Important!Following is an approximation of a conversation, with flourishes here and there, between “Boris”, my UK friend from “across the pond” and “Natasha” (moi), a feral socialist stuck in COVID-19 quarantine in the wilds of Arkansas. It was pecked out on Facebook yesterday, over the course of about an hour and a half.
— Jacques, d’Nalgar, Samedi 28 mars 2019 à l’ère commune
Boris: I worry about our world Natasha. I especially fear for your country. You are being led by an idiot with no clue. If this virus reaps the whirlwind I fear that it might, it will make mincemeat of your economy and the wider world. I guess I am hoping that you can give me reason for an optimism that I’m not feeling.
Natasha: Anxiety is rampant here, too. Went out to buy groceries this morning — never saw so many people wearing gloves and masks, avoiding eye contact, and maintaining “social” separation. And here where we live there are only a handful of suspected cases…
I suppose the best case for optimism is our geography and our history. Except for our largest cities, Americans are a widely dispersed and mostly rural population. That’s got to at least slow down this pandemic wildfire. And remember what Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said (we think — it maybe a Hollywood invention) after the Pearl Harbor attack: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”
Americans are still a gritty, stubborn people, with enormous manufacturing and food-producing capacity that can be conscripted into this fight (and many have already volunteered). Get us angry enough, or scared enough, and we’ll fight anyone, anything, anywhere.
Boris: My fear is that a resulting economic crash may eventually cause more deaths that the virus. Another Great Depression would, in all probability, lead to another Great War and the end of civilization. Perhaps we’re going to have to accept the casualties, while striving for a vaccine, a kind of Manhattan Project, if you like. A million casualties now or a hundred million later.
Natasha: The only wrench in the gears is our dotard Trump and his quisling GOP and his unholy alliance with stupid-but-sincere Christian fundamentalists. They are still a force and an obstacle to be reckoned with, but their influence is fading. People are waking up to the harsh reality that they’ve been bamboozled by every Republican since Reagan. They’re finding themselves in a feudal system that is merciless, patently unfair, and visibly destroying the social safety nets and the very infrastructure that binds us together.
Feudal systems rarely end well. I can’t tell you when or how, but the ruling class in America is destined for an inglorious fall. Not all revolutions are violent. Heads can also be paraded on petards metaphorically… An age of unprecedented social cooperation and maybe even socialism is coming. An age where modern science and education are more highly regarded than ancient myths and the quest for mammon. Maybe not in our lifetimes, Boris, but the status quo is beginning to crumble… Keep the faith, my friend. Good can come from calamity.
Boris: Thanks Natasha. A bit of optimism there. I don’t normally get depressed but logically progressing this thing is giving me nightmares. But you have given me that rare thing these days, a conversation with someone who can see what is going on. Stay safe.
Natasha: PS — there are already parallel “Manhattan projects” underway, both for vaccines and treatments…