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Global Civilizational State.

Volume 18 Issue 9 June 2020

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Theme of Global Dialogue 2020
Global Community celebrates its 35th year Anniversary in 2020.
Celebration ever since 1985.
( see enlargement Business, trade and global resources. )

Business, trade and global resources.
( see enlargement Business, trade and global resources. )

To attain Peace in the world, we must take into account many aspects of Life in society.
( see enlargement To attain Peace in the world, we must take into account many aspects of Life in society. )

Global Community celebrates its 35th year in 2020. More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all life.

Paper and animations concerned about the Global Community 35th year achievements and celebration from its beginning in 1985 to 2020 Paper concerned about the Global Community  35th year   achievements and celebration from its beginning in 1985 to 2020..


Global Community will celebrate its 35th year  in 2020. Prepare now! More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all life.
( see enlargement Global Community will celebrate its 35th year  in 2020. Prepare now! More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all life. )
Watch promoting animation. (50 MBs) Global Community will celebrate its 35th year  in 2020. Prepare now! More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all life.

Global Community will celebrate its 35th year  in 2020. Prepare now! More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all life.
( see enlargement Global Community will celebrate its 35th year  in 2020. Prepare now! More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all life. )
Watch animation promoting participation. (41 MBs) Global Community will celebrate its 35th year  in 2020. Prepare now! More significant and meaningful actions needed to save the Earth, all life.

Global participants files.jj
List of all participants and authors with their work from 1985 to 2007.jj
All work can be found in Global Proceedings: click on "Proceedings".jj

Theme for this month, June 2020.
vision 2024
( see enlargement jj)

Global Civilizational State: the application of the Scale of Global Rights to global issues.


Germain Joseph Dufour

Global Community

Global Civilizational State

Global citizens Global Citizens voting on issues Letter to all Canadians concerning new legislation on direct democracy Global Citizens Rights, Responsibility and Accountability Act Freedom, security and justice without borders (Part II) Global Community and every global citizen, also known as the human family, the global civil society. I should start by emphasizing that I speak to you as a good global citizen.  Scale of Human and Earth Rights Global Parliament s Constitution   GCEG s commitment to the Global Community to make government and global citizens responsible and accountable, and to bring about Global Peace  Employment for every global citizen  Global Community Citizenship (every participant would become a global citizen)  We the Peoples are us Global Community days of celebration or remembering throughout the year: Global Citizenship Day on October 29 of every year

Global Parliament

Federation of Global Governments

Global Community WebNet Ltd. (Canada)

Global Constitution

June/July 2020

Email address:

Global CommunityGlobal Community WebNet Ltd. (Canada)

As global crises of all sorts on our planet further intensify, Global Community may have no alternative but to show Global Solidarity and help each other out of crises. Such solidarity can only be built on the basis of harmony, cooperation and moderation, and on respecting the political and cultural diversity of our multicivilizational troubled world. Global Civilizational State is proposing creative works toward saving humanity from self-destruction, and are a complex mix of higher levels of morality, religion, education, art, philosophy, technology, and material wellbeing. Humanity is dealing with issues related to the global warming of the planet, globalization, political instability and a social and political regress to irrationality. As Global Civilizational State begins to take on a much deeper kind of global leadership, one that earns more respect than envy and more gratitude than hatred, one that can catapult the whole planet forward into a future where war is no longer thinkable between nation-states, and a legitimate and beneficial Earth governance is able to cope with global problems.

Scale of Gobal Rights, Global Civilizational State, George Floyd, African-Americans, racism, Justice for All, Governor Andrew Cuomo, police reform, coronavirus pandemic, Covid 19, WHO, telecommuting, catastrophic climate change, extinction of the human species, capitalism, socialism, GDP, tipping points, ecological degradation, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Global Community, Global Parliament, Federation of Global Governments, global solidarity, Global Trade and Resources Ministry, social harmony, global cooperation.

Note to the reader:
The June/July 2020 Newsletter was based on the articles, letters, reports, research papers, discussions and global dialogues, and messages written by author(s) whose work were published in monthly Newsletters of years since 1985. All published work can be found in the Global Dialogue Proceedings (check link http://globalcommunitywebnet.com/GIMProceedings/). Follow the Proceedings sections, and you will find the actual authors lists, with their papers and all references. Global Community Media is a way to communicate workable sound solutions to problems arising in the world. Let us share our problems and workable sound solutions. Sharing information is a necessity to all life and humanity's survival. Our world is changing fast before our eyes, and we must react quickly and hard to protect all life on Earth. No hesitation! Right now and no waiting! Life on the planet is our first priority. We must protect it at all costs. We, global citizens, fight to protect life on Earth for this generation and the next ones. We are the defenders of the environment and the global life-support systems. We know who the beasts are, and how they destroy the living on our planet. We have rallied together all over the world to protect our home, Earth. Just so you all know we don't pay anyone, and we don't pay expenses. We do volunteer work for humanity. We expect volunteers to be responsible and accountable of all their actions. We do soft activism work. We do not have a copyright research expert to do this work. In order to create a harmonious and compassionate Global Civilizational State , and to protect our planetary environment, the global life-support systems, we want to help you concerning all issues, and you may become a volunteer yourself. Check our volunteer page at: http://globalcommunitywebnet.com/GPA/gpahelpsyou.htm
Global Community has held the Global Information Media ever since 1985. A short list of our previous work on the Global Information Media (GIM) proclamations aspects and issues. All work written by authors and published in this paper can be found here as well. A short list of our previous work on the Global Information Media Proclamations aspects and issues is shown here

Table of Contents

  • Racism in America and Justice for All.Racism in America and Justice for All.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic.The Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Climate change and climate crisis.Climate change and climate crisis.
  • Capitalism vs socialism.Capitalism vs socialism.
  • The U.S. military is also a major consumer of fossil fuels and therefore a significant driver of climate change.The U.S. military is also a major consumer of fossil fuels and therefore a significant driver of climate change.
  • Tipping Points, paths to extinction on our planet.Tipping Points, paths to extinction on our planet.
  • Global Civilizational State.Global Civilizational State.
  • Issues threatening the health and future of children and of the next generations.Issues threatening the health and future of children and of the next generations.
  • Applying the Scale of Global Rights to global issues.Applying the Scale of Global Rights to global issues.

Back to June 2020 Newsletter. Back to May 2020 Newsletter.

Reporting News
( see enlargement Reporting News)

Reporting News.
( see enlargement Reporting News)


Note: We do not have any funds to pay anyone and for anything. We work strictly on a volunteer basis.Volunteering.

Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for this month

John Scales Avery, David Anderson, Countercurrents Collective (2), Jonathan Cook, Sally Dugman, Evel Economakis, Philip A Farruggio, Dr Andrew Glikson, Robert Hunziker, Devraj Singh Kalsi, Dr Binoy Kampmark, Nadeem Khan, Harsh Khanchandani, Mahboob A. Khawaja, Michael T Klare, Umang Kumar, Dan Lieberman, Mariana Mazzucato, Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Peter Phillips, Calvin Priest, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Sayama, co-written by Tehzeeb Anis, Kandathil Sebastian , Malvika Sharma, Rinzing Ongmu Sherpa, Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, Federico Tabellini, Vasudeva Naidu K, T Vijayendra, Andre Vltchek, S G Vombatkere.

David Anderson, Covid-19 – Postlude Human Life on Planet Earth ? Covid-19 – Postlude Human Life on Planet Earth ?
Countercurrents Collective, Welcoming Reader’s Participation In Preparing A “People’s Manifesto for India’s Future”. Welcoming Reader’s Participation In Preparing A “People’s Manifesto for India’s Future”
Countercurrents Collective, Covid-19 Reveals The Ugly Face Of US Hegemonism and imperialism. Covid-19 Reveals The Ugly Face Of  US Hegemonism and imperialism
Jonathan Cook, As US protests show, the challenge is how to rise above the violence inherent in state power. As US protests show, the challenge is how to rise above the violence inherent in state power.
Sally Dugman, Taking The Knee. Taking The Knee.
Evel Economakis, “May you live in interesting times”: Covid-19 and Capitalism’s Existential Crisis May you live in interesting times: Covid-19 and Capitalism’s Existential Crisis
Philip A Farruggio, The Empire’s Executioners? The Empire’s Executioners?
Dr Andrew Glikson, While we fixate on coronavirus, Earth is hurtling towards a catastrophe worse than the dinosaur extinction. While we fixate on coronavirus, Earth is hurtling towards a catastrophe worse than the dinosaur extinction.
Robert Hunziker, Abrupt Ecosystem Collapse. Abrupt Ecosystem Collapse.
Devraj Singh Kalsi, After the Pandemic After the Pandemic
Dr Binoy Kampmark, Coronavirus Socialism for the Wealthy Coronavirus Socialism for the Wealthy
Nadeem Khan, Managed public opinion and the way forward. Managed public opinion and the way forward
Harsh Khanchandani, Corona And Environment: A Lesson To Learn. Corona And Environment: A Lesson To Learn.
Mahboob A. Khawaja, One Humanity and the Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution One Humanity and the Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution
Michael T Klare, Is the Covid-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression? Is the Covid-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression?
Umang Kumar, The Killing Of George Floyd And The Long History Of Police Brutality In The US. The Killing Of George Floyd And The Long History Of Police Brutality In The US.
Dan Lieberman, Democratic Socialism Will Soon Replace Capitalism Democratic Socialism Will Soon Replace Capitalism
Mariana Mazzucato, Capitalism’s Triple Crisis. Capitalism’s Triple Crisis.
Dr Chandra Muzaffar, A Superpower In Chaos. A Superpower In Chaos.
Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Towards the forward march of workers led alternative globalisation. Towards the forward march of workers led alternative globalisation.
Peter Phillips, A Strategy for Global Democracy and Wealth Sharing. A Strategy for Global Democracy and Wealth Sharing.
Calvin Priest, We Won’t Die for Wall Street. We Won’t Die for Wall Street.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat, What can we learn from the responses in the Western world to George Floyd’s killing. What can we learn from the responses in the Western world to George Floyd’s killing.
Sayama, co-written by Tehzeeb Anis, COVID-19 and Social Stigma: Fear, Harassment, and Discrimination. COVID-19 and Social Stigma: Fear, Harassment, and Discrimination.
Kandathil Sebastian, Will this phase of history change us as individuals, communities and nations? Will this phase of history change us as individuals, communities and nations?
Malvika Sharma, Understanding Pandemics Through a Climate-Perspective. Understanding Pandemics Through a Climate-Perspective.
Rinzing Ongmu Sherpa, When we breathe Everyday Racism, do we qualify to Question the Racial Brutality on George Floyd? When we breathe Everyday Racism, do we qualify to Question the Racial Brutality on George Floyd?
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, “State Is The March Of God On Earth”: Re-examining Hegel In Times Of Corona Crisis. “State Is The March Of God On Earth”: Re-examining Hegel In Times Of Corona Crisis
Federico Tabellini, Resignation and optimism on the brink of the apocalypse. Resignation and optimism on the brink of the apocalypse.
Vasudeva Naidu K, The ‘alien’, the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ in times of a pandemic The ‘alien’, the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ in times of a pandemic
T Vijayendra, Collapse Is Here. Collapse Is Here.
Andre Vltchek, The World Cannot Breathe!” Squashed By The U.S.-A Country Built On Genocide And Slavery The World Cannot Breathe!” Squashed By The U.S.-A Country Built On Genocide And Slavery
S G Vombatkere, Coronavirus: Understanding Facts, Overcoming Fears, Looking ahead. Coronavirus: Understanding Facts, Overcoming Fears, Looking ahead.

Articles and papers from authors


Day data received Theme or issue Read article or paper
  May 29, 2020
The Empire’s Executioners?
by Philip A Farruggio , Countercurrents.org, in World,

From a recent report by the Insider publication:  ” George Floyd and Officer Derek Chauvin actually worked for the same Minneapolis night club- Chauvin as a security guard for many years, and Floyd as a bouncer during 2019.” It begs the question of just how well these two may have known each other, or worse, if Chauvin had some sort of ‘ Racially prejudiced ‘ulterior motive for doing this heinous deed. The report also states:

‘This was not the first time Chauvin had been involved in a violent incident during his 19 years in the Minneapolis Police Department. He was involved in violent incidents before, including three police shootings. And he has been the subject of 10 complaints filed to the city’s Civilian Review Authority and the Office of Police Conduct….

Two years later, just after 2 o’clock one morning in 2008, Chauvin responded to a 911 domestic-assault call in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, the Pioneer Press reported.

Chauvin and his partner entered the home, confron’ing Ira Latrell Toles, whose partner had made the 911 call. Toles ran from the pair, but ‘they caught and tried to subdue him,’ a police statement said. The statement said Toles ‘grabbed at one of the officer’s guns, and Chauvin shot him in the torso.’ ” 

Is this not shades of the George Zimmerman case regarding his murder of Trayvon Martin?

More from the Insider piece:

“In 2011, Chauvin was involved in a third police shooting. He was among five officers to respond to reports of a shooting. Leroy Martinez, a 23-year-old Alaska Native, was spotted running from the scene, and the officers gave chase, local news reported. The police said Martinez brandished a pistol as he fled. Terry Nutter, one of the responding officers, shot Martinez. An eyewitness account, reported by the Star Tribune, challenged the police’s claim that Martinez was holding a pistol when he was shot.”

” ‘He had no reason to shoot that little boy,’ Delora Iceman told the Star Tribune. She said Martinez had dropped the weapon and held his arms in the air before the police shot him.

