Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Inhumanity Unbound: the Case for Socialism



Chinese health workers celebrate by removing their masks for the first time in months as the last of the temporary Covid-19 treatment centres closes in Wuhan, China.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Nothing exposes the hypocrisy, arrogance, and selfishness of capitalism and its backers like a major threat or catastrophe. 
 
Three hundred Chinese doctors began arriving in Italy on Wednesday, March 18 to help the local effort against the coronavirus  (Fifty-two health professionals also arrived from socialist Cuba last week). In addition, PRChina (PRC) is sending testing kits and protective clothing. PRC has sent kits and gear to Spain, Greece, and Poland as well.
 
While The Wall Street Journal (3-19-2020) grudgingly reports this international solidarity, it is also compelled to admit that “many people feel let down by the European Union… No other EU countries responded to an Italian plea for masks earlier in March, and German authorities temporarily impeded deliveries of medical supplies to Italy.” The head of a European think tank remarked: “This is a shocking failure of European solidarity. The impression in Italy, Spain, and Serbia and so on is that the weaker links will be left alone.” 
 
The Italian and Chinese governments announced that PRC will supply needed ventilators and face masks. Balkan countries unable to acquire supplies from the EU are also getting assistance from the PRC, according to the WSJ. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic bitterly commented: “European solidarity does not exist. It was a fairytale.”
 
Contrast this commentary on European indifference with the arrogant self-righteousness of the policy of “open-borders” as formerly proclaimed by EU leaders. When workers expressed their reservations about unlimited immigration eroding wages and benefits in the EU, the Euro-leadership indignantly charged “xenophobia.” Waving the banner of human rights, the EU chiefs welcomed immigrants-- mostly the victims of imperialist aggression-- desperately looking for jobs at any cost, while appearing to take the moral high ground.
 
Once the “reserve army” overflowed to create stress on the EU safety net, the welcome mat was quietly removed. 
 
European workers understood the simple fact that in a capitalist economy the labor of workers is a commodity like any other element in the productive process and that capitalists seek to purchase that commodity as cheaply as possible. They anticipated that humanitarian sentiments were too often a cover for cheapening the cost of labor.
 
The formerly putative human rights crusaders of an EU without borders are now panicked in a mad dash of self-preservation, hoarding resources and closing borders. Today’s pandemic crisis exposes their hypocrisy.
 
But neither neglect nor arrogance is a monopoly of the capitalist European Union. It is now widely acknowledged that the austerity imposed upon the US public sector since the crash of 2007-2009 bears a responsibility for the lack of funding for the agencies, like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), that needed to address the threat from the coronavirus.
 
In addition, the CDC displayed an unforgivable hubris, ignoring the international efforts to contain the virus and the lessons learned. In accounts from as diverse sources as National Public Radio and The Wall Street Journal, we learn that the CDC chose to develop its own testing kits for the virus, ignoring the existing technologies of the World Health Organization and the PRC.
 
When their own kits went into production, they proved faulty, setting the program back. Rather than turning to existing internationally used designs, the CDC sought to make its own corrections, further delaying production. The CDC vastly underestimated the virus’s deadliness and its contagion. The spread of the virus is rapidly outstripping the availability of testing kits, attesting to the conceit of Make America Great Again.
 
Despite the lack of testing kits in the US, many have noticed that celebrities, sports figures, politicians and others of our “betters” have cut the line and acquired tests before the most needy-- the ugliest side of the inequality of class society. 
 
Also, reliable accounts have surfaced that some US elected officials have used their privileged information to enable them to liquidate their equity portfolios before the great March stock market collapse.
 
Workers employed in low-wage, service-sector jobs are the most vulnerable to intensive and persisting human contact and potential infection and are the least able to sustain the economic consequences of the pandemic.
 
It is not true that we are all in this together. Some are in it for themselves.
 
For any thinking observer, the coronavirus pandemic is fast becoming an argument for socialism. Even a bitter enemy of public ownership, planning, and economic equality like The Wall Street Journal caustically acknowledges that the PRC’s remarkable defeat of the coronavirus epidemic was achieved with the quickly mobilized, effective state-owned-enterprises (SOEs). In a tellingly titled article (China Steps Back From Market Economy, 3-19-2020), Lingling Wei cites the 20,000 SOE construction workers and supportive public enterprises that built two hospitals with 2,600 beds within two weeks, an achievement impossible in the capitalist West. Lingling cites an official: “It’s like in a battlefield, and state-owned enterprises are the ones who can act fast and decisively.”
 
The coordination of SOEs was formidable, with petrochemical enterprises working to produce materials for masks and pharmaceuticals. State-owned housing ordered reduced rents by “tens of millions of dollars.” Despite the reduced production necessitated by social isolation, the central government pressed SOEs to maintain employment, even “hire more, especially college graduates.”
 
The WSJ concedes that “Many private manufacturers are struggling to restore production, yet more than 95% of some 20,000 industrial companies controlled by the central government are churning out masks, medicines, steel, heavy machinery and other products-- keeping workers on the job.”
 
