Opinionista Afzal Moolla 13 April 2020

The capitalist emperor has no clothes as the Covid-19 pandemic strips it bare

The system is rotten to the very core and the Covid-19 pandemic has, again, made this truth apparent to all of us.

The sudden onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the fissures that govern our world and the societies we live in. It has, in one fell swoop, put to horrific rest the notion that capitalism is the foundation that the global economic system must be based on.

The wealthiest countries in the world are today staring death in the face. The narrative that “the markets will steady themselves” has been shattered.

Today, in the bastion of capitalism, the United States, we see governors and mayors, and other individuals in positions of power and influence calling for the “socialisation” of key medical facilities as well as of the medical supply chain.

What we are witnessing today is the toxicity of capitalism, which is as virulent as Covid-19, and in the long term, far more dangerous to billions of those with whom we share this pale blue dot, our home, Earth.

The world’s largest economies whose defence budgets are in the trillions of dollars are faced with having stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, while the very basic needs of hospitals and clinics have health workers pleading for protective masks and gloves, for ventilators and nebulisers, for they are a part of the essential arsenal of tools that are now so desperately needed.

Let us contrast this with the socialist island of Cuba, just 90 miles off the coast of Miami. A socialist country that has endured an enforced trade embargo for over half a century by the US.

Today, we see Cuba offering supplies at no cost and doctors as volunteers to some of the world’s most prosperous nations. The US, as it stands, has refused to accept any assistance from Cuba even as their own citizens are dying from a lack of medical equipment and resources.

The private medical sector in Britain, when asked by the National Health Service (NHS) for assistance with hospital beds, agreed to supply beds to the government subsidised NHS at €1.4-million or thereabouts a day.

There is something terribly wrong here.

The poorest of the poor, the 99% of the world’s population, are facing an apocalyptic future, with scientifically modelled projections of deaths due to Covid-19 in the millions. This is also the “worst-case scenario” that US medical experts and epidemiologists are projecting for the United States.

There is something grotesque about this.

When a tiny island nation like Cuba volunteers and offers medical professionals, and assistance to the large capitalist nations of Europe, it is reason enough for us all to rethink how capitalism has failed, and continues to fail, and will fail to save the lives of countless human beings.

This is the stark, naked face of the economics of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If we are to survive this terrifying pandemic, it will be folly not to rethink how our world’s economic system operates and who it benefits and at what cost to the 99% of our Earth’s population.

“Socialism”, the word that has been derided so much and for so long, may offer a more viable solution.

Socialisation of public amenities, of medical and other critical areas which all people need to live healthily as human beings, and with dignity, must be at the very least, considered as an alternative to the capitalist system where so many starve and die and so few live and prosper.

Our leaders today and the leaders who are yet to come will be callously guilty of not, at the very least, acknowledging that “business as usual” does not work, and is not working. The system is rotten to the very core and the Covid-19 pandemic has, again, made this truth apparent to all of us.

It has taken and is taking countless lives to make that clear.

Our inaction in the coming years will doom future generations to the horrors we are witnessing today.

Our decisive action will, at the very least, give the world a fighting chance. It is up to us. DM

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