Escribe Savas Michael-Matsas
The Covid-19 is a hacker created by nature to reveal the vulnerability of the system before it completely collapses. From Massimiliano Sassali de Bianchi 2
Tiempo de lectura: 26 minutos
The Covid-19 pandemic marks a breaking point in global historical developments. It triggers a chain explosion all over the world and in each particular country, with enormous social, economic, political, and geopolitical consequences.
It erupted and continues to expand during the still unresolved global capitalist crisis that exploded in 2007- 2008, at a moment when the latter was already sinking into a new, even more devastating, threatening phase of deterioration in 2019. The pandemic, now, is pushing it into the abyss.
The reports of the international financial institutions, the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD and the European Central Bank are sending increasingly gloomy messages.“The global economy on a tightrope", is the headline in the OECD report in June3. “The worst Global Recession in 80 years is here. Where is the bottom?" ask the think tanks of imperialism4.
The noticeably impressive and terrifying comparisons with the Second World War, the 1929 Crash, the Great Depression of the 1930s are combined, from March-April 2020 onwards, after the lock-down in one country after another, with new, ever more threatening definitions. The Bank of International Settlements, the so-called "central bank of central banks", speaks about the “Great Global Stop”, and the IMF about the “Great Global Lock-down”.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic continues on its lethal course. There are new outbreaks particularly in the US, Brazil, Britain, Spain, Pakistan, Israel, the Balkans and elsewhere. At the time of writing (July 12, 2020), there are 12,878,209 official cases worldwide and 570,207 deaths. And we're still in the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the prospect of a vaccine or effective treatment disappearing into the indefinite future...
The insoluble link between a systemic global crisis and a pandemic was metaphorically described as a “perfect storm”; one sweeping the planet, having started from the Global North, mainly from the three major hubs of international capital flows, America, the European Union and China, and spreading then to the Global South, to all continents and countries, with uneven rates, gravity and speed in each one.
The epicenter today is situated, undoubtedly, at the heart of global capitalism, which is also the center of its systemic crisis - Trump's imperial and declining America.
Weathermen call ‘perfect storm’ the violent, uncontrollable and devastating storm resulting from the coincidence and combination of extreme weather events. Although this metaphor has its value, it also has its limits.
What humanity is experiencing in 2020 is not just a natural disaster, independent of human interference, a mythological “curse of the gods” or a “grim human invention”, a “conspiracy of dark forces” or a one-sided “decision” of authoritarian power mechanisms. It did not emerge “like the asteroid that scientists say suddenly struck the Earth and wiped out the dinosaurs, nor is it the result of purely human interference in a neutral environment, a sociopolitical construct” 5.
The pandemic wasn't the unpredictable “black swan” that accidentely came out of nowhere.
The capitalist system and the ruling classes have huge direct responsibilities for the spread of the pandemic, the death and misery it has caused and continues spreading.
Capitalist governments in Europe and America consciously and criminally ignored for months to take any actions following the first outbreak of the Covid-19 in China at the end of November and to prevent its transformation into a full pandemic. Even when the World Health Organization in January 2020 sounded a pandemic alert or when the pandemic hit Italy and Europe, the United States and other countries and continents, no actions were taken.
The most extreme example is found at the very center of global capitalism, its strongest bastion, America, with President Trump reminding us of Nero singing as he set fire to Rome. On 28 February he declared that the pandemic “will have very minor consequences” in the United States. On March 4, 2020, he insisted that 'nothing closes, life and the economy continue as usual', while on March 24, he announced that social and economic life would resume from Easter and on April 12 “churches will be overcrowded all over the country”.
Similar blindness in front of a life-threatening catastrophe, with the only preoccupation being safeguarding political power and the profits of capitalism, was shockingly demonstrated not only in the United States or by Trump's like-minded Boris Johnson with the insane concept of “herd immunity”, or by the fascistoid Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. A similar, although slightly more disguised, stand was taken by the EU leaders, including initially Emanuel Macron in France (as denounced by his own former minister of Health) Angela Merkel, or her European allies among the “frugal four” in Central and Northern Europe (Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Austria) following the “save yourself and let your neighbour die” doctrine.
