The vile, brutal inhumanity that lies at the core of the power systems in both the US and UK is being laid bare as never before by the pandemic. Today, the UK’s death toll from the virus surpassed Italy’s; but the headlines were filled with stories about a top scientist hit by a sting operation from the hard-right Daily Telegraph. He was targeted because he is seen by the increasingly Trumpist UK right as a figurehead for the lockdown, which the Telegraph is attacking with relentless fury. They cannot countenance any effort to save the lives of worthless peasants if it might possibly inconvenience the lives and profit margins of the elite in any way.
The “news” about the scientist also obscured the announcement by Boris Johnson’s government of herd-cullers that it will start slashing the furlough scheme that has keep so many hard-pressed Britons afloat during the virus-enforced job losses. The Tory herd-cullers say people are becoming “addicted” to receiving 80 percent of their former salaries. Can’t have that. So when the lockdown lifts (no doubt with the kind of careful planning and wise competence the herd-cullers displayed as the virus first began sweeping through the country), Britons can look to July as the moment when they too, like the Americans, are thrown to the wolves.
Trump is now giving up all pretense of fighting the virus or even trying to slow it; he actually seems to take a perverse delight in presiding over a world-historical disaster in which his own herd-culling policies have led to tens of thousands of needless deaths across the shattered land. The entire GOP faction of the power structure has lined up with goose-stepping servitude behind this murderous assault on the American people, while the Democratic faction dithers, cowers and chills on vacation, bestirring itself only to vote for “relief” bills that give literally trillions of dollars to the super-rich and corporations while leaving ordinary people with almost nothing — not even protection for their voting rights in a pandemic, not even that one small, pathetic say in determining their fate.
The pandemic has stripped away all facades. We can see the system and its leaders clearly now. After killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people in foreign lands during the last two decades of aggressive war and ceaseless “interventions” (most of which are not even noticed or reported on anymore), they have now turned on their own people. They sit and watch thousands of them die unnecessary deaths, happy to “cull the herd” of the “useless eaters”: the sick, the old, the vulnerable, the poor and the non-white minorities who are dying in vastly disproportionate numbers.
Both the Trump and Johnson herd-culling governments devote most of their time and energy to massaging the images of their leaders and deflecting criticism of their death-dealing policies. Both were pressured into lockdowns they didn’t want, after word got out that the herd-culling approach they’d adopted was going to lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths in short order. Neither treated the lockdowns for what they were intended to be: draconian emergency measures to buy time while the governments launched furious, all-out efforts for nationwide testing, tracing and quarantine measures, as seen in other nations which suppressed the virus (or, as in New Zealand and Vietnam, essentially defeated it).
They didn’t do this. At every stage, they have done just enough to get a story in the day’s new cycle saying that they’re doing something, while frontline workers in every field, especially the health services, die like soldiers led to slaughter in the Somme. Of course, Trump has now dropped even this fig leaf: he is now saying openly that people should just go back to work and die by the thousands every single day. And it’s almost certain that Johnson will be saying essentially the same thing soon, although not quite so directly as Trump.
This is who they are. This is where we are. This is what we now can see: the corroded heart of the power system, and the sick, degraded character of the wretches in charge of it.