A Medical, Economic and Social Crisis

Solidarity National Committee

March 18, 2020

New York Times, March 18, 2020

The global coronavirus outbreak is not (fortunately) the end of civilization, nor is it (unfortunately) the end of capitalism. It is, however, a very deep systemic crisis with interlocking public health, environmental and economic dimensions — and reveals the need for a profound social transformation both in the United States and internationally.

On a global level, it seems highly likely that the panoply of viral diseases that human beings confront — from the old ones like the common cold, seasonal flu and measles to the newer H1N1 flu, SARS, MERS, HIV, Ebola and now “novel coronavirus” originated — either in the distant past or recently, with viruses jumping from animal to human hosts. In today’s world system, the intrusion of human populations into animal habitats is ever increasing — in Asia, in Africa, in the Amazon and in North America too. This reality, along with the rapidity of international travel, makes such transfers more frequent and their dispersal much faster.

These facts throw into sharp relief the deadly deficiencies of existing medical systems. We can begin of course in the USA, with tens of millions of uninsured people and many more inadequately insured who can’t afford co-pays and deductibles (especially when they’re suddenly thrown out of work). It’s entirely true that the choice, as a new slogan puts it, is “healthcare for all or coronavirus for all.” The absolute minimum that’s required to meet such a crisis is single-payer universal health insurance. In the absence of Medicare for All and guaranteed paid sick leave, hastily improvised half-solutions are being announced or legislated that inevitably have all kinds of gaps and inadequacies.

In reality, though, the global crisis reveals deeper shortcomings in medical systems. Even in countries with universal health care — take for example the cases of Italy and Canada — all too often their systems, however vastly superior to the mess in the United States, are embedded in a regime of “neoliberal” capitalism where social budgets and services are slashed…

Folko Mueller and Ron Lare
April 2, 2020

The February 11 New York Times paralleled the current German situation with the rise of Hitler. Today’s neofascists were recently part of a coalition that elected a regional governor in a German state, Thuringia (Thüringen), where the Nazis first won power (also through a coalition). Wilhelm Frick was sworn in on January 23rd, 1930, as minister of the interior and education, and thus became the first National-Socialist minister in Germany. This was almost exactly three years before Hitler...

Dan La Botz
April 1, 2020

Across the United States we are seeing workers walk off the job in wildcat strikes in response to the employers’ failure either to shut down the workplace or to make it safe. The strikes are too few to call them a strike wave, but we should be aware that on their own initiative workers are taking what practically is the most powerful action they can: withdrawing their labor. The strikes are taking place in both the private and public sector, in both unionized and non-union workplaces large and...

Mike Davis
March 31, 2020

COVID-19 is finally the monster at the door. Researchers are working night and day to characterize the outbreak but they are faced with three huge challenges.

First the continuing shortage or unavailability of test kits has vanquished all hope of containment. Moreover it is preventing accurate estimates of key parameters such as reproduction rate, size of infected population and number of benign infections. The result is a chaos of numbers.

There is, however, more reliable data on the virus’s impact...

Jen Roesch
March 25, 2020

I believe that there is an ideological war going on right now and that the left needs to be prepared to do battle. In the very first days of this crisis, we saw moratoriums on evictions, expedited unemployment benefits, CA housing the homeless in hotels, and prisoners being released in OH. All of these measures showed that the market, profits and our repressive apparatus are not untouchable. This crisis has opened up questions of profit vs human need in fundamental ways.

But now that many of us are...

Bureau of the Fourth International
March 25, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is a dramatic public health problem and the human suffering caused will be enormous. Already, in Western Europe, health systems are on the edge of asphyxia. If it spreads massively in countries in the Global South whose already weak or very fragile public health systems have been terribly undermined by 40 years of neoliberal policies, deaths will be very high.

It is already the most serious pandemic in a century. The number of deaths due to the so-called Spanish flu of 1918-1919,...

K Mann
March 23, 2020

The COVD-19 pandemic and the attendant economic crisis raise big-picture questions of great importance to socialists. Disasters, natural, human-made or a combination of both, such as wars, famines, economic depressions and epidemics, often trigger great political and social crises affecting all areas of life. This brief article offers reflections on the ways that crises have raised the question of the relationship between self-organization and socialism.

Sudden crises lay bare the great contradictions...

Mike Friedman
March 23, 2020

Government dithers, people act

The situation in Antigua and Barbuda is marked by palpable uncertainty and tension ever since the first confirmed case was announced two weeks ago, and the Antiguan government announced on Friday, March 13 that schools and some other institutions would close. I went to the island’s main supermarket on that afternoon, and have NEVER seen it so crowded and chaotic, not even when Hurricanes Irma and Maria approached. Fistfights broke out over shopping carts and the shelves...

Radical Socialist
March 20, 2020

The communal violence that erupted in the National Capital Region of Delhi on February 24th,and carried on for about a week, marks another orchestrated step in the Sangh’s strategy of deliberately polarising the Indian public along Hindu-Muslim lines. In the past such politically motivated communal assaults have been large-scale and episodic. After 2014, such targeting of Muslims by the cadres and supporters aligned to Hindutva has taken the form of attacks, sometimes fatal, on individuals...

Nazneen Habib and Jahan Ara, sisters of Baba Jan
March 20, 2020

February 14, 2020

TO THE GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE UNITED NATIONS, MR. ANTONIO GUTERRES

We, sisters of Baba Jan, a political prisoner, request you to take attention of the unjust imprisonment of 14 activists from Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, including our brother Baba Jan. We also want to bring to your attention the murder of Sher Ullah Baig and Afzal Baig, a father and his son, who when peacefully protesting against the failure of the government to provide promised compensation to victims of the...

Daniel Finn
March 17, 2020

On February 8 Ireland bucked the European trend as its voters turned sharply left. Sinn Féin was the main beneficiary, but the party has some big choices to make in the months ahead if it’s going to capitalize on this breakthrough.

It took nine years and three elections, but the economic crash of 2008 has demolished the Irish party system. The Great Recession stoked up a popular demand for change that the old political class was unable or unwilling to satisfy. On February 8, the established...

All Webzine articles