JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: THE CHILDISH IDEA THAT GLOBALIZATION CAUSED THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND THAT THE PANDEMIC WILL PUT AN END TO GLOBALIZATION – THE EXAMPLE OF THE NEW WORLD BEING OPENED IN THE 15TH AND 16TH CENTURIES WITH THE CONSTANT PRESENCE OF DISEASE – AMERICA OFFERS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO GOVERN TO NO ONE – AMERICA’S PARODY OF LEADERSHIP – THE OUTSTANDING EXAMPLES OF OTHER SOCIETIES – THE KNOW-NOTHINGS’ ROLE IN AMERICA – IMPORTANT DISTINCTION BETWEEN GLOBALISM AND “NEO-LIBERAL” OR “NEW WORLD ORDER” GLOBALISM   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT – THE CHILDISH IDEA THAT GLOBALIZATION CAUSED THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND THAT THE PANDEMIC WILL PUT AN END TO GLOBALIZATION

 

My title is a favorite conceit right now of America’s extreme Right, its super-Patriots, its Nativists, its Know-Nothings. I am sure it is something with which Trump is at least a little comfortable because it supports his poorly-conceived ambitions for America.

But it is ridiculous, both portions of the idea.

Think back to the early days of exploration and discovery, the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. What made all the vast efforts possible was new technology in the form of sailing ships capable of going thousands of miles over the seas accompanied by the learning and experience of hearty seaman-adventurers. It marked a new epoch in human history, and there was no going back. It is always that way with the great changes technology brings, there is no going back.

Almost as soon as explorers arrived in North and South America, they began transferring diseases in both directions, to the Indigenous people and back to Europe. And with the relatively fragile things early sea-going ships were, there were countless disasters in storms or on unknown shoals with ships going to the bottom and no coast guard to save their crews.

None of that ever truly threatened the new exploration and settlement and trade. No, in just a couple of centuries, we had sprawling colonies of Europeans all over the New World with communities and plantations and governments and institutions. And they made still more discoveries over time – such as new foods and products that Europe hadn’t known, chocolate, maize, potatoes, squashes, certain nuts and berries, tomatoes, tobacco and precious metals and gems. They established new regular trade routes with Europe and new enterprises grew just out of the transportation needs and arrangements. Malaria, Yellow Fever, Smallpox, and a host of other threats, despite creating setbacks, did not halt the progress.

Pandemics are awful things, but I do think we’ve had some extreme and entirely unwarranted speech and writing around this one. People saying things, with no perspective at all, such as doubting whether there will be much international trade and business again.

At another extreme, we have American Nativist types saying, “Hell, I’ll do what I please. I was born free, not to serve government’s grab for more power.” People showing no concern for how their own actions can hurt others and no understanding of the role constraints have often played in their own society. As though there never was in the past such common practices as quarantines, or the extreme practice of demanding part of millions of young men’s lives through the military draft, or experiencing martial law in an emergency.

The fact that there are so many Americans who object to simple and effective measures, such as wearing masks and “social distancing,” tells you something not very pleasant about large portions of the country. Trump and his immediate retinue play to those sentiments by refusing to wear masks. Imagine the Vice President touring a hospital, meeting patients, as he just did, and ignoring the hospital’s rule for wearing a mask? Imagine how many lives Trump might have saved just by setting the example of wearing a mask during his television appearances? His is leadership only to the Wagon Train crowd. And they are not the people who will inherit the earth.

We will get through this. We’ve already seen examples, like China’s immense effort and the far-sighted leadership here and there – I think of Singapore or New Zealand or South Korea. Our news is full of noise from the world’s worst example, the leaderless and willfully stubborn United States, a nation which has a tendency to believe it is the model for all to emulate in any matter.

The virus itself keeps mutating and could well become a more harmless thing to humans. And of course, a vaccine or a new drug treatment, if a vaccine is not possible, will likely be created. Whatever, we will learn to live with it just as we do with so many things, from Malaria to AIDS.

