Coronavirus Fearmongering Demonstrates U.S. Imperialism is a Drag on Humanity
The US is the most profit-oriented, business-controlled society on Earth, and therefore the least able to cope with a national health emergency, which requires sacrifice of profit for the greater good.
“U.S. imperialism offers no solutions to address the coronavirus outbreak now that it has reached U.S. shores.”
The coronavirus outbreak in China has made its way across the world, infecting thousands in nations such as Iran and South Korea. While confirmed cases in the United States remain low (likely due to underreporting), a cloud of fear and racist hysteria hangs over the U.S. populace from centuries of imperialist aggression toward China and its people. Racist attacks against Asian Americans are on the rise. The corporate media has predictably used the outbreak to demonize China’s system of economic and political governance. Yet as fear of the coronavirus’ spread increases, it becomes clearer that U.S. imperialism is the true drag on humanity, not China’s market socialist model.
The U.S. corporate media has lamented over its assessment that China’s “authoritarian” government is behind why the country has been able to address the coronavirus outbreak with such strength and vigor. This is a cynical admission that the United States and its imperialist allies are not prepared to effectively address a similar outbreak. One person based in Miami has already reported receiving a bill of over $3,000 to get tested for the coronavirus. A 2019 survey found that up to half of all participants avoided seeking medical caredue to the cost of the for-profit healthcare system. This alone places a large section of the population at risk should the number of coronavirus cases increase as predicted.
“One person based in Miami has already reported receiving a bill of over $3,000 to get tested for the coronavirus.”
The real story of the coronavirus outbreak is not the virus’ lethality but rather the difference between an imperialist world order and the alternative system located in China. U.S. imperialism and its allies across the world had over a month to take preventive measures and learn from China’s containment strategy. Instead, the corporate media and official Washington have provided ordinary Americans with nothing but a steady dose of anti-China fear mongering and non-stop coverage of the virus’ spread. China, on the other hand, has been praised by the World Health Organization for its aggressive response to the outbreak. New coronavirus cases have been steadily declining in mainland China from over 3,247 new cases in mid-February to around 442 new cases at the beginning of March. The number of deaths per capita in South Korea and Italy have already surpassed those in China.
Because of U.S. imperial hostility toward China, few people in the U.S. understand just how impressive China’s response to the coronavirus really is. Over sixty million people in mainland China remain quarantined to their homes. While economic activity has gradually returned, people are being asked to quarantine themselves for fourteen days if they have travelled outside of the country. Security has been administered to all residential areas for regular temperature checks. Television programs across the country are providing around the clock education on measures to prevent the virus’ spread.
“U.S. imperialism and its allies across the world had over a month to take preventive measures and learn from China’s containment strategy.”
Perhaps even more impressive, China’s central government has commanded companies to produce medical supplies to make up for shortfalls. The mandate to produce medical supplies includes completely unrelated sectors of the economy such as smartphone technology and the automotive industry. Two massive hospitals were built to assist in the treatment of the virus within a three-week span. The hospitals increase the number of hospital beds in China to treat the disease by over two thousand. Over forty-one thousand medics have been sent to Hubei province as part of China’s national patriotic health campaign to contain the virus. Health experts in China estimate that the coronavirus will be under control within the country by the end of April 2020.
U.S. imperialism, on the other hand, offers no solutions to address the coronavirus outbreak now that it has reached U.S. shores. The CDC has discouraged the use of masks prior to infection even though the novel coronavirus can take up to two weeks before symptoms become evident. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has already warned Congress that there is a massive shortage of surgical masks and other medical supplies in the U.S. to protect health workers in the case of an outbreak. While around 1,000 people are under a federally enforced quarantine in Washington state, such measures implemented nation-wide would cause serious disruptions to the already stagnating U.S. capitalist economy. Many people are without sick days to cover large absences from work and the recent stock market dip indicates that financiers on Wall Street are growing increasingly concerned about their profits should the coronavirus prompt the demand for more extensive measures.
“Health experts in China estimate that the coronavirus will be under control within the country by the end of April 2020.”
