What happens when you combine American hyper-individualism with a lack of education and critical thinking skills? You get conspiracy theorists, a largely American phenomenon. It should by no means be considered limited to the United States the First World in general produces it. As the Third World suffers from the ongoing Ebola crisis First World peoples are finding ways to make themselves out to be the victims.
While travelling through the internet it’s hard not to come across conspiracy websites or their articles. This one I found spoke quite loudly, and prominently displayed the phenomenon I wish to discuss. “Ebo-Lie: Man Living In Ghana Confirms Ebola Is A Hoax” is an article by Truth Seeker Daily that claims there is no Ebola crisis based on the testimony by one man:
“People in the Western World need to know what’s happening here in West Africa. THEY ARE LYING!!! “Ebola” as a virus does NOT Exist and is NOT “Spread”. The Red Cross has brought a disease to 4 specific countries for 4 specific reasons and it is only contracted by those who receive treatments and injections from the Red Cross. That is why Liberians and Nigerians have begun kicking the Red Cross out of their countries and reporting in the news the truth. ”
The article goes on to describe why the Red Cross would deliberately infect people with such a contagion. Essentially with their argument, without even know it, is imperialism. Yes, they claim this ‘hoax’ of a disease in Nigeria, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is all for the purpose of stealing Nigerian oil and Sierra Leone’s diamonds. It goes on to specifically states: “For the past 4 months they have been on strike, refusing to provide diamonds due to horrible working conditions and slave pay. The West will not pay a fair wage for the resources because the idea is to keep these people surviving on rice bags and foreign aid so that they remain a source of cheap slave labor forever. A reason was also needed to get troops on the ground in Sierra Leone to force an end to the diamond miners strikes.”
This is imperialism; the article is almost giving the definition of it. But when they lack critical thinking skills they resort to terrible delusions of conspiracy rather than the simple economic profit motive. Why? Because in the minds of these people capitalism cannot do anything wrong, the freedom to buy things is what freedom really is. So since capitalism can’t do anything bad, it must be some kind of conspiracy by some party somewhere. Capitalism would never demand minimum expenditures for maximum profits right?
In order to justify this position they begin to nitpick for something that doesn’t make sense to them in order to find something to support their erratic view. Take for example this picture/video the article claims is proof that Ebola doesn’t exist as a crisis:
“Oops. Guess they forgot the cameras were rolling,” is what the article claims. If this was a real outbreak of a virus (in their view) then this guy would be nowhere near the victim. Of course what this author fails to understand is how Ebola is spread, through contact and bodily fluids. The victim is encased in enough protective gear that this guy is in no danger. Not to mention he doesn’t touch the victim or come less than a few feet from them. The author has zero ability to simply rationally look at the situation. They’ve built up these insane arguments, why? Lacking rational reasoning skills, they assume it all about them; this must be a plot against them.
The one thing this article speaks to the most is the narcissistic mentality of First Worlders, particularly the ultra-patriot conspiracy types. With this ongoing crisis in Africa where thousands have died from a disease, these conspiracy-minded individuals still find a way to make it all about themselves. This situation is about the insufficiently checked Ebola virus that is causing untold damage to economic and human life. This is about the failure to contain a serious illness that has the potential to kill many, many people. We are witnessing the truth behind capitalism and its failure to help the poor, its failure to develop a vaccine. Even in the bald faced of this reality First Worlders still find a way to make it about themselves rather than recognize the real problem.
Even as thousands die miserable deaths, the First World conspiracy mentality first asks the question: Is this about me somehow? Their immediate reaction is to think of some kind of plot where they can be seen as victims. Their first thought is not how to help people. All tragedies in the world must be related to them somehow; even if they happen in a far away land they can’t pronounce or even heard of before. It must always come back to them because of their self-centered individualist view. This kind of Randian-style individualism is a prime component in the production of this self-victimization. Ebola must be about them and not about the people who are suffering.
