Pandemical Discourses 6: Of Elites and Epidemics…

While Absent by Elizabeth Murphy and Adrien Hester
10th May 2020
Objective Events: Ian Hamilton Finlay, the Arts Councils, and the Battle as art and work. by Greg Thomas
15th May 2020

Evidently Boris Johnson’s father has just re-flogged his out-of-print 1982 novel about a deadly virus to a publisher to ‘cash-in’ on the pandemic The Independent – Stanley Johnson’s Novel ‘The Virus’ It comes as no surprise, of course, that in Johnson junior’s sordid UK deals are still being done as the bodies pile up. The genealogies and the role models are clear, and the attitude is now rife – Britain has got the Brexit and the Pandemic it seemed to long for. Even in the underworld of drugs and substance misuse, just as in the world of politics, dealers are disguising themselves as key workers. Jamie Grierson gives us our fix in The Guardian – Dealers posing as NHS staff

But if the British state seems to be crumbling under the weight of its own elite’s corruption, then is it still too far-fetched to believe that the neo-liberal order is not far behind? At least in one part of the world the predictions of the collapse of capitalism seem to be borne out already as some pacific islands have reverted to barter as the means of trade…The Guardian -Fiji returns to Barter System

There’s no consolation to be had when the nemesis of one’s political and ideological opponents comes at the cost of self-destruction. But even the Italians, who were roundly jeered at by a Brexit-bullish Boris in his bumptious dismissal of their covid strategy a mere couple of months back, can’t find any schadenfreude in their hearts for a British government which seems full of ‘confusion and contradiction’. The despair and astonishment at the floundering of the British is open and expressed across the world from CNN to Sydney Morning Herald, to Reuters, and here , in Rome’s La Repubblica The Guardian – Italians on Boris Johnson’s Government

The collapse of ‘Great Britain’ and its socio-political order –however sad it might be – can only really be seen as a clownish and parochial side show when we look at what is happening in the global power struggle. According to Naomi Klein in The Intercept, the big corporations –including Google and Amazon – have seen their opportunity with the pandemic and lockdown for a ‘profitable no-touch future’ where there will be no need for a hardware infrastructure of schools, offices, factories, doctor’s surgeries etc because everything will be done online through their software. They are , as Klein puts it ‘leveraging the crisis for permanent transformation’ –or again, with more guts to it: ‘the future is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up’. This dystopian vision of smart cities, driverless cars and the camera surveillance that is needed to organise it was previously being sold to us in the name of convenience, but is now for the good of our health…  The Intercept -Pandemic Shock Doctrine

And for a broader analysis of the profit-pandemic coefficient, Klein joins with Mehdi Hassan in a podcast for the online journal The Intercept to begin tracing how capitalism will exploit the post-coronavirus world (The Intercept –  Mehdi Hassan and Naomi Klein on Coronavirus Capitalism The Intercept – Coronavirus Capitalism

Meanwhile, The New York Times casts its eye beyond the anglophone world, giving particular attention to Latin America, where authorities are literally, trying to bury the magnitude of the crisis in mass graves. With reactions ranging from Bolsonaro’s outright denialism to the densely packed Highways of Peru and Venezuela as people fee to the countryside, the region is experiencing a situation every bit as severe as in Europe and Asia. (New York Times – Outside International Spotlight, Latin America Suffers From Coronavirus New York Times – Latin America

In something of a follow up to our recent feature by Candace Thomas, The Guardian reports on the dire situation among the East European Roma, demonstrating, if any further exemplars were needed, that the BAME experience of Coronavirus is of a very different magnitude. (Shaun Walker – Europe’s marginalised Roma people hit hard by coronavirus – The Guardian -Roma Hit Hard by Coronavirus

All of which brings us to consider how history is being constructed. With so much fake news and conspiracy theory dressed up as commentary – behold for example, our very own Herald’s swan dive into the gutter in its reporting of David Icke’s sideswipe at the First Minister – the core challenges of historical record fluctuate with every tweet and Facebook update. Sam Jordison looks to an earlier pandemic – and undoubtedly dubious history – in the shape of Daniel Defoe’s a Journal of the Plague Year and finds that despite its impossibly omniscient eyewitness accounts, the more Defoe invents, the more truthful he becomes. (The Guardian – A Journal of the Plague Year may be fictional, but it’s not untrue –  The Guardian – Daniel Defoe’s Plague Journal