Life and thoughts from Scotland during the pandemic


The economy is plummeting towards a Great Depression. The government looks like it’s going to step in and monetise the entire economy in an attempt to stop companies collapsing everywhere and mass unemployment. I only see that working for weeks, or a couple of months at best, because eventually if the productive base declines due to widespread sickness and lockdown, reducing the number of goods, you have shortages and price bubbles. Tory MMT will help for a bit because it will get cash into bank accounts, but the value in the economy doesnt come from cash – it comes from socially necessary labour. That contradiction will definitely hit soon unless the Tories go further than Tory MMT and suspend markets all together and control supply. They also are going to need at the same time to turn significant sections of economic activity over to expanding NHS capacity, and I don’t know how they’re going to do that yet but unless they want to extend this crisis even more it needs to be big and soon. They have royally messed that up so far but surely they will learn. So we are heading for some sort of Tory command economy, probably with all sort of toryish disgusting features which protect the rich and shaft the poor. I may be over-estimating what sunak is going to do but it does sound like he is following the Danes in a kind of state monetisation. Our demands (or some of them) must be yes to the monetisation but take control of production and distribution, seize assets from the super-rich, shutdown their tax havens now, give the NHS everything it needs and do that as soon as possible, and make sure essentials are delivered to homes so folk don’t have to break the lockdown.

 Inevitably, whatever the bastards do they will protect their interests and seek to shaft most of us, especially the most vulnerable. how do you resist in a lockdown? Can’t pay, won’t pay. We are going to have to see well organised lockdown strikes targeted at the rentier class. That’s where the leverage is going to be. It’s the rentiers we need to prioritise. Rent strikes, debt strikes, tax strikes.

Please give me your thoughts on this. We need to discuss this together and work it out. I know what I’ve just said will sound mad to a lot of people but look at what the Tories are about to do. Think through the contradictions. We need to accelerate our thinking beyond stunned amazement at this situation and cute observations about it (what I’ve been doing all week) towards programmes, agitation and community organising. None of us have ever dealt with a great depression before, never mind a great depression plus a huge public health crisis. But you are not in a disaster movie. This is real and we need to work it out

21 March

I’ve been out and about town today for the first time since the lockdown. Getting food in and delivering some to my partner’s sister (cos they’ve just had a baby). Some thoughts while it’s fresh in my mind.

There’s things I’m happy with and not so happy with. The atmosphere is orderly but tense. In general, people are respecting social distancing, though not always in the supermarket and generally the older people are the more complacent they appear to be. One senior got unnecessarily close to me at one point. Old folk aren’t out and about too much though, which is a good sign. I think there’s already well established family/community organisation here in that respect.

It takes a long time to do anything. I was at the supermarket for about 2 hours, and the market for half an hour. This is one of those things that you don’t consider until you experience it. This will slow down society quite a lot. Though obviously in a town it’s much more serene than a city (I am very relieved I live in a town right now; I find it difficult to even look at Madrid right now because the situation is becoming very distressing very quickly).

There’s some new safety measures we’re introducing after the trip. In town, it’s normal for bread delivery to houses. This isn’t a new thing. We have been doing that this week but we’ve noticed that while the person selling the bread has latex gloves on and a mask, when he’s taking coins and exchanging them, he doesn’t change the gloves after. Lots of people who buy the bread do not wear gloves while purchasing. I noticed that today for the first time while in a traffic jam. So we’re not buying the delivery bread anymore and just getting it from the market.

We think that the prices at the market have gone up a touch, and not looked at the supermarket bill yet.

A practical thing I thought of that I hadn’t before is jf you live in a block of flats, be careful with the buttons on lifts and with stair rails and front. In general, probably best to just permanently put gloves on when out and about.

Something’s clicked in my thinking about this today, and maybe by explaining it I can help some of youse in Scotland get there a bit quicker as well. It’s a process.

We’re not writing a history book here. We are actually living it, and that means we have to be organised and focused. Our mentality has to be organised and focused. All week my minds been swimming in the millions of different consequences and possible outcomes and things it says, what it shows and who it exposes and bla bla bla. But the hard facts are this: the first death from coronavirus in Italy was one month ago. 793 people died in Italy in the last 24 hours alone. The most in a single day. Italy is not an outlier. Spain and the UK’s growth are on a sharper trajectory. The global economy we have can barely last being out of action for a minute never mind months. This is real. All that really matters is to get organised; individually, collectively, politically. No more giddy amazement.

A few things got me there today:

– being around town in the lockdown and looking people in the eyes and seeing their fear.

– speaking to someone in Madrid about the reality there on the ground. It’s really grim.

– realising that the folk I’m in this house with are starting to feel the strain and my attitude is not necessarily helping.

– then speaking to friends in Scotland and realising the gap between where I am and where they are.

three things: individual, collective and political organisation. Leave the bullshit for later.

Individual: Stop taking stupid risks. Scotland is really not in a good situation. Most folk can’t see that yet but that’s the truth. Set down ground rules for yourself and those your at home with and don’t break them without a good reason.

Collective: What’s the situation in your community? Is there a solidarity group? If not, why not? Who isn’t in your solidarity group? Can you get them in? Is your solidarity group thinking clearly about the tasks ahead.

Politically: What are we trying to get the government to do to save as many lives as possible and prevent mass hardship? Work out what you want and press home your demands. Organise with others to press them home. Get prepared for the government failing – then what? How do we resist? How do we do what the government won’t? What does organised resistance look like in a lockdown.



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