They all demonstrated the fiercest nationalism, scandalously ignoring the needs of their "partners” in the imperialist "Union” of Bandits. First of all, they hermetically closed national state borders. The leaders of the “rich” countries of Northern Europe arrogantly turned their backs on the “lazy' peoples” of Southern Europe, including Italy, to which Germany refused even to send protective masks!
The myth of a European (?) Union (??!!) has also been demonstrated by the absence of any pan-European health policy in the face of the pandemic. The hypocrisy of the 'powerful' in the German-speaking area was exposed by the exploitation of Eastern European workers by the 'moral' leaders of Austria and Germany.
In an important article, Hungarian professor Jószef Böröcz condemned the scandalous behavior of the ruling classes of Western Europe towards Central and Eastern Europe, which they treat as if it were their colony. While hermetically closing their borders, at night they opened secret passages and transported workers from the Czech Republic, Romania or Bulgaria by special trains or airplanes to do the most dangerous and risky pandemic jobs e.g. in nursing homes in Austria or for the asparagus harvest in Germany in April 2020, thus infecting them with the COVID- 19.
Despite the threatening premonitions of the so-called 'epidemic of epidemics' of recent decades and the warnings of epidemiologists, there has been, throughout the capitalist world, systematic degradation and destruction of any epidemic response structures and criminal delay by state and government authorities in taking necessary health protection measures. It also glaringly revealed the dramatic shortage of equipment, masks, ventilators, etc., and above all the lack of necessary staff in public health systems.
But at the critical moment, it wasn't the clinicians and their private complexes who faced and are facing the perfect storm. It was the public health officials who gave everything and collected nothing apart from a hypocritical applause. The last 40 years of frantic neoliberalism have shattered the public health systems that workers conquered in the post-war period with their own power.
Since the eruption of the global crisis in 2007-08, the incessant measures of social cannibalism called 'austerity' have placed the burden of the crisis on the peoples, they have turned entire populations into outcasts without the slightest provision, they have turned them into living zombies, on the edge of survival.
Even when the out-of-control pandemic began to reap the "measures” or the absence of measures, the declaration of a “state of emergency”, of police and military rule and the overall attitude of governments, states, transnational associations such as the EU, made it their priority to save the privileged few and their disintegrating system but not the raging humanity and working class threatened with death either from the pandemic or from hunger.
The pandemic has hit society at its most vulnerable parts, the most precarious and defenceless populations, relentlessly shedding light on all inequalities according to class, gender, “race”, all open wounds, and fractures in the skeletal social body within declining capitalism. As has been so blatantly demonstrated: We're not all equal in sickness and in death.
During the quarantine and even after it was lifted, the ruling class and its governments first took care of their own class interests. So they have also had the opportunity to promote and continue to promote over-reactionary decrees and laws that are strangling what remains of labour and democratic rights.
It is not a matter of conspiracy, nor is it a problem of lack of scientific knowledge and information, ignorance or obscurantist blindness. Caligula-Trump in the White House, Boris Johnson with his "herd immunity” in Britain or the fascist Bolsonaro in Brazil, the EU elites together with their systemic ideological mechanisms, such as the bourgeois media, professionals in the obscurantism whether they are American Evangelists or Greek Despots, drive to its logical conclusion the dominant logic of a system that has long since lost all historical reason for existence.
The relentless truth is that capitalism is in its advanced decline and in the crisis of its globalisation is now incompatible with life itself.
This truth is deliberately concealed by the prevailing formal separation of "health crisis” and “economic crisis" or their aggregation as two separate, alien processes. Both promote the "health or the economy first" dilemma that accompanied both the quarantines and the disorderly "restart of the economy”, thus blackmailing workers into choosing to die either of hunger or the COVID-19.
These are pretexts for legalising the (failed) actions of a panicked ruling class , of its staff and state apparatus.
When the situation worldwide began to get out of hand, two basic concepts prevailed to deal with it. The Imperial College Team talked about the herd immunity model and the model of suppression of proved cases of COVID-19 through quarantine and social distancing. The curve of economic recession, in the first model, will therefore be softened more quickly if the population is, in fact, left to its own devices with the blind 'immunity of the herd', at a huge cost in COVID-19 victims.
This barbaric notion of blatant neo-Malthusianism and social Darwinism, which prevailed in Britain, the USA and Sweden, was opposed by a second model, with strict quarantine, social distancing, leading to the alleviation of the pandemic, the reduction of casualties, preceding the easing of the economic recession curve, which would necessarily be more protracted.
