7 news from different parts of the world that we highlighted today on our Communia Telegram channel and that you should not miss.
Peak Covid deaths: The Spanish government reported on February 1st 408 Covid deaths, a number not seen since March of last year. In France there were 357. The UK broke the record for the year with 1,121 deaths. In Argentina 240. And in the USA the average number of deaths continues to hover around 2,500 per day. And yet, the worldwide news is the end of the Covid restrictions following Denmark and Norway’s examples, where, by the way, cases are multiplying.
A huge teaching strike has been going on in France since yesterday. It covers elementary schools and middle plus high schools, with both teaching and service staffs taking part together.
Could Omicron be the end of the pandemic? Governments are increasingly open about leaving the current wave of Omicron unchecked as a way of achieving “herd immunity”. There are only three problems: there is no evidence of persistent immunity from Omicron infection, all signs suggest that it will not be the last variant and, for the moment, it is leaving a new slaughter in its wake as it breaks infection records day after day.
In 2021 it became clear that the magnitude and duration of the slaughter is the product of policy decisions made in order to subordinate human lives to the profitability of capital. Moreover, vaccines have not put an end to the pandemic nor to the appearance of new variants because from the beginning their development and production has been dependent on the concentration of large capital. The opinion industry, “democracy’s backbone”, has been forced to devote all its efforts to sustaining the criminal nonsense under which we live.
“The Bite” is the first series to deal, under the guise of a zombie comedy, with the gritty realities of the management of the Covid pandemic.
Infection rates are once again soaring across Europe, with the delta variant driving a new wave that is threatening to claim half a million lives in a few months. How has this happened? What can we do?
The Anglo-Saxon press keeps the origin of Covid’s virus -SARS-CoV-2- as an open question. Scientists however realized long ago that the theory of “escape from the laboratory” has no material basis. The theory of animal origin, defended in the WHO report, strengthens and, far from excusing Chinese capitalism, reveals its most anti-human contradictions… and those of capitalism in general.
After putting all its diplomatic weight on the table, the Spanish government managed to get Spain out of the British government’s latest round of travel restrictions. An oxygen balloon for tourism, a sector that has been the mainstay of accumulation in Spain since the 1960s and for whose results there have been precipitous restriction de-escalations which caused new pandemic waves. But this time, a year and a half later, it seems that “normality” is further away than ever. A good part of the tourism jobs will not come back anymore.
In France the demonstrations against the Covid Passport have consolidated an initially heterogeneous social base around a discourse that amalgamates, from the antivaxx, reactionary libertarianists, pseudoscience, feminism, conspiracy-mongering, nationalism and anti-Semitism. No neo-fascist aesthetics or Gaullist fogeys. Quite the opposite: lots of social workers, islands of yellow vests and anarchists and lots of “France Insoumise” followers. They are many, but they are still an eccentric minority, ideal as a cohesive enemy for Macronism, which can thus garb itself in rationalist garb. And yet it is a movement highly significant of the historical moment and the culture it exudes.
Bosch’s season 7 was released by Amazon Prime this week. The final one. As current as the Covid, it provides meaning to the previous six installments and teases us on where the cultural shift in the U.S. is headed.
Let’s talk about dictatorship. In Britain, the reopening is jeopardized by the expansion of the Indian covid variant; in Europe, things are back to business as usual and borders are being reopened to tourists before it is prudent to do so, in Japan, amid new restrictions the government and the IOC are determined to celebrate the Olympics despite the general rejection of the population. All the news, from the imperialist battles between Spain and Morocco to the new electricity bill, as well as the hike in raw materials’ prices, share one element in common: the social imposition of the needs of capital profitability over and above the most basic universal human needs. A fact with an old name: dictatorship.
The Covid vaccine patent waiver has become the subject of global debate following the announcement on May 5th that the US will push for a “waiver of patent protection” at the WTO. Although sold as a humanitarian measure driven by the need to stop the slaughter in India and other countries, the reality is quite different: it is part of a competitive strategy opposed especially by Germany, which is determined to use Covid to capitalize its biotech sector and become the “pharmacy of the world.”
