Letter from a reader
Editors’ Note: We write as the COVID infections and deaths in the U.S. spike upwards at remarkable rates. The public health infrastructure is at its limits in vast parts of the country, with people dying from lack of access. Trump and his fascist regime persist with their anti-scientific approach, muzzling government public health scientists, refusing any measures of lockdowns despite the recommendations of scientists, and completely abdicating any nationally coordinated plan and approach. This is criminally negligent, gross negligence and, by their scope or nature, acts that shock the conscience. This alone is sufficient reason to demand Trump/Pence OUT NOW!
“This was my fifth COVID-assignment. I was told anybody who goes in that pit (at the University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas), they know that they’re only coming out in a body bag. I’ve seen so many deaths in this last month, (more) than I’ve seen in my entire 13-year career. I have never experienced, and have no words, for what I just experienced in El Paso, Texas.” Travel Nurse Lawanna Rivers1
Earlier this year in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city, bodies were left decomposing in homes, abandoned in hospitals, wrapped in plastic and cardboard and left on the street. One video showed a woman begging the government to remove her husband’s corpse from her home. She was quarantined inside the home with the body for days, while government officials told her they were coming to move it. Gabreila Orellena pleaded, sobbing, “If you see this video, Mr. President, please, where are they? … They told me they were coming, and it was a lie. I’m only asking for you to help him die with dignity. Please. Don’t leave him here, thrown on the ground.”
Infections and deaths from the coronavirus are soaring across most of the world. Worldwide, there have been over 54 million known cases of the virus, and 1.3 million deaths. The actual figure is probably significantly higher. In October, a top official with the World Health Organization reported that “our current best estimates tell us that about 10 percent of the global population may have been infected by the virus” and that the “vast majority of the world remains at risk.”
In the U.S., on November 14 the New York Times reported that more than 1,000 people on average are dying from the virus every day in this country, a 50 percent increase in the last month. On November 12, 153,000 new cases were discovered in the U.S., the most of any day since the viral onslaught began. And all the curves—of infections, of deaths—project upwards, with hospitals and vital life-saving equipment below capacity.
Imperialism’s Savage Inequalities—A Plague of Sickness and Death
Any society would confront viruses and pandemics. But how a society confronts them is shaped by the kind of social system it has. The system of capitalism-imperialism is an obstacle to confronting a pandemic with science, and in the interests of humanity.
This crisis with the coronavirus has brought into sharp relief the reality that the capitalist system is not simply out of step with but is in fundamental conflict with, and a direct obstacle to, meeting the needs of the masses of humanity. Even as the capitalists and governments representing their interests have been forced to take certain emergency steps that in some ways run counter to the inherent dynamics of their system (such as massive intervention by the government in the functioning of the economy), the ways in which this system constitutes an obstacle to dealing with this crisis continue to assert themselves—including not only such perverse actions as the hoarding by some of vital medical and other supplies, in order to drive up the price, but also the fact that the creation of wealth under this system proceeds on the basis of ruthless exploitation and the impoverishment of masses of people throughout the world, while even in the “wealthier” countries there is significant poverty and large parts of the population live paycheck-to-paycheck and are only one serious crisis away from disaster; the ongoing rivalry between different capitalists (or associations of capital), with their private ownership of the means of production (land, raw materials, technology, factories and other structures) and private, competitive accumulation of wealth acts as a hindrance to necessary cooperation and the production of things that may be urgently needed but are not productive of private profit—and the whole ideology of advancing one’s interests at the expense of others, the individualism that is fostered by this system and is promoted to an extreme currently in this country, runs counter to and undermines inclinations toward cooperation and, yes, sacrifice for the greater good. (From THE DEADLY ILLUSION OF “NORMALCY” AND THE REVOLUTIONARY WAY FORWARD, by Bob Avakian)
Capitalism is a system in which the driving commandment is the expansion of profit. This shapes everything in society, and takes expression on a global level. Capitalism-imperialism’s relentless exploitation and deep oppression of billions of people worldwide have created yawning gulfs of inequality in wealth, living conditions, access to medical care, and resources for the most basic needs of life, such as food, decent housing, clean water, and reliable sewage disposal. Those gulfs have been widening and deepening through this crisis.
This has greatly affected the virus’s impact among different populations. For example, Angela Kocherga, the news director at El Paso radio station KTEP, said in an interview that in the northern Mexican city of Juárez, just across the Rio Grande from the U.S., “The Juarez hospitals filled up last week with COVID patients…. [P]eople there are basically being told, take care of yourself, because we don’t have room at the hospital.” As we pointed out in “From Vise Grip to Death Grip: Imperialist Domination, COVID-19, and the Poor of the World Be Damned,” in Juárez there are over 300 maquiladoras—highly profitable foreign-owned factories that produce automotive equipment, medical devices, aerospace products, electronics, and other materials for export to the U.S. Their capitalist owners didn’t want to stop production and cut into their profit, and as Associated Press reported, the COVID-related curfew “has proved difficult to enforce in the sprawling city that is home to hundreds of factories that manufacture … around the clock.”
