In just over a 100 days, the coronavirus pandemic has spread to all corners of the planet, altering all forms of social relations, leading to the death of hundreds of thousands of people while infecting and confining millions to their homes.
It has impacted the world economy, calling into question the economic and institutional order capitalism has been utilising since the 1980s to secure capital accumulation. Furthermore, it has highlighted the role of neo-liberal aggression in the destruction caused, and has also raised questions about the model of social, economic and political life to be followed as a new world normality.
The International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organisations (CIPOML), defines its position in the face of these developments in the following terms:
Humanity, and as part of this, mainly the working class and the people in general, are affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. It is a social fact as much as a question of health, which has disrupted all kinds of social relationships with unusual speed and geographic breadth.
All the countries and peoples of the planet have been affected in some way and to different degrees. Rarely has so many countries and the peoples have been affected to this extent by any event.
The American John Hopkins University has reported that, as of 20 June of this year, over 460 thousand people have died from this, with nearly 8.7 million cases worldwide. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO), reports that millions of people have been confined to their homes in quarantine; many suffering from hunger and material deprivation, left at the mercy of government assistance, public charity policies, while facing abject poverty in some countries with no access to public support.
Unemployment has increased by 20% worldwide and thereby aggravated this problem, as well as general poverty, which had already reached alarming levels before the onset of the pandemic. The labour power has lost value, precisely because of the growth of unemployment and the constraining of productive activity.
In many countries, even those considered developed, hospitals have been overwhelmed by the demand for urgent care, and funeral homes have not been able to keep up with the demand for services. Mass graves for hundreds of deceased have been dug, reminding the worst moments of wars and catastrophes. Many families have suffered the pain of losing their own, and of not even being able to organize funeral ceremonies to honour their passing.
The state of siege, the curfew, the monitoring of individual privacy by governments through online resources and other forms of control, all of which were always opposed by the peoples, have become normal measures to combat the pandemic.
Fear, helplessness, and uncertainty against the virus, are keeping millions of human beings on their toes, mainly the working masses and peoples in general. The rendering of health service and hospitals as ineffective through neoliberal capitalist policies of privatisation, austerity and cuts are no doubt the reason for these and the destruction caused by the pandemic. It is such that there were not enough hospital beds and facilities, with patients waiting in corridors on stretchers, inadequate protective equipment for health workers, where the aged and the vulnerable were left to die to make space for younger patients. It is a real human tragedy.
In the run up to the pandemic, the capitalists were in a state of offensive against workers and labourers in almost all countries. With health and education services in particular, public services were cut to their bare bones, with health services completely paralysed. With predominantly the US and China, the contradictions between capitalist imperialist countries are intensifying more, with competition aggravating. Erupting at a time when the international capitalist economy was stagnating, the world faced the pandemic under these chaotic conditions. The world bourgeoisie could not form a joint approach and did not conduct a unified struggle against the pandemic. As was the case for the members of EU, which is allegedly unified, each country was left to its own devices.
This was demonstrated in the conduct of international institutions such as the WHO, UNESCO itself, as well as UN agencies. For example, Trump accused WHO of collaborating with China and threatens to withdraw the US from it. Added to this is the disjointed effort of vaccine research, currently progressing independently from each other, resulting in waste of resources and failure to utilise scientific findings. There is no doubt now that any vaccine to be discovered will be used first and foremost for richer countries and classes. Under such conditions, it could not have been expected for institutions of the neoliberal world order to prevent the pandemic and combat it effectively and this was indeed the case. As such, even a general orientation to which national governments adhere could not be defined. They have been complicit by commission or omission of the pharmaceutical multinationals, so they are left without authority before a large part of the conscious people, and of the progressive scientific and health community.
++The Neoliberal Capitalist Order has No Future!
Despite the rigour and systematicity necessitated by experience of previous viruses, scientific research, which needs to be conducted on a continuous basis, has been left to the will of capital, of companies that, incidentally, are in the business of health, and, for which, the viruses themselves are actually opportunities to maintain this business and accumulate more capital.
The states have used public money to build infrastructure directly for private companies; or they were privatised under the pretext of management through “patrons” comprising puppets of the ruling classes.
Public budgets for research were frozen; or significantly reduced, to such a point that in most countries, there are no resources for vital social and economic development, the prevention and effective fight against the viruses, diseases and bacteria affecting humans and the nature. Budgets have also been restricted for public universities, rendering them dysfunctional through such an approach to science.
Furthermore, as the pandemic arrived when most of health services, especially those clinical and care services had been privatised, access to these for large popular majorities was not possible; while public hospitals which have managed to “survive” privatisations, operated with enormous deficiencies and could barely attend to the health conditions of small groups of the people.
The pandemic is a social as well as a health event. It affects social relations, economic production and all social and cultural activity.
The pandemic has contributed to the slowdown of the world capitalist economy, which was in fact already stagnating and was in the process of accumulating factors for a crisis before its onset, while it is currently aggravating the economic crisis which began during it. Combining with the destruction of the environment caused by the capitalist system, the crisis is destroying the productive forces and nature as pointed out by Karl Marx in his Capital.
The process of the pandemic highlights the need for a new social and political order. It has rendered this need even more urgent, with larger sections of the working masses becoming aware of the consequences of capitalism and beginning to question its existence.
