all the bullshit…

Trump delivers anti-China tirade to UN
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Sep 23 2020

US President Donald Trump’s recorded speech delivered to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday consisted of a hysterical anti-Chinese rant combined with a lying coverup of the disastrous US response to the COVID-19 pandemic and boasting about the prowess of the American military and its ability to blow up the world. The unprecedented character of the session, which is being held almost entirely virtually, with world heads of state having sent in recorded remarks rather than making speeches from the assembly’s green marble rostrum, is a graphic expression of the impact of the global pandemic, with nearly one million deaths recorded worldwide. The assembly marked the 75th anniversary of the UN, which was formed after the end of WW2 and its slaughter of more than 70m human beings with the pledge of saving “succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”

The body’s organic incapacity to make good on this promise under the existing capitalist order has been made abundantly clear over the course of its three-quarters-of-a-century existence. It directly participated in the US war that claimed the lives of 2m Koreans, was incapable of preventing Washington’s war against Vietnam that killed 3m and has facilitated three decades of uninterrupted US wars in the Middle East that have killed millions more, while creating the greatest refugee crisis since WW2. Trump’s speech and US actions in recent days have confirmed once again that the ravages of the coronavirus have done nothing to curb the drive toward imperialist war, but on the contrary have only accelerated it. While the allotted time for speeches from heads of state to the UNGA is 15 minutes, and most traditionally substantially exceed this limit—Trump’s speech clocked in at barely seven minutes. Nonetheless, he managed to mention China no less than 12 times, beginning in his first few words with the description of the global pandemic as the “China virus.”

He went on to demand twice in his brief address that China be “held accountable,” while blaming the country for lying about the coronavirus, subverting the WHO, polluting the environment, over-fishing and destroying “vast swaths of coral reef.” With the recorded US death toll from COVID-19 having passed the 200k mark, Trump absurdly claimed that his administration had carried out “the most aggressive mobilization since WW2” to combat the virus, even as he was telling a campaign rally the day before that it affects “nobody.” He stated that the US was a “leader in human rights,” as protests against police murders continue to erupt across the country. And he asserted that “American prosperity is the bedrock of freedom and security all over the world.” For billions across the planet, “American prosperity,” by which Trump means the rise of the stock market and the fortunes of the billionaire oligarchy, has come at the cost of brutal oppression, hunger and war. Trump boasted of the massive resources that have been diverted from pressing social needs in the US to Washington’s war machine, blustering:

We spent $2.5t over the last four years on our military. We have the most powerful military anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close. Our weapons are at an advanced level like we’ve never had before, like frankly we’ve never even thought of having before. And I only pray to God that we never have to use them.

The implicit threat of military aggression in Trump’s remarks were an expression of the policies being pursued by US imperialism from the South China Sea to the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean. On the eve of the UNGA’s opening, the Trump administration announced a new set of sanctions against Iran, a further escalation of its “maximum pressure” campaign that is tantamount to a state of war and has devastated the Iranian economy. Washington has maintained the pretense that it is unilaterally enforcing the “snapback” of UN sanctions that were in effect before the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and the major powers, known as the JCPoA, in particular an embargo against conventional arms sales to Tehran. The current 15 member nations of the UNSC, with the sole exception of the Dominican Republic, refused to recognize any legal standing for the US to reimpose the sanctions, after it unilaterally abrogated the nuclear agreement in 2018. At a press conference on Monday, Pompeo proclaimed:

Our actions today are warning that should be heard worldwide. No matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions.

New sanctions were announced against two dozen Iranian officials and entities allegedly associated with the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as conventional weapons purchases. Additional sanctions were also thrown in against the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, a country also groaning under a US “maximum pressure” sanctions regime, on the pretext that Venezuela is somehow involved in arms transfers with Iran. Even as the new sanctions were being unveiled, the Pentagon announced the deployment of the USS Nimitz carrier strike group into the Persian Gulf. The US aircraft carrier, accompanied by two guided-missile cruisers and a guided-missile destroyer, sailed through the strategic Strait of Hormuz last Friday. It marked the first such deployment of a carrier strike group since last November and followed Trump’s threat that any Iranian attack on US forces or interests would be met with a response “1,000 times greater in magnitude.” In his recorded speech to the UNGA, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani drew a connection between US aggression against Iran and the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. He said:

The footage broadcast to the world concerning the treatment of an African American by the US police is reminiscent of our own experience. We instantly recognize the feet kneeling on the neck as the feet of arrogance on the neck of independent nations. For decades, the valiant Iranian nation has paid a similar high price for its quest for freedom and liberation from domination and despotism.

