The Capitalist Machine Is Hungry and Terrified

On Thursday, Donald Trump reportedly told governors that states with "beautifully low" numbers of coronavirus cases should "open and get back to work."

Also on Thursday, the White House released its "blueprint" for how it thinks states can start ditching shelter-in-place orders as early as May 1. (Axios reports that Republican-led states like Alabama and Mississippi could quickly move to reopen their states.)

Also on Thursday, Dr. Phil went on Fox News to say, among other things, that "360,000 [people die] a year from swimming pools, but we don't shut the country down for that, but yet we're doing it for this." (360,000 people a year do not, in fact, die "from swimming pools"; in other news, Dr. Phil has no medical credentials. ) Dr. Phil magnanimously allowed that people are dying from coronavirus, saying, "I get that." Thanks.

Also on Thursday, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman groused that her city is shut down, saying in an interview, "We don’t want to lose anybody, but it’s part of life. And so I want people back to work."

Also on Thursday, 4,591 people in America died from the coronavirus, an increase of more than 2,000 from the day before.

You would think that that last fact would have some impact on all of the people I just mentioned. But instead, it seems that the ever-increasing number of COVID-19 deaths in this country brings with it a parallel escalation in the calls for the death taps to be turned on even more forcefully.

It's the Goodman quote that sticks out to me the most. "We don't want to lose anybody, but it's part of life. And so I want people back to work."

There it is, beautifully summed up. Work over life. Work over everything. People dying at astronomical rates when they could have been saved is just how the world is. Unnecessary mass death is regrettable but ultimately unimportant. People not working, though?! Heresy, hell, evil.

So what is going on here? It is certainly true that the re-opening crowd is eager to throw millions of workers into the slaughterhouse because they prioritize the sating of the hungry capitalist beast over anything else. But there is more to it than that.

We are living in a period when governments everywhere are actually having to take some level of responsibility for their citizens. We have tumbled into a time where a staggering amount of solidarity is required of everyone—where we all must put the greater good over our own happiness or comfort. Our political leaders, all of a sudden, must account for what they are doing to protect people. All of this is happening in very imperfect, incomplete, corrupt, dispiriting ways—and, in America, with virtually no intellectual or policy support from our ostensibly left-leaning political party—but it is happening in some form nonetheless.

These are dangerous concepts to have lying around. Governments caring for people? Health over work? Everyone looking out for each other? Heaven forbid. The death cultists want to extinguish whatever spark our current moment might ignite in the world. They want to go back to the way things were—to our beloved system of grinding inequality, government apathy, and merciless individualism—as quickly as possible. Otherwise, people might really start getting ideas.

Screenshot: some dickhead on some network