Ron Ridenour

About Ron Ridenour
Short stories



Marx on Covid-19
[April 3, 2020]

“A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of” Covid-19. For Marx and Engels writing the Communist Manifesto, in 1848, the spectre was communism, their choice. This flaring ghost frightened the capitalist class, which endeavored to exorcise its’ breath.

The contemporary germ (thesis-see note) is a new corona virus, code named COVID-19. The spectre of communism lurks for a rebirth as the capitalist class and its many political parties (albeit only the duopoly in the US), cropped up by their propagandistic mass media, use this virus to exorcise even more of the working peoples’ gains and rights. The ruling class is aware that uproars might occur, and is instituting more authoritarian measures to prevent such eventualities.

The antithesis being used to confront thesis Covid-19 by the rulers’ politicians include: federal wage subsidies or what socialists would call “basic income” supports, free medical care to test and treat the disease, and the commandeering of private property like hotels and convention centers to act as temporary overflow hospitals. Since the costs of combating this disease are gigantic, and since it is absolutely necessary to keep distance from one another, in order to curb contagion, the usual wars for profit are at a standstill in most areas.

As the new virus spirals, we see the US trying to retreat from its wars against the peoples of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Albeit Trump and his Zionist-fascistic buddy Netanyahu still threaten Iran’s very existence with stronger sanctions as its people suffer harshly from the virus. In much of the Middle East and North Africa, the vast majority have learned to hate the US for its jingoism and brutal capitalism, which brings about greater amenability for socialistic solutions or, at least, shunning US domination.

This is evident also to more Europeans and some of their politicians, such as France’s Macron and Italy’s leaders. They are breaking the embargoes against Russia, China, Cuba, and maybe Iran soon.

These results are viewed satisfactorily by most people, who experience a bit more peace, cleaner air, cleaner water. That sensation could lead to a greater awareness and demand that the world must not return to “business as usual”. A forthcoming socio-economic-political synthesis could include a popular demand to stop warring and stop using fossil fuel for greater profits for the finance speculators, weapons industry, oil-gas industry.

The World Policeman’s Badge Pales; China and Cuba Shine

There is some precedence to this hope. World War II led to greater equality.

Recall WWII (thesis) when women were put to work outside the home, in order to produce goods and to make weaponry to stop fascism. African-American and Native American men went to war against fascism and discrimination. With the defeat of fascism, extreme racism (apartheid as well) and male chauvinists resumed standard discrimination against minorities and women. The antithesis then was the passionate, determined civil rights and black movements in the 1950s-70s, the gender equal rights movement (feminism) of the 1960s-70s, as well as Native American and other minority struggles for greater equality—all of which generated important progress for ethnic peoples and the female gender.

While this progress did not prevent the Military Empire with its vassal states from conducting a myriad of wars with scores of millions of casualties, this time around it could be different.

It is quite possible that many Westerners, even US Americans, will learn how well China and Cuba are handling this virus disaster, because they still maintain a vision of creating an economy based upon social equality, and are maintaining much social welfare. These governments are better geared to confront natural disasters through efficient state planning than is chaotic capitalism where, especially in the US, every man is his own fortune.

Having curtailed the virus, China is now providing millions of masks and tens of thousands of testing kits to many countries, including some Europeans. Cuba continues offering its paltry finances and great health care system for solidarity with all peoples.

Recently, Cuban solidarity embraced a cruise ship with 1000 passengers in need when capitalist countries refused to do so. Bahamas, a British Commonwealth nation, refused help, as did several other Caribbean states and the United States, albeit Britain is the US’s main war partner.

The British MS Braemar had 50 passengers and crew with virus symptoms. Cuba drove the passengers and crew to its airport where charter flights came. Passengers quickly fell in love with “dictatorially ruled” Cuba. One passenger wrote, “Thank you, Cuba that you could open your hearts to us. We will never ever forget that you reached out to us when absolutely nobody, and I mean nobody, else would,”

Cuba sent a medical brigade of 52 professionals to Italy to help virus victims. Forty-five countries, whose governments can face sanctions from the US for dealing with Cuba, have asked Cuba to dispatch what is billed as a ‘wonder drug’. Interferon alpha-2B recombinant was developed by Cuba and China. It can neutralize the worst effects of Covid-19. Experts say it stops the virus reaching a serious enough stage to result in death, or it relieves much of the aggravation that virus death can cause.

At this writing (March 31), the drug is curtailing the virus in Cuba. Only 139 cases—124 in stable condition—with three deaths have occurred to this nation of 11.5 million people.