The U.S. was founded on genocide and slavery, and built since then on deeply embedded oppression of Black and Brown people, an oppression expressed in every aspect of U.S. society—including today in the impact of the coronavirus. White people have 23 COVID-19 cases per 10,000 people, while the number for Black people is 62 per 10,000, and for Latinx people, 73 per 10,000. Both Black and Latinx people are about twice as likely to die from the virus as white people.
Crimes of a Fascist Regime
In very immediate terms, the outlook and methods as well as the priorities of the fascists, as concentrated in the Trump/Pence regime—with the appointment of the anti-scientific Pence to head government efforts around COVID-19; Trump’s initial denial of the scope and danger posed by this virus and his continuing lies about this; his gross American chauvinism, pitting this country against the rest of the world; his repeated tendency to recklessly deny medical science and ignore the recommendations of medical experts where it runs counter to his own narrowly conceived and dangerously shortsighted interests and objectives; and more—all this amplifies and fortifies the barriers that the “normal functioning” of the capitalist-imperialist system places in the way of a systematic and coordinated approach to combating the coronavirus. (From THE DEADLY ILLUSION OF “NORMALCY” AND THE REVOLUTIONARY WAY FORWARD, by Bob Avakian)
The fascist Trump/Pence regime has criminally amplified and magnified all these horrors. This regime put Mike Pence, a Christian fascist who denies and opposes science, in charge of its response to the virus. Trump has lied about the virus from day one. Trump and his core of fascists continue to undermine, ignore, and oppose scientists and medical experts. One expression of this—they never developed a national plan for virus testing. They have opposed measures of meaningful lockdowns.
Face masks have become a dividing line, where Trump openly flaunts not wearing one, mocks anyone who does including his own fascist supporters like Laura Ingraham,2 making it a standard in his rallies with thousands of people, in his events including indoor “super-spreader” events like the announcement of the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. During the campaign Trump used his own illness, from which he recovered with tremendous health care, as a way to undermine the seriousness and severity of the disease. He has encouraged his fascist social base to defy the orders on face masks with customers threatening store attendants. He has encouraged and backed his thugs to defy lockdowns, including armed vigilantes occupying the Michigan state house. He has mocked scientific expertise undermining and pitting them against economic growth and well-being. Under capitalism-imperialism, as we have pointed out, there is a real contradiction between the economy and the livelihoods of people and the public health measures needed to contain the pandemic.
They have shut down the border with Mexico using the utterly deceitful claim that they were doing this as a “health measure”—while holding immigrants in prisons that are wracked with more than 13 times the viral rate of the population as a whole, and deporting so many immigrants with the virus that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) became what the New York Times called “a domestic and global spreader of the virus”. They have threatened to cut funding for public schools that didn’t re-open, and said they would funnel that money to Christian fundamentalist schools.
As a global crisis confronts literally all of humanity, this regime and its adherents have promoted ignorant, virulent individualism in the name of “personal freedom.”
They have refused to cooperate with the incoming administration of President-elect Biden, in particular about planning distribution of a virus vaccine—an action that could cause the totally unnecessary loss of many more lives. A “senior official” in Trump’s regime told a Vanity Fair reporter that “The vaccine distribution planning takes time. And Operation Warp Speed has built up a huge database that is guiding their decisions about how best to roll out the vaccine. It’s essential Biden’s camp has access to this information so that when a vaccine does become available it can get out to the public quickly.”
The magnitude of the regime’s crimes as applied within this country were indicated in a study by four doctors at Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness. It concluded that “we estimate that at least 130,000 deaths and perhaps as many as 210,000 could have been avoided with earlier policy interventions and more robust federal coordination and leadership.”
All this—the belligerent opposition to science, the indifference to human suffering, the “me-first, America First, and screw everyone else” mentality, the cascade of lies—is a concentration of the fascism of the Trump/Pence regime and its crimes against humanity. This regime must be driven OUT NOW!
Covid-10 Coronavirus Pandemic, Worldometer
WHO: Number of Coronavirus Cases May Be Much Higher Than Reported, Voice of America, October 6, 2020
‘Every day it’s getting worse’: Bodies of coronavirus victims are left on the streets in Ecuador’s largest city, Washington Post, April 3, 2020
Ecuador’s Death Toll During Outbreak Is Among the Worst in the World, New York Times, May 12, 2020
Trump and Republicans are making the coming covid-19 nightmare worse, Washington Post, November 13, 2020
The Fullest Look Yet at the Racial Inequity of Coronavirus, New York Times, July 5, 2020
Morbidity and Mortality Report, Centers for Disease Control, August 28, 2020
COVID-19 placed a magnifying glass on inequities in the Kansas City area, KMBC News, November 8, 2020
Fact-check: Is the coronavirus death rate in the Rio Grande Valley double the state average? Austin American-Statesman, October 16, 2020
‘A stain on our country’: ICE efforts to stop COVID-19 spread fail to protect immigrant detainees from virus, USA Today, November 11, 2020
‘It Was Like a Time Bomb’: How ICE Helped Spread the Coronavirus, New York Times, July 10, 2020
“130,000—210,000 AVOIDABLE COVID-19 DEATHS—AND COUNTING—IN THE U.S.”, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia University, October 21, 2020
2. See “Trump, in Michigan, calls Laura Ingraham ‘politically correct’ for wearing a mask,” New York Times, October 30, 2020 [back]