Liberation statement on the Coronavirus
The world is currently in the midst of an unprecedented struggle to overcome the Coronavirus pandemic. The deadly Covid-19 has reached all continents and, as well as its devastating death toll and assault on public health, it has wrought sudden havoc on our normal everyday way of life. Europe and North America have been badly hit and a challenging struggle to stop the spread of the disease continues there. At the same time, while a comprehensive picture of how the world’s developing and under-developed countries are coping with the pandemic is not yet available, one thing is abundantly clear – the people in their millions have been left defenceless and suffering.
The scale and severity of the pandemic has put a strain on the health systems of most countries around the world. This comes at a time when the scale of healthcare coverage and provision in most countries has been significantly curtailed as a direct result of the neoliberal orthodoxies that have held sway since the 1980s, while political interventions, economic blockades and wars have laid waste to communities and societies and thrown millions into poverty and need.
The stark difference between the situation of countries such as China, which managed to contain the spread of the virus, and those experiencing the severity now being witnessed in countries like Italy, Spain, the US and Iran, confronts the world with a stark reality. In confronting disasters such as Covid-19, the only civilised and effective a response is one coordinated by the state, which fully mobilises all its public services and resources and is focused on preserving life and human dignity. Anything short of this, or even denials of the severity of the situation and underreporting, such as have been witnessed in Iran, represent the abandonment of a state’s ultimate duty to its citizens.
Only when a number of countries, including Britain, realised the folly of their ill-advised models of dealing with Covid-19, did they then adopt a new set of political, social and economic priorities to contain the disease. Multibillion-dollar packages of assistance came into being at the stroke of a pen. But even then, big business and the corporations that were first to benefit. The poor and dispossessed were mainly left to fend for themselves with little attention given to their economic and social needs, while the most powerful and wealthy continue to benefit from privileged access to healthcare, or have the means to flee, in a manner unimaginable to most of the population.
Liberation believes that there is a clear lesson for generations to come. The cornerstone of a civilised society in the 21st century has to be a publicly available health service free and accessible at the point of need.
The toll of the crisis on the economy is many times that which governments, through the imposition of neoliberal policies, attempted to cut from the budgets of health and other public services. Not only have their economies been hit hard, but the weaknesses of their healthcare system have been exposed more than ever before. People rightly question the wisdom of dismantling publicly funded health services.
Liberation believes that people everywhere, in the wealthy countries of Europe and North America, as well as the poor and impoverished global South, have to be protected, socially and economically. The jobs and livelihoods of all workers, especially those working under precarious conditions, should be protected. As well as a health response, we need an economic rescue plan for workers and their families. Financial compensation is needed for loss of income. There should be an enforceable and guaranteed solution for those who pay mortgages or rent. Liberation advocates that people in the countries of the third world, including the commonwealth and former colonies, must not be forgotten. They also need support to protect their people and to shore up and improve their health care systems and response.
In addressing the current crisis at the present time and afterwards in the rebuilding of a post CoVID-19 world, international cooperation and solidarity are essential. This has been emphasised by the Secretary General of the United Nations. He is calling for a global ceasefire, a lifting of all economic sanctions and the sharing of knowledge and resources if there is to be any hope of lasting recovery.
Liberation is determined to work in the post Covid-19 period to ensure that the lessons of this crisis are communicated to all political, social and economic players so as to contribute to a safer and socially humane world.