Government intervention to deal with the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has exposed the right-wing lie that progressive reforms are ‘unaffordable’. But as the long-term consequences of the crisis have set in, it’s become increasingly clear that this could be just the beginning of a much larger switch. Because the resulting social and economic upheavals also raise two deep questions about the fundamental models upon which modern capitalism is built.
Monthly Archives: April 2020
The coronavirus pandemic might have a silver lining. People might wake up to what’s really important.
It seemed almost celestially ordained that Corbyn’s term as leader of the Labour Party in the UK and Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential run in the US would come to an end on almost exactly the same date. There were multiple similarities between the two men and the political movements they spearheaded. Indeed, Corbyn himself commented that aspects of his 2017 general election campaign drew from Sanders’ ultimately unsuccessful 2016 run for the US presidency.
Of course, we ought not to dwell on our natural disappointment at their failure. But for progressive communicators, in particular, there’s an important reality that we must consistently stress. And it’s that, in spite of the avalanche of scare-mongering by corporate-owned media on both sides of the Atlantic, Corbyn and Sanders’ proposals weren’t actually all that radical.
It’s tempting to casually dismiss buffoonish figures like Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, and Jair Bolsonaro as too bumbling to do the kind of lasting damage that was inflicted by previous far-right leaders in the 1930s and 40s. But now, in the era of coronavirus (Covid-19), we are beginning to find out the true cost of incompetence. During a global pandemic, it’s clear that the decisions of these political leaders are costing people their lives.
While whining about declining civility in politics, right-wing pundits have given the real culprits a free pass
It was perhaps fitting that the end of Jeremy Corbyn’s term as leader of the UK Labour Party and the suspension of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign in the US happened just a few days apart. There have undoubtedly been numerous parallels – both positive and negative – between the progressive insurgencies they’ve led in their respective countries. While each man certainly made his fair share of unforced errors, hostility from corporate-owned media was undoubtedly the major cause behind their failure. Sanders and Corbyn weren’t only denied a fair hearing but were subjected to vicious and uncompromising attacks based on flagrantly fabricated smears and false accusations.
And what makes this outcome all the more dejecting is the fact that they not only put social democratic ideas back on the agenda, they also brought back a much-needed element of civility, decency, and dignity to public affairs – the very things that right-wing pundits at corporate media outlets have been castigating the loss of for decades.
As the dust settles and politics returns to the status quo ante, it’s time we call out the shameless double standards of these pundits. Particularly those who have spilt ink whining about a decline in public decorum, yet attacked Corbyn and Sanders while simultaneously giving a free pass to their political rivals, no matter how crude and vulgar they might have been.
Bernie Sanders has withdrawn from the Democratic Party primary. This has prompted a fierce debate about what went wrong. While he clearly faced unfair disadvantages from the start, progressives must also accept that he made some unnecessary mistakes. And if we’re going to win victories in the future, we must learn from them.
Ever since the Trump administration launched a coup attempt against the democratically-elected government of Venezuela in January 2019, the country’s civilian population has been suffering under a brutal sanctions regime. Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, Venezuelans are now at even greater risk given that the government is hamstrung by what has essentially morphed into a full-blown economic blockade.
But having so far failed in its ‘regime change’ effort, the Trump administration has now stooped to a new low by cynically using the global public health crisis as a weapon to oust president Nicolás Maduro.
The outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) has reinvigorated the debate about universal healthcare in the US. Suddenly, even right-wing figures are in favor of offering medical services free-at-the-point-of-service. But as progressives have pointed out, if the government can afford to do so during a crisis for a specific health issue, then why not permanently for all health issues?