On Tuesday afternoon, the Chinese government announced that it had seemingly halted the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 within its own borders following a weeks-long execution of draconian measures. Unfortunately, this report was discarded almost before it was even published, for myriad reasons: firstly, there are no circumstances under which the American corporate media will credit the Chinese state with anything, lest the former interrupt its own relentless barrage of propaganda against the latter; secondly, and as Damian Wilson noted in an op-ed for RT, it couldn’t have been disseminated without incidentally exposing the Italian government’s astonishing incompetence in controlling its own outbreak; and thirdly, it would compromise the sensationalist coverage of the disease’s spread in the United States. We cannot sell this panic effectively if we depict the Chinese people returning to business as usual.
Nevertheless, those of us who read this report went to bed on Tuesday night in a state of uncommon optimism, hopeful that the media would abandon this subject soon, possibly within the next couple of weeks, but certainly by the end of the month. We were sadly mistaken, in large part because we foolishly assumed the American outbreak would adhere to the trajectory of the Chinese. This was impossible because, whereas the Chinese government responded from the beginning, the American government twiddled its thumbs before finally taking some form of action, the details of which are said to be disclosed by the end of the day. Most of the debate among the bourgeoisie has centered on the hardline restrictions adopted by the Chinese government (and, later, the Italian government), as many people would prefer to allow the disease to run its course. However, medical efficacy is not the focus of our present discussion; our initial observation is that, by taking the latter approach before switching to the former only recently, sloppily, and desperately, the American government has welcomed the worst of both worlds.
As of this writing, the United States is entering a phase of informal, partial, and therefore laughably ineffective lockdown. The government and the corporate media are discouraging us against leaving our homes, even to visit our neighbors, which might be the most unnecessary advice ever offered to a nation that is already crumbling through social estrangement and personal fragmentation. If it isn’t safe to cross the hall of your apartment building, then it is downright suicidal to attend one of those notorious “gatherings of large numbers of people”. People have this obstinate habit of going places and performing activities, which puts them at preternatural risk of contracting coronavirus disease 2019. Yesterday, the paroled felon who makes your coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts had a clean bill of health, but how do you know he didn’t contract coronavirus disease 2019 this morning when that vaguely foreign-looking guy handed him a five-dollar bill? How can you be sure the prostitute you’ll hire in Manchester tonight didn’t recently return from a European cruise? These are serious questions we should all ask ourselves, but just to be safe, the federal government will answer them for us.
Such is the direction in which we are heading. As mentioned above, the Trump Administration has reversed course to pursue authoritative action after looking the other way for most of this year. We have heard several astonishing rumors as to the cause of the president’s initial diffidence, and even more pertaining to his rather uncharacteristic about-face. One particularly popular explanation is: he didn’t want to acknowledge something that might jeopardize his re-election campaign, even if a pandemic was coming. This is difficult for the patriotic bourgeoisie to believe, especially when Dr. Jordan Shlain is reporting that as many as 1.5 million Americans could die within the next few months; however, when we remember that the late George H.W. Bush ordered a military invasion that murdered at least 500,000 Iraqis for no reason other than to empower his struggling re-election campaign, and when we consider that Hillary Clinton ordered a military invasion that murdered at least 40,000 Libyans strictly to give herself “an achievement” when she ran for president later on, suddenly Trump’s more passive psychopathy becomes a bit less unfathomable.
Another explanation, less sinister but probably more frightening, is that Trump believed, as Sean Hannity apparently still does, that popular interest in coronavirus disease 2019 is manufactured by the Chinese government to weaken the American economy. This would be a most opportune time to reevaluate Trump’s supposed capitalist renaissance, an illusion which could be swiftly exposed if the Democrats were not benefiting from the same chicanery. Instead, we might consider Trump’s argument on its face: if he is correct, and if the stock market’s vacillations earlier this week were the Chinese government’s desideratum, then didn’t he play directly into their hands by instructing the Federal Reserve to award the banking industry $1.5 trillion? Regardless of whether this money is ever repaid, our government’s obsessive devotion to the casino of Wall Street, especially when even the ostensibly left-wing politicians claim we cannot afford basic services, is all too telling as well as unbecoming. Notice how every media outlet has used the term “inject” to describe how the Federal Reserve released this money into the financial system: the allusion to heroin addiction may not be inadvertent.
With our public officials guided by such obscenely misplaced priorities, it is no great wonder that so many people would be skeptical of our government’s ability to manage a crisis in real time. The coronavirus disease 2019 is a perfect example: the right-wing extremists governing the country are too squeamish to spend tax dollars on medical treatment for an infectious disease, yet a historical gamble on Wall Street can be approved and executed within forty-eight hours. This unbalance is a testament to our pitiful values, values that are reflected elsewhere in our culture. Supposedly out of concern for public safety, but more realistically out of fear of class-action lawsuits, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, a billion-dollar organization that has done more than perhaps any other entity to bastardize the concept of American higher education, cancelled its tournaments for winter and spring sports. Immediately, the emphasis in the New York Post and elsewhere was on the financial impact, with the decision expected to cost interested partners hundreds of millions of dollars. Has it ever occurred to these organizations that Americans who do not work in corporate media, who take home less than $40,000 a year, might be losing something in this pandemic, too?
Postscript: the Trump Administration has pledged $50 billion to combat coronavirus disease 2019. Oh, sweet charity.