NO MATTER how many vaccines are rush-produced by large for-profit corporations with a long record of malpractice, vaccines will not reverse severe economic deteriorations because the economic collapse, nationally and internationally, was not caused by any virus.
The economic depression that is unfolding was a long time in the making and was accelerated and intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic but not the direct result of it. A severe economic collapse was going to take place with or without a virus. If anything, the virus provided convenient cover for what was inevitable.
It is well-known that the unplanned chaotic capitalist economic system habitually goes through violent upheavals, leaving millions perpetually insecure, poor, unemployed, and stressed. This is not news to anyone. Equally disturbing, we are routinely told that the so-called ‘business cycle’ is inevitable and normal — just a natural part of life, as if the economy is beyond human comprehension and conscious control. There is supposedly no alternative to the invisible hand of the so-called ‘free market’ regularly wreaking havoc on us. We are all to feel helpless against forces larger than us. We are to believe that there is no economic science that can ensure stability and prosperity for all. The ‘law of the jungle’ is allegedly the best humanity can muster and no alternative to this inhuman system is to be considered.
Long after vaccines have come and gone the economy will continue to deteriorate because the economy is in the hands of competing owners of capital who treat the socialised economy as theirs to plunder for private gain, no matter the damage to the social and natural environment. The tendency for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer was going on for decades before the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue so long as those who actually produce the wealth in society remain disempowered and marginalised, alienated from and unable to deploy the very wealth they produce for the benefit of society.
Economic crises, recessions, and depressions — including wars — are usually how the obsolete capitalist economic system temporarily ‘resets’ itself before crashing again. During periods of over-production and under-consumption, labour and production are destroyed until a ‘new zero’ can be established. Deleveraging has to take place, sometimes for years, before capitalism can establish a temporary new equilibrium again. Carnage is unavoidable in this historically-exhausted economic system that privileges a tiny ruling elite. The problem is that each crisis, recession, and depression sets the stage for a deeper crisis, recession, and depression the next time. Just look at the number of long-term unemployed, inequality, the labour force participation rates, the number of homeless, the ‘gig economy,’ and debt at all levels. All keep steadily worsening, leaving many anxious about the future. In June 2020, the Congressional Budget Office went so far as to say it would take ten years to return to pre-pandemic economic conditions, which were not that great to begin with. Recall as well that after the 2008 economic collapse most countries ran on gas fumes for years, there was no real and meaningful ‘comeback’ for most countries. International imperialist organisations like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank continually revised not-so-rosy growth predictions downward. The economy has been stagnant and lacklustre for a long time and this is not about to suddenly change in the final and highest stage of capitalism. Without organised working class resistance, more parasitism and decay is in store for the economy. The rich and their representatives have no solutions.
The economy will not serve people and the general interests of society until there is a change in the aim, direction, and control of the economy. It does not matter what plan is put forward by establishment politicians or leaders. So long as maximising profits as fast as possible for a tiny ruling elite and depriving workers of any say in anything remains the norm, problems will keep going from bad to worse. Things will not magically improve on their own or when left in the hands of a few billionaires. There is no scenario in which the economy serves people and society while the actual producers of wealth remain sidelined and removed from the levers of power. Lofty words, phrases, and promises from politicians and leaders are designed to dupe the gullible and prevent people from engaging in action with analysis that favours them. The rich and their representatives do not want people to break free from capital-centred thinking and think and act independently. All thinking and action is to take place from a capital-centred reference point.
The main thing the pandemic revealed very sharply is that the richest and most powerful countries are not set-up to serve the basic needs of the people. In these and other countries where the neoliberal antisocial offensive has been wreaking havoc for decades, COVID-19 left millions sick, dead, unemployed, depressed, dehumanised, and poor while the rich got much richer. Does this make sense to anyone? Would this happen if sovereignty was vested in the people and they decided the affairs of society? ‘Representative democracy’ is increasingly revealing itself to be defunct, corrupted, and ineffective. There is no mechanism for people to effectively direct affairs in their own vision and interests. Existing institutions block people from affirming their rights. The so-called social contract underpinning economic and political arrangements for decades in the United States died long ago, and leaders and politicians have left everyone rudderless and disillusioned.
A main task confronting working people is how to open the path of progress to society under very difficult conditions. Already it can be seen from a variety of events and actions that unfolded in 2020 and early 2021 that people from all walks of life are in motion on several fronts. People are striving to affirm their rights and are gradually developing better actions and better analyses. Many are fed up with an outmoded system that keeps making life more difficult for them. This sentiment can be seen and felt worldwide. One can sense a change in the energy of the world’s people and a more robust pro-social thrust and desire among people. It is critical to nurture this drive so that it is not continually sabotaged by the anti-consciousness and disinformation of the rich and their political and media representatives. The current heroic struggle of farmers in India is a good example of workers defending their rights in the context of defending the rights of all.
Health crises, economic crises, and social crises cannot be resolved so long as society and the economy are dominated by a handful of billionaires. Only when defunct liberal governance arrangements are rejected and social consciousness and the human factor are unleashed can problems be solved effectively by the people themselves who already know what is needed to move society forward.
DissidentVoice.org, January 20. Shawgi Tell is the author of Charter School Report Card.
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