Western commentators bemoan the success of the SOEs, interpreting it as a setback for the hope of privatization (so-called “market reforms”) in PRC. One former WSJ writer complained: “If and when the outbreak fades, the conclusion is inevitably going to be that the overwhelming exercise of state power saved China.”
 
In exemplary acts of solidarity fully consistent with its long history of internationalism, tiny socialist Cuba, suffering a criminal US blockade and brutal sanctions, is offering doctors and drugs to several stricken countries.

When the US refused to allow the British cruise ship, MS Braemer, to dock, Cuba met its humanitarian duty and allowed its passengers to disembark and travel home by air. 
 
The contrast with Western, capitalist efforts is striking. The PRC (and Democratic Republic of Vietnam) have largely arrested the virus. As of March 21, the total cases per million of population is lower in the PRC than in the US and the UK, countries only at the beginning of their infection cycle. Italy had 6,557 new cases compared to only 41 in the PRC (4,759 in the US). 

Chinese health workers celebrate by removing their masks for the first time in months as the last of the temporary Covid-19 treatment centres closes in Wuhan, China.
 
In the US, there are far too few test kits, masks, and ventilators. New York City hospitals are overwhelmed. State administrations and the Federal government are in dispute over responsibilities while disaster looms. 
 
And tragically, the political and economic elites are more determined to rescue markets and corporations than humans. Trillions have been earmarked to bail capitalism. 
 
The idiocies, irrationalities, and unnecessary injuries of twenty-first-century capitalism are coming into full, tragic view. 
 
Greg Godels

Monday, February 3, 2020

Declaration of the Regional Office of the World Federation of Trade Unions in the Middle East on the so-called “Deal of the Century”






The US administration, represented by the head of its pyramid, presented by the US President Donald Trump with a hostile and provocative step has announced in public at a press conference with the Prime Minister of the Israeli entity, “Beniamin Netanyahu” that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Zionist entity and that the occupied Syrian Golan has become part of what is called the State of Israel, and that the Palestinians have to accept the fait accompli and to join the peace process in order to have a state recognized by the American administration that has no borders, but rather is based on separate and fragmented cantons. On the other hand, they will have investments that make their promised state a paradise on earth, otherwise they will face more and more isolation.
We at the World Federation of Trade Unions stress the following:
1- Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Palestine.
2- The American administration should stop stoking hostility in the region by imposing a fait accompli policy, in contradiction to the United Nations resolutions that affirm the necessity of the Zionist entity withdrawing from all the Arab lands it occupied, otherwise what is the purpose of the United Nations and international law if each country violates it?
3- The right of return for the Palestinians is a sacred right that no one has the right to violate, and it is a right that does not lapse by default.
4- The Syrian Golan is Syrian occupied land, whose reality cannot be changed in any way.
5- The necessity of uniting Arab and international forces opposing the policies of domination and colonialism pursued by successive American administrations and the need for a global front to confront and expose these policies at all levels, and to organize protests in front of American embassies in the world.
6- The necessity to unify the Palestinian trade union forces at home and abroad, because what was leaked from the Deal of the Century has become a dangerous matter.
Long live the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people
Jerusalem and the Golan are Arab Lands
Long live the World Federation of Trade Unions

Friday, January 10, 2020

Cyprus must not get involved in US-Israel-Saudi Arabia warmongering plans

Statement by AKEL C.C. Spokesperson Stefanos Stefanou on developments in the Middle East
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 9th January 2020, Nicosia
Developments in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean are causing concern among the peoples of our neighborhood and all over the world. At the same time they provoke justified outrage because the offender is once again the same. The offender is the United States that in the previous years has together with its allies steeped Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria in blood. Today they are yet again targeting Iran.
NATO’s deeper involvement in the Middle East – as the US President and NATO Secretary-General announced yesterday – will only add new dangers. The continuation of the foreign interventions in the Middle East and the escalation of tension will trigger uncontrolled and dangerous situations with the prospect of a new war in the Middle East visible; a war that the countries and peoples of our neighborhood will pay the heavy price for with blood, suffering and a new uprooting and displacement of the peoples.
Cyprus will find itself targeted if it is involved in any way whatsoever in the warmongering plans of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran and other states and peoples of our neighborhood.
Those forces and circles who claim that Cyprus’ accession to the US-NATO war machine – as sealed by the notorious Menendez-Rubio bill – strengthens our country, must give explanations to the Cypriot people about the dangers that are being created for our country and its security.
As for the provision of facilities that the Anastasiades government has decided to grant to the American forces, we express the hope that these are truly about what the government is stating, namely, for the evacuation of diplomatic missions from neighbouring countries. They mustn’t be or evolve into anything else that might involve our country in dangers.
Our people’s interest lies in peace and the defence of international law, and not by choosing which camp to belong to, and in particular to Donald Trump’s camp, which literally represents a danger to the whole world. This is what must guide the foreign policy of our country.
AKEL joins its voice with the peoples of our region, with the peace movements in Europe, the US, Israel and around the world that are demanding respect for international law and the sovereignty of states, global nuclear disarmament and lasting peace.