Covid and schools continue to be at the center of the class struggle during the pandemic. In the months since the return to school after Christmas, states have striven to enforce the new normality in the education system from Argentina to France at the cost of contagions and through lies refuted even by their own research institutes. Meanwhile, from Brazil to Senegal via Great Britain, teachers are back in the struggle, and in Algeria they broke union control and imposed the payment of salary arrears throughout the country.
The Argentinean disaster consists of a ruling class leading us towards health care collapse by prioritizing an unviable national capital which condemns workers to poverty and is oriented towards an increasingly difficult imperialist game which makes the development of militarism inevitable.
Mortality caused by Covid is rising disproportionately compared to incidence, most likely because the new dominant variant causes a more serious disease and higher mortality. Contagions are concentrated in the working age group and the opening of schools and educational institutions accounts for 26% of infections. European vaccination targets do not seem sensible even if vaccination rates were to be drastically increased
Andreas Malm’s Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency has become the reference book of environmentalism during the pandemic. It includes quotes galore from Rosa Luxemburg, invocations of ecological Leninism, the call to expropriate the oil companies and long arguments in favor of a type of tactical catastrophism that would be a tailwind for revolutionaries. But for what revolution? Who and for what purpose would make it?
For months, even during the worst weeks of the second and third waves, governments have tried to weasel out of the inadequacy of anti-Covid measures through appeals to personal responsibility. But personal responsibility in the absence of sufficient containment measures and lockdown has proven ineffectual time and time again, country after country. With a population much more isolated than usual and more vulnerable to the media, the emphasis on the supposed irresponsibility of youth has only served, according to data from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), to atomize us and generate an unprecedented feeling of distrust of others.
IWD and Covid will be linked for a long time in Spain. One year ago now, prioritizing the liturgy of IWD over the emerging Covid epidemic meant the acceleration of a slaughter that we are still far from getting rid of today and about which we are still being shrouded with dangerous half-truths.
Suddenly, a presumed psychological syndrome, pandemic fatigue, is all over the media. Public TV stations give advice on how to curb it, private ones tell us that 60% of the population is suffering from it. In the newspapers, opinion columns are coming one after another, with varying degrees of wit. The characteristic barrage of all media campaigns never stops, it goes on and on and reaches the fashion magazines and professional newsletters. It’s not innocent and far from helping, it aggravates the situation.
The “No profit on the pandemic” campaign is spreading an important message throughout Europe: the intellectual property of pharmaceutical companies is a barrier in the way of halting Covid’s spread. Unfortunately, the reasoning is at the very least incomplete and the means unproductive. But it is worth a discussion.
We are publishing some of the questions raised by readers following the communiqué we released yesterday.
An assessment of the historical moment we are facing, the lessons of the pandemic and the outlook for what lies ahead, so that we can begin to respond appropriately to what the situation demands from us.
In the midst of Covid’s third wave, attempts to keep schools open — or reopen them where they were closed — are meeting the resistance of teachers, education service workers and students.
When we read the business press, capital seems happy. According to Oxfam, the global bourgeoisie has already made up for its wealth losses. The Swiss bank has doubled its profits. And listed companies are heading for a dividend recovery.
The World Economic Forum, better known as the Davos Forum, presented yesterday its Global Risks Report, a two-, five- and ten-year analysis assessing whether present trends will get generalized. The panorama is awful and therefore a true confession of historical and systemic incompetence.
The new variants of Covid threaten new, even greater, waves of infection and put the vaccine in check. They are the direct product of the inability of the ruling class to give universal answers to universal problems.
Had we been able to read today’s press only a year ago, we would not have believed it. Are the measures against a pandemic that has taken away tens of thousands of people weighed against the closure of bars and small stores… is this not outrageous? The fact that hoteliers are demonstrating by equating the death of their bars to people’ s deaths?
EU politicians are right about one thing: delaying vaccination hurts capital and its businesses and above all -even if they try to render it invisible- it costs the lives of workers and the general population. If, as they point out and appears likely, this delay is partly due to a narrow choice of main supplier to create a biotechnological champion, the EU would have shown to what extent the peaceful and civilized European project is capable of the worst crimes to serve the interests of German capital.
