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How The Dystopian New Era of Capitalism has Come to Stay!


The Covid-19 pandemic has caught most countries unprepared! It is not just the poor, less economically developed countries that have also been badly hit. The economically advanced countries—the US and the core European Union countries—have also been equally, if not worse hit. With the help of science ,I hope that humanity will eventually overcome the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Many theories and philosophies will emerge. Many interpretations will be presented before the people and the governments.

We found ourselves in a transformed world sometime in the beginning of 2020. For the first time globally we saw empty streets, closed shops and unusually clear skies, with climbing death tolls being reported daily: something unprecedented was unfolding before our eyes.

One may ask if the difficult days we are going through but also the severity of the effects of the new pandemic is the result and the impact of the new globalized capitalist practices, not only on the economic situation, but also on our poor diet, our alienated new human lifestyle, our immobility in front of our TV screens watching Netflix, obesity, junk food or even drugs overdose . Have they degraded our biological resilience?

If, in the end, it turns out that the Covid pandemic was caused by a leak from a lab in Wuhan, China, it will rank among the greatest scientific scandals in history: dangerous research, possibly involving ethically dubious techniques that make viruses more dangerous, carried out in a poorly safeguarded facility, violently covered up by a regime more interested in propaganda than human life, catastrophic for the entire world.

It is depressing it has taken so long for the world of science, supported by most journalists and politicians, to start accepting the basic truth that no theory should be discounted without evidence — especially given the seriousness of the issues at stake and history of leaks from laboratories. A spate of strong articles seems to have suddenly changed the media narrative, despite mostly reheating material familiar to those of us who have been tracking this story for months. Among these a Wall Street Journal story, for example, about three Wuhan researchers allegedly falling suspiciously sick in November, builds on facts revealed by David Asher, former lead investigator for the State Department.

Nonetheless, the main question is whether the post-COVID 19 world will be the same as before or will it change, whether the capitalist order will become more inhuman and exploitative.

“All philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways. However, the point is to change it” Marx wrote in Thesis on Feuerbach. This was the fundamental premise of the philosophical pursuit of Marx and his lifelong companion Friedrich Engels. They analyzed human existence, the relationship between human beings and nature and the ways in which production and the reproduction of the human species and the economy take place.

While asserting that “labour is the source of wealth and prime basic condition for human existence,” Marx and Engels analysed the dialectics of nature. They pointed out how the harmony among people, land, water and air leads to changes. In Capital, Marx explained that “labour is in the first place a process in which both man and nature participate”. Marx went on to explain that labour process was nothing but the production process. He showed how labour is the source of wealth and how labour power keeps producing surplus value. In the same work, he explained how under capitalism, surplus value is appropriated by capitalists, who are the owners of the means of production. He also explained how this appropriation of surplus value leads to accumulation of wealth at one pole and the pauperisation of the working people at another. Such inequality is reflected in the miserable working and living conditions of the working people.

In addition the new era of Capitalism comes with more surveillance practices. Drawing on Shoshana Zuboff’s (2019) sustained investigation in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism along with sources infrequently highlighted in the social work literature, the focus is on some of the main imperatives driving forward new surveillance practices. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism describes how global tech companies such as Google and Facebook persuaded us to give up our privacy for the sake of convenience; how personal information (“data”) gathered by these companies has been used by others not only to predict our behavior but also to influence and modify it. This results on how this has had disastrous consequences for democracy and freedom. This is the “surveillance capitalism” of the title, which Zuboff defines as a “new economic order” and “an expropriation of critical human rights that is best understood as a coup from above”.

It seems likely that the future is going to witness intense class struggles for political power so that a new social order emerges in which the state shall ensure housing, healthcare, education and all means of livelihood to all its citizens, and equality, justice and dignity of all citizens are upheld.

A number of questions have arisen as we see the progression of the pandemic. Why is it that such a pandemic was not foreseen, when warning signs with avian flu, swine flu, SARS and MERS, all within the last two decades, were clear? Why is it, that with such advances in medicine, vaccines and healthcare, infections have spread so rapidly and the health systems collapsed?

The political implications of COVID-19 will continue to unfold for months, perhaps even years.

The pandemic hit after four decades of neoliberalism had depleted state capacities in the name of the ‘superior efficiency’ of the market, fostered deindustrialization through the ‘globalization’ of production and built fragile financial structures secured by magical thinking and state guarantees, all in the name of short-term profitability. The disintegration of the global economy left the wealthiest and most uncompromising neoliberal economies, the USA and the UK, exposed as being unable to produce enough face masks and personal protective equipment for their health staff, not to speak of ventilators to keep their hospitalized population alive.

These insufficiencies were caused not only by the lack of productive capacity due to changing technologies or China’s trade policies but also by deliberate policies: from universities to labs to manufacturing, neoliberalism actively promoted the fragmentation and disarticulation of a wide range of systems of provision as individual firms scrambled for short-term profits. The ensuing shortcomings were exacerbated by the destruction of state planning capacity and the disinclination of neoliberal governments to use all necessary means to mobilize industry, labour and private capital for a common purpose during the pandemic. Under pressure from the pandemic, service provision was transformed beyond recognition; online work became the norm in countless areas in a matter of days rather than the years that this transition would have normally taken, while the neoliberal worship of consumption dissolved into empty supermarket shelves, scrambles for hand sanitizer, pasta and sardines and fistfights for toilet paper.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the Achille’s heel of capitalism. Underfunded and ageing health systems across the capitalist world are crumbling whilst the global economy has entered a recessionary spiral.

Initially, the western world leaders adopted the same strategy as China by downplaying the lethality of Covid-19, but then once the crisis was out of control, they started reacting by proclaiming that the fight against the pandemic is likened to that of a World War and does not discriminate between rich and poor. At present, nearly two years after the spread of Covid-19 was detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the question of how the virus first emerged remains a mystery due to the unwillingness of the Chinese regime to give us clear answer and take its own responsibilities instead of orchestrating propaganda worldwide and trying to divide the leftists at one hand and then the rest of the world!

Today, after months of ‘state-imposed quarantine’, it should be recognized that whatever the exit strategy, ‘normality’ might be a word with an ‘elusive’ meaning. The question therefore that begs an answer is rather simple: What’s next?

Photo credit: Pawel Kuczynski