close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

March 26, 2020

The message of Covid-19

Opinion

March 26, 2020

The habitat of other species has dramatically shrunk in the last century thanks to the rapid expansion of industrialized extraction of what have become known as “resources” and any damage done referred to as “externalities.” But it has done so at an extraordinary and existential price. A myriad of species has been decimated by the rapacious activities of capital accumulation for the economic powers who seek unending profit above planetary health. But, as Covid-19 is demonstrating, it is nature that has the ultimate power to shut this machine down.

Even in its infancy, the Covid-19 pandemic has ripped the tattered and rotting cloak from the edifice of the global economic and political system. Markets are in free fall. Airports and streets are empty. Restaurants and movie theaters are shuttered. Workers have been laid off. In the US people are anxiously staying at home, fearful of any cough or headache because they are un or under-insured; and stupefied by the crumbling institutions which were supposed to protect them.

It has revealed the sociopathology of world leaders like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Benjamin Netanyahu and Jair Bolsonaro who are utterly incapable of addressing the urgency of this situation with even a modicum of decency or compassion; and whose solutions lie solely in increased authoritarianism or even fascism. It has demonstrated the complicity of “moderate” politicians like Emanuel Macron whose neoliberal austerity led to a dearth of medical staff and equipment, and Joe Biden who has long cozied up to Big Business and refused to consider the slightest hint of Medicare for All which might have stemmed the spread of this disease.

It has shown us that the militarism of an empire is ruthless and relentless, even in a time of humanitarian disaster, as demonstrated by the ongoing sanctions against Iran and other nations. And it has revealed to us the cruelty that is routinely inflicted on animals and wildlife around the world.

But there are signs that Covid-19 is changing the way humanity looks at the way society is arranged. Some are questioning the cruelty and cost of militarism. Others are seeing how class has kept too many people in a cycle of demeaning poverty and disease, and many are demanding universal healthcare. The 1918 pandemic and a needless war of imperialism stole from humanity a young generation.

The Covid-19 pandemic appears to be stealing from us our elders, and many of us are beginning to see the intrinsic worth of all people and the immediate need for an end to all war. And, as the waters clear in Venice’s canals and skies become cleaner over Wuhan, there are questions emerging about how our species has treated the delicate balance between us and the natural world. Indeed, many are realizing that there is no “us and the natural world” at all.

Covid-19 might be the biosphere’s last and desperate warning to our species that the status quo is a one-way ticket to extinction. The only question that remains is how we will respond to its urgent message.

Excerpted from: ‘The Message of COVID-19’. Counterpunch.org