AGAINST THE PANDEMIC OF CAPITAL, SOCIAL REVOLUTION!
Capitalism is instating terror and repression all over the world in an operation that is unparalleled throughout human history. Confinement of regions, cities and entire countries, massive confinement of human beings who are obligated to remain incarcerated in their own homes, a suspension of the miserable human rights, surveillance, tracking and processing of all movements of the population by means of all kinds of technologies (smartphones, big data, artificial intelligence…) massive lay–offs, the application of States of emergency, of alarm, of siege, etc.
Throughout the globe we are seeing a militarization of the streets spreading in order to control and repress all unauthorized movement. We’re also seeing the eyes of the state being multiplied through submissive and frightened citizens that watch out for any kind of small infringement or questioning of the decrees that are imposed.1
In order to buttress this scenario, the spokespersons of the State smother us with details about the spread of what the WHO has denominated as the “COVID–19 Pandemic”.
The retransmission of the number of infected, hospitalized and dead, as well as the rates of mortality and the predictions for contagion, accompanied by images of saturated hospitals and caravans of funeral hearses lining up at the morgue, transpire frenetically before our eyes in full detail while a constant procession of politicians, scientists, military personnel and journalists thrust us into a war against an external enemy called coronavirus, presented as the greatest enemy of humanity, as a pandemic that puts all human life in jeopardy.
We want to make it clear that in saying this we’re not trying to say that the so–called COVID–19 doesn’t exist or that it’s purely an ideological creation of the State. What we’re trying to explain throughout this text is that the pandemic is being used as a tool for counter–insurrection and the restructuring of capitalism, and that what they are trying to sell us as a solution is much worse than the problem. In this sense, though indeed the social occurrence of this pandemic as a result of the terroristic deployment conducted by the state is evident, we don’t yet have elements upon which to evaluate the direct incidence of COVID–19 at a biological level on our health. The details we have at have are those that are presented by the different apparatus of global capitalism (the WHO, the States, scientific organs…), which evidently for us are not reliable since any State can inflate or cover up their statistics. Obviously also the proletarians in retirement homes, jails, psychiatric institutions… denounce that these centers are turning into, more than ever, extermination centers.
That said, the fundamental issue to take into account is that global capitalism has never taken similar measures despite the widespread catastrophe that appears and is expressed on thousands of terrains (pandemics, sicknesses, famines, ecological disasters…)2 for us there’s nothing humanitarian in the measures against the coronavirus. The State sows the fear and the impotence in an atomized population in order to present itself as the omnipotent protector of humanity. It makes calls for everyone to unite in order to together take up the struggle against this enemy, to make the necessary sacrifices, to collaborate with everything that the authorities dictate, to submit to the directives and the orders of the different apparatus of the State.
This whole spectacular display creates an indispensable covering. The story about the defense of health doesn’t fit. We know that death and widespread catastrophe are the essence of this mode of production and reproduction, where human life and the planet are mere means for valorization, and capital doesn’t give a shit about human well–being —although the different forms of bourgeois management draw up limits in order to not totally destroy the material support for valorization, the depredation of these mediums, their deterioration and destruction end up clearing every hurdle, since this is the natural form under which life develops under capitalism. The destruction of the planet and its inhabitants, the unstoppable and increasing death of millions of humans because of hunger, war, pandemics, toxicity, work , from starvation, from suicide, and a long etcetera, has never been a problem to solve for capitalism, but just collateral damage, or better said, its specific mode of development.
The “solidarity” campaigns, the investigation and the scientific–medical development or any type of legislative measure, are the forms in which capital applies its “solutions” to all the preoccupations that are generated by these grand problems that humanity suffers from under the tyranny of value. Even if we use the same restricted and deceitful criteria that science uses to justify the measures which are now generally taken,3 meaning, the existence of a virus that threatens the health of the society, we know that in each and every one of the countries where these “measures for containment of the coronavirus” are rolled out, the existence, according to the official data itself, of other virus with a large impact on health has never been a motive of much worry. This is not to say that the State hasn’t been obligated to intervene on account of any specific catastrophe, as it has done on various occasions, in which it always takes the opportunity to introduce measures which at other times would suppose resistance and revolts. Therefore, for us it’s clear that all the measures that capitalism is rolling out in order to “fight against the coronavirus pandemic” don’t have the aim of our health, our care and well–being in mind. It’s fitting to ask why capitalism has created this state of war in this concrete case and, more importantly still, what we as proletarians and revolutionaries must do in this situation.
