Denmark: Big agri-business continues to generate pandemic
We carry below a recent presentation of our comrade Jette Kromann. Shortly after this presentation the scale of the ecocrisis became clear when the Danish government announced the cull of 17 million mink to prevent the spread of a mutant strain of Covid 19.
Oral presentation 21.10.20 in the International Forum Copenhagen on the corona crisis and pandemics
Corona - a capitalist health crisis
The pandemic exhibits the relationship of capitalism to nature and the class nature of the state
What are the tasks of socialists?
Corona has a devastating effect on the crisis of the already existing capitalist world. The OECD estimates a decline in world gross domestic product (GDP) of 4-6%. During the crisis in the world economy from 2007-2016, there was no decline in GDP. China and the growing economies kept the world economy afloat. The ILO estimates that about 25 million jobs will be lost. That brings the number of unemployed to over 200 million. Oxfam estimates that there will be half a billion more poor, in addition to the 700 million estimated in 2015. In other words, the current crisis has in a very short time become the most serious crisis since 1929.
The corona pandemic is closely linked to the capitalist system's relationship to nature. Most pandemics illustrate the detrimental effect of agricultural production. Corona will not be the last. So let's just look at the role of the agricultural industry in the development of pandemics. The capital of industrial agriculture is symptomatic of the very capitalist system's relationship to the natural life of the entire planet - including our lives as human beings. Nature is seen in the same way as everything else - namely as a source of profit maximization.
I will start with a statement:
Agricultural capital must be phased out completely to prevent a large number of deadly pandemics in the future. And not only that. There is a swarm of socially destructive crises that can only be solved if capitalist industrial agriculture is completely dismantled. This applies to the climate crisis, the environmental crisis, the animal cruelty crisis, the general health crisis, the economic crisis. Of course, I am not claiming that only agricultural capital is to blame for those societal crises - No, it is the whole capitalist world system. But I will argue - and will try to show that the production methods of industrial agricultural capital are a crucial element in the societal crises - and therefore not only in the pandemics.
Now and here I want to show that the agricultural capitalists have a main responsibility for the pandemics. I will go into how the parliamentary parties have reacted to the pandemic and finally what together can collectively do to promote a radical change in the situation.
Already 13 years ago, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO announced that three out of four new viruses that had affected humans since 1997 - that is, for the past 23 years - originate from the animals that agricultural capital abuses - those they very eloquently call "production animals" - or from animal foods. The pandemics come from 4 factors related to food agriculture and industrial animal husbandry and commercial nature exploitation - including of wild animals:
The four factors are:
1. Deforestation - including that wild animals and humans who have hitherto been separated in their respective environments, suddenly come into close contact. Thus, viruses are transmitted from animals to humans.
2. Antibiotic resistance in stables transmitted to humans.
3. Intensive production of agricultural animals - many animals piled up - favorable environments for viruses.
4. Illegal or defective regulation of trade in and other commercial exploitation of wildlife.
It is reported that corona originates from the wildlife trade.
There is something deeply ironic in the fact that precisely capitalism's systematic mass abuse of animals is the very source of the greatest pandemic risk of suffering and death for all mankind.
We currently have 2 major examples in Denmark of the connection between capitalist mass exploitation - and animal cruelty - of animals and the risk of pandemics.
Millions of mink are plagued annually in their short lives in small cages before being gassed and skinned. It is a completely unnecessary luxury production which brings in the owners several billions. Mink are found to be susceptible to corona. They are also a pure greenhouse for virus mutation. A vaccine against the most common virus will not necessarily be effective against the mutations that develop among mink. Because Denmark is such a large producer, the phenomenon of virus mutations is best known here. This means that variants of corona virus that cannot be controlled with known vaccines can be spread - not only in DK, but globally, just as it originally happened from China. Experts have informed the government of the risk. Mette Frederiksen - and the majority in the Folketing has chosen to only kill the infected and nearby farms. The economic interests of the relatively small fur industry are obviously worth taking the risk of. Meanwhile, the infection continues to spread from farm to farm. The absolute only social responsibility is self-evident that all mink farms must be closed. That those involved (except the banks) must have reasonable compensation. This applies not least to the many workers who would lose their jobs.
