Monday, June 8, 2020

The coronavirus' next victim? Capitalism

The pandemic has exposed how political attacks on science are the only way to maintain the capitalist order.

 Donald Trump | Hurricane | Atoms (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

The first lesson was evident in President Donald Trump's initial response to the coronavirus. Despite being warned as early as January that it was an existential threat, he dismissed his advisers' concerns as "alarmist" and did everything he could to ignore and downplay the problem so that the stock market wouldn't be negatively impacted. It took him more than ten weeks to declare a state of national emergency and, even then, America's ability to respond to the pandemic was weakened by the various budget-cutting policies he implemented prior to the pandemic that ignored expert advice and made it more difficult for the Centers for Disease Control to do its job.

A similar point could be made about man-made climate change. Even though the scientific consensus is clear — global climate change is real, caused by humans and poses an existential threat to our planet — Trump continues to deny it solely because fossil fuel companies and other special interest groups don't want to lose money.

There in an additional factor in both the coronavirus and climate change denialism, of course: A distrust of intellectuals who use pesky, inconvenient facts in disciplines like epidemiology and climatology to make arguments that go against conservative, free market doctrine. After all, a strong centralized government is needed to regulate the economy in ways that will protect the planet from climate change and to save lives as the pandemic worsens. Because right-wingers don't want to believe that the federal government should have this power, they cannot acknowledge that it is necessary on these occasions — and certainly not when doing so would seemingly concede a point to the left.

Yet scientific realities don't change simply because right-wing egos would be wounded if the left is proved correct about pandemics and ecological apocalypses. That is why the pandemic reveals that science must always take precedence over ideological whinging when it comes to shaping key policy decisions.  Read more >>