We have no doubt. The war against the coronavirus is a war against the worldwide proletariat. The state measures justified by the coronavirus are a qualitative leap, decisive and homogeneous, in the global counter–insurrection and in the bourgeois intentions to attempt to initiate a new cycle of the accumulation of capital. And in the face of this war the proletariat only has two paths: to sacrifice their lives in it or to oppose themselves to it in order to defend their human needs.
It’s certain that we live in a social system accustomed to confinement. To confining the food and basic necessities, to confine us in flats, in cars, in shopping malls, in centers of domestication of children, in centers of work, in centers for the elderly (retirement homes) , in health centers, in incarceration centers, in centers of recreation or of vacation… and these measures make another turn of the screw in this system of isolation and of privatization, transforming the world into a grand concentration camp.4 But it can’t be ignored that all of this is happening precisely when the capitalist catastrophe is reaching new heights, when the antagonism between life and capital has arrived to levels even more unsustainable than in the past. The destruction of the Earth, the depredation of its resources, the poisoning of all that exists, the sharpening of all the mechanisms of exploitation and plundering of the human being and the whole natural world, which are aspects inherent to this mode of production of the species that is determined by the economy, are reaching unbearable limits for the mere existence of living beings. The very dynamic of the valorization of capital, in which it has ever more difficulties in renovating its reproductive cycles because of the growing devalorization that is congenital to it, is carrying the contradictions of this system to its limits. We’re on the way to a devalorization without precedents. The nosedive of fictitious capital, which sustained the cycles of capitalist production with pins, foreshadows on the horizon. The financial crisis of recent years, the first explosion of which developed in 2008, expresses the exhaustion of the mechanism of artificial respiration that kept the world economy alive. Today, when all capital is sustained on the basis of the incessant reproduction of fictitious capital, of tons of debts and all kinds of financial injections that permit capital to continue sucking the blood out of the worldwide proletariat, the bourgeoisie are beginning to become conscious that the fiction cannot escape the very logic upon which it was built, it cannot unencumber itself from the law of value, and all this gigantesque accumulation of capital precipitates towards its breakdown.
It’s clear that, first of all, we can’t ignore another even more decisive issue. All of this “war against the coronavirus” is happening precisely when the catastrophe which the bourgeois has placed on the backs of the proletariat projected grand upheavals, already promised by the wave of struggles that coalesced in 2019 and the start of 2020 in dozens of countries.5 The unleashing of a conflagration that would raze the whole capitalist order is a problem that returns to being the topic of the day in circles of the bourgeoisie, and a hope that returns to the hearts of the proletarians.
That’s why for years the counter–insurrectional operations have multiplied throughout the world. Though indeed, every manual against the insurrection has as its base the destruction of the autonomy of the proletariat, the forms in which this has materialized throughout history have been multiple. Imperialist war, which has never ceased to develop, has always been the recourse par excellence to transform the antagonism between classes into a fight between bourgeois fractions, reestablishing national unity against an exterior enemy, destroying the indomitable, making another turn of the screw to the miserable conditions of the proletariat —imposing war and post–war sacrifices— and generating a material and human destruction, sufficiently ample to invigorate the process of capitalist reproduction, opening up a new phase of expansion.
