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The morality of a meat grinder

8 July, 2020 · Marxism> Morality

Donald and Melania Trump in an even on school reopening.

There is more and more clinical evidencethat Covid is also transmitted through aerosols as well as droplets and that this is related to the global acceleration of the pandemic. ventilation systems in slaughterhouses, factories, offices and even hospitals should be urgently checked. But no, it doesn’t matter: Trump is already pressing to reopen schools in the middle of a new epidemiological peak, Sánchez with dozens of outbreaks is telling us that we don’t have to be afraid and that the important thing is to recover the economy, that is, the profitability of capital at all costs. The same refrain as French officialdom. The message is clear. No wonder Merkel has been so grateful to the media for the services provided. But the facts, and the virus, are stubborn.

Under the data of the pandemic lies the antagonism between human needs and the logic of capital

A soldier disinfects a room at Planalto Palace, residence of the president of Brazil.

Today we discover that the delay in imposing the confinement in the main industrial centers of Lombardy, which resulted in a gigantic cost in lives, was the result of a conscious policy to save investments rather than workers’ lives. A hierarchy of goals that has been universal and constant during the pandemic and has been accelerated during the de-confinement.

We may well never know the total number of deaths in nursing homes. The recently published internal reports of the Spanish Ministry of Health, raise the figure higher and higher. What is clear is that it is the logic of their management by the capital that made them the center of the slaughter.

What we do know – even if only from marginal journalistic notes which are more concerned with denying the data than with explaining it – is that during the period when only the essential workplaces were open, the suicides fell spectacularly in Japan and that in Spain the number of women murdered by their partners during the state of alarm went from eight to two, that is, about four times less. Kind of a hint that both social diseases are the direct product of that gigantic meat grinder that are working conditions and unemployment in today’s capitalism.

The morale of the petty bourgeois revolt

“Indigenous” activists who, as the poster shows, do not use the local New Mexico dialect, vandalize a statue of the region’s conquistador.

The so-called new normality is merely the normalization of the dictatorship of the needs of capital with the ruling class not even bothering to dress them up as social needs. The electoral campaigns that have followed the lockout, from Croatia to Spain, via France, have been a pitiful publicity stunt in which the immediate short-term needs of profitability are presented as proof of the supposedly self-evident nature of the need to organize massive income transfers from labor to capital. No matter how huge the human costs. This intellectual apathy, which is a moral renunciation, has the value of a confession: the bourgeoisie does not feel strong enough to lead society anywhere. They administer what capital demands: transferring rents like crazy from labor to capital to revive accumulation but they don’t even have the courage – or the nerve – to promise that it will lead to further growth, even if it doesn’t involve development.

Their own professional ideologues realize this and settle for the tremendous banality that the future is out of fashion… which means that there is no moral foundation possible. They are in line with the iconoclastic drift of the latest petty bourgeois revolts in the Anglo-Saxon world. Call it post-modernity or whatever you want. There is no idea more delusional than the one that characterizes these revolts at a global level: the idea that desire is a generator of reality and that the modification of the representation of that reality -either through the use of a specific linguistic register or through the demolition of statues- transforms the material world by itself, bringing it closer to the desirable ideal. Behaving in accordance with desire, without even asking what material interests it responds to, contributes somehow to its magical realization. The moral -the personal- would be by itself, political. Or said the other way round: political action would be reduced to individual moralizing gestures based on an unquestionable desire.

In reality it is pure idealism although translated into a youtuber format. It is exactly equivalent to the conspiratorial insanities of the American alt-right type: Trump is… whatever you want him to be. As ideology both iconoclasts and qanon are the most degraded version possible of the great ideological constructs that produced rising capitalism. But thanks to their own delusional character they are contagious: Qanon posters appear in German demonstrations against confinement, and there is no lack of those who try to explain to the local workers in Spanish and Moroccan working class neighborhoods that they are spoiled by consumerism and benefit from white privilege.

But it’s not just the madness of the intellectual petty bourgeoisie in its unruly games. If they are produced and spread it is because in the end they respond to an intimate logic of the system. If pseudo-pharmacopoeias such as homeopathy have a charter of social existence, it is because their industrialization is a terrain for the accumulation of capital. If China makes it a crime -in the midst of a pandemic- to criticize the so-called traditional Chinese medicine it is because it serves their imperialist interests, especially in Africa. Under the idea that they will punish the Anglo-Saxon powers by reducing the use of English there is more than an idealistic conception of the role of language. There is a convenient materiality: to reinforce the trends of the national bourgeoisie to leave their children at home instead of sending them to study with the rival.

Capitalist morality and the pandemic

Terrace in A Guarda, Galicia.

It was clear that an early return to production would only increase the number of victims of Covid. Even more so the alleged normality in retail and hotel business. The final report of the serological study carried out by the Ministry of Health in Spain shows (pages 22 to 25) a direct correlation between the number of non-work related trips and the probability of contagion. The grinder is up and running again.

But the morality of a society is that of its ruling class. And what is good for the system is what is socially accepted as the greater good. And today the only priority of the ruling class is to revive accumulation at any cost. If you are afraid to go to work, the doctor will prescribe tranquilizers. In Spain, today, tranquilizers are prescribed twice as much as before the pandemic. Undocumented workers result to be contamination sources but not because of the infamous working conditions but because of their social problems. The fact that they sleep in crowded conditions is not, it seems, a consequence of poverty wages. The crowded streets and the people crammed into businesses without masks or precautions as if everything were fine, are presented to us as good news in the media even though the consequences are almost immediate. The antagonism of interests between capital and workers, between accumulation and life, is also a moral antagonism.