Against the virus of profit, there’s only one remedy: our collective struggles!

Lutte Ouvrière workplace newsletter
December 21, 2020

The number of contaminations is picking up in France and throughout Europe. A new and possibly more contagious variant of Covid-19 has been discovered in Britain. A third wave in January seems more and more likely. In spite of the vaccination campaign that is about to be launched, the clouds are gathering over 2021!

In most developed countries the fight against the epidemic has so far been both contradictory and ineffective because it’s carried out according to the interests of the capitalist class.

In the name of health protection, Prime Minister Castex has instructed us on how to spend the end-of-year celebrations with a surreal list of dos and don’ts. But he’s not imposing anything on the big bosses even though they concentrate hundreds if not thousands of workers in their factories, department stores, slaughterhouses, warehouses, etc.

When it comes to capitalist exploitation, there’s no curfew and virtually anything goes: overtime, working nights and Saturdays—all that is fine. And as far as health guidelines and protective measures are concerned, well if physical distancing or disinfection slow down production, no problem, they’re simply suppressed!

Because the government won’t allow reducing profits to fight the pandemic, it’s allowing the virus to circulate in workplaces. But to keep it in check as much as it can, the government is hunting down Covid-19 in every corner of our private lives and sacrificing small businesses and the cultural sector.

The government is asking for solidarity and a collective effort. But, as always in this capitalist society, efforts and sacrifices are required from the working classes. In the meantime, for the capitalist minority, it’s business as usual–and even an increase in profits!

Since the start of the epidemic, rich and poor haven’t been affected in the same way. In workplaces, it’s the workers, not the shareholders, who run the risk of falling ill; business owners can stay safe in their homes for as long as they want! And on top of Covid-19, the workers have to endure the class struggle led by the bosses.

The capitalists’ greed has led to deteriorated living conditions for millions of women and men, to the sharp rise of unemployment, to reduced wages in the name of short-time work. Those ills were not produced by the virus but by the bourgeoisie’s thirst for profit and its parasitism.

Hundreds of thousands of workers will spend the Christmas break worrying about tomorrow because they’ve lost their jobs or fear being laid off. Millions more are drowning in debt and can only fill their fridge thanks to charities. Why? Because shareholders demand that their dividends be guaranteed!

When furniture brand Alinéa cuts half of its 2,000 jobs, the only beneficiaries are its shareholders, including the Mulliez family, France's sixth largest fortune. Danone, which earned more than a billion euros in the first semester, is cutting 2,000 jobs, here again to make the shareholders happy. The same can be said of Auchan, Bridgestone, Elior, General Electric…

Big business is helped in a thousand ways by the government, for example through guaranteed loans, i.e. money for nothing. And even that isn’t enough! To increase the profitability of its capital, the bourgeoisie keeps increasing the pressure over both permanent and temporary staff, and over subcontractors too. Yes, for capitalists, it’s Christmas before Christmas!

This is obvious from how the Wall Street stock exchange has broken records in recent weeks, and the stock exchange in Paris has experienced a quick rise. In 2020, the shareholders of the CAC40 – France’s forty biggest companies – are to receive 54 billion euros in dividends, in the very middle of the crisis. And how much did Black Friday bring to large retail chains and to Amazon? How much do the millions of tests bring to laboratories and multinational pharmaceutical companies? How much will they reap for the vaccines?

Crisis or no crisis, champagne and billions flow for the bourgeoisie. For those with capital, crises are just another way of making money. Workers must mobilize to grab that money and use it for jobs, wages, pensions, education, health, public transport–in other words, for society!

It will take months for the Covid-19 vaccination to take effect. But against the virus of capitalist greed, there’ll be no vaccine or treatment. Only the ability of workers to defend themselves will make it possible to resist the multinationals, to fight back the exploiters and job cutters. Only our collective struggles can prevent those sharks from harming the whole of society.