What Parliament and businesses do not want us to see nor think

23 October, 2020

Waiting in the food bank cue. Orcasitas, Madrid.

The slaughter is already here… and in full swing

Escalating hospitalizations.

There are already four Spanish regions with an incidence over 500 cases per 100,000 people. In Navarra it exceeds 1000 per 100,000. The government has been reporting over 150 new deaths per day all week. Primary care centers and hospitals complain about collapse, and there is no lack of centers which, in view of the perspective consider rejecting or already reject patients suffering from other diseases.

Throw more meat into the furnace!! Don’t stop accumulation!!

Covid cases in Spain by region.

One need only look at the curve of the pandemic’s evolution to realize what is the cause of the second wave: the epidemic drastically reduced its incidence with a week’s closure of non-essential production, but the departure from the lockdowns at full speed in order to save tourism and recover accumulation as soon as possible initiated a new escalation of cases and deaths… and cripples: we now know that 10% of covid patients turn into chronic patients unable to lead a normal life.

What conclusion did our ruling class, politicians and businessmen, right and left wing, draw? That they would never again order a total lockdown. Since September they have played a sinister game of insufficient measures unable to stop viral spread. Their latest attempt: to establish a curfew.

Roig, the owner of Mercadona, praised by the media and the unions as the good employer, says that we have put too much emphasis on health and too little towards on the economy. It couldn’t be clearer: in the famous and gloomy balance between lives and profits, he believes that increased profits must be saved at the cost of more deaths and cripples. While saying this, the government reported 170 more deaths recorded in the previous 24 hours. No one contradicted Roig. In the same event, Goirigolzarri, the president of the new mega-bank resulting from the merger of Bankia and Caixabank, pointed out that concentrating hopes on the vaccine is an extraordinary mistake. Of course, it is all a matter of pretending that the pandemic does not exist, forgetting about human lives and concentrating on what matters: in the words of Garamendi, the president of the employers’ association, make money first and help society afterwards, and in order to do that they need to promote the roadmap of Spanish capital: more labor flexibility, that is precarization, pension reform to turn them into a new field of accumulation for capital, the green deal… and a whole plethora of measures designed to transfer mass income from labor to capital.

A grotesque spectacle

Garriga presents Vox’s motion of censure.

And meanwhile, in Parliament, a grotesque ceremonial spectacle. Vox’s censorship motion and Abascal’s speech full of the typical anti-capitalist references of petty owners -more water for Spanish smallholders, against global elites, against Chinese capitalism, against moralistic capitalism…- and the obligatory advertising minutes for their sponsors: Trump, Bannon and even Taiwan. The outraged PP finds a red line: ¡how could Vox dare to criticize Brussels! The PSOE government bloc, Podemos, regionalists, nationalists and independentists, keep hiding the slaughter as if nothing was happening, very proud of their role as creators of a so-called social shield that keeps producing more misery, while portraying Pope Francis as a hired expert and happy to use Vox in order to whitewash their inanity.

The parliament showed well the limits of the petty bourgeois revolt. Vox, after listing the health management disasters of the pandemic in the first wave, concluded that… everything must be kept open, businesses, stores and even bars. In Podemos, ERC or CUP’s speech, the slaughter is in the background – if mentioned at all – and they do not question why there has been a slaughter and the new wave does not seem to urge them to do anything.

Below: a mass of small and medium-sized businesses in bankruptcy, businesses relieving the burden by laying off not only workers but also middle management… who are all very scared. And when the middle management gets scared… it closes ranks with the businesses. That is as far as it goes. And now when small and medium-sized businesses would have to start paying back the ICO credits, it turns out that not even half of them see it clearly: 28.5% of the companies cannot afford to pay and 26.5% doubt whether they will be able to. The government, the same one which refuses to reinforce hospitals nor confine at once to stop massive contagion, is quick to negotiate an extension of deadlines in Brussels. How are all parties not going to play together as a team in Parliament? How are Podemos and Vox not going to defend together the arms and military industry which is another field of guaranteed accumulation based on taxes? Taxes paid mostly by workers, the great destinies of capital, the national champions, already come doped after years of paying a little more than 6% in taxes. They already run the place anyway.

The altars of a rapacious god

Goirigolzarri, Roig y Salgado yesterday at a management conference in Valencia.

In the end the altar on which they want to sacrifice us all, Roig and the government, Vox and the CUP, is the same: the economy, that is, capital’s profitability. The difference between the so-called social shield that impoverishes but does not protect workers and the great shield offered to insurance companies is brutal. There is no color between the vaunted spending control in hospitals and the financial bicycle with which the ECB massively subsidizes banks.

Businesses are instruments to make capital profitable. They compete with each other in order to provide capital with more profitable uses. So in a normal situation they have minimum reserves, because they dedicate as much as possible to creating value for the shareholder, that is to say, to generate dividends and growth expectations. What happens when activity and consumption fall, no matter how temporary this fall may be in principle? That the companies’ lacking liquidity went, in a record time, from 10 to 70% of the total. According to the governor of the Bank of Spain the number of companies whose debt exceeds 75% of the value of their assets will increase by 7 percentage points, 20% in some branches. His recommendation? Implement orderly bankruptcies and prepare for a massive long-term unemployment concentrated in the lower wage sectors.

But higher unemployment and uncertainty also mean less effective demand for the goods produced by businesses. The industry data for August, just published, when compared against August 2019 show an overall drop in sales of 9.9%. Forecasts for 2021, already drop to 5% growth, far from compensating for the collapse in production in 2020.

Spanish capital is hopelessly behind its competitors. It is far from alone, which is why the new axis of Sánchez with Italy’s Conte, with summits and all the required ceremonies, in order to loosen up Brussels’ conditions.

But let us not be fooled: neither in Italy, nor in Spain, nor in Portugal, nor anywhere else, is capital going to get back on track by means of credits. In fact, Calviño as well as Costa have already announced that they will avoid using cheap European credits and that for the moment they are not even considering how to manage them. The liquidity that businesses lack, especially those producing consumer goods and SMEs, has to come from an increase in consumption and billing. And for that we need to carry on going to work every day and go out and buy a lot more. Lockdowns? No way. They’re bad for sales.

That’s the whole secret of the economy’s altar, where 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.


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