There is no longer any doubt: the pandemic has resurfaced and is rampant throughout half of Europe. In France, infection records are being broken every day, more than a hundred deaths are being reported daily, and hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to provide basic services. This is not an exception. In Britain, the NHS estimates that it would need an extra £1 billion to cope with the second wave.
But the eyes of governments are focused on the Christmas sales campaign rather than on casualty and contagion figures. The idea is to reduce the number of infections once again so that stores can reopen before Christmas and -as in the Spanish summer- encourage everyone to go out and save the retail businesses this time. New alarm decrees were issued yesterday in Italy and Spain. The Italian one forces to close hotel businesses from 6 pm and shuts down fairs, congresses, gyms, game rooms and SPAs.
The Spanish one establishes a night curfew and the possibility for regional governments to regulate the closure of the city and town perimeter, capacity, schedules and maximum occupation of businesses. Basically, it gives legal coverage to what they have been doing in a ridiculous but tragic competitive tug of war until now.
The goal is still explicitly to avoid resorting to a new form of home confinement. But without a real lockdown and non-essential production stoppage, none of these measures will flatten the curve. The government itself knows that its measures are insufficient. The president’s warlike slogans of morality of victory and citizen’s discipline have become the new daily, ritualized and codified call to close ranks, to preserve a unity whose only possible prospect is to sacrifice thousands more lives to maintain the profitability of investments.
The banalization of life is so exaggerated that it has become grotesque. While the daily figures of the massacre are diluted in the news and the 20% of patients who are left with disabling burdens become invisible, the government and media pontificate day and night about the suffering of businesses. The pain of the economic figures occupies the news while the destruction of human lives is reduced to a faceless figure. The press talks about the daylight savings time change as a a failed social engineering experiment at the expense of health yet the rising number of infections does not lead them to call into question the insufficiency of curfews and restrictions.
While, in Chile the referendum for constitutional reform obtained a record participation. A great success for the Chilean bourgeoisie which manages to revive the legitimacy of the state after a year of uprisings and revolts. The firm ideological control of the transversalist petty bourgeoisie has been so effective, so useful for the state to regain its lost ground, that today the press can congratulate itself that even the worn-out political apparatus, originally disrupted by the protests, is enjoying such good health.
The sterile festival of the transversal revolt, which never managed to get rid of the national and interclassist flags in order to take up class banners, now becomes the first act of a democratic festival which will end, inevitably, in new sacrifices for the motherland. Mr. Larraín and now, even the reticent Mr. Sutil are relieved knowing that their profitability goals will soon be goals in defense of democracy and of the new constitution that all Chileans have given themselves.
Because the reality and the prospects are that semicolonial capitals are going to require new national sacrifices. They cannot avoid it. For instance, today the acceleration of capital flight in Argentina and its immediate echoes: new signs of shortages and the perspective of a new currency devaluation.
And as if material misery were not enough, Macri comes back to compete with the government in moral misery, to tell us that workers lived beyond their means thanks to Peronism, that lockdowns were a very exaggerated thing, that the pandemic can be stopped with individual responsibility and ends up spurring the Buenos Aires petty bourgeoisie to participate in massive demonstrations with the Albiceleste flag on their backs as if it were an anti-virus talisman.
This is not an exclusively Argentinean drama. Dozens of countries are in the same tightrope, in the same vicious circle of crisis, devaluation and sacrifices. None of these national capitals has or will succeed in the medium term, because global capitalism simply has no place for them anymore. All they can aspire to is to submit to a greater power and take advantage of the pull of demand and investment while it lasts. But it never lasts, nor can it last long enough to solve the dependency that the arrival of new capital necessarily aggravates, let alone produce real human development.
Within the overall picture of barbarism there is no real difference in the way the pandemic and the crisis are dealt with from one state to another, only the magnitude of each national capital and its financial urgencies varies. It is shocking to see the same automatism working in Iran or Venezuela, the same ones as in Germany or Spain, but the forces and goals governing all societies are the same, and that is why the basic discourse of the ruling class is always the same: to subordinate the countermeasures against contagion to the needs of profitability of capital, to subordinate the survival of persons to that of capital. But if we were to accept as an inevitable damnation that it is necessary to accept the killing and precarization in order to save the economy, the list of national needs and sacrifices will keep growing. And the list of massacres will not end there either.