The large snowfall has done more to stop the Covid massacre than the intentionally limited measures of the regions and the government. However, the council of ministers is sucking up as if a country paralized by a non-exceptionally dramatic snowfall for days was the most normal thing in the world. Under the ice lies the sad truth of Spanish capital normalizing the unacceptable.
South America begins 2021 with very bad prospects for workers.
The famous CDC recognizes that vaccinating the elderly first is the fastest and easiest way to stop Covid mortality. But since most of the elderly are working class whites, it considers it “unfair” and leaves them last in line.
While the government renounce stopping the third wave of Covid sells a law of euthanasia whose social context is really obscene, capital is centralizing, concentrating and assaulting our incomes, which are falling sharply. While the ideological noise covers the changes in the background, the unions “reserve” themselves. For what?
Indian workers have already made it clear that they will not let the unions hold them back when their lives and basic needs depend on the continuation of the struggles.
There are thousands of strikes and a multitude of local struggles, but a good part of them are a response to the global phenomena of the moment, such as the effects of the covid pandemic on health and education systems. Let’s see some samples of the class response at the global level and the reaction of the unions trying to control them.
In some of the messages we received from our readers from different parts of the world, this second wave seems to be setting a turning point. In places where struggles seem to have receded after the first wave or failed to develop and gain momentum tamed by union control, the spectre of demoralization looms large.
Since the last imperialist world war, capitalistic contradictions have never crushed and sacrificed so many lives and imposed so much misery. But never either have there been such broad material bases for overcoming capitalist society and organizing society into abundance and freedom.
The more contradictions the system suffers, the more difficult it is to maintain accumulation, the more it needs to atomize and deny us as a class. In doing so, it also destroys what would allow us to better resist the daily consequences of such exploitation: from solidarity among friends and neighbors to family relations, to such basic things as eating decently or keeping our morals up. One cannot separate struggles in the workplace from action in the neighborhoods to defend ourselves from the effects of atomization and to strengthen our capacity for grouping and resistance.
Answering several questions from our readers about the relationship between pandemics and major historical crises.
According to what the televisions and newspapers tell us, the expansion of the pandemic, presented as a natural disaster, would not be the result of the success or failure of politic decisions, of the sufficiency or insufficiency of public measures that is, of social conditions, but of the individual behavior of those who in the end are victims of the disease.
The deaths by Covid that surround us every day are perfectly bearable for the state and companies, regrettable collateral damage but necessary to recover the sales and promote the revalorization of the businesses. The opinion industry works hard to describe them as the product of a natural disaster affecting private lives and damaging the economy. It is better not to think too much, those who go to work every day under risk may revolt. But the rebellion is there, it continues to grow, we follow its pulse monthly, and it is the only weir containing this slaughter… and the additional slaughters in the horizon.
It is enough to collect the headlines of the week to see clearly that both the public health policy and reduction of infections, as well as labor legislation, retirement coverage and distribution of income and revenue are bent to the desire to improve the immediate results of investments in companies. What capital demands in order to recover profitability takes precedence over the most basic and urgent needs of the workers, who are systematically made invisible.
The macronite response to the wave of strikes and its synchronization with Brussels, Germany and the Netherlands in increasing the repressive capacities of the states, comes at a time when the most basic contradictions of the system are becoming increasingly violent. It is clear to us that the rules of confrontation of the ruling class and the state are already set: against the affirmation of universal needs, use nationalism; against protests, use repression and impunity.
Most of the strikes that appear in the media are desperate protests against company closures that can achieve little or nothing in isolation. Many times the unions are passive or directly opposed to the prospect of a strike… But strikes actually win many times, even if the media does not count them. Today we will speak of a wave of strikes that is beginning to bear fruit: strikes in schools and nurseries for the health of workers and students.
The pandemic is once again out of control for the European states, which are once again declaring themselves surprised… but are taking only limited and insufficient measures. Why don’t they learn? How can the slaughter be stopped? Is it true that there will be a vaccine in a few months?
