Pandemic: The Empire Has No Clothes
Why is it that, when the numbers of unemployed were soaring past 30 million, the stock market went up? Why was it that, as milk was being poured into the gutters, and fresh fruit and vegetables were being plowed under, Wall Street was rebounding? Why is this happening even as recently laid off workers are forced to line up in food lines by the thousands just to be able to put food on the table for their families? Why, during a continuing coronavirus pandemic, where the numbers of cases stretch past one million, and the number of deaths exceeds 100,000, does the ruling class celebrate an ill-timed reopening of the economy even as more workers lives are put in jeopardy? On the very day that the number of deaths reached 100,000, Eric Trump proclaimed, “Great day for the Dow!”
There is something very wrong with this picture. If nothing else, this crisis has exposed the fundamental polarization at the root of everything that ails our society: the growing polarization of wealth and poverty. It defines the very nature of the class society that we live in. On the one hand, a ruling class has moved to take over the government and operate it in their interests. That interest is solely to maximize their profits, increase their vast wealth, and defend the accumulation of private property for their class alone. When the government passed the first stimulus package, over $4 trillion went to the biggest corporations and banks.
On the other hand, there are the rest of us. We are a working class that is growing more impoverished by the day. The COVID-19 crisis triggered millions more being discarded by the system into the ranks of those the rulers of the empire sees no value in maintaining. If you can’t work, you can’t produce. If you can’t produce, you can’t consume. The ruling class has no interest in securing even the most minimal of basic needs for our class. As some have expressed it, it is better to let people die to save the economy. The Defense Protection Act was mobilized to force meat processing plants, amid a major outbreak of the virus, to reopen and put their workers in danger, while at the same time removing the owners from any liability.
Donald Trump, wannabe Emperor, and cheerleader-in-chief, first put himself forward as the fixer, the one who was going to cure the pandemic and return the economy to “greatness” in short order. But in so doing, he surrounded himself with an array of corporate leaders and showcased them as the ones who were going to resolve the crisis and restore the economy. His mantra became, “Only we, the ruling class, of which I am its preeminent representative, can fix it.”
Yet, at the same time, Trump began the process of abdicating any responsibility. First, he left it up to the states to figure it out on their own, and now that the country is opening back up, how things turn out is all on you. According to the Trump Administration, if you choose to ignore social distancing guidelines or do not wear a mask in public spaces and get sick and die, then it is your fault.
What has been exposed is the anarchy of production and the anarchy of the marketplace. States and municipalities are pitted against one another, desperately competing for masks, PPE and tests. This process was exacerbated by the government refusing to obtain much needed supplies from the global supply chain, insisting that they must be made In America. So while U. S. companies were taking the necessary time to ramp up production, front-line workers’ lives were put in even greater danger.
Now, some 14 American companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Regeneron, Genetech, Merck and Moderna, are in an all-out race to see who can develop a vaccine first. Many will lose, and only one will win. But whoever wins will be very rich. The goal of obtaining a cure that works and will be safe for the people is somehow lost in the process. The only thing that matters is profitability. The corporations win; the people lose.
The 20 largest and most profitable hospital chains in the country have received over $72 billion in bailouts from the stimulus program. The Providence Hospital System, for example, was already sitting on more than $10 billion in profits and is now using bailout funds to increase its bottom line by investing in hedge funds, venture capital, and private equity funds.
What is now clear to all those who will dare to look is that the empire, the ruling class, cannot deliver. A government that operates in its interests is fundamentally opposed to the interests of the workers, especially that section displaced by an accelerating new technology. Even as we speak, the ruling class is already thinking ahead. Its answer to the crisis is to double down on the process of replacing workers with automated production on every level of the economy. Many of the jobs lost are never coming back. And how are those who now have little or no money to survive? The ruling class has no answer.
And for this new class being displaced in record numbers in the midst of this pandemic, it is not going to get any better. From Newsom in California to Cuomo in New York to every Southern governor, drastic cuts to basic social services are being made to their respective state budgets.
The emperor has no clothes. The empire has no clothes.
If it is up to us, then we, our class, are going to have to begin to supply our own answers. There is no returning to normal. The continuation of a government owned and operated by the ruling class is not a government in the interests of the people. In response to the crisis, our growing new class is a rising social force demanding that the government operate in their interests, not the ruling class. That is the necessary step to begin the process of transforming society and the government to meet the basic demands and needs of our new class. That is the only way forward. But if that is what must be done, then it is up to us to make it happen.
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