During his nearly two decades with the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin has been the subject of several internal complaints… three separate reviews from the Civilian Review Authority found  Chauvin to have used ‘demeaning tone, and’ ‘derogatory language.’ No other details were available. He has also been the subject of seven reviews by the local Office of Police Conduct. Each review concludes: ‘Closed – No discipline.’ No other details were available.”

Derek Chauvin should never have been in the Minneapolis Police Department for as long as 19 years. When one reviews the above news piece, isn’t it pretty plain that this dude should never have been in any position of control over anyone! He, and his fellow thugs are right out of the Pinkerton or Baldwin Felts school of law enforcement. Go and get the 1987 film classic Matawan, written and directed by John Sayles, , based on the 1920 Matawan, West Virginia coal miners’ strike. See how those who ‘ Own the Manor ‘  use their paid ‘ Thugs with badges’ to keep the rabble in line. Similar to how Officer Chauvin and Co. protected the pure white world outside of the inner city from men like George Floyd. Imagine those neighbors of Floyd who had to stand behind the Blue Wall of Chauvin’s three partners ( in crime?) and listen to a dying man gasp for help. Amazing what power those four had over the community because ‘ They are the Law!!’

One thinks that maybe our local police should realize that the overwhelming majority of us are all Working Stiffs the same as them. The color of the person shouldn’t mean squat! We all need to go and punch out the hours for our survival the same as those four cops. I remember how my friend’s older sister ( foolish white woman) pontificated at a  Christmas party about the poor: ” Let’s face it, most of them are either drug addicts or alcoholics”. She failed to understand that, in most poor neighborhoods, the overwhelming majority of the residents have to get up early ( sometimes earlier than folks from better neighborhoods) for shitty paying jobs, shit conditions with few or NO benefits. Yet, they do it. Yes, the study of Socialism teaches this writer that Capitalism as it exists today in Amerika has set up the deck their way. In poorer areas the liquor stores abound, along with Payday loans, food stores that overcharge and of course… the flow of illicit drugs goes unabated. The scene from Godfather 1 when the heads of five Mob families discuss the drug trade, one of the mobsters says ” In my city we would keep the traffic in the dark areas for the colored people. They’re animals anyway so let them lose their souls.”

I have been on the soapbox for over 30 years saying that only four year college graduates with majors in either sociology or criminal justice should qualify to be police officers… period! Perhaps if we lived in a more equitable economic system , whereupon ALL who work for the owners get a bigger piece of the pie, the pay would be enough to attract new , more educated police officers. The higher one goes up on the ladder of intellect, I believe rational behavior can follow. The motto ‘ Protect and Serve’ should resonate more than it does now. Too many who stand behind the Blue Wall keep the rest of us away from Truth. I remember speaking to my lawyer’s Criminal Defense partner. He had been an Assistant DA for years before jumping ship. ” Here’s my experience” , he said, ” If they want to get someone real bad, they will plant a gun or plant drugs when they arrest. They also will, in more cases than not, LIE on the stand to help a fellow officer. I have seen it too many times. ” Who suffers from this ‘ Perjury Mill’ ? Well, all those good officers who go by the book and treat everyone the same, regardless of color, creed , religion or sexual orientation. They need to speak up… loudly!!

Perhaps it is time for all our governments, local, county, state or federal, to insist on a much higher standard for policing. Chauvin wouldn’t have his jackboot on Floyd’s vulnerable neck if he wasn’t a cop in the first place!

Philip A Farruggio is a contributing editor for The Greanville Post. He is also frequently posted on Global Research, Nation of Change, Countercurrents.org, and Off Guardian sites. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen and a graduate of Brooklyn College, class of 1974. Since the 2000 election debacle Philip has written over 400 columns on the Military Industrial Empire and other facets of life in an upside down America.


  Read The Empire’s Executioners?
  May 29, 2020
Towards the forward march of workers led alternative globalisation.
by Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Countercurrents.org, in World,

Is globalisation over after the COVID-19 pandemic? There are three visible signs during the unending Coronavirus led health crisis, which substantiates the end of globalisation thesis. The first sign indicates reversal of capitalist globalisation led by market integrations. The people and their nation states are fighting the pandemic alone. As a result, there is growth of ultra nationalist and right-wing forces during this pandemic. The second sign comes from the response to the global health crisis and search for anti-Coronavirus vaccine demands more coordinated international response. Many countries are cooperating with each other in research and development of vaccine. The third sign comes from the failure of capitalist states and their healthcare facilities to deal with the pandemic. The liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation did not help people during this pandemic. The last two signs reveal that it is imperative for global engagement for better health, sustainable happiness, lasting peace and prosperity for all. It is impossible to have an island of peace and prosperity when the majority of world population suffer in different forms of crisis. Therefore, the search for an alternative system that puts people before profit during all forms of global crisis.

Both the progressive and right-wing forces oppose globalisation today. The progressive forces oppose globalisation as it marginalises the masses and destroys environment by exploiting both human beings and nature. The right-wing forces oppose globalisation for their narrow and nativist Malthusian predicaments. During this pandemic, the progressive forces blame the capitalist state and its failures to face the challenges of Coronavirus crisis whereas the right-wing forces oppose Asians, Chinese and migrants for the spread of the pandemic. In this context, there is a great deal of debates about the extent to which reshaping of globalisation is necessary to transform global economy and politics in post pandemic world. The transformation depends on understanding our own experiences with the history of globalisation. It is time to move away from the preoccupation with the analysis of virtues or perils of globalisation. Such cost-benefit analysis of globalisation is unhelpful to develop an alternative and universal narrative, which keeps people and environment at the core of its analytical vision. The ferocity and proliferation of this pandemic obscures the fundamental global challenges and threats faced by the humanity due to the globalisation of capitalism.

Historically, globalisation of capital is the most dominant force for last three centuries of world history. In terms of the relationship between capital and labour, globalisation has passed through three different but interrelated stages. The first stage of globalisation was a period when labour was absolutely free during the processes of production, consumption and distribution. The second phase of globalisation was dominated by western colonialism in Asia, Africa and Americas. During this phase of globalisation, colonial capital was free to exploit both labour and natural resources in the colonised continents whereas the movement of labour was limited based on the requirements of the colonial powers. By the end of second world war, there was further limitation on the mobility of labour but there was relatively higher freedom for the capital. The third phase of globalisation started with the capital-labour accord with the Washington consensus, which led to greater economic integration of markets driven by free trade in the world. During this phase of globalisation, the developed countries have followed protectionist economic policies and imposed free trade on developing and underdeveloped countries. The free trade was designed by the erstwhile colonial powers in a way that led to the concentration of wealth in the hands of few in the western world.

In order to succeed, the new era of globalisation need to conceptualise globalisation in a different way by moving away from both protectionism and free trade under capitalism. The policies of both protectionism and free trade helps in the concentration of wealth and serves the interests of the same capitalist classes. The processes of concentration of wealth trickled down to the capitalist classes based in the post-colonial countries. This created the conditions for the global capitalist alliances to control global resources in which states have become the facilitators. The welfare orientations of the states and their role in providing public healthcare facilities were transformed and privatised to pursue profit by the capitalist classes, who took over all state resources and facilities. As a result, the states have failed to face global health challenges like Coronavirus pandemic. The competitive and hierarchical culture of capitalism has failed to face this global health crisis.

In this context, the intellectuals, public policy makers, and leaders need to articulate a new wave of globalisation breaking away from its old colonial and capitalist lineages. The ideological and structural delinking of globalisation from its previous regimes and phases.  The ideals of pluriveralism need to be the organising principles of globalisation driven by the workers of the world. The ravages of Coronavirus pandemic and other threats to the survival of human lives and environment depends on our commitment to the principles of cooperation. The framework of democratic dialogue between individuals, states and societies can create meaningful and sustainable alternatives in the world, where ‘one lives for all and all live for one’. The shared vision for a collective global future and its success depends on our ability to embrace differences and celebrate our acentric uniqueness.  The articulation and fundamental commitment to this principle can start a new era of globalisation, which is free and fair for all. Such global perspective can radically transform world economy, where workers become shareholders of capital they produce. In this distinct phase of globalisation, it is important to create cooperative governance systems, which can transform gun, god and globalisation into workers internationalism.

The workers internationalism is not a utopia. The technology and digital revolution can help in realising the goals of workers internationalism guaranteeing peace and prosperity. The workers led democratisation of ownership of technologies and digital revolutions can shape global economy in four significant ways.  Firstly, the use of technology increases productive power of labour. The growth of productive power means labourers need to get their higher share of value that they add and produce by which they can enjoy more leisure time with their families and fellow human beings. Secondly, the workers led digital revolution reduces competitiveness among workers, which can create conditions for greater cooperation among workers.  Thirdly, the use of technology reduces cost of production. It can help consumers to get their everyday products in low cost. The quality of life increases with the declining cost of living. Finally, technology can help in providing information on conditions and cost of production to the consumers.  The flow of information can create an interactive process and environment for the greater understanding between consumers and producers. In this way, technology can create social market as a means of exchange by dismantling digital divide.

The forward march of workers led globalisation based on internationalism is the only way to realise greater goal of the universalisation of global citizenship. This new wave of alternative globalisation and all its possibilities depend on our progressive struggles and commitment for a better world.

Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Coventry University, UK

  Read Towards the forward march of workers led alternative globalisation
  June 2, 2020
“The World Cannot Breathe!” Squashed By The U.S.-A Country Built On Genocide And Slavery;
by Andre Vltchek, Countercurrents.org, in World,

More than two centuries of lies are now getting exposed. Bizarre tales about freedom and democracy are collapsing like houses of cards.

One man’s death triggers an avalanche of rage in those who for years, decades and centuries, have been humiliated, ruined, and exterminated.

It always happens just like this throughout the history of humankind – one single death, one single “last drop”, an occurrence that triggers an entire chain of events, and suddenly nothing is the same, anymore. Nothing can be the same. What seemed to be unimaginable just yesterday, becomes “the new normal” literally overnight.


For more than two centuries, the country which calls itself the pinnacle of freedom, has been in fact the absolute opposite of that; the epicenter of brutality and terror.

From its birth, in order to ‘clear the space’ for its brutal, ruthless European settlers, it systematically liquidated the local population of the continent, during what could easily be described as one of the more outrageous genocides in the human history.

When whites wanted land, they took it. In North America, or anywhere in the world. In what is now the United States of America, millions of “natives” were murdered, infected with deadly diseases on purpose, or exterminated in various different ways. The great majority of the original and rightful owners of the land, vanished. The rest were locked up in “reservations”.

Simultaneously, the “Land Of The Free” thrived on slavery. European colonialist powers literally hunted down human beings all over the African continent, stuffing them, like animals, into ships, in order to satisfy demand for free labor on the plantations of North and South America. European colonialist, hand in hand, cooperated, in committing crimes, in all parts of the world.

What really is the United States? Is anyone asking, searching for its roots? What about this; a simple, honest answer: The United States is essentially the beefy offspring of European colonialist culture, of its exceptionalism, racism and barbarity.

Again, simple facts: huge parts of the United States were constructed on slavery. Slaves were humiliated, raped, tortured, murdered. Oh, what a monstrous way to write the first chapters of the country’s history!

The United States, a country of liberty and freedom? For whom? Seriously! For Christian whites?

How twisted the narrative is! No wonder our humanity has become so perverse, so immoral, so lost and confused, after being shaped by a narrative which has been fabricated by a country that exterminated the great majority of its own native sons and daughters, while getting insanely rich thanks to unimaginable theft, mass-murder, slavery and later – the semi-slavery of the savage corporate dictatorship!

The endemic, institutionalized brutality at home eventually spilled over to all parts of the planet. Now, for many decades, the United Stated has treated the entire world as full of its personal multitude of slaves. What does it offer to all of us: constant wars, occupations, punitive expeditions, coups, regular assassinations of progressive leaders, as well as thorough corporate plunder. Hundreds of millions of people have been sacrificed on the grotesque U.S. altar of “freedom” and “democracy”.

Freedom and democracy, really?

Or perhaps just genocide, slavery, fear and the violation of all those wonderful and natural human dreams, and of human dignity?


Then one single death of a man whose neck got crushed by the knee of a ruthless cop. And the country has exploded. Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy fighters and activists are now flooding the streets of Minneapolis, Washington D.C., New York City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and other U.S. cities.

The death of Mr. George Floyd is a symbol, really, as black people get murdered in the most despicable way, almost every day. From January 2015 to date, for instance, 1,250 African-American citizens have been shot and killed by the police, in our democratic U.S.A.

In the “Country of Freedom”, 2.3 million human beings are rotting away alive in the increasingly privatized prisons. The U.S. prisoner rate is the highest in the world. Holding people behind bars is big business. Minorities form a disproportionately high percentage of the detainees.


And that is not all. Actually, the entire world has already become one huge prison. Look around: the whole planet is now being monitored, policed in that very special and thorough U.S. way; policed, brutalized, and if it dares to protest – pitilessly chastised.

Essential terms are all being twisted. The country abusing its own people, as well as the entire world, is defined by its own corporate mass media and propaganda system, as “free” and “democratic”. Those nations that are defending their own people against the brutal diktat of the empire, are insulted, called ‘regimes’ and ‘dictatorships’.

I have already described this madness in my 800-page book, “Exposing Lies of the Empire”, after witnessing some of the deadliest trends being spread by the United States in some 160 countries.

The murder of George Floyd unleashed resistance; it opened many eyes. In the United States, and everywhere else. Mr. Floyd, African-Americans, Native Americans and other oppressed people in the United States are brothers and sisters of those billions of men and women who are to this day, colonized, brutalized and murdered by the Empire, all over the world.

Let this be the beginning of a new wave of the global liberation struggle!

Now more and more people can finally see what few of us have been repeating for years: The entire world has its neck squashed by the U.S. boot. The entire world “cannot breathe”! And the entire world has to fight for its right to be able to breathe!


Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Six of his latest books are “New Capital of Indonesia”, “China Belt and Road Initiative”, China and Ecological Civilization” with John B. Cobb, Jr., “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism”, the revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his ground-breaking documentary about Rwanda and DR Congo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and Latin America, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website, his Twitter and his Patreon.

  Read The World Cannot Breathe! Squashed By The U.S.-A Country Built On Genocide And Slavery
  June 2, 2020
A Superpower In Chaos.
by Dr Chandra Muzaffar , Countercurrents.org, in World,

Minneapolis could not have happened at a worse time for the US elites. While violence perpetrated against African Americans by White police officers has happened a number of times before, its occurrence right in the midst of a huge health emergency that has already claimed more than a 100,000 lives and a related massive economic disaster that has robbed 30 million people of their jobs, is truly unprecedented. The mayhem and chaos accompanying the violence have spread to a number of other cities right across the United States of America.

What has sparked outrage among thousands of Americans (and not just those of African descent) was the way in which an unarmed Black civilian, George Floyd, suspected of using a counterfeit banknote was killed by a White police officer. The officer had pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for 5 to 9 minutes forcing him to plead that he could not breathe until he went silent and limp. The officer has now been charged with third degree murder though a lot of the protesters are demanding that three other police personnel who were with him at the time of the incident should also be punished.

If there is a lot of anger among thinking, caring Americans about the Floyd incident, it is mainly because they know that discrimination against African Americans is still pervasive and is a manifestation of the larger marginalisation of the community. True, through education there has been some mobility for groups within this minority especially in the decades following the civil rights movement but large segments remain trapped at the bottom of the heap.  The current economic devastation has underscored the vulnerability of these segments just as the coronavirus pandemic has also revealed how the poor and disadvantaged in the US and elsewhere are more likely to be the victims of the scourge than others.

That the US is not really able to protect the well-being of the poorer and weaker segments of society is obvious when we look at the situation of yet another minority, the Hispanics. In the last few decades their economic and social burdens have been exacerbated by an irrational fear of their alleged demographic challenge to the White majority. This fear was exploited successfully by candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election as it will be manipulated again in the forthcoming November 2020 election through issues such as building a wall to protect the US’s southern border.

There is a third minority, better positioned than the first two, which is also the object of racist attacks from time to time. Broadly classified informally as ‘Asians,’ they are often equated with Americans of Chinese origin. Since the coronavirus crisis and president Trump’s attempt to pin the blame upon China, the harassment of Chinese and Chinese looking Americans has escalated. Indeed, verbal and even physical abuse of members of the community has been going on for a while given the constant negative targeting of China by some US elites on a variety of issues ranging from trade and technology to alleged human rights violations and suppression of minorities. Though independent research has shown that there is a great deal of distortion and exaggeration in these allegations, they appear to have impacted upon ordinary Americans through community and social media.

Why China is subjected to such vile treatment, it is not difficult to understand. The US elites and a section of the media see the ascendancy of China as a challenge to US dominance and control of the planet, or US hegemony, and are therefore determined to tarnish and subvert China. Other countries which are independent-minded and unwilling to submit meekly to US power are also often targeted. Sometimes, prejudice against a particular religion or specific ethnic communities — this is true of the prevailing attitude of certain segments of American society towards Islam and Muslims — tends to warp inter-community relations.

The US pursuit of global hegemony has affected adversely the rights and interests of millions of Americans in a number of ways. By spending so much on the military — in 2019 it was 732 billion US dollars — and maintaining some 800 military bases encircling the world, the US has sacrificed the essential needs of its people such as well-equipped hospitals and schools. Gross neglect of the economic and social rights of the people has emerged as a tragic reality for everyone to witness when the nation is confronted by a twin health and economic crisis of gigantic proportions.

Indeed, given its wealth, the US failure to enhance the rights of millions of its citizens including the underclass within the White majority is simply criminal.  In the domestic arena, as in international politics, it is the height of hypocrisy of the US political elite to present itself as a champion of human rights and democratic rule. In fact, on a number of occasions in international politics —- Iran 1953; Chile 1973; Palestine 2006; and Egypt 2013 —– the elite had directly and obliquely participated in the suppression of democratic principles.

Today, through the two crises that have overwhelmed the superpower and the righteous anger vented in the streets of the nation by ordinary citizens of all shades —- anger that stems from centuries of contempt and scorn heaped upon a people —- the truth about the elites’ lack of respect for human rights and human dignity is exposed for all to see. Will this lead to some sincere soul-searching especially among young Americans?

Dr Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST)

Petaling Jaya.

  Read A Superpower In Chaos
  June 2, 2020
Welcoming Reader’s Participation In Preparing A “People’s Manifesto for India’s Future”.
by Countercurrents Collective, Countercurrents.org, in Editor's Picks / India.

Today,  the Republic of India faces its gravest moment since it was born seventy years ago.

What has hit the second most populous nation in the world – just in the last few months itself – is nothing short of a crisis of Biblical proportions. An untreatable viral epidemic, a debilitating lockdown, a collapsed economy, hunger stalking every corner of the land, growing tensions on the border – and on top of all this a major attack from locusts!

Already for the last six years now India has been subject to rule by a government that is the most petty, communal, callous and incompetent regime the modern Republic has ever seen in its entire existence. The consequences are there for everyone to see – erosion of every universal value and principle, the complete emasculation of democratic institutions, increased oppression of minorities, dissidents of any kind and rampant violation of human rights. If the present is bad the future looks bleaker still.

It is true, no disaster happens overnight and every evil act or policy we witness today has a history perhaps as old as the Republic itself. There are many, many lessons to be learnt from the past, the most primary one being, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. And we may add – the need for relentless organisation of the people of India also – in all their grand diversity, to safeguard their rights and that of everyone.

Where do we go from here? What are the most pressing issues that need to be addressed today? What can we do to regenerate hope? What can we learn from our own history as well as that of others around the world? What is the pathway to a future India where everyone can live in peace but also with justice and dignity?

How can we frame a  new manifesto for a Republic of India 2.0 that does not become yet another fancy wish list, just long on demands, short on details and clueless about achieving them? In response to that last question, we at the Countercurrents Collective, want to propose an exercise through which we can indeed come up with such a manifesto to shape the future of India.

It may not be a perfect process and we are completely open to suggestions but here is the proposal. The manifesto will  be put together through a three-step process:

A) First, we invite all our readers and anyone interested to send in their detailed comments, articles, suggestions, notes on the kind of India they want. Everyone is welcome to tell us their views on any topic, issue or concern they may have but for a broad guidance we list here some of these below:

  • Strengthening democracy – restoring integrity of our institutions and democratic processes.
  • Decentralisation of power – from the Center to States, from States to Districts or sub-regions
  • Social justice – how to effectively empower those at the very bottom of the Indian social ladder and ending the apartheid of the caste system.
  • Development – how do we create a model of development that serves the needs of the people of India and not the interests of global capitalism and its domestic lackeys.
  • Human Rights –  How can we arrest the human rights violations going on in the country
  • Communal Harmony– Concrete suggestions to ensure communal harmony in the country
  • Adivasi rights – justice and respect for the original dwellers of the Indian subcontinent
  • Rural-urban divide – restoring the rights of farmers and rural populations to a fair share of national resources and the right to live with dignity.
  • Dignity of Labour – those who work should rule over those who don’t.
  • Protecting diversity – asserting the rights of all ethnicities, linguistic groups, religious communities, local cultures.
  • Food security – how do we banish hunger from the Republic of India?
  • Redistributing wealth – overturning the obscene concentration of riches in the hands of the 1 percent.
  • Accountability in governance – to make public servants into real servants of the public.
  • Ecology – restoring the health of the soil, water, air and forests of India.
  • Energy – resolving the current crisis of both overconsumption by a few and under -consumption by the many, as well as  ensuring the greening of energy.
  • Gender – abolishing the usurpation of power and resources by men in every walk of life and restoring the rights of women and sexuality minorities.
  • Children – they are the future of India literally and it is time their rights, concerns and needs are put right at the centre of all policy making.

B) In parallel, we want to carry out case studies of struggles, radical reforms, policy and community initiatives that have transformed different parts of India. From the anti-caste Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu, the Kerala model of development, the land struggles of Bihar, the cultural and literary waves of Bengal, the nationality assertions of the Indian North-east or Kashmir – to every local level initiatives on any theme of relevance to the well-being of the Indian people. The case studies will be compiled through both inputs from our readers as also field and desktop research, and use to illustrate the specific demands and suggestions in the Peoples’ Manifesto.

C) A panel, specially set up for this purpose, will compile the Manifesto, based on all these various contributions in terms of ideas, suggestions and analysis. The Manifesto will be released for national and global distribution formally on 15 August 2020. It will be a living document and continue to be updated till we achieve these demands through our various struggles.

We invite all our readers, well-wishers and others to consider our proposal and contribute to the compilation of this People’s Manifesto for India’s Future and begin the process of changing India for the better and forever. We look forward to your support with great anticipation.

We welcome all the readers of Countercurrents.org to participate in this process. You can submit your articles to editor@countercurrents.org with “People’s Manifesto” as subject line. If you have any doubts you can contact us in the above email address.

In Solidarity

Countercurrents Collective

  Read Welcoming Reader’s Participation In Preparing A People’s Manifesto for India’s Future
  June 2, 2020
Corona And Environment: A Lesson To Learn.
by Harsh Khanchandani, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change,


Birds are chirping, highways have quieted, rush hour traffic follows easily, airports have been shut down, smog has disappeared, reviving sunny and blue skies. COVID-19 has left this earth with dramatic drops in air pollution and a hope to solve the climate crisis by putting a halt to several harmful practices. It has drastically changed life on a global scale. Looking on the other side of the coin, it can be called an invisible menace which has caused an incalculable human and economic destruction. But there is an important lesson to be learned from this pandemic.

Impact on environment

Talking about the positive impact of the pandemic, greenhouse gas emission which is a primary contributor to global warming has seen a decline due to decreasing travel and economic activity. International Energy Agency has estimated 2.6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions to never be emitted into the atmosphere. This may not be permanent but the rising trend of remote work can now help to accelerate lasting effects on cutting carbon emissions. Similarly, according to reports, China’s carbon emission fell by around 25 percent. Further, a 10 percent reduction in pollutant nitrogen dioxide per week was seen in Italy and a drop of 50% of carbon monoxide, mainly from cars was seen in New York. Apart from this a significant decrease in air pollution in many parts of the world has been one of the major impacts of the coronavirus outbreak. According to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China, the proportion of days with “good quality air” increased by 11.4% compared to the same period last year. A similar story is seen in India when residents of Jalandhar Punjab woke up to view Dhauladhar mountain range which is 213 km apart as a result of clean air. As we know India is home to 21 out of 30 worst polluted areas in the world, COVID-19 has helped us all to realize and expose the respiratory health crisis. As a result the period has denoted an unintentional but welcome breath of fresh air for the populated and polluted cities of the nation. It can be said that this pandemic is driving us towards the emission reduction target set by international climate agreements such as the Paris Agreement.

Impact on Biodiversity

Talking about wildlife, we have seen a stag scampering through Dehradun, puma being spotted at Santiago under lockdown and school of dolphins returning to marine drive. Coronavirus has truly resulted in a bunch of positives for planet Earth. As a result of lockdown, 4,75,000 endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles have come the coast of Odisha and laid their eggs. With fewer people crowding the water, a school of Oman cownose rays were spotted in Dubai marina. Nevertheless, while our species were in temporary retreat during the lockdowns, the gap was filled with wildlife.

Important takeaways for post COVID scenario

But the question that needs to be answered is could this temporary period be enough to combat environmental challenges? Certainly Not, but this pandemic can show us how the future can look with less air pollution, or it may simply demonstrate the magnitude of the challenge ahead. These days have altered our way of thinking. Substantially it taught us how lower levels of human activity could lead to greater visibility of the diverse array of species living in urban areas which often go unnoticed by the average human inhabitant. When aircraft begin to fly, factories and industries come back to life, pollution will eventually tend to pick up. As seen during the global economic crisis where global CO2 emission levels from fossil fuel oxidation and cement production fell by 1.4 percent to only rise to 5.9 percent in 2010. But this time, the crisis will result in a longer-term impact on the environment, at far greater cost to human health and security. We may certainly see countries after lockdown prioritizing economic development over environmental reforms. But it will be in our hands to learn from COVID-19 and live a better life in our ecosystem. Whether this pandemic is good or bad for the world ultimately depends not on the virus but on humanity.  At the very least, it should challenge governments and companies to consider how things can be handled differently after the pandemic, to hold on to temporary improvements in air quality and biodiversity. It is clear that this epidemic has given us a chance to regain a sense of humanity and learn from our mistakes to make this planet a better place to live. It has shown a deeper reflection on our relationship with the environment.

In essence, the lesson to learn from this is that once nations get to grips with the coronavirus, better enforcement of the environmental, transport, and industrial regulations should be made a priority to relieve the adverse impacts of human activity on the environment. To end this I would like to quote Lady Bird Johnson, a visionary environmentalist and former first lady of the US who once said: “The environment is where we all meet; where we all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.”

