In these days of ecological destruction, climate change and Pandemic, the concept returns….
From Engels Condition of the Working Class in England
When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call his deed murder. But when society places hundreds of workers in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live — forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence — knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.
I have now to prove that society in England daily and hourly commits what the working-men’s organs, with perfect correctness, characterise as social murder, that it has placed the workers under conditions in which they can neither retain health nor live long; that it undermines the vital force of these workers gradually, little by little, and so hurries them to the grave before their time. I have further to prove that society knows how injurious such conditions are to the health and the life of the workers, and yet does nothing to improve these conditions. That it knows the consequences of its deeds; that its act is, therefore, not mere manslaughter, but murderConditions of the Working Class in England (slight changes in punctuation and paragraphing).
Perhaps it happens because in neoliberalism (or in old fashioned capitalist liberalism) the only important thing is the corporate economy, which must be protected at all costs. Without that economy the dominant groups think there is nothing. Natural systems, and people, don’t exist apart from the economy, and as tools for the economy, under the economy. If those systems, or people, get in the way of the economy, or the way of corporate profit, then they have to be sacrificed to the economy to placate that economy. Then everything will work out fine.
Another aim of neoliberalism is to turn business people into heroes and everyone else into disposable and anonymous numbers. 29 unnamed people died today of Covid in NSW, to support the corporate economy and to maintain the fiction that all is well; and it is pretty good for the billionaires.
The ideal model of the worker, is the soldier who will do as they are told until they die for the greater good. They like the soldier are forced to go into danger, the threat not being firing squad, but hunger and homelessness for them and their children. The greater good is the corporate economy and those who run it, which is surely greater than any atomistic, unnamed worker…. The people who die under neoliberalism have only themselves to blame: they are old, they have pre-existing conditions, they are sick, they are not keeping quarantined, they don’t understand medical information, they don’t trust the government, they are idiots, they are not wealthy, they have no savings, and so on. All ways of distancing the rest of us from the murdered, and helping to stop us recognising that we could be next.
However, we should now know, that if the CEOs and high level executives don’t turn up for work, everything is ok. But if the garbage collectors, the street sweepers, the truck drivers, the people who put stock on shelves, the people who harvest and pick the food, the nurses, the ambulance drivers, the teachers don’t turn up, then there is panic. These are the essential workers, and these are the ones the system kills.