COVID-19: World Suffering Less from Coronavirus Crisis & More from an America Crisis

In the U.S., the abandonment of the poor and downtrodden to their fate has forged not a society worth living in, but a growing dystopia to be escaped, writes John Wight.

By John Wight
in Edinburgh, Scotland

In his 1948 classic novel “The Plague,” which tells the story of the fictional outbreak of a rat-borne plague in the Algerian port city of Oran under French colonialism, French writer and thinker Albert Camus explores the way the plague and ensuing crisis taps into the very best and worst of the human condition.

The current coronavirus crisis, which certainly is not fictional, is doing the same in our time — only not when it comes to the actions of people in response but instead when it comes to the actions or inaction or indeed base cruelty of national governments.

In this respect, if cruelty and barbarity were Olympic sports Washington would be the permanent holder of the gold medal. Because what does it tell us when even in the midst of a global pandemic this neocon infested administration and hegemonic political order refuses to agree to sanctions relief for Iran — a country that is among the hardest hit by the virus — in response to pleas from Tehran to do so?


“Hitherto the plague had found far more victims in the more thickly populated and less well-appointed outer districts than in the heart of the town. Quite suddenly, however, it launched a new attack and established itself in the business center.”

Ohio Poor People’s Campaign,  2018. (Becker1999, Flickr)

Using the above as an analogy, let us imagine Iran as our “less well-appointed outer district” and the U.S. as the world’s “business center.” Do so and we grasp the fact that just like Camus’ fictional plague in Iran, coronavirus is no respecter of borders, cultures, religion, ideology or geopolitical agendas. In other words, if President Donald Trump and the clutch of fanatical neocons surrounding him believe that condemning the Iranian people — not its government, its people — to suffering and death is coterminous with anything other than the depraved actions of a debased and diseased culture, they are even sicker than originally thought.

The proper measure of a state or nation’s health in any given time is how said state or nation treats its poorest and most vulnerable citizens. And by this metric the most powerful and richest country there has ever been is also a contender for the most barbaric, despite the ocean of propaganda to the contrary.

I’m writing here as a non-American who spent a number of years living there and who came away politically radicalized by the experience. Because in America the abandonment of the poor and downtrodden to their fate has forged not a society worth living in, but a growing dystopia to be escaped, one in which the entrenchment of cruelty as a virtue rather than a vice has long been complete.

‘Understanding Mississippi’

The brutal actions of Washington on the global stage when it comes to its engagement with poorer countries and regions merely reflects the brutality meted out to its poorest and most vulnerable at home. And as Malcolm X sagely once put it, “You can’t understand what’s going on in Mississippi if you don’t understand what’s going on in the Congo.”

Albert Camus. (Dietrich Liao, Flickr)

What’s going on in “Mississippi” — in other words the U.S. — today is that millions continue to exist without healthcare and who in the midst of this global pandemic find themselves reduced to the human equivalent of skittles in a bowling alley waiting in trepidation for a coronavirus ball to come hurtling in their direction.

Compare and contrast the barbarism of Washington in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic with the international solidarity demonstrated by the likes of China, Cuba and Russia.

China, where the outbreak of the virus originated, already has it under control and contained and is now sending medical aid and experts to ItalyIran and South Korea. Cuba, meanwhile, has likewise sent a team of doctors to Italy along with supplies of Interferon Alpha 2B, a powerful antiviral developed by the Cuban pharmaceutical industry that has proved effective in treating coronavirus. Finally, as for Russia, Moscow is sending Iran 50,000 testing kits.

Based on the this, if there is one positive thing to take from the current crisis it’s the reaffirmation of internationalism as the acme of human solidarity and progress. For there is no national solution to pandemics only international, with the current crisis proving that nationalism begins where human connectedness ends. Precisely here is where Washington’s engagement with the rest of the world is to be understood.

Putting it bluntly, America is home to a culture and political order so removed from reality it no longer knows its land of the free arse from its home of the brave elbow — to the point where the self-appointed leader of the free world is the leader of nothing and nowhere.

Returning to Camus:

‘“However, you think, like Paneloux, that the plague has its good side; it opens men’s eyes and forces them to take thought?” The doctor tossed his head impatiently. “So does every ill that flesh is heir to. What’s true of all the evils of the world is true of plague as well. It helps men to rise above themselves. All the same, when you see the misery it brings, you’d need to be a madman, or a coward, or stone blind, to give in tamely to the plague.”’

