American Pastime: Austerity and Mass Murder
The pandemic has only further exposed how mass murder and austerity is an American pastime for the ruling class of the imperialist albatross. Nearly 900,000 people is dead over the past 18 months due to the refusal of the American political class to curb the transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the Biden administration’s hoarding of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it is estimated that 100,000 more people will die of COVID-19 in the United States before the end of the year. Workers in all sectors of the capitalist economy are quit their job in record numbers as they assess the risks between engaging in low-wage work or avoiding COVID-19. The cuts to protections linked to the pandemic send the message that workers must make a choice: go to work or be hungry and homeless.
This choice was not born of the pandemic. On the contrary, such coercion is a pillar of the foundations of American capitalism. Capitalism is founded on the sale of labor to capitalists or to those who own the means of production in private to accumulate maximum profit. Wage is provided to workers at a fraction of the value they produce. The rest is pocketed as profit by the bosses.
Austerity is a key feature of the neoliberal stage of capitalism in which finance and monopoly capitalists have calculated that any kind of so-called “welfare state” is an obstruction to their thirst for profit. This calculation is based on the very real crisis facing a system mired in contradiction. The more intense the exploitation of the worker becomes, the more the system reaches a difficult and rapid “cycle of disruption” vis-à-vis underconsumption (generally called overproduction). Austerity is a recognition that underconsumption is a permanent feature of capitalism at this stage of development. This is why universal social protection policies such as universal health insurance, a living wage and the cancellation of student loans find no support from any section of the capitalist class, whatever their position. political conviction.
The class war inherent in American capitalism is maintained and fueled by state violence. American capitalism has long surpassed its European ancestors in its capacity for brutality. The United States was founded on a white supremacist system of movable slavery that killed millions of Africans and left millions more in inhumane conditions of working without pay for centuries. Indigenous peoples were nearly wiped out by a colonial settlement regime that served as a precondition for American capitalist development. Neither Africans nor indigenous peoples received reparations for the crimes of colonialism, and their oppression continues in a myriad of forms today.
This includes the mass incarceration system (2 million people or 25% of the world total, 40% of whom are black Americans) and the legalized lynch mob known popularly among activists as “killer cops.” Police Kill Blacks and Natives in nearly three times the rate of white Americans . And all of American society has been militarized, not just the cops and the prison system. A massive surveillance system collects private data from every individual residing in the United States as a means of social control. The American military apparatus receives billions of dollars to assert its hegemony abroad through drone strikes, invasions, coups d’état, special operations and a host of other forms of conventional and unconventional warfare.
There is no shortage of examples to demonstrate the direct link between militarism and austerity. US refuses to pledge $ 25 billion needed to immunize world against COVID-19, but has no problem providing it same amount of money to the Pentagon for endless war. In addition, Biden sent more military weapons to local police departments during the first quarter of his administration than the average quarterly spending under Donald Trump’s four years in the Oval Office. The dependence of the United States on militarism is having an extremely negative impact on the economic health of the most oppressed sections of humanity around the world. Extreme poverty has increased in the world during the pandemic, and the economic conditions of black America in particular have only become more precarious during this period .
State violence and militarism are thus tools of repression which help reproduce the misery of the exploited classes. These conditions intensified the anti-social character of the “exceptional” capitalist system in the United States. Hurricane Ida is a perfect example. Over 50 working-class residents, many of whom are low-wage immigrant workers, were left to drown due to a lack of warning about the severity of the storm. Hundreds of thousands of people were still without electricity over eleven days after Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans.
This is what austerity and mass murder mean as an American hobby. The ruling class, what Glen Ford called the “Lords of the capital”, has nothing to offer to resolve the crises generated by the system. Despite a global pandemic, climate catastrophe and economic instability, the Biden administration is rushing forward to satisfy the blood-soaked profits of its donor class.
The race to the bottom will continue as long as the Democratic Party maintains its grip on leftist politics. An account is required. The driving force behind this calculation will be determined by how quickly we can develop a critical mass to permanently close the doors of the graveyard of the Democratic Party’s social movements.