Socialism or the hell of capitalism.
Mass testing now!
Mass PPE now!
By International Socialist League – ISL, the British IWL-FI’s section
The Present Crisis
The Coronavirus situation has laid bare the contradictions of capitalism, which is now leading the globe into a massive recession, and untold loss of life. Britain and the USA are about to endure, along with many other countries, a huge health crisis. In Britain, it is against a backdrop of an NHS weakened by cuts, lack of staff and unpreparedness – despite the many warnings over pandemics.
Global health crisis predicted
The present global health crisis has been predicted, as there have been over 300 instances of zoonoses – human infections of animal origin – since 1960. Zoonoses are a result of the expansion of food production globally. Where the outbreak originated, in China, small farmers were forced to rely on wild animal markets after huge farms made their traditional way of life unsustainable.
The expansion in food production is not solely the fault of China, for instance, the investment bank Goldman Sachs invested heavily in Chinese poultry farms after the 2008 recession. Chinese companies have also invested in large-scale farms abroad.
Whenever large changes are made in land use careful ecological impact assessments should always be made. Nature and its environment cannot be left to capitalism. Proper husbanding of the planet can only be implemented under workers’ control with the help of scientists.
Austerity and privatisation created NHS crisis
In Britain, we are faced with the Coronavirus crisis with a weakened NHS. The Tory party has attacked the NHS since they gained government in 2010, with the help of the Lib Dems.
The NHS was created in 1948 and came out of the huge crisis of capitalism that had caused the Second World War and the mass desire of workers not to go back to the 1930s.
However, the capitalist class has long despised any form of social provision, which they see as an unnecessary reduction of their profits, whether it is the NHS, council housing or state education.
The NHS was subject to constant underfunding and attacks by the Conservatives. In 2012 introducing the commissioning of health services by local health trusts weakened the NHS. The Health and Social Care Act allowed privatisation of NHS services and the undercutting of the NHS, as a national body, and in so doing impede its ability to respond to emergencies such as Coronavirus.
During recent debates and interviews on the TV on the current crisis health ministers, such as Helen Whately, appeared not with the normal “NHS” badge on their lapel but a badge denoting “CARE” – an umbrella organisation set up by health privateers deliberately to undermine the specialness of the NHS.
Thatcherism is continued by this government.
Government empty promises create a worst crisis
During the present virus crisis, NHS hospitals are forced to use private providers for beds, protective equipment, and ventilators – while the privatised sections of the NHS are off-limits to anyone who cannot pay. As the deaths of the first doctors treating coronavirus patients are announced the scale of the government’s incompetence is revealed.
The shocking fact that nine weeks have been squandered in the fight against coronavirus was reported by an academic in The Guardian on 24th March. These weeks could have been used to run simulations of the effect of the disease, set up supply and production chains for ventilators, PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and implement mass testing.
In a shocking disclosure on BBC Radio 4 on 28 March, a manufacturer of Coronavirus tests in the UK confirmed that he was producing 100,000 a day but all these were being sent abroad to other countries especially in the Middle East, and no doubt to private health care providers in the UK. This at a time the government says it was unable to test front line NHS staff.
Health staff have to listen to empty promises from the government while capitalism supplies 100,000 testing kits to private companies like Ocado.
The lack of proper urgency in responding to the epidemic reflects the ideology of the privileged layer that now rule Britain.
The indifference among the ruling class was reflected in an interview on BBC Radio 4 on the World at One program on Thursday 26 March with the ex-editor of The Daily Telegraph, Max Hastings. Under the guise of worrying about the cost of the measures to his children and grandchildren, he stated that the country could not afford a shutdown, as it would cost the country too much. What he meant was that profits are more important than life. Hastings contribution laid bare the class nature of society. The people that are most at risk in the epidemic are workers while the ruling class, who generally have much better overall health and do not have to work in risky occupations like care of shops, are better able to survive.