US aggression against Iran and Venezuela are aimed at rolling back China’s influence in both the energy-rich and strategically vital Middle East, as well as in Latin America, long regarded by US imperialism as its own “backyard.” This is not merely a policy of the Trump administration, but rather the drive by the whole of the US ruling capitalist oligarchy to offset the decline of US capitalism’s global economic hegemony through a resort to militarism. Trump’s ostensible opponent Biden has repeatedly criticized the Republican president for being too “soft” on both Russia and China. Trump’s sabre-rattling in his recorded speech to the UN must be taken with deadly seriousness. The threat of war is intensified by the need of the capitalist ruling class to divert outward the immense social tensions building up under conditions of the continuing pandemic, mass unemployment and deepening deprivation for tens of millions. An “October surprise” in the form of a new US war aimed at rallying support for Trump or creating the conditions for martial law in the US is a real threat. The fight against the threat of war cannot be waged within the confines of the electoral contest between the two major capitalist parties, the Democrats and Republicans. It requires the independent mobilization of the working class on the basis of a socialist and internationalist program.

Controversy over Mulan film used to further Washington’s anti-China agenda
Ben McGrath, WSWS, Sep 23 2020

Disney released its latest live-action film remake, Mulan, to general audiences September 4 on Disney Plus, the company’s online streaming platform. Prior to and after its release, the United States and its allies have targeted the movie as part of their anti-China agenda, which is being whipped up under the phony banner of defending human rights. Within a few days of the film’s release, a campaign was launched to block it, with the hashtag, #BoycottMulan trending on Twitter. Those involved denounced the movie, after noticing that the end credits included “special thanks” to various Chinese agencies, including the Publicity Department of CPC Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomy Region Committee and the Turpan Municipal Bureau of Public Security. Turpan is located in Xinjiang Province and the US applied sanctions to the bureau in question last year, ostensibly in response to the treatment of the ethnic Uyghur population living in Xinjiang. While most of Mulan was shot in New Zealand, parts were also filmed in Xinjiang, in order “to accurately depict some of the unique landscape and geography for this historic period drama,” said Disney’s Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy, in response to the controversy. Opponents of Beijing also criticized lead actress Liu Yifei, who plays the film’s titular character, after she posted support on Twitter for the Hong Kong police in August 2019, during the mass protests that were taking place then. Liu shared other pro-police tweets while writing:

I also support the Hong Kong police.

In WW2, for example, the iconic American company, Disney, made dozens of public information films for the government, including training videos to educate American sailors on navigation tactics. During the war, over 90% of Disney employees were devoted to the production of training and public information films. To boost the morale of America’s troops, Disney also designed insignia that appeared on planes, trucks, flight jackets, and other military equipment used by American and Allied forces. Barr issued a veiled threat against those who fail to toe Washington’s line, saying:

If Disney and other American corporations continue to bow to Beijing, they risk undermining both their own future competitiveness and prosperity, as well as the classical liberal order that has allowed them to thrive.

This campaign was not initiated with the current film or with Disney. It is part of an ongoing effort to drive divisions between the US and China. This not only involves the film industry, but other technology platforms and companies, such as Huawei and apps, WeChat and TikTok, which the Trump administration has moved to ban in the US. Washington claims that Beijing uses all these platforms to influence, manipulate, or collect data on US citizens or the citizens of US allies. These statements are couched in anti-communist language, in order to conflate capitalist Beijing with genuine Marxism and discredit criticisms of the US. However, far from defending free speech, Washington’s goal is to assert its control over the film industry, as well as technology and communication platforms, to censor and suppress any material that it views as a threat. Last October, Vice President Mike Pence criticized US companies like Nike and the National Basketball Association for doing business in China, and supposedly siding with Beijing over Hong Kong. Pence stated:

By exploiting corporate greed, Beijing is attempting to influence American public opinion, coercing corporate America. And far too many American multinational corporations have kowtowed to the lure of China’s money and markets by muzzling not only criticism of the Chinese Communist Party, but even affirmative expressions of American values.

Pence’s provocative language highlights the extent to which the Trump administration and the entire US political establishment is seeking to foment a poisonous anti-Chinese atmosphere to divert rising class tensions at home. Washington is faced with growing social anger at home, as protests grow against state-sanctioned killings and repression at the hands of the police. Millions of workers are also suffering from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 200k in the US alone. Neither the Republican nor Democratic parties have any solutions to these crises, outside of further militarism and the drive to war.

