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Year of the Plague 24: An Open Letter To “No-To-Masks Liberation Front”: Trump Policy – Create, Encourage Chaos, and Then Try to Manage It…

July 21, 2020

U.S Border Patrol, the new American Gestapo, from the Rio Grande to Portland… Where next?

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Most importantly (and most missing here in the United States) a national plan that includes international coordination to help the whole world suffer from the pandemic’s effects to the least degree possible. To suggest or order the population to wear masks, social distance and quarantine without a national plan in place –  to use the resources and the power of the federal government to guide the effort against Coronavirus  – that is libertarian rubbish, of which there is a great deal being thrown around.

Without a national plan, we can all wear masks and social distance until we’re blue in the face, the Coronavirus will continue on its merry and deadly way.

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In late March of this year, just as the Coronavirus was gearing up here in the United States, scholar and author Mike Davis gave an interview on the politics of Coronavirus that soon thereafter appeared on YouTube where I watched it. Among the many discussions on the subject I found his among the most lucid, in part because of his overall knowledge and because of his lifelong international and socialist perspective.

I’ve read a few of his books – City of Quartz, Planet of Slums and Ecology of Fear – all of which are excellent. Even the more dated, earlier works (City of Quartz) still resonate. Impressed, I sent the link of Davis’s remarks far and wide only to receive what I would call “an underwhelming response.”

A number of friends and acquaintances panned it. “It’s political and not medical enough,” one commented. Another just said bluntly “I disagree with his perspective,” without elaborating. A third went on blah-blah about how the Coronavius is a conspiracy spawned by Bill Gates, Fauci and the World Health Organization.

This last friend didn’t stop there; along with many others, she was already on campaign to denigrate mask use, to downplay the seriousness of COVID-19 infections “it’s just an ordinary flu”, lock downs and social distancing are useless, attacks on Fauci and the World Health Organization as being tools of the pharmaceutical industry, the Swedish model of herd immunity (ie – free for all with no state policy – a kind of libertarian dream; you know the nonsense about how Coronavirus is treated like a self-regulating – and nonexistent – market).

While most of these friends did not go so far – or so low – as to blame China for Coronavirus – they all reminded me of the blind men and the elephant story. Even if they get a piece of it right, they miss the broader picture and by more than a mile. Whatever truths might mix with fantasies here, the main point is that these friends have talked themselves into a corner and as a result fail to see the big picture..which is:

– COVID-19 is a serious global pandemic, one which scientifically “we” – the world – are still learning about and about which we still know precious little. The level of the U.S. federal government’s mishandling of it long ago reached the level of criminal neglect which continues to date.

– Yes, the government IS using the pandemic as a kind of test run for all kinds of repressive scenarios in preparation to crush future eruptions of democratic upsurges… they are taking advantage of the crisis a la Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine” as a laboratory for future unrest. How far will they go, how serious is the domestic reaction, how to channel and ultimately neutralize it. But the powers that be did not initiate the pandemic – it has natural causes, they simply have jumped on that wild horse that is Coronavirus and have rode it for all its worth.

With an eye of intensifying voter repression – the only way Trump can win in 2020 –  the  Administration is pushing the envelope on using the vast repressive powers of the state. The current use of the U.S. Border Patrol to repress demonstrations in Portland Oregon – to use the military power of the state against its own citizens – is another step towards fascism, following on the heels of the Trump Administration’s encouragement and active support of right wing, racist armed vigilante groups threatening demonstrators. (1)

Nothing can justify the attack on Portland.

– The fact of the matter is, that in all the “relative” success cases in addressing COVID-10 – keeping in mind we are still at the beginning of this pandemic – a combination of the universal use of masks, enforced social distancing and lock downs were put in place, although there was something far more important in all these cases: many sided national plan/program to deal with pandemic.

These included:

a. National support for the country’s medical systems that included masks, ventilators and adequate protective gear for all in the medical field. Adequate hospital beds and where there weren’t, immediate and comprehensive additional temporary facilities. In all the success stories, the medical supplies necessary were in storage and there was enough to go round.

b. A much greater – or what is referred to today as “robust” – safety net for everyone – guaranteed incomes, eviction freezes, enhanced (rather than reduced) social programs all of which resulted in greater Coronavirus damage control. Such policies are in place in Canada, Europe and East Asia. In the U.S.A., a country whose economy is increasingly based on consumption rather than production, a government – that does not provide the population with the means to consume – that is to say regular payments to the vast majority of the population –  is shooting itself in the foot.

c. Most importantly (and most missing here in the United States) a national plan that includes international coordination to help the whole world suffer from the pandemic’s effects to the least degree possible. To suggest or order the population to wear masks, social distance and quarantine without a national plan in place –  to use the resources and the power of the federal government to guide the effort against Coronavirus  – that is libertarian rubbish, of which there is a great deal being thrown around.

Without a national plan, we can all wear masks and social distance until we’re blue in the face, the Coronavirus will continue on its merry and deadly way.

Needless to say, none of the above is in place in the United States today. If anything, rather than helping to alleviate the suffering from the virus, the Trump Administration and the Republican governors have exacerbated the crisis to such an extent that today there are serious medical and scientific voices saying that Coronavirus here in the States’ is out of control. The Administration instead seeks to create chaos and then step in to try to manage it for its own ends, the main one being at this point, doing whatever it can to help Donald Trump get re-elected.

Needless to say, none of the above is in place in the United States today. If anything, rather than helping to alleviate the suffering from the virus, the Trump Administration and the Republican governors have exacerbated the crisis to such an extent that today there are serious medical and scientific voices saying that Coronavirus here in the States’ is out of control. The Administration instead seeks to create chaos and then step in to try to manage it for its own ends, the main one being at this point, doing whatever it can to help Donald Trump get re-elected.

d. A national population unified enough, that in coordination with government plans, can go very far to turning the situation around. Rather then resulting in cooperation across class, ethnic, racial lines, the level of disunity – of racial animosity and bigotry that the Trump Administration has unleashed – has made it near impossible to build a national consensus around a scientifically based program to beat back this pandemic.

Cheers, RJP

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  1. (My speculation is that concerning the use of the U..S. Border patrol to play the role of the Gestapo in American politics – something for which they already have a vast experience – Trump could not even convince any branch of the military nor the National Guard to turn their guns on citizens but was able to get cooperation from the Department of Homeland Security to do the dirty work instead.)
3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Schoenberg permalink
    July 21, 2020 2:24 pm

    Rob, it would be nice if the government started a campaign calling face masks the seat belts of the 21st century

  2. Sarge Cheever permalink
    July 21, 2020 3:38 pm

    Robbie–I belong to a zoom discussion group, mostly UNC grads from ’65.  One member is is a cynical psychologist now in LA.  She claimed that Trump liked creating chaos, that he gets off on it.   Apart from that, I’ve always thought that DJT suffered from testicular envy–he wants to be a member of the club–Putin, Erdogan, Orban, Xi, etc.  but does’t have the balls.  Combining the two strands–well, after all, he saved us from nuclear war with North America by becoming friends with Li’l Kim after threatening annihilation.  I’m very disturbed by the use of various federal police being used to tame demonstrations in the face of opposition form local officials.   It’s Putin-esque.   The Goya guy–he tried to butter up Obama, now feels he has to butter up the newbie.

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