The False Equation Between Balancing Reopening the Economy and Keeping the Contagion Under Control

As governments at different levels move to "reopen the economy," Canadians are told that expertise is required to strike the right balance between reopening the economy and keeping the contagion under control. This is a false equation because what do the two things have to do with one another? Protecting the population has its own requirements as does an economy. The false equation is used to justify taking what are called "calculated risks" with the lives of the people to try to reestablish economic activity based on the old aim of serving private interests. The facts show that it is this aim of serving private interests that has caused the contagion to get out of control in the first place and it is predictable that serving this aim going forward will exacerbate the crisis manifold. It is mischievous to conflate the two categories as if one must necessarily give way to the other.

One of the important lessons learned from the pandemic is that the old way of organizing the economy is incapable of providing the planning necessary to use the resources of the society, both human and natural, in a manner that meets the needs of the people in normal times and that it is totally incapable of dealing with emergency situations such as COVID-19. The social character of production cannot fully realize its potential in terms of meeting the needs of society so long as it is under private control and has as its main aim to satisfy the narrow private interests of oligopolies which have usurped the state, its institutions, agencies and governments. This results in anarchy of production and recurring crises which we have clearly seen arising at every important stage of dealing with the pandemic. Whether it is a matter of personal protective equipment for workers, ventilators, proper testing, adequate forces for contact tracing or to carry out work deemed essential, the system has failed to provide what is required. This is because of the anarchy resulting from conflicting private interests. 

Meanwhile, the cartel parties act to keep their rivals out of power, especially the masses of the people. They act as spokespersons of the ruling elite whose number one job is to cover up the failure of the economy they preside over to meet the needs of the people and the society they depend on for their living. This is done by using police powers to deal with the crises facing society on a self-serving basis. They have seized these arbitrary powers in the name of the emergency, which they say is caused not by their refusal to ensure the economy meets the needs of the people but by the pandemic.

The Liberals federally, and governments of various political stripes provincially and in Quebec, say that the emergency requires them to take all kinds of measures to serve and protect the people. In fact, they impose measures which are not designed to keep the contagion under control or to look after the well-being of the people and even these measures they do not apply with consistency. This is why the premiers flagrantly refuse to draw warranted conclusions from the experience of the pandemic as it unfolds. Far from their aim being to protect the people, the measures they take are pragmatically designed to achieve the recovery of the biggest private interests.

The false equation that a balance must be struck between reopening the economy and keeping the contagion under control is to fool the gullible. The rich guarantee their profits by getting their pound of flesh. "Cutting costs" is a pernicious way of saying that labour is expendable -- "unfortunate but necessary" "collateral damage" -- in the drive to make maximum private profits. The prosperity of narrow private interests in the service of only the filthy rich is falsely equated as being the prosperity of all of society. All of it is intended to make sure that the workers and people are unable to take control of the decisions that affect their lives and the life of the society itself.

It Must Not Pass!

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 17 - May 16, 2020

Article Link:
The False Equation Between Balancing Reopening the Economy and Keeping the Contagion Under Control - Louis Lang


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