As twin systemic failures and existential threats, the Pandemic and the disasters of climate change have exposed the faultiness of our civilization, and the terrible humanitarian crises of disease, fire, and floods have hammered us into strange and new forms and confronted us with our limits through death and life disruptive events.
What can we learn from the Pandemic, and from death?
As public spaces empty, hospitals turn away patients for whom there are no beds, economies fail and both persons and nations sever the ties that bind us together in a global civilization and become islands unto themselves, and the modern pathology of disconnectedness and alienation becomes pervasive and institutionally reinforced in the wake of a great tide of fear and the terror of our nothingness, an emerging truth becomes clear; like the figure of the plague in Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, the Doom of Man Pandemic has come to the ball and no one is safe from its deadly embrace, not even the elites who had thought themselves beyond reach within the walls of their palaces.
It is a disaster created by political decisions and the Gordian Knot of oil as a strategic resource of elite hegemonies of wealth, power, and privilege, privatization and plutocratic capitalism as instruments of authoritarian hierarchies of membership and exclusionary otherness which are interdependent with divisions of identitarian racism and patriarchy, fascisms of blood, faith, and soil, and a carceral state of authoritarian force and control which manifests in police, prisons, borders, and universal surveillance and the falsifications of propaganda; and all of this combines as an engine of death and dehumanization to bring us ecological devastation and human extinction through climate change and the Pandemic.
Nor will the current Pandemic, terrible though it is, be the last test of our social cohesion, mutual interdependence, and solidarity we will face; I expect it is but the first of many successive and worsening waves of plagues to hammer us.
Our nation dies helplessly and alone in despair, like our loved ones whose breath and life are stolen by a disease of terror which need not have been unleashed, and the greatest horror is that they might have lived had they not been sacrificed in service to power. For each of us who has died has been murdered by Our Clown of Terror, Traitor Trump, and his Party of Treason and Terror as surely as if they had been delivered to the gas chambers of the Holocaust. Science denialism has been weaponized as a loyalty test in vaccine and mask denial, exactly like the suicide Kool-Aid that Jim Jones demanded his followers drink to prove their loyalty; the Fourth Reich of Trump and the Republican Party have betrayed their followers to their deaths, and all of us with them.
For disease has no borders and moves among us like an ambush predator wearing the faces of our family and friends, waiting its moment to strike with silent and unseen death.
How can we respond to this existential threat? We must heal the failed systems from whence it comes.
As I wrote in my post of June 24 2021, What Does the Pandemic Warn Us Of?; The limits of control, the lies and illusions of authoritarian states, and the weaponization of faith in technocratic elites as Plato’s philosopher kings combine in the Pandemic as a man made disaster of political failures to leverage change through destabilization of ossified and hollow forms of power.
The failures of humankind’s responses to the Pandemic are a measure of the distances we have between us and a free society of equals, between authoritarian and democratic societies.
It is also a symptom of the mechanical failure of capitalism from its internal contradictions, like the widening gyre between social classes in the global precariat and the ponderous destabilization of the wealth of nations. Herein are direct consequences of privatization and the emergence of a corporate, oligarchic, and plutocratic elite as it frees itself from its host political systems and claims dominion over humankind.
Ecological disaster and the immanent threat of human extinction, driven by political and economic failures, a direct result of our civilizational dependence on fossil fuels as a strategic resource of global dominion and elite wealth and power, can be read in the signs of the Pandemic and of fire and drought, storms and flood, which have seized the earth in the past few years.
As we bid farewell to yet another summer of record heat waves and water scarcity, let us reflect on the year that may come in which the heat wave never subsides, but worsens, and the wells run dry. Such a time may now be inevitable, and we may have less than two decades in which to change our fate.
If we are to survive, what must change?
As I wrote in my post of February 23 2021, Origins of the Disaster: Elitism and Racist Inequalities and Injustices Drive Our Catastrophic Systems Failures in Our Responses to the Pandemic; Beyond the failures of our government and our economy of disaster capitalism which rig the game to serve the interests of power and wealth, there is the pervasive and endemic racism as the basis of both, the gorilla in the room of our legacy of historical injustices and inequalities like Klimt’s image of Typhoeus in the Beethoven Frieze, which reimagines Goya’s interpretation of a parallel myth in Saturn Devouring His Children, confronts us with a chthonic figure of America’s shadow self which we drag behind us like an invisible reptilian tail.
