The undersigned revolutionary working-class groups demand the protection of all workers and oppressed people from the dangers caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is a very dangerous threat to the health and lives of the oppressed. Particularly older workers, the retired, the disabled, those with underlying health conditions, to prisoners, the impoverished, those in nations such as Iran, occupied Palestine and Gaza, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea who are targeted for starvation sanctions and barbaric deprivation of basic medical supplies and services by imperialism and its allies, and particularly also many oppressed people who live in impoverished semi-colonial nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania.
This pandemic crisis has produced the most serious economic and political crisis for capitalism since the Second World War, or earlier crises that led to that war such as the 1929 Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression. The fundamental contradiction facing world capitalism is that the prolonged strategy of saving capitalist profitability over the last several decades has involved savage attacks on social benefits, including healthcare benefits, for workers and the poor around the world, both in the imperialist countries, going hand in hand with globalisation and the export of jobs to poor, low-wage countries, this putting pressure on the working class in the imperialist countries to accept a serious decline in living standards and benefits.
The imperialist drive to capitalist restoration in the former USSR and much of its sphere of influence was initially the driving force of these such attacks, but they have become a generalised phenomenon throughout the capitalist world, part of neo-liberalism, the dominant creed of capital today, which is seen by the ruling classes of the world as their saviour from the spectre of Communism and the Russian Revolution.
A similar, parallel thing has been done also in poorer, semi-colonial countries, where the rise of exported capital and the increase in jobs has led to the rise of free market economics and attacks on already meagre healthcare and social welfare systems there also, through such things as IMF ‘structural adjustment’ programmes to attract imperialist investment.
Now that neo-liberal capitalism is itself in terminal decay, we see the grotesque spectacle of the rise of right-wing populism with a stern, fascist tendency, put in power in part as a result of the disillusionment of backward sections of the working class in many countries, which has given rise to leaders such as Trump, Johnson , Bolsonaro and Modi, who make light of and mock a deadly pandemic that threatens to decimate the victims of capitalism, those who are considered surplus population by much of the ruling class.
At the same time we see that under mass pressure and fear of an eruption of the rage of the masses at the huge death toll that is threatened, and the obvious fact that healthcare has been deliberately undermined for decades as part of neo-liberal asset stripping and privatisation, many bourgeois regimes are attempting to stave off disaster by imposing a necessary measure of quarantine on the population.
We support the quarantine and demand effective measures of public health. We will also support agitation to force recalcitrant neoliberal regimes to carry out such measures where they a playing with obscenities like Johnson’s injunction to the British population to ‘take it on the chin’. While there is no vaccine or cure for this new disease the working class is in a defensive, backs-to-the-wall situation and needs to be extremely cautious about protecting its most vulnerable and frail components. We must seize on the weapon of quarantine to protect ourselves, and fight for the nationalisation of health provision and its supply chain, housing for the homeless, and protections for workers sacked because of the pandemic. We defend the international solidarity efforts of the workers’ states and peoples oppressed by imperialism against the pandemic, as Cuba has been doing.
But this situation is causing the capitalist system to totter economically, and we must demand of the bourgeois states every possible measure to negate the ruinous impact of capitalism and neo-liberalism on the masses. We demand the expropriation of private healthcare and the privileges of the rich to save as many working class people as possible from the pandemic. We demand the expropriation of failing industries in the economic crisis, and that all workers, in regular and ‘casual’ employment of all kinds, be paid in full for the duration of the pandemic. We demand economic planning to handle the economic needs of the masses under quarantine; the idea that market economics and neoliberalism can be any kind of solution to any of this is poisonous rubbish, too preposterous for words. Such is the international nature of this human crisis that this must be on a world scale if a terrible death toll is to be avoided in the poorest parts of the world.
At the same time we must be vigilant against attempts by far right and fascist forces to exploit the need for a quarantine to attack the democratic rights of the masses, to attack our freedom to criticise, to institute a dictatorship. An ominous example is the demand of Orban in Hungary for the right to rule by decree for the duration of the pandemic. There are similar dangers from Trump in the US, from Johnson in Britain, and in many other places. We must be on our guard.
Above all we demand and seek the world revolution, as the only way to save the working class, and the planet on which we live, which is being degraded and polluted, particularly through capitalist mode of production induced climate change, to the point where human extinction is on the horizon. Capitalism has caused a devastating Climate Change that in combination with systematic destruction of nature have caused unprecedented degradation of nature throughout the world. This allows deadly viruses such as the coronavirus to evolve, adapt, and jump from animals to humans. While we are facing such a deadly threat it may appear unrealistic to talk of world revolution, but the root causes of this calamity, and others to come, dictate political and economic tasks that only the world proletariat in power can solve. This particular disaster will end at some point and there must be a reckoning with its causes. We need worldwide economic planning, we need an end to the destruction of the ecosphere, we need the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism worldwide.
Frente Comunista dos Trabalhadores (Brazil)
Tendencia Militante Bolchevique (Argentina)
Socialist Workers League (United States)
Socialist Fight (Britain)
Trotskyist Faction of Socialist Fight (Britain)
The above groups who endorse it are part of the Liaison Committee for the Fourth International.
Mohammad Basir Ul Haq Sinha, President, Inter Press Network, Dhaka – Bangladesh
Fernando Gustavo Armas, physician, militant of Socialismo Revolucionario – Argentina
Akhar Bandyopadhyay, non-partisan Political Activist — India
Ady Mutero, Revolutionary Internationalist League – Zimbabwe
Akash Mirza, chair, Bangladesh Revolutionary Socialist Union – BRSU
Nigel Singh, independent left militant, Oxford, UK
Curtis T, youth and socialist activist, Monrovia, Liberia
The above groups and militants also endorse the statement.