Health & SciencePolitics & GovernmentMarxist StudiesSocial EconomicsSociety & Culture

[PHOTO CREDIT: Aaron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Image]

By Alex Harley

Republished from Emphasis Added.

A Yale epidemiologist was castigated for equating the virus to a genocide in a series of tweets. Why? The answer lies in a foundational understanding of white supremacist capitalism: death for profit isn’t murder.

As hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people living in the U.S. protest racist police violence in all fifty states, another act of racist violence is being perpetrated through governmental policy and business practice: The COVID-19 Genocide.

While scientists agree that the virus itself was a natural, and not lab-created phenomenon, its handling in the US is an unequivocal disaster. As of June 29, 2020, the crises is forty-two times the size of 9/11 casualties: 128,000 deaths. So where are the calls for accountability and justice?

It is not despicable to characterize the U.S. response to COVID-19 a genocide. It is imperative. It is an assertion that clarifies U.S. behavior. Unfortunately, MacLeod’s hesitance to call it genocide is no outlier. It is the default reaction from defenders of the status quo.

One British legal authority agrees that the case for genocide is weak, citing “specific intent” (Heieck, 2020).

But it is no insult to victims of state and vigilante violence to call it genocide. It is the acknowledgement of historical record.

The capitalist ideological foundations of the U.S., and all modern states built on settler-colonialism, do not frame death through exploitation as a crime. It’s the price of doing business. They’ve been in excess of deadly business for over four centuries now, and it hasn’t stopped.

When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call his deed murder.

But when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live — forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence — knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder, murder against which none can defend himself, which does not seem what it is, because no man sees the murderer, because the death of the victim seems a natural one, since the offence is more one of omission than of commission. But murder it remains.

– Fredrich Engels, The Condition of the Working-Class in England

The (predominantly white) federal government and the (predominantly white) business elites are both guilty of sacrificing working people to profit from and during the COVID-19 crisis. Their (predominantly white) adherents, with their anti-lockdown demos, anti-mask violence, victim blaming, hoax conspiracy theories, and scapegoating of China, are equally culpable.

The rulers of the U.S. do not recognize their own extant record of mass murder: not in illegal military operations; not at the hands of police; not in the workplace; not in the streets. The nation socializes its citizens to normalize systemic murder, successfully. It is a critical piece of settler-colonial ideology. Deception is another key piece.