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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/3/20

American Capitalism, working class and COVID-19

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Karl Marx must be laughing in this grave. Why? Well, he did predict that as an economic system capitalism, by its very nature, creates with in it the very seeds of its destruction (and rebirth to a new and improved system) and that the working class is the ONLY revolutionary class capable of transforming and changing a system built on the exploitation of "man by man" into a more just and equitable system socialism. And yes, I know that "socialism" has long been a dirty word in American politics, just as the term "working class." But, the old days of stoking and ginning up the "red scare" and "socialist/communist bogeyman," are long gone, as are the nostalgic communistic remembrances of Americans born between the 1940s and 1950s. The old, widely promoted memes about the evils of socialism/communism and the communist witch hunts of the 1930s have lost their historical and political sheen.

Besides, many of today's younger political leaders find it very hard to connect and relate to the old fears and bogeymen of their parents and grandparent's generations. Nor does socialism conjure up the kind of irrational fears and negative emotions that it once did when evoked sixty or seventy years ago. Infact, here in America in 2020 as societal inequalities lay bare the sad plight of the world's richest nation, and its inability to provide for the vast majority of its people, many Americans are now highly critical of capitalism as a socio-economic system that "lifts all boats," and have become more sympathetic to socialism as an alternative.

Let me say here that Marx also envisioned that socialism as a progressive socio-economic system would be "different in every country" based on levels of economic advancement, social structures, and the maturity and experience of the working class. Of course, the old talking points about socialism is that it was a "one-size-fits-all," evil system, and prone to inevitable dictatorships that stifle and humbug individual development, and that it took from the rich and gave to the poor etc. etc. This demonization continued throughout the 20th century. But again, Marx was right: For example, in Europe, Germany, one of the three major modern economies in the world today has a social democratic government a hybrid modern government marrying the best of socialism with that of democracy.

Contrast the American response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. Today, we see the desperate policies of a panic-driven government whose response to an invisible enemy is throwing huge amounts of money at a collapsed economy. Indeed, COVID-19 has exposed the complete failure of the American capitalist, "free market" driven economic system. The so-called economic stimulus packages passed by the United States Congress is simply a way for monetary authorities to create more fiat currency and lend it at extremely low interest rates to the major corporations, and especially big banks ostensibly "to get us through the crisis."

From the Trump Administration on down, government treasuries borrow vast sums to get the collapsed economies back into what they imagine is "the normal, pre-virus economy." Capitalism's leaders are rushing into policy failures because of their ideological blinders. And for the very first time as millions of workers are furloughed, fired and lose their jobs as result of the shutdowns, so-called "essential workers" a new sexy title that obfuscates the fact that ALL WORKERS ARE ESSENTIAL to capitalism are lauded and saluted. The crass hypocrisy is that even in a global pandemic the ruling class is still attempting to divide and rule by "playing" on detachment of the working class against the other!

Before the COVID-19 reality the Wall Street elites, and the captains of United States industry, were perceived as the genius drivers of the United States economy. The stock market was the place where wealth was created and what drove the economy on a day to day basis. Its performance was touted and use as a barometer of economic power and a measure of the success of market-driven policies. Then came COVID-19.

Suddenly, the one percent in American society was vulnerable and dependent on workers that hitherto to the coronavirus were simply invisible. They include: Restaurant workers, MTA train conductors, rail maintenance workers, janitors, delivery drivers, taxi cab drivers, supermarket workers, nurses, home health aides, single mothers' domestic workers, police, teachers, firefighters, emergency medical service workers, emergency room doctors, food delivery drivers, meat plant employees and farm workers. These workers do not have the luxury of working from home but without which the American economy will collapse. And even with the supreme and unparalleled sacrifice, bravery, and unselfishness in the face of a deadly pandemic the American political system and its leaders cannot bring themselves of call what Marx called "the vast army of labor," what it was and still is the American working class. They continue to hide behind meaningless titles like "essential workers" and "key infrastructure workers."

And even as these workers remain indispensable to the American capitalist system, the system was not created for them. It was and is designed to allow the American worker to "exchange their labor for money." Again, Marx was right: he predicted that capitalism would strive to keep this large army of labor as part of a system that it could pay starvation wages, draw on and exploit, every time a worker(s) left. Such a system of exploitation undergirds the American capitalist system. And nowhere is that most evident than in the abject and almost total breakdown of the United States healthcare system and its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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