The coronavirus pandemic has infected hundreds of thousands and taken the lives of thousands. Most scientific and medical experts warn that the situation is bound to get far worse, with millions likely to lose their lives globally. This crisis has demonstrated both the utter ineptitude of the capitalist system to handle a health crisis of this proportion, and the heroic efforts of health workers, scientists, teachers, firefighters and many others, often volunteers, who risk their own lives, working long hours to contain and fight the virus.
The collapse on the world’s stock exchanges on 9 March was the largest since the beginning of the global capitalist crisis in 2008. The fall on the US stock market at opening time was so severe that it led to a technical trade stoppage after just five minutes.
There are shortages in many countries of basic medical provisions such as gowns, gloves and proper facial masks. New publicly owned entities need to be established under democratic control to fast-track production of such supplies and life-saving equipment such as ventilators. The disastrous market-driven cuts in hospital funding need to be reversed, by mass struggle led by trade unions and workers’ political organisations. The labour movement and the left internationally must rise to this challenge — the coronavirus shows us that the world is not safe in the hands of capitalism and its politicians.
The role of socialists is to continue to demonstrate the inability of capitalism to overcome its contradictions or provide a decent future for the vast majority of people. This must be linked to demonstrating the necessity for a socialist transformation of society by the working-class. The Congress also highlighted important successes won by sections and supporters of ISA, including the re-election of Kshama Sawant to Seattle Seattle council, defeating the corporate campaign to unseat her which received donations of $4.5million from big business.