The first (inaugural) issue of Weekly Commentary of Scientific Socialism is right in front of you. It is quite natural that Covid-19-related articles overwhelm its contents. Though it is a weekly commentary on current issues, yet the question of revolutionary direction is not to be lost sight of, which very much runs through every article and can be palpably felt everywhere. Not to mention, our revolutionary goal and objectives as those of the vanguard of the class-conscious proletariat, the vehicle of motion of history in the modern times, are never meant to be concealed. They have been historically too obvious to hide.
In this issue, we are here to take up a campaign, and we treat it as disdainful to conceal, to mercilessly expose what Covid-19 pandemic has not yet exposed or for that matter, what Covid-19 cannot on its own ever expose i.e. the underlying causes of the inability of the capital-governed world that otherwise presides over a vast pool of resources and a long chain of progress made in all walks of human life; ranging from much needed fund to capital stock; ranging from abilities in medical science to the latest development in the field of technology and productive forces that can be commanded to produce any amount of equipment in short time. It is only the ‘animal spirit’ inherently built up and naturally present in the laws of development of capital that has brought a spell of despair among the masses in the times of Corona pandemic. Mankind is possessed with such abilities today as ones that could successfully handle any pandemic and the resulting crisis without much negative repercussions.
However, to believe that people’s sorrows and woes have been the result of Corona would be a grave folly. Oceans of tears have been existing since long under capitalism, particularly since it has been reeling under permanent crisis. It has nothing to do with the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. Pandemic has only aggravated the already existing crisis to the present level of surge. The real cause of today’s unending plight of people and their almost certain ruin and destruction due to impending collapse of world capitalist economy and loss of employment and ruin of sources of livelihood as never seen before in history in the wake of persistent lock downs in the whole world. This is going to be the story for all corners of the world, from limping India to almighty America that needs to be mercilessly exposed. We have tried our level best to do this, though in a little haste and without having luxury to revisit most of the articles, right from the first issue itself. However, it is needless to say that such exposition with applying more rigour will continue.
Just imagine for a moment the vagaries of a capitalist-fascist state like India in the times of Corona pandemic! It gives an image of the things coming its way.
While readying myself to pen these lines, I saw, thousands of migrant workers in Mumbai were hopelessly agitating near Bandra railway station in order to return their homes in UP, Bihar and West Bengal. The capitalist media branded them as having been motivated by Muslims for creating havoc. The workers said they had nothing to eat, also nothing to pay their landlords’ who they said were constantly hunting for rent. On the other hand, in spite of PM’s multiple requests and central government’s direction, the employers threw most of them out of their jobs and also didn’t pay their salaries.
And this is not an isolated incident. No. Not at all. This is the general norm being witnessed during this pandemic since lock down first began on 24th March 2020.
Can anyone imagine a world without workers and toilers? Can anyone imagine any wealth, other than those gifted by Nature, that workers did not create? Can anyone imagine commodities without direct producers’ labor embodied in them? From a tiny needle to a bomber jet, everything is the product of labor. Nevertheless, it is only the workers and toilers who are the worst hit lot of ‘civilized’ modern society. It is they who are so badly treated and let down when ‘modern’ society, largely the creation of their sweat and blood, finds itself in a crisis, be it due to pandemic or pollution, war or recession.
Let us see in brief how the capitalist system treated the workers when the Covid 19 pandemic precipitated. What is the experience of the last thirty days since the proclamation of the first lock down?
The workers, fearing from their own experience of life-long maltreatment by those who are ‘civilized’ and also learning that the PM didn’t announce anything concrete for them, they rightly felt they would die of hunger, lack of shelter and humiliation and hence came out in thousands and lakhs, with their wives and children, from all over India to walk on foot to their homes that were hundreds of kilometers away. It may sound unbelievable, yet it is true. Many died due to hunger, anxiety and exhaustion before they could reach home. The worst part of this story is that they were beaten, harassed and even sprayed chemicals during their long journey by the agency of the state. The complete account of such tales of barbarism of the state as well as the heroic ‘long march’ of the workers is yet to come, yet it is clearly demonstrated what a capitalist system looks like for workers.
On the other hand, there are empty buildings and apartments, unused empty splashing bungalows, ghost towns and cities, empty huge grounds where arrangements could be made for workers to be accommodated like human beings, yet the stranded migrant workers are living, for example, in hell like conditions on the excreta-filled Yamuna banks or in over herded shelter homes mostly without enough food and other unmitigated or unfulfilled bare human necessities. Is it not natural that the workers, who are being forced to live like insects and animals, would miss their families and very much long to anyhow reach them when a possibility happens to arrive before them, even remotely.
Food Corporation of India and State Food Corporations as well as private granaries are more than overfilled with almost 60 million tons of grains over and above the buffer norms, yet the poor are engendered of death or suicides due to acute shortage of food grains and other eatables because they have run short of money. In the end, as in Spanish flu, those who supposedly succumb to Covid 19 will be found to have mostly died of hunger, lack of food and shelter, anxiety, depression and even simple diseases aggravated as deadly ones by the conditions of severe malnutrition.