The U.S. ruling class has been spreading fear about the coronavirus to avoid the reality that its social system is organized to generate massive private profits for the rich at the expense of the oppressed and toiling masses. An emergency response system does not exist in the United States beyond the channels of a security state designed primarily to wage war on the oppressed. That system is not equipped to serve the people and thus cannot be trusted to use its massive resources to address the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. imperialism is the most dangerous disease of all. U.S. imperial aggression toward Iran has already starved the country of the resourcesnecessary to address its own coronavirus cases.
The racist hysteria spread by headlines such as the Wall Street Journal’s “China is the Real Sick Man of Asia” negate the U.S.’ historic role in spreading disease and death around the world since its inception. Indigenous peoples were poisoned in the millions by diseases such as smallpox which settlers spread intentionally to free land for capitalist exploitation. Tens of millions of Africans died from disease, malnutrition, and colonial violence after being captured and enslaved by invading European powers, including the United States. In the last half century alone, U.S. imperialism has killed tens of millions more and deployed biological weapons such as Agent Orange and depleted uranium that have left generations vulnerable to birth defect and cancer in Vietnam, Iraq, and beyond. The consequences of U.S. imperialism’s regime of austerity and endless war have also been felt on the mainland of Empire. Diseases of despair have eroded the life expectancy of the middle-aged white male population while mass incarceration and racist state terror has destroyed countless Black lives and placed Black life expectancy well behind that of whites.
“An emergency response system does not exist in the United States beyond the channels of a security state designed primarily to wage war on the oppressed.”
U.S. imperialism is designed to produce such historical and contemporary maladies in the name of profit. All the fearmongering of China’s “authoritarianism” has done is revive the tired white supremacist and anti-communist ideology of the Cold War that serves to justify the existence of U.S. imperial hegemony. This is the same ideology that not only allowed the ruling class to threaten nuclear war on the Soviet Union, China, and Korea after using nuclear weapons on Japan, but also terrorize and demonize radical and progressive Black movement leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. It is past time that the left reject the anti-China, new Cold War trap created by the capitalist class. While Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All policy is much needed to address problems such as the coronavirus and the many millions who are suffering without adequate healthcare, Bernie Sanders’ decision to fight the DNC’s attacks with anti-China and anti-Russia talking points is the wrong way to go. China’s so-called “authoritarianism” has successfully mobilized an entire country to contain the outbreak of a deadly disease, eradicated absolute poverty for nearly a billion people, and offered a new model of global economic cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative that respects international law and the right of nations to self-determination.
“China’s so-called ‘authoritarianism’ has successfully mobilized an entire country to contain the outbreak of a deadly disease.”
The declining conditions of workers and poor people in the U.S. and the West indicate that more “authoritarianism” is needed, not less. Authoritarianism is a racist dog whistle for socialism. Socialism, rather than Bernie Sanders’ New Deal social democracy, requires public ownership of the means of production and the control of the state by the oppressed. Only when masses of people have the power to plan and direct economic activity can their interests and needs be placed in command of society. In order to get here, capitalists must be unseated from their thrones in the corporate boardrooms and political offices that empower them to privately usurp much of the wealth produced by labor.
The most socialist-oriented section of the U.S. population, Black America, knows full well what it is like to be dehumanized and criminalized for seeking the power to control its economic and political destiny. White supremacy is the bedrock of U.S. imperialism and it is being whipped up to reinvigorate the U.S.’ war on China at the expense of Black Americans and the rest of the exploited classes right here in the mainland of Empire. As a larger section of workers are subjected to the economic conditions that have plagued Black life for centuries, U.S. imperialism becomes increasingly exposed as the drag on human progress that it always was. A coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. will just add fuel to a growing fire of hatred toward the conditions of imperial decay. We must fight anti-China demagoguery to ensure that popular anger is channeled where it belongs: at the system of U.S. imperialism itself.
Danny Haiphong is an activist and journalist in the New York City area. He and Roberto Sirvent are co-authors of the book entitled American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News--From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse Publishing). He can be reached at [email protected], on Twitter @spiritofho, and on Youtube at The Left Lens with Danny Haiphong.
Please join the conversation on Black Agenda Report's Facebook page at http://facebook.com/blackagendareport
Or, you can comment by emailing us at [email protected]