Coronavirus, Militarism And The End Of An Illusion

| Educate!

Above photo: Grocery shelves are empty in Louisiana.

People are waking people up to the fact that the US state and government does not belong to them but to a capitalist class that is only looking out for itself.

“The ‘sheltering in place’ order is starting to look like a convenient tool for the state to manage the growing frustration, fear and anger.”

“The nation that considers itself to be the apex of capitalist achievement on planet Earth turns out to have no health care system worthy of the name – a testament to the sucking moral vacuum at America’s imperial, white settler colony core. A lowly virus – a form of being that exists at the very border between “life” and “not-life” – has revealed the world’s superpower as butt-naked and very much afraid. (Glen Ford)

Coronavirus and second economic collapse in just ten years should finally put to rest the fairy-tale of U.S. Exceptionalism.

Trump’s “Make America Great” and Obama’s “U.S. Exceptionalism” are slogans that reflect an ongoing commitment to the normalized assumption of white racial and civilizational superiority. The idea that the territory that became the United States, and its settler population, were specially anointed by a god who gave them providence over the land and the Indigenous people is so ingrained in the national imagination that its extension to rationalize and justify U.S. imperialist policies was seamless.

The U.S. over the years shamelessly boasted of its “greatness” and being number one in all things, including having the best healthcare system in the world. And even though Bernie Sanders and healthcare movements in the U.S. consistently revealed the devastating reality of a system that generated billions of dollars for the healthcare industry while simultaneously generating unnecessary deaths, bankruptcies and millions without coverage — the mythology that the U.S. had a workable system remained in place, until now.

The coronavirus has dramatically stripped away the veneer of the for-profit healthcare system to expose a patchworked and completely dysfunctional system held together by state programs and two national programs, Medicare and Medicaid, that are still unable to provide basic coverage to millions of citizens and non-citizens.

“The mythology that the U.S. had a workable system remained in place, until now.”

But it is not just the absence of a public healthcare system that exposes the lie of U.S. exceptionalism. Black Alliance for Peace Coordinating Committee and Black Agenda Report’s Margaret Kimberley writes that COVID-19 is not just a health emergency but it has exposed the causes of inequality and suffering in the U.S.

And what is the source of inequality and suffering?

Union del Barrio says that coronavirus has “unmasked the sick brutality of capitalism .”

The brutality and criminality of the colonial/capitalist system of state violence is reflected most graphically by the illegal and immoral policy of sanctions imposed on 39 nations by the U.S. and its Western allies. Sara Flounders from the International Action Center exposes the role of Big Pharma as part of U.S. effort to destroy the capacity of nations to protect their population’s health. She details the inhumane policies being imposed on nations like Venezuela and Iran, that are being denied the ability to import medicines and medical equipment to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.

BAP is concerned with the troubling signs that the global recession and disruption of the national economy that has resulted from the coronavirus crisis is now seen as a serious security threat by the capitalist oligarchy. The state, with the full support of corporate media, appears to be a conditioning the public to accept draconian restrictions on basic civil liberties and human rights under the guise of the public health emergency.

“Venezuela and Iran are being denied the ability to import medicines.”

Ahjama Umi raises the very important point that we must resist efforts to panic the public into supporting a growing police state.

It is becoming clear that if the issue is really about containing the spread of the virus, there are effective protocols for combatting pandemics. Mark P. Fancher, a member of BAP’s Africa Team, discusses the measures that are in place in Africa,  in nations like Nigeria, for preventing, tracking and containing infection; measures that could have been easily applied to the U.S.

But with the repressive proclivities of the U.S. national security state, it is important that we view critically some of the measures being called for: from the use of the military to national lockdowns.

The “sheltering in place” order is starting to look like a convenient tool for the state to manage the growing frustration, fear and anger as it becomes apparent that the economic and racially stratified healthcare delivery system are unable to protect the lives of the working class.

As the system finds itself immersed in a crisis that is deepening by the day, the propensity for violence and ferocious repression on the part of the U.S. state must be seen as a real threat to the people. BAP will continue to monitor the situation.

The oppressed should have no illusions.

The conservative pro-business measures offered by the capitalist class to deal with the consequences of COVID-19 are waking people up to the fact that the state and government does not belong to them but to a capitalist class that is only looking out for itself.

That revelation of truth will be the only positive that will emerge from the crisis.