Professor Taleb's team (at New York University) criticised, from its own point of view, the mechanical and arbitrary dualistic shape of the curves projected by Imperial College, showing the errors in it.
China has pursued a strict and comprehensive quarantine strategy, totally contrary to the one pursued by the Anglo-Saxon countries, with authoritarian surveillance of the population by the bureaucratic regime, systematic and compulsory use of a mask, social separation, mass testing, tracking, etc.. Thus, it relatively quickly controlled the spread of the COVID-19 within the country.
In the May 2020 Message, the International Socialist Centre “Christian Rakowski” observed: “The superiority of methods inherited from central planning was observed in countries that had experienced revolutionary social transformations in the past such as China or Vietnam.
China was the first country to have to cope with an epidemic of unprecedented proportions for at least a century, without having the advantage of learning from the experience of other countries, such as the West because of the Chinese experience that preceded it. And yet, thanks to its public hospital system and its special way of socialising labour mobilisation, it was able to almost limit the damage of the epidemic in a province (Hubei) and a city (Wuhan) and bring it under control on its own. It is most ironic to see that the United States, the most powerful country in the world, has now reached more than five times the number of cases in China and that at the same time it has only one fifth of the population of China!
Vietnam remained relatively untouched by the virus, despite the first wave of the pandemic hitting East and Southeast Asia. These two countries are now sending doctors and medical supplies to the rich countries of the West, as the latter are each suffering a national catastrophe which they cannot overcome.
But the clearest example of the contrast between societies in transition to socialism and capitalist societies is Cuba. It is this country where medical and health care systems are incomparably stronger than all capitalist countries in relation to their respective levels of development and wealth. Cuba has presented worldwide the counterexample of the
USΑ of Trump or the man-eating “austerity" of EU, generously sending doctors, medical supplies and scientific expertise to dozens of countries. The way in which the Cuban state monitors the (limited) spread of the virus on the island, sending the most experienced doctors from house to house every day, introducing strict quarantine measures in neighbourhoods that are already infected and appointing specialist doctors in such neighborhoods where they come into personal contact with locals, is also a clear example of caring behavior, professional skill and, above all, humanism”6.
Global problems, including that of the pandemic, require global solutions.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had already spoken about the need for a 'One World - One Health' approach. However, it distorts this approach by ignoring social divisions, class inequalities, national and imperialist confrontations, involving the UN, state authorities, non- governmental organisations, etc. That is why, in the WHO approach, the evolutionary biologist and Marxist Robert Wallace, together with his team of epidemiologists and other experts, contrast the 'Structural One World - One Health approach', which seeks and highlights the structural causes of the spread of epidemics in the modern world, at a time of capitalist globalisation7.
We should approach the pandemic in the global crisis and the global capitalist crisis in the pandemic in their unprecedented specificity, in the fullness of their unfulfilled tensions and contradictions and stress their unity, repudiating any dualistic mechanistic separation of Nature and human history, as well as any idealistic denial of the primacy of material Nature. In other words, we need to dialectically approach the intersection, which takes place in 2020, from the perspective of the overall contradictory process that Marx called social metabolism or “exchange of matter” (Stoffwechsel) of Nature and Man8, where Man in order to address the needs that Nature places upon him intervenes by changing Nature, creating new needs that Nature alone would not create and changing himself.
Many forget, including many Marxists, that the central category of Marx's historical materialism is not the economy. The economic categories are alienated forms, abstractions, "theoretical expressions only, the deductions of social production relationships corresponding to a particular stage in the development of material production”9. The central Marxist category is life itself (Leben).
In German Ideology, the founding text of the materialistic concept of history, Marx, by developing the central historical materialistic category of social production, clarifies it as follows, distinguishing it from any crude “productionism” or economist reductionism: "This mode of production should not be considered to be merely a reproduction of the physical existence of individuals. It is more a defined form of activity of these individuals, a defined form that expresses their life, a defined form of their lifestyle (with the emphasis here on the original term — Lebenweise10).
Developing this historical materialistic concept in his magnus opus, Capital, Marx showed that "the true barrier of capitalist production is capital itself." The driving force and historical limit of capitalist production as a historically distinct lifestyle is the contradiction of a production that "is only production for capital", for "the preservation and self-expansion of the value of capital" and the growing need "for an unlimited expansion of the active real life process (erweiternde Gestaltung des Lebenprozesses) of the producers society11".
