Jul 12 2020

GERMANY LEADS THE WAY OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

The latest in the regular E&L Covid-19 articles was first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland) and addressed the post Covid-19 Lockdown situation in Germany.

 

GERMANY LEADS THE WAY OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN

 

We all know that Germany is the most important State in Europe, the economy is the fourth largest in the world, making up 28 percent of the GDP of the EU.  It may not storehouse much ‘soft power’ when it comes to cultural markers like music, films and books, that being overwhelmingly American, it still makes the important political decisions for the rest of Europe.

Until recently Germany had a good coronavirus response in comparison to many of its neighbours:

Deaths per Hundred Thousand

 
Belgium  84.9      France          44.2            Germany 10.7          Hungary 5.8
UK           64.1      Holland        35.3             Denmark 10.3          Slovenia 5.3
Spain      60.6       Ireland         35.3             Austria    7.8            Estonia 5.2
Italy         57.3       Luxemburg 18.1             Romania 7.7             Poland 3.5
Sweden  49.6       Portugal       14.9             Finland     5.9           Greece 2.6

 

You could say that Germany was better prepared to deal with the coronavirus emergency because of its industry and science.  Being better prepared is one thing staying the course over a length of time is another thing altogether.  The wish to get free of the universal lockdown as fast as possible is a good rough and ready measure of the spirit of capitalism prevalent in any given country.  Our reader may recall that sociologists used to speak of the genesis of capitalism in terms of the culture and values of the nation or region in terms of a commercial spirit of capitalism, it was argued that the original spirit of capitalism was for the most part a Protestant sort of business, it was pointed out that barring a couple of the Italian city States, capitalism in Europe was really of Protestant beginnings. It used to be said that the economic division in Ireland between the North and South was just one more proof of the Protestant/commerce thesis.

Things have of course changed over the Century, there are no longer pure Catholic and Protestant capitalist economies, the Catholic countries have all been converted, not so much to Protestantism as to the spirit of secular capitalism, the nominally Catholic South of Ireland is performing better than the nominally Protestant North in respect of commercial matters.  The government in the South of Ireland is one of those eager commercial starters after a three months lockdown, even the pubs and restaurants are scheduled for an early opening, well ahead of the commerce loving Brits.

Germany has been a very early starter from out of the commercial lockdown, in fact the German government authorised the start of the process earlier than most other European governments, and businesses began to open up about a month ago.  The German government has been pretty crafty about how it went about ending the commercial lockdown, it has handed over the responsibility for decision making to several regional and local political authorities, this way if something went wrong the central government could dodge taking most of the blame.  After about a month or so of ‘freedom’ things have started to go wrong, the Robert Koch Institute has just reported that the reproduction (R) number for Germany is now around R2.88, in theory any number about R1 is bad, meaning exponential growth is now occurring.

Two news stories from Germany have caught my attention, officials in North Rhine Westphalia forced 6,500 employees and their families to go into quarantine after more than 1,000 staff at German meat processing firm Toennies tested positive for coronavirus.  Infection spreading into meat and food processing plants is something of a regular occurrence, not just in Germany.  The corollary of this universal phenomena is the sort of workers in these meat plants are usually ‘foreign’, Mexicans in America, Asians in the UK, East Europeans in Germany, so the news media don’t get so worked up about it when the infections do occur, rarely do they send a crack television news team to do heartfelt interviews with the affected workers. Infection and even deaths of migrant workers at meat plants is what you might write in as if it were some sort of footnote to your accountancy.

The second report from Germany concerns a riot that took place at a block of flats in the city of Gottingen.  Police fired tear gas at residents trying to escape their own homes at a block of flats, 700 people had recently been placed in lockdown for a month after 120 of the residents had tested positive for the infection.  It is reported that around 200 people had attempted to break down a fence that had been erected to stop them escaping the quarantine and possibly spreading the virus to others in the town.  This is certainly interesting in that it could well be a sign of things to come in all of those places in a hurry to lift the commercial lockdown without having genuinely eliminated the virus.  Since the coronavirus has not been eliminated, the World Health Organisation has just said on June 20th,  ‘the virus is spreading faster than ever before,’ reporting 183,000 confirmed cases on a single day, the highest ever, the emergency is far from being over.

If you happen to live in Britain, Ireland or even Spain you might be forgiven for thinking that the emergency was indeed all over, one of my own neighbours assured me of that, when I asked why he thought so, his answer was that most people he observed about the place had started going into the shops and supermarkets without masks and many had stopped observing the social distancing rules, he then added the pubs and hairdressers were about to get the reopen signal.

What is true is that we are now in a new period of testing the new social environment, the official political idea seems to be that instead of having a universal lockdown we are moving on to a new more nuanced phase of occasional local lockdowns.  This is why the riot in Gottingen is relevant, some people seem to resent a local lockdown more than they do the universal one, they hate the fact that everyone else is free and they are back under house arrest, so the future may be more local lockdowns and more angry breakouts and riots for the police to have to deal with.  Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.  Which side will you be on, the police or the escapees?