All these petty bourgeois movements affirm, although they cannot compensate, the capitalist material truth that makes all their current manifestations reactionary. The petty bourgeoisie exploits because it has more and more difficulty in profitably exploiting the labor of others and fears proletarianization. Its slogans, the call to save businesses before people, express the devaluation of those human lives that it cannot make profitable in its accounts of exploitation.
The “Morale of Victory” narrative is not just a discourse on the overall level of morale or stamina. It is a discourse on morality. It is the state separating the good guys -who resist and sacrifice themselves- from the bad guys, a bunch of selfish and defeatist cynics.
Pandemic records in half of Europe. New restrictions in Italy and Spain that the governments themselves know are insufficient even before they are published. Massiveness of the referendum in Chile. And signs of a new devaluation, if not of a new “corralito” in Argentina. The week begins.
Tens of thousands of people have already been sacrificed. The Spanish ruling class is willing to sacrifice whatever and whoever is necessary until they recover profitability. As Roig says, they are not going to “deviate from their path” just for anyone’s health and life.
Spanish ruling class is worried, they are in solidarity with the florist, the shopkeeper, the hotelier, the small guesthouse and even the nightclub.. But nobody should think that they will share the state’s booty with the small fry, the massive subsidies or the big projects financed with European funds. One thing is to be supportive and another to lose volume of income. No, big capital is “sympathetic” with its small SME brothers in its own way: for its own benefit and putting the lives of the workers under fire.
Under the grammar of the fear of unemployment and poverty what they call economy -the accumulation of capital- has been revealed as an arithmetic of slaughter. But everything that is presented to us as “superhuman forces”, unbeatable, inexorable… is not.
The pandemic is growing again in Spain. But the governments do not want us to fear it, or even to see it. They just want us to think about what they want the crisis to mean for us, their crisis. Capitalism no longer liberates Humanity from old fears of Nature. Now it competes to create even more fear of its impoverishing reflexes, of its destructive capacity.
Across the United States we are seeing growing opposition to school reopening. Some workers use the days off available to them for illness and personal business, others protest in various ways, and still others simply leave work. Unions only get involved when taking the lead in protest is the only way they can prevent workers from making school reopening plans unworkable.
The right wing in Madrid has shown its most criminal cynicism, but together with it, and with no less cynicism, the left has been the first to take a stand for the needs of profitability of investments against the universal needs of the workers, the first of them being not to be infected or to become an infection source.
Now we have a rising epidemic and an accelerated crisis. Will they see in the situation of the workers a human need to be satisfied or will they see in it the forces of scarcity preparing the way for us to «freely» accept the «reforms» that they have been trying to impose for years?
The Spanish government reported yesterday 156 covid deaths in the last 24 hours. primary care is already overwhelmed. 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 [[pauperization|mass impoverishment of the workers]] they are demanding in order to revive national capital, its enterprises and its finances.
The increase in hospitalizations, the ongoing strikes and the failure of the Oxford vaccine are not isolated events. What is coming next? An increasingly clear increase in all of these contradictions, with states and media trying to push back the reality of the pandemic and its consequences and making workers’ struggles even more brazenly invisible. And on the horizon, the pressing need for self-centralization and extension of the struggles.
The TV series during these months of pandemics were not able of process the situation of global crisis. In the books, however, some glimmer can be found.
It would be hard to imagine a greater or more heinous cynicism than democrats if the unions were not there to hold that title. The experience across North America reflects the commitment of left wing governments and unions around the world to maintain production in order to save business investment, putting capital above the safety and lives of workers.
With infections on the rise and an increasing number of occupied beds and ICU patients, things are already approaching the level of early March. The opening of schools in September threatens to trigger a new phase of mass community transmission. And the only thing made clear by the Spanish bourgeoisie and state is a red line: “no more lockdowns, we lose revenues and taxes”. Only a strong strike movement can force the state or the bourgeoisie to put lives, our lives, ahead of their profits.
A quick summary of the day’s news to avoid being disconnected from reality by the media.
The bourgeoisie wants everything to appear “normal” so that accumulation can resume its rhythm, but we are very far from anything like that. It is time to draw some conclusions and clarify some perspectives on what is to come.
