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Covid-19: Day Four of Lockdown

24.03.2020

Yesterday, 23rd March was day four of lockdown. In case you wonder why I’m always writing about the day before (with updates included for the “today” itself), it’s because I often start writing early in the morning of the next day. And the article gets uploaded later, so I don’t know what might be important later on in the day.


 Having more time to think things through as we live in lockdown means it is worth organizing our time so that, every day, as well as the 11:30 a.m. updates from the authorities here, and as well as zapping to TV channels in the UK, India, France, USA, China and Al Jazeera for news from around the world, we consider leaving an hour (or half an hour) for classic political texts about the rise of fascism in Europe a hundred years ago, say, and then leaving another hour (or half) for contemporary analyses of capitalist society during these times of coronavirus disease lockdown. And then thinking about organizing politically in such times.


 We are living during times of the dangers of epidemics in general, not just this one. This is because of the density of human population in so many places as well as lots of travel. And epidemics are then aggravated by the for-profit health systems (or rather “non-systems”) that eat into preventive health care. Private insurance and then private treatment causes many to fail even to “see” the common good. Instead of caring for peoples’ health, private medicine prioritizes bosses increasing their private profit out of people’s getting sick. The more the better. We end up with a pervasive ideology that justifies the greed of the pharmaceutical, insurance and clinic bosses, on a background of persisting anti-communist and anti-socialist propaganda left over from the hey-day of the Cold War. But we live in times of other dangers, too, that don’t recede just because the coronavirus disease has come upon us: nuclear war and pollution killing the planet (or species like ours, anyway). All three dangers demand mobilization, which is not easy under lockdown, but they also involve thinking and planning, which are not only possible, but which we have time to do.


 So, on the classic texts from 100 years ago on the rise of fascism, here is one site, where you can choose from thinkers like Russians Clara Zetkin and Leon Trotsky (the latter now Ukranian, since he was from Kiev!), and the American James Canon:


 https://www.marxists.org/subject/fascism/index.htm


 And Bertrand Russell is also worth reading, at:


http://www.spokesmanbooks.com/Spokesman/PDF/140Russell.pdf


(Check the bottom of page 54 for a fine definition of the rule of reason as opposed to unreason.)


 There is also a Book Review by Christopher Hitchens from 1999 that I find interesting and with “new” points in it, on the rise of Hitler at:


https://www.vanityfair.com/news/1999/02/hitchens-199902


 For contemporary commentary during times of coronavirus disease, here is a selection of three very different ones:


 https://jacobinmag.com/2020/03/david-harvey-coronavirus-political-economy-disruptions


David Harvey, English political geographer living in USA


 https://www.truthdig.com/articles/noam-chomsky-the-neoliberal-order-is-visibly-collapsing/


Noam Chomsky – a fine political analyst, American academic


 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLfHpvJKNg0  


Yanis Varoufakis – economic analyst who was Minister of Finance in Greece


 Port workers’ shifts have been changed to two four-hour shifts, followed by two three-hour shifts, and then a close-down. Co-operation amongst workers is making work easier, we are told. Transport for staff to and from work is also working OK so far.


 For hospital workers, some workers have told us they have met glitches in their transport arrangements. But, as most sections of hospitals are now still in the calm before the storm, with between 100 and 200 patients in admission instead of the usual 2,000, there has been time to catch up. Staff at Candos Hospital, where there was the death of the patient who had had a false negative result for a coronavirus test, are being tested. Two have been found positive. 


 The Minister today announced that, after one week of work, hospital workers on relevant wards will then have one week for self-quarantine. It seems that there has been some disappearance (theft?) of masks, causing shortages on wards.


 Meanwhile, in Mauritius the cases traced by the Public Health team have reached 36 positive tests. The death toll remains at two.


 At a world level, this site gives an update, and a list of all countries. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/