As Corona Crashes Capitalism, Whatsapp Sings of Conspiracies

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As more and more people die of COVID-19, WhatsApp is busy knitting conspiracy theories looking for traces of biological warfare amid this Coronavirus Crisis. Good old right started it, with tales of ‘Communist’ China synthesizing Corona to suppress Hong Kong uprising but as it overtook the western ‘free world’, songs of trade wars unleashing this deadly virus entered our whatsapp groups. Apart from the ones predicting dooms day every minute now, there are some ‘optimists’ too, expecting welfare state policies in a post-coronavirus period as the Governments will awaken and learn from the inadequacies of present healthcare failure which has already killed thousands of people worldwide.

Conspiracy theorists & What Does Objectivity Beholds?

As for now the Novel Coronavirus pandemic has still not reached its peak. Apparently started in China, it has now sprung across the globe. The number of infections world over have grown exponentially, leaving the tally at its birthplace in Wuhan, China far behind. Some have even warned of newer outbreaks in China as the novel Coronavirus remains obstinate on its worldwide holocaust. This biological crisis has created panic in financial markets; the global economies are under lockdown, the trade has nearly come to a standstill, transactions are interrupted & Stock markets have plunged as much as above 30% in the span of weeks. Current situation is that of a general strike in the whole world; the only downside being it wasn’t organized by the conscious working people but a silly small virus. Due to lockdown of schools, shops, services, businesses and measures like work from home, home quarantines and curfew, the world is operating at about 50% capacity with majority workforce stuck indoors. The production has been put at a halt and resulted in an adverse ‘supply crisis’. This situation is worse than the subprime crisis of 2008 in which unemployment rate in US was a mere 10%. Consequently, not spending any money on travel & services by common people & businesses on one hand and further Income drop of people & low sale of these businesses on the other, resulted in ‘demand crisis’. In fact, it is the same trodden path, the way with all capitalist crises: they start with a contraction of supply and end up with a fall in consumption; not vice versa.  All the world’s major economies are the worst hit by this catastrophe and has come to a standstill whether it’s China, USA, Germany, UK, Italy or India. The oil prices have plunged and hit the middle-east economies and Russia as well. Even the fortunate countries who are yet to face the wrath of this adversity have witnessed plummeting economies as they employ restrictive measures to save themselves. So, its impacts are global in this era of global capitalism knitted quite close via the threads of profit. Even prior to the eruption of COVID-19, the global capitalism was going through deep crisis as the profitability of capital was low and global profits were static at best. As this financial crisis will not result due to instability inherent in speculative capital markets, the situation may get worse than the crisis erupted in the aftermath of Second World War. In strong contrast to WW-II, no country is there to lend the loan for loss recovery in this globally injured economy. Presently, all the hostile classes are at loss. Seeing all the above factors. It doesn’t seem that it will recover from its crisis sooner. So, the claim of a COVID-19 as capitalist conspiracy to get rid of its own crisis holds no ground.

Optimism and what could be the possible fallouts?

This emergency situation (‘shock doctrines’) mostly help the ruling classes. One thing is for sure that when the disaster will get over, the apologists of capitalism will put the blame on COVID-19 to mask the inherent flaws in the capitalist production, inter-imperialist contradictions and the social structure of society. Same was parroted after the subprime crisis of 2008-09. Some optimists are reiterating that COVID-19 will give a blow to globalisation & privatisation (especially of healthcare) overlooking the objective conditions at international and domestic level. Though the global healthcare debate is mounting but it seems unreal in the absence of strong international challenge or an alternative like strong welfare state or socialist system to present Global capitalist system. So it is more likely that the conditions will become more deplorable for people in the aftermath of COVID-19. Going with the economic logic of neoliberalism the governments will force increased taxation (as the government has already increased the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs. 8 through an amendment to eighth schedule of the finance act) on people all over the world, pushing towards more privatisation as per its banal economic rule to overcome crisis especially in the third world while putting the entire blame on coronavirus pandemic. Slashing of funds from social sector, stringent labour laws, Inflation, Central banks providing emergency liquidity to the financial sector, bailing out rich etc. awaits us on the other side of this COVID-19 tunnel. So, coronavirus will become the justification for yet another disaster to come which will be definitely made up by the ruling classes; No conspiracy theory required for that.

What is to be done?

Nature may be involved in the virus epidemic, but the number of deaths depend on human action – economic structure, governement policies & the level of medical infrastructure and resources. The past three months of COVID-19 disaster has proved that global capitalist system is incompetent to tackle Man vs Nature contradictions. So, this small virus has exposed the system from within. It has exposed how globalisation is afflicted with huge intra-world contradictions & health care system etc. With this crisis on humanity comes the responsibility of socially sensitive people to expose this system and take this biological crisis seriously, instead of indulging in naive conspiracy theories or going by “Malthusian logic” of ‘unproductive labour’ which includes old ones too. In ongoing crisis we need to indulge ourselves in exposing the shallowness of ‘globalisation’ and ‘Trickle-down Theory’. The Need of the hour is to spread awareness among people about the necessary precautions regarding coronavirus, avoiding physical gatherings, preparing yourself to volunteer for rescue operations, collecting funds from rich and middle classes for the poor sections and sending food to the toiling masses. Apart from this, we need to keep the pressure intact on the government to nationalise all hospitals (at least till this disaster gets over), fill the vacant or pending seats in all government hospitals and dispensaries with immediate effect, availing necessary equipment (testing kits, masks, sanitizers, screening tests at all places, safety uniforms for doctors and other medical staff etc.), necessary items and funds to the poor people. The time is not far when Coronavirus knocks at your door, or has knocked already. The situation demands investigation based on objective conditions instead of explaining reality in a fashion suited to one’s views or immediate political needs. Moreover, the question of conspiracy or natural accident is the case of post mortem, which will be held later.

Damanpreet Singh is  B.Tech. (Chemical Engineering) and MBA from Panjab University, Chandigarh and currently pursuing Masters in Political Science from IGNOU.



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