The coronavirus pandemic presents all the characteristics of imperialist war: the exterior enemy, the national unity, the war economy, the sacrifices for the homeland or the “common good”, the collaborators, the deaths, the economic restructuring, etc.6 Like every imperialist war it supposes short term losses (although certain sectors see their profits skyrocket), but it contains the material basis to generate a new phase of accumulation. This process of the reanimation of moribund capital, which is applying itself under the cover of the war against coronavirus and which implies the attack on the living conditions of the proletariat, brings along the propulsion of a new phase of accumulation that can only be developed upon a destruction of capital of unusual and unknown dimensions and consequences. It’s clear that in a dynamic where fictitious capital represents the axis where accumulation is sustained, the destruction will commence from this terrain. The current partial and temporary paralyzation of the production and circulation of commodities requires extraordinary quantities of fictitious capital in order to maintain the social fabric, in addition to centralizing a large part of capital in the military and health sectors. Nevertheless, this inundation of fiction in order to alleviate the paralysis of the market, which already contained an unsustainable over–accumulation of fictitious capital but circulated in a large part exclusively through financial markets, implies dumping enormous masses of fiction from these financial markets into actual market exchange, which exposes all this capital to its destruction through the coercive correction which, sooner than later, the market will realize with respect to the symbolic value. That’s to say, the devaluation of the coin, the despotic imposition of a law that the bourgeoisie had thought to have circumvented, will create a devaluation without precedents that will imply the general insolvency of businesses, of States, the massive cancellation of debts, and of course, the bourgeois endeavor for a global restructuration of capital (centralizing itself in new fields, purging others, consolidating new mechanisms of circulation…) trying to resume a new cycle of accumulation. It’s obvious that, before and above all, this context can only be developed by making the proletariat swallow a sacrifice that will beckon them towards a massive breakdown, which will extend conditions all over that make survival increasingly more impossible. On the other hand, it will also push the proletariat to rebel, to defend their interests against the catastrophe of capital. This is the future that worldwide capitalism has reserved for humanity: a sharpening of the catastrophe or revolution.7
In this context is better understood the actions of all the States, the confinement, putting the army on the street, the surveillance of the population, the tightening of the belt of all proletarians and the announcement by the State of harder sacrifices to come. The State is evaluating how the proletariat reacts in the face of the states of emergency and has managed to momentarily cause the retraction of developing protests and revolts like those in France, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Algeria, Hong Kong, Chile, etc.
In Chile, before the numerous officials of the State could present even one death, and before any health measure was implemented, the State declared a state of emergency. In such a way the States utilize the pandemic in order to recover the social peace in zones that have seen protests and revolts in recent years, in addition to rolling out in other places an environment favorable to the repression of protests against the exasperating measures that are being prepared, determining the capacity for social control that they have over their territory, where the hubs of rebellion are concentrated, what aspects to improve in order to better assure the surveillance and dominion over the territory, etc. Throughout the history of capitalism, in the measure in which it has come to impose new adjustments and turns of the screw to the exploitation, more or less collective resistance, revolts, and insurrections have occurred. For this reason it was surprising, at first, to see the massive acceptance on part of the proletariat of the measure applied by the States, facilitated, without a doubt, by the new situation in which they found themselves and the mediatic force of the State apparatus. Nevertheless, some proletarians announced by means of their first rebuttals of all of these measures, their refusal to follow the trumpets of the State, to subject themselves to the regime of terror and to accept the worsening of their living conditions. Little by little we see how the gestures, cries, mobilizations and protests begin to reproduce.
Despite the difficult conditions that the State imposes by means of the confinement and isolation, our class tries to organize its response to the attack launched by the State. Not only are small acts of disobedience reproduced, which the State represses with fines, arrests, and accusations of lack of solidarity (like the elderly that walk around with a loaf of bread, the parents that gather children together in the household that has the biggest garden, the youth that traverse the forests with the excuse of searching for firewood, those that question the official version in terms of health issues, those that warn where there are checkpoints and point out the snitches, those that invent all kinds of tricks and ruses… all acts that express our most human need to break the incarceration and beckon to break the isolation), but also protests and confrontations in the streets occur. The province of Hubei, the first location to be subjected to the state of emergency, is experiencing protests and confrontations in many cities. In the Philippines the confinement was challenged by holding demonstrations that demanded food and other basic products. In Algeria, proletarians refused to suspend demonstrations that had been building up one after the other before the confinement. India, the immigrant workers confronted the police. In Italy actions were organized to the cry of “We together must retake what they take away from us”. The riots in the jails and the detention centers for illegal immigrants travel from country to county. The looting and the call to not pay rent, added to the strikes of those that continue to work are beginning to take place in some locations. The networks of mutual aid and funding–pools for resistance as well.
