Capitalism, Wars and Epidemics (III)

4. The destruction of health systems and of the ecosystem. The commodification of the world (Completed)

The outbreak of a violent pandemic, like Covid-19, has seemed to suddenly fall from the sky, like an umpteenth plague of Egypt. The U.S. economy seemed to be thriving, and unemployment was at a low ebb. Virtually everyone (except the homeless or the countless precarious workers) was going from home to work every day, hoping that everything would go well in the best possible of all capitalist worlds.

Contents:

a) New pandemics taking advantage of a capitalist health system adrift (page 2)
b) The agriculture of death: Toxic nutrition, health scourges of “obese capital” (page 3)
c) Commodification, the permanent war of capital against nature (page 4)

Newly added sections: b) and c)
Last updated: December 16, 2020.

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Capitalism, Wars and Epidemics (II)

The second part of this contribution opens with a historical sketch of wars and epidemics from capitalism’s early expansion since the turn of the 16th Century: the discovery of the “West Indies” and the ensuing conquest of the Americas by Europe’s incipient colonialism, as well as its  expansion to Africa and the “East Indies”, until the era of modern imperialism, since the First World War. It focuses on the ‘natural’ spread of lethal diseases and epidemics as a consequence of the interaction of hitherto physically separated populations across continents, under the conditions of a merciless exploitation of slave and forced labor.

It continues by developing on biological warfare that only became systematically developed in the context of modern imperialism by all major rivaling powers, alongside chemical and – after WW-2 – in addition to nuclear warfare. Military-scientific programs for ‘weaponizing’ a diversity of biological agents (bacteria and viruses, like for instance anthrax, botulinum, plague or Ebola) and the yet limited attempts at “testing” and “applying” them in war conflicts are briefly reviewed, including the telling example of the Aun sect in Japan (formally a non-state actor).

This part concludes with some theses for discussion, and a brief rejection of the speculation that the present Covid-19 pandemic would have originated from Chinese military laboratory experiments.

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Capitalism, Wars and Epidemics (I)

What is behind the calls for national unity against the Corona-virus pandemic?

As the Corona-virus pandemic rapidly extends its devastating effects over the globe, government leaders have successively declared themselves “at war”, and impose “sanitary emergency measures” at different grades of “lock down”, varying from restricting social life and imposing self-isolation (as in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands) up to establishing veritable military curfews (as in Italy, Spain and France). They all call upon “national unity and solidarity” to combat the “invisible enemy”, while trying to enforce state control over the population, as a new global recession is unfolding.

The following contribution develops on the relation between the wars and epidemics of capitalism, drawing some parallels with the plagues in the early stages of its emergence (the 14th Century) and with the Spanish flu during World War 1. It situates the stakes of the present “Corona-virus crisis” in an ideological preparation for a global war.

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