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Current Affairs ( 25 March 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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COVID-19 Is the Product of The Capitalistic Lebensraum

By Dr Saulat Nagi

March 24, 2020

Love “in the time of Cholera” was possible, but in the time of coronas, its existence seems imponderable. “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalion,” and the majority loses the sense of collectivity. During fear, men lose their reason, self-preservation becomes the sole rationality, and the Darwinian law of survival of the fittest the only law. A thin veneer of civilisation cast away its veil. The struggle for the social space for existence becomes apparent, humans turn into beasts. Under an exchange society, freedom and insolence become synonymous and evident

The empty aisles and shelves in malls, the dearth of basic amenities, and massive buying of consumable commodities suggest not only the democratic abolition of thought people undergo wilfully in an innately insecure capitalist economy, but also reveals the energetic principles of politics based on enemy and fear. Montesquieu observed, “Fear is what makes and sustains dictatorships,” but now it has become the permanent feature of democracies as well.

The deeply alienated human being not only denies the existence of others but one’s own being; existence with the exclusion of society makes him a self-preserving individual, an emotionally dead person, a schizophrenic of Laing. Capitalism brings forth not only genetically modified food but also the regimented people, mechanically modified to behave in a manner where suffering of one guarantees the happiness of the other.

Aaron Bernstein, interim director of the Centre for Climate, Health, and Global Environment states, “We swim in a common germ pool with other life forms.” However, the very material garbage produced by the spirit of capitalism has effectively polluted the world and its climate. Nature is in ruin, and indirectly the existence of humanity too.

It all triggered from Wuhan “at a wildlife market where wildlife animals were kept in close proximity to each other and to humans…a perfect breeding ground for zoonotic diseases, and for the bats that carry them. [Bats] are closely related to us, they’re losing habitats, hence they go to these markets in search of food, while encountering human beings they cause indirect afflictions to them.” (Nature, 26 Feb).

Loss of biodiversity and species extinction that knocks the ecosystem off balance can leave behind creatures that are prone to spread new illnesses. “Scientists believe that West Nile virus, carried by migratory birds, might have benefited from a fall in niche bird species like the woodpecker and a rise in more virus-friendly species like robins and crows. Warming temperatures brought on by climate change exacerbate the problem. As temperatures rise, animals are mixing in new and unexpected ways, providing even more opportunities for diseases to spread”. (Grist, 18 March)

COVID-19 is the product of the same system based on greed and expansion, the capitalistic Lebensraum. History is not oblivious to humans consuming all species, including their own. Once cannibalism, in some cases, was a necessity and a custom, but under market economy the large-scale consumption of different species has developed into a profit- based industry with blackmarkets thriving under the benign gaze of some states. China is probably one of them, where it flourished.

The world is not alien to coronaviruses since it experienced SARS erupting from Hong Kong and MERS from Saudi Arabia, but COVID-19 is a different strain. “The scientists have focused on two important features of its spike protein: the receptor-binding domain (RBD), a kind of grappling hook that grips onto host cells, and the cleavage site, a molecular can-opener that allows the virus to crack open and enter host cells.” (Science News, 17 March).

It either evolved through natural selection in a non-human host, to cross over to human beings later in a pathogenic state, which happened during the previous outbreaks when SARS visited human beings through civets and MERS through camels. Else, it came in a non-pathogenic state, directly or through an intermediate host between humans and animals and became active after living in humansfor a certain duration. With SARS-COV-2, a strong possibility of an intermediate host acting as a transmitter between humans and bats or pangolin exists.

A study co-author Andrew Rambaut cautioned that it is difficult if not impossible to know at this point which of the scenarios is most likely. If the SARS-CoV-2 entered humans in its current pathogenic form from an animal source, it raises the probability of future outbreaks, as the illness-causing strain of the virus could still be circulating in the animal population and might once again jump into humans. The chances are lower of a non-pathogenic coronavirus entering the human population and then evolving properties similar to SARS-CoV-2′. (Science-News).

On December 31 of 2019, the Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organisation of an outbreak of a novel strain of coronavirus, subsequently named SARS-CoV-2, causing severe illnesses. Despite warning, the world, especially Europe and the US, remained in a state of denial. Trump, Johnson and Morrison mocked it, asking people to follow their routine. Were they naïve or postponing the inevitable by giving time to the market to procure means offleecing humanity to cash upon its misery?

Capitalism leaves nothing to chance. When China was battling to contain the virus, the US senators were selling their stocks before they could drop. Senator Kelly Loefflerand Senator Richard Burr, Republican Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, dumped their million-dollarstocks after receiving a private briefing on the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis to invest in vaccine business.

Meanwhile, multinational pharmaceuticals of the US, fully aware of the catastrophe dimension of corona’s lethality, were preparing to turn the calamity into an opportunity by making new diagnostic kits, refusing to import the cheapest ones from China and Cuba. Trump, the front man of multinationals, has fixed his lusty gaze on CureVac, a German state funded company, striving to make an anti-corona vaccine. His bid to buy the exclusive rights on the sale of the possible vaccine has stirred the raw nerve of Karl Lauterbach, a German politician.Bewildered and stupefied he remarked,”Capitalism has limits.” Alas, the bible of capital knows no such limit.

The fight between people and malady is in reality a fight between labour and capital. Capitalism is facing a new wave of recession. With the virus, the US economy will contract at the annual rate of 12 percent by end-June. Even if the international economy recovers in the second half,it will only balance the things; stagnation is bound to stay. Even prior to the calamity, people in France, Italy and Spain were on the streets, protesting to secure a better world. Even the US is ringing with the lyrical tunes of democratic socialism, a word tabooed in an indoctrinated society.

States in slumber are waking up to the reality not to help the masses but to bail out corporations, airlines and private sector. Workers are being laid off, unemployment is in ascendance. People in a state of panic, with little choice, are dangling between cadaverous life and an outright death. Life under capitalism has become a long sentence of an offence called birth. The obsessive-compulsive neurosis of shedding one’s guilt through the paranoia of washing hands repeatedly has become the only rational defence. “Here is the smell of the blood still: perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten the little hand” of capitalism.

Dr Saulat Nagi is an Australian-Pakistani based in Sydney. He has authored several books on Marxism (Gramscian and Frankfurt schools) and history

Original Headline: About coronas and capitalism

Source: The Daily Times