Andrea Meza

Andrea Meza’s life forever changed when she heard the words “Viva Mexico”, said a June 13, 2021 media report. But, there were some more facts from a reality, which is out-and-out capitalist.

In May, Meza was crowned the 69th Miss Universe. The pageant was broadcast from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood in Florida. It was aired to more than 160 countries and territories.

The 26-year-old spoke to Fox News, US, recently. She said some difficult facts. Fox News questioned her: What was it like participating during the pandemic? Meza’s answer: “It was a totally different experience. I didn’t have work. My family was struggling with their business.”

In response to another question, she told: “I know it’s really hard for some people because they may not have access to the vaccine.”

There were, in Meza’s talks, issues of changing beauty standards, and an “amazing life”, which is “not perfect.”

She wants “to give women a voice.” She wants “to raise awareness of gender-based violence”.

The reality is

  • There’s unemployment.
  • Families struggle.
  • Access to COVID-19 vaccine is difficult to many.
  • Violence and gender-based violence.
  • A beauty-show while billions struggle with pandemic, unemployment, non-access to vaccines.

Does the reality appear surrealistic or magical? Whatever the reality appears, the fact is: All these are happening in this capitalist world order, which a few MSM propagandist claim “democracy”.

Is it democracy – rule of the people, the majority, where billions struggle with hunger, unemployment? Are not the billions majority? Does the system uphold the billions’ interest? The vaccine-politics of the few powerful countries that assembled on an English shore shows the way the countries played and are playing with the vaccine. Is it democracy, rule of the majority, when voice of billions of people doesn’t find a minute’s space? On the contrary, it’s the few powerful that define “democracy” to market capital’s interest. Is it democracy, a system for rule by the majority, when a few have more than enough money to vaccinate all the poor of this planet, but that money goes secured in safe of the few rich, and is not discussed and planned to spend for vaccination drive although the English-shore moot – the recently concluded Group of Seven (G-7) – discusses a lot about finding and arranging money for the COVID-19 vaccine?

The leaders talk about “democracy”, and talk about vaccination. Although, at the very foundation of their discussion, was interest of concerned capitals – the capitals the respective leaders representing.

The “sweet” reality, the “happy all reality” stands before more questions if someone looks at the recently released International Labor Organization (ILO) report, which said: The ongoing pandemic has wiped/is going to wipe out 100 million jobs. This means at least 100 million families are/will be facing hunger and starvation, facing a life without health care, facing a fear of uncertain future. Michael Yates has discussed this fear in one of his essays in Monthly Review. This fear haunts the poor, the working people. This fear haunts them all through their life. This fear overwhelms them, overwhelms their entire life.

To the unemployed, to the millions of unemployed, this fear is far, far powerful than the fear of death as death diminishes fear while fear haunts the alive all the time, all actions, inactions, all thoughts within brain of the alive.

The ILO report – World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2021 (Geneva, June 2, 2021) tells the facts the workers have experienced over the last pandemic-months.

Guy Rider ILO Director-General, said: “Recovery from COVID-19 is not just a health issue.” He raised the issues of economies and societies, decent jobs, the most vulnerable members of society.

These – economies and societies – are political issues, and class related issues.

The ILO chief said: “[T]he lingering effects of the pandemic could be with us for years in the form of lost human and economic potential and higher poverty and inequality.”

Poverty and inequality are also political and class related issues although many economists discuss these issues in an economy-tight compartment. A deceptive practice, this is.

The G-7 leaders “forgot” to discuss this issue – labor and condition of labor – in their beautiful meeting. It’s not that labor doesn’t concern them. Labor concerns them all the time.

But, at least for now, they are able to keep the issue of labor aside as (1) they are busy with questions of competition of capitals, capitals from the US and European countries, and from China; and, (2) they are confident that labor has been “tamed” – under pressure from pandemic-created-devastation, and by the bourgeois leadership that has usurped leadership of most of the labor movement – for the time being. It’s a reality of chained labor.

The ILO report said:

# In 2020, an estimated 8.8 per cent of total working hours were lost – the equivalent of the hours worked in one year by 255 million full-time workers.

# Around half of the working‑hour losses were due to the reduced hours of those who remained employed (and they can be attributed to either shorter working hours or “zero” working hours under furlough schemes). The remaining half were due to out‑right employment losses.

# Relative to 2019, total employment fell by 114 million as a result of workers becoming unemployed or dropping out of the labor force. Had there been no pandemic the world would have created an estimated 30 million new jobs in 2020. Taken together, these losses mean that the global shortfall in employment increased by 144 million jobs in 2020, drastically exacerbating the shortage of employment opportunities that already existed prior to the pandemic.

