No Virus Recession!
26-03-2020 – Amidst the Coronavirus crisis, the civil and democratic rights of working people are fast becoming collateral damage. Australia’s Prime Minister yesterday announced the closure of pubs, clubs, gymnasiums, indoor sporting venues, cinemas and places of worship, and warned that these closures could be in place for six months. PM Scott Morrison feigned to apologise for the workers who would lose their jobs as a consequence. A recession, or more to the point, a worsening of an already dire economic malaise, is inevitable. Public gatherings of 500 or more, and indoor gatherings of 100 or more have already been banned. Incredibly, the PM put the blame for this situation on “young people” supposedly not abiding by the rules.
Tens of thousands of workers have been thrown out of employment overnight. The Virgin Australia airline stood down 8000 of its staff, following QANTAS which stood down 20 000. It is estimated that one million workers have lost their jobs following the closure of “non-essential” services. Queues have formed automatically at Centrelink, overwhelming their capacity to respond – but this is after years of funding and staffing cuts. Centrelink advised workers not to attempt to visit a Centrelink office, but to go to the MyGov website and lodge an “intent to claim” form online. All this did was to cause the MyGov website to crash – twice.
Corporate media and government fuel hysteria
It is vital that working people resist this enforced recession. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV) effectively and swiftly dealt with the Coronavirus outbreak, and as far as we know, no workers were thrown out of work. This included temporary shutdowns of workplaces and temporary directions to stay at home. While the PRC and the SRV are weighed down by bureaucratic political leaderships which do not consistently defend workers’ interests, the contrast between the socialist response and the capitalist response to coronavirus could not be more stark. However deformed socialism may be in the PRC and the SRV, there was co-operation with the government measures there, because workers knew that it was unlikely that they would be the targets, and that they would not be asked to pay the costs. In capitalist Australia, on the other hand, many workers have already lost what is most vital to them – an income to keep food on the table. More than this, fear and uncertainty of the future grips workers in the West, engendering despair.
What is more, this has been done on the basis of wild distortions of scientific facts and realities. Coronavirus hysteria is pounding people non-stop, inducing fear. Yet, the government, the corporate media, bought and paid for medicos, employers, big business and obsequious Union officials are all vastly exaggerating the danger of the coronavirus. They have abominable political reasons for doing so. There is evidence that this may well have been an act of biological war by the Pentagon against China and Iran, and also Italy. The latter may well have been punished for being the first G7 (Group of seven most industrialised countries) to sign on to China’s gargantuan trade and infrastructure development project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI or “New Silk Road”). It may well have backfired spectacularly on Washington, given that the virus appears to be rapidly spreading throughout the USA. Nonetheless, the ruling classes of the capitalist West from Australia to Europe to the US have seized on the opportunity the coronavirus presents to them. Their economy has been staggering along for ten years or so, but now there is a chance to throw millions of workers onto the scrapheap, and thereby push down the price of labour-power, or wages, even further than legal minimums. Moreover, it provides the opportunity to launch catastrophic war against China or whoever – with a crippled and disoriented working-class unwilling or unable to take political action against “their own” imperialism.
Lockdowns may worsen health conditions
Of concern is the fact that it is likely that lockdowns and closures of workplaces and places of recreation and needed social gatherings will lead to more unnecessary fatalities, not less. Not to speak of the mental health problems created by mass unemployment, the severe curtailing of social interaction for almost all purposes exacerbates the extent of the symptoms those with accompanying health conditions suffer. One medical specialist who, to his credit, is not bowing down to his government, has inferred that the social lockdowns are “collective suicide” that will shorten the lives of millions. The cancellations of elective surgery, which has already occurred in Australia, by itself will mean prolonged suffering for those waiting – and even premature death.
The fact is that the numbers of cases of a virus are nowhere near “pandemic” levels. In addition, the vast majority of those infected with coronavirus will suffer mild symptoms and recover after a period of about two weeks. While reasonable and rational precautionary measures to counter this virus are justified, a full-scale economic recession and all of its life-extinguishing consequences needs to be avoided at all costs. What has to be recognised is that all points of authority within capitalist society are universally on board with the elite’s recession and war planning – for they will not suffer from it. Working people must grapple with the fact that fascism is a distinct possibility.
Workers must not despair, and must not fear, however. Throughout history, fascism has only triumphed in the absence of determined working class opposition, i.e. without a strong and organised left-wing. It is critical that a Marxist vanguard party is formed, now more than ever. Such a party can form out of mobilisations behind demands that can address parts of this crisis, and others besides. For a start, we urge workers to fight for:
1. A six hour day!
2. Public ownership of energy, infrastructure, banks!
3. A Workers’ Government!
 http://www.mygc.com.au/australia-shut-down-pm-orders-pubs-restaurants-churches-gyms-to-close/ (23-03-2020)
 https://www.hepburnadvocate.com.au/story/6695892/virgin-australia-stands-down-8000-staff/ (25-03-2020)
 https://www.hcamag.com/au/specialisation/employee-engagement/qantas-stands-down-two-thirds-of-staff/217358 (25-03-2020)
 https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6144476072001 (25-03-2020)
 https://www.themercury.com.au/news/coronavirus/anxious-tasmanians-continue-to-line-up-at-centrelink-as-mygov-website-crashes-again/news-story/d2a20f022f52cae32052bceaf7962f8c (25-03-2020)
 https://redfireonline.com/2020/03/22/covid-19-natural-pathogen-or-biological-war/ (25-03-2020)
 https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:nhbO6vLdYsgJ:https://www.anti-empire.com/fantastic-video-interview-german-infectologist-govt-lockdowns-are-collective-suicide-will-shorten-the-lives-of-millions/%20&cd=1&hl=pt-BR&ct=clnk&gl=br&fbclid=IwAR0cr0zTLxTKRUNvDqPQoCmCcU2qSFkyyof971KVX0CLPiY0j6BiSzmeOGw (25-03-2020)