Monday, July 20, 2020

Neoliberal Capitalism Is Taking Us Towards The Worst-Case Covid-19 Scenario

As Covid-19 began widely spreading throughout the U.S., the horror of what would ultimately happen became clear over a series of weeks. The president tried to quell concerns, but his dismissive statements about the virus were so clumsy and transparently dishonest that they only fooled his supporters. Since then, the claims from the administration and its right-wing media supporters about how masks aren’t needed and the virus isn’t a serious threat have also been effective only within a narrow propaganda bubble. The tens of thousands of deaths have made the crisis too hard to deny.

Yet Trump is still trying to divert attention away from the facts that the U.S. has so far had over 140,000 Covid-19 deaths, and that the rate is still increasing. Trump has pivoted from his initial denialistic narratives, now claiming that he’s done all he can to stop the virus and that this will soon lead to the pandemic simply disappearing. If things go on like this-the haphazard quarantine measures that get sabotaged by the president, the lies from authority figures that encourage people to put themselves at risk, the push by the capitalist class to get everyone back to work-the country will reach a point even worse than the globally unsurpassed pandemic impacts that it’s experienced so far.

Three months ago, a team of pandemic experts explained three potential outcomes of the pandemic within the U.S. In the worst case scenario, spring’s wave will be followed by a larger wave in the fall or winter and one more smaller wave in 2021. The most likely alternative scenario is one where a series of repetitive smaller waves occur in the summer, and then happen consistently over either one or two years. At this point, most experts have said they expect a big uptick in cases to happen this fall or winter, and at least in the UK, the winter wave is expected to likely be larger than the one from this last spring.

Will the same be true for the U.S.? New York City doctor Robert Glatter predicted in May that “It will likely be worse than the initial wave we experienced this spring” when the second wave comes. Given all the risk factors that neoliberal capitalism under Trump has created, these dark expectations for the next year or so are looking more reasonable every day. Just look at the severe limitations that our socioeconomic system has put on people’s ability to shelter from the virus so far.

In socialist China, where the presence of the virus is still very limited in spite of its recent resurgence, tens of millions of people have been very effectively quarantined while the police had the job of doing shopping for those who were stuck inside. In capitalist countries, people have only been able to stay home as far as their bosses have let them take time off from work. And in the U.S., where the president and the right-wing media began stirring up anti-quarantine protests just a month into the major stage of the country’s Covid-19 crisis, the population has largely been acting like there’s no virus risk at all.

This widespread denial of the problem, fostered by a culture of individualism and by political polarization, has made the U.S. the most impacted country on the planet. The plans from many states to reopen schools this fall show that the system will never be willing to effectively combat the virus.

In socialist Cuba, where the healthcare system has been prepared for this kind of crisis for decades, the country has maintained a high level of medical coverage and world class healthcare service, all amid tightening U.S. sanctions. In the U.S., which is the only industrialized country without universal healthcare and has been undergoing austerity policies for decades, Covid-19 is continuing to overwhelm hospitals. Some U.S. hospitals are so close to financial ruin that just a few critically ill Covid-19 patients would make them unable to function properly. This situation isn’t going to get any better, especially as the government moves to further shrink the social safety net.

In many other countries, including capitalist ones, the government has put together programs to financially aid people during Covid-19 and the new global depression. In the U.S., tens of millions of people have become permanently unemployed, and half the country is now in poverty. Around five million U.S. workers have lost their health insurance so far during the crisis, with many more to come as the country sets in for an economic downturn that will last for a decade or longer. The $600 special unemployment checks are set to stop coming by the end of this month, after which millions of more households will slip deeper into poverty. When the next waves hit, the population is going to be far less equipped than last time to access healthcare or maintain other facets of their lives.

All the factors have aligned for the virus to keep majorly impacting the U.S. for two more years, if not longer. And the death waves that have happened so far are likely not the worst of what’s to come. This is the consequence of the neoliberal paradigm that the U.S. has so extensively embraced for the last generation or so.

Until this paradigm ends, the madness will go on. Even if the pandemic ends sometime in the next couple of years, the country is set for a long-term economic crisis, as well as exponentially damaging effects from the climate collapse. The U.S. has entered into a kind of hell that it’s systemically incapable of getting out of. So it’s no wonder why the diehard American patriots are trying to pretend that there’s no serious crisis going on, that the necessity of masks and social distancing is a matter of partisan opinion.

The only hope for escaping from this hell is to face our new reality and take the appropriate steps. As a Marxist-Leninist, I call this practice of facing reality dialectics. If we follow a dialectical analysis of the problem-which points to the capitalist state as the reason for why the virus is consuming our society-we can focus our energy on how to take the state down.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
If you appreciate my work, I hope you become a one-time or regular donor to my Patreon account. Like most of us, I’m feeling the economic pinch during late-stage capitalism, and I need money to keep fighting for a new system that works for all of us. Go to my Patreon here:

No comments:

Post a Comment