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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Jun 14 2020

COVID-19 -JOHNSON’S CRIMINAL INCOMPETENCE

 Eddie Ford (CPGB-WW) argues that by global standards the UK government’s handling of the pandemic has been appalling.

 

COVID-19 -JOHNSON’S CRIMINAL INCOMPETENCE

 

After Brexit, the UK takes the lead in Europe

 

Last week we reached the grim milestone of 40,000 officially certified deaths from Covid-19. Given that at the start of the pandemic there was talk of 20,000 being a “good result”, this is a shameful statistic for a supposedly ‘first world’ country. Continue reading “COVID-19 -JOHNSON’S CRIMINAL INCOMPETENCE”

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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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May 15 2020

TWO RESPONSES TO THE COVID19 PANDEMIC

Following from our earlier postings from Trade unionists, health workers, independence supporters and community activists and from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/03/26/fighting-the-covid-19-pandemic/), we are posting two further statements on the Covid19  pandemic, the first from Dumfries TUC , the second from SNP Socialists.

 

 

1. Dumfries TUC Co19 Statement

Continue reading “TWO RESPONSES TO THE COVID19 PANDEMIC”

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May 11 2020

CAPITALISM AND WORKERS’ HEALTH – PLUS CA CHANGE

Karl Marx had something  to say about capitalism and workers’ health  in Capital, Volume 1. Chapter 15. (https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Capital-Volume-I.pdf – page 316). We are posting this below.

 

CAPITALISM AND WORKERS’ HEALTH  – PLUS CA CHANGE

 


 

 

                                                  Twenty first century factory

     

 

 

Nineteenth century factory                                                                                                                                                                                                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What could possibly show better the character of the capitalist mode of production, than the necessity that exists for forcing upon it, by Acts of Parliament, the simplest appliances for maintaining cleanliness and health? Owing to its very nature, it excludes all rational improvement beyond a certain point. It has been stated over and over again that the English doctors are unanimous in declaring that where the work is continuous, 500 cubic feet is the very least space that should be allowed for each person. Now, if the Factory Acts, owing to their compulsory provisions, indirectly hasten on the conversion of small workshops into factories, thus indirectly attacking the proprietary rights of the smaller capitalists, and assuring a monopoly to the great ones, so, if it were made obligatory to provide the proper space for each workman in every workshop, thousands of small employers would, at one full swoop, be expropriated directly! The very root of the capitalist mode of production, i.e., the self-expansion of all capital, large or small, by means of the “free” purchase and consumption of labour-power, would be attacked. Factory legislation is therefore brought to a deadlock before these 500 cubic feet of breathing space. The sanitary officers, the industrial inquiry commissioners, the factory inspectors, all harp, over and over again, upon the necessity for those 500 cubic feet, and upon the impossibility of wringing them out of capital. They thus, in fact, declare that consumption and other lung diseases among the workpeople are necessary conditions to the existence of capital.”

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also see:-

FIGHTING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

FIGHTING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

 

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May 11 2020

IDEOLOGY AND SCIENCE

In the political  climate since the 2008 Financial Crisis and now with  the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been a marked increase on anti-science thinking. Whilst particularly prevalent on the Far Right, such thinking has spread far wider. Thus article, first posted by Socialist Democracy (Ireland), examines this phenomenon in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

IDEOLOGY AND SCIENCE

Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Advisor

 

It has been reported by the Sunday Times newspaper that Sir David King a former Chief Scientific Advisor to the British Government is to set up an alternative scientific advisory group to the current one. The alternative advisory group are to go online with their recommendations and conduct open access conversations with the best scientists willing to participate in democratic debate, mainly on YouTube. The former scientific adviser says his patience has finally run out with how things are being handled by the existing Government SAGE committee. He points out that the current group is not acting as others did in the recent past, it is pledged to offer independent scientific advice but how can it do that when political watchdogs like Dominic Cummings, the Prime Minister’s principal political advisor, are participating members of the SAGE panel:-

‘Dominic Cummings is a political advisor to the PM, and the chief scientific officer is an advisor to the PM, and I think this is very dangerous for only one of them really understands the science.’ Continue reading “IDEOLOGY AND SCIENCE”

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Apr 22 2020

COVID-19 PANDEMIC CRACKS FACADE OF UNITY AT STORMONT

Much has been made of the UK government’s ‘4 nations’ approach in its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Sunday Times  article exposed both  Covid’s 19’s  secondary concern (after a ‘No Deal Brexit) for Johnson and the Tories’ deliberate winding down of NHS preparations for pandemics.  In the face of this, the  supposedly ‘4 nations’ UK response  has been showing signs of  falling apart. Nicola Sturgeon has already made a political pivot to distance herself from the earlier SNP government approach along these lines.  We are posting this article from Socialist Democracy (Ireland) showing  the impact of  the UK state in Northern Ireland in  Stormont Executive’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

COVID-19 PANDEMIC CRACKS FACADE OF UNITY AT STORMONT

 

 

The declarations of a new found approach and unity of purpose that accompanied the restoration of the Stormomt Executive in January have quickly given way to the well worn rhetoric and operating methods that accounted for the demise of its predecessor.  In early 2017, it was the  “Cash for Ash” scandal that was the immediate cause of the collapse of devolved institutions that had been in a state of decay for a long time.  Today, it is the health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that is exposing divisions within the Executive and highlighting the underlying weakness of the political institutions! Continue reading “COVID-19 PANDEMIC CRACKS FACADE OF UNITY AT STORMONT”

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Feb 27 2020

COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE

Allan Armstrong has added an addendum to his book From Pre-Brit to Ex-Brit   (https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/socialists-and-december-12th-election.pdffollowing the December 12th UK and February 8th Irish general elections.

