R. Beiterin, April 2020
A new crisis of capitalism has wreaked havoc upon the working class. The COVID-19 pandemic was the match that set alight the oil drenched room of capitalist decay. Italy has already revealed its heinous incapacity to deal with the crisis, with elderly reportedly being left to die. The virus is currently most widespread in the United States where prisons, disproportionately dominated by the lower classes and especially black people, have already become a hotspot for the disease. With mass graves being dug just to keep up with the deaths occurring, it is certain that there is no capitalist solution to this untold suffering. And throughout America, black workers are in the large majority of those affected and killed by the coronavirus. It is clear that the working class and the poorest are those who will suffer the most under this bourgeois order which completely lacks any humanity.
Meanwhile, in China where the outbreak first occurred, the virus has been almost completely contained thanks to China’s superior central planning and in spite of the bureaucratic setbacks – which all in all amounts to crimes – that occurred thanks to the Communist Party of China. Even the World Health Organisation – a mouth piece for a den of imperialist thieves known as the United Nations – admits this, stating that for China’s actions against COVID-19 “the world is in your debt”. While the outbreak is effectively contained in China, the capitalist world has politicians openly pining for workers to return en masse to get sick and die “for the good of the economy”, or rather their blood stained profits. We must reject their fever dreams of a “revitalised economy” and fight to destroy this sick capitalist system.
In Australia, while the virus has not yet been widely spread, the effects on the workers can already be felt. Millions of workers have lost their jobs or most of their hours, leaving them in a completely hopeless situation of being unable to afford prolonged self-isolation. The “compensation” for this is wholly inadequate even with the increase of Centrelink allowance and has excluded huge portions of those fired, including immigrant workers. The increase of Centrelink payments was a simple admission that the regular amounts given are not even close to sustain a livelihood for anyone, and an implicit statement that they are not meant for that purpose at all, but rather for scaring any worker who has lost their job to find a new job soon.
The capitalist state has already taken advantage of the crisis, fining pro-refugee protesters driving for “non-essential” reasons. Their message is clear – workers, don’t fight back! It is only a matter of time when workers will be unable to afford rent and other necessities any longer, and if people march on the streets in protest of this the government is already preparing to dismantle and destroy such rallies for “public safety”. For Asian workers the fears extend beyond that. Bigots have once again been energised in a new wave of yellow peril, engaging in racist attacks on Asians across the world. The “Chinese disease” has become a common trope, and an easy excuse to attack China at large, and Chinese and Asian people in general.
As banks and businesses are being bailed out, hospitals are often being snubbed on supplies, leaving many health care workers at risk to get infected. Millions upon millions have lost their livelihoods and are now being left to be destroyed by untold death, pain, homelessness and hunger. Only workers struggle can fight for our interests, we must demand that:
- There should be a ban on all cuts in wages and layoffs, workers should not take a pay cut just to self-isolate!
- A guarantee of a basic income, enough to cover their wellbeing, for all the unemployed, casual, “gig economy” workers and anyone else who is not getting paid to ensure that they can afford self-isolation. The current payments are inadequate, it should be more and cover everyone not just workers who fit the governments’ narrow requirements. Such a system can be afforded by the confiscation of all the revenue of banks and major capitalist industries.
- Immediate investment of the money expropriated to fund the public healthcare system and for vaccine research.
- Cancel rent, water, electricity, gas and internet bills. These services should be provided for free so that all workers can have guaranteed access. To ensure this companies for these industries must be expropriated by workers, without compensation to make sure that such services can be provided for free.
- The complete expropriation of all private hospitals. They must be transformed into public hospitals without any discrimination or fees. Any workers who are able and wanting to should be guaranteed a job. This must be with sliding hours – that is, the division of all social necessary work among those available for work – ending unemployment; as well as sliding wages so that the wage raises are directly indexed to the rise in the cost of living.
- Conversion of non-essential factories for the good of making ventilators, masks and other medical supplies/equipment. For this to be done, workers must take the production into their own hands, via expropriation, through worker run committees to decide if and how to convert factories with the appropriate safety measures as well as shutting down workplaces if needed (with no loss in pay).
- Workers defence guards must be formed to defend Asians from racist attacks and provocations. The police are for defending capitalist rule – not defending workers.
Capitalism demands our blood for their profits. As the stock market once again plunges into oblivion, capitalists are demanding “productivity to return” at the risk of our lives. This system will not go away naturally. It must be overthrown and smashed. Capitalists will fight till their last breath to maintain such horrid “order”, we must stand up against this and form a workers’ party to fight for our interests and destroy capitalism. While the virus will eventually dissipate, the suffering of capitalism will keep on going until this task is done. There is only one way out of capitalist decay, socialism or barbarism!