The one victim of coronavirus not worth saving is capitalism
When with his unrivalled sagacity Martin Luther King said, ‘The dogmas of a quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present,’ he could have been speaking to us in the here and now, confronted as we are by a coronavirus crisis that has turned our world upside down and inside out.
For this is not like any other global crisis we have faced since the Second World War. It’s one that has already forced us to think anew about the way we live and how we organise our societies in different parts of the world, and in consequence is well on the way to producing an ontological shift.
Putting it as bluntly as I can, coronavirus has laid bare the rotten foundations of societies that have been nailed to the cross of neoliberalism over the past four decades. Greed and profit at the expense of stability and sustainability had before this crisis left us bereft of what it means to be human, reducing us to mere economic units and appendages to the machine. It had, to paraphrase Arthur Miller’s words in his classic work The Crucible, ‘pulled down heaven and raised up a whore.’
In the UK the raft of measures which Britain’s accidental man of the moment, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, has been unveiling on a near daily basis — measures designed to place an economic floor under the crisis — have in just a matter of days consigned everything Friedrich Hayak and Milton Friedman ever wrote on economics to the proverbial dustbin of history, while ripping to pieces the credibility of their contemporary champions. The anti-people creed of cruelty they have the temerity to call an economic theory is the one victim of coronavirus that is not worth saving.
An economic system is also a value system — and it’s those values that have been on display in all their noxious selfishness with the panic buying that’s seen supermarket shelves being emptied of stock. We’ve also seen them demonstrated in the cases of businesses responding to the crisis by viciously terminating the employment of workers and staff with little or no provision for their well being.