The first post-cold war assault on Russia by the West began in the early 1990s well before the expansion of NATO. It took the form of a U.S.-induced economic depression in Russia that was deeper and more disastrous than the Great Depression that devastated the U.S. in the 1930s. And it came at a time when Russians were naively talking of a “Common European Home” and a common European security structure that would include Russia. The magnitude of this economic catastrophe was spelled out tersely in a recent essay by Paul Krugman who wondered whether many Americans are aware of the enormous disaster it was for Russia. Krugman is quite accurate in describing it - but not in identifying its cause.
In response to COVID-19 and the COVID-19 Depression, workers have developed unique strategies and forms of organization to protect their lives and livelihoods. We saw in “Fighting the Great Depression — from Below” how in the early years of the Great Depression conventional trade union strikes became a rarity, but workers organized themselves in community-based, “horizontal” ways to fight for their survival. This commentary and the next describe the emergence of strikes for protection against COVID-19.
“Two well-known and highly respected mainstream economists, Carmen Reinhart, a chief economist for the World Bank, and Vincent Reinhart, chief economist for Morgan Stanley bank, have recently published an article in the widely read capitalist source, Foreign Affairs, entitled ‘The Pandemic Depression’. Arguing primarily from a global perspective, the economists have concluded the US economy as of the 3rd quarter 2020 is not merely now experiencing a ‘great recession’ but now qualifies as another Great Depression.
Economists surveyed by Bankrate estimated a 35% chance of recession by the November election. Red lights of a laggard or even a bad year were blinking: Businesses were not investing in the future — private investment growth had plunged to 1.8% from 5.1% in 2018. Even consumer spending, the singular engine of growth, was just 1.8% in the fourth quarter, down from 3.2% in the prior three-month period. But left barely spoken is the explicit economic threat: a depression-like downturn rivaling the 1930s — prolonged double-digit joblessness, an unprecedented economic contraction, and widespread bankruptcy.