Netfa, Brandon, Vanessa, Jaribu, Margaret, Dedan, YahNe, Paul, Ajamu

BAP Coordinating Committee

The Black Alliance for Peace  is a people(s)-centered human rights project against war, repression and imperialism.

  • voza0db

    I’m enjoying this Coronavirus Dementia 2019 (COVID-19) a lot!

    It’s forcing to the surface and making available for anyone to see ALL THE IGNORANCE and INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY that the Colective Herd possess.

    It is also showing how those two combined are sufficient to destroy this UNSUSTAINABLE CIVILIZATION we’ve built TOGETHER (The negative reality I’m always pointing out!).

    Some fun examples:



    But hey… Wait calmly for the one time $1,200 life saviour check!

  • Western exceptionalism

    I would replace the statement “US exceptionalism” with “western exceptionalism”. I call most (but not all) western countries “exceptional” not because I believe that there is some form of racial or genetic superiority, but because most of the values we recognize as the “default” proper human values, such as feminism, gender equality, separation of church and state, civil society, democracy, freedom of press/speech, abolition of slavery, scientific inquiry and logical thinking above religious pseudoscience or traditional pseudo-science, can be found in the west and allies of the west. Countries such as Canada, Germany and Scandinavian countries always hit the top 10 in lists such as religious tolerance, work/life balance, quality of life, safety, democracy, freedom of press, LGBT equality and so on. You can pick one culturally western nation such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Germany, or even Spain, Canada or New Zealand and we see that they fare much better in most aspects of life. Western values are exceptional indeed.

    With that being said, your country is a second (if not a third) world hole. Falling infrastructures, ghettos everywhere, people defecating on the street, poverty on the rise, homelessness, dirty cities with trash everywhere, great poor/rich gap, weird racial tensions, religious fanaticism, white nationalism and black supremacy, KKK, terrorism, lower life expectancy than Europe, and so on. You have got a lot of issues that can not be fixed within a year or even within a decade.

    But can you find something bad without finding something good as well? No. Good/bad always goes together. Despite all this mess you call home, America is still exceptional in some aspects of life. Best universities in the world are Americans, and so are most nobel prize winners. Americans landed on Moon, and some of the wonders of the modern world (e.g. internet, computer, phones, Mars rovers, the discovery of Homeostasis, polio vaccine, DNA structure, Human genome and so on) were discovered either by Americans or by people who lived and benefitted from the scientific prowess of Usa.

    In the end of the day you weigh the pros and cons, the positive and negative contribution of each individual, state, country, empire or group of people. If the positive outweigh the negative, the history will document you as a positively important thing.

    Despite all the crimes ancient Greeks, Romans, Indians and Chinese committed, today we commemorate and remember them as the cradle of civilizations, as the great contributors of science, art and technology. Unless America commit a serious genocide that will result to the death of ten of million of people equal to the destruction brought by Hitler or Stalin, a similar place will be reserved for America in the history books.

  • Robert Kirby

    While I agree with the author about the destructiveness of capitalism, I object to his invocation of whiteness as being the basis of the curse of America’s early tendency to a belief in Manifest Destiny. His doing so is racism, and you can’t argue it away by saying it is impossible that those races less fortunate economically cannot be racist.

    Not only is identity politics the cancer which will probably keep the economic Left forever out of the power I, a white man, wish for it, the author’s argument, based on it as it is, detracts from the real problem, which is the evil of capitalism.

    Anyone who has any knowledge of American history understands that Manifest Destiny was intrinsic to our expansion to become a continental power in the nineteenth century, and the term itself is indeed laden with a horrible disdain for the native population of the United States, but just who was demanding it? Why, the same sorts of people who keep our military spending 90% higher than it needs to be, oligarchic capitalists. Most white Americans weren’t remotely close to that privileged category of wealth, and in fact were cruelly exploited throughout the nineteenth century, and into the twentieth, by the same kinds of predatory characters who have always existed.

    So, the problem doesn’t lie with the fact that the white race exists. Remember, it was American whites who were vehemently opposed to our entry into the Great War, as it was then called ( tragically, the opinions of other races meant not a damned thing because the vast majority of them couldn’t vote ), just as a quarter century later, more than half of the white American population couldn’t abide the idea of our getting dragged into a second war in Europe. And a quarter century after that, a strong majority of white Americans were opposed to our getting into a war in Vietnam. I trust the author knows his American history well enough to know that Lyndon Johnson won his landslide victory in 1964 as the “peace” candidate, who, unlike the Republican Barry Goldwater, would certainly not expand the war.

