Strange, disorienting, but somewhat heartening days: The Atlantic headlines “The Trump Regime Is Beginning to Topple” (thanks, Mom, for sharing that piece!); Colin Powell endorses Biden for president; US military generals – active duty and retired, including current Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper – have failed to line up behind the President’s call for the US military to crush the nationwide uprising; and former Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, has slammed the President as unfit, while the President himself hides in a bunker.
It’s been three months to the day since I started writing daily about the COVID-19 pandemic, and – as I’ve done occasionally over that time – so as to look forward, I’m going to briefly look back.
Most salient today, on Mach 31st, I wrote: “I have no idea what we do about this [growing inequality and stacking of power structures ever more against those of us who imagine an egalitarian world], though I do suspect that – just as we’ll see explosions of consumption and revelry when this is finally over (and perhaps before, fueling second or third waves of infection) – the massive popular uprisings that will follow the pandemic will likely dwarf those that were already escalating globally through 2019. We can hope.”
We don’t have to hope anymore, because a massive global uprising is upon us. Wish I could say I actively foresaw the shape this would take, but, of course, I did not.
A few thoughts: We should stay vigilant about the “whirring away” of the “the status-quo-preservation machine” about which I wrote yesterday; the round-up of news above suggests to me that the establishment, broadly speaking, has decided conclusively that our current President is bad for business. Or no longer good for business. We’d be well served to remember that Powell is one of history’s more heinous war criminals (though outdone by former President, and Powell’s former boss, George W. Bush, who’s also been getting some good press for refusing to endorse the sitting President’s bid for re-election); that Esper, Mattis, and other leading generals are creatures of the military-industrial complex (which I abhor, but respect; as I put it to a friend yesterday, the Pentagon “is by far the most visionary and avant garde branch of the USG”); and that, regardless of how The Atlantic frames matters, this uprising is about more than our current President and electoral politics. Let’s see Powell, Mattis, and others come forward, for example, to call for the repeal of the 2017 tax cuts, removal of all Federal judges nominated by this President, comprehensive reversal of this Administration’s deregulatory agenda, etc. Or even further, let’s see them and their like confront US imperialism abroad and colonialism and racism at home, just as the protesters are doing.
We should also stay vigilant about the pandemic (which is still still a thing). I wouldn’t put over much stock in claims that SARS-CoV-2, via mutation, is “Getting Weaker,” nor would I invest over much hope in cross-immunity, warm weather, or any of the other hopeful hypotheses floating around until we have good reasons to believe them. Enough people are still dying daily in New York to make COVID-19 the first or second leading daily cause of death in the City, and we’ve still been registering 500+ new daily COVID-19 cases across the five boroughs. The virus is still around, and Dr. Anthony Fauci – with whose claims I generally maintain an arm’s-length relationship – is no doubt correct in pointing out that the mass demonstrations are “a perfect set-up for the spread of the virus.” Looking to Brazil and India, we see major countries (with a combined ~20% of the world’s population) following our lead into uncontained epidemic. In short, there are many unknowns, and we can hope that factors yet ill-understood may mediate the toll of the pandemic going forward, but until we have clarity regarding those factors, we should continue to plan for a present and near future where COVID-19 remains a deadly and serious threat. (Remember how it crippled the global economy, and killed, conservatively, half a million people in a matter of months?)
That’s probably enough for today. I thought this episode of The Red Nation Podcast – on abolition – was very compelling. The words of Emmy Rakete, in particular, stand as a rebuke to status-quo-oriented “centrism”; the call for world revolution is a heady one, but I understand why people in Palestine, or Ferguson, or Standing Rock, or Aotearoa/occupied Māori territory would support it. (Incidentally, regarding abolition, attending CR10 in 2008 was a turning point in my own political life.)
This episode of Reveal – especially the interview with Khalil Gibran Muhammad, who breaks down the history of policing in the US – was excellent.
And this long piece by Matt Stoller on “Corporate Power, Protests and the Breakdown of a Social Contract” does a nice job tying together the causes of the current uprising with the collapse of the New Deal social contract, the neoliberal assault on all things public, and the re-ascendance of corporate monopoly power in the United States.
The last three months have felt like three years; here’s hoping the next thirty years follow in the spirit of the last three days.