Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Champions League of Doom

I've been wondering what the later histories will label as the most catastrophic
In this ongoing shambles, beyond, say, Mister Johnson's herd immunity regime
Of delay, deny and dither in Her Majesty's land
And the US federal and (certain) state governments'
Response to the novel coronavirus pandemic from the start to the present

Early indicators pointed to Bolsonaro's bungling in Brazil
As a candidate to trump The Donald's dereliction of duty
Turns out he needn't have worried, albeit it was a bitter pill
For, enter stage right, came onto the scene, Premature Modi
Counting electoral chickens before the vaccine bounce would hatch
And now there's a surfeit, in India, of funeral pyres instead of roof thatches

And so I've been using my superspreading event timeline as prophylaxis
And, every night, dutifully checking the bookmarked tabs for the grim statistics
Sadly it is unlikely that anyone in this league of rogues will face justice
And if it is, it will be for some small thing, rather than for acts destructive

After a few months, I stopped updating my list, but there was no going back
For want of a bolt, humanity has been well and truly stuck
The virus sets the timeline, something many find hard to remember
It's really down to luck if, or when, your town becomes the new epicenter

Friends email me snippets; did you read about that fish processing factory?
The traveling salesman? Wrestling tournament? Or the cat's birthday party?
Heard about the ski resort? Nursing home? Farm? Yoga studio? Or the gym?
The meatpacking plant? The prison? Or the choir practice where they were singing hymns?

The Wife, a historian of medicine, religiously takes nightly screenshots
Documenting the waxing and waning of the coronavirus dashboards
And, on Facebook, she was quite the Cassandra, she was rather vocal
About the dangers people faced, but kept forgetting that everything is local

I know, I know, Trump probably caused far more casualties
On his watch. Try as he did, one can't hide so many dead bodies
It wasn't close, he's the clear winner of the Champions League of Doom
America First was his slogan, there's only one Alpha male in the room

The thing is that I take it personal with the Tories
J'accuse, for it really rankles
These miscreants, I charge, personally
Caused, by neglect, the death of my uncle

And I'm not even considering the shape of dread
It's the futility that makes one shake one's head
I can hardly handle all this unnecessary heartache
Grief unbounded, I'm still incandescent with rage

No, I already had their measure by April, just months into the pandemic
And nothing since has changed. If anything, the failure is systemic
The fish rots from the head down, it's a matter of common sense
The whole world is getting an education in observed competence

It is said that the legitimacy of the state
Derives from its ability to keep one safe
And say, per Max Weber, its monopoly on violence
That's, of course, when viewed with the sociological lens

You might prefer Thomas Jefferson's formulation:
"The first duty of government is the protection
Of life, not its destruction." He would add, if I recall,
"Abandon that, and you have abandoned all"

Out of this follows Caesar's Tax Collector Principle
But the duty of care relates to the Mosquito Principle
Duty abrogation has been seen in world-historic abundance
These men reneged on our fully paid up soul insurance

Political leaders come and go, we normally don't begrudge their authority
But the failure to protect is unforgivable, as is relying on herd immunity
Behold the Champions League of Doom: the Emperor has no clothes
I see you there, the winners in the corner: illegitimate and exposed

Despite a flattering supposition to the contrary, people come readily to terms with power. There is little reason to think that the power of the great bankers, while they were assumed to have it, was much resented. But as the ghosts of numerous tyrants, from Julius Caesar to Benito Mussolini will testify, people are very hard on those who, having had power, lose it or are destroyed. Then anger at past arrogance is joined with contempt for present weakness. The victim or his corpse is made to suffer all available indignities.

The Great Crash, 1929 by J.K. Galbraith
ghana usa

Champions League of Doom, a playlist


A soundtrack for this season's competition of woe. (spotify version)

This note is part of a series: In a covidious time

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Writing log. Prose: May 19 2020, Poetry: May 2, 2021

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