Another Danish example of the pandemic health risk of industrial animal cruelty is the pig factories of agricultural capital.
12 million of the most intelligent and sensitive mammals are abused annually on a purely routine basis.
There are now fears that influenza virus A among pigs could trigger a new pandemic among humans. 18,000 sick animals have been studied from 2,500 herds in Europe. Of these, 2,463 samples from sick pigs are in Danish stables. Pigs are pure reservoirs for new human pandemics. The risk is so great that statistically it WILL happen at some point. The problem is the gathering of the many animals in a small space - that is, the animal cruelty against the "production animals" for competitive meat production. And just like with the mink, DK is the world's largest producer per. inhabitant. There are 23 different types of swine flu in DK. 12% of them have genes from humans. Agriculture focuses on research, surveillance and vaccines. All without safety against the risk of pandemics among humans. At the outbreak of swine flu in 2009, the rapid vaccine was found to have serious side effects.
It is clearly necessary to close down industrial mass production of live animals. The entire capitalist production of pigs must be stopped in order to stop the animal cruelty, the environment and climate destruction - and the risks of global pandemics with human mass death.
What does the EU say? What does the Danish bourgeois parliament say?
First the EU. EU agricultural policy is directly responsible for the risk of pandemics from pig farms. This is not a sensible production in the capitalist economic sense. Agricultural production, on the other hand, is an important part of the dominance and geopolitical power base of European imperialism. 36% of the EU's total budget goes to agricultural support - mostly to large landowners. They received 405 billion - most in hectares of support - in 2020 alone. EU heads of state have promised that 30% of the EU's total budget will "work for the climate". As I said, agricultural support accounts for 36% - a third of the entire budget. There is now talk in the third year that 40% of this agricultural support will be "green". All independent experts say that it is exclusively a matter of "green washing" - some so-called "eco schemes". It could be sowing flower seeds in flower beds or giving the animals special feed. And it is even unlikely that just the purely symbolic measures can be adopted as a condition of the aid. It has nothing to do with changing the production conditions that contribute greatly to the climate crisis, environmental crisis, public health crisis and systematic mass animal cruelty. 80% of the support goes to the 20% largest agricultural capitalists. The EU, as capital's own instrument, is incapable of trying to rein in the interests of these large agricultural capitals in a socially responsible way. Those who have the most pigs emit the most CO2 and pose the greatest risk of pandemics - they also receive the most EU government subsidies. Nevertheless, large parts of agriculture in DK are financially insolvent.
There is no doubt that other parts of the capital are bothered by the parasitic activity of agricultural capital. The number of insolvent farmers means that banks have to keep agriculture alive with ever-increasing loans. They push the debt with expansions of the production apparatus - larger stables - in front of them. If the banks let the agricultural capital fall then the banks themselves would go down. One of the sure signs that the imperialist era has reached a reactionary stage is precisely that part of its production methods constitute exclusively a socially harmful enterprise. An unbearable climate impact. A growing pandemic risk. Environmental destruction. Attacks on public health. Animal cruelty. This part of the capitalist bourgeoisie - the agricultural capital - has become a deadly burden on society throughout and in every way. Politically, it shows in the bourgeoisie itself which has become politically divided. Large parts of the bourgeoisie have shifted from working through the party Venstre - which i.a. is the party of agricultural capital - to bet on the Social Democrats as their political interest representative in the bourgeois parliament.
The whole process demonstrates the class nature of the state and thus also the parliament.
