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Coronavirus

A letter from Italy

Eleanor Finley writes from Italy – report from March 15 Dear comrades, Here is my update from Italy. Good news first… – Life under lockdown is intense, challenging, but also often quite beautiful. We are getting exercise, playing music, making art and sharing food. There’s a strong sense of social solidarity and things feel especially cheerful when the sun is out. – Provisions like paused mortgages and bills payments are helping ease the anxiety of lost work. Life will go one when this is over. – Our region, Friuli Venezia-Giulia, is still faring okay considering the circumstances. As of today,…

Coronavirus

A warning letter from Barcelona

Carmen Lee in Barcelona writes: “Hello all, I am writing to you from my fourth day in coronavirus quarantine, here in Barcelona, Spain. This is a message to everyone- family, friends, former colleagues, peers and teammates back home (or wherever you are in the world). Please take this virus seriously. I want to share with you what is happening here now, what the consequences are of a delayed response. I hope this will help you to understand that all jokes and toilet paper memes aside, your action needs to be taken now. A week ago here in Spain, we only…

Coronavirus

Coronavirus, Trump and the world economy

by Jonathan Neale How will the covid-19 outbreak effect the world economy? Donald Trump was flying back from India on Air Force One when the stock markets began to go down two weeks ago. He stayed awake, furious, the whole way. By one account, he was up for 48 hours straight before he finally spoke publicly on Wednesday. He gave a speech in which he said both that the coronavirus was a Democratic ‘hoax’, and that his administration was doing a brilliant job in containing it. This reflected his dilemma. For electoral reasons, he had to talk down the threat…

Coronavirus

Notes on the plague

Mike Davis on Coronavirus. COVID -19 is finally the monster at the door. Researchers are working night and day to characterize the outbreak but they are faced with three huge challenges. First the continuing shortage or unavailability of test kits has vanquished all hope of containment. Moreover it is preventing accurate estimates of key parameters such as reproduction rate, size of infected population and number of benign infections. The result is a chaos of numbers. There is, however, more reliable data on the virus’s impact on certain groups in a few countries. It is very scary. Italy, for example,…

Economics

The Budget – first thoughts.

Michael Roberts on the Budget Too little too late Rishi Sunak, the ex-hedge fund UK Chancellor, has presented the first budget of the Johnson government.  The first thing is that the government is increasing spending by £30bn this fiscal year (of which £12bn is for handling the coronavirus outbreak) and plans to spend £175bn more than previously in this parliament. The government’s policy decisions increase the budget deficit by 0.9 per cent of GDP on average over the next five years and add £125 billion (4.6 per cent of GDP) to public sector net debt by 2024-25.  All this borrowing…

Coronavirus

Coronavirus in Italy : a report from the frontline

This is a translation by an Italian epidemiologist Silvia Stringhini of a report of the situation facing health care workers in Italy at the moment. The report is by Dr. Daniele Macchini who is working on the Intensive Care Unit at Bergamo hospital. Both Silvia and Daniele are keen to stress the seriousness of the situation the Italian health care system is facing and for everyone, whether in Italy or elsewhere, to wake up to the threat that Corinavirus poses. Corinavirus is not flu. Silvia writes:  ‘I may be repeating myself, but I want to fight this false sense of…

Coronavirus

Coronavirus and community activism

  How can we centre community organising and mutual aid in response to coronavirus? by Jonathan Neale Medicare protest outside Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia. Image rights: Holly Otterbein, Twitter. Some of the environmentalists and leftists I know tell me not to be fooled by the mainstream hype about covid-19. Others are pleased that the lockout in China has reduced pollution. Some say the real issue is not the disease, it’s racism. I want to suggest a different way of responding to epidemics. Communities I was an HIV counsellor in the UK between 1988 and 1994, before we had the retroviral…

Coronavirus

Coronavirus and capitalism

Michael Roberts on the implications for the world economy of the Coronavirus epidemic Disease, debt and depression As I write the coronavirus epidemic (not yet declared pandemic) continues to spread.  Now there are more new cases outside China than within, with a particular acceleration in South Korea, Japan and Iran.  Up to now more than 80,000 people infected in China alone, where the outbreak originated. The number of people who have been confirmed to have died as a result of the virus has now surpassed 3,200. As I said in my first post on the outbreak, “this infection is characterized by human-to-human…

John Wight

How far will corporate America go to stop Bernie Sanders?

In words commonly, if erroneously, attributed to American novelist and prominent 1930s socialist Sinclair Lewis, we are told that ‘When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross’. Though no serious person would attempt to equate the current Trump administration with the goose-stepping fascism of Sinclair Lewis’s era, the aforementioned quote makes the salient point that cultural, historical and national specificities dictate what fascism looks, sounds and operates like in a particular country in any given period. On the scale of fascist tendencies, we live in a worrying time wherein authoritarian and ethno-nationalist…

John Wight

Sinn Fein’s historic victory in Ireland is a tribute to Sands, McGuinness and Adams

In his classic volume of prison letters, Soledad Brother, George Jackson writes that ‘Patience has its limits. Take it too far and it’s cowardice.’ While no one familiar with the life of George Jackson would normally dare contradict the kind of wisdom acquired through extreme adversity and hard struggle, the historic victory of Sinn Fein in the 2020 Irish general election suggests that patience can in politics be more courageous than impatience in pursuit of a people’s and nation’s liberation. The torturous and tragic history of Ireland is inextricably linked to the crimes of British colonialism and empire. It’s partition…

Politics

Who is the parasite class?

A review of Parasite, (South Korea, written and directed by Bong Joon-ho) by Dave Kellaway “Ki-taek: They are rich but still nice Chung-sook, Ki-taek’s wife: They are nice because they are rich Chung-sook, Ki-taek’s wife: If I had all this I would be kinder” This is a film for our dark times. Director, Bong Joon-ho, looks behind the shiny Samsung phones and Hyundai cars of the South Korean economic miracle and unmasks the reality of capitalist class relations. He shows how they affect people’s choices and actions. On different levels it is a black comedy, a ghost story and even…

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