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To contain the pandemic in solidarity throughout Europe

by V Kreilinger, W Wolf and C Zeller Sunday, Sep. 19, 2021 at 9:12 AM

In the fall of 2020, governments did the wrong thing. Although the infections were already increasing exponentially, they deliberately did not intervene or did not intervene sufficiently and weighed people in safety. It was not until November that they acted again, increasingly hasty and authoritarian.

To contain the pandemic in solidarity throughout Europe.

Twelve Theses from Verena Kreilinger, Winfried Wolf and Christian Zeller

[These theses published in Sept 2021 are translated from the German on the Internet,]

1 Out of control

In early 2021, just over a year after the sars-CoV-2 virus was first identified, the epidemic in large parts of the world, particularly in the US, Latin America and Europe, has largely spiraled out of control with the second wave. Although mass vaccinations have now begun, the number of people dying with coronavirus infection is rising dramatically. The mutations of the virus are piling up. The virus variant B117 has a much higher transmissibility and multiplies rapidly. In February 2021, a year after the epidemic arrived in the West, the number of 2.2 million corona deaths will be reached.

A central statement in this paper – as previously in our book "Corona, Capital, Crisis" – is: This development was foreseeable. The responsibility for this lies with the rulers and the ruling circles that support these governments.

2 In three phases of the epidemic, governments have decided

to accept an additional tens of thousands of deaths During this pandemic, European governments and the EU have made a special decision against protecting people's health in three periods: First, in the first ten weeks of 2020, when all those responsible downplayed the epidemic: The virus has been latently racially dismissed as a Chinese issue. No protective measures have been taken. The door was opened to the spread of the epidemic. Then in the months of May to August 2020, when there was some containment of the epidemic after a first lockdown: This period of declining or stagnating infection numbers was not used to continue containment. Instead, there was a race for easing – with the fatal consequences that have been observed since September 2020. In the fall of 2020, governments did the wrong thing. Although the infections were already increasing exponentially, they deliberately did not intervene or did not intervene sufficiently and weighed people in safety. It was not until November that they acted again, increasingly hasty and authoritarian.

3 More than a dozen countries

at the beginning of 2021 show that a different policy was possible, 72 percent of the 1.8 million corona deaths will be in the US, Latin America and EU regions. However, only 18 percent of the world's population lives in these regions. It is necessary to examine what the causes of this unequal distribution are. One thing is certain: there are more than a dozen countries where the epidemic has been largely contained by a mixture of effective lockdowns and a high level of personnel to identify and track the chains of infection, and the number of corona deaths has remained at a fraction of those in the US and Europe. In these countries, a pandemic policy has largely been pursued, as we recommend in Thesis 12.

4 The fatal exclusion of factories and offices

There is an intense debate in Europe, and especially in Germany, about the places of infection and forms of contagion. Above all, the private sector is identified as an essential place of infection. It is striking that the workplace (factories, offices, logistics centers) does not appear in these perspectives and statistics. This fits into the entire containment strategy, in which the restrictions primarily affect individuals and the leisure sector, whereas the area of work – i.e. the production of surplus value and exploitation of human labour power – is excluded, almost becoming a taboo zone in the Corona debate.

5 Tracking the chains of infection requires personnel – but this has been drastically reduced

Identification of infections and tracking chains of infection are crucial for pandemic containment. The institutions responsible for this – the health authorities in Germany and Austria – are neither adequately equipped in terms of personnel nor technology. While these offices were still able to identify a good two-thirds of the infection chains in the first half of 2020, they have been completely overwhelmed by infection since the end of 2020. This takes place largely outside of any control on the part of this crucial authority. This is largely due to the fact that the staff of these offices has been massively reduced in the last 30 years – and that there has been hardly any increase in the number of such offices since the beginning of the corona epidemic.

6 Business interest groups are partly responsible

for the corona policy Those responsible claim to have been taken by surprise by the second wave of the pandemic. This is only partly true – and where this is true, this is evidence of ignorance. Because the warnings of science were long before Corona and since the first months of the pandemic without interruption. In fact, there is another explanation for this policy: the governments in these regions are under the dictates of the capitalist economy. From the very beginning, this pushed to keep the restrictions as low as possible or to loosen them again and again. In this situation, the official corona policy is defined by the fact that there are partial lockdowns when the situation threatens to spiral out of control. As soon as there is a certain decline in infections, the reins are loosened again – until society again comes to the brink of disaster... In fact, this policy secretly pursues the cynical principle of herd immunity. It is irresponsible and primarily oriented towards maximum capital utilization.

7 Corona funds increase social inequality

Governments have invested record sums in the fight against Corona. But most of these funds flowed into the coffers and into the accounts of corporations and banks, the wealthy and wealthy. Those who suffer most from the epidemic (and who are often most affected by it in terms of health) are the homeless, the unemployed, the precariously employed, people on short-time work, small businesses, artists and the migrant population. In fact, the social damage caused by the pandemic is extremely high. But these are not, as the Corona deniers say, the consequences of the restrictions. These damages are so great because politics has not used the Corona taxpayers' money to provide a protective umbrella of solidarity, but has unilaterally favoured the upper class. Never before in human history has there been such a large concentration of wealth in the hands of a few thousand; this process of wealth concentration has accelerated enormously in the Corona year 2020.

