GUEST BLOG: Dave Brownz – A Covid Election in a Dying world in the Age of Rotten Capitalism


Yes, this is a Covid election in a dying world. A pandemic caused by capitalism in its old age destroying habitats and forcing species to jump. Made worse by the economic collapse after wrecking health systems or failing to provide them. Then in desperation trying to isolate the masses from the mansions by locking down people without jobs or food in the poorer countries. Yet its banks and corporates, and even SMEs, got bailed out by central banks. In a word: capitalism is rotten.

So, let’s call out all those who lie that it is the virus that is to blame for the looming global bust. No, capitalism is the enemy not the virus. The virus is merely a messenger from mother nature to the arrogant capitocene that our time is up. The bourgeois have killed many hundreds of thousands of species in their time including over 80% of all mammals, and the kill rate is hitting 200 a day right now. We are on death row ourselves but nature cannot wait until we top ourselves. It sends a harbinger of our fate – a clever little virus that has an IQ above that of the flat earthers. 

So keeping the borders shut will not save the human race. We will wipe each other out instead. There will be more pandemics, more wars, drought and floods. Washing your hands continuously will not remove the guilt. Joining the Trump cult of fascist morons will end in more fascist genocides. Being born again will not get you to planet B. Few have the bucks for a bed on Peter Beck’s spaced-out ships heading to Venus. They will join Jim Jones in the annals of death cults. These are all delusions against doom.

Covid is a tiny taste of the historical justice meted out to those humans who have the hubris to put themselves outside and above nature and who cannot face the truth. We are doomed unless we are redeemed by restoring nature and ourselves as part of it. Marxists since the days of Rosa Luxemburg have spoken of the fate of humanity being torn between socialism and barbarism. Many of us have preached salvation in the form of scientific socialism but this is widely perceived as just another cult. We are well down the road to barbarism so how do we change tack to socialism?

Let’s put this question into the frame of the Covid Election. Yes, it’s a Covid election. The pandemic is the immediate threat to our public health which struggles after 40 years on starvation rations. The way we fight Covid teaches us that we must fight the climate emergency at the same time. And it teaches us that rotten capitalism cannot save  dying world, and that socialism is the only alternative.

The Labour Party is not socialist, nor its leader communist. It is a centrist social democratic liberal party that believes in the classless society of the “team of 5 million”. And its leader believes in a “third way” between capitalism and communism – (Tony) “Blairism”. Yet in the space of months it has got on top of the pandemic more than any other country in the world. Its classless ideology has works to rally most of the nation behind the ‘elimination’ strategy. Its deficit spending of $50 Billion to bail out profits and jobs reinforces the illusion that Aotearoa is a classless team of ‘5 million’. 

So Labour’s centrist ideology masks or minimises the widening gap between owners of capital and workers to keep alive belief in the sustainability of capitalism. It follows that the elimination strategy to save lives cannot arrive at a classless equal society. It may rescue capitalism temporarily, but cannot stop climate change and more pandemics. It lacks any vision that capital is to blame for all our crises. It rejects the urgent need for socialism to defeat economic depression, global warming and further waves of pandemics. But it does keep more of us alive to fight for the future which is not something we can say for the National opposition. 

The National opposition and its ally the ACT Party, are the champions of naked rip, shit and bust capitalism. Like other extreme capitalist regimes, like those of Trump, Bolsonaro and Modi, it will stop at nothing to keep capitalism alive by sacrificing workers. National’s fight to save rotten capitalism is to profit before people at the cost of destroying nature.  Collins and Brownlee are staking the survival of the National Party on playing to people’s fears to discredit the Government’s elimination strategy in the interest of the survival of profits. 

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That makes the Covid election a critical junction. The right fork leads to doom; the left fork leads to survival. How should class conscious workers vote come October 17th? 

As Marx famously said

“The Communists are distinguished from the other working-class parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development which the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.” 

In the context of the upcoming election this means that the proletariat in Aotearoa is exploited by its own bourgeoisie and by international finance capitalists. It is in the common interest of that proletariat to fight as an independent class towards the end of capitalist social relations. The Labour Party never allowed workers to organise independently because it would challenge the ideology of class compromise and unleash class struggle. 

Yet at this stage of the development of the struggle in Aotearoa workers should give critical support to the Labour Party that still has the support of the unions. We should demand that it delivers on its 2017 promises to “transform” Aotearoa/ NZ and act urgently on climate change as “the nuclear free” moment of our age.   

We need Labour to be re-elected to parliament as a majority government so that it is not able to blame the petty bourgeois NZ First or the Green Party for its failure to deliver on its promises. We should demand that it continues the elimination Covid strategy, provides a fully funded public health system to avoid unnecessary lockdowns, jobs for all and living wage, and embarks on an immediate economic plan for sustainable development of the economy in harmony with nature. 

Meanwhile, Marxists know that ruling class will never allow any bourgeois government to enact such a program. If as a result of this election we take the left fork on the road to survival we will accompany the working class as a whole in the development of its “struggle against the bourgeoisie”. Along this road it will learn through experience that it needs its own independent workers party, workers’ councils and militias, and a program that guides it in the struggle to make the socialist revolution and create a Workers’ and small Farmers’ Government.  