Our world is suffering less from a coronavirus crisis and more from an America crisis.

John Wight is an independent journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

This article was first published on Medium.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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31 comments for “COVID-19: World Suffering Less from Coronavirus Crisis & More from an America Crisis

  1. Kt
    April 1, 2020 at 14:46

    You should be ashamed of yourself to write this. Not only is it not contextual it’s dangerous rhetoric against the USA.
    Its because of the failed leaders of Iran thousands will die.
    Maybe the Iranian leaders should have spent more time studying economics than the Quran.

    • Lois Gagnon
      April 3, 2020 at 16:52

      Truth hurts eh?

    • Steve Ginn
      April 4, 2020 at 07:36

      Much as you try to deny it, what you claim to be “dangerous rhetoric against the USA”is pure fact!! If the US of Israel was to mind their own business for a change and leave other countries alone without the maniacal and childish embargos, blockades and sanctions placed on other countries by the ongoing cavalcade of mentally disturbed incumbents in the White House!

      The American “leaders” should have spend more time removing their craniums from their anuses and just maybe the country wouldn’t have been bankrupt since 1933!

  2. Truth first
    April 1, 2020 at 11:25

    Today, April 1, Czechoslovakia, has 3,330 cases and 32 deaths. Austria, right next store has 10,500 cases and 150 deaths. Switzerland, 17,665 cases, 475 deaths. The difference, Czech’s must wear a mask when outside their homes. Everyone does and home made masks are acceptable.

  3. Kim Purvis
    March 31, 2020 at 16:34

    John Wight’s words ring true. America is literally falling apart, a process that started with when Ronald Reagan was President. The nation has given its soul over to corporations and individual greed above all else; the neglect of the poor and disadvantaged is now so entrenched that people don’t even blink when they see it. I am ashamed to be an American and see the indifference here to human suffering. America will be utterly destroyed from within. The process has already begun.

    • robert e williamson jr
      March 31, 2020 at 19:19

      Spot on Kim. The seeds of destruction of the country started in earnest with the passing of the Natinal Secuirty Act of 46-47 and the Atomic Energy Act that created the Atomic energy Commission all about the same time.

      The CIA literally got away with murder from it’s inception and specifically managed to cover up the murder of JFK. They got too big for their britches and all almost failed during the Church and Pike hearings on CIA abuses, but Bush 41 for one made damned sure, with the help of Richard Helms and others that those committees were stymied.

      Read “A SEASON OF INQUIRY REVISTED” by Lock K Johnson and then remember Bill Barrs advice to 41 to pardons all the Contra stars.

      Remember Kim those who rage against the machine neither need to apologize for the country or be ashamed. We all need to scream from the bottom of our hearts to the top of our lungs , “I’m sick and tired of this bullshit and I’m not going to put up with it any more.”

      Be strong and give these clowns hell.

  4. March 31, 2020 at 16:17

    Thanks again for the articles. I dont have heroes but Camus would be one if i did.

  5. robert e williamson jr
    March 31, 2020 at 16:16

    Remember now I didn’t say that the Military Industrial Complex didn’t have any security, just that us Pilgrims don’t have any.

    Ya ‘ll see how that works for you?

  6. robert e williamson jr
    March 31, 2020 at 16:14

    The US is being shown that all that military spending comes a high cost to those who can least afford it.

    And to what end, all those nuke sitting around degrading and the Supreme Leader can’t use them on the virus. Why because their use would defeat the point!

    My Dog the stupidity of our leadership.

    The United States is in a crisis alright and it all started long ago around 1946. Seems that ever since the National Security Act was passed we here in the good ole’ US have anything but!

    Thanks to all CN, try and be safe.

  7. Jon Adams
    March 31, 2020 at 13:55

    We STILL have overpaid writers like Max Boot writing bound fantasies about how we “could have won” in Vietnam; while there are very few pointing how our own country might have been so much different- and better- if the Vietnam War had never happened.

    The [ lame ass] Resistance has rehabilitated almost all the war criminals of the Iraq invasion, except for Dick Cheney [ Who lives on due to a second heart ripped from a second human being, but is never mentioned in the “Lamestream Media.”]. Cheney’s Unitary Executive Theory has taken root in the Presidency, and it hasn’t stopped those “lame ass” people in Congress from insuring that Trump has the same draconian powers and resources that his predecessors had. Our rehabilitated war criminals are valued for their “opinions” of Donald Trump.” At least one of our war criminals is even considered cute and cuddly.