Harsh Khanchandani is a 1st Year law student  pursuing BBA LLB from Symbiosis Law School Pune. He has a strong interest in contract law and tort law and is an avid reader and a mooter. He has been involved with a number of organizations working towards betterment of the society. >

  Read Corona And Environment: A Lesson To Learn
  June 2, 2020
Understanding Pandemics Through a Climate-Perspective.
by Malvika Sharma, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change,

With the humans locked up inside, the past few months of Corona-pandemic have given us a world with nature reclaiming its space. The reduced levels of air-pollution have given a chance to rare-sighted mountains and peaks to reveal themselves to populations where their visibility had become folktales, only to be shared by elders as memories of yester years. AQI in thickly polluted cities immediately fell to safer-limits, rare birds and their chirping are an everyday treat across the world and in India. Due to reduced noise-pollution, our fauna and flora are expanding themselves into habitats that are not generally associated with them. Our brooks and streams are alive again, a river as dirty as Yamuna cleansed itself, something that we have been trying to achieve for years at huge economic costs. In a nut shell, locking up humans inside and stalling industrial activities for a couple of months showed us how nature heals itself, only if we give her a chance to.

On the fossil fuel consumption and Carbon-emissions front, the earth had some respite with giant emitters adding less carbon to the atmosphere due to reduced industrial outputs. On a wider scale, these changes shall contribute minimally to the fight against global-warming where in order to ensure a habitable earth, we have to keep the temperature-swell below 2-degrees by 2100. Experts suggest that the pace at which we as a world are emitting carbon, we have already surpassed the 2-degree limit and should now focus on keeping the rise-in temperature below 4-degrees by the century turn.

The destruction that shall befall any rise below 4-degrees will be unprecedented, and if we go anywhere near 4-degrees, two-thirds of the earth, that is most of thickly populated regions around tropics and equatorial belt will not be able to sustain humans as survival conditions for life shall not persist at all due to heat-waves, floods, cyclones, wildfires, and unknown-diseases.

We are actually already in that phase where rising global-temperatures bring disasters such as wildfires, hurricanes, floods, heat-waves with a record-breaking intensity every year. But as much as we have turned as blind eye to these climatic-changes, Corona-Pandemic still can be our last and our only chance to reflect, introspect, and act, if we want to somehow confront the threat of extinction that looms large over us at the turn of the century and beyond.

Corona is our only chance because until now each one of us has been living in the delusion that whatever truth beholds climate-change, it all occurs outside the house we are safely caged in. But this Pandemic had so far burst this myth to some level, but whether we shall act sustainably hereon depends upon how clearly have we grasped the realities we live in today.

Rising temperatures have a direct link to the new-age diseases that are on a rise since past few years. All the extinctions that have taken place on this earth lie buried, as compounded layers, with each era piling upon the other etched deep in the palimpsest of earth’s surface.

Our permafrost is one such layer that has been exposed time and again due to melting arctic and rising temperatures. In 2016, a 12-year boy being killed, along with a herd of reindeers infected due to exposure to anthrax found in one of the carcasses of a reindeer in Siberia is one such example. Record high heat in Siberia that year melted the permafrost and exposed the carcass that had been preserved for years under ice. The entire community of indigenous people had to be relocated due to the persistent threat.

Most of the biodiversity which throve during all the major geological-periods on earth was destroyed and lost in the big-five mass extinctions that took place. Presently we live in a geological epoch commonly referred to as Anthropocene, which is a period that begun with humans and their activities on earth. But not everything had been lost, our fossils and frozen arctic have undisclosed mysteries that still lay buried deep within. A temperature rise to over 2-degrees shall not only wipe out tropics but shall melt our arctic at a rate where we shall be exposed to unknown-life and along with it, diseases of the by gone past.

And we are not talking about a few hundred new kinds of viruses and bacteria here, we have no idea how many of them have been able to forfeit extinction and are preserved like a ticking time bomb. But what we do know is that we cannot go on heating our earth to the levels where melting arctic shall dangerously keep adding them to our ecosystems.

A rise in temperature will already make conditions for life highly deplorable around tropics, the disastrous migration out of tropics and equatorial regions shall only have the-north to move to, and if the north kept exposing shrouded mysteries and fatal diseases then we can only imagine what we will be moving towards in the future.

David Wallace Wells in his thoroughly researched book The Uninhabitable Earth writes that even within humans and other living creatures there exist micro-organisms whose nature we simply cannot ascertain. Science so far has been able to identify only one percent of bacteria and its nature living in human body, and 99% of other organisms living within us are still unknown. If this is how much we have been able to familiarize ourselves with vis-à-vis humans, then are we at a place to tackle challenges that lie buried, completely unknown and undiscovered?

Many of these organisms change their nature with fluctuating climatic conditions, and become fatal and toxic with changing environs. Zika behaved differently in its endemic places, that is, Uganda and South-east Asia and differently when it travelled elsewhere.

The immune response of a single virus or bacteria thus varies as it adapts differently to different environments, and science for long has been perplexed as to how to grab a hold of this unstable trajectory that viruses and bacteria follow.

Taking from Ed Young’s article in The Atlantic, Wallace writes of the mysterious mass-death of Saiga, a Central-Asian Antelope where two-thirds of their population was wiped out in a course of three weeks, Why? Because of a simple bacteria that had lived amicably in Saiga’s tonsils as good-friendly bacteria, like most of what is found in our human guts. But due to record-high humidity and heat, this bacteria suddenly changed its nature and became toxic, killing an entire population found in that region that came under the spell of humidity and heat in 2015.

The Chinese Virologist recently spoke about the need to learn more about these unknown viruses and be prepared scientifically for many more such unknown strains to appear in the near future.

Between the world awakened to unknown dangers and a brief window of clean-earth to breathe in, lies the complicity of many of us who still live in denial. Denial that nothing will harm us, and we have no role to play in howsoever climate has been changing outside our cocoons.

Corona has shown how epidemiology alone cannot prepare us for the world that awaits us. A reinvigorated response to tackle climate change can salvage earth from dangers than we as humans had until now been blindsided to. As we cannot leave everything about Corona to governance and health experts without our heightened alertness and individualistic responses, so should we not leave everything about climate change to policy, industry and government experts hereon. We need to act, each one in our own capacity.

Malvika Sharma is a PhD Research Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She can be reached at malvikasharma58@gmail.com

  Read Understanding Pandemics Through a Climate-Perspective
  June 6, 2020
When we breathe Everyday Racism, do we qualify to Question the Racial Brutality on George Floyd?
by Rinzing Ongmu Sherpa, Countercurrents.org, in India,

The murder of George Floyd, an African American (46), through an act of police brutality, has over the days seen a momentous global protest. People from parts of Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa, Arabian Peninsula and specially the US, witnessed several rallies condemning such an act of police violence, racial violence and ethnic minority discrimination. Such resentments from people also intensified on social media platforms. This incident has only brought forth the everyday structural problems of racism in our lives. In our own country, racism is experienced everyday through, racial narratives, appearance, language accents, racial colour, interpretations, radicalized emotions and stereotypes.[i] Our Dravidian population is mocked because of their ‘colour’ and their ‘language accent’, while our North Eastern population face racism for their racial image, language accent, racial narratives and so on. Such cultural and historical racism is specifically felt when they move out of their natives into a new region. In this article I would like to highlight on how racism has been worshipped, practiced and experienced, practically by all of us through our everyday affairs, and how normalising and internalising such acts can actually escalate to an incident such as that of George Floyd’s.

Understanding the Construction and Reconstruction of Racism

Racism varies according to gender, class, and sexuality. It is shaped by us and the state through our everyday meanings, discourses and ideologies. Starting from our first few socialising institutions, that is, the school. While reflecting back upon school curriculums, specifically that of CBSE and ICSE, there was no mention of racism in India. We were taught of apartheid, we were introduced to Nelson Mandela, we were also exposed to black oppression, but how many of us were exposed to racism against minority population in India? The curriculum should be questioned as it is the first instrumental tool which shapes the identity of an individual. When one of my friends in the University, confessed that he was never exposed to or was aware of the people from the North East before, this made me question the curriculums that preach to inculcate ‘diversity’.

It is true that racism has not received as much significance as casteism in India. Like Dipankar Gupta once remarked that “some have even been silly enough to equate caste and race”.[ii] It may also be due to this reason that the racial stratification has persisted to exist. As racial formation that occur within the hierarchical structure of systemic racism, ensures that the majority has advantage above the others, with minority at the bottom of hierarchy (Jacobson, 2015). Such unequal power relations have furthered inequality based on racism in India on distribution of resource and opportunities.

Being born and bought up in the hills of Sikkim and Darjeeling, many of us were not exposed to structural racism that we would be undergoing. As talking from a personal experience, I presumed to have been among the dominant group. I was early on exposed to and had further inculcated racist practices against the “madisays” meaning people coming from the plain regions into our state. Hailing from a small region of Sikkim, I was socialised into othering the “other” who were ‘different’ from us.

Treating people on the basis of their ethnicity, language and sometimes their religion, is also practised equally by us in our region. I can recall an incident where an eight year old daughter of a Bihari Muslim shopkeeper, had been raped by a few boys from the locality. The family had no relatives around, so instead of helping her, we were silenced. It became a hush hush topic. The family had to return back to their state, hurt and ashamed by the indifference, causality and the insensitivity with which the issue was taken up by ‘our’ people. To cite a recent incident where an article by Marina Rai, voicing her opinion on ‘Paatal Lok’ was also met with uproar from ‘our people’ where there were assumptions made that she was indulged with a ‘mainlander’. They went to the extent of questioning her morale. Such instances only further make us question our right to choice, independence and individuality which ‘our own society’ quite often has deprived us of. Such instances are equally an act of racism which reflects our intolerance towards diversity and towards exogamy.

I do not mean to avoid the cultural and historical power dynamics that come into play, where the North Eastern population has been at the receiving end. But this cannot be a reason to justify such racial brutalities that we being a majority in our respective states have indulged in. There are numerous such instances of racism unfolding in our own states towards the minority groups. We have also indulged in giving them a second class treatment, we have also made them feel like less of a human and we have also indulged in taking pleasure by mocking their identity. Such normalising and internalising racism towards a particular community is inculcated in us over the years by our immediate socialising agents.

After arriving at regions outside our own state or community, we also stand at the forefront of receiving racism. We are judged on the basis of our culture, history, food habits, lifestyle and our appearance. Over the years it appears that such discrimination is more on the basis of their non-acceptance of us as being equal Indians, rather than their ignorance of us. Violence against the North East population in major cities is something we get to hear of everyday. As it is just everyday, a person from the North East is discriminated, bullied, murdered and also raped.

However, there are only few instances such as that of Nido Taniam (a boy from Arunachal Pradesh who was a victim of racial brutality and was murdered in Delhi) that fuels momentum among people to realise that racism is a structural problem which needs attention. While we ignore the everyday underlining racism, that we ourselves become a victim of, or are indulged in.

Media has also furthered in promoting racism. A platform where viewers learn and feed on what is visually shown to them. Viewers uncritical of what is shown to them are bound to stereotype and homogenise a group based on how they are portrayed by the media. This is what the Muslim population have been a victim of, amidst the pandemic, the repercussion of which was for all of us to observe. I also witnessed how Muslims from my locality were asked to leave their rented business ventures, lest they would further spread Corona among ‘our’ people. Such instances also further shows how media is so easily feeding such people who are open to being fed.

The ‘racist memes’, circulating on social media before the outbreak of Corona in India, questioned the food habits, facial features and culture of a particular country which was spreading Corona. Infact, I also witnessed our own North Eastern people taking joy in circulating such memes. This was also the main reason why our North Eastern population was later seen as another agent of spreading Corona, while on the contrary the region witnessed the least number of cases.

So how are we to move ahead accepting racism and internalising it? How are we to move ahead, only stopping by to contradict and condemn racism, when an African American in the US, is murdered on racial lines? Floyd’s murder received global attention and a relook at the question of structural racism. But how are we to continue by being quiet, when someone just beside us are raped, bullied and discriminated on racial lines, with no powerful voice for dissent. I hope that this spark and a trigger on racism taking momentum lately, will also address the everyday racism that we take for granted. As the change which we all seek today, can only occur from the grass root level. So instead of merely indulging in showing solidarity to Floyd through ones Facebook and Instagram hash tags, it is also time to reflect upon how we as an individual can indulge in eradicating it. It is time we stop accepting and start questioning the everyday taken for granted racism and its practices prevalent in our society.

[i] Jacobson, G. (2015). Racial Formation Theory and Systemic Racism in Hip-Hop Fans’ Perceptions. Sociological Forum, Vol. 30, No. 3 , pp. 832-851.

[ii] Gupta, D. (2017, May 23). hindustantimes. Retrieved June 05, 2020, from Let’s talk about racism | Colour bias in India is colonial, not traditional: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/let-s-talk-about-racism-racism-in-india-is-colonial-not-traditional/story-wLaZ7RPgFg35sur3w1y08H.html

iii. Haokip, T. (2020). From ‘Chinky’ to ‘Coronavirus’: racism against Northeast Indians during the Covid-19 pandemic. Asian Ethnicity , pp. 1-21.

Rinzing Ongmu Sherpa is a Doctoral Candidate at Centre for the Study of Social Systems (CSSS) at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.  Email Id- rinzing.ongmu93@gmail.com

  Read When we breathe Everyday Racism, do we qualify to Question the Racial Brutality on George Floyd?
  June 7, 2020
A Strategy for Global Democracy and Wealth Sharing.
by Peter Phillips, Countercurrents.org, in World,

It is time for power to the people!

Global capitalist inequality contributes directly to health pandemics, environmental degradation, and mass poverty. Elite-corporate oligarchs control the governments and political parties. They use established militarized police states to protect their vast empires of property and money worldwide. The global one percent own half of the world’s wealth, and the richest 10 percent control 81 percent of all wealth. Only 200 elite people in a handful of companies make the investment decisions for over $50 trillion of capital.

Concentrated wealth is violence towards the 80 percent of the people in the world living on less than ten dollars a day, with a majority of those surviving on just a few dollars. Over 30,000 people die daily from the violence of empire. Mass malnutrition, homelessness, imprisonment, insecurity are the manifestations of concentrated global capital.

