U.S. and World Politics

How to Fight COVID-19 and Fascism

By Bonnie Weinstein

Workers all over the world are suffering needlessly from massive unemployment, racism, sexism, vast economic inequality and an environmental crisis due to capitalist production methods that put profits above everything else. And now, all these crises are compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The private accumulation of obscene amounts of wealth for the tiny few—wealth created by workers who are paid as little as the capitalists can get away with while keeping all the profits for themselves—is endemic to capitalism. The quest for more and increasing rates of profits are the cause of all the crisis humanity faces today—from poverty to war and environmental destruction.

The competitive nature of capitalist economics inhibits progress

The pharmaceutical companies are in fierce competition for the massive profits to be gained by selling their own COVID-19 vaccine—or any of the medications or treatments they happen to produce. These privately-owned corporations’ modus operandi is to keep secrets from one another.

Logically, cooperating with each other and freely sharing research and information would be the most expedient way to go. But for their “bottom line,” being the first on the market and producing the most in the shortest amount of time pays off in the billions. This is why they have been so inept at providing personal protective equipment, developing and distributing the vaccines, finding a cure for COVID-19—or cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

What we are up against

In addition to the pandemic, we are experiencing deaths from murderous storms from deep freezes to deadly heatwaves, melting glaciers and dams breaking and washing away everything in their path—all due to global warming caused by careless capitalist production.

Oil spills, toxic pollution, poisonous and contaminated food production are a daily occurrence. Our infrastructure is collapsing due to governmental dereliction, and on a world scale, the destruction brought about by never-ending war waged across the globe by the U.S. and U.S.-supported allies.

Homelessness, poverty and food insecurity are everywhere. There is a worldwide crisis in public education and healthcare. Public education has all but been dismantled during this pandemic.

How capitalism stands in the way

Capitalist production is based upon the profit motive—production for profit for the few—not for the needs and wants of humanity and life on the planet.

Capitalism is a highly inefficient system because the profit motive overrides considerations of health, safety and durability of products and the safety of how they are produced both for the environment and for workers.

Capitalists only produce products if they can design them to self-destruct. It’s called “built-in obsolescence.” This means that corporations hire scientists to engineer products that only last a specific amount of time and are very costly to repair, so it’s cheaper to replace them. It is a vastly underestimated cause of the massive amounts of garbage, pollution and wasted natural resources—but a prime source of capitalist profits.

Capitalist production methods are designed for expediency—fast assembly lines, cheap labor and plenty of cheap materials and energy resources. Capitalism has no borders. The world’s cheap labor and resources—no matter which country they are located in—are theirs for the taking.

Law and order

Capitalists need, above all, “law and order” to maintain their power. The capitalists are, after all, only a tiny minority that depends upon having weapons of mass destruction at-the-ready, that could kill hundreds-of-millions of people, if necessary, to the preserve their wealth and power, and to maintain and gain more profits for themselves.

They will resort to anything, including fascism as a last resort. Divide and conquer is the way capitalism rules—and fascism is its ultimate expression.

What is fascism?

Words are important and Adolf Hitler was one who took advantage of the fuzzy, contradictory use of the word “socialist” and those calling themselves “Social Democrats,” i.e., democratic socialists.

But Hitler was not the least interested in socialism just because he named his political party The National Socialist Party (shortened to “Nazi.”) He was aiming for its opposite—a party of a tiny minority—the captains of industry and their financiers.

This very small group financed Hitler’s adventures including the take-over of the workers’ unions, small businesses of all kinds, the German aggression of World War II, and the enslavement and mass murder of Jews, communists, trade-unionists, Roma, homosexuals, and others..

Hitler was not alone. He was preceded by Mussolini, in Italy and followed by Franco, in Spain. Not much later, the capitalists caught on and soon their tin-pot dictators were copying Hitler.

World War II was the end for Hitler but not for fascism.

Big business had long since learned how to use the trappings of bourgeois democracy to disguise their control of society and they have not been forced to take that last resort of a dictatorship of their own. They much prefer to let the little capitalists take the rap in case of trouble.

That is largely what is happening today. The big capitalists are making record profits while restaurants close, workers are laid off in huge numbers and can’t pay their rent or mortgages, landlords can’t collect rents, hardware stores are empty, and nobody is painting their houses. But all the while, the two-party system of bourgeois democracy will vote for some minimal relief measures and pretend that prosperity is just around the corner.

