“The basic law of capitalism is you or I, not you and I.” Karl Liebknecht
For many of us this is a crisis like no other. This is turning out to humanity’s darkest hour, a threat to the whole world. It requires us to be united to protect the most vulnerable of our fellow-workers. While we have learned that it is workers who are on the front line in the battle against coronavirus and found out just how irreplaceable we all are, we, nevertheless, still expect governments to wave their magical wands and bring the pandemic to an end rather than look towards a change in society. It is us workers — not politicians, bankers or CEOs — who make our society run. A lot more people who weren’t even aware of it earlier are seeing the injustices that takes place under our present system and how our lives are seen as disposable. It can be a moment of radicalisation,a time to seize the momentum. People are seeing how this pandemic is effecting our communities and are figuring out how society really operates. This requires a rethink. People have a clear choice to make: Bail-out the corporations again or recognise that COVID-19 has presented us with the gateway to a new type of world.
We cannot predict what the world will look like after the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course. One certainty: it will be very different from the world before. In the future socialists optimistically hope the world will recover its sanity and step back from the precipice of environmental catastrophe, that we will concentrate on re-thinking the economics of our society which inflicts pain and suffering on working people, that marginalises the weak and the vulnerable.
The working class is made up of those whose political and economic vision varies very considerably. Very many are blind to the realities of the capitalist system; they do not understand that they are wage-slaves to those who own the means of life of society; they do not see that they are robbed by means of the wages system of most of the wealth they have produced and continue to produce. Not understanding the essentials of capitalist production, they fail to understand socialism, or even the need for it. There are class-conscious and revolutionary workers. They know that no palliatives or tinkering reforms of any kind will remove the effects of the present system or emancipate their class from wage slavery. Only the destruction of capitalism itself, and the establishment by the workers of the socialist commonwealth in its place ever can. Class-consciousness must be the basis of all revolutionary political action.
Those of us imagining a different post-pandemic world, fair, kinder and greener, need to gather our thoughts and assemble our arguments now. We need to reflect seriously on the inequities in our economic system. It’s a huge opportunity to interest fellow-workers in socialism, a system based upon cooperation and not the competition of present society. Nation-state could be transformed into a world commonwealth. The socialist alternative could consist of scaling down of the wasteful use of resources and the restoration of the present degraded environment.