Covid in the age of crisis capitalism

24 Jul

The global dominance of Virus over the last two years is telling us that capitalism is ready to do “whatever it takes” to postpone its [final reckoning]. It is therefore delusional to think governments, health authorities, and media act independently. Rather, what speaks through them is always economic-financial Power, the very Thing they want us to believe only exists for conspiracy theorists; as if it had suddenly died out like the dinosaurs, or mutated into philanthropy.

Fabio Vighi, Professor of Critical Theory and Italian at Cardiff, and author of the piece introduced here

Remember how fearful many of us were in early 2020, of a dreadful new coronavirus certain to see coffins laid out on the streets as the death count hit Ebola ratios? It didn’t happen and many who bought into that narrative, or like me remained unsure, are left scratching our heads as to what it was all about.

Not that I’m about to abseil bridges to spray ‘SCAMDEMIC!’ in metre high block caps, mind. I’ve lost two friends, seemingly to Covid, though it has to be said not only that both were in high risk groups but that from the outset there have been grounds for scepticism in the face of a relaxing in Britain and elsewhere of death certification rules, as an explicit response to the coronavirus.

There were also grounds, at a higher level of generality, for scepticism of the overall narrative – grounds expressed by senior clinicians and epidemiologists both. I refer to people of principle, some of them eminent in their fields, with nothing to gain and much to lose by speaking out. Of course, neither moral courage nor eminence confer infallibility. But these men and women had earned, over decades of dedicated and even ground breaking work, the right to be heard. More to the point, we had a right to hear them.

For all practical purposes their right, like ours, was denied. Why? And are the means (lockdown and slyly compulsory vaccination 1 ) justified by the cause of combating a disease arguably no worse than flu? 2

There are other hefty questions of course, pertaining to:

  • whether a Covid pandemic really was a thing;
  • if it was a thing, whether it was deliberately cultivated;
  • if deliberately cultivated, whether it was deliberately released;
  • whether or not deliberately cultivated and released, it is being exploited by an imperial hub near the end of its ability to create new value (a truth only partially obscured by its reckless creation of new money in a black hole of rentier-driven voodoo economics) and confronted by population levels surplus – because non value producing 3 – to the needs of a grotesquely distorted system for organising social relations for the task of producing and daily reproducing the material conditions of human existence.

With those ancillary questions sidestepped for now, my agnosticism vanishes. Emphatically, the ostensible end of combating a (not so) deadly disease never did justify the means. I refer on the one hand to the most abrupt and wholesale economic contraction in capitalism’s history; on the other to further inroads on civil liberties wholly of a piece with a 21st century pattern – other of whose low points include America’s Patriot Act (its Bill of Rights be damned passage from 9/11 to statute books taking just 45 days) and Britain’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act of three months ago.

(The moment we make room for the possibility of that economic shock, rights curtailment and – while we’re in the game of counting costs – tectonic shifts 4 in social behaviour as means to ends other than the ones advertised, the picture alters dramatically. But I’m ahead of myself.)

For a while I did post on these matters, promoting voices – like Germany’s Professor Bakhdi, America’s Professor Wittkowski and to lesser extent Britain’s Professor Gupta – well placed to critique the official narrative in respect of that primary question: were the means justified by the end?  This irked a few hard-nosed mainstreamers, but went nowhere near far enough for those adamant that Covid is a scam. See in this respect my exchanges with Steve Jack in comments below my post, CV-19 and the Great Reset. I cite them because, while Steve is more courteous than others of his persuasion, those exchanges pretty much cover everything pertaining to my caution – or if you prefer, fence sitting – on this matter. Though sceptical of the Covid narrative (after initially taking it at face value) I took issue with many exemplars of what I’ll call, in a nod to 9/11, Covid’s heterogenous “Truther” movement. 5 Here’s what most bothered me:

  • a messianic certainty, coupled with a debating style which spoke more to a desire to sift the Saved from the Damned than win over the unconvinced, far less engage in genuinely open dialogue;
  • a reductivism, corollary to said messianic certainty, which held that failure to Get It Right on Covid rendered invalid one’s views on all other political questions;
  • an absolutism, also a corollary, which claimed the inalienable right, regardless of context, for an individual to refuse vaccination; and left no room for the truth that, since homo sapiens sapiens is no Robinson Crusoe, in certain circumstances – not, I hasten to add, these – even this right might have to give way to the common good;
  • double standards in debate which I was kind enough to read as indicative more of weak epistemology than bad faith;
  • conspiracy theories – I use the term neutrally since these may be accurate, patently false, or come with varying degrees of likelihood – which fail basic tests of logic;
  • strawman arguments (such as that I use ‘conspiracy theorist’ as a blanket put-down, even when I explicitly describe such usage as at best lazy and stupid, and at worst made in bad faith);
  • ignorance of real world science, such as the glacial pace (among other defects) of peer review processes;
  • a failure to walk the talk when most – not all – of those berating me for Not Doing More were themselves doing nothing. 6

Not every fault listed above was exhibited by every ‘Truther’ who engaged me. (Indeed, a few exhibited none of them and these were the voices I took most seriously.) Moreover, I do try on this and other matters of uncertainty not to lose sight of a wisdom neatly framed by another ‘Truther’. Below those exchanges with Steve Jack, George McI, another man I respect 7  (our ups and downs on this matter notwithstanding) makes the excellent if underappreciated point that:

… people can believe something for all the wrong reasons and still be right.

