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The Covid-19 crisis is undermining the global credibility of capitalism

IF US citizens ceased stuffing Colombian marching powder up their noses, drug dealing would become a boutique business at best.

The same goes for this country. We weren’t all born with a silver spoon up our noses. 

If those sections of British society flush in funds enough to sniff up the cash equivalent of a weekly supermarket shop were instead to take a pint of stout, crime would go down and tax receipts up.

How, then, should we understand the latest claim by the Trump administration that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and his top state officials, are drug lords engaged in trafficking to the United States.

The allegation goes beyond bizarre to suggest that Maduro is complicit in a bid to “flood the US with cocaine.”

It is true that there is a seemingly inexhaustible demand for this stuff in Trump’s US and — according to strictly orthodox principles of the capitalist market, the “invisible hand” that supplies 90 per cent of the domestic US demand is the United States’s most loyal ally Colombia.

The Maduro allegation is merely Trump’s latest lie. The US President’s lying is so routine that it has even attracted the ire of influential figures on the Republican right of US politics who have enough purchase on the real world to understand the danger that his moronic mendacity poses to the stability of the system.

Perhaps Trump feels the need to divert attention from his astoundingly maladroit handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

With the US coronavirus casualty figure now surpassing Italy’s and outstripping China, Trump continues to lie.

He said the US state was on top of the outbreak when it was sleeping on the job. He claimed the virus was contained when, even on the fragmentary statistics available in the US’s fragmented system, it was spreading. He said mass testing was on tap when it wasn’t, isn’t and won’t be.

He speculated with the air of a snake-oil salesman that coronavirus might vanish “like a miracle” as quickly as it came and he contradicted expert advice to hold out the hope of an early breakthrough in developing a vaccine.

The US President’s bombast exists in inverse proportion to his credibility on the world stage.

This is not simply an expression the wide disrespect which his person commands: it reflects a dramatic weakening of the ability of the US to project its power beyond its borders.

This is in part due to the unwillingness of ordinary people in the US to support foreign adventures if they entail body bags coming home. 

Trump himself gives voice to this feeling, and this accounts for some of his domestic support.

The US still is able to impose misery and worse on those nations close to its borders. 

When, a century ago, the Mexican leader Porfirio Diaz remarked: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the United States,” he might have been speaking for every Latin American leader. 

But today, despite its massive machinery of military might, the US is much less likely to intervene directly than it was accustomed to in earlier times. 

It is a remarkable fact but, while Trump is unable and unwilling to command an integrated and efficient federal response to the Covid-19 crisis within the borders of the US, three countries that are subject to US sanctions, China, Cuba and Russia, are active on the world stage bringing expertise and aid to countries that are struggling with the virus.

The global balance of power is changing, and the failure of the imperialist hegemon to confront the coronavirus crisis with competence is undermining the global credibility of the capitalist model.

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