The Economy of Moloch: Human Sacrifice Demanded to Appease the Markets
We live in an age of great possibility. We live in an era parlous collapse. The covid-19 pandemic sweeping the world has been a lens of focus for these matters. At the heart of the dichotomy lies a simple question: which do we value more, capital or human life? How to act on the answer we give may be maddeningly intricate, but the statement of values is clear. Covid-19 is putting these values to the test.
Italy’s dilly dallying on managing the virus put the scope of the humanitarian crisis in stark relief. The problem isn’t that it’s impossible to treat and save many people who contract covid-19; it’s that the infection spreads so rapidly when left unchecked that it will overwhelm even the most robust health care systems. The only way to prevent this is to slow the spread of the virus by enacting strict measures that limit human contact, particularly with those known to be infected. The level of compliance and cooperation needed from the public to contain covid-19 is extremely high.
People whose notions of freedom are rooted in individualistic “I can do whatever I want and no one can stop me” childish selfishness are effective covid-19 vectors. The refusal of many of its citizens to be inconvenienced, to have their lifestyles disrupted, is why the virus rapidly overwhelmed Italy. Italian tourists also exported the virus all over the world. Italians who hadn’t taken covid-19 seriously sent video messages out to the world after the entire nation was locked down. Many nations’ leaders who had also been slow to act took heed after Italy was overwhelmed and ramped up containment measures. There are two notable exceptions: the United Kingdom and the United States. Both nations are on trajectory to have the worst outcomes from covid-19, in spite of having ample warning of the need for countermeasures.
The British government’s arm had to be twisted to breaking, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finally implemented some serious measures to try to contain the spread of the virus. This was after floating the idea of having the virus run unchecked through the nation so Britons could develop herd immunity. Johnson and other Tories at least tried to hide behind that nonsense about herd immunity. The American right is saying the quiet part loud: the machinery of…