Coronavirus capitalism, and how to beat it

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Activist Naomi Klein explains how governments around the world are exploiting the coronavirus

In a recent video published on online news website The Intercept, author and activist Naomi Klein discusses how the Trump administration and other governments around the world are exploiting the coronavirus pandemic.

These governmental bodies, along with corporate lobbyists, have been capitalizing on the ongoing health crisis through corporate bailouts and regulatory reversions. 

However, Klein enlightens viewers on how crises may catalyze a kind of evolutionary leap, by diverging from the “shock doctrine”—a tactic used by right-wing governments to use the public’s disorientation following a disaster to push through rsadical pro-corporate policies. 

US President Donald Trump has been pushing for a suspension of the payroll tax, which could bankrupt Social Security—a vital part of the lives of regular American citizens—by either cutting it from government expenditure or privatizing it completely. 

Trump has been in negotiation with cruise companies, airlines, and private health insurers, hoping to stimulate these industries as the disease leads to an economic downturn, similar to the stock market crash in 1987.  

However, the negative consequences of such actions will be endured by average, working-class citizens since they cannot receive proper health care without proper health insurance and cannot receive an income due to the public health recommendations of self-quarantining. 

This means that too many sick people will have no choice but to go to work, meaning more people will contract and spread the virus.

“Without comprehensive bailouts for workers, we can expect more bankruptcies and more homelessness down the road,” said Klein. 

China, for its part, is indicating that it will relax environmental standards to stimulate its economy, which would negate the one major benefit of the crisis: a significant drop in the country’s air pollution.

Nevertheless, this is not the whole story. In the United States (US), social movements and politicians are already mobilized, and they have been campaigning for effective plans such as  universal healthcare and cancelling student debt. 

Ireland has announced six weeks of emergency unemployment payments for all workers who suddenly find themselves out of work, including self-employed workers. 

“Look we know this script.” 

The US has had numerous opportunities to learn about how to operate during disasters such as the 2008 Financial Crisis or even the Great Depression.  

Klein has spent two decades studying the transformations that take place in the midst of a disaster, and she has learned that during moments of cataclysmic change, the previously unthinkable suddenly becomes reality. 

During moments of shock, ideas such as universal healthcare or the Green New Deal seem more feasible, and as it is currently election season, there is much scope for sustainable action. 

“History teaches us that moments of shock are profoundly volatile. We either lose a whole of ground, get fleeced by elites, and pay the price for decades, or we win progressive victories that seemed impossible just a few weeks earlier.” 

The coronavirus has claimed the lives of 10,000 and infected over 245,000 as of Friday morning, according to worldometers.