Agreed, though it takes humility – i.e. courage in the face of our raging egos – to keep sight of that truth when we come under fire.


One last remark before turning to the piece this post has all the while been leading up to. The most compelling reason of all for my not writing more about Covid has been that I chose, more and more forcefully in the past two to three years, to direct my drop-in-the-ocean energies at a subject I see as the most pressing issue of our time.

(Alongside that of capitalism’s constant war against nature, that is; about which I have also said little, and for the same reason: fear of spreading myself too thin.)

I refer of course to the most dangerous ruling class on earth seeking, in the face of the most powerful challenge in its 250 year history, to ‘contain’ Eurasia rising.

But what if the resurgent threat of an American elite preparing to risk Armageddon, and the issues raised here in respect of a pandemic real or otherwise, were part and parcel of the same crisis in a system whose demise is – as Slavoj Žižek observed – harder for us to imagine than that of the world itself?

My cue to hand over to Fabio Vighi, Professor of Critical Theory and Italian at Cardiff University. The piece below appeared on the Philosophical Salon website in early January, but only came to my attention a few days ago when, my friend Dave Hansell having alerted me to another of his writings, I was sufficiently impressed to want more.


Unsurprisingly, Santa brought us yet another Covid Christmas, replete with the usual set of presents: facemasks, quarantines, social distancing, coercive inoculations, vaccine passports, non-stop media fearmongering, and lockdowns. Two years down the line, after billions of injections with multiple and diversified experimental vaccines, the mighty pandemic is still with us. This time, however, it comes with the bonus of soaring inflation, which by devaluing money pushes more and more people into debt and poverty. And to add insult to injury, the ‘experts’ are now warning about “inflation inequality”. As my daughters would say (via Homer Simpson): duh!?

Perhaps, while we wait to hear what we must do to ‘save Easter,’ it is time to take the red pill and face reality: since the start of 2020, a macroeconomic virus disguised as a pandemic virus has taken possession of our lives, causing widespread depression and consigning entire populations to often extreme forms of legalized discrimination.

Nothing new so far. I’m familiar with such statements from a zillion engagements along lines touched on in my introduction. It’s what comes next that got my attention. It’s not that I hadn’t previously encountered anyone linking pandemic to a capitalism nearing, in the West at least, the end of its ability to create new value. But I hadn’t heard anyone do so in a manner not only grounded in the dialectically materialist approach I say is indispensable to any understanding of social phenomena, but synthesised with other currents, including a ‘postmodernism’ I had by the late eighties put behind me, and which I’m now minded to re-examine.

Whether and to what degree Fabio Vighi is correct is a call I’m not yet ready to make. What I am sure of, however, is that here is a man willing to think in new but empirically and theoretically grounded ways about the dire straits in which humanity – or that subset of it not fully asleep – now finds itself.

But back to what he has to say about Covid …

The deep function of a ‘health emergency’ legitimised by perpetual programs of mandatory vaccine inoculations can only be grasped if placed in the relevant macro context, namely the terminal crisis of our mode of production. The causal sequence to bear in mind is: economic implosion – pandemic simulation – authoritarian offensive. Should it come to fruition, this paradigm shift would culminate in a totalitarian model of implosive capitalism, perhaps still thinly disguised as democracy but legitimized by the despotic management of global emergencies that are grotesquely disproportionate to any actual threat. As shown by the ‘Covid vaccine’ indoctrination campaigns, with attendant ‘anti-vax’ scapegoating, the totalitarian potential of mass propaganda is virtually limitless. For the first time in history, the blame for a treatment that does not work (at least not in the way we were promised) has been placed on those who do not use it.

Yet we must be mindful that today’s ideological violence comes as a reaction to a looming socioeconomic collapse whose magnitude has never been experienced before. The first shock was the 2007 credit crunch and following global recession. At that time, the bailing out of the financial sector led to the European debt crisis (2010-11), which turned Quantitative Easing (central bank programs of financial asset purchase) into the mother of all monetary policies. Since 2008, regular central bank distortion through QE injections has spawned an ultra-financialised regime of capitalist accumulation contingent on the creation of asset bubbles whose volatility resurfaced in mid-September 2019, with the liquidity trap in the Wall Street repo (repurchase agreement) loan market. This, in turn, cleared the way for Virus and the perverse logic of ‘pandemic capitalism,’ which allowed the top 1% to increase their wealth at record speed, while the middle classes are going missing.