The most dramatic evidence of the eruption of this contradiction is precisely the current global crisis and its disintegration, where capitalist production, having already clashed with this real barrier in 2008, with globalised capital itself, is now proving to be completely incapable of responding to the urgent needs of the active process of living in a pandemic.
Before the pandemic, it had already become clear that all the "unorthodox" economic measures (economic stimulus packages, quantitative easing measures, extremely low or even negative interest rates, etc.) introduced by central banks and governments to address the deadly threats faced by the capitalist system following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 had been exhausted12. Particularly since the end of 2018 and during 2019, fears arose that a new, even worse phase of the still unsolved global crisis was coming. Investors and analysts, write Katie Martin of the Financial Times, "were constantly searching for signs that could be the fluttering of the butterfly that would unleash the next major drama in the real economy […]. Instead, investors were humiliated by one thing they had not taken into account at all: real life.13" The cynicism and arrogance of capital and “investors” also appear in addressing the demands of life in the face of the deadly threat of the pandemic as “humiliation” of the Market Goddess!! In fact, it's the other way around. Capital thinks it can humiliate for its own despicable purposes and aims the needs of real Life, trample Nature for free, without unleashing “perfect storms" against everything.
Robert Wallace and his group have clearly highlighted the link between the various epidemics (Sars1, H1N1, Mers, Ebola, etc.) in the last few decades of capitalist globalisation (1979-2008) and the globalisation of capital itself. The latter has resulted in tremendous destruction of ecosystems, huge deforestation, the collapse of immune barriers, limitless capitalist farming expansion in wildlife areas, resulting in zoonoses, transmission of harmless pre-viruses from animals to humans and then from person to person, with high transmissibility, morbidity and mortality. The expansion over borders, countries and continents, from there on, is greatly facilitated by global supply chains, global exchange networks and international transport.
The mutation of declining Metropoles in the global North and large cities in the global South, with flourishing financial centres of speculation and favelas of misery, has created the conditions of what Brazilian critical analysts aptly called the necropography of capital14.
If the capitalist globalisation of the decades of neoliberalism has promoted a globalisation of new epidemics, the evolving and terribly dangerous pandemic of Sars-Cov-2 or Covid 19 is linked to the hitherto insurmountable crisis of this capitalist globalisation, the internal collapse or implosion of the global financial sphere in 2008.
The explosion of the globalised contradictions of capital, despite all the halting efforts, spread in an unequal and combined way, across all dimensions of social formations in their planetary interconnection.
The COVID-19 pandemic is, as many have acknowledged, the warning of a climate crash that threatens all life on the planet.
John Bellamy Foster, based on the work of the Hungarian Marxist István Mészarós, Samir Amin's theory of imperialism and research by Robert Wallace's team, is working on an interesting connection between Marxism and radical Ecology. At its core is the existence of a metabolic rift brought about between relations between man and Nature by capitalism, particularly in its globalized period.
John Bellamy Foster's approach is indeed fertile, but without avoiding scourges. Here, we will stick only to the concept of 'metabolic rift', which, as others have observed, carries the risk of a regression to a Cartesian-type dualism that divides nature and man into two separate worlds.
The rift must be viewed dialectically. It is the historically defined, capitalist form of human-Nature social metabolism that is in sharp conflict and disruption with the content of this metabolism, the ever- growing needs of mankind's active life process, thereby mortally disrupting its overall relationship with Nature. This form has decayed, disintegrated, strangled and poisoned its content, but it will not abolish itself. As Walter Benjamin rightly warned: "capitalism will not die by natural death"15. It will only be abolished by the global socialist revolution that will give a victorious expression to Life's urgent, deeper demands.
“Decomposition is the laboratory of life" (la putrefaction est le laboratoire de la vie) Marx added in the first French translation and edition of the first volume of Capital. The “decay” itself of the ageing social bond in the productive relationship with Nature is an expression not only of the new needs of Life formed in the old form but also of the transmutation of the conditions that allow the emergence of the new, higher social bond.
It is no coincidence that the current internal relationship between pandemic and capitalist crisis, their dialectical interconnection and interaction take on the dimensions of an anthropological crisis.