Don’t be fooled, this is by no means contained to the conspiracy crowd. Both Democrats and Republicans have taken this crisis and made it about themselves and their own ambitions. Republicans have taken to the media to claim this is all President Obama’s fault. Unceasingly they claim Obama has placed the nation at risk with the open boarders policy. The irony being that Americans citizens are the ones who have brought the illness to America. The outbreak has nothing to do with South American refugees and migrants, yet they use it to push their racist agenda. Meanwhile a few Democrats have attempted to blame Republicans for the outbreak by trying to link Republican demanded budget cuts. For them there is almost nothing beyond political point scoring among the competing interests of the capitalist class.
The fact these groups have twisted a real humanitarian crisis for their own need is reprehensible.
Here is a good example of the First Worldist mentality surrounding deaths from Ebola. How many people a year die from malaria? According to the World Health Organization, in 2012 there was “an estimated 207 million cases of malaria”. The number of people who have died is estimated to be about 627,000. This estimate has an uncertainty range of 473,000 to 789,000. This means there is a possibility of 800,000 people dying of malaria last year. The reason we don’t know for sure is because “90% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.” In addition, in 2012 “malaria killed an estimated 482 000 children under five years of age. That is 1300 children every day, or one child almost every minute.”
The deaths from Ebola have been relatively insignificant when compared to how many have died over decades from malaria. Yet there seems to be no such outrage against this disease which is far more common. The reason? In my opinion it is because malaria isn’t going to spread to the First World and kill hundreds of thousands. It affects “those people over there” not us here. Once that suffering, or at the very least some kind of threat has the potential of making it to First World people, then they get concerned. As long as what exists doesn’t affect their daily life they care nothing for the suffering that goes on. Once it merely has the potential to affect them that is the moment when we must run to the media and demand action.
Death and disease of this kind is expected to happen in these places. It is not expected to happen here. Stories and facts about disease, malnutrition, death in conflicts are the background noise of the First Worlder’s life. It’s something that happens like the weather, that’s “just what it’s like over there”. This is a reality they’ve come to expect as always being and always will happen. The suffering of fellow human beings in this part of the world is nothing more the “natural” way of things, it doesn’t even warrant any real intervention on. This is the real face of First Worlders, they care nothing for those they stand above in the capitalist-imperialist structure.
What happens when the media scare begins? The First World exercises its economic power to supply a portion of the social product to those who are trembling in a paranoid fear and not those actually suffering. First World people run out and buy all kinds of survival gear fearful of a moment that isn’t going to come. They buy all the chemical suits, masks, emergency food and all other manner of commodities. This happened with every single Chicken Little incident: swine flu, the millennium bug, SARS and countless others. Meanwhile those actually dying of Ebola can’t get access to all the equipment supplies and other commodities they need to help stem human suffering, and you know stopping the disease itself.
The market in its inhuman functioning of supply and demand determines that these products go to those who literally don’t need it instead of those who desperately do. Every commodity has a two-fold value contained in it. It has a use-value and an exchange value which are in contradiction with each other. Use-values vary wildly from commodity to commodity, while exchange-value is usually uniform and qualitatively identical. A commodities’ use -value is what you do with it, how you experience it. The exchange-value can be described as what you have to pay for it, so ‘how much’ is it? This ‘how much’ affects our ability to obtain and utilize the use-values we want or need to have.
The exchange-value does not dominate, but can affect the creation and distribution of use-values. When we create commodities for the exchange-value, not their use-value we alienate those products from where they are needed to where they are profitable. The fact any of these use-values ends up where they are needed most is merely incidental. People of the First World exercise their economic power draining wealth and resources away from those who desperately need it most. Charities go out and beg for money to collect enough social value to get that social product to those who actually require their use-values. As the First World steals wealth from the Third World they steal their ability to help themselves. No good comes from First World theft and profits at the expense of Third World peoples.
This is prime reason why the poor of the Third World should never count on the support and assistance of First World people in their fight for liberation. The First World IS the problem.
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Ebo-Lie: Man Living In Ghana Confirms Ebola Is A Hoax! , Truth Seeker Daily
Factsheet on the World Malaria Report 2013, World Health Organization