CYNICAL SELF-DESTRUCTION: THE PANDEMIC AND ZERO-SUM POLITICS
The Coronavirus debacle has revealed America's fissures, but also how selfishness and zero-sum worldviews have changed us
For nearly two years we have lived this nightmare. One tragic, deathly wave after another that has caused so many of us heartbreak, anxiety, and the near total-pause of “normal life,” all while fully revealing the anti-human cruelty of our market system and the wealthy’s endless pursuit of more wealth, not to mention flooding our worlds with so much nonsense and paranoia and dangerous blather that it’s almost impossible to avoid no matter where you live, what you do, or where you go. I’m tired. You’re tired. We’re all tired. Because this is tiring.
On my previous site The Muckrake I wrote in April of 2020 that the wave would shift from so-called “Blue States” to rural America, exacerbating a crisis of nonexistent healthcare and finally reaping the consequences of decades’ worth of inattention and austerity. The scale and scope of this tragedy, as it came to pass, is still hard to reckon with. Middle America was hollowed out, forgotten about, tossed aside, and left for dead. The pandemic…well, it did what anyone paying attention expected it to.
What has surprised me, however, is how the expected crisis played out. I think I halfway expected, or at least hoped, once it reached its zenith, once the tragedy had touched every household, every family, every community, eventually the denial and delusion fostered in the early days of the disaster during the Trump Presidency would have broken. It is hard, after all, to deny there’s a death-dealing plague when it deals death to your family. But then something strange happened. The narrative around COVID shifted. Many came to believe that it was a death-dealing plague as it killed their loved ones, but that it was either a bio-weapon designed to carry out some kind of New World Order depopulation attack or the vaccine that was designed to lessen its threat was the real danger or, again, part of a New World Order plot.
The constantly changing narrative among the GOP’s base and the Right Wing population is telling. Something has happened in this country that made the pandemic deadly in new and frightening ways, but it also affected the way we make sense of things, the way we approach problems and current events. It riddles our lives, pushing us further and further apart and cementing a suspicion, among many, maybe most, Americans, that we are unfortunately chained together as we run headlong at the edge of a cliff.
Capitalism and the system of neoliberalism that perpetuated and installed it worldwide and in every avenue of our lives has changed us. Perverted us, really. Turned us into self-serving machines of greed that see everyone on the face of the Earth, American or otherwise, as competitors for power and wealth. The way it has influenced this pandemic, which nobody in the media or politics seems capable of truly understanding or grasping, not to mention how we view the dangers and opportunities of such a pandemic, has been as bizarre as anything imaginable.