There is only one progressive solution to the destruction of agricultural capital: nationalization of the few thousand large farms, without compensation, but with securing the economic future of the owners. The owners and the relatively few employed workers will possibly. could be part of the comprehensive, future worker management of nature restoration and an environmentally safe, healthy future food production with regard to nature, animal welfare, climate - and without pandemic risk from food production. With the current level of debt in agriculture and the damaging effects of the extensive societies - both of the banking system and of agricultural capital - it becomes absolutely necessary to nationalize the banking system - without compensation - under workers' control. Without nationalization of the banks without compensation under worker control - with compensation and debt forgiveness to all small savers. It must be a central program item for any honorable party that claims to want to protect the population from pandemics - and that will have the right to call itself socialist.
Such a program can only be implemented by a real workers' government based on the self-organization of workers and the mobilization of the popular masses.
Such a program thus raises the question of government. The most left-wing party in the bourgeois Danish parliament is the Unity List. As you know, the Unity List is a support party for Mette Frederiksen's minority government. How has the Unity List reacted to the actions of the Social Democratic government during the corona pandemic?
The Unity List's parliamentary group (or main board) has not in a single word raised the demand for nationalization of the banks (neither with nor without compensation) which is the only means of making and implementing the necessary social plan for the fight against corona, climate crisis, environmental crisis etc. has, on the other hand, participated in the peace of the castle together with the other bourgeois parties with a 300 billion aid package - mostly to the big capitalists. An attempt was made to cover up the fact that a few per cent of the aid package went to partial wages for a small part of the labor force - the repatriated workers who were already the safest in the labor market. It was a scheme that the employers themselves demanded and would have received in any case. On the other hand, EL participated in rescuing Danish big capital - of which a number of tax evaders - even without any conditions. The Unity List's parliamentary group has done nothing to represent the vast majority - the working population. They do not require a special crisis relief package for them. They stayed inside the parliament instead of joining the various movements - general resistance, the climate movements, etc. to formulate the most burning demands together. The most reformist part of the party - the parliamentary group, has taken control of the party. This is a right turn of EL compared to 2008 when the parliamentary group did not vote for the banking package. It seems that the leadership has illusions in a more lasting alliance with the Social Democrats. The Social Democrats, for their part, have proved to be the leading party in the bourgeois bloc - with SF and EL as appendages and in competition with the other bourgeois strongly weakened and divided parties. The Social Democrats have taken over the role from the Liberal Party as the most important political expression of the bourgeoisie. The only ones who still have remnants of illusions that S is a reformist workers' party seem to be those in the Unity List who have themselves become reformists and who dream of uniting with their "big brother" to carry out their utopian "reform" dreams of Ã˜D , cooperative enterprises and wage-earning banks. They have not understood at all that we are in the most serious world crisis since 1929 and that real reforms are out of the question - without a fight by revolutionary means.
I would also argue that crisis problems cannot be solved within the framework of capitalism. It demands the end of the imperialist historical era. Capitalism must be replaced by a new historical epoch with a global collective socialist world society led by the self-organized international working class and the popular masses.
What are the implications of that view? Should we just sit down and wait?
No!! On the contrary. We need to go into the existing movements with all our energy. We must also organize ourselves as a left wing in the Unity List. There we must work for the independence of the movements of bourgeois and bureaucratic leadership. This also applies to the trade union movement. Work to ensure that it is the active people who constitute a democratically elected leadership of actual combat organizations - not lobby companies. Work for socialist anti-capitalists in the movements to co-operate in an organized manner within the framework of the broader movements. The members of the Unity List and the anarchist left must unconditionally join forces in action. Efforts must be made to use the classic means of struggle of the revolutionary labor movement - blockades, mass strikes, mass demonstrations, occupations, etc. Work to unite the movements in battle with each their demands against the common enemy. For the organized participation of the working class (workplaces, clubs, trade unions, etc.). For the unitary front of the movements. For the gathering of socialist anti-capitalists on a common political platform within the framework of the Unity List.