States seem to be imbued with reckless haste as they concoct new “cuts” and “reforms” affecting us directly. The petty bourgeoisie is becoming increasingly angry, violent and delusional. And the workers’ strikes are taking on a “de-escalation” character.
The collapse of Saudi Arabia has gone virtually unnoticed by the international press. The impact, however, is enormous. In the Arab world, comparisons are rife with the collapse of Russia and its model of state capitalism in the early 1990s, with Prince Salman playing the role of an increasgly powerless Gorbachev, racking up imperialist defeats, economic disasters and internal enemies.
We are not seeing the dawn of a “post-American world order” as the media would have us believe. We are seeing an acceleration of chaos driven by the recession that makes each day more dangerous than the last.
This year we are not going to make a statement of our own. We adhere to the communiqué of the comrades of “La Antorcha”, an organization of young communists that represents better than any other organization known to us the momentum that our class is already engendering and that is the only hope of our species.
A new phase of economic recession and political crisis is beginning worldwide. All the contradictions of the system have accelerated with the pandemic and the ability of capital to recover will depend on its ability to impose a massive transfer of income from labor to capital in each country. The losses and needs of capital are even more brutal than in 2009. But unlike ten years ago, we are entering this new phase with a working class that has mobilized under an almost universal program of demands and that in not a few cases has been strong enough to overcome the unions and twist the arms of companies and governments. But this was not even the first act. It has been the overture.
Spain, France or Italy are already starting deconfinement. The absolute numbers of new infections are in the same range as when confinement began. And deaths are still over 300 a day in all three countries. The danger of “de-escalation” is obvious. But the aim of governments is not to put an end to the epidemic and return to normality when the situation is safe, but rather to recover economic activity, including in the hotel and tourism industry, by accepting to “live with” the epidemic and its consequences as long as the numbers of patients requiring intensive care do not overwhelm the health system. This is the “new normality” that governments are looking for and that will change living conditions, the organization of work and even the international division of labor.
The fact that “de-escalation” is possible without overwhelming the health system is not the same as saying that de-confinement will not produce more infections and deaths, nor that it is advisable from a health point of view.
This is the time when workers in the US military industry plants should also break the trade union siege and join the struggle under the same platform, which describes and defines their interests as clearly as it does for their Mexican comrades.
We have to stand up in the workplaces and demand the closure of all non-essential production as long as transport and workplace safety cannot be ensured.
Even if an agreement on debt mutualization were reached today or in the next few days, what would follow would be a struggle to change rules, protect national sector-based markets and reduce the interdependence among national bourgeoisies. And so the EU would also dry up and the old reactionary dream of the United States of Europe would come to an end, not with a bang but with a whimpe
Mexico and Brazil are distressed by a crisis that fuses the impending health disaster with a paralysis of export markets and political chaos. The situation is extremely dangerous for workers throughout America. Only the generalization of the struggles can impose the priority of saving lives instead of investments, stopping the spread effectively and guaranteeing the satisfaction of basic needs for all workers.
We are placing the “Covid strikes” on an interactive map that we will be updating during the coming days and weeks. Have a look!
Is it inevitable that we will be poorer after confinement? No. If it were, Bolsonaro, Botin, the CEO of Michelin and so many others, would have us already working and with a “solidarity” cut in salaries.
The massacre of the residences is a very clear expression of how the objectives and incentives of[accumulation are opposed to the most basic human needs. The result is a bloody incompetence from the point of view of something as basic as the protection of human lives, but in reality, it has been “exemplary” from the point of view of the placement of capital and its profitability. Covid has spread and swept through them precisely because they were efficient for the purposes for which they were created.
We reproduce a flyer that will be distributed this week, on paper and by cell phone, in three capital cities of Argentina. It has been prepared by comrades who have been organizing for some time in Mendoza, San Juan and Córdoba, hand in hand with comrades from «La Antorcha» and «Emancipation».
