Yesterday the Spanish government reported 537 deaths from covid in the preceding 24 hours. In Italy there were 853 dead, in France 501, and in Great Britain 608 dead. The scale of the slaughter is overwhelming and the hospitalization figures do not suggest that they are going to drop on their own: 4,438 patients in ICUs in France and 2,853 in Spain are way more than worrisome. In Greece, routinely presented on TV news as relatively outside the second wave, the situation is dramatic in Thessaloniki and the industrial North, with ICUs and hospitals overwhelmed.
And yet Macron has been touting a reopening of non-essential stores for November 28th. In Greece the reopening is already underway and no one expects better results than last summer. And in Spain the government submits some loose recommendations for December whose admitted goal is to save the Christmas campaign… instead of saving us from the campaign’s consequences.
Saving the holidays is the slogan because it is the inexpensive way to rescue some companies submerged in debt, some airlines that have stopped selling billions, some SMEs that are increasingly facing states of insolveency and above all some national champions channelling billions of national capital and which, in Spain, have lost more than half of their stock market value in a few years.
The real meaning of this effort to increase sales is already being felt and only allows a glimpse of more contagion and death on the horizon. In France, striking teachers denouncing that classrooms have become hotbeds of contagion face a barrage of disciplinary measures. In Spain, covid cases tripled among the workers of the Post Office, who were crammed together in order to carry out the orders of the Black Friday. In Italy, Pfizer workers in charge of vaccine production protest and strike against the overcrowding and precariousness caused by the arrival of the orders.
But governments have no other choice other than to increase sales in a last quarter for which expectations are bad. They celebrate that tourism companies are driving up the price of shares on the stock exchanges after recovering international clients thanks to the permanent campaign of playing down of the slaughter. They seem to agree that the approach will work for quite a long time. The bar is high in any case: The US with its over 80,000 ICU patients. So they keep going and are redoubling their efforts. Like the illusionist who asks us to look to his right hand while he tricks the cards with his left, the British, German, US and Spanish governments are submitting vaccination plans that, if vaccines are ready and cold chains are in place, would start at best and with a very limited scope, in January. By then it is very likely that a third wave will have already overlapped with the current one.
And at the same time, passing almost unnoticed, the green deal, the main strategic bet of European capital, has already been launched: Great Britain and Germany announce billions of euros in subsidies to the automotive industry, Spain, Italy and France are following them. They approve plans for green hydrogen that push state-regulated or state-owned monopolies like Enel (Italy) or Iberdrola (Spain) to submit investment plans worth tens of billions of euros. Needless to say, the whole move is accompanied by a sustained increase in domestic electricity prices, as already apparent in Germany.
As it could not be otherwise, the electric rate hikes, the disappearance of the gasoline or diesel engine car, the industrial reconversion and all the associated measures cannot but accentuate the fall of the effective purchase value of the salaries. If the green deal is good for industry, as the EU also claims on a daily basis, it is because in the end it represents a massive transfer of income from labor to capital. This redistribution of income in favor of capital is not a product of Covid, it is what capital does to get breathing space. This is what it has done during the last decade of crisis. The proof: in Spain, already today, the average pension of new retirees is 16% higher than the most frequent salary, which provides a measure of the erosion suffered in recent years. Erosion that the green deal and everything it brings with it can only accentuate. And as if that were not enough, in the United States or Great Britain we are heading towards a growth in military spending, with similar redistributive consequences.
The results are perfectly obvious. In case there were any doubts, immediately, in Spain 2 million people, the great majority of whom are workers, will need to receive food aid to survive. In France, depending on the place, the demand for food banks has already grown up by 25%.
A class invisibilized and denied but far from being defeated, with struggles on the rise
Week after week, the news have opened with a report on the terrible suffering of the bar owners’ balance sheets because they can only serve outdoors or have to close a little earlier, they have shown footage of their mobilizations demanding to be able to sell more without caring about how that would affect the spread of infection. But not a single note was dedicated to the teachers who demanded in France the closure of classrooms if the safety and hygiene conditions to stop contagion were not improved, or the Italian factories which, by the dozens, were facing a combination of precariousness and sanitary insecurity.
The strategy of playing down the covid massacre involves denying and making the workers invisible in an even more radical and violent way than usual. And that denial goes far beyond censoring information about strikes and demands. The Spanish media are right today when they say that 1,074 women killed by couples and ex-couples since January 2003 is an unbearable figure, it truly is. What is repulsive is that they then normalize the thousands of deaths that, this very week, could have been avoided. The implicit is that 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.