Coronavirus? The capitalist virus is even worse!

11 March 2020

Johnson's media performance following his belated Cobra meeting to address the coronavirus Covid-19 crisis, on 9th March, was appalling.  Predictably, he had nothing to say, except pathetic platitudes - like urging us to "look out for one another, behave responsibly and think about others”.  Wow!  We would never have worked that one out ourselves!
    Johnson's two medical advisers did have something to say, however, on his much heralded "Action Plan".  What it comes down to is three things:  avoid calling upon the NHS for as long as possible (since it's most likely to collapse otherwise); try to delay the epidemic until the winter rush on the NHS is over (for the same reason); and, above all, keep everything as close to "business as usual" as possible.

Profits come first

So, the 200,000 visitors to the 4-day Cheltenham horse-racing festival, are to be given a good chance to catch the virus in the packed stands and then to pass it on to the rest of the world!
    But then, posh Boris wouldn't upset his peers in the public school elite and horse-racing industry, by cancelling one of their favourite festivals!  Never mind if, as a result, he is setting an example of totally irresponsible behaviour - once again!
    This government’s main concern is not people's health, but the health of the capitalists' profits.  If "business as usual" must be preserved at all costs, it is not to boost the morale of a population threatened by the coronavirus, nor to contain the epidemic - but to protect the bosses’ system.
    So, supermarkets are now allowed to have their stocks replenished round-the-clock.  This is supposed to help them to avoid having to ration certain products.  But, above all, this will allow the retail giants to make a killing out of the stockpiling that the government is officially "discouraging"!
    For good measure, HMRC has been instructed not to penalise businesses which would be late in paying their taxes and the government will announce a series of measures designed to provide relief to embattled bosses.
    But there's no such leniency for workers.  Johnson has announced that workers forced to stay home would get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from day one (instead of day 4) - but that's as far as it goes.
    As if anyone could survive on SSP's £94.25/wk!  And what about the 6m+ workers who are not entitled to SSP?  Of course, someone like Johnson, who, until recently, used to get paid £5,000 every week by the Daily Telegraph for writing a single article, cannot even conceive that such problems may exist.  Then again, he did suggest that self-quarantined workers could apply for Universal Credit online... and wait for 5 weeks for it!

Capitalism and coronavirus

Of course, by now, the government is faced with an even bigger problem, from its point of view.
    Since the end of February, share prices have fallen on the world's largest stock markets at a rate unseen since the 2008 banking crisis.  As a result, the rich countries' capitalist classes are now demanding that their respective governments should bail them out of the coronavirus crisis.
    So, Trump has promised a series of tax cuts for companies and several central banks have made fresh cash available to banks.  And Johnson is under pressure from the City to follow suit.
    Except, of course, that the coronavirus is not the cause of this financial meltdown.  The financial system was already sick as a dog.  Economists had been warning for a long time that share prices were hugely overinflated.  As recently as last month, the OECD, the rich countries' organisation, published an alarming report saying that world indebtedness was now way beyond what it had been before 2008.
    So, the recent meltdown was a disaster waiting to happen.  It just happens to have been triggered by the coronavirus, but it could have been triggered before, by many other events.
    In other words, the real cause of this meltdown is the sickness of the capitalist system itself, which has become so bad that the capitalists themselves no longer believe in its health.  And since their only objective is to make money, a number of them have responded to the coronavirus crisis by betting that share prices would fall.  And because there was such a large number of these speculators, their combined bets have turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy!
    So, we are warned.  The coronavirus is a threat that can be tackled.  But capitalism is the kind of threat that will only become increasingly dangerous with time.  And it is this threat that the working class will need to tackle, by curing society of the sick greed of its capitalist minority and overthrowing their rotten social order.