    The main problem with American whites and expansionism hasn’t been an eagerness for it, but a meekness toward the federal government, and until recently in historical terms, a naive belief that it knew what was best for the country.

    It doesn’t take a scholar’s concentration on native Americans, Asians, or Africans for someone to conclude that the author’s essentially saying that whiteness is to blame for it all is laughable.

    The evil is capitalism, and the author pollutes his case ruinously with his racist assertion.

  • Margaret Flowers

    There is no such thing as “reverse racism.” It is false to say that Glen Ford is being racist by blaming whiteness. The colonization of the United States and Manifest Destiny are manifestations of white supremacy that viewed Native Americans as “savages” and Africans as property. This is not identity politics. This analysis informs us that the US was founded as a racist country that has institutionalized racism from the beginning up to today. We can’t change the country without recognizing this. In fact, one reason the colonists sought independence from Britain is because the British were abolishing slavery and the colonists did not want that to be required here. Racism is a structural issue based on a power differential. The US is a racist country.

  • Robert Kirby

    Margaret, I’m sure you’re aware that nothing makes a person essentially an unperson in 2020 quite as much as a hint of racism in the person.

  • Margaret Flowers

    What I’m trying to explain is that racism is not so much a personal thing as it is structural and systemic. This isn’t about you. We need to change the system.

  • Robert Kirby

    Margaret, you’re too smart not to know that poverty is mostly a white phenomenon in the United States, because there are so many more whites than blacks in the country.

    And the structural and systemic things which have been killing the United States off for the last forty years are matters of government policy, not of racism. We’re being killed off by Reaganomics, neoliberalism, whatever name you give it.

  • mwildfire

    First, in your initial post you refer to races that are “less economically fortunate” than whites. Was that matter of luck, then? Second, you accuse Ford of racism because he says whiteness rather than capitalism is the problem. No he doesn’t. He says racism, or white supremacy, is the problem, not the existence and numerical superiority of white PEOPLE. Third, you point out that whites are often poor too–but look at the statistical difference. Whites are much richer on average, have longer life expectancy, lower unemployment, much lower imprisonment rates including for drugs despite similar usage rates…this is not because whites just happen to be luckier than POC.
    And finally, you point to the real problem being capitalism or I’d say more accurately, domination culture and empowerment of sociopaths. But there is a connection: the ruling class figured out a long, long time ago that dividing the majority and privileging some over others was a good was to keep them from uniting against our common enemy–them. So it’s not that racism is not a real problem and capitalism is. It’s that racism is one of the tools the capitalists use to keep themselves in power

  • mwildfire

    The US has already committed that level of genocide, just not in a single decade. And its ancestors committed a deliberate genocide against the natives that surely had more than ten million victims. Also, you credit European and European-offshoot nations with the best civil liberties values…but why don’t the third world nations have those values? (Neatly all are now “democracies”–fake democracies but so is the US.) I would argue that essentially all were colonized and exploited at various points, not allowed to develop in a healthy way. And the CIA steps in with allies to “correct” matters whenever a country tries to develop in a just, egalitarian, nature-respecting way. So I’m not going to give the US, or European nations you can call “the West” as much credit as you like.

  • Western exceptionalism

    “Not allowed to develop in a health way”. Scramble for Africa began in 1870. That means that Africa had over 3000 years to develop independently of European influence (not counting the very small Greek and Roman conquests in very north).

    By 17th century and 18th century (that is, before European invasion to Africa) Europe was very progressive and advanced with scientific institutions, universities, great literature and philosophy movements and with things such as scientific revolution that brought the institutionalization and mathematization of science and scientific research.

    Africa (with the exception of brilliant Egypt) remained stable, backward, with low level of technology and science for over 3000 years! Europeans did progress from century to century, whereas African progress – in places untouched by the golden islamic age – progress was very low.

    When Europeans began colonizing Africa in late 19th century, Africa was STILL very backwards. They had all the time to develop, and yet failed to do so. I dont know what were the factors that did not enable the Africans to develop, but Europeans definitely werent among the factors.

  • Western exceptionalism

    Also, whether we give credit to the west or not is meaningless. Credits to the west is being given by the million of non-westerners who constantly try to migrate to the west for a better life.

    The real question is: Do you support Western ideals? Ideals that were first theorized and developed by westerners, such as LGBT equality, democracy, freedom of speech/press, abolition of slavery, church/state separation, feminism, gender diversity, atheism, minority tolerance, ecology, scientific inquiry and western medicine?