Capitalism is definitely an upside-down world and “social justice” is the most cynical expression of this absurdity. Reducing contagion by closing factories is presented as being in the particular interest of the workers, while avoiding further damage to corporate profits would be the “common good”. The common sacrifice is thus, always and in any case, that of the workers: some “recovering” hours when the health crisis subsides, others going to work because their work is essential… so that the average profitability of national capital does not suffer.
We are in the middle of the most synchronous and geographically widespread wave of strikes and struggles in the last century. It shows to what extent universal, human needs can only be defended by the workers as a class, because only to the workers do they present themselves as their immediate and direct objective throughout the world. And what is no less important, it shows that we workers are capable of affirming a global alternative when we break with the subordination of our demands to companies’ profits, in other words, when we break with the discourse that unions have been hammering out for years and that they continue to repeat today
Just as with Economic Theory and its experts , social knowledge and the needs of capital diverge because human needs and capital accumulation are increasingly antagonistic. The “expert” then becomes a stuntman whose task is to justify policies and to reassure the population.
Winners and losers of the inter-imperialist brawls in the EU have a common objective: “recovery”, in other words, organizing a brutal transfer of income from labor to capital. Once again, as always, as in any imperialist conflict, the main enemy is within the country itself.
This is about shutting down non-essential production, but at the same time ensuring that production serves basic human needs. Food, water, energy, supplies and medicines must reach everyone and in sufficient quantity during the confinement.
If the pressure to close down ceases to come from the striking workers and becomes part of a faction of the executive, not only will it be possible to manipulate what is an “essential service”, as in Murcia or Italy, until the concept loses all meaning, but the working class strength gained during the struggles will come to nothing It will be handed over to a part of the same class that is already discussing how to distribute the burden of reanimating national capital among the workers of each country “when it is all over”.
Italy closes non-essential production under the pressure of strikes. The governments of Spain, Portugal, France, Germany… are resisting. Not only they want to impose the criterion of saving investments over saving lives. They know the shape of the post-crisis will depend on the outcome of today’s struggles.
The pandemic has suddenly raised the level of contradictions in the system to the point of exposing at least two fundamental truths: the radical antagonism between human needs and capitalism, and that workers are the only political subject capable of representing and asserting these universal interests throughout the world,
The epidemic will not only change the competitive place and access to markets of European big business. It will also change the correlation of forces within the EU. It is now doubtful whether Italy, Portugal, Spain and even Greece would again support the adoption of “defensive measures” against China from Brussels. In a few weeks, when the health and economic crises further exacerbate the brutal instincts of the German bourgeoisie, it is more than possible that Germany and France, not China, will be the ones in an uncomfortable position on the European imperialist map.
The “shock plan” is a two-handed movement – one hand being the Spanish government and the other the European Central Bank – aimed at achieving the lowest possible devaluation of Spanish capital. To this end, it articulates a massive transfer of income from labor to capital that is “compensated” with minimum social coverage.
If anyone ever believed that the European Union could serve to moderate the appetites of national capitals and put the most basic universal human needs first, they can see their hopes refuted today, once again, with absolute clarity. On the other hand, those who doubted the ability of the working class to stand up to the barbarity of capital across national borders have a palpable demonstration these days of how the working class not only exists as a universal class but that its struggle is the only one capable of affirming the primacy of human needs effectively and across borders.
Too late and too little is the political formula for this epidemic to decimate workers and their families. We have to stop all non-essential production for confinement to serve any purpose. And we have to stop layoffs disguised as “emergency measures”.
It is time to go on strike in all workplaces not engaged in essential production
The covid-19 pandemic is exposing the permanent disaster that capitalism is today and the extent to which its imperatives are antagonistic to the most basic human needs.
The hospital overcrowding that poses a danger to thousands of people today would have been avoidable if health systems had not been systematically eroded and if current governments had taken action against the spread at an early stage.
The “sacred anti-viral union”, the slogan of “coming together” with governments and national capital to “get out of the crisis together”, is not catching on. That’s excellent news. Probably the first good news that this epidemic has brought us.
Four lies and half truths that disarm us and in front of Coronavirus, and some important lessons for the workers as a class.
The most dangerous and constant enemies of human needs and life are within each country and are neither the viruses that come “from outside” nor the armies of neighboring countries.