In mid-October, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released its World Economic Outlook report, which offered some dizzying data. For 2020, the IMF estimates that the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will decline by 4.4%, while in 2021 the global GDP will rise by 5.2%. Stagnation and decline will define the economic activity in both Europe and North America, as well as in large states such as Brazil and India. With a second wave of coronavirus infections in Europe and with the first wave not having been controlled in Brazil, India, and the United States, it appears that these IMF estimates might sink further downwards.
United Nations - The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a wide-ranging resolution on tackling the coronavirus pandemic Friday over objections from the United States and Israel, which protested a successful last-minute Cuban amendment that strongly urged countries to oppose any unilateral economic, financial or trade sanctions. The 193-member world body adopted the resolution by a vote of 169-2, with Ukraine and Hungary abstaining. It was a strong show of unity by the U.N.’s most representative body, though many countries had hoped for adoption by consensus.
More than 40 million doctors and nurses are in, and they are prescribing a green recovery from the economic devastation caused by the new coronavirus. More than 350 health organizations representing some 40 million medical professionals, as well as more than 4,500 individual health workers from 90 countries, signed a letter to the G20 leaders Tuesday urging them to craft what they are promoting as a #HealthyRecovery by taking measures such as reforming fossil fuel subsidies and fighting pollution and deforestation. "A truly healthy recovery will not allow pollution to continue to cloud the air we breathe and the water we drink," the health professionals wrote. "It will not permit unabated climate change and deforestation, potentially unleashing new health threats upon vulnerable populations."
The COVID-19 pandemic’s global spread has highlighted inequities in the world like inequality of income and access to resources in many communities. The response to the crisis has been a varied patchwork of public health measures and economic assistance, but in most countries, those with wealth and access to resources have fared significantly better than poor and marginalized communities. Now, a group of more than sixty academics, activists, writers, artists, workers, students, and others from more than twenty countries have come together to draft a manifesto addressing these inequities and offer some guideposts for a people-centered alternative response. Launching Saturday May 23, the COVID-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto seeks to “offer a vision of the world we are building, the world we are demanding, the world we will achieve.”
Washington, DC - The COVID-19 Global Solidarity Coalition will launch on May 23, 2020, unveiling a Manifesto signed by thousands of people and organizations worldwide. The launch will take place over a live video streaming through Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube. The goal is to establish guidelines, principles, and priorities for dealing with the current coronavirus pandemic to end the neoliberal assault on the environmental and social structures that protect the health and well-being of billions around the world. We call upon the global community to rethink the self-destructive path that humanity is presently following as demonstrated by the devastation and the continuing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the existential threats of climate change and nuclear war, the waste of lives and resources due to ongoing warfare and unbridled militarism, and the deplorable living conditions that billions of our sisters and brothers face daily.
Lee Camp sits down with Vijay Prashad, the executive director of The Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. They discuss how the US failed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the growing cohort of working people who have been dubbed the 'precariat' because of their precarious employment, what people can do to help limit this crisis, and how foreign countries such as India and Cuba are handling the crisis. Naomi Karavani rips into the massive corporations that took all of the money from the small business loan program that was part of the coronavirus stimulus bill. This move illustrates why a capitalist system cannot solve a crisis that requires people to work together. Natalie McGill dips into a strange plague that struck the world between the 14th and 17th centuries.
Indian writer Arundhati Roy writes that the COVID-19 pandemic is a “portal”—a “gateway”—to a new world. “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” “We can choose,” she says, “to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our…dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through…ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.” We can, indeed, hope that somehow this global health calamity might lead to a better world. More importantly, after all the deaths, the profound misery—we need and must—work for a better world. And there are heavy-duty forces seeking to prevent that outcome.