 

22.6.20

This article was first posted at:-

http://socialistdemocracy.org/RecentArticles/RecentGermanyLeadsTheWayOutOfLockdown.html

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also see:-

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/06/14/covid-19-johnsons-criminal-incompetence/

 

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/06/09/fighting-covid19-from-a-nurse-in-new-york-city/

 

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/06/06/capitalism-is-a-virus/

 

CAPITALISM AND WORKERS’ HEALTH – PLUS CA CHANGE

 

 

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Jul 12 2020

THE UK STATE, RIGHT POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN 2020 – rUK IT or fUK IT?

Allan Armstrong has produced his third online pamphlet, following The Continuing Shift from Neo-Liberalism to Right Populism. This follows the last update which looked at the impact of Right Populism and reactionary unionism on the politics of the these islands after the December 12th UK and February 8th Irish general elections. The contents  of the latest  pamphlet ( https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/07/dec12th-covid-19-and-blm-scotland2-4.pdf) are shown below. This is followed by two sections from the pamphlet specifically relating to the recent and current situation in Scotland, which form the basis for Allan’s talk on the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Republican Party Zoom meeting.

 

THE UK STATE, RIGHT POPULISM AND  

REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN 2020

rUK it or fUK it?

 A republican communist analysis in the aftermath of December 12th general election, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter 

Allan Armstrong. 6.7.20

 

 

Contents

A. FROM THE DECEMBER 12TH WESTMINSTER GENERAL ELECTION THROUGH THE COVID-19 CRISIS

Continue reading “THE UK STATE, RIGHT POPULISM AND REACTIONARY UNIONISM IN 2020 – rUK IT or fUK IT?”

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Jul 07 2020

GLASGOW AND READING KILLINGS RAISE MAJOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

E&L is posting an article on the attacks and killing in Glasgow and a letter about the killings in Reading. Both address the issues raised by the treatment of asylum seekers. The article written by  Mike Picken (Socialist Resistance, SSP and Renfrewshire RIC) addresses the  stabbing of six people and the police killing of the attacker, Badreddin Abadlla Adan,  originally from Sudan. The letter was written by Jim Cook of Reading, where Khairi Saadallahas, an asylum seeker from Libya, killed three people. It was first  published by Weekly Worker.

 

 

GLASGOW KILLING RAISES MAJOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

In a major event in Scotland, one person was killed by armed police in a Glasgow hotel used to accommodate asylum seekers. The call ‘not to politicise’ the incident from SNP and Labour politicians is completely misplaced.

As the dramatic events unfolded on the afternoon of Friday 26 June, the BBC first reported that three people had been killed in a knife stabbing incident. This turned out to be untrue: six people including a police officer were seriously injured and hospitalised, while the apparent perpetrator was shot in a rapid and large armed police response in Glasgow city centre. Continue reading “GLASGOW AND READING KILLINGS RAISE MAJOR QUESTIONS ABOUT TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS”

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Jul 02 2020

STORMONT PUSHES BACK AGAINST ABORTION REGULATIONS

This article, first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland), examines a socially reactionary role of Stormont  over women’s abortion rights. 

STORMONT PUSHES BACK AGAINST ABORTION REGULATIONS

 

On the 2nd June  Stormont Assembly passed a DUP motion calling for the rejection of abortion law enacted at Westminster. A Sinn Fein amendment which solely dealt with abortions in cases of severe disability was defeated. While the vote has no effect on the laws the DUP claimed that it would send a message to Westminster that the regulations are not supported by Stormont. Continue reading “STORMONT PUSHES BACK AGAINST ABORTION REGULATIONS”

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Jun 27 2020

ON LOOTING AND STATUE TOPPLING

These  two short pieces have been taken from the Scottish Left Forum

ON LOOTING AND STATUE TOPPLING

 

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The initial US BLM protests were accompanied by looting and statue toppling. This amounted to oppositional ‘shock and awe’ tactics. These which were mainly responsible for breaking through the usual media silence and downplaying of constitutional protests. These actions provided a signal for a massive wave of international solidarity.

 

Allan Armstrong

 

Society (or rather more accurately the ruling group in any society) puts up statutes in public places as an honour and as a symbol of what type of people are to be admired. As society changes those who are honoured by the society change and is contested. At one point in history statues of Hitler were erected in Germany and then at another point they are taken down. Same with Stalin. The removal of such statues is not an attempt to erase history but to make plain the type of people society honours or rejects. In the US south statues of confederate figures were erected as a symbol of white supremacy and the growth of the power of the KKK. They are now being removed because people can see them for what they are- a symbol of racial oppression. In Britain those who made a fortune in the slave trade are no longer considered figures of human excellence and their statues are being toppled. Good. maybe put them in a museum rather than under water. But their removal is a sign of society moving on and rejecting the barbarities of the past. Imagine children growing up in a city where statues of Hitler were on public display? how would that make Jewish kids feel? indeed how would that make any decent human being feel? For black kids, statues of slave traders are not acceptable. Indeed, we should teach all children that such figures are an example of a shameful and terrible past and should be removed to a museum. We should erect statues of those who rebelled against the slave trade and fought for human freedom. Any society which honours slave traders is a deeply sick society.