It is, however, not only the workers who are in pain and distress. All other classes and sections sans the capitalist class and the uppermost sections as well as more well-off sections of middle class are going to suffer extraordinarily as this pandemic holds forth a very different regressive scenario in all respects for future. The loot and plunder of big capitalist class will intensify with the first sight of the collapse of economy. Their iron grip in the name of disciplining the masses to fight Covid 19 has already further tightened in all spheres. The fascists are already making a feast out of it by spreading their fangs and claws in the name of fighting for the sake of safety of the people from Corona. They have successfully pushed their divisive agenda centred around Muslim bashing through these difficult times.
If we talk of the whole globe and Mankind, we have the best of technology ever that has provided us with the amazing level of productivity. We have industries with very high organic structure of capital. Medical science is one of the most developed branches of modern science. Yet we have been ashamedly tamed by a virus; doctors, nurses, researchers, laboratory technicians, other frontline health workers as well as constables who are spending their time day and night with the possibility of contact with the virus are facing serious crunch of appropriate masks, gloves and PPEs. The patients are facing serious lack of beds, testing kits, facing lack of ventilators and above all facing lack of well-equipped and efficient system of hospital services. The gigantic and highly efficient public health systems that once existed in developing countries as well as in developed countries has long been dismantled under the policy of economic liberalization. Privatized corporate health systems having the sole motive of amassing profit had been allowed to grow like mushrooms and completely take over this sector everywhere in the world. In the name helping only the poor, the system of health insurance has been introduced and implemented that benefited the insurance companies the most and not the common masses. Huge corporate hospitals with huge capacity sprang up. They all, in the time of Corona crisis, have kept busy making most out of this pandemic for themselves and in pushing their own interests and agenda. They seldom have a sense or feeling of serving either the country or the countrymen or the humanity and are always up to something that help them extract more and more profit even during this pandemic-hit worldwide crisis. The government, the bourgeois leaders, officials, ministers and the whole cluster of those in power are hands in gloves with them and serving or promoting their interests in and during this pandemic.
Actually, the benefit of the technological and scientific progress in the field of medical science has been allowed to be appropriated at the cost the society by this private health sector. This is true for every country in the whole world. Due to this, Mankind is in grave danger now in spite of plentifulness! Man and society are proving to be resourceless amidst riches. People, the masters of democracies are proving to be powerless before a few handful of those in power promoting the interests of the capitalists. This is because of existence of a social system that allows this.
While, on the other hand, it must be remembered that Corona pandemic can’t be overcome without providing a system for universally free vigorous testing, complete sanitization, successful isolation and quarantining of Covid-19 patients and its potential carriers, minimizing or doing away with the economic inequality and maintain physical distancing even among those who are economically weaker and crippled, setting up proper systems of providing food and above all installing a huge public health care system that may cater to the needs of confronting a pandemic.
On the whole, we need to put a brake on capitalist greed that allows red carpets for viruses to mutate, grow, flourish and spread.
But these things are impossible until the present exploitative social system that gives topmost priority to and based on generation and maximization of profit is replaced with a new social system which will ensure that the social wealth created by socialized labor be brought under the socialized ownership to serve the whole society instead of being privately appropriated.
This entails a revolution against capitalism leading to the establishment of a socialist system, as only such a system can put brake on capitalist greed.
The fact that the countries like Cube that has some even remotely socialist structures in their socio-economic set up and, in some other respect, like China that was once a ‘socialist’ country has done better than others in containing Corona also proves this point. The utter failure of the meccas of world capitalism, be it America or any European country like Britain, Italy or France that have also shown total disregard for humanity while fighting Corona also proves that capitalism has to make way for a more efficient as well as pro-people humane scientific social system. Even this fact that Spain took over all the private hospitals to cope up in containing Covid 19 is also a pointer to the need of overthrowing capitalism. Not only this, even the bourgeois economists and many imperialist-funded institutions have been forced to admit that the economic model they arrived at has too many fault lines and something has to be done about it. This is also indicative of the need of overthrowing the present capitalist system, though, without a concrete alternative in sight, people will have no choice but to make do with it however monstrous and inhuman it may be. Here the question of the revolutionary subjective force, that may rise to occasion and lead in these most difficult conditions as have been created and posed by Covid 19 pandemic, occupies the centre stage for in its absence capitalism will not just melt away and stay as a stinking corpse.
Capitalism is fast acquiring anachronistic characteristic as it has become detrimental not only to the progress but also for the existence of the humanity. The class-conscious proletariat and its vanguard must come out with its own independent clarion call and program of ridding the humanity of capitalism and establishing an exploitation free social system. Otherwise, as many scholars and researchers have already professed, the mankind is not going to be able to overcome any more such pandemic-hit crises in future.
In the last, we call upon all our readers to decide what constitutes the bigger danger, the Corona virus disease or the world capitalist system. If Covid 19 pandemic has to be contained, let us accept that what constitutes the biggest obstacle is but capitalism itself.
Finally, I hope that you (the readers) will appreciate this weekly theoretical and political commentary.
Please do send to us your comments, suggestions and criticism at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Scientific Socialism: PRC’s Theoretical & Political Weekly Commentary on Current Issues (Issue 1/ 15-21 April ’20)