While we struggle with the fatigue of the lockdowns, and earnestly desire for society to open once again – to see our friends and family and be together and experience all the things we previously took for granted – we still must face the struggle of reality. The reality is that the virus is a part of our world now. The virus – and the subsequent global lockdowns – are undoubtedly one of the most significant global events ever witnessed. Much like the virus itself, the economic, political and social chaos and crises it unleashed are only in their early stages, their first few weeks and months. This does not mean that all that is to come will be like the lockdowns and crashes of mid-March, or akin to the human tragedy unleashed in places like Italy and the United States.
The warm sunny days leading up to the Easter holidays are quickly fading from memory. Then, despite the threat of a global pandemic, there was optimism in the air. People came together in a manner not seen since the neoliberals seized the reins of power in the 1980s. It was as though we were all waiting for some common threat to bring us together. The gradual shutdown of “non-essential” employment revealed for all to see who is and who is not important in the grand scheme of things. And it turned out that the truly important people were mostly the ones on low wages; while the very highest paid among us could retreat to their front rooms without having any noticeable impact on the rest of the world.
With the start of the second month of coronavirus quarantine, the issue of when and how life, and most of all, the economy will be able to return to “normal” is becoming more serious. This is understandable as in the current situation unemployment levels are close to reaching, even exceeding, those of the Great Depression, and if quarantine measures continue for a long time, an overall long-term economic downturn, commensurate with what happened in the 1930s, is very likely. Moreover, this is potentially the less important problem, since it is not clear what will become of public order if a large number of people are left to literally starve without any income and savings, a situation that can also be expected, at least in some countries.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause mass death and upheaval around the world, there has been an unexpected side effect: it has unmasked capitalism. In the U.S., this unmasking can be seen in both the Federal Reserve’s actions as well as Congress’ coronavirus aid legislation, the CARES Act, both of which reveal critical truths about an economic system that has been sold to working people as one thing and as quite another to banks and corporations. To shed some much needed light on the intricacies of our financial situation during the latest crisis, “Scheer Intelligence” host Robert Scheer spoke with acclaimed economist and attorney Ellen Brown. There are plenty of parallels to be drawn between the last financial crisis and the coronavirus pandemic, with the clear exception being that now we’re not just dealing with a broken economy but with a deadly virus.
It has been more than one hundred years since the first International Worker’s Day on May 1st. It is a day of struggle and celebration that historically has brought millions of people from political and worker’s movements to the streets. This May 1st, 2020, will not be the same. The necessary policies of social isolation imposed because of the COVID-19 pandemic will prevent us from gathering in the streets and squares and from picketing our places of work to show to the governments, the bosses, the banks, and to the totality of the ruling class, that we sustain this world. For the organizations and networks that are calling for the International Week of Anti-imperialist Struggle, there is no doubt that in the context of the current public health crisis, it’s important to avoid public gatherings and break the chain of infection of the Coronavirus.
It’s now clear the Covid-19 pandemic will have major, long-term consequences. In the European Union, the very foundations of European integration are being questioned. The EU is defined by its ‘pillars’: the single market and free movement, the euro and the Stability and Growth Pact, and competition and state-aid law. These three pillars are being shaken by the pandemic and they are sure to be at the centre of debates on the future of Europe. The post-crisis EU—assuming it survives—could have very different foundations if the questioning of the three pillars continues. But in which global environment is this set to happen? There are four possible scenarios. The first (contrary to what I have written before) is a possible return to neoliberal orthodoxy—a bit like the previous crisis (2008-13), when Europe reverted even more radically to neoliberal fundamentals after a more or less green recovery in 2009.
Pedestrians have taken over city streets, people have almost entirely stopped flying, skies are blue (even in Los Angeles!) for the first time in decades, and global CO2 emissions are on-track to drop by … about 5.5 percent. Wait, what? Even with the global economy at a near-standstill, the best analysis suggests that the world is still on track to release 95 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted in a typical year, continuing to heat up the planet and driving climate change even as we’re stuck at home. A 5.5-percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions would still be the largest yearly change on record, beating out the financial crisis of 2008 and World War II. But it’s worth wondering: Where do all of those emissions come from? And if stopping most travel and transport isn’t enough to slow down climate change, what will be?