Blows Against the Empire—2020 In Memoriam

By Steve Lalla – Dec 31, 2020

To say that 2020 has been memorable would be an understatement, but experience teaches us that our memories of the pandemic may well be struck from the record.

“The 1918 influenza epidemic is one of history’s great conundrums, obliterated from the consciousness of historians,” wrote Gina Kolata, and COVID-19 may yet meet the same fate.¹ Kolata recalls that not only was the Spanish flu omitted from basic history in her elementary and high school, but was also ignored in microbiology and virology courses in college, even though it killed more people than the first world war.

From the onset of the pandemic it was clear that it would accelerate the crumble of the u.s empire. Many had commented on the fragility of neoliberalism in the face of public health crises, and it was pretty obvious from the start that the imperialist system would prove incapable of handling COVID-19 in a reasonable manner.

While the u.s and its capitalist vassals fell prey to COVID-19, blaming it on China or insisting that “one day, like a miracle, it will disappear,” the pandemic overshadowed imperialist defeats in the Middle East and Latin America, and masked some of the scariest climate catastrophes in recorded history.

A chronology of 2020’s most salient events and images:

January 5: Iraq’s parliament voted to expel all u.s troops from the country. Deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Units of Iraq, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, was assassinated in a January 3 drone strike—in addition to Iran’s General Soleimani—the last straw for Iraq politicians’ toleration of any u.s troops on their soil. About 5,000 u.s troops remain in the country. The ruling was the final blow to bush Jr.’s lie that the Iraq War would “bring freedom” to Iraqis, who instead revile the u.s for killing a million of their brothers and sisters, destroying their economy and infrastructure, and bombing their most precious ancient sites.

January 6: Millions filled the streets of Tehran, Iran, following the drone killing of Major General Qasem Soleimani. Widely publicized footage of astounding mourning processions contradicted u.s Secretary of State mike pompeo’s hollow boasts: “We have every expectation that people not only in Iraq, but in Iran, will view the American action last night as giving them freedom, freedom to have the opportunity for success and prosperity for their nations. While the political leadership may not want that, the people in these nations will demand it.” Coupled with the late-2019 u.s retreat in Syria, it became clear that the empire was losing their war against the Shia Crescent.

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Tehran, Iran, January 6, 2020 | source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51011038

January-February: Early in the new year raging forest fires in Australia grabbed world attention. Fires incinerated over 45 million acres and caused almost 500 deaths, either directly or as a result of smoke inhalation. Ecologists estimated that over one billion mammals, birds and reptiles were killed, including about eight thousand koalas. Climate change and destruction of the environment, spurred by decades of conspicuous consumption and a dependence on fossil fuels, are the results of an anarchic capitalist economic system that profits from waste and obsolescence. The u.s produces over 30 percent of the planet’s waste but holds about 4 percent of world population, a profligate lifestyle they imagine can be exported globally.

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Photo: Matthew Abbott/The New York Times via Redux

March 10: China announces victory in the struggle against the COVID-19 virus. To date, they’ve reported one death and a handful of cases since mid-April. Following strong measures to combat the pandemic including mandatory lockdowns and mask use, antibacterial dousing of public spaces, contact tracing, and regulating travel, China emerged as the global leader in pandemic defense. As a result China represents the one significant national economy that didn’t slump in 2020 and the world’s “only major growth engine,” according to Bloomberg. They dealt an additional blow to imperialism by sending doctors and equipment to the rescue of NATO countries, notably Italy, France, and Spain, or to stalwart u.s allies such as Brazil, Indonesia or the Philippines, in addition to helping numerous resistance nations including Palestine, Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, Iran, and Iraq, and African nations such as Algeria, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, or Zimbabwe.

April 6: Prominent right-wing political figures and news sources shared the story that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega had died of COVID-19. In reality Nicaragua had recorded only one death. Camera-shy Ortega made a rare televised speech on April 15th denouncing the u.s empire for spending trillions of dollars on bombs and war but refusing to provide basic free health care for their people. By December, the u.s death rate for COVID-19 was 40 times that of Nicaragua.

