Posted by Curt on 18 March, 2020 at 4:28 pm. 2 comments already!


“Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky.” That’s from Albert Camus’ classic 1947 novel The Plague, an allegory of fascism that eerily describes our current circumstances, up against that deadly microscopic beast that first began devouring people in China’s Wuhan province last November. “There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”

The thing is, there isn’t much in the way of a helpful real-world precedent to draw from, now that we’re all self-isolating and social-distancing, and movie theatres are closing along with the bars and restaurants, and the schools, and the hockey rinks, and almost all the important places where public life ordinarily unfolds. The disruption of global supply chains, the near-total shutdown of international travel, the daily stream of nearly 200,000 people crossing the Canada-U.S. border dwindling to a trickle, and the radical contraction of the world’s primary economies: all bolts from the blue.

Sept. 11, 2001, was similarly one of those events that “crash down on our heads from a blue sky,” and 10 years later, beginning in Tunisia in January 2011, the Arab Spring took everyone equally by surprise, in the same way that the uprisings in Poland and Hungary did in 1989, when the Berlin Wall was pulled down, and the world was changed utterly. You’d probably have to reach back to the War Measures restrictions of the 1940s to find the closest comparison with the draconian measures adopted across Europe and North America to contain the rising pace and spreading scale of the COVID-19 sickness that has suddenly afflicted more than 200,000 people worldwide, killing more than 8,000.

Where this is all going, and what sort of world we’ll soon be living in, is still very much up to the people of the world’s liberal democracies to decide, or at least to influence. The G7 countries, Canada included, are facing the necessity of economic intervention at a scale unknown in peacetime, just to tide us all through our travails with landlords, grocery bills and the basics.

But we’re just coming off 14 years of democracy’s worldwide retreat. Part and parcel of all that is the impunity afforded Vladimir Putin’s expansionist gangster state, the NATO capitals’ unconscionable indifference to the crucifixion and dismemberment of Syria’s Sunni Arab majority, and the savage hegemony asserted by Iran’s Khomeinist regime throughout the Middle East. But most notable in the prospects for democracy’s survival is Chinese strongman Xi Jinping’s determination to replace the 70-year-old liberal world order entirely with a world remade in the image and likeness of the Chinese Communist Party’s vast military-industrial surveillance state, with its sundry satrapies, its compliant client regimes, its globe-spanning subsidiaries, and its corporate compradors, embedded so noticeably in Canada.

At the United Nations, China is increasingly asserting its veto powers at the Security Council. Already, China controls four of the UN’s 15 major agencies: the International Telecommunication Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Industrial Development Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization. Only last week, China attempted to take over the World Intellectual Property Organization — a move too brazen, as it turned out, even for the dictator-dominated UN General Assembly. In 2016, China took over the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), but that project ended badly. Two years ago, Beijing disappeared Interpol boss Meng Hongwei, who was later charged with taking bribes during his tenure as China’s vice-minister of public security. Meng was sentenced in January to a prison term of 13 and a half years.

But it’s the World Health Organization that’s the trouble these days. Its credibility is shot, and not only because it’s run by Tedros Adhanom, a former minister of the human-rights-abusing Ethiopian government — one of Beijing’s biggest friends on the African continent. Adhanom distinguished himself shortly after taking over the WHO in 2017 by appointing doddering Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe as a WHO “goodwill ambassador.” The appointment caused such an uproar it had to be immediately rescinded.

Worse is that Adhanom has gone out of his way to flatter China, and in the early goings of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan — while Chinese medical officials were being silenced, whistleblowers were being rounded up and locked away and information about the outbreak was being suppressed by Communist Party officials who didn’t want Xi Jinping to suffer any international embarrassment — Adhanom went so far as to praise China’s “transparency.”

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