Red and Black Telly roundup.

Red and Black Telly roundup.

Red and Black Telly roundup.

Red and Black Telly roundup.

We are not all in this together!

Anarchist Communist Group.

In crisis situations, the Queen, government, big business and the media push the idea that the nation is united to fight a common enemy, in this case a killer virus. Sir Keir Starmer, the new Labour Party leader, is “refusing to rule out” a government of national unity. However, as in times of war, divisions and inequalities in society become if anything more apparent. The same is true now with Covid-19. Though in theory anyone can succumb to the virus, as we have seen with Prince Charles and Boris Johnson, the chances of actually being infected and surviving it are not equal.

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Four from Red And Black Telly.

Second thoughts on the corona virus pandemic, from the south of England. By Mal Content.

RIP Manu Dibango.

Things have moved on apace since my last article, though the sum of human knowledge on the SARS-2 organism and its Covid-19 syndrome has not. There remains no scientific consensus on the best way to mitigate it, or the likely outcome. This piece will necessarily be speculative, take it or leave it, as ever.

You will find dissenters who refuse to accept the infection as a ‘global pandemic’, based on the statistics, notably Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing, and a few independent epidemiologists. I’ve no grounding in epidemiology, medicine or mathematical modelling, so I will swerve this issue*, and for the sake of argument assume that it is what the WHO after much cajoling from their political sponsors, accepted it to be.

* But if that’s your thing, do your own research and draw your own conclusions.

What is patently obvious to all, though, is that politicians whose sole interest and aptitude is for the stewardship of capital accumulation have nothing to contribute in the way of response. The extent to which the NHS has been turned into a supermarket was revealed, when, like the supermarkets, it ran out of everything important. Universal credit, which was broken already, has exploded under the pressure of mass unemployment. As commercial activity has for the most part ground to a halt they have moved in more or less blatant ways to protect the hierarchy it would normally support.

Beyond the list of businesses that have been instructed to cease trading, the definition of “essential work” has been left up to the bourgeoisie*, with an invitation to re-write employment contracts to suit themselves. It’s mostly leisure that has taken a crap; hospitality, sports and entertainment, comprising some of the lowest and highest paid workers of all. Maybe there will be some levelling as the relative value of human activity is re-assessed: delivering babies versus scoring goals, driving a fork-lift versus advertising.

* Bailiffs, debt collectors, demolition …

The bosses’ problem of course, is to balance their vested interest with a fiction of cross-class unity. This has thrown up a few glaring anomalies and some more subtle ones. However clueless the government are about public service and logistics, they are well-versed in Orwellian or perhaps Kitsonian psychological operations. Language is carefully manicured and new words have appeared: “lockdown”, “social distancing” and “furlough” having no precedent or prior legal status leave plenty of room for flexibility of definition.

Medical- and scientific- has given way to government- advice. Words like “instructions”, even “orders” are bandied about by the chattering classes reduced to excruciating virtue-signalling and ferocious government cocksucking. Feigned interest in the condition of the British prime minister, one Alexander Boris de Pfeffle Johnson, a nasty bigoted toff who acquired the office through a series of bizarre flukes, and the virus by ignoring his own advice, has been taken up by the public service broadcaster alongside the s*n newspaper. The demise of this loathsome etonian could only be a glimmer of cheer to the beleaguered NHS worker. A legendary hypocrite, on his discharge from hospital the toff thumbed his nose at us by going to his country house rather than his primary residence.

Now if you really intended people to act responsibly this is the last thing you’d do. No-one wants to be on the same side as a tory government unless they belong to the tiny minority it serves, and there’s less than a one in four chance they voted for it as their least worst option. In the most bizarre turnaround imaginable the tories urge us to follow their advice to “protect the NHS”, the very institution they have been trying to abolish for forty years. No one should be under any illusion that their control measures are informed by epidemiology, they are simply to cover for the inadequacy of public health provision left by their neoliberal austerity policies. If the hospitals had been adequately resourced and staffed as in my youth, they would be neither necessary nor desirable.

“One sad conclusion of the confused, fragmented, and variable response of the NHS to COVID-19 is that … we do not have a National Health Service at all.”

– Professor Richard Horton

Editor in Chief, The Lancet, April 1st 2020

We like to think of “our” NHS, but although it was modelled on the self-help mechanisms once common in Working Class communities, it has never been fully socialised. Bevan’s compromise with the medical establishment required a great deal of legislation and government investment, so it fell prey to the philosophy of 20th Century corporatism, which to many of our class seemed perfectly natural after a World War in which they had all been employed by the government. In a way we got the worst of both worlds, a top-down corporation modelled on bourgeois enterprises, ripe for selling off, and an arm of the state under control of the executive. That made it the plaything of the ruling class, a rope to pull with us on the other end. The information you read on the NHS website will have been written under the direction of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in this case a person with no relevant qualifications whatsoever. It’s therefore easy to confuse medical advice with public policy. On the one hand, the aggregate best guess of clinicians and academics, themselves selected by the government of the day, and on the other, measures taken by the executive to further their own agenda. Remember when all’s said and done, what’s good for them is bad for us and vice versa.

Opportunistically attacking civil liberties is always a plus for a ruling elite, and where they are so patently and visibly out of their depth, some people, the ones who postulate benign governance, would rather they went too far than did nothing. It is the dream of totalitarians to make us afraid of each other, are we in danger of becoming afraid of ourselves? This morning I passed a very frail-looking elderly person struggling with a heavy shopping bag. I would usually offer them a lift, but I’ve no way of making a risk assessment, I could be signing their death warrant if the government hasn’t already.

