Why capitalism now needs ‘lockdowns’ (social enclosure) and ‘medical’ tyranny

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Left Lockdown Sceptics hosts an excerpt of this excellent article by Ted Reese.

Because capitalism is working towards its own abolition by replacing commodity-producing labour with automated machines, the profitability of capital is increasingly dependent on low wages, public debt, state orders, and the centralisation of wealth and power.

Whether you believe that covid-19 broke out as a result of capitalism’s ever-greater need to turn the environment into commodities; [1] that the infection and death rates have been inflated by sleights of hand [2] to justify lockdowns and a profit-motivated vaccine arms race; that the outbreak was planned bioterrorism all along; or that there is no proof that covid-19 even exists as a novel virus (on the basis that it has apparently never been isolated,  see here also); one thing is undeniable: given the dire state of the world economy, the timing of the pandemic could not have been more convenient for the ruling class and the needs of capital accumulation.

Doubts about the severity or veracity of covid-19; and concerns about the safety and effectiveness of rushed vaccination programmes that cannot be smugly dismissed as anti-vaxxer hysteria [3] have been widely discussed and debated elsewhere. What has not been covered convincingly, at least widely, is an analysis of why the ruling class might have resorted to any conspiracy (or at least such a level of rank opportunism), and why now exactly (with the World Economic Forum speaking of a ‘Great Reset’; and one of its contributors anticipating an entirely rent-based economy whereby “you’ll own nothing and be happy”). What we tend to hear from those who do believe in a conspiracy is that it is all about grabs on power, land, and wealth. These grabs are certainly happening but stopping there does not get to the root of the issue. The root of the issue? The demands of capital accumulation.

Capitalism is a system that needs to keep expanding production to keep the accumulation of capital rising; to offset the general rate of profit’s tendency to fall (it trended down from an estimated 43% in the 1870s to 17% in the 2000s). The rate of profit trends downwards (and therefore historically towards zero) because in order to raise the productivity of commodity-producing labour (capital’s exploitation of which is the sole source of profit), the innovation required conversely tends to replace labour. The more capital-biased the ratio of capital-to-labour becomes, the more difficult it becomes for labour to reproduce and expand total capital yet further, yet the solution is to intensify the contradiction. The system suffers from a rising overaccumulation, or surplus, of capital, that which cannot be reinvested profitably in production.

Decade-by-decade average GDP growth rates in what the World Bank defines as ‘high income countries’ are trending towards zero.

Wages must be slashed to rewiden thinning profit margins, but the exploitability of labour continues to become increasingly insufficient to meet the ever-rising demands of accumulation. The centralisation of capital therefore becomes increasingly necessary (often through speculation). The bigger companies buy up smaller companies (preferably ones that have gone bust on the cheap) and monopolise industry. [4] And debt rises to ‘fill the gap’ left by the insufficient amount of surplus value that capital appropriates from workers and realises through commodity sales.

Capitalism has now entered its deepest ever crisis. A decade of savage austerity after the financial crash of 2007–09— enabling governments to redirect a large portion of public spending into subsidising capital — proved inadequate. Capital required a deeper depression. The lockdown induced, for example, Britain’s worst recession since 1709 (an economic contraction of around 30%, taking the size of the economy back to that of 2002, when the population was 59.24 million compared to 2019’s 66.65 million). Economic growth, which has slowed decade-on-decade for 50 years,[6] was already grinding to a halt — in August 2019, German’s economic growth was 0.1%; Britain’s 0.2% — before the hardest ever stock market crash on 19 February 2020.

Even before the financial crash, world debt had reached mountainous heights. It has since continued to hit new highs for so-called ‘peace time’ — the US, UK and Europe are of course waging endless wars on the Middle East and elsewhere — with the spending on the pandemic (subsidising capital; enforcing lockdowns) reaching world-war-like proportions. This is not just capitalism’s deepest ever crisis, though — the system is approaching its final crisis, since the contemporary innovation required to raise the productivity of labour — automation — is now conversely abolishing the source of profit, i.e. capital’s exploitation of commodity-producing labour.

The depth of the crisis of accumulation is such that the centralisation of capital is accelerating at an extraordinary pace. Capital’s dependence on public debt is reaching extreme highs. Monopoly capital has no choice but to make the state its number one customer if it is to remain profitable. This has always been true of weapons manufacturers, for example. Without capitalist states waging wars, weapons manufacturers cannot remain profitable, and so bogus justifications for wars (remember Saddam Hussein’s never-found weapons of mass destruction?) have to be dreamed up to retain enough support for the government of the day and capitalism in general from the general population.

Whether covid-19 is real or not, exaggerated or not, the same is now true of ‘Big Pharma’. Some 97% of the funding behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine came from public sources. The private pharmaceutical industry in the US has become so unprofitable that it has closed the bulk of its research & development facilities, relying instead on publicly funded state facilities. Big Pharma needed something like a state-mandated mass vaccination programme to remain profitable. Similarly, public education is being privatised, made dependent on ‘Big Tech’, another disaster for children and their privacy (their data being a treasure trove to sell on to marketing firms) after a year of denied education and social development.’

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Footnotes:

[1] The World Wildlife Fund puts the spread of zoonotic diseases down to “the trade and consumption of high-risk wildlife; deforestation and conversion; expansion of agriculture and unsustainable intensification and animal production”. Monoculture contributes by denying animals the normality of co-evolving with nature, causing harmless microbes to transform into diseases. The outbreak is said to have come from bats in a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, but it is possible that China was just the first to report it — the virus is also said to have been present in the US a month beforehand (WSJ.com, 1 December). Some have pointed out that the Military Games took place in Wuhan in 2019.

