“The question for western liberal democracies — Australia included — is: when this immediate coronavirus crisis passes, how will our politics respond? ”[11 May 2020 Stan Grant ABC News]
What has emerged from the chaos of the response to the virus in the UK and the USA is that the shibboleth of the market has been overturned.
The appalling death rates in what have been considered the most highly civilised countries of the West have forced the world to take stock.
The notion that the democracies are composed of free and equal citizens was also shown to be a lie.
The US death rates are amongst the worst in the world so far. Thirteen American states have now lost more than 200 people per million citizens to Covid-19.
“The developed countries outside Western Europe with which the USA should be comparable have all kept deaths per million below eight (8.0).” [11 May 2020 Alan Austin Daily Kos]
The Muslim community of New York has been hard hit, along with the Afro-American and Hispanic communities.
“All day long, wood coffins are carried in and out of Al-Rayaan Muslim Funeral Services in Brooklyn… They do this an average of 15 times a day in recent weeks. Before coronavirus hit, the home was holding only 20 to 30 funerals a month.” [4 May 2020 NYT]
Leading epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves, co-director of Yale’s Global Health Justice Partnership asks: “What proportion of the deaths will be among African-Americans, Latinos, other people of color?”
“This is getting awfully close to genocide by default. What else do you call mass death by public policy?” [7 May 2020 Huffington Post]
The British situation is similar. Haroon Siddique revealed: “The death rate among British black Africans and British Pakistanis from coronavirus in English hospitals is more than 2.5 times that of the white population…‘ [1 May 2020, The Guardian]
Social class and ethnicity combine to deliver a dangerous threat to frontline workers.
“According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, the lowest working-age death toll has been among men with professional occupations; the highest death toll has been among men toiling in low-skilled elementary occupations.”
“Some of those workers most exposed to poverty and discrimination have been left most exposed to this potentially deadly virus too.” [12 May 2020 Owen Jones, The Guardian]
The pernicious “racial contract” underpinning US society has been exposed.
”… the racial contract is a codicil rendered in invisible ink, one stating that the rules as written do not apply to nonwhite people in the same way.”
As the disease is now “infecting people who cannot afford to miss work or telecommute—grocery store employees, delivery drivers and construction workers,” The Washington Post reported. …….. Containing the outbreak was no longer a question of social responsibility, but of personal responsibility.”
To restrict the freedom of white Americans now became an unjust imposition.
Some workers are clearly expendable. [8 May 2020, The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying The Atlantic]
Nesrine Malik put it bluntly, “Anglo-American capitalism, … had dismantled the state. … An economic and political model that hinges on privatisation, liberalisation and the withdrawal of labour rights created a system prone to regular crises, despite such shocks being framed as one-offs.” [10 May 2020 The Guardian]
The ‘great and powerful friend’ upon whom our rightwing and centre-left politicians have praised and relied upon since World War II is looking very tarnished indeed.
Our value systems are not as similar to those of the Americans as we once believed and it is clear that it is not a country upon which we can rely.
Shaun Carney’s conclusion rings true : “We will have to become more self-reliant in every sense.” [10 May 2020, The Age]
This loss of respect for the USA will have profound consequences. China will also suffer.
According to Kevin Rudd: “ Neither a new Pax Sinica nor a renewed Pax Americana will rise from the ruins…. And the result will be a continued slow but steady drift toward international anarchy across everything from international security to trade to pandemic management.” [6 May 2020, Coming Post-Covid Anarchy? Foreign Affairs]