Science and Technology

Lessons from past pandemics

Published on: Wed, 25/03/2020 - 08:12
Author

Martin Thomas

The nearest historical precedent to the Covid-19 pandemic is the “Spanish flu” which swept the world between March 1918 and March 1920, in three successive and distinct waves.

On the best estimates, made decades later because no one counted well at the time, that strain of flu infected about one-third of the world’s whole population and killed between 50 and 100 million, possibly more than World War 1 and World War 2 combined.

The deaths peaked sharply in the second wave, between mid-September and mid-December 1918. Most strains of flu disproportionately kill the elderly and the very young.

Profit drive has stalled vaccines

Published on: Wed, 11/03/2020 - 11:16
Author

Angela Driver

In capitalist society we are encouraged to believe that our health and wealth depend on individual endeavour. The market can meet all of society’s needs.

Society is set up so that the only organisations capable of producing vaccines for Covid19 are privately-owned and run pharmaceutical companies.

In fact, with more public investment and research there might have been at least partially effective treatments already available when Covid-19 was identified.

As I wrote in Solidarity 534, the threat of zoonotic diseases has long been identified by the World Health Organisation. Covid-19 is in fact

Coronavirus and climate change

Published on: Wed, 12/02/2020 - 10:58
Author

Angela Driver

The novel coronavirus originating in Wuhan (2019-nCoV) is a zoonotic disease. It is an infection that has passed from animals to humans.

Humans have not developed immunity to such infections. That in turn means they are often more deadly, and spread rapidly.

According to the World Health Organisation, new zoonotic infections are becoming more frequent because of climate change and other human behaviour.

Zoonotic diseases are more likely to occur when populations of animals and humans that do not normally interact come into contact with each other. Climate change makes this more likely in a

Wuhan: a new coronavirus

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 10:50
Author

Les Hearn

WHAT HAPPENED IN WUHAN?

People visiting a seafood and wild animal market a few weeks ago almost certainly picked up a species of virus from live wild animals on sale. This virus, a member of the Coronavirus family, causes fever, a cough and sometimes pneumonia.

It seems to be relatively easy to transmit between people and identified cases have risen sharply to well over 10,000 in a few weeks, most in the city of Wuhan with a few (so far) in other towns and countries.

Each infected individual is estimated to be infecting about three others. This rate needs to be reduced to near zero to

Automation and the working class

Published on: Tue, 14/01/2020 - 19:13
Author

Martin Thomas

According to one account in 2013, 47% of jobs in the USA risk being automated away within “a decade or two”.[1] That prospect has been interpreted as utopia or as dystopia. The near future will be one of networked individuals freed from drudgery by automation, and able easily to get what they want to consume and to undermine all hierarchies. Or: only a techno-elite will retain employment and wages. The rest of us will be reduced to a new pauper class vegetating on “universal basic income” handouts.

Further research has queried the projections. Many tasks can be automated, but jobs involve more

The future and robots

Published on: Tue, 14/01/2020 - 17:46
Author

Charlie Applebaum

Fuelled by rapid developments in technological innovation hyped in recent years, although mostly developed over the last two decades, many cerebral types suggest we may be at the start of some significant changes in capitalist production. They even gave it a grandiose name: “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

Socialists, Marxists, progressives have a history of taking technology and advocating its use for more than just the most efficient exploitation. Perhaps however, the pace of innovation is making this harder. The techy elite, a traditionally well-meaning liberal bunch, and the

Letters

Published on: Wed, 08/01/2020 - 12:20

Revolution by stealth

I’m surprised that Katy Dollar’s report on the 14 December Labour Transformed conference (Solidarity 529) does not mention the repeated, unpleasant attempts of the organisers to prevent Workers’ Liberty members selling our materials and running a small stall in a corridor.

I’m surprised, also, that the report does not mention the organisers’ comments to our members that AWL supporters would not be welcome in the organisation they were setting up, or their silly attempts to demagogically label us as the people who are members of the “democratic centralist organisation in

Letter: The placebo effect

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 10:51

Reading Richard Shield’s letter (Solidarity 527, bit.ly/rs-hom), I have no doubt that taking his homeopathic remedy really is helping him.

Taking such remedies can lead to a measurable, and clinically significant change in someone’s symptoms — symptoms like vomiting, symptoms like intractable pain that has not responded to morphine. And unlike morphine these remedies have no side effects at all.

Everything that we experience in our brains is connected to our bodies. Our brains thin at the base of the skull and are continuous with the thick spinal cord that runs down our spine and spreads its

"Phase out almost all animal products” is wrong - debate

Published on: Wed, 18/12/2019 - 10:23
Author

Paul Vernadsky

See here for the original article which Paul Vernadsky is responding to. See Misha Zubrowski's reply to the article below, here.

The article ‘A workers’ answer to climate change’ (Solidarity 522, 23 October bit.ly/mz-cc-19) contains a flawed formulation, which would disorientate socialist climate politics if it were accepted. The sentence reads:

“Crucially, phasing out almost all animal products (with the added benefit of reducing the needless extreme suffering of billions of sentient beings)”.

The demand to “phase out almost all animal products” is incoherent:
• “Almost all animal products”

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