The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked widespread economic difficulty and societal issues, forcing States across the globe to act in accordance.
With stock markets crashing, and state intervention rising, many observers praise the States of the world in their handling of the crisis. I have personally seen more people on social media than ever before comment on the ‘amazing work’ of Boris Johnson and his government. However the reality is far from this rose-tinted view of the State’s actions. It has gone to show how fragile our economic and State system truly is.
The effect this pandemic has had on the NHS and workers has shown the fragility of the capitalist system. The clear lack of funding for the NHS, the lack of protections for workers falling out of employment, the rise of evictions and the protection of big business, all went to show the measures the State needed to take to protect itself and the capitalist system, even when the pandemic was in its relatively early stages.
It showed a clear lack of preparation and the long-term consequences of cuts to key services and infrastructure, as well as how fragile the State can become due to its protection of the few, and relative ignorance to the needs of the many. Capitalism is on a constant knife edge, almost completely collapsing due to self-isolating workers, despite no destroyed infrastructure or lack of resources.
It appears, and is no surprise, that the objectives of the State were to protect capitalist interests, and when it came back to haunt them in recent times, it required mass intervention to get us to a stage where we could start making progress against the virus. And even then with a lack of NHS testing, with those in positions of power getting immediate testing, and ever larger bailouts of the largest capitalist corporations, clearly the mindset of the state is to protect the interests of the wealthy and powerful, not the people.
The tyranny of the State lives on despite social crises, and only goes to show how now, more than ever, we need a more libertarian society, to ensure better protections for us all, equal distribution of resources and to curb social inequality. Especially when it is clear that those at the bottom of society (put there by the capitalist system) will be the worst affected by this pandemic, due to the need to continue working, since under the society we currently have the poorest must work through hell if they must just to put food on the table, even with the State’s massive economic bailout.
With power closer to the people, this pandemic could have been curbed much sooner than it has been by the centralised State apparatus. With power closer to us, and the means of production in the common people’s hands, key institutions and workers would have the required materials and assistance they would need, workers would have widespread protections, and all new measures that needed to be taken would be made by all for all, not by the few for the few.
In fact, I would go as far as saying that many of the State’s recent actions have been to prevent social outcry and to curb any anti-Statist feelings, and especially considering that the response to this pandemic appeared to be triggered not by human suffering, but by economic collapse, further shows the need for a better system. Despite the State’s actions to protect workers, more could be done under better economic systems, with less disastrous effects in the future, as well as being considered in relation to the people, not just in relation to the interests of capitalists. It appears to me that this pandemic has showed one thing and one thing alone, the extent to which the State will go to protect itself, its own interests, and the interests of big business (which is the main reason workers are receiving 80% of their wages, not because the State wants to help them, but because it ensures large businesses do not collapse).
So, to those who are cheering Boris and the State right now, I suggest cheering for those who were previously forgotten by the rich and powerful, who have suddenly become our key workers, and continue cheering them after this pandemic, because the State will swiftly forget them once this is all over.
Above all, remember what this pandemic has shown, not the fantastic actions of States, but their fragility to crisis, and how a more libertarian system could have coped far better. Let this pandemic fuel our need and our want for a better world, without states and capitalism, because when the next crisis comes, the Sstate will once again find itself in peril trying to protect itself and the capitalists, and we will once again face the consequences, in the long and short term, because it won’t be the rich and powerful who die in this pandemic, it will be the lowest levels of society.