A hundred years from now a scraggly little kid in a crumbling old library building in Melbourne will stumble across an interesting book on a dilapidated leather top table. The cover will show a collage of profiles of men and women at podiums. The title will read simply “2020”. The author’s name will be obscured by time and Australia’s tepid climate.
Reading or watching TV these last few months makes it so easy to imagine a dystopian world replacing the relatively organized one we share today. Take this story from ABC Australia. It foretells of the Australians already preparing to “fort up” in preparation for a veritable Apocolypse. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, himself a tool of the coming annihilation, proclaims a new militarist national strategy aimed at “countering the rise of China”, and confronting regional challenges he says have “not been seen since World War II.” In his own words:
“We have not seen the conflation of global economic and strategic uncertainty now being experienced here in Australia in our region since the existential threat we faced when the global and regional order collapsed in the 1930s and 1940s.”
The oft embattled Australian PM pledges $270 billion for building a larger military to prepare for ‘poorer, more dangerous’ world. Like a sort of Donald Trump mini-me clone, Morrison’s approval rating gyrates in between Australians wanting him burned at the stake and Christian believers down under wanting sainthood for him because he lifts his arms and gesticulates toward God. In reality, the Australian defense apparatus he’s building will probably be used to stamp out civil unrest the next time Australia catches on fire. This will probably happen to start in September 2020.
Moving to the US at the local level, we find Trumpist governors eating crow on their genius reopening plans in the face of the second wave of COVID-19. While Trump loyalists (the 200 that remain) troll the internet looking for cheesy graphics that show the pandemic is a hoax, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, and all but two states are showing dramatic increases in cases since Trump’s bold reopening campaign. The fact of the matter on COVID-19 in America is, everyone in the country may get the virus sooner or later. Nobody, nobody in my country seems to understand the danger of this pandemic.
And more deadly than a COVID-19 outbreak at the local old folks home are the nasty, mediocre, puppet politicians who run America at the state level. Take, for instance, the home state of my Mom and Dad, Georgia. May 22nd Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp Tweets:
“One of the key battlefields in our fight with COVID-19 is Georgia’s long-term care facilities. As we get ready to resume the legislative session, I am committed to protecting our state’s seniors and most vulnerable.”
Sadly, for the elderly so vulnerable to COVID-19, the Georgia governor’s commitment to Donald Trump and the “good old boys” there in Georgia has led to the second wave of COVID-19 cases that makes New York’s pandemic seem like a normal walk of life. Since Kemp’s reopening, cases of the coronavirus have spiked to double the highest incidence of the first wave. Data is splotchy, but hospitals in Columbus and other cities are again approaching capacity with the new cases.
Kemp’s Tweets now show he and his advisers donning beautiful facemasks and pledging to fight COVID-19 even harder than Georgia National Guard troops are fighting police brutality protesters in Atlanta and Savannah. The Republican governor has sidewinded and is pretending to be the voice of caring and reason, rather than a bold, rooster-like Trump clone crowing his University of Georgia “God Dawgs” football swagger. Bess Levin at Vanity Fair called Kemp “the country’s dumbest governor” after he announced the reopening in his state of the most likely places for the spread of the coronavirus. Kemp is the poster boy for everything that went wrong in my country. And now more people will die because of his mediocrity.
Turning to the wider world stage, the World Bank and many other key entities are already showing the breadth and depth of the cataclysm to come. According to World Bank researchers and experts, the “economic damage is already evident and represents the largest economic shock the world has experienced in decades.” And this is from people who would rather their long term stock investments didn’t plummet to worthlessness over a panic. The erosion of capital and the stockpiling of debt over COVID-19 reveals a horizon like the endless night of the Arctic. The top of the catastrophic pandemic iceberg reads like the start of Frankenstein:
“Over the longer horizon, the deep recessions triggered by the pandemic are expected to leave lasting scars through lower investment, an erosion of human capital through lost work and schooling, and fragmentation of global trade and supply linkages.”
And next, the monster rises from its consumerist operating table to thrash and gnash until we somehow subdue it. One World Bank scenario suggests global growth could shrink by almost 8% in 2020. Other experts believe this is a fairytale positive prediction.
Key economists say China’s economy will contract for the first time since the 1970s on account of the pandemic. According to China experts, the services sector of China’s economy fell to 26.5 in February 2020, the lowest figure recorded since the survey began in 2005. The coronavirus has caused world stock markets to experienced their worst crash since 1987. In the United States iconic retail brands like JCPenney, Nordstrom, Macy’s, J.Crew, Neiman Marcus, Pier 1, and Kohl’s are about to or have already filed for bankruptcy. Tourism and hospitality failures and economic disasters are too many to even mention here. The job losses are inestimable if the world is taken into account. The IMF, like the World Bank, seems to be trying to keep the lid on the catastrophe. The fund’s most recent “prediction” points to worldwide recession lasting months or even years. A key finding is that the lost work hours on account of COVID-19 equal 300 million full-time jobs lost.
The World Economic Outlook data published two months ago. Subtitled A Crisis Like No Other, An Uncertain Recovery, warns that gains made over the past two decades in driving down extreme poverty may have been for naught. America’s economy has already contracted by 10 percent. In places like Brazil and other Latin American countries, the costs of the pandemic cannot even be estimated yet. The virus and reactions are still ravaging in many places in our world. Russia is not out of the woods yet, India may be a cataclysm to come of imponderable proportions, and Iran is looking like a seesaw on a COVID-19 curve. If we look from a negative perspective, it may be high time for every nation to prepare for some post-apocalyptic outcome. Remember, no immunization or herd immunity news has come. The summer has not eradicated COVID-19. And even an American president cannot make ultraviolet light permeate human lung tissue. Not just yet, anyway.
We cannot trust the World Health Organization (WHO). Americans cannot trust the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC). The United Nations has never been trusted to do much of anything. One hundred ninety-five countries each have their interests, beliefs, rules, and strategies on COVID-19 and the alleged recovery. Look at Sweden. Leaders and scientists there proudly snuffed out a few extra thousand old folks. The right-wing populists have lifted stupidity and fascism to a new level. Wearing a mask to keep from killing sick, old people is not a badge of dishonor.
You must wear your M-16 with muzzle suppressor and 30-round magazine to Walmart, just to show your power against caring. We trust in Facebook posts about shady doctors calling “plan-demic” and “fake” police brutality. We consult online oracles and Washington witch doctors who golf while we die. Suddenly, recounting what I began this story with, a Mad Max or Bladerunner 2035 makes a lot more sense. Meanwhile, in today’s America, the radical left proposes we enact Fahrenheit 451, and if Black Lives Matter wants, we’ll burn all the books and tear down all the statues of heroes.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, he’s an author of the recent bestseller “Putin’s Praetorians” and other books. He writes exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”