April 20: A blitz of news regarding the death of Kim Jong-un filled all mainstream media. With the pandemic claiming lives around the world this story became huge. Unsurprisingly the lie originated with media funded by the u.s regime-change operation National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

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May 3: Venezuelan fishermen foiled the Operation Gideon armed invasion led by former green berets employed by private security company Silvercorp. In March trump placed a $15 million bounty on Maduro, with predictable results. Following the confession of Silvercorp founder Jordan Goudreau, we learned that u.s officials and their Venezuelan puppets juan guaidó and leopoldo lópez planned and funded the attack. Goudreau even presented documents to prove it. Eight mercenaries were killed, seventeen were captured. The photo of prostrate commandos in front of the Casa of Socialist Fishermen was cited as one of the year’s best.

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photo: RCamachoVzla | source: https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14867

May 24: Anti-imperialist nations, locked out of world markets by u.s sanctions, were starting to team up. On this day Iranian oil tankers, escorted by boats, helicopters and planes of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) of Venezuela, broke the blockade and landed in El Palito.

May 25: The public lynching of George Floyd horrified the world. In the middle of the street, in broad daylight, while being filmed, a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, until Floyd breathed no more. One of over 1,000 murders by u.s police in 2020, Floyd’s killing sparked massive spontaneous protests across the u.s in every city and town. Widespread arson and looting occurred and an army of live streamers shared daily demos, speeches, and police brutality, for those at home. The protests raged for months and had many peaks. The empire deployed the National Guard, military helicopters, and by July were using unidentified troops in black vans to kidnap protesters. At least 14,000 civilians were arrested, and 19 killed, in the protests.

May 28: Protestors torched the Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct police headquarters, where George Floyd’s killer worked. Police forces had fled the building. The incendiary images provided some of the year’s most widely shared and beloved photographs.

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Razing of the 3rd Precinct | https://www.twincities.com/2020/05/28/minneapolis-police-abandon-third-precinct-hq-as-george-floyd-protesters-pull-down-fences/

May 31: u.s president trump was taken to a fortified bunker as thousands of protestors besieged the White House and threatened his life. Eventually the empire’s security forces established a perimeter around the president’s residence, with multiple layers of fencing, and fought a pitched battle with bottle-throwing protestors for weeks on end.

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Demonstrators vandalized trump’s private church | Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

June 3: Hurricane Cristobal makes landfall in Louisiana, the first of a record-breaking five named storms to hit the state in 2020. Lake Charles, a city that held almost 80,000 people, immortalized in The Band’s “Up On Cripple Creek,” will never recover. Over 45,000 homes were damaged, insured losses topped $10 billion, and thousands of residents are still displaced.

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Lake Charles following Hurricane Laura in August | Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert

June 20: After tweeting that “almost one million people requested tickets for the Saturday night rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma!” trump spoke to only 6,000 supporters and over 13,000 empty seats. He was trolled by K-Pop fans and teens on Tik Tok who had bought up all the tickets and created fake hype around the event. Photos of a dejected trump leaving the rally were wildly popular.

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trump’s walk of shame | Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock

August 19: Out-of-control California wildfires began to gain international media attention. By this day over 350 fires were already burning. The state went on to record over nine thousand fires, burning about four percent of the state’s land, by far the worst wildfire season in California’s history. The smoke from the fires, which are still burning, will create a miniature nuclear winter, contributing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all the cars, cities and industries in the u.s during an entire year, and release energy equivalent to “hundreds of hydrogen bombs.”

October 6: Enormous protests erupted across Indonesia in the wake of the government’s passing of an Omnibus Law that undermines workers’ rights and the environment. The law was enacted November 3; protests are ongoing and have resulted in the arrest of at least six thousand civilians including 18 journalists.

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Harmoni, Central Jakarta | Photo: JP/Wendra Ajistyatama

October 13: In recognition of their success in maintaining the “highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights,” both Cuba and China were elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

October 18: Luis Arce, candidate of the Movement for Socialism, swept into power by trouncing Carlos Mesa in Bolivia’s presidential election, gaining 55 percent of the vote to Mesa’s 28 percent. The results put the lie to claims by u.s-backed Organization of American States (OAS) that the 2019 elections, in which Evo Morales was elected to a new term, were fraudulent. Arce’s election vindicated those who had argued for a year that Morales was deposed in an illegitimate, u.s-sponsored coup. Coup dictator jeanine añez and her coterie of imperialist supporters were panned worldwide. añez was captured trying to flee the country while other offending politicians, such as Minister of the Interior arturo murillo, and Minister of Defense fernando lopez, escaped.