They put on the agenda the overcoming of the very content of communism, as Marx defines it in the manuscripts of 1844: “The positive overcoming of private property as the re-appropriation of human life is therefore the positive overcoming of any alienation [...] Thus society is man's complete unity with Nature - the true resurrection of Nature - the consequent naturalization of man and the consequent humanization of Nature”.16
The bourgeoisie tries to hide its own awkwardness and panic and at the same time conceal a “restart of the economy” under the gloomy shadow of the lingering threat of COVID-19, by relentlessly talking about “a return to normality before the pandemic” or, more neatly, “a new normality”, since "we must, for an indefinite period, accept to live ( and by “we” they mean “us” the "underdogs”) with COVID-19 and in financial difficulties”...
The so-called “normality” before the pandemic was already a nightmare. The "new normality” is envisaged to be much worse.
The bourgeois propaganda that the “difficult situation” is limited to 2020 and from 2021 things will improve significantly is fake news. The “optimistic scenario” that the economy after a dip in recession will recover quickly in a year, following a V-shaped course, is even considered by mainstream economists, such as the Keynesian Nobel Prize winner Josef Stiglitz, “a fantasy17”.
Some imaginative people, looking at the unprecedented interventions of the State and central banks to tackle chaos after the Covid-19 pandemic, now on a scale that makes the “heterodox" measures after Lehman Brothers pale in comparison, talk about the possibility of returning to Keynesianism, the post-war economy of the welfare State's full employment benefits. Even those loyal to Keynes like Stieglitz don't believe that. Moreover, the 'rescue programmes' of the major financial and monopolistic capitalist groups go hand in hand, not only with the even more monstrous swelling of an already overwhelming global public and private debt, but also with the imposition of a workplace jungle that goes beyond what we have seen during triumphant neoliberalism or the years of social cannibalism on an ‘austerity’ memorandum.
As Marco d 'Eramo18 observes, the pandemic took the ruling classes by surprise: "...our governors see the systemic crisis as a mere stock market crisis: they react to the pandemic as if it were a new 2008, imitating Bernanke and proposing a Friedman-like stock market expansion. Captives of financial orthodoxy, they do not understand that this time the shock of demand will bring about more than just a liquidity crisis."
Bourgeois economics ”science” is unable to learn the lessons of the 2007 - 2008 crash and the decade that followed.
For 12 years “...trillions of dollars of Quantitative Easing and zero interest rates have failed to drive a bogged down global economy," Susan Watkins19 rightly observes.
Following the pandemic, can the new liquidity waterfalls of the 'economic re-heating', 'quantitative easing' packages and the almost zero or even negative interest rates of the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan succeed where they have failed for more than a decade, just by over-increasing their intervention? What they “succeed" in doing is putting the world economy into intensive care, as if it were severely ill with the COVID-19, in “ life support," as Adam Tooze20 wrote, in “central bank ventilator," or as Giannis Angelis21 wrote.
The US Federal Reserve which, because of the central position of the USA in the global capitalist economy, functions in a sense as the global central bank, takes full advantage of the fact that the country's national currency, the US dollar was for most of the 20th century the world’s reserve and dominant currency in international transactions. But now comes the sharp contradiction. What we witness now is a national currency, the US dollar acting as the dominant global money.
The Financial Times considers that in the midst and context of the pandemic, the dollar itself is no longer a regulating-stabilizing factor. On the contrary, it is becoming a destabilising factor. That is why the British newspaper of the City of London does not hide its scepticism about the effectiveness of the 'monetary war' declared by the US Federal Reserve, with its unprecedented dollar amounts of hydrobombs bombing the Monster that came through the door, to use the apt phrase of the American Marxist, Mike Davis, who has long warned that 'The monster is at our door' and has now invaded22.
The fetishism that dominates capitalism also implies the fetishism of money and monetary policy as a panacea. The plethora of cash flow is not therapeutic in itself. You can die of hyperaemia, not just anemia. Central bankers themselves see with concern that the money supply is inversely proportional to its much slower velocity. The cash flow is mainly directed, again, towards the reheating of the financial sphere, not production, as the contradictions of capital overproduction and the falling rate of profit have not been resolved and are still exacerbated. Both the exploitation process and the process of realising surplus value are blocked.
The bourgeois political economy always identifies the monetary form of value with its content and its substance with abstract labor.
