By Barry Weisleder
World War 1 spawned the Russian Revolution, the Winnipeg General Strike, and spurred union recognition. Following World War 2, out of the debris of fascism and holocaust, the industrial unions, the labour-based NDP, and the welfare state emerged. What will be the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic? Qualitatively enhanced class consciousness and greater social responsibility, or regression to capitalist austerity?
Sombre facts define the dawn of a new era. The current plague, the fourth in less than two decades (SARS in 2003, H1N1 in 2009, MERS in 2011, Ebola in 2014-16), won’t be the last. It plunged the world into a Great Depression. Stock markets tanked. Unemployment skyrocketed. As of April 18, six million Canadians applied for emergency federal aid. It’s unprecedented.
The reflex of the vast majority of people is to seek remedial action from….who? Giant corporations? Big banks? The Business Council of Canada? No. They expect the government to act, to cushion the blow, to spend massively so that lives may be saved.
Continue reading Towards a Transitional Programme for the Working Class in COVID-19 Times
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Thursday June 25 7 p.m. eastern time: The Authoritarian State bolstered by COVID-19. Host: Elizabeth Byce. Speakers: John Clarke, co-founder of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, and John Wunderlich, Board Member MyData.org
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by Daniel Tarade
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, socialists insist that “Capitalism is the Virus!” Such a phrase is not a casual flip of the script or a ‘what-about-ism’. Popular discourse surrounding virology (and epidemiology) simply accounts for capitalist rhetoric. We speak of evolution— whether it be natural selection or survival of the fittest. Neo-liberals apply these concepts to viruses, to humans, to businesses, to ideas, and to our capitalist economy. By picking at these threads, the slogan — capitalism is the virus — becomes more analytical. Simultaneously, we critique capitalism by highlighting how the material conditions it fosters prompt pandemics, how capitalism is self-defeating, and how the solution is socialism.
Throughout history, viruses and bacteria — tuberculosis, pneumonia, small pox, polio, measles, influenza, cholera, etc. — killed more humans than anything else. It is only recently, in the last fifty to one-hundred years, that diseases of old age, like cancer and heart disease, killed more people than infectious diseases, at least in the so-called Western World. At the same time, life expectancy has soared from around 50 years to 80 years of age in countries like Canada. This dramatic shift is commonly attributed to scientific and technological advances, like the discovery of antibiotics, which entered clinical practice in 1942, and widespread vaccination programs that became common around the same time. By extension, these advances are credited to capitalism, the “free market of ideas,” and competition between corporations for profit. Although a tempting hypothesis, this relationship is not borne out in the data.
Continue reading The Virology of Capitalism