    So called “centrists” [closet rightwingers] give Joe Biden’s support of the invasion of Iraq a “pass” because it happened “so long ago.” Trump is the “emergency” but Trump so far has failed to wreck a country on the scale of Iraq (2003) or Libya (2011). Trump is an oafish war criminal who apparently could not pull off the complete destruction of Syria. Thank Vladimir Putin for keeping the US honest in Syria, and in Venezuela. Trump is honest about some things — the “crude” motives behind America’s violent foreign policy, for one. And he did say once that the US has its own murderers— which was apparently not a confession, but merely a description of how we do things.

    As a veteran of the Iraq War [Army National Guard, 2004, Mosul and Tal Afar] I agree with the idea that our violent foreign policy is related to/reflected in our culture at home. I remember when I heard of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, now over ten years ago. I remember where I was — in a fast food restaurant– and I remember not being surprised that it happened — over two dozen people murdered while in a college classroom. Over a decade later we are no longer surprised. I agree with the observation that there is a connection between our “foreign affairs” and our “internal affairs.” I had expected IEDs to become common in America, but that hasn’t happened probably because the US has instituted strict controls over the sources of explosive materials.

    I was 11 years old when John F. Kennedy was murdered. It was painful, awful. A shock that was shared by everyone at school, in the town, and in the country. Today I wonder if I could even feel that way again if any of our current leaders were murdered. President Kennedy’s speeches can still be heard on Youtube. Just listen to him at the Spring 1963 commencement at American University: a chastened, mature young President of the United States making a speech about the need for understanding and peace in the world. I was 10 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and I thought Kennedy was too young at the time. Kennedy had learned hard lessons – from the Bay of Pigs (1961) and the Missile Crisis (1962). Five months after his university speech he would be gone. And there has been no president since who had the stature of the 1963 President Kennedy.

    The Pew Charitable Trust supports an annual survey of American beliefs and values. In one of their survey graphs concerning American “trust in government” there is an obvious decline that begins in 1963 — where over half of the people had faith in government– dropping throughout the Vietnam War era, with some upticks over the decades; but never to the level that it was in 1963. It is as though the public really knew something sinister and evil had happened but could not consciously acknowledge it.

    30 years after the end of the “Cold War” the United States still has hundreds of military bases around the world. In 2002 our “Special Forces”– Rangers, Seals, Green Berets etc– had grown to the size of several Army divisions. They now have their own command. They roam the world killing our “enemies.” They are “keeping us safe” by giving people around the world reasons to kill Americans.

    The Vietnam Era draft ended in 1972. When it ended the Anti War movement simply collapsed. No one cared anymore. We were getting out of Vietnam, sort of. The military would have only “volunteers,” in reality economic mercenaries. — Blacks, Latinos, and poor whites who were escaping bleak economic conditions. Out of sight: out of mind. That is the “Lesson of Vietnam.”

    Hardly anyone thinks much about our foreign policy and its effect on the world. In the past two decades only less than 1/2 of 1 per cent of the US population had anything to do with the US military. The National Guard battalion that I was part of experienced MULTIPLE deployments overseas — to Iraq and to Afghanistan. Our military veterans today are a hardened small subclass of our population. Many still ” believe in the mission.” They had buddies die over there, so they have to believe that it was a good cause. I don’t feel that way. But it a fact. In the military you wear a uniform. You acquire rank and some kind of status. The benefits are good, if you are not being shot at. The people at the airport in Atlanta give you a standing ovation as you come and go through that place. You have health care, a “military discount” at Lowes and Walmart. Many veterans have suffered much as a result of their experiences. But their pain is not shared nor is it understood.

    $21 TRILLION. That is the amount for which the Pentagon cannot give an accounting — over a two decade period. THAT is our National Debt. We spend 10[TEN] times the amount on war expenditures as the rest of the world combined. But we shouldn’t assume that translates into automatic dominance at any point on the Globe. Our leaders are FULL of themselves.

    Oh, hell, I could ramble on forever!

  8. March 31, 2020 at 12:51

    Leon Trotsky and Che Guevara would be proud of Russia,Cuba and China,for their noble Internationalism.It was,indeed all worth it.Meanwhile the US Empire is showing the world it`s” Barbaric Face”.Viva Fidel

  9. Vera Gottlieb
    March 31, 2020 at 10:48

    A cowardly society/country…always attacking the weaker and smaller ones. It is slow in coming but justice will get here yet.