A racist police murder has triggered a national revolt. Massive, mostly peaceful protests have resulted, expressing outrage against continued killings of people of color. The circumstances of this outrage are amplified by the forty million newly unemployed in the US, and the friends and families of the 100,000 plus virus victims.

The people protesting in the streets lack any real form of democratic power other than the ability to destroy property and disrupt daily commerce. When property damage, fires, and lootings occur there has been widespread condemnation of these behaviors by politicians, and corporate media opinion writers. Accordingly, we know that agents of the national security state will foment property damage to use as a justification for expanded repression and increased militarism.

For many middle-class folks the looting of property is considered morally wrong. They worry about losing their own modest assets in widespread civil unrest and are quick to say they oppose racism but deplore violence. However, many would likely applaud democratic governmental appropriations of 90 percent of Jeffrey Bezos’ $151.6 billion, Bill Gates’ $102 billion and other elite billionaires if the money were to be used for the permanent elimination of hunger and basic human needs in the world. The real moral obligation for us all is the reallocation of world resources for all humankind to have their essential needs covered. Electoral politics, spontaneous marches, and general strikes will likely not result in the transfer of wealth from the 1 percent to the rest. We need an easily adoptable strategy of resistance.

Capital violence happens every day worldwide, and US racism is a major aspect of that violence. We must ask ourselves– Is the widespread revolt against police racism in the US today the possible beginning of a broader social democracy movement to openly address the inequality of concentrated wealth? Could a widespread revolt become a human rights revolution? Can we build a grassroots democratic movement that seeks to bring about a greater sharing of the world resources controlled by the 1 percent?

A democratic movement, with activists following the moral guidelines from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and holding a united strategy, could well pressure elites into a greater sharing of their wealth without the turning to violent fascist repression. Here is how that could work.

A grassroots democracy movement could engage in targeted property restrictions and disruptions of commerce within the global elites themselves and their businesses. This type of property disruption is morally justified as a strategy for broader change. We all know the names of and have access to the transnational corporate properties benefiting from the continued violence of inequality, racism, and militarism worldwide. Were democracy movement protests to make these properties commercially unusable there would be rapid adjustments sought by the elite oligarchs.  Some elites would call for greater repression and others would be open to economic sharing. The key for movement activists would be to maintain disruptive pressures on targeted transnational concerns through boycotts, sit-ins and blockades, and to carefully avoid violence towards the police and the elites themselves.

A strategy of commerce disruption that focuses on transnational business and elite oligarchs could be adopted by peaceful human rights movements with very positive effects for human inequality. These actions should strategically avoid the disruption of locally-owned businesses, family commerce, and working peoples’ livelihoods whenever possible.

We should try to transform current and future protests from random street disruptions to the specific targeting of businesses controlled by the global power elites. Elite responses will likely be strained, some will demand martial law, but many in the Davos crowd already recognize that the current economy is unsustainable. We should pressure them to mediate wealth sharing among the global elites and suspend the tendency towards repressive fascism. There is hope for a better world and we can pressure elites through moral collective actions to help achieve that goal.

Peter Phillips is a Political Sociologist at Sonoma State University; author Giants: The Global Power Elite, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2018); past director of Project Censored; co-author/editor of fourteen Censored yearbooks, 1997 to 2011; co-author of Impeach the President, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2007); and winner of the Dallas Smythe Award from the Union for Democratic Communications.

Originally published in Project Censored

  Read A Strategy for Global Democracy and Wealth Sharing
  June 7, 2020
Managed public opinion and the way forward
by Nadeem Khan, Countercurrents.org, in World.

With the world seeing the rise of right-wing nationalism despite not having a great track record in governance, a natural question comes into mind regarding factors responsible for this change. There are many other instances in different parts of the world where the least probable ones got elected to power. It has left political scientists in those places struggling to try to find reasons for their success. The strange choice of the electorate is often attributed to a rise in numbers of uninformed voters. There is another view which emphasizes that public opinion gets managed, which in turn delivers the required electoral majority. Many political scientists feel that a lack of credible alternatives in terms of political narrative leaves the people with no choice. Does this mean that public intellectuals have failed to create a known alternative for the uninformed voter? If true, lets issue death certificate to intellectual influence and proceed with the autopsy.

Intellectuals defined

Before investigating the influence, it is essential that we first determine who is an intellectual. This question has been dealt with by many philosophers and thinkers in the last century. This term was borrowed from the Latin term ‘intelectualis’ and is concerned with intelligence, knowledge, and understanding. The term ‘intellectual’ was used as an ‘adjective’ earlier and started to be used as ‘noun’ only in the late 19th century. Most regard them as thinkers who often raise uncomfortable questions to people in power or the religious orthodoxy. Intellectuals are known by the number of publications, participation in social movements, and by leading intense debates in media. It is a widespread belief that intellectuals generally dress shabbily with a mop of unruly hair and an untrimmed beard. Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote in Confessions that he began his transformation into an intellectual by choosing untidy dresses and letting his beard and hair grow. He also grew shaggy eyebrows. Later, his Armenian attire also became the topic of discussion.

A more appropriate term in the present context would be “public intellectual.” It is defined as the one who provides opinions on issues of political and ideological concern. They must participate in the debate to let their observations known and provide clarity on issues of concern to the masses. Public intellectuals think ideologically, debate vehemently, battle for their public values by mobilizing supporters, and winning elections.

Role of public intellectual concerning public opinion

Before going into the role of an intellectual in framing public opinion, it is essential to understand what constitutes a public opinion. There are various definitions of public opinion, but most acceptable one states that some consensus on an issue between some opinion-makers such that it enjoys some influence then that consensus can be called public opinion. Public opinion can be taken as “national will” on any given issue at an extended level.

Walter Lippmann argued that skilled organizers of public opinion know well enough to create majorities on election day. “Public intellectuals are in a position to expose the policies of government and opposition to the people. They can also unravel the policy complexities and the hidden agenda. It is easily possible in societies that value freedom of expression, right to information, and have protection to easily avail political liberty.

Uninformed voters influence in a significant way the election result. Uninformed voters not only constitute the ones who do not have the relevant information but also of those who do not know what to do of that information. An eighteen-year-old youth cannot correctly analyze the complex issues related to economics, foreign policy, or rural development. Similarly, an illiterate voter in the Indian subcontinent cannot understand and correctly analyze policies related to education and food security. Hence, they have no option but to vote on identity considerations. Also, there is another category of misinformed voters who fall victim to a concentrated campaign of lies, deceptions, and manipulations of issues. This grouping of uninformed/misinformed voters has been used cleverly by all political ideologies in every part of the world.  It is a well-known fact that voting age was lowered in the oldest and largest democracy when the incumbent governments had become highly unpopular. Therefore, to regain their popularity ratings, they needed voters who would value rhetoric more than the substance. The role of intellectuals is vital in societies where residents are by and large disadvantaged about public-funded schooling, access to information, or independent media. For uninformed voters’ public intellectuals can easily present the truth behind the farrago of distortions and misrepresentations. With their counter-narrative laced with reasoning, public intellectuals can quickly turn uninformed/misinformed voters into semi-informed or informed voters.

Democracy integrated with Intellectocracy.

It has become more necessary that public intellectuals devise some mechanism in partnership with institutions that most of the uninformed/misinformed voters develop a similar level of understanding with regards to public issues, which are essential in electoral politics. It can be done quickly by implementing a requirement of renewal of voter id card after every three years. A mandatory continuing education (CE) credits requirement for a certain number of hours should be fulfilled at every renewal. This education can be related to economic policy, education policy, health care, foreign policy, and farmer issues. Not necessarily online education, but the network of government schools can be utilized to get these continuing education credits done. In third-world countries, it will motivate all political parties to work sincerely for everybody’s minimum level of education. Therefore, it is high time that democracy gets integrated with “intellectocracy.”


There has been growing concern about the lack of accountability of voters who make strange choices, and everyone suffers in the long run. This lack of accountability creates another class of voters, namely disinterested voters. After repeated terms of disappointment, the size of this group is naturally bound to increase. Disinterested voters are the natural result of wrong choices of uninformed and misinformed voters. It has become imperative that voters are made accountable for the non-performance of government and impact less opposition.

Some ways have been suggested to improve the situation.

Justification of voting preference

As explained above, the voter id card should be renewed every three years only after voters have completed a certain agreeable number of continuing education credits. There should also be a short declaration by the voter, which justifies his/her choice in the last election in terms of policies of the voted party. It would provide an opportunity for introspection by the voter hence may motivate him for better choices in the future.

Revisiting provision of secret ballot

Most of the voters because of family, ethnic and communal reasons tend to vote as a block at the behest of political and ideological bosses. It generally means voting is not done with an emphasis on developmental issues and the creation of a better society. Thus, the secret ballot was helpful as it provided an option for those voters who wanted to vote as per their own choice devoid of any social pressure. There is a growing consensus among many political scientists that doing away with the secret ballot will promote the visibility and accountability of voters in terms of their voting choice. In the last few years, many scholars have written in favor of the abolition of secret ballot.

Political intellectuals can voice their concerns regarding the policies of the government but also regarding the impact of opposition. For a healthy democracy, the opposition must have an impact else progress of the country goes off the track. The primary role of intellectuals is to ensure that political actors are never short of value-based ideas, which can help them formulate strategies for the common good and well-being of the country. Everybody agrees that political intellectuals are the only ones who can provide both the political diagnosis and the prescription.

Nadeem Khan is an author and speaker based in Toronto.

  Read Managed public opinion and the way forward
  June 7, 2020
Coronavirus: Understanding Facts, Overcoming Fears, Looking ahead.
by S G Vombatkere, Countercurrents.org, in India.

At global centre-stage, “Corona” is one of the most commonly used words worldwide, and the volumes of information and misinformation on it have caused doubts and fears among the public. This article discusses the fear that Coronavirus and Covid-19 have induced in society, and therefore begins with facts.

Viruses and bacteria

(1) Viruses outnumber cellular life at least 10:1, and drive global biogeochemical cycles. They are part of cellular life on Planet Earth.

(2) There are about 220 species of viruses which are known to infect humans, and around 320,000 viruses which infect mammals. Every human is host to millions of viruses – some are beneficial, others can cause disease.

(3) Millions of virus varieties are bacteriophages – they “eat” bacteria. Some bacteria are harmful, but others (e.g., Lactobacillus) are essential for humans to digest food and live.

(4) Every virus mutates, changing its ability to reproduce in its host.

(5) Humans and animals have been exchanging viruses on a day-to-day basis for millennia. We routinely exchange viruses with each other even as we breathe or speak.

(6) Viruses spread – DNA viruses (pox viruses) replicate directly in the host, and RNA viruses like Coronaviruses, attach to the host cells to replicate.

(7) There are several Coronaviruses – we are concerned with SARS-CoV-2 detected in 2019, which causes Covid-19.

Facts and fears

Coronavirus is highly contagious. It can enter the human body only through the mucosa, the membrane lining the inside of nose, mouth and eyes. It cannot enter through the skin of the hands, etc. Coronavirus is contained in tiny droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs or speaks loudly. If these droplets are inhaled by another person before they fall to the ground or onto door handles, etc., they enter the body through the mucosa of the nose and infect him. Hence the need for all to wear masks – an infected wearer’s mask prevents spread of infected droplets and an uninfected person’s mask prevents their inhalation. Droplets can remain on, say, a door handle for a short time. If such a surface is touched by hand, Coronavirus can get transferred to the skin of the hand/fingers, where it will be harmless, unless the hand/fingers touches the edges or inside of nose, mouth or eyes which have mucosa. All this is equally true of the common cold virus.

Most Corona-infected persons develop mild-to-moderate symptoms and recover without hospitalization. Many remain asymptomatic. Thus, Coronavirus is not a big killer of humans. There are far bigger killers of humans, as shown by WHO and IHME (Washington). Neglecting those larger causes of deaths and focusing on Corona/Covid-19, fails the test of proportionality.

In the absence of a cure for Covid patients, or a vaccine for populations, the threat of Covid spread necessitated imposing physical distancing between people through a lockdown. It was accompanied by government-initiated, wide-reach advice, instructions and orders to create awareness about Coronavirus and Covid-19, and control its spread. Constant repetition concerning maintaining 1-metre inter-person distance, wearing masks, washing hands (soap-n-water, 20-seconds, etc), hand-sanitizers, sanitizing door handles using chemicals, etc., has resulted in many people getting paranoid about touching anything. Many carry hand-sanitizer bottles around with them, and use them or wash hands dozens of times every day. All this has created fear about contracting Covid-19, and has assumed dimensions of paranoia, when only doctors and health workers on duty need to take such precautions.

Unfortunately, governments were initially quite oblivious or uncaring (apart from starting a catchy-sounding Fund, which is intransparent to RTI questions) of the fact that these measures are unaffordable, impractical and impossible for the vast majority rural and urban poor who live and work in congested places and/or have no easy access even to drinking water.

The 4-hours short-notice “social-distancing” lockdown severely impacted the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of rural and urban Indians. It caused panic-purchase of supplies for subsistence. It resulted in unexpected, spontaneous exodus of millions of workers out of urban areas who, together with many more millions of urban and rural poor, were more fearful of hunger and starvation, than about Corona-related disease and death. Fear ruled.

Migrant workers, urban slum dwellers, rural landless, etc. are undergoing the psychological trauma of uncertainty regarding the immediate future for themselves and families. This is accentuated by the physical trauma of hunger and exhaustion, and fear of experiencing demeaning and insulting police violence. Fear, again.