As recently detailed by Pam and Russ Martens, on September 17, 2019 the Federal Reserve started an extraordinary program of repo loans to its so-called ‘primary dealers’ on Wall Street (including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Nomura, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, etc.) – these were overnight loans as well as 14-day and even longer term loans. On July 2, 2020 (the last date currently available from the Fed’s database) the cumulative value of these loans, whose collateral consisted mostly of US Treasuries and Mortgage-Backed Securities, totalled $11.23 trillion. Because of the fragmented way in which the Fed releases its data, it is impossible to establish exactly which loans are or were outstanding, and by how much. Nevertheless, what matters is their astonishing size, which confirms that Wall Street’s trading houses were on the verge a catastrophic meltdown before the arrival of Virus. Further evidence of the loan market’s persistent fragility came on July 28, 2021, when the Fed announced the creation of a ‘Standing Repo Facility’, consisting of $500 billion backstop credit each week for the Fed’s 24 primary dealers and additional counterparties.

As I argued in a recent piece, the countermoves to an impending meltdown were planned months in advance. Official documents indicate that our financial lords knew all too well that the post-2008 artificial expansion of the money supply was becoming unmanageable, not least because accompanied byglobal economic contraction that, in 2019, had pushed Germany, Italy and Japan to the verge of recession, while Britain, China, and other economies were spluttering ominously. It is therefore reasonable to surmise that, rather than risk a sudden and catastrophic collapse, the elites opted to control the accident while, as it were, calling the ambulance in advance. As we have seen, when the Wall Street repo market froze up in mid-September 2019, the Fed swiftly prescribed a higher dose of the same medicine, that is to say an unprecedented expansion of monetary stimulus in repo loans. But this time, crucially, under protection of the pandemic shied. If we fast forward to January 2022, the same logic applies: the ‘Covid emergency’ continues to work like a huge Linus blanket for a global economy that is sinking under mountains of unsustainable deficits and unserviceable debts.

It is important to be clear about the magnitude of the monetary expansion under consideration. In August 2019, a white paper issued by BlackRock (the all-powerful investment fund already known as the “fourth branch of government”) had shown the Federal Reserve the way out of the coming “dramatic downturn,” urging the US Central Bank to implement an “unprecedented” monetary policy whereby large masses of money created out of thin air were to be delivered “directly into the hands of public and private spenders.” This “going direct” scheme, which according to BlackRock had to be made “permanent,” was promptly inaugurated a month later in response to the repo market crisis. Since then, and especially after the arrival of Virus, the Fed’s balance sheet has grown by nearly 5 trillion dollars, an absolutely extraordinary expansion even when compared with the QE bailouts started at the end of 2008. And to get an idea of the global dimension of this expansion, we need to add the trillions created by other central banks around the world, as well as programs of fiscal stimulus such as ‘helicopter money.’

Read the full piece at the Philosophical Salon …

* * *

  1. See My date with Sister Scope for a horror story which began four hours after my third Covid jab, though the waters are muddied by my having had, in the same session, the common flu jab too.
  2. This is not to downplay the severity of flu. It’s a global killer but no one in my lifetime has ever proposed countermeasures as invasive of socioeconomic norms as those we have so meekly accepted in the context of Covid.
  3. I use “non value producing” in a Marxist sense. Decades of exponential automation, and internationalising of capital-labour relations, have in the global north removed hundreds of millions from the value creation cycle: thin men of blank face and lifeless eye, nursing their pints in Wetherspoons at eight am, bereft of meaning and purpose; men for whom an either/or choice of cheap booze over a square meal is a no brainer. And in the global south? Peasants driven from smallholdings lost to desertification, rising seas, agri-capital buyout or landlord eviction pour into the teeming slums and fetid sweatshops of Dhaka and Mumbei in that race-to-the-bottom bidding war for wage labour through which our Primark and M & S purchases have for decades come dirt cheap. (To which I should add that, with wage settlements and benefits levels constrained by cost of living indices, the ultimate beneficiaries are not Primark/M & S customers but the same Western elites who outsourced manufacturing in the first place.)
  4. I wrote “tectonic shifts” because I’ve used up my yearly allowance for “seismic shifts”, and was too lazy to think up something fresher, but I chose better than I knew. This BMJ piece tells us that, “paradoxically, a tectonic shift occurs very slowly, but the subsequent events can be catastrophically sudden.”  And what has the explosion in hitherto creeping trends like online shopping and home working for the middle classes been, if not – under this definition – a tectonic shift?
  5. The 9/11 parallel is apt here. Given that I was obliged to eat a Desperate Dan sized slice of humble pie on that issue, it serves to remind me of my own fallibility. So let me be clear that my use of “truther” is neutral and descriptive, not pejorative.
  6. Some of those who demanded that I do what they would not saw it as boorish of me to point this out. But mine was the more general point that it doesn’t matter a bean what I, they or anyone else thinks; only what we do. I was calling out worthless exchanges of hot air; not their own inactivity, which bothered me not at all.
  7. Alas, for reasons I do not wish to go into here my respect for this person is a thing of the past due to behaviour, not on this site but another, I deem unworthy.

21 Replies to “Covid in the age of crisis capitalism

  1. Thanks for sending me a link to this article Philip. And I’d like to respond.

    But first I must address a personal issue and I feel it is a matter that relates to the internet more than any other medium. I have found that, for some reason, this particular medium has a devastating effect on my health. It may have something to do with the fact that, at the age of 60, I have a respect for the printed word which is becoming increasingly redundant on the net. Granted, articles on the net are not printed but they LOOK printed. Thus I always placed faith in such material. It comes as a shock to read through apparently “proper” items and find the most questionable statements and then realise that the old PR industry (most perceptively dealt with in an excellent book called “A Century Of Spin” by David Miller) can be more effectively facilitated through the net than through any other medium. This misplaced faith I have in such a medium leads to truly concerning physiological effects.