[2] See Dr John Lee, “The way ‘covid deaths’ are being counted is a national scandal,” Spectator.co.uk, 28 May 2020; Iain Davis, UK Column, “Is covid-19 a hoax?, 21 February 2021; and “A deceptive construction — why we must question the covid-19 mortality statistics,” 28 March 2021.In April 2021 the official UK figure was suddenly reduced by some 23%.

[3] See, for example: “Will covid-19 vaccines save lives? Current trials aren’t designed to tell us”, British Medical Journal, 22 October; “Informed consent disclosure to vaccine trial subjects of risk of covid‐19 vaccines worsening clinical disease”, International Journal of Clinical Practice, 28 October; “Unlicensed vaccine manufacturers are immune from some, but not all, civil liability”, Full Fact, 4 September; “Victims of swine flu jab to get £60m payout”, TheTimes.co.uk, 2 March 2014.

An alleged cache of email exchanges between EU officials and the European Medicines Agency showed the drug regulator was uncomfortable about fast-tracking approval for the Pfizer and Moderna jabs (Le Monde, 18 January).

Accumulation demands a faster turnover and circulation of capital during economic crisis. The pressure on workers from management to ignore health and safety regulations therefore tends to rise. There is no reason to think this would not apply to vaccine production. When BBC Panorama exposed the cross-contamination of samples in a covid testing lab being ignored (thereby inflating positive test results), you had to wonder if workers on low-paid temporary contracts had been threatened with the sack if they reported cross-contamination.

(NB: I am not an anti-vaxxer, but remain sceptical in this case, especially when they are being so aggressively marketed to young, white-collar workers and their kids, i.e. the lowest risk demographic for a virus with an infection survival rate of 99.77%, rising to 99.95% for under-70s (according to this Stanford University/WHO meta-analysis, which says that, “If one could sample equally from all locations globally, the median infection fatality rate might even be substantially lower” since the fatality rate is lower among the younger populations of Africa and Asia); especially when the most vulnerable people it is supposed to protect are being thrown out of hospitals and into care homes, seeding the virus among the most vulnerable, while care homes are being starved of resources; and especially when the vaccines are being made by companies like Johnson & Johnson (a company wealthier than New Zealand or Hungary), which knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder. Indeed, the rollout of the J&J vaccine was suspended after six women aged 18–48 experienced blood clots.)

[4] The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition (2018) by Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn found that: four corporations control 90% of American beer; four airlines completely dominate airline traffic, often enjoying complete local monopolies in their regional ‘hubs’; five banks control half of US banking assets; in many states, the top two insurance companies have 80–90% market share between them; 75% of US households can only access one monopoly provider for high-speed internet; four companies control the entire US beef market; three companies control both 70% of the global pesticide market and 80% of the US corn-seed market; Google’s share of internet search traffic is 90%; and so on. “The scale of mergers is so extreme,” write the idealist right-libertarian authors, “that you would almost think American capitalists were trying to prove Karl Marx right.” Wiley, New York, 2018, p. xv-10.

4 thoughts on “Why capitalism now needs ‘lockdowns’ (social enclosure) and ‘medical’ tyranny

  1. The medical-industrial complex has previously attempted several times to generate a virus pandemic crisis. SARS and Swineflu being two examples of trying to start a ‘panic’. To stampede politicans, whip up the media and frighten the public. In these and other cases the efforts did not manage ‘lift-off’. It is instructive to observe how these phoney campaigns evaporated. It certainly wasn’t because the presence of the claimed viruses declined. Or that the numbers of the so-called cases declined. And this tells a lot about this current incidence.

    When this Covid business started up I, and any others who were faminliar with this racket immediately thought “Oh, here we go again”. Down a familiar road. How long before this one too would run out of gas. But in this case, powered by the muscle of fake news media, the panic took root. And once the criteria became established, the whole panic rides on its own momentum. And there are two necessary criteria. False positive PCR testing and the enforced designation of cause of death.

    The political apparatus knows it is boxed in. They have no exit strategy. They cannot reverse course or apply by any means a path to gently wind the whole mess down. They have lost control of the situation and they really do not like this. Plus, a great many in the medical and scientific communities know that the claimed evidentiary basis is a fraud. And more of their ranks know that they have over-reached themselves and fear a coming backlash.

    The only foreseeable way to smash this scam is by the mobilization of the public. Large scale resistance. Public defiance. And this is rising everywhere. You can see the hesitancy of many politicos and even the crap media. But, organizing the apparatus so that the public can come out and demonstrate – from scratch – is extremely challenging. And worse, the left has generally turned into total toadies of the government line to their eternal shame. In Ontario, the militants are Mennonites and libertarian fruitcakes. Though there are some staunch civil liberties veterans. I have personally challenged some of the established left groups to pitch in given they have experience and assets but they just clap their hands over their ears and run away. So, I will go after their members directly and to the sleeping masses of independent lefties.

    All power to the worthy comrades who have established this site! Rock on.

    1. I hate to say but we actually need more of that ayn rand selfishness spirit and strip down big government and liberty ideology at this point, i say this but i am still a believer in socialism, it just cannot be done with the crony fascist government in place so hence libertarianism makes sense at this point in time. better to join forces on what is agreed upon.. of course i wonder what’s the pure position of the libertarian about the k-3 to k-12 colonisation of the pupils data by our favourite philantropist Bill Gates (which will be imported to UK through common core programme)..

      1. some things are out of bounds (healthcare, education), if we are gonna kill millions of people’s businesses then the pharma companies should chip in for the ‘war’ against the virus effort and not have any profits, most importantly they should have totally transparent protocols and genetic sequence for true scientific introspection by the widest possible community.. This is what being guided by science would have truly meant. Instead we are guided by Pfizer and moderna’s PR

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