The genie has escaped from the bottle, revealing the deep injustices and cruelties that are embedded in US capitalism and its warped relationship to the peoples it rules, and the world. The coronavirus pandemic has upended the economy and the lives of millions of people. In so doing it has exposed the wreckage of a country living under the rule of billionaires and the military industrial complex. The health care system is controlled by corporations and therefore cannot meet human needs. The United States gave up its large scale manufacturing to China, the country which it both demonizes as the source of infection but also begs to produce more ventilators, masks and other medical equipment. The response is what one would expect from a politically backward nation like the United States.
We live in an age of Orwellian untruth where falsehood is the norm. One key falsehood worth unmasking is the claim that the current COVID-19 stock market decline, soon to usher in a full-on recession, is a “black swan” – an unpredictable (and supposedly unpredicted) “surprise” event with great and negative consequences outside the normal operations of capitalism. Nonsense. The new coronavirus is not really a surprise to those who know anything about the history of disease. Epidemics, like financial crises, have been a recurrent occurrence in the record of human civilization. Hundreds of epidemics have killed countless millions of people across a vast swath of human history. Wikipedia lists at least 80 epidemics, including 13 pandemics (a disease prevalent over a whole country or the world) since the onset of the modern world system in the 16th Century.
The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, unfolding around the world as I write these words, will likely be remembered as an epochal shift. In this extended winter, as borders close, as lockdowns and quarantines multiply, as people succumb and recover, there is a strong sense that...
Even before the novel coronavirus appeared, many American families were falling behind on student loans, auto loans, credit cards and other payments. America’s debt overhead was pricing its labor and industry out of world markets. A debt crisis was inevitable eventually, but covid-19 has made it immediate.
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.
As Americans do everything they can to stay safe and limit their exposure to COVID-19, we are seeing more clearly the great divides in our society. While the virus doesn’t discriminate, we are seeing that its impacts certainly do. In a pandemic, there’s a huge difference between having health care and not having it, between getting paid sick time off work and not, and having access to clean water and housing and lacking it.
Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith and Karl Marx grounded their philosophies in the understanding that there is a natural antagonism between the rich and the rest of us. The interests of the rich are not our interests. The truths of the rich are not our truths. The lives of the rich are not our lives.
Those hoping the non-interventionist cause would be given some real muscle if a couple of oligarchs who've made fortunes from global interventionism team up and pump millions into Washington think tanks will be sorely disappointed by the train wreck that is the Koch/Soros alliance. The result thus far has not been a tectonic shift in favor of a new direction, with new faces and new ideas, but rather an opportunity for these same old Washington think tanks, now flush with even more money, to re-brand their pet interventionisms as "restraint."
In November 2019, the Bolivian army – with a nudge from the shadows – told its President Evo Morales Ayma to resign. Morales would eventually go to Mexico and then seek asylum in Argentina. Jeanine Áñez, a far-right politician who was not in the line of succession, seized power; the military, the fascistic civil society groups, and sections of the evangelical church backed her. Áñez said that she would hold elections soon, but that she would herself not stand in them.
Critics of President Donald Trump frequently use the word “kleptocracy” to describe his leadership, administration, and imprint on American policy writ large. Before 2016 — before Trump’s election and presidency flipped assumptions about America’s liberal democratic project on its head — the word, which literally means “rule of thieves,” was mostly only used by academics and foreign policy wonks.