The failure of monetary policies, “heterodox” and “orthodox" alike, are manifestations of the historical exhaustion of the law of value itself. The value relationship fails to function as a regulator.
The Workers Revolutionary Party of Greece (EEK) has repeatedly stressed the strategic impasse of capitalism after 2008: both strategies of the imperialist era of its decline, Keynesianism and neoliberalism, failed; the first collapsed in 1971 and the second in 2008 - tertium non datur.
We live in the twillight capitalism of our time, the end of the mythical hero of its political economy, the dying agony of Homo Economicus himself23.
The agonizing question for everyone remains: Where are we going? What are the main trends for developments in the immediate period ahead?
Nuriel Rubini, one of the few urban economists who warned in 2008 about the upcoming crash, is also warning now that “the great economic crisis is just beginning24”.
Rubini empirically lists the new growing dangers in a list that gives rise to chills:
• Budget deficits, bad debts, bankruptcies. • Requirements for health expenditure • Deflation and • Monetary crises • Unemployment and intensity of automation and teleworking. In America, 47 million people have registered for unemployment benefits, and each form of teleworking deepens the exploitation rate and inequalities between workers. • De-Globalisation • US economic war against China • Climate change
Every point is noticeable on this list of horrors, on the list of Pharaoh's wounds that are already beginning to occur in the pandemic and rapidly deteriorating systemic crisis of global capitalism.
Arguably the most crucial focal point that has raised intense debates and concerns, especially after March 2020, is the so-called process of de-globalisation.
The panicked closure of national state borders to deal with the pandemic, the policy of 'saving oneself', the surge in economic and political nationalism, the surge in economic and trade wars, above all the intensifying conflict between the USA of Trump and China, along with Russia and the EU, the disruption of global supply chains in the conditions of global quarantine (global lockdown), the announcements, threats or even actions for 'reshoring' multinational companies, 'self- sufficiency' and protective walls make many talk of the 'end of globalisation', which seemed to have triumphed, definitively and irreversibly, between Thatcher and the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the emblematic break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The term 'globalisation' in the period 1978-2008 had indeed prevailed as the fetishist myth of globalised financial capital. There was deliberate, distorted, ideological use and misuse of the term, linked to the now totally infamous proclamation of the “end of history” with the “complete and final victory” of liberal capitalism around the globe; a globalised capitalism with no internal contradictions, no rival, no alternative (the notorious Thatcherite notion of ‘TINA’ - There Is No Alternative). The myth was shattered by the collapse of the global financial sphere in 2008.
This does not mean that along with the myth that reversed and distorted reality and ignored its contradictions, the material historical basis from which it emerged disappeared; a historical basis that included the global division of labour, the global character of modern productive forces, the global market shaped by the unequal and combined historical development of capitalism, culminating in its upper and final stage, imperialism, the era of capitalist decline.
As we have analysed elsewhere25, capitalist globalisation is not a static situation but a process.
We distinguish three key periods in the imperialist era: at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, ending with the eruption of the First World War, the October Revolution of 1917 and the beginning of the global socialist revolution. Then there was a second one, after the Second World War, driven by the internationalisation of Keynesianism
by the Bretton Woods Agreement. Finally, there was a third one after the collapse of Bretton Woods, driven by the globalisation of financial capital and the advent of so-called "neoliberalism” and a final conclusion in 2008.
Is the so-called de- globalisation possible today after the pandemic?
The outbreak of nationalist fever, protectionism, its policy of 'save yourself and wreak havoc on your neighbor' ( beggar your neighbor), the trade and monetary wars, the trend towards hot and dangerously internationalised warfare, the rise of extreme right-wing and fascist formations, etc. are reminiscent of the nightmares of mankind in the 1930s leading to the second world massacre. Can History go back and have a repeat of itself, another manifestation of Eternal Return?
Surely, in every respect, the much more complex and contradictory world of the 21st century is not that of the Interwar period. What it went through was not in vain, and certianly did not leave the world unchanged.
International socio-economic, political, cultural and technological interconnection is incomparably more developed, close, and vital than almost a century ago. Even in the Interwar period of the 20th century, protectionist walls and monetary wars of competitive devaluations, interracial nationalism, fascism as “the poisoning of economic life by nationalism”26 did not succeed in overcoming the insurmountable needs created by capitalist internationalisation of economic life, at the time of its development with the tragic result of the landslide into all-out world war.