Democrats capitulate as Republicans secure votes to install far-right justice on Supreme Court
Barry Grey, Jacob Crosse, WSWS, Sep 23 2020

On Tuesday, Utah Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced that he would support a vote prior to the Nov 3 election on Trump’s nominee to fill the seat on the US Supreme Court vacated by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The announcement virtually assures the installation of a far-right justice, to be named by Trump on Saturday, who will shift the court even more decisively against abortion rights and democratic rights in general. The Democratic Party, whose response from the outset has combined cowardice and dishonesty, sank to the level of farce. Even as the top Democrat in the Senate, Charles Schumer, was denouncing the Republicans for their “hypocrisy” and pleading for a change of heart, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was secretly negotiating with Trump’s treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, to extend funding for the federal government until after the election. For all her talk of “taking nothing off of the table” to oppose Trump’s antidemocratic court move, Pelosi was focused on preventing a plunge in the stock market by reaching a bipartisan deal with the Republicans on a continuing resolution before the Sep 30 deadline. The two announced a deal Tuesday afternoon and the Democratic-controlled House quickly passed it in a bipartisan 359-57 vote. The supposed leader of the “progressive” Democrats in the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, could not even summon up the nerve to vote “no” and instead voted “present” on the bill.

So much for going “all-out” to oppose a court appointment that will be used to attack not only abortion rights, but all that remains of the past gains in civil rights, voting rights and social rights, from the eight-hour day to child labor laws, and accelerate the drive toward dictatorship. Rather than use the threat of a government shutdown as leverage against Trump’s Supreme Court coup, the Democrats rushed to demonstrate their fealty to Wall Street and pass the spending bill. They have evinced no such urgency when it comes to restoring the $600/wk unemployment benefit that expired at the end of July, leaving millions of laid-off workers and their families without the means to pay rent and put food on the table. The contrast with Trump and the Republicans, who wage open war against the working class, could not be starker. Trump forced a government shutdown at the end of 2018 when Congress failed to give him the full amount he demanded to build his border wall with Mexico. After the end of the shutdown, he declared a national emergency at the border and illegally appropriated money from the Pentagon to build the wall, without any resistance from the Democrats, who soon after voted to fund his war on immigrants. The same day as Romney’s announcement and the passage of the continuing resolution in the House, the Biden campaign reiterated his opposition to passing legislation, should the Democrats win back the Senate and capture the White House in November, to expand the Supreme Court so as to break the stranglehold of the far-right. This was confirmed on Tuesday by a top Biden aide, who spoke anonymously to the AP and called for “de-escalation” in the one-sided battle on Capitol Hill.

The one thing the Democrats never considered was appealing to the mass popular hatred for Trump in the working class and youth of the country. They could have called for all those opposed to Trump’s attacks on abortion rights, his promotion of police and fascist violence, and his threats to declare martial law, defy an election defeat and impose a dictatorship to march on Washington. No doubt such a call would bring out hundreds of thousands, which is precisely why the Democrats rejected it out of hand. They are fearful of the right, but even more hostile to and terrified by the growth of left-wing social opposition and anti-capitalist sentiment in the working class. They have spent the entire three-plus years of the fascistic Trump administration working to suppress popular opposition and channel it behind their reactionary anti-Russia campaign. On this and other questions of US imperialist foreign policy, including what they deem Trump’s hesitancy to militarily confront Russia in Syria and the broader Middle East, the Democrats act with ferocity. First, they championed the Mueller investigation and after that collapsed, they carried out the impeachment of Trump, entirely on the basis of his withholding of military aid in Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed forces in the eastern part of the country.

But when it comes to the basic democratic rights and social needs of the working class, they are utterly feckless. Their capitulation to Trump on the Supreme Court issue must be taken as a foretaste and warning of how they will react to an attempt by Trump to sabotage voting and steal the upcoming election.
The Democratic Party already ceded without a fight the 2000 election, handed to George W Bush by a Republican majority on the Supreme Court. Al Gore, who won the popular vote, said at the time that he did not want the presidency if he lacked the support of the military. Even when they had a lopsided majority in Congress and controlled the White House, the Democrats did nothing to defend the interests of working people. After Obama’s landslide victory in 2008, the Democrats had large majorities in both the House and the Senate. They did nothing to reverse the looting of the economy by the super-rich or put a halt to the endless wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. Instead, Obama packed his cabinet with reactionaries like former New York Fed President Timothy Geithner and Bush administration Sec Def Robert Gates. Obama expanded the bailout of Wall Street, imposed massive job and wage cuts on autoworkers, expanded the war in Afghanistan, continued the war in Iraq and launched new wars in Libya and Syria. His only major social measure, Obamacare, strengthened the grip of the hospital, drug and insurance corporations over health care and increased out-of-pocket costs for millions of workers. The Obama administration allowed the Guantanamo concentration camp to remain open, expanded illegal NSA spying, shielded Bush administration torturers, and stepped up the drone assassination program, including the murder of US citizens. It persecuted Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.