    • Jon Adams
      April 1, 2020 at 09:50

      The US will only attack nations that it is KNOWN have no WMD.

    March 31, 2020 at 09:07

    It truly is a bleak set of facts.

    But it is just a harsh truth that America has long been a pretty brutal country.

    Slavery. Indian Wars. Mexican War. Spanish-American War.

    During the pointless, years-long slaughter in Vietnam, what limited opposition there was in America revolved around concern for American conscripts, not the vast number of people – estimated at 3 million – being killed in their own land and in extremely brutal ways – carpet bombing, napalm, cluster bombs.

    Same for the illegal invasion of Iraq. Kids mutilated by cluster bombs. Shock and Awe. In the end about a million killed. An advanced society torn apart. And even today the US never repaired all the electricity infrastructure it destroyed. I recall few signs of concern from inside the US.

    • Pete Black
      March 31, 2020 at 10:09

      Thanks needs saying often

    • Calgacus
      March 31, 2020 at 13:30

      what limited opposition there was in America revolved around concern for American conscripts, not the vast number of people – estimated at 3 million – being killed in their own land

      That’s not true. Rather, that is a propaganda meme from after that war, attempting to belittle and distort the opposition to it in the USA and elsewhere.

    • elmerfudzie
      March 31, 2020 at 18:00

      John Chuckman from Elmerfudzie: It never ceases to amaze me, the ever persistent naivete among western citizenry at large. We need only to cast our eyes back to the U.S. civil war, where General Grant gave the order to salt No.1 black soil thereby making it useless for crops to ever grow there again (deep south). Onto WWII where women and children either were burned alive and or suffocated in underground civilian bunkers during the allied bombings over German cities like Dresden and Berlin. Then came the Vietnam War and the practice of murdering the officer in charge by “fragging” a colloquial term that describes using a bullet or grenade against one of your own because the murderer decided the officer in charge of a platoon on patrol was unfit to give orders?! The The My Lai Massacre of civilians, The Sabra and Shatila massacre by Phalange forces and yet with all this, and many other examples, somehow people were shocked and horrified by a YouTube clip showing an Apache helicopter strafing Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, killing a dozen or so unarmed journalists and children? The gun-pilots quipped “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards”.

      A tough thing to learn is that there are people who seem to be born without a conscience and this state of mind is prevalent across wide swaths of humanity. One last example; farmers who knowingly grew blueberries along a river downstream from the Chernobyl catastrophe. The grower made a few bucks by selling to a Canadian distributor, where the intensely radioactive berries made their way into American markets presumably ending up atop a child’s breakfast cereal or served to an already sick elderly at a nursing home?

      March 31, 2020 at 18:49

      Calgacus, sorry, it is true. I lived through it, all of it.

      America has a ghastly record.

    • Realist
      April 1, 2020 at 07:46

      America is run by a psychopathic death cult called the Neocons. The neocons are none other than latter day Nietzschean nihilists. Their motto, if they were honest, would be “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” Understanding this, one can see why the world is in such a sorry state and not soon to be made livable for most humans.

  11. Robert Emmett
    March 31, 2020 at 06:45

    Ah, the old arse from elbow. My Irish mother had the same saying. Love it. And too, too true, man.

    But I’ll not be ashamed on behalf of wicked, flag-pin wearing con men who run this country to ruin. Nor do I think of them any longer as mere neoCons for they’ve spiraled several layers beneath deceit to become, in my mind, neoHuns. As in the schoolboy association of Attila with extreme cruelty & barbarism rather than with the modern pejorative reference to Germans. What is purported to be known about how ancient peoples actually behaved I would leave to scholars to fuss over.

    By the way, don’t you think Pompous Ass looks like he could be an actual barber? OK, right, maybe of the Sweeney Todd variety.

  12. OlyaPola
    March 31, 2020 at 06:11

    “but a growing dystopia to be escaped”.

    Running away although popular does not address causations (plural), although some seek to represent running away as strategic withdrawl, whilst some represent strategies as “running away/acquiescing) which facilitated the ongoing process of the transcendence of “The Soviet Union” by the Russian Federation.

    The social relations self-described as “The United States of America”, which are not restricted to this political geographical location, require transcendence since non-transcendence of such social relations is likely another Samson option, although some others believe/hope/wish that “The United States of America” can be returned to a past which never existed or “reformed” (change of form not of content since means condition ends).

