COVID-19 as a warning sign in an abusive relationship

The American establishment have begun congratulating themselves for the checks and balances built into the constitution which are apparently now heading off an attempted coup by a far-right group within the Republican party. The anchors, editorialists and even late night hosts are applauding one another on how a handful of Judges have seemingly stopped a cult of personality from taking advantage of loopholes in the political system.

What is less likely to be mentioned is how those same loopholes were built-in to the system to stop the poor from using their vote to redistribute wealth. The reality is that the American establishment has been very happy with how the system has been working up until now because it has done exactly what is was designed to do, create the appearance of political equality while in fact maintaining, if not increasing, economic inequality.

The reason this most recent hysteria seemed to spread through the ‘liberal’ establishment in the lead up to the election was that it was increasingly difficult to pretend that the systems created to stop the bottom 90% of the population from using the vote to equalise society, could just as easily be used to install a far more authoritarian from of neoliberal capitalism. Put simply, they were being forced to publicly acknowledge that the modern system of “free market democracy” is far from democratic in the true sense of the word.

If the world needed a warning sign of how the modern economic and political system prioritises the profits of the few over the lives of the people, then COVID-19 has been exactly that. And while there have been some more positive outliers, such as Vietnam, New Zealand, and Cuba, there have been a great many more abject failures, such as USA, India, Brazil, France, Spain and UK.

The real worry now is if COVID-19 is only a warning sign to something far worse waiting for us in our future, and if so, what can we do to avoid the same failures of our political and economic systems from repeating themselves on a far grander scale.

To truly understand the chilling reality of the magnitude of the failure attained by certain ruling elites in response to this public health crisis you really have to compare the impact of the pandemic on the different nations. For instance, the Spanish political and economic leadership have overseen the deaths of 94 people per 100,000 people in the population. In the UK the political and economic leadership have overseen the deaths of 85 people per 100,000 population. And in the USA it has been 80 per 100,000 people. In contrast Japan has lost 1.5 people per 100,000 population. Malaysia has lost just over 1 person per 100,000. And New Zealand has only lost 1 person for every 200,000 people in their population.

While there are of course differences between these countries, the disparity is just too stark to ignore. For every 200,000 people in New Zealand 1 person has died, while in the UK 170 have died. That is 845 more families and communities being torn apart per 1 million people because the British establishment felt that it was in their interest to put arguably one of the most contemptuous and parasitic governments this country has seen in centuries in charge, just in order to protect their privilege.

And don’t be under any misconception, just as it is in the USA, the political cultural and economic systems in the UK have been developed and staffed with one purpose, maintaining a class system built on oppression and exploitation and then hidden it behind an illusion of political equality.

While COVID-19 has been a devastating wake up call for most of us, the fact is that there is a far more dangerous crisis barrelling towards us. Which to put into perspective, while the COVID-19 death toll has reached just over 1.4 million people in only one year, the predicted death toll of the climate crisis is likely to be measured in the thousands of millions within a few decades.

These political and economic systems and institutions are simply incapable of putting life on earth before the privilege of the 1% because they are designed, maintained and populated by the 1%. The political situation in the US is a perfect example of this. We are all now supposed to breath a sigh of relief because the President-Elect has promised to rejoin the Paris climate agreement. The problem is that the Paris climate agreement wouldn’t have been enough if it had been implemented when it was originally signed. Now it is little more than a sleight-of-hand.

The real problem now facing us all is whether as bad as COVID-19 has been, in the years to come will we look back on this point as a warning sign of a pattern of violent behaviour in an abusive relationship. A warning sign that we chose to ignore when our abusers assured us that they really will try harder not to kill our loved ones next time.