It never has been true that America provides a good model for others to follow, as in the way government is organized. The people who have followed it have generally been under the easy-to-understand illusion that such a wealthy country must be doing things right. The reasons for America’s wealth have little to do with the way its government and institutions are organized, and most of them cannot be duplicated by others. Circumstances of resource endowments, unique historical opportunities, the nature of migrants attracted over the years, and more go into the mix.

If the idea of America being a suitable model for others is not accurate, and it is not, it is even less accurate for the pandemic with all its accompanying side-effects. The President of the United States has frequently resembled a slapstick comedian, like one of the Marx Brothers, but with a super-grimacing face intended to be taken seriously in communicating his self-assumed sheer weightiness. He and his appointees have failed on a scale not seen in many places.

And the failure of so many institutions and organizations inside The United States – from the healthcare system itself to the distribution of vital supplies and the open squabbling among various levels and parts of government – has been monumental, anything but reassuring for the world. Even the country’s military handled the challenge badly, a senior Trump appointee in the Navy, Thomas Modly, traveled half way around the world, spending a quarter of a million dollars, to dismiss a warship’s commander and berate him in front of his crew, a crew, like many in the world, who considered the commander a hero.

The country – its leader and many of its institutions – foolishly ignored a detailed example containing hard-won knowledge from China. Just immense carelessness, ignorance, and arrogance. That has been followed by an organized campaign to accuse and vilify the very people from whom they should have learned, the Chinese.

I do believe that poisonous mix of carelessness and ignorance and arrogance is not unique to Trump. It is part of America’s mainline political culture, its establishment, for example, literally is unable to grasp and accept China’s miraculous rise and accomplishments. Washington, on all sides, is blinded by its own fantasies about itself.

We have a “turn the first victims into villains” campaign the like of whose viciousness I don’t recall even in the Cold War. Inhumanity and callousness in the service of getting a political leg-up with America’s darkest and least educated minds.

I do not see how it is possible to provide a more brain-crushing example of how to do things than cutting the funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) in the midst of a pandemic. That action was intended to raise Trump’s political stature with America’s Know-Nothings – always a fairly sizable group which has over the years provided the human material for everything from private militias and the Klu Klux Klan to Aryan churches and the American Nazi Party – and taking it only emphasized his complete lack of concern with helping anyone except himself.

Trump’s record of decisions shows him literally toying with the health and security of both his own people and the world’s people. Somewhat in the fashion of a sick little boy who enjoys pulling the wings off butterflies to watch them struggle. Who on earth looks to someone like that for leadership? Only the Know-Nothings. The kind of people who confuse brutality with strength.

The re-openings being nudged along by Trump and some state governments are not planned to follow the best medical practices. It is likely they will, in short order, result in a new wave of infections and deaths.

The clear success of other societies in dealing with the crisis and working to share what they have learned greatly enhances their stature in the post-pandemic world. America looks a whole lot smaller, smaller in ability and in morality. Trump and Pompeo are the very worst, but we see so few prominent Americans doing anything to oppose them or to help others.

There should have been near-universal condemnation inside the American political establishment for Trump’s destructive action against WHO, as there should have been for his entire string of ignorant and uncaring statements during the early months of the disease, and for his appalling attack on China – an approach taken both by him and his Secretary of State worthy in every detail of Joseph Goebbels.

That’s not in the least an exaggeration. A lot of filthy, vicious words have been uttered by both men. A crisis for humanity has been reduced to a personal grab for political advantage. A bit like stopping to steal some stuff from a sick or dying man on the street.

Last, I think we must distinguish, many not doing so, between a globalized world, something I argue is inevitable and beneficial, and a globalized world led by America – sometimes called the new World Order or Neo-liberal World Order – something which is not inevitable, not all desirable, and I believe is on its way out.

I am always troubled by that use of “neo-liberal” because I consider myself a classical liberal holding to strong Enlightenment values. The “neo-liberals” really are contemporary global imperialists covered by a dissimulating name. Who could be more harmful and destructive than such American political luminaries as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or George Bush or John McCain? Lovers of empire and death, each of them.

America’s extreme Right insists on “throwing out the baby out with the bathwater” by echoing a welcome to the end of globalization. They are wrong, of course, but it is just part of the utter confusion that is contemporary America.

Posted May 11, 2020 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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