Today, in an established, incomparably higher degree of international interconnection, can the nationalistic reaction of the ruling classes abolish the global division of labour, the global market, the very law of value as a movement law of capitalism, since, as Marx showed, 'abstract labor becomes social labor only with the global market27'?
Even at a first empirical level, visible to the bourgeoisie, the impossibility of "de-globalization", a regression of what capitalism carried back to its national-state womb, seems to be unattainable.
The journal ‘Foreign Policy’, a totally mainstream medium of the imperialist establishment, provides a typical example of global supply chains. Volkswagen has 5000 world-class suppliers. Each has an average of 250 second-rate suppliers. In total, there are about 1.25 million suppliers, most of whom are unknown to the company's central management. In Wuhan, at the time of the pandemic, 51,000 foreign companies had at least one first-class supplier and 5 million companies a second-class supplier.
On 27 February 2020, Davos, the World Economic Forum emphasised that 90% of Fortune's 1000 largest multinationals had at least one first- rate and second-rate supplier.
The search for other suppliers and alternatives is proving to be more than problematic. The attempt to replace China with other cheap suppliers (in Vietnam, for example) made by some companies has been unsuccessful, and was especially unprofitable for a number of companies from the USA and Australia.
Navarro and Trump's nationalist demagoguery of 're-shoring' — repatriation of American companies and 'self-sufficiency' — are nothing more than over-reactionary fantasies. Repatriation, if and where possible, will be accompanied by galley conditions and mass unemployment of the American working class itself, including the shrinking Caligula-Trump electoral base.
The gigantic uprising triggered by the police killing of George Floyd is just the prelude.
The “perfect storm” that sweeps the planet dramatically changes social relations, rearranges the whole political scene and overturns the already disturbed international order. As D'Eramo (Monthly Review) writes: "Quarantine was much easier for the ruling classes to manage than a reboot of the economy28." It's like trying to ride an angry and hungry tiger.
The leaders of the capitalist world, from Caligula in the White House to the sad "Koulis” Mitsotakis at Maximos Palace, cannot ignore it.
As Katerina Matsa wrote, in the ‘Nea Prooptiki’, “the capitalist class is deeply concerned, because it sees Brezinski's words coming true in 2008, following the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. At the time, the renowned USA National Security Advisor and architect of the war in Afghanistan as a means of weakening the USSR foresaw that: “For the first time in history, all of humanity acts politically, is politically aware, and interacts politically.” He even characterised the beginning of the 2008 global capitalist crisis as an era of global political awakening29."
Naturally, the course was not linear. The radicalisation of workers and grassroots masses around the world after 2008 has been uneven, with ups and downs, gains and losses (such as the 2013 coup d'état of al Sisi in Egypt or the “backflip” of Tsipras in Greece in 2015). There is, however, in this non-linear development, a fundamental global trend towards the uprising that has its source in the unresolved and worsening global systemic crisis of capitalism. It is recognised, if not by the myopic leaders of the Left, at least from the other side of the barricades, by the most conscious parts and the general staff of the ruling class.
For example, this is clearly recognised by the responsible US think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in March 2020 with the remarkable text of Samuel Brannen, Christian Haig and Katherine Schmidt 'The Age of Mass Protests - Understanding an Escalating Global Trend30'.
The study does not see the struggles as a circumstantial feature of the early years of the crisis, with some new outbreak in 2018-2019 (the Gillets Jaunes movement in France, the revolutions in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, Chile, the gigantic rallies of women in Argentina, Poland, Spain etc. on the right to abortion and against gender violence, the climate change rallies that surpassed the anti-war protests in Iraq31, etc .). These are manifestations of a more general, global trend of mass mobilisation, verifying Brezinski's prognosis.
In America itself, since Trump's election there have been demonstrations in the last three years involving between 15 and 25 million people — more than the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war movement against the Vietnam War!
The March 2020 CSIS study, at the beginning of the pandemic, does note a temporary cessation of mass mobilisation but goes on to warn in no uncertain terms that: "depending on the future course of the pandemic itself, the response of governments to the COVID-19 virus could be another trigger for mass political protests32”.
