We are in strange and unsettling days. COVID-19 has upset normal life and no-one knows exactly how long the outbreak or its ramifications will last. Isn’t there a message of hope for the world? Of course, there is, especially for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. What matters most of all is to stay safe. This cannot be done unless we cooperate with one another. That is the lesson everyone has to learn.
Crises such as the current COVID-19 pandemic opens up opportunities for change by making it more and more obvious the need for mutual aid and cooperation. Each day we witness signs of solidarity. For sure, emergencies may trigger selfish actions, where the right has staked out their nationalist vision, turning others into the enemy but such responses are thankfully rare. Capitalism is a great promoter of individual rights: the right to own, to sell, to keep, to have. Yet it cannot meet the needs of the people. capitalism is also a virus, and it has infected every aspect of our daily lives.
“Germany is home to one of the most modern, richest and most powerful health-care systems in the world,” reports Der Spiegel. “The coronavirus is mercilessly exposing the problems that have been burdening the German health-care system for years: the pitfalls of profit-driven hospital financing. The pressure to cut spending. The chronic shortage of nursing staff. The often poor equipping of public health departments.”
As the media headline those individuals who are hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitiser, the real hoarders are the pharmaceutical corporations who view this pandemic as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make massive profits from the desperate. Over the past few weeks, investment bankers have been candid on investor calls and during health care conferences about the opportunity to raise drug prices.
Steve Collis, president and chief executive of AmerisourceBergen, noted that his company has been actively involved in efforts to push back against political demands to limit the price of pharmaceutical products.
Johanna Mercier, executive vice president of Gilead, explains, “Commercial opportunity might come if this becomes a seasonal disease or stockpiling comes into play…”
Worldwide corporate cash reserves topped $12 trillion in 2017, more than the foreign exchange reserves of the world’s central governments, yet transnational corporations cannot find enough opportunities to profitably reinvest their profits.
We need to re-imagine everything. After all, we have just re-learned that we coexists communities, not as isolated individuals. We hope that this pandemic develops into a popular global movement for a total reconstruction of the system. Surely, it is easier to imagine socialism in the midst of the effects of COVID-19, than it is to continue to live under the heartless regime of capitalism. It is easy enough to fall into a state of doom and gloom about the future of the world as the COVID-19 spreads, but we witness strong social solidarity making sure that society goes on functioning. If humanity held the illusion that it was in control of its destiny, COVID-19 has now taught us differently. What we can’t control shouldn’t stop us from believing we are helpless when it comes to those things we can. This may be the eureka moment for everyone out there.