West, hegemonic class and workers

Two days ago, Anthony Fauci, the US top infectious diseases doctor told the US Senate that reopening too soon will lead to ‘needless suffering and death’ for a country that has already lost over 80,000 to CONVID-19 pandemic.

The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also pointed out that several countries that have lifted coronavirus restrictions and reopened businesses have seen jumps in coronavirus cases.

But despite not meeting the four critical conditions set by National Coronavirus Response report, over 40 states in the US are now set to open their states to business.

Britain with 32,065 deaths, and France and Spain, two of the hardest pandemic-hit countries in Europe are also set to lift the corona virus lockdown this week.

Donald Trump who has been encouraging demonstrations in order to force state governors to loosen the coronavirus lockdown and restart the economy had told his supporters back in March: “Our country…is not built to shut down”.

Apparently, President Trump as representative of the hegemonic class, the owners of America would not mind sacrificing about 200,000 people so that the economy can pick to satisfy those who put him power. The workers on their part have realized how vulnerable they are.

Most of them who live a false life cruising around in beautiful cars because they do white collar jobs live on credit. Just three weeks after lockdown, they were on the streets queuing up for food. With their loss of self- esteem, some are probably ready to die on their feet providing for their families.

Unlike Africa, where with our superior social organisation, we are our brothers’ keepers and whereas Hillary Clinton puts it – “it takes a village to raise a child”, the West is governed by law of nature. If you are strong you survive and if you are weak you die.

Influenced by their hostile environment where life was brutish, nasty and short, Hobbes through reasoning believes the fundamental law of nature is that “man is forbidden to do that which is destructive of his life or taken away the means of preserving the same” and John Locke insists law of nature “grants to all persons access to the earth and its fruit to their sustenance”. But these are mere appeals to man’s conscience.

Under law of nature, it is the survival of the fittest. This perhaps explains why the forbearers of the people of the west were often driven by greed.

Some centuries back, they escaped this hostile environment to search for food, gold and glory in Africa. In Africa they found paradise. Then out of greed because their tomorrow was not certain, they wanted more.

Slavery through which Africa was first integrated into the world economy became the new economic model. Through this, about 12.8 million Africans were shipped across the Atlantic over a span of 400 years.

With Europe in firm control of capital so unfairly accumulated through the sweat and blood of others, we were told capitalism with its laws of demand and supply must be worshipped.

Then with the punishing depression accompanied by massive unemployment after the Second World War, demand and supply gave way to a new god.

And John Maynard Keynes, a British economics model builder was on hand to provide theoretical support for government intervention through public enterprises in order to pave way for massive employment with his ‘General theory of Employment, Interest and Money’ .

The logic was simple.: Since “businesses will not employ workers to produce goods that cannot be sold”, government can produce workers who will have purchasing power to buy goods produced by business.

The objective dear compatriots, was not to change the status-quo between employer-owners of business and labourers but to have a ready pool of workers and consumers.

Having created massive consumers, public enterprises model became a rejected god. The governments put in place by the hegemonic powers in US and Britain, Republicans Ronald Reagan and Tory’s Margaret Thatcher were mandated by those who put them in power to divest and sell government shares back to business , the real owners of society.

Then globalization became the new god they insist we all must worship. The new economic model insists we are all equal.

But a cattle farmer in Europe and America gets government subsidy of $2 a day for a head of cattle whereas 75% of Africans live on less than two dollars a day. For Africans, the difference between slave trade and globalization is that of paradigm.

But even in Europe and America, globalization brought nothing but disillusionment to the average labourer or serf which all workers are.

In the US, a graduate refunds his or $75,000 loan he borrowed to acquire a university degree for some 15 years after graduation. In Britain less than 60% actually bothered to obtain a university degree because of cost especially since the collapse of Labour government.

With 25 million filing for stimulus support as a result of COVID-19 America is today in a worse situation than the 1930 great depression.

Britain, France, Spain and Italy share the same fate. But as it is often the case, the poor workers will bear the brunt. Those who survive COVID -19 scourge will remain workers and consumers.

US and Europe as it is now apparent, are prepared to sacrifice many more workers to keep the economy going. As for the owners of society, the state will not allow them to sink.

Apart from the bulk of the Trump’s stimulus package going to big businesses, Trump is also considering a reduction in the capital gains tax rate and measures that would allow companies to deduct the full costs of their current investment.

The first $2.2 trillion stimulus package aims to help individuals who will receive a pay cheque of up to $1200 and bail out small businesses.

It was followed by a $484 billion package which would provide $320 billion to allow the PPP to take new applicants for the program, which provides forgivable loans to small business that keep employees on the payroll for eight weeks.

The measure includes $60 billion in loans and grants for a separate Economic Injury Disaster Loan programme, and makes farms and ranches eligible for the loans.

Also, there is $75 billion for hospitals, with a significant portion aimed at those in rural areas and $25 billion for virus testing. All these efforts are aimed at creating consumers.

Trump’s approach is in line with those of his predecessors. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies (1933-1939) put people back to work to create a class of consumers.

But deal was also about saving capitalism and restoring faith in the American economic system. Ronald Reagan used the 1980 recession to damage the unions and celebrate capitalism.

George Bush, through the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, authorized the U.S. Treasury to buy risky and nonperforming debt from various lending institutions with $700 billion.

In January 2009, Obama’s $350 billion bailout with no string attached went to the banks placing the burden of the financial crisis on borrowers.

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