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Issue #1915      May 18, 2020


Have you heard the latest buzz word “snapback”? “When you snap back from something, you get over it right away”, according to the dictionary.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters recently that everything would go back to the way it was once the pandemic was over. “There is a snapback to the previous existing arrangements on the other side of this,” he said.

The measures introduced to combat the spread of the virus and compensate business and working people are designed to last for a limited time. There are no structural changes being made which will last beyond the emergency, Morrison told reporters.

The federal government is already softening us up for the time when we return to “normal.” But nothing should go back to normal because normal was not working.

The coronavirus emergency is exposing the dangers created by “small government” as user pays no longer works in the face of mass unemployment, business closures and appalling pressures on a health system deprived of funding in order to bolster the private sector.

But the government and the corporations whose interests it represents intend a return to neo-liberalism as soon as possible. Alternatives such as state regulation are presented as counterproductive and even harmful. There is no alternative to the market, they suggest.

These are the same lies we hear about how to deal with the environmental crisis.

Corporations and the market are portrayed as the best means of responding to the crisis. “Green” products and services, increased “eco-efficiency”, and new technologies, it is proclaimed, will save us from catastrophe.

But to think that we can tackle the climate emergency within capitalism is absurd. The basic, defining imperative of capitalism is economic growth, which necessitates the further destruction of nature. Capitalism is an unsustainable system.

We are probably witnessing capitalism’s final crisis. We must be sure, however, that it is not also the final crisis of human society on this planet.

The truth is that only a profound change in the way we organise our economy and society will save the world from destruction.

As Naomi Klein points out: “If there is one thing history teaches us, it’s that moments of shock are profoundly volatile. We either lose a whole lot of ground, get fleeced by elites and pay the price for decades, or we win progressive victories that seemed impossible just a few weeks earlier.

“This is no time to lose our nerve. The future will be determined by whoever is willing to fight harder for the ideas they have lying around.”


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