GUEST BLOG: Dave Brownz – From coronaviris to the commune; how to save humanity from destruction

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The response to the coronavirus pandemic cannot be read in isolation of capitalism in terminal decline. In a sentence it is another example of nature biting back against its destruction at the hands of capitalism over centuries and exploding today. So a coronavirus that has jumped species probably from bats via other animals to humans is but one of the many breakdowns of capitalism in terminal crisis which needs to be traced back to its fundamental cause.

We can work back from the pandemic through immediate causes to intermediary causes all the way to the fundamental causes of terminal crisis so as to then discover the knowledge necessary to build a new society.
To illustrate this, the virus itself has probably been around in bats for a long time. But not as long as the viruses that lurk beneath the tundra that are about to be spread through methane bombs. But bats and humans had distinct ecologies, and co-existed with their viruses, until the late 19th century when global capitalism began to invade and eliminate human and other species boundaries. This has been turbocharged by the effects of extreme climate change forcing migration from existing habitats.
All this this apparent chaos is not the function of globalisation, overpopulation or neoliberalism, as such, they are symptomatic of deeper causes. These are the imperialist exploitation of colonies and semicolonies which plunders and extracts human and physical resources to the point of ecological collapse.
Nor is overpopulation more than a symptom because it ignores the way in which people are distributed by imperialism – into overdeveloped rich nations and underdeveloped poor nations and regions, where the demographic of the rich nations is of a declining white race, while that of the poor nations is an impoverished, overcrowded and black and brown reserve of cheap labour.
Nor, again, is the free market or neo-liberalism, more than a symptom of capitalism in deep decline destroying the historic gains of the labour movement in a desperate attempt to restore profits. A futile effort when the conditions for profitability are being terminated by the capitalocene in extremis.
Capitalism in decline has exposed in all of its hubris, many forces over which it has no control and which destroy the conditions for its own existence – in sum a functioning ecosphere. Taking off for planet B is a rich mans Silicon Valley sci-fi fantasy.
Obviously these same forces, among them pandemics, drought, famine, floods, nuclear meltdowns, ecological collapse, threaten the extinction of all life on the planet. Yet despite such forces being beyond capitalism’s control, they do not absolutely determine the fate of humans because they can free themselves from the irrational chaos of dying capitalism.
What separates humans from other species is capacity for thought and planned action. This does not cover raiding supermarkets. Yet even under capitalism in all of its destruction, it is evident in some of the responses to coronavirus spread. Humans can, even as politicians representing capital, act in the interests of defending capitalism’s conditions of existence, i.e. a population of healthy workers and consumers necessary for profits. China, Taiwan and Singapore used proactive authoritarian methods to lock down and screen population movements to mitigate if not stop the spread. Others nations caught up with more ‘democratic’ pretensions, have waited for advice from the WHO and failed to proactively mitigate or contain the spread.
What this illustrates is that collective capitalist state-led responses are necessary to resist  pandemics. But at the same time they cannot become truly collective, certainly not democratic,  unless they break with the interests of the capitalist ruling classes who refuse to fund a health system that can cope with let along proven pandemics.
As the resistance to action on climate change proves, these  responses will be too little, too late, uncoordinated, meet resistance from below, and be overwhelmed by the accumulating effects of a collapsing capitalism world economy.
Therefore, the only hope of humans surviving this tidal wave of destruction is to eliminate the root cause, the deadly inertia of a dying capitalism with its hidebound institutions locked into the short-term profit interests of the tiny ruling classes.
We can turn globalisation from imperialist destruction, into global unity of all working and oppressed peoples. We can turn overpopulation from slums, disease and famine, into communes everywhere capable of building sustainable habitation.  We can turn the capitalist market into its opposite, the economic and social plans of the communes, as the coordinated democratic will of the people globally to build a new society which restores humanity and nature as one.
That is the logic of humanity rescuing itself from disaster. It needs to happen, and it is happening now, in all of the migration of peoples from poor to rich countries;  of the spontaneous uprisings against military dictatorships; millions on the streets fighting for basic rights; of women and youth mobilising against dying capitalism; but what is lacking it a clear vision of the new society and how to get there.
There is only one vision of a society beyond capitalism that has shown the way forward, and capable of learning from the lessons of history, and that is revolutionary socialism. That is the discussion we need now, today, because it will sort out those who are prepared to fight together for survival, and those who represent the dying past, and release our amazing human potential to imagine and create a liberating future.

Dave Brownz is TDBs guest Marxist because every Left wing blog needs a Marxist

11 COMMENTS

  1. In the meantime, expose and challenge our government’s slackness, inability to protect us from such an infectious and deadly virus. Self-isolation isn’t working. We need to take lessons from China,Singapore and Taiwan and impose more stringent methods to control the spread of COVID-19.
    If politicians become victims, will we see some realistic action? Unlikely, as Dave argues we can’t rely on capitalism. We must forge our own socialist structures that the people control, in order to look after ourselves.

