Rising epidemic, schools and health centers overwhelmed

16 September, 2020

Bilbao yesterday.

The Spanish government reported yesterday 156 covid deaths in the last 24 hours. primary care is already overwhelmed.

The insistence on reopening schools in the midst of a second peak of infections could not be without consequences. In Seville there are already a dozen schools with outbreaks, in Aragon about thirty classes have already had to be closed, in Huelva a whole school was closed for the first time, in Madrid topped the first thirty closed classrooms the day before yesterday… and we could go on all over the pandemic map.

Parent and student resistance, union strikes

Consequently, many parents do not take their children to school. Because the famous safety measures are as unreliable as all government promises. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Basque government or the Andalusian one. For instance, in Agua Dulce, Almería, parents imposed a strike of fallen pencils after checking with the school management that the separation between students in the classroom was only of 11 centimeters. The famous reinforcements did not give them any reason to be reassured either: one or two COVID reinforcements do not allow to split the classes in half, not to mention small children’s classrooms, where reinforcements are zero. In other places and age groups, such as Llodio’s high school, it is the students who joined the striking teachers.

This is the context of the union-led strikes: indefinite in Madrid’s health centers starting the 28th, or a teacher’s strike yesterday in the Basque Country. In spite of the trade union methods – no previous assemblies, discussion, sharing or any attempt to raise awareness in the social environment, no attempt to integrate school transports, etc. – the follow-up was very high, up to 70% according to the trade unions. School buses ran … but almost completely empty.

Squid ink and the government’s stubbornness

Aguadulce. 11cm of… social distance between students.

The media are more determined than ever to make invisible both the terrible figures and the social resistance to the triumphalist and suicidal discourse of the governments. 156 deaths in one day would have made the headlines -and would have been scandalous- at any other time. Today, the figures are disguised or ignored in the body of articles and video cuts which systematically insist that the number of infections is not comparable to March because, on average, there are fewer serious cases. Going from 60 to 156 deaths a day in the same week is being passed off as irrelevant.

The systematic invisibilization of reality has normalized habits lost since the dictatorship, such as having to turn to the French press to discover, for example, parents’ movements against the return to school in Catalonia. But above all, it allows the most absolute impudence to the rulers: yesterday the education counselor of the Basque government complained that his government is the only one suffering from an education strike. The deputy spokesman for C’s in the Andalusian parliament accused parents’ associations of protesting not because of a distressing reality, but because of far-left political interests. Lambán, the Aragonese president, fed the confusion by assuring that no closing of classrooms in Aragon is due to contagion within the schools… because of course, teachers and students bring the virus from home and the school becomes a way to bring it to many others. That’ s the problem.

The tone, as usual, is set by the central government, which has not shied away from becoming the only country in Western Europe to follow even the formalism of a judicial investigation of responsibilities for the disaster of the first wave. Nobody expects fresh information that would serve to break the information siege from it, but it shows to what extent the Spanish political apparatus has dug and entrenched itself in its strategy.

The state, the national capital and its objectives

Fainé (Caixa) and Sánchez.

The political apparatus of the state could not possibly display more rot. The Kitchen case investigating how the former minister and senior officials of the Interior used the state to monitor his own party’s leaders and destroy incriminating evidence against Rajoy, is weighing down on the PP however much Casado tries to distance himself from it. The PSOE government and Podemos, for their part, are giving a real show of impotence by not even being able to present a draft budget. Between the uncomfortable parliamentary arithmetic resulting from the revolt of the regional petty bourgeoisie, which forces the government to make a pact with C’s or with the independentists, and the paralyzing effect of the duplication of structures around the executive and the ministries, everything points to a new extension, even a short one, of the 2018 PP budgets. Not that it matters much in itself, but it speaks of a political apparatus that as such, en bloc, closes in on itself, entrenches itself in its own incompetence and places itself on the defensive in the face of a reality to which it has no future to offer. Significantly, the horizon of recovery is already 2024, that is, on a date about which it is impossible to make forecasts, even less so with the international scenario.

Just today we had a preview of what the tone will be in the months and years to come. The Minister of Economy gave the final blessing to the Bankia-Caixabank merger. Two keys: economic discourse and political project.

The political project begins because it is no longer a merger, but a purchase, quite cheap in fact, of Bankia by Caixabank. Sanchism sees the door open to its model of solution for the Catalan independence crisis and wants Bankia to serve as a model and launching pad. If the Catalan petty bourgeoisie embraced independence in 2012 because the regional government and the local corporate fabric were becoming small and needed more destinations, positions and funds, the alternative is -the government thinks- to give them an outlet for those same aspirations through the state and the great champions of national capital. This is what the statements of Vice President Iglesias respond to, who, against all possible statistics, misses more Catalan and Basque surnames among the Spanish corporate bourgeoisie. And, of course, the growing echo of the discourse of the bicapitality among the Barcelona small business bourgeoisie.

The contradiction is evident: any extra space in the corporate, bureaucratic or political apparatus for the Catalan petty bourgeoisie is a space taken from other petty bourgeoisies who, moreover, had proportionally less positions in relation to their population because their regions are less capitalized. The horizon thus seems to be an increase in what they modestly call territorial tensions… But they buy time. This is not insignificant when the general and fundamental goal is a direct attack on the living conditions of the great majority, the workers.

And about this point, the economic discourse of the merger is very clear: the synergies and the cost savings will prevent a possible focus of financial crisis. The novelty is that the figure is put without any qualms: 8,000 layoffs and early retirements. This is what industrial policy will be about: increasing productivity in terms of profit from each hour of work contracted.

Decisive autumn

Spanish state budget balance.

In order to maintain the value of investments, that is, of national capital, they need to have everyone who can keep their job working, and therefore open schools, but also to lighten the cost of pensions and basic services, such as education and health, and above all they need to lower wage costs and increase earnings per hour of work. The famous necessary reforms are only more or less direct, more or less crude means to reach these goals.

Wrapping everything in squid ink, making the most obvious and terrible things invisible, denying the existence of strikes and resistance, generating noisy but unproductive debates, etc. is part of the task of the political and media apparatus to reach the same destination: our living and working conditions.

This autumn a fundamental factor will be that the discontent that is beginning to emerge in the educational strikes shall become undeniable, shall be openly manifested and shall set out the firm ground of universal human needs. It is fundamental to stop the upward spiral of slaughter. Fundamental to confront the mass impoverishment of the workers they are demanding in order to revive national capital, its enterprises and its finances.


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