It could be argued that the Hollow State is a perfect vehicle for the realization of NRx’s ideas of governance. This argument challenges the conventional notion that a Hollow State is a negative conception, but rather a positive one. With the State absent private enterprise could enter and build power in the vacuums created. Instead of being plundered by multi-national corporations, the State would benefit by benign corporate governance. This was at least a part of NR’x ideological thrust. Unfortunately, the reality is much more grim.
The current crisis presenting itself to the world is a novel coronavirus. It appears to be highly contagious, but its fatality rate is an ongoing subject of debate. Some estimates place it around 2%, others placing it lower, in the 0.8% range, with the assumption of widespread mild or asymptomatic cases. A few estimates push the CFR upwards, to 4% and higher. This article does not require an accurate CFR. The ultimate fatality rate will no doubt vary from country to country. This won’t just be related to how well care is provided but also to how deaths are counted. Someone already sick in a hospital dies – perhaps the virus finished them off. Who gets the credit?
If CFR doesn’t matter for this article then what does? Reaction and reality. The reality is while it is not from the influenza family, this virus is likely to follow the same path. The origins can be disputed, even the long term health implications can be disputed. Much is entirely uncertain without more data, and the hordes of reddit-like comments about this do not make anyone look good. To look at the reaction, we see countries scrambling to contain it. China is perhaps the only country in the world that could shut itself down in the way it did. The State is strong there, it can throw resources at the problem. It can redirect manufacturing capability. It can shut down transport links. It can keep the water and the power on. Hong Kong recently decided to give 7 million people about $1,200 in light of this and past disruptions.
We know the Chinese will lie, we know they are dishonest. However we also know they react differently from other countries. They still have an ability to enforce control measures and manage a relatively coordinated response. As this virus spreads to other countries, with a different governmental style and culture we should expect to see differences. South Korea has kicked into overdrive in terms of testing. They have ramped up testing the quickest by far (and we can leave to one side scientific debates on efficacy rates of tests), and they also maintain a sizeable manufacturing base. Contrast with the response to testing by the US. The US has barely tested 500 people. The test kits don’t work. Hawaii is begging Japan for their test kits. The FDA and the US governmental bureaucratic machine is preventing states and even local hospitals and labs from developing and using their own kits.
Italy is hardly a country known for stability. Just look at their postwar government status. Or their entrenched crime syndicates. Yet even there the State has maintained a response that I’m sure many Americans are baffled by. Locking down entire regions. No entry or exit. Were (when?) such a thing to happen here, I’m sure some conspiracy types will see this as the FEMA death camps and willfully cause trouble against it. Ideologically enslaved to create chaos because any kind of control measure the Feds do will be viewed with suspicion. The collapse of trust in US State institutions is hardly remarkable, a visit to your local DMV explains that. The claim that Trump’s “underfunding” of the CDC has resulted in their failure to provide accurate test kits is laughable. This is a systemic problem. The organization has become politicized, exists as another Government money suck, and is seemingly ill equipped to help within their own nation.
Is this crisis about to be the final evidence of the just how hollow the US State has become? Our ‘germophobic’ President gave a muddled speech showing he is far more beholden to the capitalist cabal. His fear is the markets, his fear is that an economic downturn costs him the election. The world we live in has conquered disease to such an extent this is a scary prospect for many. The US seems ill equipped to cope with any kind of pandemic. Even a mild one.
Much of those failings seem to be traced back towards how hollowed out certain sections of society and government are. With no good safety net, sick Americans continue to go work and spread disease. With a healthcare system designed to extract wealth, people risk being charged outrageous sums for being prudent. With a bureaucracy tied up in extracting money for permissions people stand around waiting. What of the Black Swans that glide on the horizon? Does a disease that decimates aging boomers radically alter the housing market? Whatever happens, COVID19 seems to present more evidence for just how hollow the US is.