OPINION: The rise of Coronavirus has put a big question mark on the fundamental principle of capitalism – Kola Ibrahim


No doubt, the coronavirus pandemic has shown that human race has the capacity to self-destroy. As against the climate change deniers, Coronavirus pandemic has shown that humans, through their activities and workings of the environment can actually edge toward apocalypse. Indeed, one of the possible culprits for the pandemic is climate change, which has causes drastic changes in weather and temperature.

For instance, many hitherto inactive organisms and microorganisms may have been pushed to activity by change in temperature and climate conditions. Many active organisms and microorganisms that used to ensure a balance in the eco-system may have been affected by climate change. Also, given the fact that China is one of the epicenters of unbridled industrial activities, especially as regards industrial waste, greenhouse gases, exploitation of nature, production of synthetics (you can get any synthetic product from China these days), among others, industrial and human activities may be a cause, or a contributory factor for the rise of the pandemic.

It should be noted in the last 20 years, the world has witnessed increasing rate of trans-national and strange diseases. Even if the Coronavirus is not caused or affected by climate change, it points to a greater calamity climate change holds for mankind, given its extensive effects. The deduction from this is that, beyond looking for curative drugs and vaccines, we need to review our activities, especially as regards unbridled exploitation of nature, unmitigated production and emission of waste; attack on natural eco-system and carefree attitude towards climate catastrophe.

Human race seems are in for an era of continuous epidemics and pandemic. No doubt, capitalism, in its current unbridled form portends major disaster for humanity, given the unprecedented quest for profits at the expense of future survival of humanity. All the so-called solutions offered by capitalist strategists for climate crisis will not safe humanity unless the principle of individualism and profit-maximization that drive capitalism is put to an end. Until humanity, rather than profit, becomes the centerpiece of production, distribution, policy formulation and exchange, all solutions to climate crisis will end in fiasco.

This is not a doomsday prophesy, but a reality from the anarchical production and distribution systems of the capitalist system, the principle of the so-called invisible hand, or the false idea of trickle-down economy. Furthermore, the rise of Coronavirus has put a big question mark on the fundamental principle of capitalism, which is individualism.

Today, everything, including healthcare and pharmaceutical industry, has been turned into commodity for profit making. And we are told that is how the system can work. Healthcare across the world is being privatized and commercialized. Yet, when pandemic struck, individualism has to collapse into a coordinated national and international responses. Now, many national economies are on the verge of total collapse, while global economy itself is at the edge of another economic crisis, if not a recession. Economies of many working class families are being ruined with capitalist system having no strategy of rescuing them from penury imposed by the attempt to curtail the pandemic.

This is because it will require the state directly intervening in the economy and redirecting social and public resources towards rescuing the majority that will be affected; an action that will impinge on and undermine the profit interests of big businesses and capitalist system. Therefore, only socialism, which is an organized and planned socio-economic system can rescue humanity from the crisis. Global pharmaceutics industry, controlled by capitalist big business, has been unable to play any serious role in the attempt to find a cure, because it is not sure they will make big profits from it.

It is on record that only Cuba, which has a form of planned economy, has been able to provide a tangible succour by sending as much as over 4000 medical personnel to the most affected European countries. Meanwhile, big capitalist countries of North America and Europe have been paralyzed in terms of coordinated and organized response.

In Africa, and especially Nigeria, there is a false sense of relief that the pandemic has not wrought havoc. This is a misplaced orientation. In the first instance, that Africa is less affected is not a product of the seriousness of African governments neither is it a sign that Africans are special creations that can endure the worst disease. It, in fact, shows that Africa is at the periphery of global economy and by extension civilization. One of the inter-national factor for the spread of Coronavirus is international trade and movement. That Africa has not been seriously affected is a sign that she is at the tail end of global trade and business.

Secondly, it is a known fact that Africa is home of many diseases which the world seemed to have conquered, but have become lifelong tenants in Africa, no thanks to chronic underdevelopment, especially of its social services like healthcare, sanitation, education, water supply, etc. Ebola outbreak, which was first discovered in the 1970s, killed thousands in Africa, especially West Africa. Just before Corona virus became a major news, the major headline in Nigeria was on Lassa fever, which has killed hundreds if not thousands since the emergence of civil rule, and has become regular outbreak in the last ten years. Cholera, diarrhea, malaria, measles, etc. are some of the killers of young and old in Nigeria and Africa.

Basic infrastructures for human survival are simply unavailable. This has made Nigeria, nay Africa, to become one of the worst and most dangerous places to be born. In fact, if the pandemic should rise beyond the current level in Nigeria, the country is at a greater risk than even the worst hit European countries, given our anarchical and backward living conditions.

Through Coronavirus, the failure of the Buhari/APC government and its clones in states will now be glaring as the economy begins to unravel as a result of fall in crude oil price by at least 50 percent in the last few months. The common excuse of the Buhari government over failing economic policies is the corrupt and wasteful Jonathan government. For at least one and half years in the almost five years of Buhari administration, crude oil sold more than budgeted prices.

At the same time, the debt profile of the country grew by more than 80 percent while the excess crude account has been exhausted. Nigeria is at the verge of another naira devaluation as a result of inability of the foreign reserve to sustain import for long, given the lower forex receipt from oil sale. Yet, there is very little to show for the trillions purportedly spent on infrastructure and the economy. Five years on, the so-called diversification has been elusive, as industrial growth is still at abysmal and anemic level. Even the agricultural sector which the government claimed to have propped up with hundreds of billions of naira remain in rudimentary state. The so-called rice revolution has failed on its face value as foreign rice seemed to have flooded the country after the failure of the local rice initiative.

When oil prices was high, majority of Nigerians are living in penury. Now that the price has fallen, the working and poor people will be made to pay the price, the same way they paid for the last economic recession. The history is now being repeated. What is needed is a coordinated responses from working class platforms especially the trade unions. The labour movement need to shed this rotten attire of social collaboration with the capitalist state and the ruling class; a policy that has worsened the living conditions of working and poor people.

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Kabir Adejumo

Adejumo Kabir is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He is a great researcher with dozens of investigative journalism awards to his name at the national and international level. He loves community journalism and supports all aspects of public enlightenment. He has experience writing well-researched and impactful reports for several online publications. He is the Director of Campus Press Hub and Author of Campus Journalism Beginners' Handbook. He has also been shortlisted for the DAME Awards for his contributions to Journalism

One Comment

  1. Well This Pandemic has quite shown us alot if we are observant some mistakes we shouldnt repeat. Fewer Hospitals More Guns, Less technological equipments in medicine, More mechanized weapons. This is a wake up call indeed .

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