# Recurrent waves of the pandemic around the globe have caused working‑hour losses to remain persistently high in 2021, leading to a shortfall in total working hours of 4.8 per cent in the first quarter that dipped slightly to 4.4 per cent in the second quarter. This shortfall – corresponding to the working‑hours equivalent of 140 million full‑time jobs in the first quarter and 127 million full-time jobs in the second quarter – highlights that as the first half of 2021 draws to a close, the crisis is far from over. Latin America and the Caribbean, and Europe and Central Asia, are the two worst-affected regions, with estimated working‑hour losses in each case exceeding 8 per cent in the first quarter and 6 per cent in the second quarter of 2021.

# The total working‑hour losses have translated into a sharp drop in labor income and an increase in poverty. Global labor income, which does not include government transfers and benefits, was US$3.7 trillion (8.3 per cent) lower in 2020 than it would have been in the absence of the pandemic.

# For the first two quarters of 2021, this shortfall amounts to a reduction in global labor income of 5.3 per cent, or US$1.3 trillion. Relative to 2019, an estimated additional 108 million workers are now extremely or moderately poor, meaning that they and their family members are having to live on less than US$3.20 per day in purchasing power parity terms. Five years of progress towards the eradication of working poverty have been undone, as working poverty rates have now reverted to those of 2015.

# Informal workers have also been affected disproportionately by the crisis. Roughly 2 ­billion workers – or 60.1 per cent of the globally employed – were working informally in 2019.

# Informal employees were three times more likely than their formal counterparts, and 1.6 times more likely than the self‑employed, to lose their jobs as a result of the crisis, thereby contributing to the observed shift towards self-employment. Moreover, because of their informal status, they were less likely to benefit from social protection. As many of these workers have lower savings rates, they have been more likely to fall deeper into poverty. Their already disadvantaged situation and the severe disruption to their working lives risk jeopardizing their future labor market trajectories. In addition, large regional variations in the prevalence of informality have contributed to the highly uneven.

# The COVID-19 crisis has further highlighted the vulnerable situation of migrant workers. Many migrant workers experienced an abrupt termination of their employment along with non‑payment or delayed payment of wages, and at the same time often lacked access to social protection benefits that could make up for their income losses. This has aggravated the impact of the crisis in both destination countries and countries of origin. In destination countries, sectors reliant on seasonal migrant workers struggled to maintain their workforces because of the widespread travel restrictions. The decline in remittances negatively affected countries of origin. Remittances are a major source of income in many poorer countries, where they are key to supporting both household incomes and domestic demand. The shrinking of remittance flows has thus exacerbated poverty in migrants’ countries of origin.

Therefore, there, in this pandemic-plight world, there is a loss of more than a trillion USD – “reduction in global labor income of … US$1.3 trillion.” This loss is of labor. Labor has lost it. It was not part of labor’s profit; as labor doesn’t profit. It was labor’s necessary – necessary for labor’s survival.

Whose income it was? It’s labor income. So, it’s labor’s problem, not a problem of capital.

This means, labor was not paid. This means, capital had no need to pay labor. This means, the labor has to find out its food, etc. This means intensity of exploitation has increased as (1) capital can’t sit inactive without making profit; (2) capital constantly goes for higher and more profit; (3) capital is making bigger profit despite shedding off more than a million muscles. [This has other meaning related to capital, which is connected to capital’s capacity, efficiency, etc, which question is not discussed in this article.]

The ILO report’s information – additional 108 million workers are now extremely or moderately poor – means: More than a million workers are getting less food, etc. Despite that – less food consumption by a part of labor – capital is not concerned with the issue as the labor’s less consumption doesn’t hurt capital’s reproduction. This also signifies increase in intensity of exploitation.

That’s the reason the concerned capitals, and the G-7 leaders also, are not concerned with the condition of labor; rather they, the G-7 leaders, representing a powerful portion of capitals around the Atlantic and the Pacific, are concerned with competition with capital from China, concerned with Trumpian tax measures on iron and aluminium from Europe, concerned with the slogan “democracy”. They need this “democracy” slogan to confront China although they are not now concerned with labor, the biggest part of people, and people is life and brain of democracy as democracy stands for majority, not for a handful of minority – the rich, the exploiters.

So, the reality appears, a lot, billions including a beauty queen, is not free from unemployment, loss of work in this capitalist beautiful world.

Farooque Chowdhury writes from Dhaka, Bangladesh.



Countercurrents is answerable only to our readers. Support honest journalism because we have no PLANET B. Subscribe to our Telegram channel