    And so I had previously wanted to take issue with what you said and even typed in about ten versions of a comment, at one time even hovering over the “post” button but I backed out since I honestly felt it was futile. I still look in on what you’re doing and feel intrigued by e.g. Dave Hansell’s perfectly justified comments on the appalling misrepresentation of the Canadian convoy – a disgusting case of demonization that the WSWS belligerently went along with. Now when something like that happens, it certainly makes you reflect on the “conspiracy” angle.

    The “messianic certainty” you talk about with reference to the “sceptics” seems cruel to me since the certainty was all on the side of the ones who went along with the covid narrative and – most tellingly – these were not, as the WSWS continually tries to convince us, outsiders. They were the mainstream all the way. The “argument” over covid was more like a case of some atomised individuals refusing to believe what the deafening loudspeakers of the media were thundering 24/7 for 28 months now.

    And what they were thundering was certainly not a matter that could merely be ignored. Shut downs, social distancing, the sudden cutting off of all regular medical services, the effective annulment of society itself or at least our common concept of it. And to raise any doubts about this was to bring down upon one’s head the charge of being a “libertarian” or a “Right Winger” or even a “fascist”.

    Simon Elmer has spoken of this when he refers to the case put forward by the covid sceptics which “…might seem like a description of the ‘far-right conspiracy theorists’ to which the COVID-faithful reduce anyone who questions the necessity of imposing the regulations and technologies of the global biosecurity state on the populations of their countries; but the same might be said of those who have acquiesced in turning the unmasked, the undistanced, the untracked, the untested and the unvaccinated into threats worthy of the harshest punishments. Indeed, it is the COVID-faithful who have lived in a state of siege imposed by their own governments, while the rest of us have ignored or refused to comply with those governments’ attempts to deprive us of our rights and freedoms. And it is we who have been characterised and denounced — by our Government, by our National Health Service, by our police forces, by the pharmaceutical companies, by our press and media, and by our fellow citizens — as the ‘enemies within’ who should very firmly be banished from society.”

    Simon has been one of the few lights in this darkness and I thoroughly recommend his series listed under the heading “The Road to Fascism: For a Critique of the Global Biosecurity State” which can be found by linking down this page:

    The Philosophical Salon piece you link to looks promising and I will read it and get back to you.

    • Hi George

      Agreed: Simon Elmer is also impressive.

      I think maybe you misread the ‘cruelty’ of my remark on ‘messianic certainty’. I’m well aware of its mirror opposite equivalent – not least because I’ve been on the sharp end of that as well. (Getting caught in the crossfire is famously a consequence of fence-sitting!) If I used the m-word one-sidedly, it’s only because it was relevant to a very specific point I was making: viz, why I wasn’t more energetic in promoting Covid ‘trutherism’.

      If you’ll allow me a response to the effect of ‘the internet’ – I assume you mean the web, and more specifically still, social media – on your mental wellbeing, would you consider, if time permits, blogging? You are clearly an intelligent, articulate and deep thinker, and you might find, as I do, that the rage, fear and doubts about one’s sanity which are in truth sane responses to an insane world order become easier – on balance, and not to overlook the many downsides – when given outlet in a controlled environment. By that last I rule out the snake pits into which social media exchanges – not just on FB and Twitter but in BTL threads on mainstream and ‘oppositional’ sites too – all too often descend.

      Just a thought. Take care mate.

      • I appreciate your comments. With all that I’ve already put on the net, I could easily have started up my own site. But I reckon I’ve always been reactive i.e. I like responding to others. I always need something to “kick start” me.

        The Vighi piece is good. And this pretty much sums it up:

        “COVID-19 is the name of the coordinated response to an increasingly unmanageable systemic implosion. “

        And he refers to “Virus” – capitalised to signify something like a “Platonic Idea”. But I feel there is a fundamental obfuscation which can be seen when he refers to the “surreal prolongation of the pandemic”. Once again – the question begging. Was there ever a pandemic? Didn’t the WHO only succeed in labelling COVID a pandemic by altering the definition of “pandemic”?

        The main issue is that everything Vighi says could have been seen 28 months ago when the Magical Mystery Tour started ….

        ***And at this point I went into a rant about the ludicrous absurdities surrounding the covid saga but ended up producing a telephone directory’s worth. It was more than embarrassing to endure this. It was degrading. What a ridiculous charade with the various political and media circus shows. (The one that will always remain with me was the photos of politicians wearing masks even on windy airfields.)***

        And surely you must have noticed the seamless transition from the covid variant production to the new “monkeypox” meme? Not to mention the similar transition to the “heatwave horror”. The ultimate in cheek is that there is even tom toms sounding about a return of the regular flu now rendered more lethal by our lack of immunity brought on by the covid restrictions.

