Edward Duncan
13th April 2020

Did you enjoy the way Donald Trump tried to make China the scapegoat for the spectacular failure of the USA’s privatised health system to cope with the Covid 19 pandemic? I certainly did! According to a desperate Trump, China deliberately understated the seriousness of the outbreak in Wuhan, apparently in order to keep the good guys (that’s us white folks in the West) from doing anything about it. The inference being, of course, that if the USA had known in good time just how serious the matter had really been they would have taken appropriate steps. To do what, one wonders?

Probably to produce some more of his rampant Cold War propaganda. With China’s economic star clearly ascending as the USA’s just as clearly sinks into the mire, Trump’s anti China posturing received little support within the international community. Of course, the US leader cares little what foreigners think. Sophisticated he is not. But then, neither are the thick-eared lumpen that make up his main constituency, as he well knows. Trump’s pitch of racism, anti-foreigner prejudice and good old American exceptionalism (crude nationalism in fancy dress) is classic fascism. Change the identity of the foreigners being attacked from Mexicans to Jews or Slavs and you could easily think we were back in the 1930s with you know who.

In fact, of course, contrary to Trump’s propaganda, China treated the Wuhan outbreak very seriously indeed: rigorous travel restrictions, equally rigorous interventions to maintain public health and to prevent the spread of infection within the province, including continuous mass testing of the population and the issuing of millions of masks. Also contrary to Trump’s fanciful notions, China’s public health measures were hardly kept secret.

The USA’s high-priced health system however was seemingly uninterested in what “socialised medicine” was doing in China: the Yanks couldn’t make money from it so they happily left it to the Chinese government to cope with. If they had paid attention free of Cold War hostility they would have had all the warning they could have wished for.

But would they actually have done anything differently? The sad truth is, probably not. The health system of the top capitalist country is set up to treat health as a commodity that can be used to generate large-scale profit. The idea that it is a government’s responsibility to provide every citizen with the finest health service a country can offer is anathema to these merchants of medicine for money.

In Wuhan, the virus came up against a public health system run solely for the public good. Despite inevitably being taken by surprise as the virus took hold and became an epidemic, the Chinese Party and government took resolute action – action not determined by whether local entrepreneurs could run a profit from it or not. With the full support and co-operation of the regional population, they were able to halt the spread of the virus and then to eliminate it in the province.

From being the stricken area that was the source of the infection, China morphed into the generous donator of millions of face masks to Western capitalist countries like Spain and Italy that were not coping very well with the crisis.

Meanwhile, Trump is making a spectacle of himself blaming China for the inadequacies of the USA’s capitalist health system. But trying to blame someone else is all he’s got. The ineptitude of capitalism in the face of this crisis couldn’t be more obvious. In Australia, the formerly lucrative private hospital “industry” has had to be bailed out by a massive government subsidy, despite the Morrison Liberal government trying valiantly to dress it up as the private hospital operators coming to the aid of the beleaguered public system!