The class enemy clearly sees where we are going? The working class, and first and foremost her fighting vanguard, has to answer the question: What is to be done? To confirm Brezinski's nightmare. “ To act politically, to become politically aware, to interact politically". In short, it has to build the revolutionary International of the perfect storm globally and in every country!
25 June – 14 July 2020
1 The text is based on a speech given on June 25, 2020, in Locomotiva, in Exarcheia- Athens, at a meeting organized by the EEK (Workers Revolutionary Party of Greece). 2 He teaches at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies (CLEA) Vrije Universiteit, Brussels. His communication is on Site Brain Circle and is listed by Professor of Pneumonology Enzo Soresi of Ospedale Ca 'Granda - Niguarda Hospital in Milan. Neuroblog#Confessioni Cervelo Mente Corpo, accessed March 16, 2020. 3 OECD, The World Economy on a Tightrope, Economic Outlook June 2020. 4 https://wordview.stratfor.com/article/worst-global-recession-80years-here- where-s- bottom? 25/6/2020. 5 See S. Michael, Anti-gone Anti-theos Anti-Tyrannos ( in Greek) Agra 2020 pp. 12- 6 Mayday Message from the International Socialist Center “Christian Rakovski” in neaprooptiki.gr 1/5/2020. 7 See Rob Wallace, Alex Liebman, LuisFernando Chaves, and Rodrick Wallace ‘Covid 19 and Circuits of Capital’, Monthly Review, May 1, 2020 as well as John Belamy Foster's article, Intan Suwandi, ‘Covid 19 and Catastrophe Capitalism’. Monthly Review, June 1, 2020). 8 See Karl Marx, Chapter 1, Chapter 7. 9 Karl Marx, On Proudhon, Letter of 24 January 1865 to J. B. Schweityer, Marx-Engels Selected Works vol. 2, Progress-Moscow 1969 p. 26. 10 K. Marx - F. Engels, The German Ideology, Collected Works, Progress - Moscow 1976 p.31. 11 K. Marx, Das Kapital III, Dietz Verlag Berlin 1973, p. 260 and the English translation Progress - Moscow 1976, p. 250. 12 See Appendix S. Michael, August 1971-August 2019 From Bretton Woods to Chaos 13 Katie Martin, Financial markets are being humbled by real life, Financial Times March 14, 2020. 14 Danilo Volochko( Universidade Federal de Paraná, O Cotidiano dos Pobres náo pode pararÑ A Pandemia e a Necrodemografia do Capital in Covid-19 e a Crise Urbana, GESP- Grupo de Geografia Urbana Critica Radical, Departamento de Geografia, faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciencias Humanas, Universidade de Sao Paulo, FFLCH/USP 2020 pp. 35-41. 15 Walter Benjamin, Passagenwerk. 16 Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Progress 1977 pp. 97-98. Emphasis on the original. 17 Joseph Stiglitz, Priorities for the - "Global Economy in Life Support (Adam Tooze), Central Bank Ventilator" (NP) - economy, Social Europe, 6 July 2020. 18 Marco d' Eramo, The Philosopher's Epidemic, New Left Review 122, March / April 2020, p. 27. 19 Susan Watkins, Britain's Decade of Crisis, New Left Review 121 January/February 2020 p. 19. 20 Adam Tooze, Shockwave- on the pandemic’s consequences from the world economy, London Review of Books 16 April 2020. 21 See the relevant articles by G. Angelis in neaprooptiki.gr 22 Mike Davis, The Monster Enters, Covid 19, Avian Flu and the Plagues of Capitalism, OR Books 2020. 23 Savas Michael-Matsas, Grèce Genérale, Lignes, 2013. 24 His article was republished by Brazilian Tribuna Classista No 23 2da Quinzena de Maio de 2020, pp. 20-21. 25 See EEK conference documents, in particular since 1999 and here. 26 Leon Trotsky, Nationalism and Economic Life. 27 K. Marx, Grundrisse. 28 Marco d 'Eramo, ibid p. 27. 29 See Katerina Matsa “They Fear a Global Rebellion”, neaprooptiki.gr July 13, 2020. 30 Samuel Brannen, Christian Haig, Katherine Schmidt The Age of Mass Protests-Understanding an Escalating Global Trend , CSIS March 2020. 31 See also the relevant Appendices of the EEK Committees on Climate Change and Gender Violence. 32 The Age of Mass Protests-Understanding an Escalating Global Trend, p. 3.