        But to stay on point, NO – I don’t think there was ever a virus that was in any way distinct from the usual ones circulating.

        And when the writer talks about the “perverse logic of pandemic capitalism”, he is simply talking about the logic of capital – to commodify as much of life as possible as a means of generating profit. In this case, natural immunity, effective for countless millennia has been rebranded “murderous herd immunity” for the sake of issuing lucrative “vaccines”. Whilst the “pandemic” also serves so many other functions e.g. justification for the creation of a police state.

        • The main issue is that everything Vighi says could have been seen 28 months ago when the Magical Mystery Tour started ….

          And yet no one was. Even Simon Elmer, whom we both rate highly, has not produced an assessment as rounded and audacious as Vighi’s syntheses add up to. He’s done similar with Ukraine, by the way, and I’ll be getting to those in a future post. That he occasionally attacks “Putin” too, without saying – an omission I’m familiar with from commentators with whom I otherwise share much common ground – how Moscow might otherwise have responded is a flaw I’m prepared, for now at least, to overlook.

          • Plenty were. The ones who did not “buy covid” were. Granted it may not have been as detailed. But here’s the crunch: I don’t think that “the man on the street” (to use an old sexist term) is as stupid as he’s made out to be. He instinctively knows when he’s being sold “fresh air in a can” (as The Corries once sang). The thing I could never get over is how this Left that I’d always believed in were the ones most adamantly pushing covid. The WSWS were the worst. The lockdowns were apparently forced on governments by “wildcat strikes” – quite an achievement when you consider that the miner’s strike of the 80s lasted a year and was defeated. Protests – or at least the loudly trumpeted ones – are synthetic. Meanwhile the real ones (Canadian convoy) are “fascist”! The entire vocabulary of the Left has been stolen as the “fight against covid” was trumpeted as “people before profits”.

            • To be fair to those (including me) who went with the prevailing wind, there is a historical background which gives credence to the ‘pandemic’ idea. There have been a number of such occurrences – the ‘Black Death’, the great (and lethal) flu epidemic after WWI, etc. Also, health professionals predicted that another such occurrence would take place at some point in the future, hence the requirement for the UK government to hold stocks of masks and protective gear.

              There is no reason to believe that such an event won’t actually happen at some time – nature hasn’t signed a non-aggression treaty with us.

              • On the other hand we – or rather, our elites – are waging a continuous war of aggression on nature, oblivious to the capacity of nature to strike back with a vengeance. The forces which saw my own cold wet island hit forty degree temperatures last week have the same profit-first origins as those which have epidemiologists saying that whether or not Covid is the Big One – and it clearly isn’t – it’s just a matter of time. Assuming, of course, that thermonuclear annihilation doesn’t get to us first.

                • I would say that we are all aiding and abetting in the conspiracy against nature. I recently bought an electric car, in the fond hope that this was a ‘good’ thing. (I live in the country – poor bus service).

                  However, to provide everyone on the planet who wants an electric car with one, would require possibly more resources than exist in the solar system. (I’ve also just read that residues from car tyres contain micro particles which poison fish).

                  It may also be true that the 1% want to downsize the population for their own ends by means of biological warfare – it would not be surprising, but in truth we all have to downsize/down grade our living standards just in order to continue living in the future. Possibly the first (and certainly best) step should be to destroy the 1%, but I don’t have any info on how to achieve this, although even the US seems to have targeted a few Russian ones. It’s a start!

                  This is rambling a bit. What I mean to say is that there are many (some, quite plausible) theories going about re 1% war against everyone, but possibly their goal is correct – only their targeting is wrong – from the targets (i.e. you and me etc.) point of view (and of course from any ethical p.o.v.)

                  Reminds me of the old slogan “Eat the rich”. Unfortunately I’m a veggie.

                  • I would say that we are all aiding and abetting in the conspiracy against nature. I recently bought an electric car, in the fond hope that this was a ‘good’ thing. (I live in the country – poor bus service).

                    Well I don’t say we have zero responsibility as individuals here, Jams. But – see my post on an egregious case of fly-tipping back in March this year – I’ve more than once shown a brilliant cartoon which sums up my take. As it happens – you having raised the matter – it featured in my post, Electric kettles and cars

  2. This really touches on the most basic issue of all in society , which is how we look after one another. The answer that we got from Covid was “not very well, because it is too expensive. And because, in economic terms, there is no marginal benefit gained by keeping old, malnourished, diseased, people alive. On the contrary in fact.”

    I was recently reading an old article by a French historian on an epidemic in Poitou in 1785. For some reason he could not sat first fathom the disease in question was simple pneumonia but the mortality rate was close to fifty per cent, which suggested that there was much more to it. Another virus perhaps.

    Further study revealed what is very often forgotten which was the conditions in which the peasants lived-there houses were cold, damp and their bedding full of parasites. Their beds were based on old straw piles full of excrement. And then there was their diet which was inadequate both in quality and quantity. … they died because they had been dying all along.

    And because there was no means of intervening: nobody to feed them properly or to heat their dwellings, there was no warm clothing for them to replace the damp rags that they wore, and medical assistance was rare and could not be followed up.
    They were dying in short for two sets of reasons- the first being poverty which was the lot of their class; the second being society’s failure to come to their rescue in the hour of need. There were no nurses.

