The expert medical opinion is that we have not yet reached the peak of the Coronavirus, but already some conservative economists are talking about the world after Covid 19, and they have a pretty clear idea of how it will look.
There hasn’t been an economic crisis or a natural disaster that capitalism hasn’t sought to turn to its advantage. The millions of pounds of public money that were poured into banks after the economic collapse of 2008, the way in which the European Union imposed crippling economic straight jackets on the Republic of Ireland and Greece, for example and the privatisation of public services they forced as a condition of bail out.
Further examples include the land grabs and demolition of public housing that took place in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It was then sold off to private investors as prime real estate. Already there are examples of venture capitalists snapping up businesses forced to sell up because of the Covid virus.
There is nothing sympathetic, collective, or social about capitalism. The relentless pursuit of profit is its sole motivator.
Locally and globally, capitalism is already preparing the ground for the world after C19. In the coming weeks we can expect to be bombarded by economists and politicians: from the centrist social democratic parties to the conservative far right.
Each will be arguing that we’re all in this together and that ‘regrettably’ we will have to introduce water charges, increase taxes, cut back on public housing and infrastructure projects, review the National Minimum Wage, reassess workers’ rights, and start paying directly for our visits to the GP, A&E departments and for homecare services.
Capitalism has never wasted a crisis to tighten its grip on working people and wring an extra pound of profit out of the situation. The Coronavirus crisis will be no different.
It is more important than ever that there is a progressive and radical response to this crisis and to those who seek to profit from it.