The Covid fear has had social repercussions. People of some Bihar villages refused entry to their own returning migrants, fearing that they bring Covid. Nurses living in paying guest accommodation and working in a hospital in Bengaluru, were forced to vacate by the owner, because he feared infection.

The catchy phrase “war against Corona” prompted Union Health Minister Dr.Harshvardhan to declare that India is doing better compared to other countries on all parameters in its fight against Covid, and we should be able to “win this decisive war” in a few weeks. But the situation has only worsened. Declaring war on Coronavirus has had the unfortunate fallout of increasing Corona-fear among the public.

Without criticizing the “war” phrase, we need to understand that Coronavirus is here to stay, and we will learn to live with it like earlier generations have been living with so many other “killer” viruses and bacteria.

Experts say that in coming months and years, the majority of population will get infected by Coronavirus, and develop immunity to it, helped by an immunization (vaccination) program, and its spread among the population will be limited by “herd immunity”. In the meantime, Covid cure and vaccine will be developed. Thus, people have little to fear if normal precautions are observed just as we do for common cold, and can resume work in accordance with governments’ regulations and directions.

Disease, cure and fear

Humans have begun to “cure” diseases ever since societies neglected the wisdom that the body itself does the “curing”, and that the medicine-doctor combination only assists the natural curative/healing process. (Ayurveda recognizes this). People have always searched for means to reduce or eliminate pain using herbs and other substances or methods. Over millennia, this has extended to avoiding pain and prolonging life. Implicitly, the fear of death as an “unknown” exists in most societies.

Among humans, only societies which we label “primitive” understand death as an event in life. Even people who understand the inevitability of death, either fear death as an unknown, or without fearing death, fear the pain and suffering that can precede death. Either way, it’s about fear.

The healthcare sector

Regarding Corona in particular but life in general, noting that the words “us” or “we” refer to humanity as a whole, and that we discussants are a minuscule minority of India’s 1.3-billion and 7.6-billion humanity,

(1) Most of us are fearful of illness and death, pop pills with or without medical prescription, have routine health checkups, and consult specialist doctors within a health system which manages illness/disease or life-threatening trauma, with little or no focus on health and healthy living,

(2) We attempt to add years to life (statistical longevity) using medication, with little regard to the quality of life, and

(3) Societies and their leaders fail to view social health holistically, in the sense that creating a healthy society will result in individuals enjoying physical, mental, social and emotional health, and that emotional good health will remove fear of death and of dying.

Notwithstanding the present understanding of health or healthcare, the state of the healthcare sector can only be rued. Witness: Public health (protein deficiency, anaemia, malnutrition-underweight-stunting, public hygiene, non-Corona disease, etc.) and public health systems (PHCs, hospital beds, doctor-nurse-medicine-equipment availability, etc.). All this, with parallel but unaffordable multi-specialty corporate hospitals linked with pharmaceutical, diagnostic & therapeutic bio-engineering, medical education, insurance and banking industries. Today, we fear contracting disease by going to a public hospital, and fear expensive treatment in a corporate hospital leading to economic ruin. Yet again, fear.

Looking ahead

Overcoming Corona-fear begins with acceptance that Coronavirus is here to stay. Humanity will develop herd immunity and co-exist with it, as it has been doing with other viruses and bacteria over millennia. Of course, we will continue to use available technology to minimize suffering, enhance cures and prevent Coronavirus spread, but that should not divert attention and effort from other issues affecting social health.

A healthy society in which “the mind is without fear” would link people-centric economics with social justice, and peace and harmony within and between societies, and all life on Earth. It would consist of largely self-sufficient, sharing-and-caring, vibrant communities, never lacking food. Inevitable disease and death would not be feared, but also not accepted when it is a result of injustice, inequality or malafides.

Building a healthy society may appear far-fetched, but it is doable, even if time is running out and there is worldwide absence of requisite leadership.

Maj Gen S.G.Vombatkere, VSM, focuses on development and strategic issues, using cross-discipline study and systems thinking.

  Read Coronavirus: Understanding Facts, Overcoming Fears, Looking ahead
  June 7, 2020
COVID-19 and Social Stigma: Fear, Harassment, and Discrimination.
by Sayama, co-written by Tehzeeb Anis, Countercurrents.org, in India.

History is witness that every epidemic left a negative impact on the people who suffer from such diseases or who are suspected to have such diseases and COVID-19 is one such pandemic which has caused an enormous negative impact on health, economies, and even national security globally. India has witnessed many pandemics since the 1990s, such as SARS, swine flu, HIV, etc but none of the pandemics was as fatal as COVID-19.COVID-19 is a large-scale outbreak that can significantly increase morbidity and mortality in any country. There is an enormous social, political, and economic disruption due to this outbreak. This outbreak has brought along with it many negative effects; people have fear and anxiety, which is leading to prejudices against people and communities social isolation and stigma. Such behavior may result in increased hostility, chaos, and unnecessary social disruptions.[i] One of the most important side effects of COVID-19 is social stigma. Social stigma in the context of health is the negative association between a person or group of people who share certain characteristics and specific diseases. In an outbreak, this may mean people labeled, stereotyped, discriminated against, treated separately, and /or experience loss of status because of a perceived link with a disease. Social stigma is severe social disapproval of a person because of a particular characteristic that indicates their deviance from social norms. Social stigmas commonly related to culture, gender, race, intelligence, and health. It is associated with discrimination. Stigma and fear are the results of people’s poor knowledge about anything.

Many pieces of research show that people with diseases like – tuberculosis, HIV, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, have to faced discrimination and stigma, which force people to avoid testing or late testing of any disease until the disease increased. Most people who test positive often become fearful of seeking help or even do not want to discuss the symptoms.[ii] The case is very similar in a case with COVID-19. People due to the fear of social stigma and discrimination are hiding their illness, getting away from screened and are not seeking health care immediately which is a matter of concern. People are not only showing discrimination against the ill person but towards the whole family as a result of which the family members are also hiding the diseases of the sick person. Because of the lack of proper knowledge about the corona virus people are taking certain words related to the diseases in a negative way. Certain words like the suspected case, isolation, quarantine etc have created negative meaning for the people and fuel stigmatizing attitudes. These words can perpetuate existing negative stereotypes or assumptions, strengthen false associations between the diseases and other factors, create widespread fear, or dehumanize those who have the diseases.

Several stories of people facing social stigma and discrimination due COVID -19 is available on social media and newspapers, on how this outbreak has stigmatized the life of several people who are suffering from the diseases or who are just the suspected cases. According to a report published in the wire, it has been said that the stigma does not only attach to those who are sick (or suspected to be sick) but also to those who tend to them. It has seen in the case of COVID19 that neighbors denied entry to doctors and nurses, and they had to spend nights in cars and hotels.[iii]  In another report in India, Today reveals that a 37-year-old man Mohammad Dilshad who returned from Tablighi Jamaat committed suicide in his residence in Himachal Pradesh’s Una district. After facing the discrimination and social boycott by some villagers, who suspected him of being suffering from COVID-19 despite testing negative for it.  [iv] A similar case has been reported in Hindustan Times that a family lived in Italy and had come to their home in Kerela’s Ranny on Feb 29 on a three-week leave. After landing in India they test positive for COVID-19 a week later. Many people cursed them. Some of their family members said, “ you will not come alive from hospitals. They dubbed ‘super spreader’ by media. After shown the news on T.V channels, they got scared and stigmatized.   [v]Indian medical professionals are also now increasingly fighting on a whole new front in the COVID-19 battle stigma. In the outbreak of a pandemic, the country is reporting cases of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals on the frontline of battle, being shunned by others for fear of being infected. This includes the threat of being evicted from their own apartments and general ostracism.[vi]The UNESCO chair for the promotion of the culture of peace and non-violence at the Manipal Academy of higher education in India reported that Muslim communities who represent the most significant minority of the country had been victims of attacks and other forms of discrimination amidst the pandemic. These situations started to emerge when the spread of allegedly associated with a gathering held by the Muslim missionaries movement in March. [vii]People who attended the Tablighi jamaat religious congregation at Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi face discrimination and allegation of the spread of COVID-19. Meeting held in mid –March and more than 5000 members, including foreigners, attended the jamaat. This is compounded by a large amount of fake news and false information being generated by Media and social media. People of Tablighi Jamaat face additional Social stigma and discrimination because of COVID-19.

COVID-19 patients may have to face social stigma and discrimination even after he has completely recovered from the illness. He/She may experience social avoidance, verbal abuse, discrimination into a form of denial of services such as housing, employment, health care, and in some cases, even physical violence. This may take a heavy toll on his physical and mental health, thereby increasing his vulnerability to conditions such as absolute depression, anxiety, and substance use[viii].

Being a highly infectious disease COVID-19 spreads fast and can infect anyone. Despite all precautions, if anybody catches the infection, it is not their fault. Patients and their family members need support and co-operation. They should be treated with love and care. Health care workers who provide medical care to the patient also need support, praise and appreciation. People should not spread the names or identities of those affected people on social media. Do not target healthcare and sanitary workers or police. Do not label any community or area for the spread of COVID-19. Misconception, rumors and misinformation contributing to social stigma and discrimination should be minimized. Collective solidarity is needed during this outbreak because facts, not fear, will stop the spread of COVID-19.

*Sayama- I am a research scholar of the department of sociology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, U.P

Email id — saimadd7423@gmail.com

** Tehzeeb Anis- Research scholar of the department of sociology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, U.P

Email id – tehzeebanis@gmail.com

  Read COVID-19 and Social Stigma: Fear, Harassment, and Discrimination
  June 3, 2020
The Killing Of George Floyd And The Long History Of Police Brutality In The US.
by Umang Kumar, Countercurrents.org, in World.

Innocent brothers and sisters it’s time to wake up, wake up, wake up

Brothers and sisters it’s time to say something, do something, make ’em

Mmm I wonder, how many Blacks lives, how many Black lives

How many heartbeats turned into flatlines

– “How Many” by Miguel

Just when the news about the way African-Americans were being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus could get no worse, just when you thought that the United States was consumed with battling the virus, came sickening, familiar news, one after another, of a kind that had not hit public notice for a while now.

First, we heard of the senseless shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man out for a run in Georgia. Then came the incident where a white woman in Central Park, New York, called the police on a black man who had asked her to leash her dog. Most recently, we had to bear witness to the horrific murder of George Floyd when a police officer pinned his neck down with his knee.

All three incidents involved the common figure of the black person perceived as a threat.

The scenarios above are familiar ones too – white folk suspicious of black folk in their vicinity and either taking action themselves (Arbery) or immediately calling the police for intervention (Cooper); a law-enforcement officer using excessive force to restrain and punish a black man suspected of some wrongdoing (Floyd).

The second scenario is commonly labeled as “police brutality.” It describes situations in which police officers, often white, bring to bear excessive force on black suspects. This could be in the form of either employing a physical restraining force as with George Floyd in Minneapolis most recently and with Eric Garner in New York in 2014, or shooting at them if sensing even the slightest threat, as in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014 – and hundreds of others over the years!

The August 2014 Michael Brown incident, close on the heels of the July 2014 killing of Eric Garner, set off massive protests in Ferguson (Missouri), which later spread throughout the United States. The state of Missouri had to employ heavily militarized additional forces, to bring the violence under control.

Though a lot of soul-searching and analysis resulted from the manifestation of public anger in Ferguson, from trying to understand the socio-economic divides to thinking of the issues with police biases and training,  that did not do much to put the brakes in racist police behavior throughout the US, even in the same year.

In November 2014, police in Cleveland Ohio, shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing in a public park. He was reported by someone in a call to the police as carrying a weapon, “probably fake.” Indeed, it turned out that Rice had a toy gun in his hands. Rice was, however, shot within seconds of the police arriving on the scene.

The list of unarmed black victims of police violence for 2014, just as an example, as maintained by the website Mapping Police Violence is depressingly long, as it is for years before or after. That not much has changed in the years following Ferguson is evident as also detailed in this recent piece from The Guardian titled, ‘Police violence in America: six years after Ferguson, George Floyd’s killing shows little has changed’.

As former President Obama, quoted in the article, put it recently, “We have to remember that for millions of Americans…being treated differently on account of race is tragically, painfully, maddeningly ‘normal’ – whether it’s while dealing with the healthcare system, or interacting with the criminal justice system, or jogging down the street, or just watching birds in the park.” Obama should know – Ferguson erupted during his presidency.

Earlier, in 2013, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American boy was shot by a local security officer on suspicion of being an interloper in the neighborhood he was in. When the security officer was later acquitted by the courts, the Black Lives Matters movement was conceived of as a platform to rally around. The movement gained strength following the 2014 incidents of police killings.

Protests by the African-American community over police action, such as in Ferguson or in Minneapolis currently, have a long history in the US. These have included the Watts rebellion in Los Angeles in 1965, the Newark riots of 1967 and the protests following Rodney King’s murder in Los Angeles in 1992. Other more recent protests were triggered by Tim Thomas’ murder in Cincinnati Ohio in 2001, Oscar Grant’s shooting in Oakland in 2009 and the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in 2015 in Baltimore.

The much celebrated and emulated Black Panther Movement in the late 60s and early 70s also took off after constant run-ins with the local police in Oakland, California. It was the Hunter’s Point riots that followed the killing of an unarmed black man, Matthew Johnson, that saw the emergence of the Black Panthers who took it upon themselves to monitor the police while openly carrying arms themselves.

There have been constant struggles and investigations in different areas to address the issues of the socio-economic disadvantages of African-Americans, from biases in allocation of state resources for basic social goods to the mass incarceration of black people to instill fear in the community and remove its working adults to prison.

But alongside all this, the confrontation with law-enforcement has been a constant. Terms like “Driving While Black (DWB),” which point to the high incidences of black folk being pulled over while driving without adequate reason, have long been in mainstream parlance.