    The thing is, none of the above were invented by Africans. Aksumite empire didnt develop theories of Lesbian rights. Congolese empire didnt say that people with gender dysphoria should take hormones to change their gender. Egypt didnt say that people must vote for the next Pharaoh. The Zulu empire or the Lunda empire didnt invent concepts of ecology, feminism, rule of law, dedutive rerasoning above traditional pseudo-paramedicine, civil society, and so on.

    I think that those who do not embrace western values have racist, misogynist and homophobic motives.

  • mwildfire

    Oh, well, pretty clear, isn’t it? Africans are just inferior, stupid people, nothing like the glorious Europeans. Not that we’re RACIST or anything! You need to read Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.

  • Western exceptionalism

    There are st*pid individuals, but no stup*d people. There is no such a thing as glorious nations or glorious continents. Only glorious individuals.

    When you ease down your overwhelming emotions, try to understand that I attribute the lack of African progress not to the “inferiority” of Africans (oh you would wish that I would state something like that so you can label me a racist) but to complex socio-political factors, the nature of which I do not understand.

    Lets not forget that Africa have over 6000 years old history!! Europe’s heavy presence in Africa lasted for a mere 105 years (from 1870, when the scramble for Africa began, up to 1975, when the last African countries were decolonized).

    If we take a look at the big picture, its only 105 years out of 6000 years old history! It would be historically very inaccurate to blame the Europeans for the lack of progress in Africa.

  • Western exceptionalism

    I read the preview of Guns, Germs and steel. I should read the book if I believed that “Eurasian hegemony” (the author coined the term, not I) was due to genetic superiority.

    But I DONT believe that the “Eurasian hegemony” (the author coined the term, not I) is due to genetic/intellectual superiority. Therefore, the book is not for me.

    The so called “Eurasian hegemony” (the author coined the term, not I) and the African backwardness is due to complex social, political and environmental factors that only great scientists (historians) can understand and explain.

  • mwildfire

    The term “Eurasian hegemony” does NOT imply racial superiority and wasn’t it in the preface that Diamond talks about sitting with a man from New Guinea and realizing the man knew a great deal more than he did about a lot of things…and wondering why it was that the Europeans took over the world and not some other group. So he looked into it, and found some answers. But certainly you have been very careful to avoid reading the book, and I am not a scientist at all; apparently Diamond isn’t enough of a scientist for you–so it’s surely best you maintain your mental purity by not reading this book. This is not the book, however, that will get you questioning whether western culture and its “progress” is all it’s cracked up to be, whether “primitive” cultures have wisdom.our world needs.

  • Robert Kirby

    No one in his right mind and with a shred of knowledge of American history would deny our history of legal racism. I’m Southern, and old enough to recall the last years of segregation. It didn’t assault me personally, but in a sense, it did, because I’m a human being, and have empathy.

    As John F Kennedy observed, “Life is unfair.” It would be impossible to devise an appropriate distribution of reparations to blacks – as if they’re the only ones who have been discriminated against, too. What about the descendants of the victims of what I think of as America’s other slavery, the sweatshop system, which went on for a half century and drew overwhelmingly from white European immigrants for its source of “labor?” Would we compensate them, as well?

    Capitalism ( oligarchism ) is the worst villain in maintaining economic inequality, but of course there are characterological and cultural reasons for it, too: drug abuse and failure to form and maintain families, with the latter, in my view, being more destructive than the former.

    Children need a loving, intact family, which will nurture them from birth and encourage a love of learning in them. Poverty, as horrible as it is, doesn’t make this impossible.

    But American culture is decadent, a septic tank of godlessness, immorality, ignorance and incuriosity, tastelessness and general vulgarity, and this applies equally to whites.

    Government can’t fix the human race, but it can end neoliberalism, tax the intestines out of the rich ( when Eisenhower was president, the richest Americans were subject to a 91% income tax rate, and nobody but a few rich assh*les bitched about this being communism ), cut military spending by 90%, institute universal health care and a guaranteed universal income, and restore a generous social welfare system.

    I say we should do those. They would improve life enormously for the vast majority of Americans. Leave the judgments and recriminations to God, whose knowledge of just who did what to whom, the reasons for it, and who is unrepentant about it, is perfect.

  • dreamjoehill

    If it’s not a personal thing, why are racially motivated bigots called “racists?”