Catastrophe capitalism: climate change, COVID-19, and economic crisis

An interview of John Bellamy Foster

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YouTube #ReGENERATION Cast: John Bellamy Foster

In the backdrop of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic, John Bellamy Foster, editor of Monthly Review, the famous socialist magazine, discusses the pandemic in relation to the present condition of capitalism and economic crisis in the following interview conducted by Farooque Chowdhury in late-March, 2020. Foster, professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, and author of numerous books on political, economic, and ecological issues, relates the pandemic to the capitalist economy, its crisis and climate change.

Farooque Chowdhury: You have long analyzed and elaborated Karl Marx’s concept of metabolic rift. Today, in view of this coronavirus pandemic, how do you find the situation in view of your analysis?

John Bellamy Foster: Obviously, the situation associated with the sudden appearance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 pandemic is grim all over the world. Both the causes and the consequences are closely related to capitalist social relations. Marx’s theory of metabolic rift was a way of looking at ecological or metabolic relations, and particularly at the complex interdependent relations of nature and society, from a systemic approach long before the development of systems ecology, which in fact arose on similar bases. Marx, building on the work of the German chemist Justus von Liebig, focused on the rift in the soil metabolism. The shipment of food and fiber hundreds and even thousands of miles from the country to the city resulted in the loss of essential soil nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which were not returned to the soil but ended up polluting the cities. This, however, had a wider application in regard to how capitalist production with its linear accumulation generated rifts or ruptures in what Marx called “the universal metabolism of nature.”

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Coronavirus and the war on the working class

by Zoltan Zigedy

Morning Star | April 04, 2020

ACCORDING to Bloomberg News, the billionaire hedge fund and private equity fund managers who met President Donald on Tuesday March 24 “are getting impatient with the national economic shutdown caused by coronavirus…”

They urged that workers be released to return to their jobs from the government lockdown.

The “concerned” billionaires, along with the president, do not want “the cure to be worse than the problem.”

Another super-rich “humanitarian,” David Neeleman, a JetBlue and WestJet founder and currently an international airline mogul, voiced similar concerns to Bloomberg News, appealing to the plight of the neglected working man and woman: “There’s too much confusion — nobody has jobs, people are losing their houses, kids are home from school,” he said by phone.Read More »

Coronavirus Pandemic could shrink global economy almost 1% in 2020, predicts UN

A Journal of People report

The global economy could shrink almost 1% this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations said Wednesday.This estimate is a sharp reversal from the pre-pandemic forecast of 2.5% growth.

The U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs warned in a report that the decline could be even deeper if restrictions on economic activities extend into the third quarter of the year and if fiscal stimulus efforts do not support income and consumer spending.Read More »

US Economy Lost 701,000 Jobs in March, Figures Will Rise

teleSUR | April 03, 2020

The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March due to COVID-19.

The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March due to COVID-19. | Photo: EFE

This is the most significant job loss since March 2009, when the financial crisis sank the world’s economies.

The U.S. economy lost 701,000 jobs in March, and the unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent amid the new coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced Friday.


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U.S.: Coronavirus pandemic compounds food emergency for millions

by John Bachtell

People’s World | April 01, 2020

Coronavirus pandemic compounds food emergency for millions

In this March 24, 2020, photo, members of the Ohio National Guard assist in packing emergency food boxes for food distribution at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. As volunteers dry up with people following government guidelines to stay home, Guard units are now helping to transport medical supplies, distribute food, and even help direct traffic at drive-thru testing sites. | Tony Dejak / AP

Vehicles stretched for miles leading up to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. The line was so long that many people left their cars and walked the distance to pick up a share of food.

“It’s amazing and heartbreaking all at the same time,” said Karen Pozna, director of communications at the GCFB, describing the flood of 4,000 people seeking emergency food on March 24. “We’ve done these distributions monthly and never seen anything like this.”

The distribution set a record; two-thirds of the people who showed up that day were coming to the food bank for the first time. “We’re trying to assist anyone in need of food right now,” Pozna said. “So many people have been laid off and don’t know where to turn.”

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US blocks medical aid to Cuba in show of ‘wild west brutality’

by Steve Sweeney

Morning Star | April 02, 2020

CUBA has blasted the continuing US economic blockade warning of a “violation of human rights” after a shipment of vital medical aid from China was stopped from reaching the country on Tuesday.

Washington was accused of acting with “Wild West brutality,” using the Covid-19 outbreak as an opportunity to “strangle the Cuban Revolution.”

“Cuba denounces the fact that medical supplies from Alibaba Foundation to help combat Covid-19 have not arrived in the country due to the criminal US blockade against the island nation,” President Miguel Canel-Diaz blasted.Read More »

Russian aid to Italy subjected to pro-Nato smear campaign

Morning Star | April 03, 2020

RUSSIA has been subjected to a smear campaign led by a pro-Nato think tank after it delivered aid and medical supplies to help Italy cope with the spread of coronavirus.

Italy is one of the worst-affected countries, with 11,000 deaths and more than 100,000 cases.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte appealed to Russian President Vladmir Putin for support after the European Union failed to answer Rome’s pleas for help to contain coronavirus.Read More »

Thousands of construction workers sacked without compensation in Turkey

by Steve Sweeney

Morning Star | April 02, 2020

The construction workers’ working conditions

MORE than 15,000 construction and airport workers have been sacked without compensation in Turkey amid urgent demands for government action to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Revolutionary Building, Construction and Road Workers Union (Dev Yapi-Is) said 15,191 workers had been laid off in Istanbul in the past two weeks, with many dismissed without warning.

The impact of the coronavirus outbreak is leading to “opportunism” from bosses using the outbreak to sack workers, to insulate themselves from the burden of paying wages, the union said.Read More »

Corbyn helped bring a movement together – and our challenge now is to keep that going

by Rick Evans

Morning Star | April 03, 2020

I WANTED to write a thank you to Jeremy Corbyn, the most maligned person in British politics.

When the books in the future are written on this period in British history, I believe they will be very kind to Corbyn, unlike so many during the last five years.

He certainly was an unlikely leader and I think it’s fair to say nobody expected it — probably least of all himself.Read More »

Hantavirus not as contagious as coronavirus

Hantaviruses are a family of viruses spread mainly by rodents

Down To Earth | March 25, 2020

A case of a man in China infected with another virus, called the Hantavirus, emerged on March 23, 2020, at a time when the country was on a path to recovery from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The man, from China’s Yunnan province, died while travelling in a bus to Shandong province.

All 32 of the man’s co-passengers were tested for the virus.

The news fuelled fears of another epidemic at a time when the world is attempting to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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