A Cuban official said: “The sanctions are the main obstacle, not only to respond to major health crises like Covid-19, but the main obstacle to the country's development in any area. Lifting the blockade against Cuba would have an extraordinarily positive impact on Cuba, and mostly in the health sector, which has been one of the most damaged areas since the establishment of the blockade almost 60 years ago. The blockade has caused more than $3 billion in economic losses. Despite this, Cuban doctors are working in 59 countries around the world, 37 of which have confirmed cases of Covid-19,” reported UK “Express” reporter, Dylan Donnelly, on March 25.

What capitalism is now saying about the cure for Covid-19

IMF chairwoman and managing director Kristalina Georgieva informed, on March 27, that the entire world is in recession, worse than in 2009. Over 800 countries had requested economic aid when normally only a handful do so. G20 states have allocated $5 trillion in fiscal measures to businesses and to “wage earners”. The US will pay out $2.2 trillion, 10% of its GDP.

US President Trump, alarmed at the recession caused by the lockdown of most of the country's major urban areas, warns, “The cure could be worse than the problem.” Trump is surely the most obnoxious and mendacious of all US presidents but sometimes he can be surprisingly candid. When it comes to defending and supporting capitalism, he proudly announces that it must continue, through the crisis, to reap profits. When it comes to the war against Syria, he declares openly that the 800 US troops he continues to maintain there are protecting claims to “US oil” (sic). Other US presidents covered up their profiteering warmongering with terms like “humanitarian interventions” and protecting “women and human rights”.

The day after Trump’s statement about the cure, Denmark’s main capitalist political party (Venstre) broke its silence and warned the social democratic (and US waring partner) government that it must bail out capital all the more. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had already warned that post-Covid-19 capital would need greater state support and the welfare system would suffer the more.

EU refuses to aid those countries worst hit, Italy and Spain, and other poorer members. A feeling of Brexit is growing in several European nations.

When the virus calms down and the lockdown ends, capital will require greater worker “sacrifices” for its necessarily and inevitably constant profiteering. At present, though, the need for some socialistic or social democratic measures are being grudgingly conceded, albeit not admittedly by capitalist governments. This new reality must lead people to rise up like France’s Yellow Vests and unionists, building toward mass actions with general strikes, leading to world-wide strikes and other gigantic actions.

Radicals, socialists, communists, anarchists, and real progressives should openly publish their views, their aims, their solutions to this crisis, and meet it with a united declaration of the need for an end to the global capitalism that has brought this disaster upon the peoples of the world. They should print their ideas and demands in leaflet forms and take them to work places, schools, churches, meeting halls when the lockdown is over. They should be organizing and mobilizing the common people again.

This time around, the dialectical rebound could capture the imagination of hundreds of millions. Real people’s democracy, in which all are owners and decision-makers, could seize the reigns.

Colleague Dave Lindorff wrote me: “I think we’ll be seeing elucidating examples of why socialist ideas are far better than capitalist ones. The US is careening towards an apocalyptic social and economic collapse because of both it’s horrendous for-profit healthcare system, which leaves 87 million people unable to pay to see a doctor and unable to get health care, because [so many are] losing their low- and often even well-paying jobs. The paltry 20 percent, who can get unemployment insurance checks, only get a pittance. We’ll have to see how people respond to seeing the banks and airlines—two particularly loathed industries—getting trillions in bailouts while the government gives workers quarterly assistance checks of $1-2000 per family!”

Greater numbers of people are already registering how capitalism mistreats the majority. Celebrity Britney Spears is one. She posted a message on her Instagram account to 23.7 million followers, imploring them to “feed each other,” to “redistribute wealth,” and to go on “strike” in the face of the coronavirus fiasco.

“There is a crack, A crack in everything; That’s how the light gets in!” Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”.

Here is my list of immediate demands and for struggles now:

1. Soldiers and civilians stop wars for private riches and foreign domination; demand drastic decline in weapons industry.
2. Universal tax-supported, government-run health care systems for all.
3. Massive and general public transportation; far fewer private cars, especially inside cities.
4. Sustainable non-pollution energy systems running nations.
5. Europeans end support to US as the world’s police. Retake European sovereignty. Retake or gain sovereignty world-wide.

Disease: Capitalism
Cure: Socialism
Synthesis: Equality, Justice, Peace

Note: Contrary to what many believe the dialectic of Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis was not an idea of dialectical materialist philosophers Marx and Engels. They never even used the terminology albeit the basic concept is useful to this philosophy, which attempts to solve realities contradictions. It was Johann Gottlieb Fichte, an earlier German philosopher, who invented the idea. He was an advocate of idealism, close to Hegel’s idealistic materialism. Herein I attempt to use this concept in the current crises of the virus and the capitalist system.

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