None of them have the faintest idea what they’re about, but more important than controlling the infection is controlling the people. The purpose of the money economy, besides maintaining hierarchy, is to have the majority of Working Class people engaged in prescribed tasks whether mostly futile waged labour or “looking for” work. “social distancing” is a gift to the faltering state. With so many idle, it would be better to keep them indoors in overcrowded unhealthy conditions than leave them to their own devices. Above all, they must be discouraged from thinking for themselves. Fear is their weapon of last resort; does it strike anyone as odd that the UK, unlike most countries does not publish recovery figures? Last week it stood at 135 – is that credible?

“We’re all in it together” it seems indecently soon to rehabilitate Cameron’s disgraced phrase from the ruling class’ last fuck-up, and of course we aren’t. In the sense that the rich can catch it too, and were instrumental in bringing it to Europe with their profligate travelling, it might appear to be class-neutral, but there is no comparison between the experience of rich and poor, whether as patients or collateral damage. They keep giving themselves away; the minister referred to “our businesses” in case we’d forgotten which class he speaks for. Exhortations not to take advantage of the bank holiday weather were another blatant class swipe. A bank holiday means fuck all to those ‘working’ from home, this was aimed at the drivers, shop workers, warehouse staff, building workers, who still can’t escape their contracts.

Purveyors of fictitious capital have raked in billions short selling the stock market, they can’t lose because they don’t depend on commodity exchange. It isn’t the fruits of your past labour they’re trading but your future efforts, to validate whatever money they create.

The super-rich, notably the big-eared heir to the throne and his partner, fled to their second homes to put pressure on depleted rural services. They will have been accompanied by a retinue of flunkeys and armed filth, these bastards never go anywhere on their own. The unwelcome guests have been met with hostility from rural communities and even the government is embarrassed. That will be the reason for the injunction against driving to a place of outdoor exercise. The suggestion that it is safer to run or cycle to the park than drive is too stupid for words, and privileges the able-bodied. In fact the medical profession has had nothing to say about driving.

The middle classes, i.e. people who do nothing of any importance: advertising, selling, counting the money, managing the folk still working, politicians and so on, are ‘working’ from home. The media especially flaunt this privilege and simper about the sacrifices they’re making, having to spend time with their children etc. (check out Radio 4) and share tips on how to set up their home offices using high tech kit delivered by precarious drivers, so they can sit on their arses doing fuck all without hurting their backs. They point their fingers at anyone they suspect of enjoying themselves, sitting in the park rather than jogging, and you can understand their pain; their pension fund is down 30%, their house price has dropped, their new car’s worth fuck all and their skiing holiday has been cancelled, so won’t you please join them in looking glum?

Meanwhile the workers who maintain the infrastructure on minimum wage and zero-hours run the gauntlet of reduced public transport, jammed in like sardines. Fourteen London transport workers and one from the midlands have perished at time of writing; I’ve been told of another who should be covered by the shielding programme owing to a pre-existing medical condition but was refused sick pay and had to return to work. In New York, the disease is disproportionately affecting African Americans who work for the city and don’t have the luxury of staying at home. In Gaza, Europe’s refugee camps and most African cities social distancing is a pipedream.

After a sweeping statement on shielding the most vulnerable, it transpired the plan had not been thought through at all, Croydon Council managed to deliver only fifteen food parcels in one week, while autonomous groups such as Norwood Community Kitchen have produced hundreds. We hear of an elderly man who crashed his car after ten days without food, when he had to go outside for the medication without which he will die anyway. They promised to bring all the homeless indoors, but they have not.

Some disabled and chronically sick workers have been bluntly told they will not be treated if they get it. Remember the debate about assisted dying and the concern that elderly patients might be pressured by selfish relatives into easing their burden? Well now it’s the council pressuring care home residents to sign “do not resuscitate” agreements.

Every petty bureaucrat and jobsworth with a need to justify their existence has produced a set of rules then torn them up the next day, every time you go to the shops you’ll find it’s all changed since the last time. The pigs are misbehaving, swaggering around, breaking their own rules, ordering people about (which is what they join for) and making berks of themselves on twitter. Inevitably they will use any new power as a stick with which to beat ethnic minorities, the homeless, trans people and sex-workers.

We may never eradicate the virus but we must eradicate the bourgeoisie and their lackeys, let’s not go back to work, let’s turn this into an expropriatory General Strike, make rent and mortgage strikes permanent, let us decide what is produced and what we do with it.

I don’t like metaphysics at all but if one could imagine ma nature striking back against a feckless humanity it might look something like this. I believe the mediaeval plague resulted from a Papal Bull requiring the extermination of the domestic cat, causing the rat population to explode. Insofar as this plague was caused and exacerbated by reprehensible conduct: trapping wildlife and selling it for food, flying around the globe to no good purpose, overcrowded living and inadequate public healthcare it could be taken as an admonishment. I’ve yet to see figures for the improvement in air quality or reduction in CO2 emissions. Economic de-growth has been predicted between 13 and 32% this year, and will in the long run save thousands of lives, but only if we refuse a return to business as usual.

For now, spare a though for your favourite DIY musician (not bloody U2!) Without gigging and busking their only income will be from online sales or downloads, so buy a CD or T shirt or something if you can.


Martin watched it so you don’t have to.