No mass testing and lack of PPE is a crime
What is shocking is that the UK did not start mass testing to identify and isolate those infected. Even the lock-down was only partially implemented with the discretion afforded to companies to decide if non-essential work was going to continue. Alarming scenes have been played of commuters on the London Underground packed in together providing the ideal transmission of the virus.
There are constant complaints by NHS nurses, doctors, paramedics, support staff including cleaners that they are not being given adequate personal protection equipment (PPE) and constant denials that there was a problem by the Chief Executive of NHS Providers Chris Hopson (the umbrella body for all NHS trusts) and even the chief nursing officer.
The previous Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been conspicuous on the TV berating the government for not taking more draconian measures to halt the pandemic but three years ago when he was in charge of health a report urging the stockpiling of PPE in case of a future epidemic was ignored on the basis of cost.
If there is a lack of PPE in hospitals it is non-existent in many care homes, and there are reports of COVID-19 entering care homes.
There is only one unavoidable conclusion: capitalism sees profit more important than lives.
All unions and the TUC must start fighting
Every worker that is forced to work in non-essential work must be supported in their fights against the employers. Many factories, building sites, postal workers and others are fighting. Some employers are using this crisis to sack workers and to get rid of known union militants such as Percy (United Voices of the World).
Reports on 2 April stated that NHS managers are trying to gag healthcare whistle-blowers about the lack of PPE in the NHS would be disciplined.
Health workers are saying publicly frontline staff such as cleaners and porters, not just nurses and doctors, are at risk due to the shortages, how workers of colour are disproportionately the most at risk in the NHS.
The United Voices of the World demand that the government pay all essential staff a £15 minimum wage and they demand that Percy, a cleaner at King’s College London who was fired for not attending a disciplinary hearing due to the lack of social distancing measures.
The TUC says nothing about these attacks, the need to build an organised offensive against a government that does not care, or fighting to reinstate all sacked workers such as Percy.
COVID-19 and capitalism are deadly viruses
In Britain, the present Conservative government has shown itself completely unable to protect the population from the Coronavirus. Government advisers have been quoted as saying; “…just let pensioners die…” and only when it was shown that 500,000 would die did the government change to more stringent, but still inadequate, measures.
As the crisis continues the guilt of the capitalist class, in creating the crisis is becoming ever more evident. Reports from four years ago that stated the country would not cope with a pandemic were kept secret and have never been published.
Capitalism does not have a human face
What all the above shows is the class nature of British society and decaying capitalism. The government is peopled by bourgeois politicians on behalf of the capitalist class whose perspective is just one of capitalist profit and to hell with ordinary people.
We have to do more, the government and the NHS knew this type of crisis would start, just as sure as a new world crisis would happen. Before this there were ten years of austerity creating the present catastrophic situation, that killed workers even before COVID-19, concurrently with this was the Grenfell Tower, which was a known deathtrap, the flooding affecting millions of people, the hostile environment to immigrants – but now so many are needed in the NHS and to run all essential services.
This is what we mean by an accelerating decay of the provision of our rights, conditions and our lives. Only putting an end to capitalism will stop these attacks. That means the struggle for a workers’ government, workers’ control of health, all services and industry. But to achieve that we need to build a mass struggle of workers and a revolutionary party to lead workers and all the dispossessed.
We join with many others in demanding
Mass testing now!
Full PPE for all workers in the NHS, Care Homes and all essential workers such as transport workers!
Full social distancing in all workplaces such as essential building sites – close all others!
Full access to NHS and state services for immigrants!
NHS to take control of all health services including all privatised services!
Suspend rent payments and evictions for a year (Acorn and United Voices of the World demand)!
Government pay all essential staff a £15 minimum wage!
Reinstate Percy, a cleaner at King’s College London!
Capitalism, like COVID-19, is the virus, they must pay for this crisis, not workers!
Build the mass struggle to overthrow capitalism!
Build the revolutionary party to lead these struggles!
[Britain] Johnson Endangers the Lives of Workers and the Population
Socialism or the hell of capitalism.