Coronavirus: retrospect 2040
by Christopher Norris
It’s twenty years ago and more
It hit the sick, it hit the poor,
And shares went quickly through the floor,
But we said ‘wait a bit, why not
Stay calm and wait a bit?’.
For we saw how it just might go,
This re-run of old scenes
That pitched the high against the low,
The boss-class guy with loads of dough
Against us might-have-beens, us lot
Of low-class might-have-beens.
We saw it coming, just the same
As when Titanic sank,
A life-boat place booked in their name
But nary a space for us to claim:
We’ve their class-law to thank, you lot,
Their boss-class law to thank.
The virus had a tale to tell,
A most instructive tale.
It said: I’m here on time to spell
It loud and clear, the future hell
You face if they prevail and plot,
Your fate if they prevail!
A virus is a curious beast,
It’s neither live nor dead,
A hybrid thing that, once released,
Has death to bring from ‘the Far East’,
For that’s the fear they spread, that’s what
The racist papers spread.
But we got wind of how things stood,
Of what they had in mind,
Those swine who thought ‘the common good’
Meant ‘you go short, as your sort should;
You’re just the common kind, you lot,
You’re just the common kind’.
Oh yes, we clocked the message then,
We commoners got the gist:
‘They’re at their tricks and games again,
Their schemes to fix just where and when
To brandish the iron fist they’ve got,
That thinly gloved iron fist’.
It’s capital that ran the show,
That told us ‘listen up:
You paupers may, with luck, pull through
If you’ll just pay and join the queue’,
But we were sold a pup, that’s what –
Us lot were sold a pup.
So listening up taught us to trust
Our wits, not boss-class lies.
It told us how the doubters must
Cease doubting now and deem it just,
The rage that bid us rise, you lot,
The rage that bid us rise!
We knew all crises had a close,
However long they took,
And so it went, as anger rose
And all you spent-out paupers chose
To bring their crimes to book, that lot,
To bring their crimes to book.
First it was ‘put all plans on hold
And let the virus run’,
Until a graph too plainly told
It might kill half the sick and old:
Who’ll hold the smoking gun, big shot,
Who’ll hold the smoking gun?
Then they got panicky and tried
To bolt the stable door
With new rules each time someone died,
Though rules whose reach they strove to hide:
They knew the insurance score, that lot,
They knew the pay-off score.
We’ve kicked them out with all their rules,
We’ve kicked them good and hard.
We cleared the land of public schools,
And took in hand the flannelled fools,
And flashed them our red card, you lot,
Just flashed them our red card.
Coronavirus showed the way
To cast their idols down.
It showed how crass the part that they,
The governing class, had come to play –
The role of licensed clown and sot,
Of corporate-licensed clown.
For there were viruses out there
Ten times more virulent
Since spread abroad by those who’d dare
Have lies and fraud supplant all care
For those they represent – you lot
They claim to represent.
Let’s not thank god the virus struck:
It brought us death and grief.
But let’s concede that we were stuck,
In desperate need of devil’s luck
To turn a greener leaf, that’s what:
To turn a greener leaf!
They’d screw things up for good and all,
Those tools of corporate greed.
They’d foul our nest and have a ball
At power’s behest or fortune’s call
And pay the rest no heed, that lot,
And pay the rest no heed.
Act now, strike back, don’t blow your chance!
That’s what the virus taught.
Else who knows when they’ll next advance,
Through pathogen or high finance,
And bring your lives to naught, you lot,
And bring your lives to naught.
Christopher Norris is Distinguished Research Professor in Philosophy at the University of Cardiff. He is the author of more than thirty books on aspects of philosophy, politics, literature, the history of ideas, and music.