JF, Baile Átha Cliath
Contrary to the views of conspiracy theorists and the far-right, the government does not like the current lockdown situation. Rejecting expert advice to escalate to level 5 lockdown in order to slow down the intensifying crisis situation, the government has compromised with a level 3 lockdown across the 26 counties. Any Dubliner can give you a heads-up: it’s been no craic but the cases are still skyrocketing. Why doesn’t the government enact the necessary measures? Why have they been skirting around the issue for over half a year now?
As we know, the wealthy few need us to keep working & spending so that they can keep making profits. And they say jump and the government asks how high. And jump high they have, leaping over concerns for our health & wellbeing, flying right over common sense regarding how community transmission can be eradicated, and landing right in the ever-loving embrace of the Irish capitalist class. Much like in 2008-11 when the government paid off the gambling debts of private bankers at devastating cost to the Irish public, the government has again shamelessly revealed to the Irish people who they truly represent: the parasites who grow rich off our backs.
We have been fed bullshit that it’s the rich & the business-owners who produce value in society, who keep the economic growth rates high, yet they haven’t been the ones on the front-lines keeping everything moving – in retail, healthcare, hospitality, production, etc. They key element of the capitalist system is surplus value, meaning that the worker produces more value than they are paid for. For example, meat-packers earn a paltry hourly rate for difficult work while the value they produce in an hour by processing meat is far higher – where does the difference between the workers’ wages & the value produced go to? You guessed it: the factory-owner, the capitalist – and they can’t stand not getting it. This failure to deal with the virus is due to the government acting in the interests of business – interests which are entirely opposed to our own.
We all watched Stephen Donnelly imitate an egg trying to escape boiling water with his justification for the re-opening of schools – “children might die from trampolines or pandemics, that’s a risk I’m wiling to take”, something along those lines. But why the hell did the government enact such a short-sighted measure, when the inevitable reclosure of schools is practically certain? The fact is that schools effectively function as childcare centres for working people (with the aim of churning out more workers). The working class cannot return to work as normal if their children aren’t being taken care of. The government closes its eyes to reality and hopes this will set the groundwork for the continued production of surplus value by workers.
Yet having condemned nearly two thousand to die, causing immeasurable grief & suffering, those in power then have the gall to shift the blame onto us, increasing Garda powers & keeping the news cycle full of stories of unwashed masses having parties – individualising the pandemic rather than enacting an effective people-oriented lockdown.
James Connolly saw through the states & governments of his time, seeing clearly that ‘Governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class.’ In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis this is plain as ever to see. The capitalist class operates with one aim in mind – the maximisation of short-term profits. The government, mirroring their masters, operates likewise. Just as capitalism’s drive for short-term profit is threatening our planet with ecological collapse, the capitalist governments of the world stumbling blindly around the issue while babbling confidently & loudly, much the same approach has been on display with the pandemic. Instead of a short, sharp lockdown lasting a few months, as was carried out in China, the Irish government has made sure our lockdown blues will last long into the future, while they enact half-measures that refuse to strike at the roots of the problem. The fact that China has had around 4,600 deaths with a population of 1.4 billion compared to the 1,800 deaths of the 26 counties with a population of 4.9 million says it all. Cuba, another small island nation, with a population double ours, has suffered just 123 deaths. And, to be clear, the above statistics are rigorously audited by the WHO and others.
If we want to get through this we need a lockdown that will drastically reduce viral transmissions & look after people’s needs, with reduced rents, an end to evictions, renewed Covid payments and everything else needed to get through it. I won’t be holding my breath waiting for the gombeens in power to carry it out, not without a lot of pressure from below – they’ve certainly been receiving pressure from above.
Political Economy, Chap. 7, https://www.marxists.org/subject/economy/authors/pe/index.htm
Karl Marx, Capital Vol. 1, Chap. 7, Sect. 2, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/
James Connolly, The War Upon the German Nation, 1914, https://www.marxists.org/archive/connolly/1914/08/waronman.htm