October 25: In response to gigantic demonstrations that began in October, 2019 and still haven’t let up, Chile held a Constitutional Referendum. The main objectives of the ongoing protest movement are the removal of president piñera and of the pinochet Constitution that made Chile “ground zero” for the failed neoliberal experiment. To date over 2,500 Chileans have been injured, almost three thousand arrested, and 29 killed in the protests. In the October 25 referendum 80 percent voted for a new constitution, and chose to have it drafted by a Constituent Assembly elected by the people.

November 3: trump’s loss in the u.s presidential elections wasn’t really a defeat for imperialism because biden’s regime will prove to be just as bad, or worse, for targets of the empire. Nevertheless, it felt like a victory for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because trump embodied outright neo-fascism and was supported by the most reactionary, racist yankees. Secondly, because, following his electoral defeat, trump and his entourage resorted to every possible ruse that CIA regime-change operations have employed in other countries for decades: crying fraud, attacking voting centers, and denouncing imaginary communists. “trump did more for the liberation of humanity from Western imperialism, because of his crudeness, than any other u.s leader in history,” commented political analyst Laith Marouf. “The latest example was him calling the u.s elections a fraud. With that he made it impossible to undermine the elections in Venezuela.”

November 11: Evo Morales returned to Bolivia exactly one year to the day after his ouster. His return was celebrated by multitudes, and hailed as a “world historic event.” Morales assumed his place as head of MAS and as an eminent spokesperson against imperialism.

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Photo: Prensa Evo

November 23: While u.s reported their largest increase in poverty since they began tracking data, China announced that they had lifted all counties out of poverty, and eradicated extreme poverty across the Republic. Since 1978 China has lifted over 850 million out of poverty, according to the World Bank.

November 25: Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla revealed links between members of the San Isidro movement and the u.s embassy in Havana. The failed San Isidro campaign revolved around Cuban rapper Denis Solis, detained in Havana for failing to respect COVID-19 regulations and assaulting a police officer. A small group went on a highly publicized “hunger strike” demanding his release and claiming that Cuba was repressing dissent. Meanwhile Cuba’s government and investigative journalists revealed the ties, including funding and numerous meetings, between San Isidro group members, Miami-based right-wing agitators and u.s politicians in Cuba. The rapper in question, Denis Solis, didn’t help his case by yelling “trump 2020!” at Cuban police officers in a video he filmed and shared himself a few days after trump had lost the election.

November 26: Over 250 million took to the streets in India, reported as the “biggest organized strike in human history,” protesting new laws that will attack farm workers and subject the nation to inequitable neoliberal doctrines. Huge masses of demonstrators marched on Delhi from neighboring states. They met barricades, roadblocks, armed security forces, teargas and all manner of obstructions, but dismantled everything and reached their target. “They are trying to give away agriculture to capitalists, just like they sold so many of our important public sector companies across India,” said a spokesperson. “Through this relentless privatization they want to further exploit farmers and workers.”

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modi’s repressive forces were unable to halt demonstrators marching on Delhi | source: https://peoplesdispatch.org/2020/11/27/250-million-people-participate-in-nationwide-strike-in-india/

December 6: Venezuela’s Parliamentary Election resulted in a landslide victory for Maduro’s Chavista party PSUV/GPP, breaking a deadlock in Parliament that had lasted for five years, and ushering in a new era in Venezuelan politics that will last until the end of Maduro’s term in 2024—barring a military invasion, assassination or successful coup by imperialist powers.

The upcoming year certainly holds more of the same in store for us: embarrassments for imperialism, hundreds of thousands of preventable COVID-19 deaths, and a doubling-down on capitalism’s claim that it provides the only way forward, evidenced by the hubris of promotional efforts for The Great Reset.

NOTES:

  1. Kolata, Gina. Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999

 

 

Featured image: photo: RCamachoVzla | source: https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14867

(Medium)

Steve Lalla
Website | + posts
Steve Lalla is a journalist, researcher and analyst. His areas of interest include geopolitics, history, and current affairs. He has contributed to Counterpunch, The Canada Files, Resumen LatinoAmericano English, ANTICONQUISTA, and others.

Steve Lalla

Steve Lalla is a journalist, researcher and analyst. His areas of interest include geopolitics, history, and current affairs. He has contributed to Counterpunch, The Canada Files, Resumen LatinoAmericano English, ANTICONQUISTA, and others.