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Coronarivus and Catastrophic Crisis: The Tragic Responsability of Communists (IGCL, March 19th 2020)

"The Coronavirus Calls for Wartime Economic Thinking"(The New Yorker, March 16th 2020 [1]). "We are at war" (French President Macron, March 16). "I look at it. I view it as a, in a sense, a wartime president. I mean, that’s what we’re fighting. It’s a very tough situation" (Trump, March 18th).

The rupture is historic and brutal. In addition to the victims of the pandemic and the health tragedy, the recession is sudden and deep. Entire, often essential, sectors of world production are paralysed. At a standstill. The bill will be exorbitant. We’ll see later how capitalism makes the world proletariat pay for it. In the meantime, war against the virus has been declared. The police and the army are the only vaccines, containment and curfew, against the coronavirus that capitalism has been able to find.

The same goes for the crisis. "You can’t think in normal terms. This is more like a wartime crisis than a normal economic situation" (Ian Shepherdson, the founder of Pantheon Macroeconomics cited by The New Yorker in the article above). The general drop in production will exacerbate trade and imperialist rivalries as never before. In the sinking of world capitalism, the desperate struggle of every national capital to board the few lifeboats will be savage, fierce and violent.

In order to gain access to the few lifeboats and exclude the others, some talk of "reorienting the economy" – in opposition to the so-called liberal excesses of globalization – around each national state, even if it means, they all declare today in panic, nationalizing certain sectors indispensable to the defense of national capital. Others differentiate between essential and non-essential goods, the former to be preserved, the latter to be abandoned. For the crisis will destroy entire sections of the national production apparatus. It goes for the weakest economic sectors as the weakest people in the face of the coronavirus. The health services are thinking about the criteria to be used to choose between those who will be saved – due to lack of personnel, beds and ventilators – and those who will be sent back to die at home or in the street. The same will soon apply to the weakest sectors of the economy, which are sickened by the crisis. The state, the supreme representative of each national capital, will decide which sectors are to be safeguarded at all costs and which are to be sacrificed, or left to die. The essential criterion will not be of an economic order but of a political and imperialist order: the strategic sectors for the defence of national capital are the essential goods that each state will seek to preserve at all costs. For behind the crisis and imperialist tensions, the generalised imperialist war is looming ever more. The militarized response to the coronavirus pandemic is an illustration of this, a particular moment and accelerator. The process, one could almost say the mechanism, determined by the contradictions of capital, inevitably leads to generalized imperialist war if the former is not destroyed and overcome.

With the outbreak of the pandemic, capitalist crisis and imperialist war are conjugating in the present. The dynamic relationship between the two now compels every bourgeoisie to impose absolute misery, with "non-essential" goods disappearing, and equally absolute discipline in the workplaces and in the streets for the production of "essential goods" in defense of national capital. The march to imperialist war demands that the bourgeoisie provokes a generalized confrontation against the proletariat in all countries. The coronavirus and the crisis it causes leave no room for doubt: the time has come for massive, violent, dramatic, international confrontations between the classes. Their outcome will resolve in one way or another the alternative of revolution or war.

The storm is of unprecedented proportions and the Communists are now just a wisp of straw, in danger of being swept away and further dispersed by the turmoil. One of the tragedies of the historical drama that is unfolding is likely to be, because the irresponsibility and inconsistency of the Communist forces, the absence of an effective World Communist Party in the very confrontation that is beginning. There is still time for the main so-called "partyist" forces, resolutely fighting for the constitution of the party, to rise to the height of their responsibility and work accordingly, quickly and concretely, to clear the way for international consolidation around the historical positions of the Communist Left and its main groups. It is up to them, first and foremost to the Internationalist Communist Tendency, to take their role seriously and to take charge, overcoming all sectarianism, of the development and strengthening of the proletarian camp as a whole.

The IGCL, March 19th 2020.