The 2008 global capitalist economic crisis, the effects of which are still visible today, was a tremendous opportunity for the big capitalists to increase their wealth. During a period of ten years, from 2008 to 2018, the number of billionaires was doubled, like their profits. It has been proved that the crisis generates more capitalists.
The Coronavirus pandemic, which has plagued the world since the beginning of 2020, comes to confirm that capitalist barbarity “feeds” from the people's death, poverty, impoverishment and exploitation. The recent report by Forbes is revealing:
- 2020, the year of the pandemic, was an excellent year for the richest men in the world, as the 2,200 world's billionaires grew $1.9 trillion richer this year.
- During the same period, the combined wealth of the 600-plus American billionaires has increased by more than $560 billion thus reaching a total net worth of $4 trillion. Despite the tumult of 2020, the S&P 500 is up 13% for the year while NASDAQ has gained 38% since the year began.
- According to Forbes, the world's billionaires are worth an estimated $11.4 trillion; that's up 20% from their collective wealth a year ago, on December 31, 2019.
- The world's richest man is the founder and CEO of Amazon (which has soared during 2020 as lockdowns lead millions of people to online shopping) Jeff Bezos, who increased his net worth by $65.7 billion thus reaching a total wealth of $182 billion.
In the socio-economic system of capitalism, the co-existence of rich and poor, billionaires and impoverished people, exploiters and exploited is regarded, more or less, as a “natural phenomenon”.
For the supporters of the repugnant and filthy capitalist system, the fact that the 50 richest Americans owns wealth equal to the wealth owned by half the U.S. population (approximately 165 million people) sounds perfectly reasonable. After all, capitalism is the system of perpetuated exploitation where the rich become richer and the poor become poorer...
So, while a handful of parasites own astronomical amounts of wealth...
- Around 1.8 billion people are at heightened risk of COVID-19 and other diseases because they use or work in healthcare facilities without basic water services. Worldwide, 1 in 4 hospitals has no water facilities and 1 in 3 does not have access to hand hygiene where care is provided (WHO, UNICEF, 14 December 2020).
- The Pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as much as 150 million by 2021. Extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, is likely to affect between 9.1% and 9.4% of the world's population in 2020 (World Bank, 7 October 2020).
- 15,000 children die every 24 hours from preventable causes. In 2019 an estimated 5.2 million children under 5 years died mostly from preventable causes. Approximately 3.1 million children die every year from undernutrition, while 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the world (UNICEF, WHO, World Food Programme).
- 1 in 3 people globally do not have access to safe drinking water, while more than 2 billion people have no access to basic medicines and half of the world's population lack access to essential health services (WHO).
- Nearly half the global population (3.4 billion people) lives on less than $5.50 a day and struggles to meet basic needs (World Bank).
- 2.3 million working men and women around the world succumb to work-related accidents or diseases every year (6,000 deaths per day). Worldwide, there are around 340 million occupational “accidents” and 160 million victims of work-related illnesses annually (International Labour Organization).
All the above have a common denominator which is the power of the capital. Quoting English economist T.J. Dunning, Karl Marx was writing in his monumental three-volume work “Capital”:
“Capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt...Capital eschews no profit, or very small profit, just as Nature was formerly said to abhor a vacuum. With adequate profit, capital is very bold. A certain 10 per cent. will ensure its employment anywhere; 20 per cent. certain will produce eagerness; 50 per cent., positive audacity; 100 per cent. will make it ready to trample on all human laws; 300 per cent., and there is not a crime at which it will scruple, nor a risk it will not run, even to the chance of its owner being hanged” (Volume I, Ch. 31).
The answer was given 172 years ago by Marx and Engels in the “Manifesto of the Communist Party”, on October 1917 by Lenin and the Bolsheviks and later by revolutionary Cuba and other people who succeed to break the chains of exploitation and begin the building of socialism.
Yes, Socialism! This is the only vaccine, the only cure against the barbarity of the capitalist system.
* Nikos Mottas is the Editor-in-Chief of In Defense of Communism.