  2. It is not capitalist decline it’s monster capitalist exploitation – like the Global Financial Crisis https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_crisis_of_2007–08 when the Democrats bailed out the banks instead of jailing the bankers and the bankers came back richer and more powerful than ever, while the democrats now lose to Trump…

    It’s called shock Doctrine…. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shock_Doctrine more shocks mean more assets change to the super rich who can essentially manipulate the markets while benefiting from it https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/08/george-soros-bank-of-england.asp
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_IMF_crisis

    • SaveNZ the reason why capitalism is having financial meltdowns and being bailed out by the politicians is that it is in decline. Surplus capital is not invested in production because it is not profitable. Profits have failed to return to the 1970’s levels. Capitalism has become cannibalistic, zombie-like even, as surplus capital is gambled in markets for existing commodities without producing new value. We are living in a gigantic casino waiting for the bubble to burst. These excesses are just the symptoms of a dying capitalism. Theories like the shock doctrine pick up on these symptoms but explain them as aberrations that can be corrected by reforming capitalism. We need to attack the root cause, capitalism itself, and replace it with a socialist society.

  3. Well put Dave, all good stuff. The proverbial in the works is the subjective factor–hyper individualism via neo liberal hegemony, the ascendancy of post modernist philosophy over materialist philosophy, people’s thinking lagging behind the rapidity of changing events–a great big pile of subjectivism in other words.

    The need for revolution has long existed and Climate Disaster and now the virus assisted meltdown could not make it much clearer that a fundamental shift in class power is needed the world over. And it could still occur in a particular place or places despite the apparent levels of mass consciousness. Working class people have a great store of knowledge from their daily existential grind and the “spark” or situation that gets revolutionary situations happening has to happen sooner rather than later.

  4. As often the case, some good analyses and valid comments from many contributors to the TDB.

    But.

    The bottom-line remains that without the logical organizational consequences stemming from these analyses the TDB is not more than the ‘Wailing Wall in the Land of the Long White Cloud’.

    Three Basic Options.

    1) Change the existing Green Party from within.

    2) Establish a new eco-socialist political platform.

    3) Facilitate and enhance cooperation and communication among civilian initiatives in AONZ.

    Ms Jacinda and friends cannot do that .…. even if you vote for her.

    System Change. Now.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=354KSku9i4I
    Circling The Drain.

    • Manfred. Parliamentary politics is holding back the self-activity of the masses to make change. Parliament is constituted as part of the existing regime. The only changes that mattered in history are those of the revolutionary masses overthrowing the old regimes. Eco-socialism is part of revolutionary socialism or it is nothing. I take your point that we need a detailed program to make the changes and that is where the discussion/action must focus. Let’s get to it.

      • Thanks for response, Dave. So, what would such programme contain? What are your concrete and practical suggestions?

        • OK for a start I would propose that the demand from business that the state subsidies business losses due to Covid 19 should not be used to stop the market eliminating unproductive, speculative and environmentally destructive ventures.

          Where production is, or can be switched to, sustainable production, determined by environmental and climate change objectives, the state should support it by public or social investments as actual shares in production.

          These would be via a development bank, representing the interests of all producers and replacing the big private banks who are only interested in their massive profits.

          In this way the state would introduce the principle of planning into the chaotic market similar to the first Labour Gov’t during the depression.

          But the real object would be much more radical. To demonstrate that production for profits is irrational when the capitalist market has failed to invest in sustainable production, has caused climate change, created the conditions for pandemics, and yet cannot survive without state subsidies.

          This in fact, has always been the case in NZ where the market could not be established or survive without massive state subsidies.

          The logic would be to convert inefficient production away from private ownership of land, essentially the banks and wealthy farmers, extracting monopoly rents from socially created value, towards the collective ownership of all producers in NZ.

          Of course no capitalist government could do this so it needs a government of all the producers of value based on workers’ and working farmers’ democracy to do it as part of a socialist program.

          • So,

            a state-owned development bank that financially coordinates structural re-organization across social, economic, environmental sectors toward climate resilience, and

            a state-driven investment programme that awards productive, non-speculative, socially and ecologically acceptable ventures (means of production as well as actual goods).

            Yes.

            An effective starting point.

            Certainly feasible.

  5. While I can see revolutionary socialism making a difference today if it is ever allowed to exist you are wrong about it being the only option for a better future. There was a man about 2000 years ago who set in motion a rescue plan established from the foundation of the world & while the majority of those who claim His name are wrong in what they say & do it is only the general public’s lack of information about what is truth that allows them to continue.
    While MB is able to support having a Marxist blogger he should also allow alternative Christian views to show the significance of world events.

    • Kia Ora Bonnie. Interesting perspective, indeed. From what I see TDB would probably not block such contributing bloggers…… so, where are the spiritual critical thinkers of the country? Let us hear them.

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