Various ideologues of the same capitalist system are united in pointing out that the post-COVID 19 normality should be different from the previous one.
In this respect, a theoretical and political debate arises. Either, the neoliberal modality of capitalist exploitation continues, with market dominance as the main authorising agent of economic and social activity, and financial capital as the main beneficiary, for which the possibility of resorting to forms of fascist political dominance cannot be ruled out.
Or the capital resorts to neo-Keynesian policies, with an important role for the state in investment and in the regulation of economic activity, accompanied by policies of granting crumbs for the working class and the people in general.
A third possibility is the prospect for a revolutionary solution to grow.
The CIPOML is committed to this possibility.
The working classes and labouring peoples of the world,
Let us not leave the economic, social, political and cultural sphere to the bourgeoisie so that this possibility can be realised. As we have seen, the bourgeoisie was helpless against the pandemic. It appealed to masses to stay at home but this was possible for only those who did not have to work. Our human dignity was violated. In our hundreds of thousands, with primarily healthcare workers, we were forced to work without protection in hospitals, factories, work places and in streets. Social distancing was not relevant for most of us. This period has also been one in which we saw the value given to us and to our living and working conditions. Now, in the name of a “new normality,” we are coerced to work to ensure the survival of the capitalist system.
We have seen once again that capitalists have nothing to offer us. In many countries, they did not even hand out face masks. Economic support packages against the pandemic comprised exclusively support for the capitalists, which amounted to billions while small enterprises received very little and we, the working masses, were forced to work for profit, and all we received was false promises. Hospitals did not even serve us and we could not even complete tests. Hospitals themselves were already rendered ineffectual.
In each country there will be specific demands on which our unity and struggle will rise. Despite this, some demands on which we could meet and unite, notwithstanding understandable amendments specific to different countries, are as follows:
- We should not accept the policies imposed on us and should refuse to become the national slaves of capitalists.
- Working conditions in all work places should be safeguarded against the pandemic.
- Health cannot be subject to commerce or profit. The privatisation of health services should come to an end, people’s access to quality and free health services should be secured.
- All health institutions and hospitals should be brought under public control; the state of the health system is unacceptable as it is.
- Necessary financial support should be provided to families of workers left jobless who has inadequate or no income to address their essentials. Rent payments, electricity, water, gas bills should be undertaken by the state. The credits debts of workers in this situation and of the small producers and business owners should be written off.
- And despite being called the “new normality”, it is less than clear that the pandemic is over or that it will not cause a second wave. We have to struggle against these policies of the capitalists and their capitalist system which brings this possibility closer, which sacrifices us for its survival and profits while no measures are taken to ensure the future of humanity.
In order to raise our struggle for these demands against the international capitalist order that is responsible for pandemic, we have to seek to unite everything that is politically possible, in order to strike imperialism and the capitalists governments at its service. The spaces where this unity will be developed include mass campaigns, trade unions, professional organisations, local initiatives, student, youth and women’s organisations, and various popular fronts which bring together these organisations and the broadest sections of people.
A Revolutionary Order is Possible and Necessary
The ongoing pandemic is a terrible disaster. Hundreds of thousands of human lives are lost; millions of people face starvation and various forms of deprivation; unemployment is on the rise and devalues the labour power; and the bulk of humanity remains in uncertainty, in fear, on the edge, as though under a Damocles sword.
All adversities invite struggles against itself. In the fight against the pandemic, the best of human beings, human solidarity, has been making itself felt more and more. The pandemic and the positions the bourgeoisie’ took against the pandemic has also galvanised the reaction, the discontent and the anger of working people and labouring masses against the effects of capitalist order. This is expressed by the improving sense of solidarity between working masses as well as in the increasing tendency to take up action to express this reaction, being triggered by a various range of reasons.
The pandemic has contributed to raising the spirit of human solidarity amongst millions of people in all parts of the planet, against the lie of “all for themselves”, imposed by neoliberal individualism. People have been sharing with others what little they have and have been in solidarity to alleviate the material and spiritual burden born by others. Local solidarity networks providing support to people and public workers, especially to healthcare workers, have erupted all across the world.
The dedication of scientists to do their best to help humanity get out of this calamity is well known; health professionals, in general, did not hesitate to put their own lives at risk to care for people in the midst of all the unsafe health systems.
Worthy of notice is also the attitude of celebrities from the world of art and culture, who have been offering their creations and abilities to cheer, raise spirits of resistance, and strengthen hope for a liveable future.
All these are tendencies we have to help develop and base our future work on.
And, in the midst of the physical distancing imposed by the quarantine, popular protests have been taking place. In the beginning, this was by small groups due to circumstances. But this trend that was growing in many countries before the pandemic, reached mass proportions with the murder of George Floyd, which offset broad demonstrations participated by hundreds of thousands of people not only in US, but almost across the entire world. And this wave of struggle erupting as a result of the anger of masses developing in the pandemic period against the brutality of capitalism now presents us with the line of struggle we can walk.
CIPOML calls on the working class and labouring masses, and all those discontented with capitalist aggression and the lack of future it has condemned us, to redouble our unity, solidarity and struggle. We can grasp our future if we unite in struggle against the capitalist neo-liberal aggression usurping our lives and future.
The future is ours!
International Conference of Leninist Marxist Parties and Organisations (CIPOML)