    The article reminded me of a document I had received a decade or so ago from a lawyer outside London who had, on his own account, set out to discover who his ancestors were. In the course of which he had discovered that I was a distant cousin of his. The document, which told the story basically of a family of small holders, cottagers, labourers, travellers which gravitated towards the closest part of the biggest city in the world, looking for work and dying there included statistics from more than two centuries which told a similar story. Most of our ancestors died young and they died of poverty-malnutrition, occupational hazards, cold lodgings, ragged clothing, overcrowding, filth and the accumulated diseases of lifetimes of environmental hazard. And, as in Poitou, most of them died of bronchial or pulmonary ailments. And they died young.

    Nothing new here. On the contrary these were precisely the conditions which our country people, parents and grandparents shaped the National Health Service, and its associated programmes from school milk and lunches to district nurses, hospitals and free prescriptions to change.

    The coming of Covid was not the first but it was one of the most dramatic tests of the NHS system, at a time when its demolition, as an affront to the values of capitalist economics, was well advanced. There was not enough reserve capacity, there were no district nurses, there were no stocks of the sort of equipment, including masks, that the earlier SARs epidemics had suggested should be stocked (here in Ontario there were such stocks, ironically disposed of and not renewed a few months before Covid came, For economic reasons).

    The Pandemic exposed the frailty of capitalist systems- just in time supply lines, gig contracts for health workers, low pay shortages of nurses, cutbacks in beds and particularly intensive care provisions and so on. It took us back to the conditions of the pre-NHS days and some countries, where, not coincidentally , the mortality rate was very high were still in pre-NHS days and urging us to join them in post NHS times.

    But most of all, and I am going to end here, it exposed the real nature of neo-liberal ideology, the modern iteration of the thinking that built the Workhouse. And most significantly and to my mind most ominously it showed the enormous power that neoliberalism, marketed as libertarianism, has over the minds of our intellectuals. The entire campaign against Covid precautions and pandemic regulations comes out of capitalist defending ‘their’ property from social control and progressive taxation. Underneath all the worrying that government is tending towards fascism and introducing regimes designed to isolate people and prevent the development of social movements, the reality is that capitalists do not care how the poor live, they have lost their fear of epidemics crossing social boundaries and infecting them, and they are determined to reverse the ideas and the practical measures that, around the world, took the form of working people insisting on social reforms along NHS lines to help us look after each other better.

    Covid reminded us that the ruling class is the class, when you get right down to it, of hate, callousness and indifference whereas the many, the poor, the people understand that our lives depend upon our ability to look after each other through the vulnerabilities of life and that involves, not money but love, devotion to the lives of others.

    • This really touches on the most basic issue of all in society , which is how we look after one another. The answer that we got from Covid was “not very well

      Indeed. And regardless of Covid’s severity or otherwise, I gather that epidemiologists are adamant on a pandemic of Spanish Flu dimensions being a question of when rather than if given the conditions neoliberalism and consumerism – in short, late stage capitalism – conspire to create.

      I needn’t go into details, though it’s worth noting that if the hard core ‘scamdemic’ proponents are correct, we might expect the perps to draw the appropriate conclusions.

      Next time we’ll do a better job of it and, from the safety of our Martha’s Vineyards and private island paradises, let loose a real killer

      But such has been the polarising nature of the issue that on the one hand those who focus – most vigorously, WSWS – on the aspect you raise are in a dialogue of the deaf with Covid sceptics. That’s a bit of a bummer (can I say that nowadays?) when the one thing both camps – unlike the average Joe or Judy in the street, pub or cappuccino bar – do recognise is the totalitarian nature of capitalism, which must prioritise profits over every other consideration.

      Every other consideration.

      • “…hard core ‘scamdemic’ proponents”

        I really don’t get this at all. By this point in time I would have thought anyone still putting any credibility in the covid narrative at all would have to be “hard core”.
        And as for the projected thoughts of the plotters:

        “Next time we’ll do a better job of it and, from the safety of our Martha’s Vineyards and private island paradises, let loose a real killer”

        Seriously? Letting loose a “killer” wasn’t necessary at all. They have the fear machine rolling and it has permitted them to facilitate a transferral of wealth to the uppermost of unprecedented speed and magnitude. They have installed the basic grounding of a police state. They have re-programmed the masses into accepting all sorts of novel viruses and vaccine top ups. They have effectively undone the common assumption of natural immunity and started a lucrative assembly line for the pharmaceuticals.

        “But such has been the polarising nature of the issue that on the one hand those who focus – most vigorously, WSWS – on the aspect you raise are in a dialogue of the deaf with Covid sceptics.”

        A positive comment on the WSWS who have demonstrated their appalling servitude to the ruling class by their vicious attacks on the Canadian convoy , achieved through the tried and tested – and clearly now antediluvian – tropes of the old Left. And who have been pushing the fear machine into overdrive.