In many cases, a simple instance of being pulled over can turn fatal, as in the case of Sandra Bland in Texas in 2015. She protested for being stopped for what seemed like a minor infraction and the exchange with the police officer quickly escalated such that he had her arrested and sent to prison. Three days later she was found hanging in the jail.

While the black community has had a fraught and fatal relationship with the police over the years, the white community has generally trusted the police implicitly. According to a Pew Center report, “A survey conducted in mid-2017 asked Americans to rate police officers and other groups of people on a “feeling thermometer” from 0 to 100, where 0 represents the coldest, most negative rating and 100 represents the warmest and most positive. Black adults gave police officers a mean rating of 47; whites gave officers a mean rating of 72.”

Whites and blacks have very different experiences when dealing with the police. Blacks, in fact, often end up being victimized when they seek the police’s intervention. But the experience the white folks have is markedly different.

As an article explains, “Whites calling the police…do not endure long response times, treatment that negates their victimization, or the slide from victim to suspect in the eyes of the police…even when whites have involuntary contact with police, they overwhelmingly experience the police as helpful, benevolent, fair, and efficient problem solvers.”

As the article goes on to say: “This mismatch in experience equates to powerful incentives for people of one racial group to call the police on others who could be seen as breaching ‘white space.’”

Many people have tried to understand the history behind the recent cases of police targeting of black folk. In the US South, a lot of the early policing was linked to maintaining the system of slavery, as an article explains. In the US North, even if the police started out as a municipal force, they were expected to control “a “dangerous underclass” that included African Americans, immigrants and the poor.”

According to the same piece, “controlling disorder, lack of adequate police training, lack of nonwhite officers and slave patrol origins – are among the forerunners of modern-day police brutality against African Americans.”

A discriminatory regime of laws promulgated after the conclusion of the American Civil War (1865), called the Jim Crow laws, put into practice leagalized racial segregation in the US. It was the police who were often called in to enforce the specifics of the laws, further entrenching the biases against the black population.

The police are not separate from the larger beliefs and attitudes in a society. A historical stance of African-Americans as second class citizens, as dictated by the politics of  disposability, dominates the common attitudes and public policy: “It is a politics in which the unproductive (the poor, weak and racially marginalized) are considered useless and therefore expendable…in which entire populations are considered disposable, unnecessary burdens on state coffers, and consigned to fend for themselves.”

Consider the Washington DC mayor’s recent comment on how the federal government looks at the risk of reopening the economy after the Covid-19 lockdown, while considering the possible fatalities, especially among blacks: “There is this kind of a callous calculation happening that surprises me…It’s kind of like, ‘Well, this COVID is killing old people and, Oh, well. It’s killing black people, and poor people and essential workers. Oh, well.’”

To such deeper and older accounts of systematic neglect and marginalization of African-Americans, and their targeting by law enforcement, is joined the more recent story of America’s notorious “war on drugs.”

As Michelle Alexander, legal scholar and author of the book, The New Jim Crow, explained in an interview, “So, you know, after the drug war was declared…crack hit the streets and really began to ravage inner-city communities, and…a wave of punitiveness really washed over the United States…The drug war was a literal war. It has been, it continues to be, a literal war waged in poor communities of color complete with SWAT teams and military-style equipment and tactics…”

This greater police presence in black communities increased the chances of violent encounters and in many cases, resulted in black folk being swept up into the mass incarceration system, as Alexander explains above.

Other historians push the increased policing and surveillance even further back to the mid-60s into the early 70s. This was the time of the black unrest in places like Newark and Watts and the rise of the Black Panthers.

President Lyndon Johnson, who formulated a “War on Poverty” program to address the disaffection in the black community also sanctioned a “War on Crime,” as historian Elizabeth Hinton has shown. “By 1965, Johnson had formulated a new initiative, what he called a ‘War on Crime.’ He sent to Congress a sweeping new bill that would bulk up police forces with federal money and intensify patrols in urban areas…His initiatives provided money for police to arm themselves with military equipment — ‘military-grade rifles, tanks, riot gear, walkie-talkies, helicopters, and bulletproof vests.’”

What is abundantly clear is that the police have always been the frontline of an apathetic and skittish administration, which has deliberately under-invested in the upliftment of African-Americans. The police, especially the white officers, do their superior’s bidding besides imbibing all the common prejudices against the African-Americans.

Such is the threat that an oppressed, marginalized, brutalized community poses to them that their immediate reaction, despite whatever their training manual says, despite a child or an adult in front of them who is unarmed, is to pull their gun and deal with the supposed threat first.

But the story of the economic disadvantages that the African-Americans suffer from  cannot be ignored. Though, as several incidents including the one with Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates have demonstrated, more well-placed blacks are not necessarily exempt from being stereotyped and viewed with suspicion, the likelihood of poorer blacks being the target of police violence is greater.

The sharp economic divides between blacks and whites are evident in most places in the US. Minneapolis, in the white-majority state of Minnesota, has parts that are poor and economically depressed. As an African-American city official from Minneapolis wrote recently, “Minneapolis hosts some of the worst disparities between black and white success in America.” Similar glaring gaps were found in the areas surrounding the town of Ferguson where protests had broken out in 2014.

While police brutality is certainly a real, existential issue for black Americans, the calamity of the coronavirus has laid bare their vulnerabilities in a stark and undeniable manner. Police brutality and the threat posed by the black body seems embedded deep in America’s history and psyche. So is the socio-economic marginalization of African-Americans.

The protests and reform movements, of course, rightfully seek changes to police operating procedures,  greater conversation on issues of race and solutions like community-control over police. Many organizations seek a minimum of accountability to prosecute the guilty police officers and reopening of old cases to bring a sense of justice.

The tactics and beliefs of the Black Panther Party in struggling against the structures of racism and inequality can be instructive. While advocating for neighborhood self-defence groups to address issues of police brutality, they also campaigned for socio-economic rights, managing their own free breakfast and liberation school programs.

While the current anger and outrage is understandable and protesting the institutionalized racism that pervades the police force is the need of the hour, longer term goals of pressing for socio-economic changes cannot be left by the wayside. Otherwise, it is possible, little substantial difference will accrue to the lives of African-Americans.

Umang Kumar is a writer currently based in Delhi NCR.

  Read The Killing Of George Floyd And The Long History Of Police Brutality In The US
  June 3, 2020
Taking The Knee.
by Sally Dugman, Countercurrents.org, in World

I have to admit that I am very enthusiastic about taking the knee. It is a symbolic gesture.

Now, my knees are cruddy. They got so bad that twice I was taken by ambulance to a hospital and a rehabilitation center. The fact is that I couldn’t walk and my knees got ruined by saving a policeman’s life.

Would I do my gesture again? You can bet your bottom dollar that I would.

I was so excited about taking the knee after seeing Colin do it, I went to my kitchen, held onto cabinets and took the knee. It made me feel good in support of all of the maligned people of the world.

I saw the photo of a farmer in his nineties taking the knee on his farm. His son took the image of his father taking the knee on the son’s camera.

Colin, himself, is a good football player. He use to work for an NFL team. Not a single team will hire him now since he began taking the knee and teaching others to do so.

I saw a photo of him with police officers in Brooklyn and they clearly supported him. One could see that from their facial expressions and body language. There was some love going on there. The image amply portrayed it.

Now, I have no idea about where Colin came up with the idea to take the knee. Yet I saw a photo of M. L. King, Jr. taking the knee along with others in prayer before going out in public in a protest march.

Nowadays, a lot of peaceful protesters take the knee at the end of their march. How salient is that?

I would wish that others across the world would take the knee after their protest marches. Doing so can mark that we do not accept racism, intolerance against other people of other religions, mistreatment of natives or other forms of bigotry.

Sally Dugman writes from MA, USA.

  Read Taking The Knee
  June 3, 2020
As US protests show, the challenge is how to rise above the violence inherent in state power.
by Jonathan Cook, Countercurrents.org, in World.

Here is one thing I can write with an unusual degree of certainty and confidence: Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin would not have been charged with the (third-degree) murder of George Floyd had the United States not been teetering on a knife edge of open revolt.

Had demonstrators not turned out in massive numbers on the streets and refused to be corralled back home by the threat of police violence, the US legal system would have simply turned a blind eye to Chauvin’s act of extreme brutality, as it has done before over countless similar acts.

Without the mass protests, it would have made no difference that Floyd’s murder was caught on camera, that it was predicted by Floyd himself in his cries of “I can’t breathe” as Chauvin spent nearly nine minutes pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck, or that the outcome was obvious to spectators who expressed their growing alarm as Floyd lost consciousness. At most, Chauvin would have had to face, as he had many times before, an ineffectual disciplinary investigation over “misconduct”.

Without the current ferocious mood of anger directed at the police and sweeping much of the nation, Chauvin would have found himself as immune from accountability and prosecution as so many police officers before him who gunned down or lynched black citizens.

Instead he is the first white police officer in the state of Minnesota ever to be criminally charged over the death of a black man. After initially arguing that there were mitigating factors to be considered, prosecutors hurriedly changed course to declare Chauvin’s indictment the fastest they had ever initiated. Yesterday Minneapolis’s police chief was forced to call the other three officers who stood by as Floyd was murdered in front of them “complicit”.

Confrontation, not contrition

If the authorities’ placatory indictment of Chauvin – on the least serious charge they could impose, based on incontrovertible evidence they could not afford to deny – amounts to success, then it is only a little less depressing than failure.

Worse still, though most protesters are trying to keep their demonstrations non-violent, many of the police officers dealing with the protests look far readier for confrontation than contrition. The violent attacks by police on protesters, including the use of vehicles for rammings, suggest that it is Chauvin’s murder charge – not the slow, barbaric murder of Floyd by one of their number – that has incensed fellow officers. They expect continuing impunity for their violence.

Similarly, the flagrant mistreatment by police of corporate media outlets simply for reporting developments, from the arrest of a CNN crew to physical assaults on BBC staff, underlines the sense of grievance harboured by many police officers when their culture of violence is exposed for all the world to see. They are not reeling it in, they are widening the circle of “enemies”.


Nonetheless, it is entirely wrong to suggest, as a New York Times editorial did yesterday, that police impunity can be largely ascribed to “powerful unions” shielding officers from investigation and punishment. The editorial board needs to go back to school. The issues currently being exposed to the harsh glare of daylight get to the heart of what modern states are there to do – matters rarely discussed outside of political theory classes.

Right to bear arms

The success of the modern state, like the monarchies of old, rests on the public’s consent, explicit or otherwise, to its monopoly of violence. As citizens, we give up what was once deemed an inherent or “natural” right to commit violence ourselves and replace it with a social contract in which our representatives legislate supposedly neutral, just laws on our behalf. The state invests the power to enforce those laws in a supposedly disciplined, benevolent police force – there to “protect and serve” – while a dispassionate court system judges suspected violators of those laws.

That is the theory, anyway.

In the case of the United States, the state’s monopoly on violence has been muddied by a constitutional “right to bear arms”, although, of course, the historic purpose of that right was to ensure that the owners of land and slaves could protect their “property”. Only white men were supposed to have the right to bear arms.

Today, little has changed substantively, as should be obvious the moment we consider what would have happened had it been black militia men that recently protested the Covid-19 lockdown by storming the Michigan state capitol, venting their indignation in the faces of white policemen.

(In fact, the US authorities’ reaction to the Black Panthers movement through the late 1960s and 1970s is salutary enough for anyone who wishes to understand how dangerous it is for a black man to bear arms in his own defence against the violence of white men.)

Brutish violence

The monopoly of violence by the state is justified because most of us have supposedly consented to it in an attempt to avoid a Hobbesian world of brutish violence where individuals, families and tribes enforce their own, less disinterested versions of justice.

But of course the state system is not as neutral or dispassionate as it professes, or as most of us assume. Until the struggle for universal suffrage succeeded – a practice that in all western states can be measured in decades, not centuries – the state was explicitly there to uphold the interests of a wealthy elite, a class of landed gentry and newly emerging industrialists, as well as a professional class that made society run smoothly for the benefit of that elite.

What was conceded to the working class was the bare minimum to prevent them from rising up against the privileges enjoyed by the rest of society.

That was why, for example, Britain did not have universal health care – the National Health Service – until after the Second World War, 30 years after men received the vote and 20 years after women won the same right. Only after the war did the British establishment start to fear that a newly empowered working class – of returning soldiers who knew how to bear arms, backed by women who had been released from the home to work on the land or in munitions factories to replace the departed men – might no longer be willing to accept a lack of basic health care for themselves and their loved ones.

It was in this atmosphere of an increasingly organised and empowered labour movement – reinforced by the need to engineer more consumerist societies to benefit newly emerging corporations – that European social democracy was born. (Paradoxically, the post-war US Marshall Plan helped subsidise the emergence of Europe’s major social democracies, including their public health care systems, even as similar benefits were denied domestically to Americans.)

Creative legal interpretations

To maintain legitimacy for the state’s monopoly on violence, the legal establishment has had to follow the same minimalist balancing act as the political establishment.

The courts cannot simply rationalise and justify the implicit and sometimes explicit use of violence in law enforcement without regard to public sentiment. Laws are amended, but equally significantly they are creatively interpreted by judges so that they fit the ideological and moral fashions and prejudices of the day, to ensure the public feels justice is being done.

In the main, however, we the public have a very conservative understanding of right and wrong, of justice and injustice, which has been shaped for us by a corporate media that both creates and responds to those fashions and trends to ensure that the current system continues undisturbed, allowing for the ever-greater accumulation of wealth by an elite.

