13 July 2020

A recent SMH headline — Economy to recover strongly, but wages and jobs will not — put me in mind of an editorial from Salvage #8: “Millions of workers, with little or no support from the state, have been forced to risk their health and that of others around them by crowding onto contagious public transport and going to work every day. … Lauded for their ‘sacrifices’, they are actually being sacrificed. And sacrificed to what is, in the truest sense of the word, a fetish. The genre of handwringing commentary that poses a ‘hard choice’ between health and ‘the economy’ merely exposes the intangibility of the latter. The ‘economy’ is no more an object with needs and wants than the king-God Moloch — unless we endow either with them, and give up our weak and needy to the fiery idols. The ‘economy’ denotes that realm of human production and reproduction in which surplus value is produced, and the exploiters of that surplus value are becoming anxious that its flow has been shut off… [T]he owners of capital are still owning it in the same way as they did three months ago, only now all the indicators that supposedly justify their obscene levels of remuneration are heading downwards at an unprecedented rate. Far more than even the crisis of 2008, Covid-19 is exposing that it is workers, their productive and reproductive labour, who do the key work for capitalism. Might one of the reasons for the eagerness to end the lockdown in order to revive the ‘economy’ be that the lockdown demonstrates the possibility of abolishing the ‘economy’?”