Author's Note: I'll probably look back and regret writing this blog post late at night, but oh well.
Care for some Linkin Park, friend?
Houston police were going around evicting tenants who failed to keep up with their rent in the middle of a pandemic where a huge chunk of Americans has lost their jobs. Neat.
Update (9/7/2020): The CDC announced a ban on evictions across the U.S. a few days ago. You can read it here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-eviction-declaration.html.
When I first saw this image, I didn't think it was real. Not in the sense of shock and awe of someone experiencing something amazing or incredible, but one of utter disbelief.
I thought, "Is this truly happening right now?"
Yes. The answer is yes.
In a country where 40 million Americans are at risk of being evicted due to a loss of income from the coronavirus, I genuinely thought that it would never get to the point where the poorest people start getting evicted in the middle of a deadly pandemic.
I thought common sense would prevail.
How naive I was. My naivete can only be surpassed by the completely sadistic yet banal cruelty of the current situation. I can hardly put my sadness and disgust of the situation into words.
Also, I can't help but notice that while there are nationwide protests about police brutality and Black Lives Matter (which is a good thing, I guess), there are no widescale protests for economic relief in some form, whether it's a rent/mortgage payment and eviction moratorium.
I wonder why.
I guess when you have every facet of American life being decided by the market (neoliberalism), with the government's overriding goal to support "free enterprise" instead of promoting the public good via policy, then yes, people aren't going to organize around their mutual economic interests. Thus, the current Black Lives Matter protests (and riots) are permissible (and even encouraged) to the extent that they are focused on the symptoms and not the causes of the injustices we see and experience today.
In other words, coronavirus has revealed that we Americans live in a democracy without democracy. If the public will, the common good being that Americans across our country are in dire need of economic assistance from their government can't be acted upon through concrete policy, then what is the purpose of democracy?
You might not believe my line of thinking. If so, then tell me, why hasn't there been a second stimulus check sent or the $600/week unemployment benefit reinstated yet?
Exactly. When you live in a society that is guided by a global economic framework (neoliberalism) that (intrinsic to its formulation) inherently excludes the existence of a common good or public will (as everyone is reduced to an individual economic actor competing against one another for artificially scarce resources), then it's no surprise that product collective action will not be taken for the benefit of all.
The common good is an emergent property of human society. If the public will cannot be expressed for the benefit of all, then is there any difference between society and a "state of nature?"
In other words - it's over. Coronavirus revealed America has reached its logical economic (and thus political and social) conclusion, that being the "market" being the supreme arbiter of life at every level and detail in the USA. This will only become more apparent over time.
(Side note: One could make the difficult, but convincing argument that this was always the logical conclusion of the American capitalistic democracy, starting with the Federalist papers all the way to the present day. I won't go there as that's not the point of this article, but I'll briefly point you in the direction of someone who makes this claim to great effect at the end.)
Now, I don't mean to suggest that America will stop functioning or existing or that my claims are justification for being nihilistic and personally "not giving a shit about anything."
American democracy will continue humming along fine, unabated. Our society might be "collapsing," but it won't "collapse." We will still have an election in November, despite all the claims thrown around by political pundits in the media. The worst thing that will happen is that it will take longer for the ballets to be counted. That's about it.
And not giving a shit about anything isn't cool or brave. It's the cheapest form of having an opinion, a worthless one, at best. (If anything, I believe it's even more important to care about what happens to others in today's world, especially those who are not as fortunate as you are.)
If anything, I've revised my expectations of America from low to non-existent. Like I said before, I don't look forward to the future anymore. I don't care for it. If the present is what the market is "offering," I'm not buying it. I don't want it.
I don't need it. I'll create my own future, damnit. As they say, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.
I'll leave you with a quote from a famous scientist who took a stab at commenting on economic and social issues. (I strongly encourage you to read his essay in full entirety here.) The sad truth is that under the current economic, social, and political conditions, the reality we live in today was inevitable. (Note: this was written in May 1948!)
Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights. (emphasis added)
All these noble ideals our society claimed to live up to - in the end, it doesn't really matter.
Yet, I still have hope, at least for me.