialized housing, transit, industry, wages, and "wealth", locking down for the interests of workers and public health would have been not simply much easier but would have been done without question and with the needs of the people placed first as they should be economically.

China and Vietnam, as well as Cuba, have provided glimpses of this kind of collectivist action, especially impressive for Cuba given the devastation of the embargo. So have a handful of other capitalist countries.

But it is essential that we never confuse the interests of the capitalist economy with the interests of the workers. They are never the same. There is a reason that big business and capital want you back on the frontline to die for their money.

Never has the case for a socialized, planned economy been more easy to make.

Instead of pandering to bullshit about fake bailouts or to crumbs tossed to workers or to demented narratives about "reopening" even if this will kill millions of working people, let's make that case instead.

Today. Now. Always.


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