        As for the term “sceptic”, Simon Elmer has it right. Ironically, he too opposes “scepticism” but from the opposite side:

        “As in so much about the terminology of the Left, the idea of ‘scepticism’ — which has been widely adopted by those on the Left who are opposed to at least some of the regulations and programmes of the UK biosecurity state — undermines the accurate understanding of the ‘present state of things’ that a real movement must abolish. ‘Scepticism’ describes an attitude that may have been advisable — it is one I myself shared — in the first few months of the coronavirus crisis; but it is completely inadequate as an attitude 18 months into this revolution in monopoly capitalism.

        There is no justification for being sceptical about what has repeatedly been shown to be the vast wall of lies on which the biosecurity state has been built, from medically meaningless health ‘measures’ to unfit-for-purpose testing regimes, to the wildly inaccurate criteria for attributing deaths to COVID-19, to the impact and dangers of lockdowns, to the medical and political consequences of the UK ‘vaccination’ programme. An intelligent child is sceptical when told Father Christmas brings him gifts; only a foolish and gullible adult remains sceptical of the same.

        Anyone who remains a lockdown ‘sceptic’ 18 months into this revolution has either ignored, or failed to inform themselves with, the vast evidence proving that Father Christmas is a story for children and the Pandemic a creation of those it has placed into positions of immense power. The better comparison, therefore, is with God, for whom the figure of Father Christmas tends to stand in theological debates; for, like COVID-19, the existence of God is a moot point when there is so little evidence of the existence of either. What is not in doubt, however, is the financial, political and ideological power of the COVID-Church that, in the name of this manufactured God, demands absolute obedience from the faithful and absolute damnation for unbelievers. Whether or not one believes in God or the Pandemic, only advocates of authoritarian, absolute and unquestioning rule believe either justifies the power and wealth their high priests exert over the world of believers and unbelievers alike.”

    • “Covid reminded us that the ruling class is the class, when you get right down to it, of hate, callousness and indifference” – so true.

      The Russian discoveries of US bio-labs are a recent salutary reminder of this – especially when you read the detail of their findings, which are clearly aimed at Russia. I imagine they have similar in Taiwan

  3. Vighi’s dense terminology – very familiar in these articles – obscures a lot of what is being said. Take this:

    “The deep function of a ‘health emergency’ legitimised by perpetual programs of mandatory vaccine inoculations can only be grasped if placed in the relevant macro context, namely the terminal crisis of our mode of production. The causal sequence to bear in mind is: economic implosion – pandemic simulation – authoritarian offensive.”

    OK first note the quotes around the words “health emergency”. Now I don’t want to be accused – as I reckon I will be – of veering off into “conspiracy madness”. But those quote marks call the health emergency into question.

    Next comes the curious matter of this emergency being “legitimised” by perpetual programmes of mandatory vaccines. Surely cause and effect should work in the opposite direction? i.e. the so called health emergency is being used to legitimise the vaccines. Or is Vighi implying the “viewpoint of capital”? The proposed vaccines come first in the sense of this new transition to a kind of “Pharma-capitalism”? The system “needs” the vaccines e.g. to facilitate wealth transferral, provide an excuse to drain funds away from the public sector etc. In this sense the “health emergency” is “caused” by the vaccines?

    It doesn’t seem clear to me. Nevertheless this bit does:

    “The causal sequence to bear in mind is: economic implosion – pandemic simulation – authoritarian offensive.”

    Well you see the word “simulation” there. That seems unambiguous. Though I would tweak that order and put “authoritarian offensive” in the middle. After all, the “economic implosion” did not create the “pandemic simulation”. Had the word “simulation” been left out there we would be back to the regular covid saga of the virus as a result of capitalism. But we now seem to have moved on to a curious – and I fell strained – recognition that this “pandemic” has not merely been “used” (the convenient opportunity model) but has, as it were, been projected. (I felt tempted to say “hatched” but that takes us into the territory of the bioweapon that leaked out etc. Which takes us back to a more picturesque version of the original story.

    So we are unavoidably facing the idea – however indecorous – of the pandemic as a fraud. Thus the idea expressed above by bevin that “The coming of Covid was not the first but it was one of the most dramatic tests of the NHS system…” isn’t quite right. “Covid” is not a test. It’s a tool, one of whose functions is to destroy the NHS. And it has been devastatingly successful. With wards having to adhere to social distancing and segregation of “covid” from “non-covid” with the resulting inevitable downsizing of admitted patients, the media could not only claim that the hospitals were full and overrunning but vast numbers would have to be turned away.

    In the first integrated NHS board meeting – from the 7th July – Medical Director Stephen Powis makes it perfectly clear that the “simulated” pandemic will be continuing with the desired inevitable drain on resources, finances etc.

    • Asberger point: The words “more picturesque version of the original story.” should end with a closed bracket.

  4. After reading all the comments above we seem to have a few salient points:

    Class antagonism
    Artificial causation of pandemics
    Late stage capitalism
    War on nature / sustainability

    I believe Marx mentioned somewhere that he envisaged a future where “a man can fish in the morning, farm in the afternoon and play music in the evening” – or something along these lines. But that was in the late 19th century. Given the current (unsustainable) technological state of western civilisation I would be interested in reading an update on Marx’s ideas based on a sustainable and equalising world wide society.

