By Bruce Wallace
As we enter 2022 the Covid pandemic is now officially twenty months old. On the activist revolutionary left there is usually a taking stock of the events of the last year and conditional perspectives for the coming year of struggle laid out. In The Socialist, the paper of the Socialist Party, party general secretary Hannah Sell reviews 2021 and peers ahead in Britain 2022: Build a coordinated working class fightback.
This is a curious piece because of what it doesn’t mention. It is rather like an article produced by the Second International in 1916, passed by the government censor, that doesn’t mention the war! A case of inattentional blindness that misses the Invisible Gorilla.
Given that the biggest issue facing practically every working-class person on the planet has been coping with the seemingly insane response of bourgeois governments to Covid, surely there would be an analysis of it? Seek in vain.
In the lengthy article the pandemic is hardly mentioned. This is the treatment given when it is:
If the soaring levels of the Omicron variant lead to a new economic slowdown there could also be a new surge of job losses. Even without that, however, there will only be one way to prevent 2022 being a year of Covid austerity, and that is a coordinated working-class fightback.
One can only marvel at the weakness of Sell’s analysis here. A variant of a virus, only vaguely close to a life form, somehow has the power to slow down the economy! Sell, allegedly a Marxist, has discovered a new law of motion of capitalism: the Omicron Law.
Give me strength. If there’s been an international slowdown it’s been brought about by human action in response to the perceived threat of the virus, not through any mystical power attributed to it by the likes of Sell. She seems to think that the closure of businesses and schools, quarantining the healthy, the immiseration of a layer of the middle class and the enrichment of the big tech billionaires was because of covid. Such is the nature of cognitive dissonance.
There isn’t a single mention of the unprecedent mass vaccination campaign or the obscene profiteering of big pharma. Were one a historian a hundred years hence reading this article you would struggle to identify that it was even written during an international pandemic.
The Socialist Party website’s sidebar is weighed down by widgets linking to solemn guides to historical materialism and the history of international communism…
In contrast, in an implicit comment on the pandemic’s presumed lack of historical significance, to read more about Covid we must turn to the 8 December issue of The Socialist, which features a very short article entitled ‘Covid News in Brief’ where, under ‘The Costs of Vaccination’, we have:
The cost of an undervaccinated world is new variants and millions of preventable deaths, particularly in the world’s poorest nations. Just 9.2% of Afghanistan’s population is fully vaccinated, 11.7% in Iraq. According to the Gates Foundation, $25 billion is what it would take to vaccinate the entire planet.
Leaving aside the fact that mass vaccination is itself likely to lead to new variants, the obvious solution is:
We say nationalise the pharmaceuticals, big business and the banks under democratic workers’ control and use the wealth to look after our health!
Amen to that, but it should then presumably say:
“Form worker vaccination battalions to give the clot shot to the poor Afghans and Iraqis“
One may presume that the entire Socialist Party National Committee has not only been treble jabbed but lobotomised to boot.
Let’s consign the Socialist Party to the dustbin of history.