I have been reading this argument for why the CoViD-19 emergency will not lead to collapse of capitalist accumulation: “No, we’re not heading toward the next Great Depression.” I am constantly on the lookout for articles like this, because they offer a counter-argument to my own and thus challenge my own argument with a skeptical fresh opinion.
In this case, the writer, Cullen Roche, appears to think that the question of the outcome of this emergency hinges “on the outcomes of an exogenous virus” epidemic. I think he is making an error in this view, a typical error made by most bourgeois simpletons, but one that is all too often shared by many communists as well. Whether the capitalist mode of production collapses at this point has nothing at all to do with the pandemic.
The pandemic, as we stated from the outset, is only the trigger for the crisis.
But let’s read his argument.
Following his view that the course of the pandemic will determine the course of the crisis, Roche sees two likely scenarios for how this crisis will play out: “short and sharp” and “shorter and sharper”.
Scenario Number One, which Roche thinks could last about 24 months, is the “shorter and sharper” of the two. It assumes that social distancing works, herd immunity builds, treatments improve, warm weather helps and we stave off the virus long enough for a vaccine to be developed before the next flu season.
Scenario Number Two, which Roche thinks may last as long as 36 months, is the “short and sharp” version of the crisis. This scenario assumes the virus mutates and lingers through the summer, decimating the population much like the Spanish Flu did in 1918.
While scenario number two lasts perhaps as long as three years, in neither case, should it take the so-called economy as much time to recover from the effects of the pandemic as it took to recover from the 2008-09 financial crisis. In Roche’s opinion, there is no possibility that we will suffer through an interminable recovery like the one society experienced during the Great Depression.
Which is probably great news for speculators like Roche, since, in truth, there was no actual recovery from the Great Depression. Instead, the United States and its allies just destroyed most of their competitors within the world market at the cost of some 80 million dead. The last imperialist power standing, the United States, picked up all of the marbles because everyone else was devastated by war.