The capitalists will not give up the two-party system which has proven so useful for the years since the Civil War. Until the ruling class faces bankruptcy, until his wealth is threatened by an angry working class—then and only then will fascism bubble to the surface.

The myth of good capitalists and bad capitalists

Of course, the capitalist class prefers to choose the path of least resistance by creating the myth that there are “good capitalists” and “bad capitalists” and that we workers can benefit, in the long run, by partnering with the “good capitalists” to get some of those breadcrumbs they promise to hand out if we support and fund them.

Labor unions in this country donate tens-of-millions-of-dollars to the Democratic Party—money from our union dues!

And, in order to guarantee their control over the wealth workers produce, both capitalist parties give full support to the police and the military.

Fascism, backed by the military and police, are capitalism’s “ace in the hole.” And they will use fascism and war to maintain their power at any cost if workers don’t recognize that it’s the system of capitalism itself that is the problem and at the root of war and fascism.

To defeat fascism, the working class must unite and organize to disarm the fascists and their capitalist generals, end capitalism, and build a socialist society based upon production for need and want—not profit.

It will take an organized, independent, working class movement to confront and defeat fascism when the capitalist class decides it has become a necessary tool to their continued dictatorship over the working class.

What next for organized labor?

Organized labor has put all their eggs into the basket of “partnership” with liberal capitalists. Here in the U.S. that means partnership with, and support to, the Democratic Party. The organized labor leadership here in the U.S. overwhelmingly supported a vote for Biden over Trump.

Biden won, and we are still waiting for a COVID-19 stimulus relief package—a piddling $1400 if we’re lucky, while, already this year the billionaires raked in extra billions in profits in a few short months.

And now the Democrats have the majority in both the House and the Senate, yet they still won’t pass the kind of relief that’s so desperately and urgently needed because of this pandemic!

Organized labor must join together now to demand the kind of relief package that workers really need—and not just a “relief package”—but a real living wage, universal healthcare, comfortable housing, food security, all of which are basic human rights. This is the kind of struggle that will unite the working class into the power we need to end the threat of war and fascism and realize our common goals.

How to win social and economic equality and defeat the rise of fascism

Capitalist economic inequality and injustice fuels divisions among workers. It encourages scapegoating, racism, sexism—bigotry of all kinds—because that weakens and discourages unity, understanding and solidarity between the masses who so vastly outnumber the capitalist class.

A movement strong enough to defeat fascism must be based upon, and organized by, the whole labor movement acting in unity and solidarity, and independently of, and in direct opposition, to the capitalist class in a working-class struggle for liberty, equality and justice for all.

What to do first

The U.S. labor movement is in an ideal position to launch a massive campaign for COVID-19 relief to last until the pandemic is over. The health and safety of the masses of workers should be their prime concern now.

At the very least the labor movement could form a united front to demand that the military budget be turned into a vast COVID-19 relief budget. That would provide plenty of money to permanently forgive rent, mortgage, utility, education, healthcare and credit payments, to provide unemployment benefits equaling full pay, provide housing, food and healthcare—and all other basic necessities—for as long as the pandemic continues.

Tens-of-millions of workers are set to become homeless. There are no good-paying jobs to be had and parents—especially single parents—have no childcare making them unable to work even if there were jobs.

Testing and vaccines are still not available to most people not to speak of the vast lack of healthcare across the country in general.

The police are still murdering mostly people of color on a daily basis. This has not stopped and will not stop until we stop it!

These are the gripping issues of the day and rallying around these issues now will resonate with all working people.

The current organized labor leadership is locked into partnership with the Democratic Party. This “partnership” has resulted in the decimation of organized labor over the years to a fraction of what it was.

Labor blueprint for the future

Launching an organized labor campaign for COVID-19 relief could lead the working class to victory not only for pandemic relief, but would serve as a blueprint for how to win a world that will support a thriving, plentiful, peaceful, cooperative and just society in the interests of all.

Workers need an independent, democratically structured, party of our own that will fight in the interests of the entire working class in direct opposition to capitalists and the parties that represent them.

Through a democratic and united labor struggle for pandemic relief, we can show the real strength and power the working class has to change the world for the benefit of all and to transform the economic structure of society to serve the needs of humanity and the planet, not the private profits of the few.

Fully organized and working together for immediate and vitally necessary demands during this pandemic can lead to a new, independent, democratically organized, working-class party with a program and strategy for achieving socialism, and deliver a death blow to war, exploitation and fascism forever.