the hasty reopening

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By RICARDO GEBRIM*

We continue in the direction of chaos, with the danger of neo-fascism seeking to take advantage of the situation

The main global geopolitical contradiction of recent years is the conflict between US imperialism and China reinforced with its strategic alliance with Russia. It determines the major strategic decisions of the world powers and is revealed in countless clashes around the world. Despite losing ground in economics and politics, the US maintains military supremacy. In addition to their numerous bases around the world, they spend a considerable part of their significant budget on supporting military structures of their allies, such as the Baltic countries, Ukraine and Poland.

Losing the geopolitical race and sustaining itself centrally in arms, projects a scenario of predictable rise in military tensions, with the growth of localized conflicts and provocative attacks. In this context, it becomes relevant to analyze whether one of the consequences of the current crisis driven by the pandemic will be to understand that China's economic and political overcoming of the US, which was already advancing by leaps and bounds, will now take a leap in quality in the coming years.

According to the annual world wealth ranking (Global Wealth Report, 2019), released by the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, China has already surpassed the US. In turn, the Financial Times newspaper predicted – based on calculations made with data from the International Monetary Fund and prior to the pandemic – that China will definitely overtake the US in 2023, also in relation to the nominal Gross Domestic Product.

The determining factor in this predictable leap in quality in overtaking was the speed with which Chinese industrial production resumed after the outbreak of the pandemic. Thanks to the agility in promoting restrictive social measures, the outbreak of Covid-19 originated in Wuhan, province of Hubei, was contained in record time, enabling factories to largely resume full-time production.

It is no coincidence that there is an accelerated search by international investors for Chinese sovereign bonds. With the pandemic, even though China was the center of the first outbreak, the demand for securities has grown significantly, demonstrating that capitalist pragmatism already perceives it as a safe and profitable refuge.

Meanwhile, in the US, Trump, like his pupil Bolsonaro, has defied scientific evidence, advertised unproven drugs, minimized the impact of the disease and pushed away those who insisted on following public policies based on technical criteria. All in the name of an immediate resumption of economic production. Even in the face of the catastrophe of the death toll, he instigates his team of White House advisers to attack Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the public body responsible for advising the president on policies to combat the new coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the irresponsible and genocidal posture of the Trump administration, social inequalities and the absence of a public health system have boosted the spread of the virus, keeping the curve on the rise despite the abundant economic resources to acquire tests and invest in research for a vaccine or new medicines.

The new wave of infections and restrictions on commercial activities threaten the initial signs of recovery in the US economy, which, for the second consecutive month, managed to generate part of the jobs lost during the pandemic. The consequence of the asymmetry between Chinese and US policies is that the surge in new cases of coronavirus in the US forces a new quarantine with state economies being closed once again, delaying the desired resumption of full production capacity.

In summary, China's strategy of eliminating the virus before attempting a major reopening of the economy proved to be the right decision, in comparison with the US, confirming the prediction that it will be in a better position to advance and gain ground in the global dispute.

Recent studies on the Spanish flu experience (1918 to 1920) have shown that economic recovery in 43 US cities after the end of the outbreak was faster where city authorities adopted isolation measures to contain the spread of the epidemic, compared to places that did not act to reduce contagion.

In Brazil, Bolsonaro's genocidal posture is increasingly reproduced by governors and mayors pressured by the irresponsible reopening - precisely because it happens when the official contamination and death curves turn out to be very far from the minimum stabilization parameter that justifies such a risky measure.

As expected, deaths fall fundamentally on the working classes, revealing the cruelty of our social inequality and affecting the black population five times more.

The lack of tests and reliable data on deaths throws us into a blind flight, in which the interim Minister of Health is ironically a military man with parachute training and an advanced degree in free jumping.

The biggest Brazilian cities are reopening their activities when the death toll curve is still stable and even on the rise. According to the EpiCovid-19 survey, coordinated by the Federal University of Pelotas (UFPel) and funded by the Ministry of Health, by the end of June, only 3,8% of the Brazilian population had already been exposed to the virus. A data that suggests that the tragedy can still expand overwhelmingly before a vaccine is effective and can be applied to the entire population.

It is true that we are witnessing an unprecedented race for vaccines, pharmaceutical innovations and new tools to face the pandemic. However, they will hardly be able to prevent what awaits us in the coming months. We continue in the direction of chaos, with the danger of neo-fascism seeking to take advantage of the situation.

A new world scenario is rapidly emerging. Loss of US supremacy, advance of China in alliance with Russia, sudden worsening of the living conditions of the masses around the world and probable increase in international tensions.

*Ricardo Gebrim is a lawyer and member of the National Board of Popular Consultation

 

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