Capital or Labour


Marx believed societies developed through class conflict. The bourgeoisie controlled the means of production for money and the proletariat sold their labour into that production in return for money wages.

Which is the overriding consideration when tackling a pandemic emergency?

Today, 26 January 2021, the UK passed 100,000 deaths, a grim statistic. Did it have to be this bad? How have others countries done?

Of course, any pandemic will also cause peripheral damage, cancer or heart operations missed – possibly causing deaths– businesses wrecked, mental health damaged, etc. Any eventual report will include so many factors in the argument as to whether the UK has done significantly better or worse than similar nations. Its complex conclusions will be heralded as success by the government and a failure by the opposition

Osborne and Cameron’s response to the banking catastrophe, which can be traced to 15 September 2008 when the investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, sending shock waves through the global financial system and beyond, was to cut costs and freeze public sector pay to balance the budget or at least minimize the increase in the deficit. The pain fell on the low paid. Crudely, you could say that capital (the bourgoise) won, labour (the proletariat) lost.

Even although Prime Minister May called the election she said she’d never call and was rewarded by a bloody nose from the lefty Jeremy Corbin, she pulled a rabbit out the hat and cobbled together a slim coalition majority, which would cause so many problems for implementing the referendum result to leave the European Union.

In December 2019, Johnson with the panache of a cheap fairground showman, coupled with Corbin’s inability to take a position on Brexit swept the Tories to power. With the mandate of the electorate, as well a being unchallenged by an enfeebled opposition, he took the UK out of Europe in just over seven weeks, including Christmas. After years of indecision and fruitless debate, Britain left the EU.

However, as the signatures were drying on the paper and an evil arose in the east, unseen at first and ill-considered in its early days.

President Trump pronounced on Wednesday 22 January 2020 that he trusted China’s President Xi on coronavirus. ‘It’s one person coming in from China,’ Trump told CNBC. ‘We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.’ He said he trusted the information coming out of China on the coronavirus, which had killed nine people and sickened hundreds more.

But some commentators worried; coronavirus evoked memories of the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in China. SARS killed nearly 800 people worldwide.

Sounds bad, but on the day the UK passes 100,000 deaths, the US exceeds 433,000 deaths, meanwhile China has only one hundredth of that figure.

Perhaps it is the sharpest possible example of proletarian politics over the bourgoise’s version, a topic which exercised Karl Marx.

In crude terms, do you put people’s welfare before wealth creation or vice versa?

Donald Trump wanted to keep his business friends happy, and obsessed about tax cuts. He had to be led kicking and screaming to take counter measures – Dr Fauci’s memoirs will be interesting reading – like locking down. Half-hearted, they did little to slow the virus. We see a similar same picture repeated in the UK, when the wild-haired Prime Minister presided over so much conflicting information he thought he was sitting an Eton scholarship exam, which thankfully he didn’t need to do as a paying guest. But the old Tory mores never die and economic activism trumped protection of the populace and we live with the stark consequences of both crippled economic output and record deaths per head of population.

For the record year on year growth to the 3rd quarter of 2020 is shown in the graph below. Of course it is a snapshot and things change, but the outcomes seem clear.

We have the worst of both worlds. Prime Minister Johnson has presided over the biggest fall in economic output coupled with the biggest death rate per head of population. He would never had achieved a scholarship at Eton.

We can only hope that the vaccine will lead us out of this mess.

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