There is no liberty for anyone unless there is equality for everyone.
And like Klimt’s bestial rebel or Goya’s mad emperor, this power asymmetry and identitarian elitism creates authority and legitimates our subjugation by it, which in recursion authorizes identities and births tyrannies and fascisms of blood, faith, and soil.
Fear, power, force; here lies the heart of state tyranny and terror, racist police gun violence and white supremacist terror, vote suppression and the subversion of democracy, the falsification of ourselves through propaganda and the shaping of some of us into monsters with which to terrorize and control the others; but also of our plutocratic and oligarchic capitalist kleptocracy and the policies of deregulation and privatization which are directly responsible for the systemic failures of our responses to the Pandemic, and to its origins in ecological collapse and disaster capitalism.
As I wrote in my post of February 22 2021, The Pandemic Consumes America: On the Wisdom of Our Darkness and the Brokenness of the World; In a magisterial address to the nation and a ceremony of shared grieving and trauma, President Biden spoke to us all today of the fragile nature of our lives and the necessity of our humanity in helping each other survive and heal from existential threats.
For on this day we passed half a million deaths from the Pandemic, many times more than any other nation on earth while commanding more of its resources than any.
Why is our death toll so high compared with the rest of the world?
Because Trump, and his collaborators, enablers, and co-conspirators which includes the Republican Party, intentionally sabotaged our nation’s response and weaponized the Pandemic as an instrument of racist genocide and the Quarantine as an instrument of repression of dissent against the Black Lives Matter protests.
All of us who have lost a family member or loved one to the Pandemic are victims of the Republican campaign of fascist tyranny and white supremacist terror, targets or collateral damage of genocidal ethnic cleansing and authoritarian marginalization, silencing, and erasure of nonwhite champions of racial justice, equality, and our universal human rights.
For this there must be a reckoning, but first we must survive and heal together, as a united America and humankind.
As written by Daniel Strauss in The Guardian; “In a somber address to the nation as the US surpassed half a million coronavirus deaths on Monday, Joe Biden urged the country to unify in its battle against the virus.
“I ask all Americans to remember those we lost and those we left behind. But as we all remember, I also ask us to act, to remain vigilant, to stay socially distanced, to mask up, get vaccinated when it’s your turn,” the president said in his address from the White House.
“We must end the politics of misinformation that’s divided families, communities and the country; that’s cost too many lives already,” Biden continued in his speech. “It’s not Democrats or Republicans who are dying from the virus. It’s our fellow Americans, it’s our neighbors. It’s our friends, our mothers, our fathers, our daughters, husbands, wives. We have to fight this together as one people, as the United States of America. That’s the only way we’re going to beat this virus, I promise you.
As a nation, we can’t accept such a cruel fate. While we’ve been fighting this pandemic for so long, we have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow,” Biden said.
“Let this not be a story of how far we fell, but how far we climbed back up. We can do this,” Biden said.
“This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again and as we do we’ll remember each person we’ve lost, the lives they’ve lived, the loved ones they’ve left behind. We will get through this, I promise you.”
Biden’s speech was bookended by solemn rituals to honor the 500,000 deaths.”
As reported by the BBC; “The US has topped over 500,000 deaths in the Covid-19 pandemic.
It will be the latest grim milestone for a country that has by far the highest death toll in the world from the virus.
The US has seen more than twice as many deaths as the next hardest-hit country, Brazil.
The first known US death from the virus came on 6 February 2020.
That means half a million lives have been lost in just over one year, more than the US death tolls from World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.
To put that into perspective…
If every death came from the city of Atlanta, nearly its entire population would be wiped out.
If you held a minute’s silence consecutively for every person who has died from Covid in the US, it would take 347 days, almost a full year, to honour them all.”
But this death toll does not represent the mass scale of our shared national trauma and grieving; a bereavement multiplier study has found that nearly nine people are left grieving for each of these deaths, or four and a half million Americans.”