 

Sandy McBurney

 

 

 

 

 

also see:-

  1. RACISM – CALLING A DIFFERENT TONE

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/06/25/racism-calling-a-different-tone/

  1. GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND
  2. SUPPRESSION OF BLM SOLIDARITY PROTES

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/06/16/the-george-floyd-demonstrations-in-ireland/

4. RACISM, CAPITALISM AND CLASS STRUGGLE

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/06/11/racism-capitalism-and-class-struggle/

 

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Jun 25 2020

RACISM – CALLING A DIFFERENT TONE

The Emancipation & Liberation Editorial Board (EB) is posting this article by Will Stratford of the Platypus Affiliated Society (PAS) in the USA about the Left’s response to the BLM protests. PAS is a Left propagandist think-tank. The  EB is taking up Stratford’s challenge to the Left to publish his arguments. We invite others to respond.

 

RACISM – CALLING A DIFFERENT TONE

 

 

What if racism is not the biggest problem with our society today? I can tell you this much: it is not exactly a cool party trick to bring up the question with my friends, who are mostly Democrat-voting progressives. When I ask them, they look at me like I just gave a sieg heil to Hitler. I have to remind them: I am asking from the left, not the right. Continue reading “RACISM – CALLING A DIFFERENT TONE”

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Jun 16 2020

THE GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND

These two articles from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) look at the response in Ireland (south and north) to the killing of George Floyd and then the response of the  PSNI and the Garda to these demonstrations. The first article argues for the power of solidarity in the face of shared exploitation and oppression rather the  ‘allyship’ based on intersectional identity. Both  highlight the role of the Garda and PSNI in attempting to suppress the demonstrations. The first article also points  to the role of  Garda in suppressing the Debenham workers in Dublin (1).  The second article highlights the response of the Stormont government, falling back on the PSNI’s RUC past to enforce the harshest state response in the UK to these demonstrations.

 

1. GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND

 

Black Lives Matter demonstration in Belfast

 

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations across Ireland have shown a massive upwelling of support for the protestors in the US. They show the immense power of spontaneous human solidarity. This is not “allyship” based on modern identity ideologies, but a concrete solidarity that sees racism and oppression in the Irish State and the British colonial enclave and is not afraid to say so. Initial demonstrations took place spontaneously across the island, with the main demonstrations in Dublin and Belfast. They were followed by more structured demonstrations on Saturday 6th June in Dublin, Galway, Belfast, Derry and many other centres. Although all were pressured by the police, with a number being cancelled and a Newry demonstration dispersed, turnout was in the thousands at the main demonstrations with black protestors joined by large numbers of white, mostly young, activists. Continue reading “THE GEORGE FLOYD DEMONSTRATIONS IN IRELAND”

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Jun 13 2020

JUSTICE FOR GRENFELL

It is 3 years since the tragic deaths of 72 people at Grenfell Towers. This video Justice for Grenfell was produced by Edinburgh Trade Union Council, the FBU, UNITE and the Living Rent campaign.

 

 

also see:-

DEMOCRACY BURNS DOWN

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Jun 11 2020

RACISM, CAPITALISM AND CLASS STRUGGLE

Thus article, written by Josefina L. Martinez, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, was first posted by Left Voice in the USA.

 

RACISM, CAPITALISM AND CLASS STRUGGLE

 

The anti-racist uprising in the United States over the brutal murder of George Floyd reopens a strategic question: How do we link the struggle against racism with the struggle against capitalist exploitation? This article draws the counterpoint between the theories of intersectionality and Marxism. Continue reading “RACISM, CAPITALISM AND CLASS STRUGGLE”

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Jun 11 2020

FANTASY FOOTBALL – THE IRISH LEFT AND FORMING A ‘LEFT GOVERNMENT’

This article, originally posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland) looks at the attempts by People before Profit and RISE to form a ‘Left government’ in Ireland with Sinn Fein. 

 

FANTASY FOOTBALL – THE IRISH LEFT AND FORMING A ‘LEFT GOVERNMENT’

 

Time for Unity – with whom and for what?

 

Recently People before Profit reopened talks with Sinn Fein about building an alternative left government in opposition to the attempts by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael to construct a parliamentary majority. Continue reading “FANTASY FOOTBALL – THE IRISH LEFT AND FORMING A ‘LEFT GOVERNMENT’”

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