Last Monday (21.12.2020), the Morning Star published an article by Stewart McGill headlined 'Covid-19 and the socialist states' in which he explored the reasons why China, Vietnam, Cuba and the Communist-led Indian state of Kerala, with a combined population of 1.5 billion people [world population:7.8 billion], have lost 7,000 people to COVID-19 but Britain has had over 62,000 deaths, officially. The actual number of virus deaths in Britain will be closer to 80,000 by now (see a number of my previous blog-posts for an explanation - for instance, here). What follows is a precis of Stewart's thought-provoking piece:
|China - the state with the largest population in the world - now the rival to US world hegemony|
Britain has a population 21 times smaller than China, yet it has seen at least 20 times as many cases of COVID-19 and around 13 times as many deaths. The WHO has described China's efforts as 'perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment in history'. The Wuhan epicentre of the viruswas locked down and sealed off. Thousands of military doctors and nurses were sent in, along with medical supplies, food and fuel on a massive scale.
Britain has the natural advantage that China does not have: we are an island state. That asset was wasted. China is a country that is intent on maximizing all the advantages that capitalist economics provides, but within a framework of market regulation and socialist intent.
|Vietnam - with a population around 30 million more than Britain's - the country that defeated the USA|
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has a population of 97 million and has recorded 35 deaths to date. The military were mobilized and their bases converted to mandatory quarantine sites. The largest manufacturing companies were converted to producing PPE and test kits, which are now being exported to the USA. The Vietnamese are justifiably proud of their ability to stand together in a crisis. To them, the supposed trade off between the economy and public health does not make sense. It is a false choice.
|Cuba - the socialist island that the USA has long sought, unsuccessfully, to return to capitalist control|
The Caribbean island of Cuba has a socialist government. It has recorded 136 deaths from COVID-19 in a population of 11.3 million. Britain's death rate from COVID-19 is about 76 times worse. Cuba has the highest doctor-to-patient ratio in the world. Its universal healthcare system has allowed the government to direct a unified rather than a fragmented strategy, with tracing and isolation prioritized.
|The south Indian state of Kerala|
Kerala is a south Indian state, whose communist-led Left Front government was re-elected this month. It has a dense population and high levels of regular immigration - a recipe for the exponential spread of the coronavirus that has been evident in the rest of India. However, the death rate in Kerala has been kept to 0.37 per cent, far less than the Indian national average of 1.37 per cent. The British Medical Journal (BMJ) has summed up Kerala's efforts as 'a proactive and timely approach within the basics of quarantine, infection prevention and control with the highest political and administrative commitment ... together with active community participation.'
The last two paragraphs of Stewart's article say so much about why I think we are being misgoverned and why I am proud to be identified as a socialist:
'In (these) socialist countries the virus response has not been about increasing the profitability of the government's network of private-sector contracts....(In Britain) money that could have saved lives and fed hungry children has been diverted into corporate profits ... and the creation of a centralized unaccountable bureaucracy.'
'Maybe some of the restrictions and controls imposed by the four states would have been difficult to enforce in the West [however, remember the success of New Zealand in stopping the coronavirus in its tracks!] - but their overall response has been characterized by much more than authoritarian fiat. it can be summarized as the collective harnessing of resources in a coherent manner aimed at achieving outcomes that maximized the common good with the priority of protecting the most vulnerable, in short: socialism.'
I hope you find lots of food for thought in this blog-post.