The different national States try to settle or contain these protests by using the advantages that the state of emergency allows them. The president of the Philippines was clear with respect to affirming that he would execute anybody who avoids confinement. On the other hand, they have announced small concessions such as the temporary liberation of 100,000 prisoners in Iran, or the creation of social vouchers for food in Italy. Other States, trying to anticipate the protests, throw miserable carrots which we are convinced will neither serve to placate the hunger nor the necessities that were repressed for centuries by a capitalism which today tightens the screw anew.
These first skirmishes that organize against the worldwide state of emergency advance the notion that the proletariat will not remain enclosed in their homes to watch how they are carried off to the slaughterhouse, nor will they accept being sacrificed for the economy. But we need to organize this whole rebuttal internationally and further it until it pierces the heart of the capitalist beast. To bring the fear to the other side, so that the panic moves on to the ranks of the bourgeoisie. May the fear over the coronavirus pandemic transform into fear about the pandemic of revolution.
The war against the coronavirus is a
war against the worldwide proletariat!
Let’s impose our human needs against
the needs of global capitalism!
April 2nd, 2020
1 To clarify, in spite of the state of emergency and the confinement, declared in dozens of countries around the world, capital continues to keep the productive sectors that it considers necessary in function, obligating the proletarians of these sectors to go to work and secluding them in their homes when they have finished. Even in the counties with the largest level of paralysis in production and circulation, the decree of “only essential work”, creating the appearance that it is only for our human needs, is so ambiguous and flexible precisely in order to not create an obstacle for the necessities of capital.
2 We don’t believe it’s relevant in this text to go further into questions related to the concrete origin of COVID–19. Firstly, because we cannot affirm anything with clarity in not having sufficient elements to do so, and secondly, because the most important thing is to understand that the production and diffusion of the current pandemics are a result of the capitalist mode of production and circulation. See: Social Contagion, by Chuang (chuangcn.org/2020/02/social-contagion/) and The Pandemics of Capital (barbaria.net/2020/03/29/the-pandemics-of-capital/) by Grupo Barbaria.
3 We want to clarify, although we can not go more into detail in this small text, that we don’t only reject that the healing of a sickness is a medical act, as the health system and the capitalist system would have us believe, but that our conception of what is a sickness, a virus, and more generally, our conception of what caring for health is, is at the antipodes of science. Certainly, science, if it’s for anything, is for developing the necessary conditions for capitalism to continue functioning, to continue annihilating and crushing everything, hurdling obstacles, exceeding limitations, etc. Its different articulations permit capital adaption and phagocytosis.
This is not to say that we endorse or propose an “alternative” system or approach. The techno–scientific system rapidly condemns its critics under the label of “psedoscience”, but our critique of the dominant and totalitarian system of knowledge under the capitalist system also points out the phenomena that are cataloged in such a way. Furthermore, these “alternative therapies” increasingly act more as escape valves and techniques that complement “official medicine”.
4 Clearly this grand concentration camp is not the same for everyone. It is not only reflected in aspects which we have commented in an earlier note in relation to work, but also the confinement itself is experienced in a totally different way. Remember the “I’m staying home” campaign, promoted through videos in which some celebrities, from their “little gardens” or the interior of their “modest mansions” harangued about staying at home, and which was mimicked by thousands of citizens from the matchboxes in which they live.
5 See our text “International revolt against global capitalism” at http://www.en.proletariosinternacionalistas.org/international-revolt-2/
6 We’re not only referring to the deaths that have been associated with COVID–19 by the States, but we’re including those generated by the state with its measures. Among some comrades it’s being discussed whether to characterize it also as a chemical war directly against the proletariat (which doesn’t imply speaking of premeditation —although we know that our enemy has already used it in the past and has not ceased to develop investigation in this field— but its objective effect), concretely against the sectors that capital considers nonproductive and that pose heavy burdens to the coffers of the States, and these sectors are precisely where the coronavirus is striking: the elderly, prisoners, those with immunodeficiencies…
7 We’re not affirming that this process is immediately developing, but we are indeed affirming that under “the coronavirus pandemic” this process has initiated a qualitative leap towards its unfolding.