Hunger Lines, Trash Bag Scrubs, Cardboard Coffins: Imperialism’s Incompetence Demands Resistance


We live in a dying system. The coronavirus pandemic continues under the gross mismanagement of an imperialist ruling class. The richest country in the world was able to cut a $1200 check to dole out – a quick cash injection, not even enough to cover rent in most major cities. Disregarding the fleeting and inadequate subsidy, the scenes in front of us should dispel any thought that imperialism can answer economic and health crisis in ways that give dignity to the people.

Last week in San Antonio, Texas, 10,000 families lined up in massive rows of cars to receive food aid. In March, Pictures of nurses in New York wearing trash bags as personal protection went viral. In Guayaqil, Ecuador, hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, authorities have offered cardboard coffins to the impoverished families who have been forced to hold the bodies of their loved ones in their homes or cremate them in neighborhood streets. The authorities called the coffins a “gesture of solidarity.”

10,000 cars lined up for food in San Antonio, Texas

These insults from the ruling class, only illustrate the undeniable fact that imperialist society is a complete failure, unable to organize production in a way that will benefit the vast majority of people. This system instead serves and profits a tiny percentage of the population who live off the labor of the working class and rule with total disregard for the people. At its root, it is this dying system’s failure to manage the crises of overproduction it creates that causes this economic devastation. The COVID-19 pandemic only makes this more obvious.

Las Vegas parking lot marked off for homeless people to sleep in, empty casinos in background.

In Las Vegas, the homeless are provided taped off boxes in parking lots (don’t worry, measured-out 6 feet apart), while the decadent gambling palaces of the strip, in ‘normal’ times preying on the people, now sit empty with thousands of vacant hotel rooms. Millions of tons of milk, vegetables, eggs, meat and much more, which in the words of the ruling class, ‘can’t be sold’ are being dumped or left to rot in fields. Even if the owners wanted to donate to the food banks where thousands now gather – the capitalist supply chains are built around inefficient channels restricted to supplying the now-closed restaurant franchises, service and tourism industries that are built for consumption, distraction, and profit, not for human nourishment.

Oil producers are competing against each other over diminishing profits rather than slow down production – as storage facilities are filling to the ‘tops of tanks’ due to the lack of demand. This important resource, which if managed for the benefit of the society could be applied in new and creative ways, and extracted with less environment devastation, is nothing but a profitable, exploitable commodity to the oil fiefdoms of the Middle East or the skinny dog imperialism of Russia. The US hovers over the squabbling, waiting to see where it will apply either economic threats, or more military intervention.

But the situations of desperation and conscious negligence caused by imperialist and capitalist states should not be an excuse for more panic. We should not uncritically concede to the ruling class’s repressive social control orders or rationalize their chaotic attempts to respond to this economic and health crisis. They should be held as motivation to mobilize all those who desire a better world to fight for it. The masses make history, and during this time, the working class and oppressed peoples of the US and the world are inevitably asserting themselves.

In the US, workers who have kept grocery stores stocked and deliver food to the well-off are beginning to strike, seeking health protections as well as hazard pay for their sacrifice. Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island held a walkout and fast food employees in Los Angeles and Chicago have carried out creative actions such as drive-through protests, circling their restaurants with horns blaring.

Residents of Cape Town, South Africa patiently filled out requests for food distribution which only went into a void – they began to protest and seize back the fruit of their labor from grocery stores rather than expect the incompetent authorities to bring them aid. Instead of food trucks rushing to answer their hunger, the state sent armored vehicles and police to feed them rubber bullets.

In the Mexican state of Chihuahua, the federal government attempted to use the pandemic as an excuse to drain the water of rural communities on behalf of US interests. The peasants rose up in protest, burning police and government agency cars to force the state’s retreat.

For the past year, the countries of Latin America have erupted en masse, the people bombarding the old states with generations of fury. Their decrepit ruling class can only respond with tear gas, bullets, and death. During the pandemic, do these rotten bureaucratic capitalist states and their US imperialist master enforce social distancing for the people – or to save their own hides? We know the answer, we cannot find any altruism at all among the imperialists.

The convenience of criminalizing all gatherings, whether to prohibit leisure or resistance, is a temporary boon to the imperialist’s self-preservation. But the masses will not tolerate indefinite self-detention, even if the economy could – it is right to rebel, especially in times of crisis. The people are not united with imperialist and capitalist states in a “war against the Coronavirus” – the virus has not changed the fact that the principal contradiction in the world today is between imperialism and those oppressed by it. US imperialism, the main enemy of the world’s people, persists in killing and destroying the lives of countless people with or without COVID-19. In Afghanistan, it continues to rain bombs in violation of its own ceasefire with the Taliban – Afghanis continue their successful campaign to expel the invaders even as the Coronavirus is on their doorstep – they know US imperialism will always be the greater threat.

Protests in Chile, 2019

People question why our healthcare systems were unprepared for such a thing – it is futile to ask the imperialists why they do not provide what they will always withhold – hoarding and mismanagement are their entire modus operandi – working people will only gain what we are willing to fight to take, and fight to keep. The politicians and stockbrokers can only hope we’ll immediately spend our $1200 check, shelling it out to our landlords or making consumer purchases that will float the collapsing economy a little further.

Their insufficient bribes and poorly thought-out plan for shutting down the world has skyrocketed unemployment within the US to an estimated rate of 20% this month. Do they expect workers with no incomes to buy the mounting product surpluses and rotting mountains of food? Once their crashing websites come back online with a full account of the unemployment filings, Bourgeois economists predict unemployment will likely climb to 30% in the very near future, exceeding the 25% unemployment rate of the Great Depression. We have entered the New Depression, caused by imperialist overproduction and made worse by pandemic.

The supposed economic gains since the 2008 recession have been wiped out, but the imperialists will tell us with a straight face they can turn it around again. They will scramble to rebuild, but the lower wages and fewer employees on the payroll will be too tempting for the owners, and their disorganized system desires this chaos in the name of its sacred right: private property. The answer to their ineptitude can be summed up in a single sentence: abolition of private property.

The people realize they’ve been written a forged check by this system. They clamor for a new one – Socialism, even if many are not yet cognizant of this, which will take humanity to the even greater heights by continuing the revolution to Communism. There is nothing else that can answer the contradiction between the productive forces and how society must be organized.

The great revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin described Imperialism as moribund capitalism – it is rotted, dead and can go no further. We are in the age where imperialism has divided and re-divided the world over too many times, and it continues to consume itself, leading to greater economic crises and possible World War as imperialists escalate their trade wars. The people will prepare and willingly face down any threats from imperialists to fight for their inheritance – a society based on the principle, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” as Karl Marx described Communism to be.

Imperialism is a stinking corpse that won’t bury itself – with escalating waves of revolution and rebellion across the globe, the people of the world will shove it into its final grave.