 

COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE

 

 

 

 

Although Johnson gained an overall Right Populist electoral victory in the UK on December 12th, this disguises the fact that in Scotland the constitutional nationalist SNP emerged as the electoral victor, pushing the Tories and Scottish Labour into retreat. In Wales, the still largely liberal unionist, Welsh Labour and the constitutional nationalist, Plaid Cymru retained an overall majority, but the Tories made substantial gains. In Northern Ireland, the reactionary unionist DUP lost its overall majority, giving a tentative constitutional nationalist (Sinn Fein and SDLP) and liberal unionist (APNI) alliance a majority. Furthermore, there are wider national democratic movements in Scotland, Wales and Ireland/Northern Ireland, which will be prepared to challenge Johnson’s reactionary unionist clampdown. This is a recipe for continued constitutional crisis, with Scotland in the front line at present. Continue reading “COMPETING STRATEGIES IN THE FACE OF THE BREAK-UP OF THE UK AND THE CASE FOR A SOCIALIST REPUBLICAN ‘INTERNATIONALISM FROM BELOW’ ALLIANCE”

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Feb 04 2020

FROM ILLUSIONS IN A LEXIT BREXIT TO A DISILLUSIONED LEXIT FROM BREXIT POLITICS – THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION AND INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS

Allan Armstrong has published an article entitled From Illusions in a Lexit Brexit to a Disillusioned Lexit from Brexit Politics (https://allanarmstrong831930095.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/socialists-and-december-12th-election.pdf)  The contents of this book are shown below, followed by the last two chapters and conclusion. This  article follows The Impact of the December 12th General Election across the Constituent Parts of the UK. (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2020/01/24/the-impact-of-the-december-12th-general-election-across-the-constituent-parts-of-the-uk/)

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FROM ILLUSIONS IN A LEXIT BREXIT TO A DISILLUSIONED LEXIT FROM BREXIT POLITICS 

 

 

Telegraph backs Lexiters’ ‘revolution’ and ‘Peoples Brexit!

 

Contents

a)  The 2015 general election provided a warning

b)  After 2015 – an increasingly floundering Left

c)  Northern Ireland – a different pattern

d)  Reactionary unionism and Europhobic opposition to the EU

e)  The largest independent Socialist parties walk into the Brexit trap

f)  The official Remain and Leave campaigns – two wings of the British ruling class

g)  The Lexiters’ false arguments

h)  The political options open in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum

i)  From 23rd May, 2016 to 8th June, 2017 – A victory for the Left or the Right?

j)  ‘Independent’ Socialists and ‘Oh Jeremy Corbyn’!

k)  Corbyn and the ‘independent’ Socialists unwittingly help Boris Johnson to victory

l)  Independent socialists after the December 12th general election

m) Independent socialists in Scotland and Northern Ireland/Ireland

n) Conclusion

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THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION AND INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS

 

1. Independent socialists after the December 12th general election

On December 12th, Labour’s vote share fell by 7.8% and its number of MPs decreased from 262 to 202. The Tories’ vote share rose 1.2%, but its number of MPs increased from 317 to 365. The gap in the vote share was 11.4%, 32.2% for Labour and 43.6% for the Tories.[1] Not surprisingly a shattered Jeremy Corbyn offered his resignation, opening up the prospect of a new leadership campaign. Continue reading “FROM ILLUSIONS IN A LEXIT BREXIT TO A DISILLUSIONED LEXIT FROM BREXIT POLITICS – THE DECEMBER 12th GENERAL ELECTION AND INDEPENDENT SOCIALISTS ACROSS THESE ISLANDS”

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Jul 07 2017

NO G20, NO UK – SCOTLAND GOES TO HAMBURG

The SSP was involved in leading the socialist opposition to the G8 summit in Gleneagles in 2005. Connor Beaton is currently representing the Scottish Socialist Party at the anti-G20 protest in Hamburg. Here is his report posted on the SSP blog. (https://scottishsocialistparty.org/no-g20-no-uk-scotland-goes-hamburg/)

 

NO G20, NO UK – SCOTLAND GOES TO HAMBURG

 

The Scottish Socialist Party is proudly supporting and participating in the massive mobilisation against the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany this weekend.

Thousands of people from outwith Germany – a handful of SSP members among them – have responded to the call of Hamburg-based organisers for a bold, broad and borderless display of resistance to the latest international demagogues convention.

SUMMIT OF REPRESSION

When the likes of May, Trump, Putin and Erdoğan meet in Hamburg, they will be a stone’s throw from the city’s traditionally autonomist and progressive Sternschanze and St Pauli districts, where locals view the imposition of the summit as provocative, undemocratic and violent. Continue reading “NO G20, NO UK – SCOTLAND GOES TO HAMBURG”

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