    This transcendence does not necessarily require the co-operation of the social relations self-described as “The United States of America” but could be accelerated by the complicity, whether by design and/or default, of “The United States of America”.

    If these social relations are tempted to emulate the girl who sat down to eat worms by initiating a different Samson option, the others would have a choice of Samson options, some of which were thumbnailed in a previous thread re nuclear weapons.

  13. Graeme Watt
    March 31, 2020 at 06:06

    Thank you for this article by John Wight. It deals with the dystopia of the USA, something I witnessed over a period of 20 years in the medical world, from which I eventually escaped by emigrating to Scotland.

    GW BSc MBChB

  14. March 31, 2020 at 02:12

    In two weeks time, maybe sooner, the following from Lenin will be highly relevant:

    “What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms: (1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action.”

    • OlyaPola
      March 31, 2020 at 06:47

      “Lenin will be highly relevant”

      To some the relevance of Mr. Lenin and the Bolshevik project was derived from Mr. Cherneshevsky and Narodnaya Volya (People’s Will) which was in part transported to and informed “The United States of America” by the interpreter/plagiarist Alisa Rosenbaum/Ayn Rand.

      The propagandised purpose of the Bolshevik project was to achieve a non-class based society; the practices of the Bolshevik project illustrated that the chosen means to achieve this propagandised purpose was by creating a class based society – one of their first acts being voting themselves special rations in time of famine.

      One of the “propagandised benefits” of a non-class based society was a “future” based on non-coercive practices in “The dictatorship of the proletariat”- not even “The dicatorship by the proletariat” – the proletariat remaining food sources and human shield for “The Soviet Union”.

      A useful commentary on this process can be found in Mr. Bulgakov’s Heart of a dog.

      The understanding of these myths by a growing number of the Russian people helped/helps, and is in illustration of, the ongoing process of transcendence of “The Soviet Union” by the Russian Federation.

      Strategies and their evaluation are functions of purpose, and hence Mr. Lenin and related disciples facilitated/facilitate the continuance of social relations self-described as “The United States of America” through revolutions around a fixed point.

      In processes of transcendence Mr. Lenin will be highly relevant to some of what is not to be done, and to some others what is to be done, encouraged by the can do/must do conflation.

  15. IvyMike
    March 30, 2020 at 19:23

    If everything was equal good happy and pretty there would never be a Camus. Almost all original art and culture arises from the poor, to be ruined by the middle and upper classes.

  16. March 30, 2020 at 19:09

    Is anyone sequencing the genetic structure of Covid-19 from various countries to see if the virus affecting Italy and Iran so harshly, is the same as the virus that is being beaten in other countries. There has to be some explanation. They might be differences in the genetic structure.

      March 30, 2020 at 19:37

      “COVID-19: Genome Analysis Suggests 2 Viruses May Have Combined” was published here
      on March 20th.

      March 30, 2020 at 22:46

      Little need to postulate a genetically distinct virus . There is an abundance of alternative possibilities age, diet , climate etc etc . And accuracy of statistics on real prevalence . Consider also that completely separate diseases – most in fact – but taking cancer as an example ,show marked differences in incidence and morbidity across geographical zones without there being any evident difference in the basic pathological entity .

    • Stevie Boy
      March 31, 2020 at 08:17

      Fred, I believe that the main causes of the disparity in impact in Italy and Iran is down to accuracy of figures for infection rates, testing carried out and the capabilities of the health services in those countries.
      When the dust settles we will probably find that Italy and Iran were not impacted any worse than elsewhere.
      Recall, the death rate is simply the number of infections divided by the number of deaths. Underestimate the number of infections and the death rate is similarly, and simply, wrong.

    • Dianne Leonard
      March 31, 2020 at 14:58

      Not that we know, at least now. There may be risk factors that are present in some countries but not in others. All of which is to say is that, when this pandemic subsides, we will need to “science the hell” out of this virus and the lessons learned from the pandemic, and do research that we can’t do right now, when the priority is to treat sick people and save lives as best we can.

    • rosemerry
      March 31, 2020 at 16:28

      There have been found differences, and the work is also continuing to trace back before the first case was found. The shameful Trump/Pompass “Chinese virus” may not even be that (for what it is worth).

      PS the virus is SARS-CoV-2 and the disease is COVID-19.

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