8 The corona crisis is deep. It will determine the year 2021 and lead to austerity orgies

Pandemic and crisis intertwine in 2020/2021.In 2020 there was the largest decline in the world economy since 1930. The year 2021 will also be marked by the crisis phenomena. The danger of tens of thousands of bankruptcies and a drastic increase in unemployment persists. The massive increase in debt at all levels and the temporary suspension of the "debt brakes" will lead to the governments ordering social cuts and reductions in real incomes by the end of 2021 at the latest.

9 Trade unions and left-wing parties have failed. They must focus on the health of employees

The trade unions and virtually all left-wing parties have not developed any concepts for the protection of workers and the unemployed, and have made hardly any concrete demands that the rich and wealthy, the corporations and banks, have to pay for epidemic costs. The first task of trade unions is to defend wage earners. In times of epidemics, this means focusing on their health. Trade unions must do everything possible to minimise the risk of infection and to ensure the health of workers and their families. This also means that there must be effective protective measures at the workplaces.

10 Corona deniers pursue social Darwinism – Anyone who puts criticism of the dismantling of democratic rights before health protection is acting inhumanely

Denial of the epidemic is still widespread – despite the massive expansion of the epidemic, despite the sharp increase in the number of corona deaths. These positions are similar to those of climate deniers. At the same time( as in the case of climate denial), they are objectively in harmony with the interests of the capital representatives: as explained in Thesis 6, they have no interest in effectively containing the epidemic. In this respect, it is no coincidence that the reactionary ex-president of the USA Donald Trump and the fascistic Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro denied the epidemic danger for a long time with the same arguments and that almost all interest groups of capital in the epidemic suddenly stand up for democracy and put this in contrast to effective measures against the epidemic.

It is true that democratic rights and the right to strike are in danger if health policy is left to those in power. But these democratic and trade union rights can only be effectively defended if the left and the trade unions themselves develop an effective policy against the epidemic, with particular attention to the lower classes and strata. However, the abstentionism that the trade unions cultivate on this issue tends to drive people into apathy and depoliticization – which is again the breeding ground for right-wing extremism and fascism. Lateral thinking may have originally been composed of different sections of the population. Meanwhile, this movement is dominated by right-wing and fascistic currents.

11 Staring at the vaccine and a mass vaccination campaign is problematic and, in a sense, complements the wrong corona policy

An effective corona vaccine makes sense only as a complement to a policy that comprehensively aims to eliminate the epidemic and its causes. The corona vaccines will not take effect until autumn 2021, even in the rich regions of the world. Worldwide at the earliest in the first half of 2022, but if the virus is left with this period of time, it will cost the lives of hundreds of thousands more people. Above all, the mutations accumulate with the further spread of the virus. If they have a higher infection rate, the epidemic threatens to spread so quickly that the vaccination campaigns can no longer keep up. In addition, as with the less dangerous flu, new vaccines may soon have to be developed and new vaccination campaigns launched. This may be an interesting prospect for vaccine manufacturers, but not for humanity. Immediate measures are needed to effectively contain the virus. This is the only way to greatly minimize the risk of mutations – with the chance of nipping them in the bud again and again.

12 An international, left-wing campaign to contain the epidemic is necessary – and possible

We join the international call for the consistent containment of the Covd-19 pandemic in Europe. The goal must be to reduce infections to a minimum and effectively contain the virus. This requires strict lockdown measures that also cover the area of workplaces, coupled with a massive increase in the number of employees in the health authorities in order to make such identification and tracking possible in the first place. The goal must be: Every single SARS-CoV-2 infection in Europe must be directly traceable. On this basis, it will be possible to return to normal everyday life step by step. This policy must be supplemented by demands that fundamentally question the logic of profit in the health sector and in the pharmaceutical industry. Both sectors must be placed under public control in the future.

Immediate demands are: the suspension of the principle of lump-sum cases in hospitals, the immediate stop of all hospital closures and the production of effective corona vaccines in facilities under public control.

A perspective of solidarity in the times of the pandemic means that the focus is on people, human health, the overwhelming majority of society and its interests and the joint fight against the epidemic. There is no contradiction between health protection and pandemic control on the one hand and the defence of democratic rights and the rule of law on the other. Democracy without health protection is pointless and cynical. Health protection without democracy leads to an authoritarian state. In the given situation, the unity of both is the decisive step towards a society based on solidarity.

A detailed analysis and an emergency program by the authors Verena Kreilinger, Winfried Wolf and Christian Zeller can be found on

Call Zero

Covid : On January 14, a network #ZeroCovid of health care workers, well-known public figures, trade unionists, activists from social movements, solidarity institutions and political organizations launched an appeal in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He calls for a solidary and radical containment of the pandemic, which does not come at the expense of wage earners until all infections can be traced. The call puts the perspective on Zero CoVid at the center of the debate. It follows on from an appeal by natural scientists with a similar thrust. Signatories are welcome.

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