“Social murder…at the very least” Editorial of La Tribune des Travailleurs (Workers’ Tribune) Issue no.277 – 17 February 2021 published by the POID (Independent and democratic Workers Party)

 By Daniel Gluckstein

Murder is an emotive word. In law, it requires premeditation. (…) How could “murder” apply to failures of a pandemic response? Perhaps it can’t, and never will, but it is worth considering.” 

This is how the editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), published at the start of this month, began. 

The general medical journal – founded in 1840, and one of the world’s most widely-read medical journals – did not content itself with asking the question: “When politicians and experts say that they are willing to allow tens of thousands of premature deaths for the sake of population immunity or in the hope of propping up the economy, is that not premeditated and reckless indifference to human life? If policy failures lead to recurrent and mistimed lockdowns, who is responsible for the resulting non-covid excess deaths? When politicians willfully neglect scientific advice, international and historical experience, and their own alarming 

statistics and modeling because to act goes against their political strategy or ideology, is that lawful?” 

To these questions, the BMJ’s Executive Editor replied: 

At the very least, covid-19 might be classified as “social murder” (…). The philosopher Friedrich Engels coined the phrase when describing the political and social power held by the ruling elite over the working classes in 19th century England. His argument was that the conditions created by privileged classes inevitably led to premature and “unnatural” death among the poorest classes.” 

While it condemned the “social murder” perpetrated by those in power, the BMJ did not go so far as to call for an end to capitalism. But from the strict point of view of political democracy expressed in the editorial, it emphasized that “the “social murder” of populations (…) cannot be ignored or spun away” and that “politicians must be held to account”. 

At a time when in France, the number of deaths due to the coronavirus is continuing to rise; at a time when the postponement of hospital procedures is set to result in thousands more deaths on top of those due to Covid-19; at a time when the means to combat the disaster – notably opening up intensive care beds and the mass-production of vaccine doses by a socialized and nationalized industry – are already known and technically possible; at a time when the Macron government is ignoring those means and is focusing only on serving the interests of the profit-hungry capitalist class… 

…isn’t the most basic democratic measure to drive from power those responsible for mass “social murder”? 

The revolt is building. The number of strikes is increasing. Every day, more and more accusing fingers are pointing at Macron and his government: “Out with those responsible for mass “social murder” and for its murderous consequences in every domain!”