BRITAIN is beginning take on the morbid characteristics of a failed state.
The rapid rise in cases of coronavirus is due to the fast transmission of the latest variant, but the speed with which it has proliferated also owes, in part, to a paralysis at the heart of government.
The cause is confused messaging over social distancing, which is the product of the government’s fatal willingness to privilege pressure from the managers of the market economy in both business and banking and within the state apparatus itself — principally the Treasury — over expert medical and scientific advice.
This indecision is not a new phenomenon. The entire history of the pandemic is studded with break points at which the scientific advice has been devalued by a deadly combination of indolence, obstruction and ideology.
The latest failure in the supply and distribution of Covid test kits and the consequent inability of many people, most especially health professionals, to secure a test that would clear them for work or travel makes a mockery of any claims that Britain meets all the criteria by which we define the modern state.
In a very real sense monopoly capitalism, submission to the inherent anarchy of the market and the bizarre ideological contortions of the monomaniac marketeers have hollowed out much of the state.
In the rapidly denationalising health service this manifests itself firstly as the increased rate at which NHS functions are put out to tender, and secondly, by the gradual diminution of health indicators as waiting lists lengthen, patients go undiagnosed and health staff begin to suffer even more grievously from fatigue, and absences increase.
The British Medical Association in Scotland is the latest health professional body to protest.
There are plenty of conspiracy theorists and eccentrics, both daft and malign, on show in the present crisis.
The dangerous idiots who trashed a Covid test facility in Milton Keynes shall, we hope, encounter the coercive arm of the state. This one aspect of the public service in which operational efficiency is scrutinised more closely even if the contracting-out culture seems to have diminished too its responsiveness.
But it is no conspiracy theory to suggest that the processes which undermine the NHS are consistent with the neoliberal ideology of the dominant group in the Tories and the policies they promote and proceed according to a conscious plan.
The easily misnamed Jeremy Hunt, former Tory minister of health, is presently rehabilitating himself for a renewed run at leadership.
It was he who, in 2005, contributed to a Tory tract, Direct Democracy: A New Agenda for a New Model Party, which set out a programme for the privatisation of the NHS, a process already given wings by Gordon Brown’s PFI programme.
The drive to privatisation is the product of an ideology for sure, but the ideology arose as a theoretical rationalisation of state monopoly capitalism in its morbid phase to raise the rate of profit by plundering the public purse and monetising the functions over which most modern states took ownership and control.
It is the same imperative which underpins the complete assault on employment rights and trade union functions which successive Tory governments have introduced (and which successive Labour governments have failed to repeal, despite promising to to do so).
How encouraging then is the news that the communist minister of labour, Yolanda Diaz, in Spain’s social democratic-led government has introduced a new legal framework which enhances employment rights, most especially for precarious workers, and creates a sectoral bargaining system for pay negotiations.
The state too is a site for class struggle. Those who defeated Labour’s last bid for government office prevented an even fuller programme of workers’ rights.
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