An effective fight against Covid-19 requires a fight against the profit virus

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25 March 2020

Another week, and another of Johnson's U-turns. Having played down the Covid-19 threat for so long, the government is now forced to admit that Britain is no different from the rest of the world, after all: implementing the containment methods which allowed China to stop the epidemic, is the only way to avoid a major disaster here!
    This latest set of measures comes 3 weeks after the first Covid-19 patients died in Britain.  Are these already too late?  Only the future will reveal how much damage Johnson's dithering may have caused.
    There is, however, no doubt that these measures are far too few to provide the working class - or indeed the population as a whole - with the real protection we need.  And they are ineffective because Johnson is terrified at the idea of being seen to impose constraints on the bosses.

Profiteering must be contained!

Take the new 2-year emergency powers that Johnson got MPs to grant him.  Among other things, they allow the police to arrest people who fail to place themselves in voluntary quarantine, despite being infected.  At face value, there may be a certain logic to this: except that putting people in jail will neither cure them, nor stop them from spreading the virus!
    But what logic is there in allowing non-essential economic activities to carry on in the middle of this epidemic, needlessly exposing large numbers of workers to the epidemic?
    The construction industry has come under the spotlight for its failure to mothball building sites - mostly very profitable luxury flats and office blocks.  Tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of building workers have been using public transport to and from work, every day, with no possibility of keeping their distance from other passengers at peak hours.  Then, once at work, most have had to work within close proximity of one another.  Most of the day, they’ve been exposed to others and others exposed to them, without any protection.  This is a perfect recipe for spreading Covid-19.
    So, shouldn't the police be using their resources to nick construction bosses who insist on keeping their building sites open?  Not so for Health Secretary Hancock, who insisted that "economic activity must carry on" - as if building million-pound flats was essential for fighting Covid-19!
    And is it a coincidence if Rishi Sunak has - so far - failed to provide casual contractors and self-employed, who make up the bulk of the construction workforce, with a decent alternative income, equivalent to those of permanent workers, in case they were sent home by their employers?
    Instead of sending the cops against these rogue bosses, this government is so enamoured with their profiteering, that they are willing to sacrifice their workers and possibly many others, to Covid-19!

Needed: workers' control over society

Meanwhile, since it is no longer able to conceal the catastrophic state in which a decade of Tory cuts has left the NHS, the government has embarked on a damage limitation exercise: to cover up their past criminal policies, they are calling on the "nation" to help the NHS - and to forget about the accounts we have to settle with these politicians who destroyed this country's public services.  But they still can't stop themselves from lying and putting the interests of the fat cats first.
    So, last Tuesday, Hancock boasted on TV about the reinforcements he was bringing into the NHS:  11,788 retired NHS staff who had agreed to come back to work and 23,500 nursing and medical students whom he intended to draft in.
    At the very same time, however, angry doctors, nurses and other NHS staff raised their voices.  They said that due to the absence of protective equipment, working in the NHS has become just too dangerous.  And this, after Hancock repeatedly claimed that huge numbers of protective kits were being distributed in hospitals - not true!
    Meanwhile, private cow-boys are selling so-called "test kits" for Covid-19 for several hundreds of pounds apiece, and private clinics are renting additional beds to the NHS!  So much for Hancock's "national" mobilisation against Covid-19.  It isn't meant to include the profiteers: like in any other war, they are allowed to grow even richer!
    Of course, Johnson and his ministers are there to protect the capitalists' interests.  For them, the fight against Covid-19 is secondary.  They are “fighting” the coronavirus, but only in so far as the pandemic threatens the profits of the bosses.
    But allowing the capitalists and their politicians to run the show comes at an exorbitant cost.  In the present crisis, our interests would be far better protected if the NHS workers took over control of the NHS themselves, and led the fight against Covid-19.  Which would raise the need for the working class as a whole to take over control of society at every level, in order to eradicate the profit virus, once and for all!