The very notion that workers should look to the institutions of the capitalist state, including the Supreme Court, to defend their democratic and social rights is a dangerous fallacy. The Supreme Court is a bastion of capitalist rule. For the vast bulk of its history, it has opposed any extension of democratic rights and ruthlessly protected the property and profits of big business. The relatively brief periods when it supported democratic and social reform, such as the period of the post-WW2 boom, were times of mass social struggle, including the civil rights movement, when the dominant factions of the ruling class felt they had no choice but to make temporary concessions to the working class. Today, millions of workers and youth are moving to the left and entering into struggle. The protests against police violence, as significant as they are, represent only the heat lightning before the storm of social struggle that is coming. Social anger and opposition are being intensified by the horrific death and suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, the result of the homicidal policies being carried out by the Trump administration with the de facto support of the Democratic Party. The policy of “herd immunity” expressed in the back-to-school and back-to-work drive has already claimed over 202k lives. Yet despite that, the ruling class is able to shift the Supreme Court further to the right in order to intensify its attacks on the working class. Basic lessons and conclusions must be drawn. The Democratic Party is a guardian of definite class interests: those of the capitalist ruling elite. It is not and never can be an instrument for progressive change. Trump’s packing of the Supreme Court with reactionaries is further proof that nothing can be defended on the basis of an acceptance of the existing economic and political framework, including the capitalist two-party system. Democratic rights are incompatible with the staggering and ever-growing levels of social inequality generated by capitalism and imposed by all of its political defenders. There can be no defense of democratic rights outside of a struggle for socialism. The task is to bring to bear the immense social power of the working class in a conscious and unified struggle to put an end to capitalism and establish workers’ power and socialism.

Video footage exposes police shooting of 13-year-old autistic boy in Salt Lake City
Niles Niemuth, WSWS, Sep 23 2020

Body camera footage of Linden Cameron being shot 11 times by police on Sep 4 2020.

Body camera footage released by the Salt Lake City (Utah) Police Department on Monday has shed more light on the horrific police shooting of 13-year-old Linden Cameron on Sep 4. Cameron remains in the hospital after somehow surviving being shot nearly a dozen times. He suffered broken bones and serious organ damage when bullets pierced his intestines, bladder, shoulder and ankles. Cameron, who is white and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, was shot 11 times as he ran from the police. They had been called to his home by his mother, who was seeking help getting him to the hospital for mental health treatment. She had alerted the 911 dispatcher that her son possibly had a toy gun and had a previous confrontation with police in the neighboring state of Nevada, but that he did not possess a real weapon. Golda Barton said on the call, asking specifically for the aid of a mental health worker:

My biggest fear is that, I don’t know, I just don’t want him to die.

Multiple videos show that Barton had met a team of four officers down the street from her house to warn them that Cameron was afraid of the police, but that she desperately needed help getting him safely to a hospital, as he was suffering a meltdown. she explained:

He sees the badge and automatically thinks you are going to kill him. He freaks out.

The four officers then discussed how they would approach and apprehend Cameron. One officer questioned why they would be entering the home of a boy suffering a “psych problem.” She suggested they call their sergeant “and tell him the situation. Because I’m not about to get in a shooting because he upset.”
A second officer, who shot the boy a short time later, presciently remarked:

Yeah, especially when he hates cops. It’s going to end in a shooting.

Despite these apparent misgivings, the group of officers proceeded to approach the home to confront Cameron under the assumption he was armed, despite Barton’s assurances to the contrary. Having spotted the police, the boy took off running down an alley behind his home and the police pursued on foot. As the officers caught up to Cameron, one of them screamed at him several times, ordering him to get on the ground, before opening fire in rapid succession. A second officer can be heard asking Cameron to pull his hands out of his pockets just as the first officer opens fire. Cameron told the officers as he lay on the ground:

I don’t feel good. Tell my mom I love her.

