Forty years on from New Cross, the need to build a mass anti-racist, anti-imperialist movement is still paramount. No justice, no peace!
The government's methodical cull of the elderly and disabled is ongoing. We are forced once again to rally our supporters against this monstrous human sacrifice, at the altar of capital. As the manufactured optimism of the sudden end of lockdown takes root in the collective mindset of the British public, we will not allow those who’ve been silenced to be forgotten.
The deaths of tens of thousands of care home residents has taken on horrific dimensions, as the mechanisms and pre-meditated nature of the government's eugenicist programme against them has been exposed. Boris Johnson’s claim that there was “no concerted effort” to release COVID patients into care homes comes with the callousness of a man prepared to deny, defend, and justify eugenics as a rational business decision, as we attempt to come to terms with how we might be able to grieve the loss of tens of thousands of lives.
Of course, there is not a shred of truth in Johnson’s claim; we have known for a while now that care homes were threatened with loss of funding if they did not accept COVID patients, and that the government deliberately block-booked care home beds to prepare them for discharges from hospitals. This use of the British care home sector as an “overflow container” for hospitals – both sectors having been thoroughly depredated and assaulted by austerity for over a decade – takes on the most terrifying dimension, as the mechanisms of excluding the elderly, the sick, and the disabled, and rendering them dependent on a rapidly disappearing welfare state, were swiftly turned into mechanisms of annihilation.
Once again, to fail to understand the scale of what is happening amounts to capitulation in the face of a genocidal government. Over two-thirds of COVID deaths in Britain have been disabled people – 22,000 deaths at the hands of structural eugenics. Unsurprisingly, care home residents classified as BAME are disproportionately more likely to die of COVID. This is the same government that had to be strong-armed into reporting care home deaths at all. We also know now that care homes were barely discussed in Sage meetings, with only two mentions in five months of meetings. Surely it is plausible that the influence of open eugenicists like Cummings on this committee played a role?
The charade surrounding the government’s denial of their clear pre-meditation only adds to the tragedy. As civil society begins to understand the facts around the deliberate seeding of patients into care homes, with even Jeremy Hunt attacking the government in the Guardian (!), all we see is continued deflection and denial. Seeding the virus inside care homes was “not illegal”, is Matt Hancock’s excuse. We can only contrast this with the real outcomes of this policy; in Wales, where, as of June 5, 28% of all COVID deaths occurred in care homes, 1,000 patients were discharged into care homes without testing. In Hull, seven out of 74 untested discharged patients are now known to have had COVID, with similar proportions seen in Bristol, where the discharge of 20 COVID patients, alongside 214 untested discharges, ensured the methodical spread of the virus amidst the most vulnerable.
We have explained the nature of ableist state murder under capitalism: the exclusion of those deemed unprofitable, or deviating from the standard body and mind necessary for the most efficient production within a capitalist system, is turned into their annihilation. We are now able to see more clearly into these facts: with their deflections, and the passing of blame onto care homes themselves, the ruling class is exposing the cost-cutting rationale behind the deliberate murder of tens of thousands. Calls for nationalisation accompany accusations of improper processes: certainly, it must be the sector’s fault for the “improper” handling of a deliberate eugenics programme. In other cases, COVID-19 was not even mentioned as a reason for specific care homes becoming overwhelmed. The imminent collapse of the care sector demands a heroic Tory government to take the lead and take it under state control; for that to happen, the unprofitable must be dealt with.
Let us reiterate this last point, in case the scale of what is occurring is too large to grasp: tens of thousands of people, seen as an economic surplus and as a barrier to nationalisation, have been callously sent to their deaths. The chief determinant force of our right to live under capitalism is our profitability; when so many of us have failed this test, the outcome has been fatal. We must now comprehend how life and death have been dished out by our ruling class, for the sole purpose of profitability.
It is for the same reason that we must ruthlessly critique calls for nationalisation under a capitalist system. Public ownership under capitalism amounts to nothing more or less than the collective ownership of the bourgeoisie. As the crisis of capitalism intensifies and competition is tightened up to higher levels, nationalisations of certain sectors may become an economic necessity, and a means to intensify the exploitation of workers. The current dictatorship of the bourgeoisie can only be defeated by a revolutionary working-class movement. Capitalism has entered an unprecedented crisis, and a return to the Keynesian class compromise of the immediate post-war years is impossible. We emphasise that decaying capitalism is utterly incapable of meeting the basic needs of the working class. We must fight to mitigate the damage caused by the crisis on the working class as much as possible, and couple defensive struggles – including to protect the NHS and social care sector – with an offensive political perspective.
With his vision of nationalising care, Johnson once again appeals to historical nostalgia: the blond-haired Bevan of the 21st century, who just happens to have sacrificed the last of the “greatest generation” to the unflinching advance of the pandemic, while fascists have spent last month defending dead, soulless history, while living history was extinguished in care homes across the country. The British state runs on trite repetitions of historical vignettes without content, while the living, breathing history – the people – are condemned to a bureaucratic cull. Behold Britain, glorious Britain. Behold the decay, the depredation, and the murder, covered up with the stretched canvas of a history that never was. Behold the obfuscation of reality in favour of the glorification of myths, while we are faced with the inhuman task of grieving the untimely and entirely preventable destruction of 22,000 lives.
May our grief turn to anger. Red Fightback reiterates its call for an organised working-class response that exposes this government for what it is, and holds this inhuman ruling class to account for each and every death.