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John Bellamy Foster & Intan Suwandi:COVID-19 and Catastrophe Capitalism: Commodity Chains and Ecological-Epidemiological-Economic Crises

Submit Time:19-11-2020 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author:John Bellamy Foster & Intan Suwandi | Source:Marxism & Reality 2020(5)


     By considering the duality of use values and exchange values in the global capitalist economy, this article analyzes the link between late imperialism and the COVID-19 pandemic. First of all, through multinational agribusiness corporations, Global North obtains exorbitant imperial rents from Global South by labor arbitrage and land arbitrage, while at the same time creating conditions for new pathogens to generate and transmit. COVID-19 is just another illustration of how pandemics are intrinsic inside the capitalist production system. Then, the outbreak of COVID-19 has triggered interruptions of supply chains and supply chain finance, turning an epidemiological crisis into an economic crisis. This exposes vulnerabilities of the capitalist production and financial system. Finally, due to the unequal conditions of capitalist class society, the pandemic falls heaviest on the working class and the poor, and on populations in the periphery. Moreover, in the eyes of some Global North authors, these people are treated as a reasonable tradeoff for the continued growth of the empire of capital. At this point, the necessity of a “revolutionary reconstitution of society at large” rears its head once again. what Marx called “freedom in general” and the preservation of a viable “planetary metabolism” are the most pressing necessities today in determining the human present and future, and even human survival. 

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