From The Editors: The Coronavirus and the Necessity of a Communist Vision
We now know that the coronavirus began spreading in the United States sometime in mid-January, almost precisely when the World Health Organization made available a German diagnostic test to track the disease. But instead of using it, the U.S. government cobbled together privatized partnerships and rolled out a flawed test in early February and only declared a national emergency a month later. As of mid-March, U.S. testing has lagged far behind reported cases in third place internationally, with 10% of 400,000 cases in 173 countries.
Many on the frontlines of the struggle, like health care workers, civil servants, truck drivers, and grocery store employees, are working with inadequate supplies to protect their health. Americans will die due to the refusal of the federal government to begin mass testing to track and contain the virus and to provide simple but vital things like masks and gowns. In the face of this disaster, can anyone deny the need for a nationalized health care system guided by the principle of health care as a human right?
While our ruling class pushes for billions of dollars of the workers’ taxes to stop a stock market in freefall, millions more Americans are finding themselves forced out of work, isolated and scared. Some will be permanently thrown out of the system. When people in high places were told what was coming, they moved to protect their financial interests instead of the people. Various versions of the rescue bill kept being exposed and tweaked for their self-serving interests. Still, the outcome is guaranteed to be that billions of any trillion-dollar package will go to the rich, but only inadequate funds to everyday people. Meanwhile, the ruling class lays the groundwork for a new fascist ideology, with radio pundits and politicians suggesting that the elderly would rather sacrifice their own lives than harm the capitalist economy.
Despite such horrors, the pandemic has also shown us the human impulse toward cooperation for the sake of one another’s survival. All over the country, people are not only following general health protocols but organizing food distributions, fundraising for those in need, calling for eviction moratoriums, and helping the homeless take over abandoned housing. Just as early humanity did for hundreds of thousands of years, we are searching for ways to offer what we have to offer to provide for others’ needs.
Sharing resources to provide for each other’s needs is the fundamental concept of communism. When the people share control of the many ways we produce the things that allow us to survive, all community and individual needs can be met. In communism’s early forms, people banded together to survive a world of scarce resources. Today, we live in a world where digital technologies can produce virtually anything we need, with less and less human activity. This new reality has created a decades-long and deepening worldwide crisis for capitalism because that system depends on workers earning money to buy its goods.
The coronavirus has exacerbated this post-industrial crisis and revealed the necessity for a new communist economic system. The objective truth is that we could, right now, harness all of our resources to tackle the pandemic. We could ensure that no one has to go without a surplus of food, shelter, clothing, and whatever other tools individuals might need to get through such a crisis. Imagine being out of work without fear for our own safety or the safety of our families!
Before the coronavirus epidemic, over forty million Americans were food insecure, and half a million were homeless on any given night. Despite dedicated efforts by small groups throughout the country, this situation will only grow worse, because the people have no control over systems of mass production that could resolve these problems. In fact, as part of a move toward indoctrinating us with the new fascist ideology, we’ve seen people arrested for feeding the hungry, helping those in prison, and trying to keep families from being torn apart. The ruling class crusade for an ideology that puts the economy above human life will only intensify as American (and worldwide) corporate owners fight to maintain their wealth and control over the system.
The new communist vision says this does not have to be. By removing the profit motive from the driver’s seat of the system, we can effectively take care of each other every day. We can minimize this pandemic, and martial our resources to deal with looming crises like superbugs and the profit-driven threat of climate change. At this point in our history, the practical solution of “to each according to their need” is much more than a good idea; it is absolutely necessary to our hopes and dreams for all we love.
May/June 2020. vol.30. Ed3
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
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The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011