Dave Brownz is TDBs guest Marxist Blogger because ever left wing blog needs a Marxist.


  1. Capitalism today – sharemarkets up, house prices soaring in NZ. Apple valued at $2 trillion. Facual recognition technology taking away our right to just be ourselves unwatched. Something smells in the State of Myopia.

  2. Decent analysis – weak conclusions, eh?

    Self-defeating, as no practical way out of the status quo is offered.

    “Exposing” social democracy never could be sustained as a successful political strategy for the Left.
    Such has been attempted hundreds of times.

    Only if you can direct very, very, very substantial resources within Labour, you may give it another try-run.

    If not, you may have to think on alternative, less wasting options.


    • Thanks Manfred, I appreciate a friendly debate. I don’t agree that we can used past attempts to transcend social democracy as a reason to try to detour around it. It remains a deadly trap as long as workers are diverted into the parliamentary chat show. It has always been the critical barrier to revolution.

      Chris Trotters piece on the people and the law in TDB today, raises the example of the role of SD in Germany at the end of WW1. It stood up against the Kapp putsch, but only because it mobilised the masses by offering the illusion of a peaceful, ‘democratic’, road to socialism which meant suppressing the revolutionary road.

      The reason it is a trap still is because without it, the worsening contradictions of capital now exploding in crash, burn and plague, would make revolution unstoppable. Social democracy is premised on the acceptance of capitalism as it presents itself – a rational, free, and stable system subject to aberrations which can be corrected.

      Once this facade begins to blow open as is evident today, then all bets are off, and the conditions that allow SD to operate as the pacifier of the people, also blow apart.

      In the case of the NZLP we see social democracy t its limits stretched to breaking point by the compound crises, straining to paper over the class divide with the “team of 5 million” yet unable to resolve the basic contradiction between nature and society without itself become part of the repressive apparatus of the state.

      So today’s conditions require today’s analysis and today’s solutions based on our uses of physical and social science. By my analysis “directing substantial resources to Labour” is exactly what is required, but which, unless it backed by a powerful social movement, that becomes capable of overturning the rule of capital (which as National shows will sacrifice the last worker to stay in power), will be paid for by the long term misery of workers, and ultimate extinction, of humanity.

      So whatever you are offering as some other road to our survival, you have to convince me that it is not another trap.

      • Good Day Dave. Thank you very much for the response. … I beg to disagree on a few points.

        Naturally, it is very much possible to make predictions and forecasts based on previous or historical behaviors or patterns of a subject bound by known structural elements.

        Leading deductions from these is not only affirmative and realistic, but also the genuine challenge of ‘Marxism’ as a scientific approach; I am confident that you appreciate such statement, in principle.

        Over the past 200 years, the organizations assembled under the headers of ‘social democratic / labour parties’ usually share the same or similar inputs, ideas, practice, experience, outcomes and results.

        In these days of terrestrial destruction and plundering of resources, the central piece of global social democratic / labour manifestation can be summarized as staunchly defending neoliberalism / capitalism, most unfortunately.

        We can realistically forecast what the NZLP will do – and what not – after the next national election, even if the party would gain absolute majority.

        With all due respect,

        all possible conclusions will strongly advice you, not to build upon the Labour Party’s capacity as genuine engine for the urgently needed socioeconomic and ecological transformation.

        With luck, NZLP will follow, if other forces in society are able to establish optional pathways and show theoretical and practical alternatives.

        Vote for Labour, if you like, but do not think it will structurally change anything.

        It lacks an avant-garde.

        In formal parliamentarism this would be the historical function that the Greens – or an attested other, eco-socialist Party.

        Non-formally, these are horizontal and vertical networks of community organizations, academic institutions, professionals, individuals that exercise self-empowerment with emancipation from the nation-state.

        Avanti Popolo.

        • Manfred, of course the lessons of SD all point to its bankruptcy and betrayal. But unfortunately while many of us know that, most do not. Those of us who do even know that SD is largely responsible for stopping the revolution in Europe in the 1920s, creating the conditions for fascism, and isolating and ultimately destroying the revolution in Russia.

          So SD has a lot to answer for. Therefore the tactic I speak of is the opposite of sowing illusions in Labour’s ability to meet the survival needs of today. It is to get it elected as a majority govt so that workers will see clearly that their hopes in SD are futile and that they need an independent party of workers and allies.

          If you suggest that the Greens, plus social movements and academics etc can offer anything better, I think history would say no.

          Such groups, intellectuals so sum them up, do not free float in society but serve the ruling class of the time, or break away to align with the workers movement. Gramsci’s analysis of traditional and organic intellectuals is good on this.

          That is why Greens do no better then SD and end up with an Utopian ‘greening’ of capitalism as an ‘avant guard’ section of the traditional intellectuals serving the bourgeoisie.

          The change we need can only come from a mass movement of workers and their organic intellectuals (in every capacity from wage workers, unpaid, self-employed, and allied to small farmers) overturning the state.

          So I think the difference between us is in the view of the state. I see it not as a locus of power that can be contested and won (how against the ruling class?) by horizontal formations outside the state, but rather has to be overthrown by the power of the mass of those who work replacing those who live off their labour.

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