While Cameron narrowly avoided being one of the more than 714 people killed by police thus far this year, his grandfather, Owen Barton, 66, was one of the first victims of 2020, having been shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies in Lyon County, Nevada on Jan 16. As with most police killings, details are sparse, but the official account claims he had advanced on deputies with a handgun, forcing them to shoot and kill him. Since George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25, sparking multi-racial and multi-ethnic protests demanding an end to police violence and racism across the country and internationally, at least 300 people have been shot and killed by the police, according to the tally kept by killedbypolice.net. At the current rate, police in the US are on track to kill nearly 1k people, a grim toll that they have exacted every year since 2015. African-Americans, along with Native Americans, are disproportionately killed by the police, but the largest share of victims continues to be white. The victims, regardless of race or ethnicity, are overwhelmingly poor and working class. Like Cameron, many were dealing with some sort of mental illness. A significant proportion of those killed by the police were suffering a health emergency when they were shot.

Floyd’s murder and that of Breonna Taylor, who was killed when police opened fire in her home during a no-knock warrant raid in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, have garnered attention from the Democratic Party and the Black Lives Matter organization. However, they have paid virtually no attention to white victims like Cameron, his grandfather, and 25-year-old Hannah Fizer, who was shot dead by police in Sedalia, Missouri last June. Friends, family and community members have protested largely in isolation to demand justice for Fizer, a convenience store clerk who was killed by a deputy during a traffic stop. Last week, a special prosecutor ruled that the shooting was justifiable and that there would no criminal charges. In July, a protest was held in rural Wilson, Oklahoma to demand criminal charges in the killing of 28-year-old Jared Lakey, who was tased more than 50 times and choked to death by police in 2019. Even as they feign sympathy for the black victims of police violence and proclaim their commitment to confronting “white supremacy,” the Democrats have slapped down demands for defunding the police and other mild reforms. Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden has repeatedly rejected the notion that police budgets should be cut, instead highlighting his plan to give local police $300 million in additional federal funding. The former vice president launched a massive “law and order” ad campaign earlier this month denouncing “violent protesters” against police brutality as anarchists and arsonists.

Meanwhile, Trump is waging a fascist reelection campaign, appealing to the police and whipping up the far-right elements of his base. Trump has defended the 17-year-old militia member, Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two anti-police violence protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, while also praising the federal police squad assassination of Portland protestor Michael Reinoehl as “retribution.” Despite months of protests, police violence is not abating. Rather, the repressive arm of the state is being built up further in an effort to suppress all signs of opposition from the working class. The Department of Justice on Monday targeted New York City, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington as “anarchist jurisdictions,” paving the way for them to lose federal funding. A state of emergency was declared in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday in anticipation of protests over an imminent decision by the state’s attorney general on whether to bring charges in the Breonna Taylor case. Police began erecting concrete barricades around the downtown business district Monday, and the federal courthouse has been boarded up. One of the officers involved in shooting Taylor, Sargent John Mattingly, sent an email to his colleagues early Tuesday morning defending his actions and encouraging them to confront protesters and to “be the Warriors you are.”

Trump on coronavirus pandemic: “Virtually nobody” affected
Joseph Kishore, WSWS, Sep 23 2020

The US has now surpassed the horrific milestone of 200k official deaths from the coronavirus, more than the total number of Americans who were killed in WW1, Korea and Vietnam combined. The actual toll, measured by “excess deaths” over the average in previous years, has surpassed a quarter of a million. World-wide, the number killed, based on reported figures, will surpass 1m before the end of the month. In the face of this horrifying toll on human life, Trump declared on Monday that the virus affects “virtually nobody.” At a campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio he stated:

It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems. That’s what it really affects. That’s it. … Below the age of 18, like, nobody. They have a strong immune system, who knows? You look. … Take your hat off to the young, because they have a hell of an immune system. But it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.

Trump concluded his statement with the demand that schools be reopened:

Open your schools! Everybody, open your schools!

As a factual matter, Trump’s claim that the pandemic only effects “elderly people” is blatantly false. As he himself acknowledged in March, in one of the recordings released by Bob Woodward earlier this month:

Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people.