    What might it look like? Shipping – wind powered only. Land transport – rail mostly – solar powered (but can we sustainably obtain materials for enough solar?). Solar powered bus where trains are not viable. No private cars – or do we go back to horse power? Is exploitation of animals acceptable? No concrete buildings – timber only. In the interests of sustainability there must also be a limit to population. Yes, it has been possible to feed many more than Malthus imagined, but now we are seeing the costs in species extinction in the sea and in the Amazon – and yes, a lot of this is to do with unnecessary production – cheap clothing etc., but still there must be a limit (i.e. there is not land space for a trillion, trillion human beings plus any other life!)

    Anyone know of such a (Marxist oriented) book? If we are going to be able to shape a fair and sustainable future we need such a thing.

    (I hope this isn’t too far off the main topic).

    • I can’t answer your question but I’ve long been aware that, given how difficult it is for us to imagine non bourgeois society, other than in dystopic forms like the Handmaid’s Tale, it would be great to see fiction and non fiction alike exploring the possibility how human existence freed of the value nexus might look.

      That said, since you mention private cars, it takes no great leap of the imagination to recognise that, however they are powered, these four or five seater carriages are a dreadful solution to getting from A to B, especially in a densely populated country like England.

  5. Apologies for the long post. I don’t know where to start. I’ve been reading this blog for three days now (Jan 2023) finding myself nodding in agreement to every analysis.

    It all started with a link in a response to a Gowan’s essay, addressing what I find to be an error in his thinking: making an equivalence between western and Russian capitalism.

    And now this: entertaining people holding Covid denial thoughts. I just don’t get it.

    One thing I don’t get: “we were given false promises about the vaccine”. Really? Were we? That’s not how I remember it. The idea I got from mainstream outlets like the BBC was that a Covid vaccine would not offer 100% protection. That was a given. Anyone who ever had a chat with a GP about the seasonal flu jab understood that: You take the jab as part insurance but there are many strands of the flu virus and there’s no guarantees. It’s always been like that and the papers explained COVID-19 shared certain characteristics with the existing flu. Why the outrage about being lied to? None in my close circle understood the vaccine would work like other vaccines do (hepatitis, etc). Everyone knew the deal.

    The other thing I don’t get is the connection being made between the critical state of financial capitalism and the appearance of Covid. Both things are presented as one being the cause of the other, ie, the financial shit was about to hit the fan so we take the Covid crisis out of a hat to deal with the socioeconomic issues. The mechanics of this are never satisfactorily explained.

    Is it implied that the actual virus doesn’t exist? Or that it was created to deal with the capitalist crisis? And if it exists but it’s nothing very serious why did countries out of the imperialist fold fall for it, like Cuba or N Korea? No idea.

    “The virus is not more dangerous than the flu”. Well, now in 2023 it isn’t. But in 2020 it caused hundreds of thousands of excess deaths, the effect on the cardio respiratory system was significant.

    “The reaction was over the top”. Was it? The British government sat on their hands for months and were much pushed by pressure from the public to start lockdowns, they didn’t want them. What was the main problem with Covid? It was never that corpses would be lining the streets, like some people say. It was always about the existing capacity of the health services, the danger of collapse and having the spectacle of vulnerable people not being able to access help. And it was touch and go. Some would say that the response was insufficient. One of the effects of “oh not so dangerous Covid” is huge queues of people with suspected cancers, now, two years after the peak of Covid, due to the demands the pandemic placed in the services.

    Did the crisis lead to more concentration of wealth? Yes it did, but so does just about anything that happens in this wretched planet. There’s no mystery. When a need arises capitalism wins, the system is precisely based on making the satisfaction of essential needs dependant on the ruling class, we live and die by them.

    There is also a certain callousness too, to this disregarding of covid’s seriousness. Can’t remember the number of deaths attributed to it in the U.K., 150,000? In a population of 80 million it’s to be granted that it’s small numbers, just an ugly flu. None of my personal friends died of it. But to those families it was a catastrophe.

    I am vaccinated and boosted. I’m a sheeple. I know that the protection offered is less than 100%. I know the usual suspects are making a profit. But at the worst time of the pandemic I chose to go along with all the things that were advanced as parts of a possible, if not solution, at least an amelioration of the suffering (not particularly mine, I was ok, thank you very much).

    As regards the priming of people for the thoughtless acceptance of authoritarian measures, I think most people took them in the spirit of solidarity and civic duty (some people in the west are unable to deal with the thought, particularly in the US, where a lot of this libertarian nonsense springs from). I’m convinced that the relative lack of popular opposition to the current strikes in the U.K. and even positive support originate in the realisation that health workers, etc, are essential for society, a lesson learnt during the pandemic. To think people are primed for authoritarianism is frankly a cynic and arrogant view. People will accept authority though, when they’re convinced it is well founded.

    Lastly, I don’t know what to make of steelcity entertaining people with this kind of, to my mind, pretty unsubstantiated views. It’s a puzzle, it’s at odds with everything else I’ve read here. Obviously, credibility is compromised and caution is required.

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