Wednesday, April 08, 2020

COVID-19 - Catalyst for Change?

While acknowledging the benefits of what environmentalist describe as localism, many socialists are still sceptical that it a complete solution to the problems of production, for example, they view scales of economy as important determinations of where and what is produced, as well as climate differences. Off-shoring and out-sourcing has been the trend of capitalism’s development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of depending upon multinational global supply chains to produce manufactured goods with the absence of reserves due to the lean logistical “just-in-time” supply systems which can’t cope with sudden disruptions. As supply chains are disrupted through factory closures and border closings, shortages in household items, medications, and food will begin surfacing, leading to rounds of panic buying that will only exacerbate the situation. When machine tool manufacturer is in one country, the textile industry in another, the steel industry in yet another, the whole thing becomes much more fragile and inefficient.

Capitalists through their control of governments, finance, business, and media,have succeeded in transforming the world into a globalised market-based system, loosening regulatory controls, weakening social safety nets, reducing taxes, and virtually demolishing the power of organsed labor. The triumph of world capitalism has led to the greatest inequality in history, where the world’s twenty-six richest people own as much wealth as half the entire world’s population. It has allowed the largest transnational corporations to establish a stranglehold over other forms of organisation, with the result that, of the world’s hundred largest economies, sixty-nine are corporations.

The Covid-19 disaster represents an opportunity for humanity to progress and advance. From an evolutionary perspective, a defining characteristic of humanity is our set of pro-social impulses—fairness, altruism, and compassion—that cause us to identify with something larger than our own individual needs. The compassionate responses that have arisen in the wake of the pandemic are not surprising—they are the expected, natural human response to others in need. If we can change the basis of our global civilisation from one that is capital accumulationto one that is life-affirming, then we have a chance to create a flourishing future for humanity. The whole world is reeling from the COVID-19 disaster that is affecting us all. Yet mutual aid and self-help groups are emerging everywhere to help those in need. People are rediscovering that they are far stronger as a community than as isolated individuals and Covid-19 is bringing people closer together in solidarity than ever before. This rediscovery of the value of community has the potential to be the most important factor of all in shaping the trajectory of the next era. New ideas and political possibilities are critically important on which everything else is built.

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