The current health crisis and concerns about lockdown measures and vaccination are being discussed all over the media but they cover up another crisis which is just as dangerous and deadly for the working class, that of the capitalist economy.
Exploitation, low wages, ever-increasing workloads are all part of the way capitalism normally functions. But saturated markets and fierce competition have driven the economy into a crisis that has lasted for several decades now.
With one million more people out of work and thrown into poverty over the past year, with 150,000 businesses being shut down for months and whole parts of the economy left devastated, the epidemic has made the crisis worse.
Despite the billions of euros in government subsidies and furlough schemes meant to prevent layoffs, plans to cut jobs have increased. And big corporations that have received public money are the ones cutting the most jobs: Air France, for example, plans to cut 5,400 jobs and Renault 4,600. In the North of France, on top of the closing down of the Bridgestone plant, automotive manufacturer PSA-Stellantis has planned to close down its plant in Douvrin which employs 1,500 people.
The government is making a big fuss over maintaining industrial sovereignty and having products that are “made in France” but hundreds of factories are closing down – including foundries, subcontractors in both the aerospace and automotive industries as well as companies in the food industry like the Unilever Knorr plant in eastern France – and the government isn't doing a thing about it.
Hundreds of thousands of wage earners and independent workers have lost their means of living and many more risk losing it too. Others are now swamped by debt because they have been furloughed and have lost their regular bonuses. And what does the Minister of the Economy have to say? That everything vital has been saved!
To a minister, and to any leader in this society, everything “vital” refers to the profits and fortunes of the capitalist minority! The Arnault, Bettencourt-Meyers and Pinault families are grateful and doing just fine. Their club of 39 billionaires has grown to 42 and when we add up their fortunes the total sum has almost doubled during the crisis this year, reaching 510 billion euros.
Every war has its profiteers and the war against the coronavirus is no exception. Among them, there is of course Google and Amazon, big pharmaceutical companies and supermarket chains. The CEO of Carrefour admitted that last year's earnings were exceptionally high and yet, despite that, the employees have had to go on strike just to get the Covid bonus!
The way in which a minority is getting rich off the health crisis while the workers are the ones making all the sacrifices reveals the true nature of the capitalist economy: it's a system whose sole aim is to make money for a handful of parasites. Not only is it unfair and revolting but it also makes economic crisis inevitable.
All states around the world have launched stimulus plans. For example, in France, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, gave 100 billion euros to big business. And what do we see? A worldwide surge in speculation because capitalists have much more to gain by investing their capital in finance rather than investing it in actual production.
The pandemic has meant death and suffering to us. To capitalists it's a new gold rush as the snapping up of shares in Biotech companies demonstrates. Betting on Moderna whose market value has soared up 500% in one year or on BioNTech, up 200%, or on Novavax, up 1,400%, is a sure-fire way to hit the jackpot... until the next bubble bursts.
The same frantic speculation is also occurring in the “green” sector. Tesla, the company that specializes in making electric cars which sells less than 500,000 vehicles a year, is worth four times more than Volkswagen which sells 9.3 million vehicles a year. That's where the billions of euros of public money and most of the profits sweated out of workers end up!
This irresponsible attitude towards society will remain unchanged so long as a minority is free to do whatever it wants to increase its own private fortunes. No vaccine will immunize us against such madness. It will only stop once the working class becomes fully aware of the necessity to overthrow the power of the bourgeoisie.