From Corona to Crisis, Capitalism is the Plague of Humanity

A rapid overview of press releases from the internationalist milieus

After some hesitation, publications of the communist left and other internationalist groups were quick to publish about the questions that the ‘Corona-virus’-crisis poses to the working class and humanity, now that our exploiters and oppressors urge for national solidarity in the face of what in fact already is a pandemic.

News & Letters probably was the first, with Wuhan and the specter of pandemic (January 28, 2020):

“Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was first quarantined. With almost the entire province of Hubei now under quarantine, over 41 million people, this represents the biggest medical lockdown in history. (…) ‘Authorities’ may say don’t panic. They are behind history’s curve. We have learned from AIDS and other crises to face this kind of situation with resolution and clarity, to take measures in our own defense, and to demand absolute transparency and accountability from authorities. (…)

It is impossible to separate these health issues from what Karl Marx called humanity’s metabolism with nature, which formed the basis of his critique of capitalism. (…)

The refugee camps and concentration camps throughout East and South Asia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, already lacking in health care, could become death camps. The human suffering in Syria’s Idlib, where the Bashar al-Assad regime and Russia have targeted hospitals and healthcare workers for death, is already beyond imagining. How could the children and elderly in tents, mud and cold survive a pandemic? (…)

Xi Jinping admits that the corona-virus outbreak is a crisis. For him, it is a crisis of his government and his power. For the rest of us, it is a crisis of the rulers’ class oppression, racist inhumanity, and religious bigotry. It is a crisis of the wrong turn history has taken.”


Graph: Countries with the most hospital beds per inhabitant (per 1,000; 2015)

In Spartacus 1918 G. Bad raises “the issue of ‘safe beds’. At this level, France is notoriously handicapped in Western countries. According to the table above, Japan is in the lead and France is behind Russia, Poland and Belgium. But it does not lack financing its military-industrial complex, financed by our taxes. Officially, 3,000 billion Euros will be injected until 2025 to ‘modernize the armies’. (Coronavirus et désert médical, February 3, 2020).

In World Revolution the ICC’s thesis of decomposition of capitalism is brought forward as cause of Corona: “The emergence of this new virus and the reaction of the bourgeoisie shows how the development of the productive forces has come up against the death and destruction caused by capitalism. So while China has become the world’s second economic power it has been laid low by a viral epidemic, and while medical science forges ahead capitalism cannot protect its population from disease, any more than it can from economic crisis or war or pollution.” (Alex, Covid-19 More evidence that capitalism has become a danger to humanity, February 17, 2020)

Battaglia Comunista in Initial Thoughts on Coronavirus and its Fallout (March 9, 2020) points out that Corona is used as an excuse for the capitalist crisis, for repression and ideological campaigns: “Though a long way from being the real reason for the global crisis, this epidemic could dramatically worsen it (…) Corona-virus could be the final drop which causes the capitalist cup to overflow. (…) In China, as in Italy, or wherever the virus is spreading, this emergency represents a test for the State’s ability to intervene. Far from being a static factor, the power of the State, its ability to control and react to social phenomena is the product of complex human and historical dynamics. (…) the government [of Italy] has decided to ban the strikes of some sectors, scheduled for some time this month, including that of “Non una di meno” (Not one less) on 9 March, by pulling old anti-strike legislation out of the filing cabinet.”

The ICP (Communist Program) underlines: “… the bourgeoisie’s interests don’t lie solely in the business and profits it makes with every tragedy, every catastrophe; they also lie in the attitude the proletariat adopts in the face of the problems generated by such catastrophes. It is in the bourgeoisie’s interest that the proletariat not only abide by the requirements of the capitalist class every day of its life; but that it also be convinced that there is no alternative to bourgeois rule. And, to that end, the ruling class uses each and every mean that proves effective: from traditional reformists to scientists paid to spread, at the same time, fear and an unshakable belief in the almighty efficiency of bourgeois science; from authoritarianism, with all its police and military forces, to religions inviting people to pray to a god who, after having sent ills to Earth, would then make them go away…” (Coronavirus: unable to control the outbreak, the bourgeoisie uses it to tighten its social and political control, February 26, 2020)

And in an article on International Women’s Day in times of corona-virus (March 5, 2020): “As capital goes to war in various forms, in the economic, political and military spheres, and as inter-bourgeois and inter-imperialist contrasts tend to become more and more acute, especially in a period when the recession economic looming on the horizon, raising the alarm among governments, the bourgeoisies of all countries, including the most “democratic”, take the opportunity to militarize society. And the “war against the corona-virus” — erected as a sneaky enemy of “public health”, invisible, aggressive, capable of infecting without leaving symptoms and capable of spreading using modern means of transport and the gigantic development of trade in the world — appears as a golden opportunity to impose on the majority of the population, therefore on the proletariat and the oppressed strata, a state of emergency resulting in tighter social control.”

The Communia Blog (Emancipación) also shows the use of Corona for hiding the capitalist causes of the crisis and for war preparations: “The reality: the whole of Europe, and especially Germany, is in an industrial recession that is pushing towards a general recession and is hampering the ability to introduce technical innovations in traditional industries such as machine tools or the automobile… since before the first outbreak of the epidemic. The epidemic in China is adding to the risks of Germany’s own difficulties and trade war. The horizon of a re-nationalization of production chains is becoming increasingly clear. And the imposition of facts is beginning to dress up shamelessly as virtue in public debate.” (What the coronavirus exposed, February 28, 2020)

At Libcom a contribution from New Zealand tries to differentiate between China, the USA and other countries: “The taking of (…) precautionary measures has helped to slow the rate of infections in some countries. There has been one exception to this: the United States. Rather than addressing the virus Trump and other members of his administration have been spreading misinformation. (…) The taking of such precautionary measures has helped to slow the rate of infections in some countries.

The Chinese government’s response to the corona-virus went to the other extreme. The full power of the authoritarian regime was deployed to deal with the corona-virus epidemic. (…) From my perspective, the responses of both the American and Chinese governments have been pretty much the same: pretend that the problem isn’t so bad and that there are systems in place to deal with it, use the epidemic to stomp on basic human rights such as being detained without trial and freedom of movement and accuse anyone trying to highlight the seriousness of the epidemic of being part of a conspiracy or plotting to bring down the government.” (An Epidemic of Stupidity & Authoritarianism, March 10, 2020)

Finally, an extensive study (in more than 10,000 words) by Chuǎng should be mentioned: Social contagion. Microbiological Class War in China (February 26, 2020).

Editorial contribution, March 10, 2020

Last updated: March 11, 2020