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Issue #1910      April 6, 2020



Bob Dylan once sang those words above, expressing the discontent of the youth against an establishment that was sending thousands of them off into war. Now, discontent is swelling again as the Coronavirus cripples the economy, causing thousands to lose their jobs, without much security.

Human history is littered with moments that have served as catalysts for monumental upheavals of our society. The 21st century has already experienced one of those moments in 9/11. The attack on the twin towers saw a ramping up in national security protocols around the world. The US passed the USA PATRIOT Act, and Australia introduced a barrage of national security changes such as granting state police the ability to search without a warrant and giving ASIO the ability to interrogate non-suspects for up to twenty-four hours and detain them for up to seven days. However, not all responses led to reactionary developments. A massive anti-war movement grew as the West entered into a war with Iraq. We saw similar sentiments arise after the global financial crisis with Occupy Wall Street.

The success and failures of those movements are outside of the scope of this editorial. However, what is almost certain is that the COVID-19 pandemic will constitute another shift in human history. In some respects, it already has. Many people, some for the first time, are questioning or reassessing the strength and merits of capitalism. And this wouldn’t be the first time in our history this has happened. It is not a coincidence that after the Great Depression and World War II that our party saw its membership skyrocket. People, particularly in the West, are seeing the dangerous outcomes of capitalism for the first time.

As communists, we need to seize this opportunity in two ways. The first is to make sure the government does not use this as an opportunity to pass reactionary legislation. We must ensure that we remain vigilant against government policies that hurt the working-class. Moments of crisis in capitalism will bring out its most fascistic (if not outright fascism) tendencies, and we cannot allow this to happen. Videos have already surfaced of police in full riot gear appearing at people’s doorsteps interrogating them about where they have been because of COVID-19. We must at all times, keep the government in check, during and after the pandemic.

The second way we must seize this opportunity is by promoting the merits of socialism at every turn. We have seen how China, Vietnam, and Cuba have all dealt with the pandemic in their own countries. These countries are in a stage of recovery not seen anywhere else in the world because socialist economies are built to serve the working class, not bourgeoisie. Not only are these countries experiencing recovery rates unseen anywhere else, but they are also doing their part to stop COVID-19 internationally. For example, China and Cuba have sent doctors, medical experts, and medical supplies to Italy, where the pandemic is arguably at its worst.

We do not know how exactly the world will look once we come out of this pandemic, but if history is any guide, a shift in the political consciousness of the masses will take place. As communists, we must be there with the working class showing the way forward, fighting against any bourgeois narrative that will attempt to detract from capitalism’s failures. Karl Marx famously opened The Communist Manifesto with the words “A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism” and across the world that spectre is haunting again. The capitalist class is spooked, and like an Ebenezer Scrooge is trying to right the wrongs it has committed against the proletariat. But don’t be fooled! Capitalism cannot change its stripes; the temporary relief measures are designed only to save itself. We must strive to raise the working class’ consciousness if we are ever to see socialism in Australia. Let’s not let the political opportunity that this pandemic has created slip us by!


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