Pandemic and Socialism
It is said that in a crisis everybody becomes a socialist; free markets take a back seat, to the benefit of the working people. During the second world war for instance, when universal rationing was introduced in Britain, the average worker became better nourished than before. Likewise, private companies get commandeered to produce goods for the war effort, thus introducing de facto planning.
Something of the sort is happening today under the impact of the pandemic. In country after country there is a socialization of healthcare and of production of some essential goods, which markedly departs from the capitalist norm; and the more severe the crisis the greater is the degree of socialization. Thus Spain, the second worst-hit European country after Italy, has nationalized all private hospitals to cope with the crisis: they are all now under the control of the government. Even Donald Trump is directing private companies to produce goods urgently needed during the pandemic. Tightening government control over production does not just characterize China at present; it marks U.S. policy as well, not to mention several European countries.
By Prabhat Patnaik (IPSP)