20% of those who have been killed in the US, or more than 40k people, were under the age of 65. The long-term impact and adverse health consequences for those who contract the virus and live remain unknown. Moreover, with the death toll expected to rise as high as 400k by the end of the year, the pandemic will affect “virtually everyone,” in the form of the death or serious illness of a family member, friend, teacher or co-workers. Even for Trump, from whom one expects almost anything, there is something chilling in the indifference with which he speaks about the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. However, to view this in individual terms, an expression of the particular sociopathic personality of the present occupant of the White House, would miss the essential significance. Trump is speaking not just for himself but for a class. The willingness to accept mass casualties, particularly among the elderly, has an underlying socio-economic foundation. In his evocative Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, Marx, writing at the very dawn of industrial capitalism, explained that the attitude of the capitalist to the life of the worker was entirely conditioned by his or her ability to produce profit, that is, to work. Marx wrote:

As soon as it occurs to capital (whether from necessity or caprice) no longer to be for the worker, he himself is no longer for himself: he has no work, hence no wages, and since he has no existence as a human being but only as a worker, he can go and bury himself, starve to death, etc. (Capital) does not recognise the unemployed worker, the workingman, insofar as he happens to be outside this labour relationship. For it the worker’s needs are but the one need: to maintain him whilst he is working and insofar as may be necessary to prevent the race of labourers from dying out.

This theoretical insight acquires, more than 175 years later, an astonishing reality. The worker who is no longer able to work is, from the standpoint of the ruling class, less than useless. Not only is he or she not producing profit, the resources that are devoted to health-care for the elderly are a drain on what could otherwise be spent propping up the markets or financing the war machine. These considerations have animated the response of the ruling class to the pandemic. The implications of the attitude toward the massive loss of life are chilling. It was, after all, the Nazis who initiated the practice of medical euthanasia, justified with the concept of “life unworthy of life” (lebensunwertes Leben), that is, segments of the population who had no right to live and whose killing was a positive good.

To be blunt, from the standpoint of the ruling class the disproportionate impact of the virus on the elderly and infirm has always been seen as a benefit. Before the pandemic emerged, countless reports from ruling class think-tanks noted the growing costs of health-care due to rising life expectancies and the fact that workers are living years and often decades after they retire. They warned about the impact on government finances and military spending. Governments throughout the world have displayed a criminal level of indifference toward the fate of the elderly from the coronavirus. Last month, the NYT published an exposé of the response of Belgium, which has one of the highest per capita death rates for any country, finding that hospitals actually turned away the elderly, even though hospitals never filled to capacity. Nearly 6k nursing home residents have died in the country. In Sweden, which pioneered the strategy of “herd immunity,” supposedly to focus on protecting the elderly, the victims have nevertheless been concentrated in nursing homes, particularly in Stockholm. The country’s minister of health and social affairs, Lena Hallengren, was forced to concede by the end of April:

We failed to protect our elderly. That’s really serious and a failure for society as a whole.

In the UK, where cases are expected to rise to 50k/day as a product of the “herd immunity” policies implemented by the Johnson government, the Queen’s Nursing Institute documented the horrific toll on nursing homes in the months of April and May. A report in the Independent in August noted:

Nursing homes were put under ‘constant’ pressure to accept patients with coronavirus while being regularly refused treatment from hospitals and GPs for residents who became ill at the height of the Covid crisis.

In the US, while Trump is spearheading the murderous policy of “herd immunity,” it has the support of the entire political establishment, from the Democrats and the NYT (whose columnist Thomas Friedman introduced the phrase, “The cure can’t be worse than the disease”), to Jacobin magazine, affiliated with the DSA, which aligned itself with Trump’s policy in an article published over the weekend. The corollary to the policy of “herd immunity” is the imperative to “normalize death” on a massive scale. In March, the WSWS defined the response of the ruling class to the pandemic as one of “malign neglect,” meaning the deliberate decision to minimize the government’s response to the virus in order to allow for its widespread transmission. Over the past six months, this policy has developed into something even more sinister, what might be termed “social euthanasia.” The pandemic may be biological in origin, but the response by governments is driven by social interests and political imperatives. The initial downplaying of the danger, the utilization of the pandemic to organize a massive transfer of wealth to the rich, the drive to return workers to the factories, the reopening of schools and the whole policy of “herd immunity” all are the product not simply of Trump but of the capitalist system. Workers are beginning to fight back. Rank-and-file safety committees of teachers, autoworkers and other sections of the working class are being formed in the US and internationally. A mood of anger and rebellion has animated mass demonstrations against police violence. The broad mass of the population is moving to the left. What the ruling class is doing has not gone unnoticed. It comes down to this: The working class is fighting for life, and the ruling class stands for death. To the ruling class policy of social euthanasia, the working class must and will respond with socialist revolution.

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