Survival of the Richest

Maxime Rigoulay attacks the criminal negligence of Boris Johnson’s Tory Government in responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic and argues we must take the opportunity build working class resistance.

Maxime Rigoulay, is a member of the YCL in Brighton

“when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live – forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence – knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.” Condition of the Working Class in England, by Fredrich Engels, 1845

Boris Johnson’s Tory government has shown extraordinary levels of negligence in their response to the COVID-19 crisis. This negligence has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of working people – it amounts to what Engels termed “social murder.”

The measures taken by the Tories have been inadequate to put it lightly and catastrophically destructive for the NHS, its workers, front line workers, the elderly, renters and the poor.

Boris Johnson and his government are now driving to ease the poor excuse of a lockdown. The so-called lockdown has already witnessed significant gatherings of people outside of their homes, non-essential workers continuing to go to work without protections or financial support and people leaving their homes to enjoy the weather. It is evident that the government has been continuing its herd immunity strategy, one which has caused the country to have the highest death rate in Europe with over 60,000 now estimated to have died.

To the horror of countries who experienced earlier outbreaks, such as Italy, our government continues to ignore advice and to toy with policies inspired by Social Darwinism; a form of eugenics. Those who are most vulnerable are being sent to their deaths, for the short-sighted gains and profits of the capitalist class.

“Survival of the fittest” is their undisclosed mantra.

The fittest can be understood as those in society who possess the wealth, power, property and privilege. We need look no further at the government’s attempt to revive the economy against the warnings set out by scientists, health experts, doctors, nurses and trade unions.

The irony of all this is that the Tories’ rush to, “get things back to normal”, will inevitably   cause yet more needless deaths and infections, allowing the virus to spread further, which will require the return of a stricter lockdown in future and put our already strained NHS into deepening crisis. The survival of the fittest is in fact the survival of the richest.

Countries that have managed to contain the virus such as China and Vietnam, understood that it was necessary to follow the guidance of the WHO, strategically planning their economies to the benefit of the people, not the capitalist class. Testing was widespread and the lockdowns strictly enforced. Why have we ignored the evidence? Why haven’t we followed those that have led by example? Andfor what reason are we now beginning to relax the few insufficient lockdown measures the government has reluctantly proposed? 

In typical Tory fashion, the concern has solely been the economic effects on businesses, finance, millionaires, billionaires and landlords, whilst the economic consequences suffered by country’s most vulnerable have been neglected and thus exacerbated. The country was in crisis before the pandemic; poverty and inequality is rampant, homelessness on the rise and our public services gutted from decades of austerity implemented by Tories and New Labour alike.

Now is the time for workers across the country to realise their historic potential, to fight, organise and demand a better future. The Tory government is attempting to shed itself of its responsibility. Putting said responsibility on individuals, when it is direct consequence of their mishandling of the situation, their sluggish response and utter contempt for the lives of working people. We cannot let them get away this this. They deserve our collective damnation.

We cannot allow this government to kill our workers and their families with their dangerously incompetent policies. We must unite and fight for robust protections and an end to capitalist exploitation, as it has been proven to be completely incapable to deal with this crisis. Tenants require rent suspensions, workers financial security, essential workers paid a just wage, and the NHS funded properly.

All must resist the governments’ new measures, as a matter of protecting the lives of the working people of this country. The alternative is allowing the government to be given free rein on what amounts to the social cleansing of the most vulnerable in our society. The “social murder” of the working class.

Maxime Rigoulay

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