I am no economist or political analyst, but as a general theorist here is my take on the coronavirus. There is no doubt this pandemic has caused panic in the world’s communities and while many are suffering, we only have to look back into history to see that there will always be those who find ways to benefit from other’s who are in pain. Plagues have brought down governments and destroyed empires. During the 6th Century bubonic plague stopped Justinian I from reuniting the west and eastern sectors of the Roman Empire. It ended an era and invoked the period we call the Dark Ages.
As for the current coronavirus pandemic, two things caught my attention, first the massive billions, if not trillions of dollars worldwide, put into stimulus packages and second, the institution of what is effectively Marshall Law in Australia. Let us think about these two things first and foremost, beginning with Marshall Law. Governments bring in the military when there is a strong likelihood the population will riot to bring down the authority and damage individual economies of a country, or in this case the global economy. To put it more succinctly when the elite in society, those who run the society, have their position severely threatened they come out fighting.
As for the amount of money governments have thrown at a world-wide economic stimulus, this is unprecedented and it is designed to prop-up the (global) economy. No secrets here!
A crash in any economy usually leads to chaos and the more people hurt, the bigger the threat to the elite. History shows us that the result is usually violent. So, who then are the threatened elite? We like to think of them as the rulers, the banks and big business; but in reality, they are the entrepreneurs, investors and largely the middle class. The capitalist revolution was a middle-class revolution that stole the power of the aristocratic society. That said, the middle class did not want equality or justice, they wanted what the aristocratic society had. The middle class are the mass consumers and the engine that drives capitalist consumption. If the middle-class fall into decline (and this is happening) so too does capitalism fall into decline. What we see instead is the establishment of oligarchs.
What we have today is a declining middle-class and the establishment of a global labour class, which also causes a decline in broad based investments and brings about new forms of centralisation in capital and power.
Following the Second World War, the British Empire was in deep financial trouble and the war itself had taken its toll on Briton’s economic power. Hence, America won the privilege of leading the world’s economy. However, the American boom is over and the militarist imperialist policies of Poincaré have failed. Global capitalism is in decline and declining rapidly despite reports to the contrary.
Capitalism began declining following the Second World War. Prior to the Second World War the bourgeoisie had succeeded throughout the world, with the exception of Russia and China, in establishing its capitalist hegemony, but the short post-war boom ended in a period of crisis for capitalism and it never fully recovered. We have been going down hill ever since with consecutive booms and busts, each being longer and more difficult than the one before. As capitalism expanded geographically it has drawn the originators (the middle class elites) into a vortex, whereby attempts to boost the middle class do not satisfy the labour needs of global markets. Inevitably, the middle class must become the new working poor.
Let us put aside the devastating impacts of a pandemic on ordinary people and look at who benefits. What we know from past experience that whenever there is a crisis, no matter what the context, governments always manage to secure more powers and in some cases, they will turn ordinary civilian life into life in a police state. This in part gives governments some indication of how far they can push the public before the radical groups protest. It is a way of testing whether the Constitution and Human Rights can survive a crisis and a scheme of rigid authoritarian discipline. Why would governments want to test the waters this way? Governments and economists across the world know that capitalism is a sinking ship. How else can they prepare for the inevitable? People are going to be hurting and the masses will protest.
Nonetheless, as far as government are concerned, knowing what is happening to global economies on a grand scale cannot change it. Capitalism is now a lost cause. Capitalism has reached its apex.
Western nations in particular are terrified of a total capitalist collapse, because when governments fail, the people have to step up. Today, we are seeing people stepping up. Communities are becoming more cooperative, independent and sustainable. This is not good for big business and it is not good for capitalism
I am not saying that the coronavirus was deliberately introduced for political means. I am not advocating any kind of conspiracy. What I am saying is, the coronavirus has provided an opportunity for governments to gamble huge amounts of money, not only to keep capitalism afloat, but as a two-way bet on future markets. When the markets are cheap the elite go shopping and they make millions when markets recover again. This may seem like a good thing and perhaps the economies will bounce back; but it will only forestall the inevitable.
The transition to an equitable way of life is not going to be easy. The elites will hold on to their power in any way possible. What the coronavirus crisis has done is to shed light on numerous other problems, such as the damaging effects humans have on the planet, which is going to cause a collapse anyway if we do not act to prevent it.
Supreme political and social control take a discursive and insidious journey through everyday affairs and a politics of opportunism. According to John Hopkins Coronavirus Centre and Transcend media, official reports indicate that the COVID-19 virus has so far infected 372,563 people in a world population of 7,800,000,000 (that is, about .0048% of the human population), killing 16,380 (4.3% of those infected) with 100,885 (27%) recovered already (and many more highly likely to do so). Moreover, as one doctor has reported after researching the data on Italy, where the greatest rate of COVID-19 infection has occurred: ‘80% of the deceased had suffered from two or more chronic diseases’ and ‘90% of the deceased are over 70 years old’. In addition, ‘Less than 1% of the deceased were healthy persons’ defined, very simply, as ‘persons without pre-existing chronic diseases.’
Compare this to the ever-increasing numbers of people suffering human displacement through wars, poverty, curable illnesses and climate change. The coronavirus will peak and reach its end. The other injustices will continue and increase as capitalism falls into greater decline.
This is not to undermine the serious impact coronavirus has had on individuals and communities. Rather, to just look at the bigger picture. We know that coronavirus can have a perilous impact on health and the relative support systems, but keep in mind that those who surrender their Rights rarely get them back.