That is why so many of us are viscerally appalled by looting on the streets by poor people, but reluctantly accept as a fact of life the much larger intermittent looting of our taxes, of our banks, of our homes by the state to bail out a corporate elite that cannot manage the economy it created.

Again, the public’s deference to the system is nurtured to ensure it does not rise up.

Muscle on the street

But the legal system doesn’t just have a mind; it has muscle too. Its front-line enforcers, out on the street, get to decide who is a criminal suspect, who is dangerous or subversive, who needs to be deprived of their liberty, and who is going to have violence inflicted upon them. It is the police that initially determine who spends time in a jail cell and who comes before a court. And in some cases, as in George Floyd’s, it is the police that decide who is going to be summarily executed without a trial or a jury.

The state would prefer, of course, that police officers don’t kill unarmed citizens in the street – and even more so that they don’t carry out such acts in full view of witnesses and on camera, as Chauvin did. The state’s objections are not primarily ethical. State bureaucracies are not overly invested in matters beyond the need to maintain external and internal security: defending the borders from outside threats, and ensuring internal legitimacy through the cultivation of citizens’ consent.

But the issue of for whom and for what the state keeps its territory safe has become harder to conceal over time. Nowadays, the state’s political processes and its structures have been almost completely captured by corporations. As a result, the maintenance of internal and external security is less about ensuring an orderly and safe existence for citizens than about creating a stable territorial platform for globalised businesses to plunder local resources, exploit local labour forces and generate greater profits by transforming workers into consumers.

Increasingly, the state has become a hollowed-out vessel through which corporations order their business agendas. States function primarily now to compete with each other in a battle to minimise the obstacles facing global corporations as they seek to maximise their wealth and profits in each state’s territory. The state’s role is to avoid getting in the way of corporations as they extract resources (deregulation), or, when this capitalist model regularly collapses, come to the aid of the corporations with more generous bailouts than rival states.

Murder could prove a spark

This is the political context for understanding why Chauvin is that very rare example of a white policeman facing a murder charge for killing a black man.

Chauvin’s gratuitous and incendiary murder of Floyd – watched by any American with a screen, and with echoes of so many other recent cases of unjustifiable police brutality against black men, women and children – is the latest spark that risks lighting a conflagration.

In the heartless, amoral calculations of the state, the timing of Chauvin’s very public act of barbarity could not have been worse. There were already rumblings of discontent over federal and state authorities’ handling of the new virus; fears over the catastrophic consequences for the US economy; outrage at the inequity – yet again – of massive bailouts for the biggest corporations but paltry help for ordinary workers; and the social and personal frustrations caused by lockdown.

There is also a growing sense that the political class, Republican and Democrat alike, has grown sclerotic and unresponsive to the plight of ordinary Americans – an impression only underscored by the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

For all these reasons, and many others, people were ready to take to the streets. Floyd’s murder gave them the push.

The need for loyal police

In these circumstances, Chauvin had to be charged, even if only in the hope of assuaging that anger, of providing a safety valve releasing some of the discontent.

But charging Chauvin is no simple matter either. To ensure its survival, the state needs to monopolise violence and internal security, to maintain its exclusive definition of what constitutes order, and to keep the state as a safe territorial platform for business. The alternative is the erosion of the nation-state’s authority, and the possibility of its demise.

This was the rationale behind Donald Trump’s notorious tweet last week – censored by Twitter for “glorifying violence” – that warned: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Not surprisingly, he invoked the words of a racist Miami police chief, Walter Headley, who threatened violence against the African-American community in the late 1960s. At the time Headley additionally stated: “There’s no communication with them except force.”

Trump may be harking back to an ugly era of what was once called “race relations”, but the sentiment lies at the heart of the state’s mission.

The state needs its police forces loyal and ready to use violence. It cannot afford discontent in the ranks, or that sections of the police corps no longer identify their own interests with the state’s. The state dares not alienate police officers for fear that, when they are needed most, during times of extreme dissent like now, they will not be there – or worse still, that they will have joined the dissenters.

As noted, elements in the police are already demonstrating their disenchantment over Chauvin’s indictment as well as their sense of grievance against the media – bolstered by Donald Trump’s regular verbal assaults on journalists. That sentiment helps to explain the unprecedented attacks by the police on reliably compliant major media outlets covering the protests.

Ideological twins

The need to keep the security forces loyal is why the state fosters a sense of separateness between the police and those sections of the populace that it defines as potentially threatening order, thereby uniting more privileged segments of society in fear and hostility.

The state cultivates in the police and sections of the public a sense that police violence is legitimate by definition when it targets individuals or groups it portrays as threatening or subversive. It also encourages the view that the police enjoy impunity a priori in such cases because they alone can decide what constitutes a menace to society (shaped, of course, by popular discourses promoted by the state and the corporate media).

“Threat” is defined as any dissent against the existing order, whether it is a black man answering back and demonstrating “attitude”, or mass protests against the system, including against police violence. In this way, the police and the state are ideological twins. The state approves whatever the police do; while the police repress whatever the state defines as a threat. If it is working effectively, state-police violence becomes a circular, self-rationalising system.

Throwing the protests a bone

Charging Chauvin risks disrupting that system, creating a fault line between the state and the police, one of the state’s most essential agencies. Which is why the charging of a police officer in these circumstances is such an exceptional event, and has been dictated by the current exceptional outpouring of anger.

Prosecutors are trying to find a delicate compromise between two conflicting demands: between the need to reassure the police that their violence is always legitimate (carried out “in the line of duty”) and the need to stop the popular wave of anger escalating to a point where the existing order might break down. In these circumstances, Chauvin needs to be charged but with the least serious indictment possible – given the irrefutable evidence presented in the video – in the hope that, once the current wave of anger has subsided, he can be found not guilty; or if found guilty, given a lenient sentence; or if sentenced more harshly, pardoned.

Chauvin’s indictment is like throwing a chewed-dry bone to a hungry dog, from the point of view of the state authorities. It is an act of parsimonious appeasement, designed to curb non-state violence or the threat of such violence.

The indictment is not meant to change a police culture – or an establishment one – that presents black men as an inherent threat to order. It will not disrupt regulatory and legal systems that are wedded to the view that (white, conservative) police officers are on the front line defending civilisational values from (black or leftwing) “lawbreakers”. And it will not curtail the state’s commitment to ensuring that the police enjoy impunity over their use of violence.

Change is inevitable

A healthy state – committed to the social contract – would be capable of finding ways to accommodate discontent before it reaches the level of popular revolt. The scenes playing out across the US are evidence that state institutions, captured by corporate money, are increasingly incapable of responding to demands for change. The hollowed-out state represents not its citizens, who are capable of compromise, but the interests of global forces of capital that care little what takes place on the streets of Minneapolis or New York so long as the corporations can continue to accumulate wealth and power.

Why would we expect these global forces to be sensitive to popular unrest in the US when they have proved entirely insensitive to the growing signals of distress from the planet, as its life-support systems recalibrate for our pillage and plunder in ways we will struggle to survive as a species?

Why would the state not block the path to peaceful change, knowing it excels in the use of violence, when it blocks the path to reform that might curb the corporate assault on the environment?

These captured politicians and officials – on the “left” and right – will continue fanning the flames, stoking the fires, as Barack Obama’s former national security adviser Susan Rice did this week. She denied the evidence of police violence shown on Youtube and the very real distress of an underclass abandoned by the political class when she suggested that the protests were being directed from the Kremlin.

This kind of bipartisan denial of reality only underscores how quickly we are entering a period of crisis and revolt. From the G8 protests, to the Occupy movement, to Extinction Rebellion, to the schools protests, to the Yellow Vests, to the current fury on US streets, there is evidence all around that the centre is struggling to maintain its hold. The US imperial project is overstretched, the global corporate elite is over-extended, living on credit, resources are depleting, the planet is recalibrating. Something will have to give.

The challenge to the protesters –  either those on the streets now or those who follow in their wake – is how to surmount the state’s violence and how to offer a vision of a different, more hopeful future that restores the social contract.

Lessons will be learnt through protest, defiance and disobedience, not in a courtroom where a police officer stands trial as an entire political and economic system is allowed to carry on with its crimes.

This essay first appeared on Jonathan Cook’s blog: https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

  Read As US protests show, the challenge is how to rise above the violence inherent in state power
  June 6, 2020
What can we learn from the responses in the Western world to George Floyd’s killing.
by Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Countercurrents.org, in Human Rights.

The world leaders are joining hands and have spoken against racism in any form and any country. Most of them have supported people’s right to protest and concerned raised by the African American in the United States and other countries. Today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participated in an anti racist rally in his country, stood with the protesters, listened to others and took to his knee in the rally as a mark of protest.

Many Indians are speaking up the racial prejudices in the United States but many are trying to find fault with those who support the anti racist movement. What can India learn from the things that are happening in the western world. True, there is racism but as African American friend Prof Kevin Brown told me a couple of years back in an interview that he found Indian the most racist. Brown is a regular visitor to India and he has come across those staring and awkward questions about his nationality and identity right from the airport. Even a cab driver would laughingly ask him whether he is from Kenya or Nigeria but they have to sheepishly take a treat when they know that he is an American citizen.

There have been solidarity protests as well as statements in the Western world. Individuals have come out in London, Paris, Copenhagen, Auckland, Sydney, and in various cities of Europe, Australia, Canada and Newzealand to express their solidarity and support to the #Blacklivesmatters but more than that they all feel that same thing exists in their societies and need serious answer. You can see a huge number of white population supporting the #blacklivesmatter event. With in the United States we have seen police person expressing their solidarity and kneeling along with others. At one place the police chief spoke up powerfully asking President Trump to shut up if he has nothing constructive to give to people. Many governors of the states have rejected Trump’s effort to bring army to ‘dominate’ the protests. US media and others in the western world have been critical of Trump’s policy which has put US on a historical crisis where people feel that democracy is threatened. Many of the close associates of the US president, former Military generals have openly come out against his policy of using army for the internal affairs. Social media platform like twitter actually did not verify some of Trump’s tweets. This shows the autonomy of the institutions and power of the people.

While the issue of the blacks become international news and concern, back home, we remain quiet on horrible caste violence against Dalits. Many people suggest as why it does not become a major issue when violence or atrocities happen in India. The polarisation in india is actually bigger and in the last six years, it has increased. Now, we have media and academics who are justifying things and ensure that every issue is converted into a national-anti national debate and then bring a conspiracy theory in it. So slowly, the issue is relegated into backstage and we start discussing politics and individuals. It suits all as most of those claiming to ‘fight’ against too dont want an issue be resolved because the issue here become getting the eye-balls and media attention. Frankly speaking, social media in India is not really engaged in constructive discussion but more on building brand. At every level, each one of us actually suffer from a mindset and thinking of us as a brand. Now, the issue of caste discrimination and related issue of untouchability and gender discrimination does not become news because we dont have strong institutions in India. They have been dismantled and people never bothered. Each party who form the government actually use these institutions to serve their own political interest and the result is that we never have proper discussions to strengthen them and their autonomy. No purposeful debate happens as political leaders know the weaknesses of each other and hence rather then providing a constructive critique they actually start giving us details about their opponents who have now been treated as ‘enemies’.

Most of the media is heavily inclined towards the government or official view point because of the advertisements. Unlike the Western world where we dont see government pampering media with its adverts and that make them independent. That is why a journalist can counter question the most powerful man of the world. That is why people can mock at their ‘leader’. Officers can speak up and ask the president to shut. Why is it not possible in our country because political parties and leaders dont want people to remind them their rights and duties. Politicians or leaders for us are like ‘massiahs’ or mybaaps. A strange kind of varna system also exits in our administration as Dr Ambedkar said about the social s structure of caste, ‘ascending order of reverence and descending order of contempt’. The police wallah do the same. Birthday cakes for the ‘famous’ families and beating for the poor. We have seen how the police personnel actually humiliated the poor. Here the police are under tremendous persons and most of their CRs are based on the higher ups and political connection matters hence they do become part of the structure. Rather than protecting the people, they side with the leaders. They follow the order from the higher ups even if that order is morally incorrect or wrong in law but since the order comes from the above, they follow it up. There were certain brave officers but they were punished.

The importance of the western world is on strengthening the institutions and freedom of individuals. On both the counts we do not stand near them. In our part, an individual is not free and can not really live a life on his or her own. All acts of individuals must be ‘approved’ by the society even if they have done everything legal. We have our khap panchayats everywhere and they are ready to kill and therefore most of the individuals become fiercely loyal to their caste identities. There are very few who come out of it but those who come out of it actually are persons of nowhere. Their own caste reject them and the new ones where they go for solidarity too does not accept them. So most of such people suffer in deep anguish and suffocation. Living an individual life in India is impossible to say the least.

Political parties have rarely spoken on the issues. When a Dalit girl commit suicide as she is unable to join her online classes due to inability to possess a phone or computer, our media dont question the policies of the government that web based work can not replace the physical classes and that it is the responsibility of the state to look after the people. When a child want to have milk from her mother who is lying dead because of walking from city to home or pressure of work, there is no outrage. Our media does not discuss. In fact such stories which should have been discussed widely are not discussed at all.

Why this happens ? As I said, it is the power politics. Every body is enjoying power, whether money power or political power or social power and none is ready to cede that for an inch. This does not come in our mind that if the country has equality and good institutions, life will be better. When there is equality and peace, life will be better but many people who have enjoyed suffering of others still think that their freedom and happiness is impossible without the pains and anguish of others. India has to trace back its root of Buddha’s wisdom of enlightenment and middle path. Important for us to feel that the country can never be powerful and happy if the majority of its people are denied dignity and self respect and it is also true that we all can live happily if this historical wrongs is undone. For that to happen, our institutions must be made to understand importance of social justice, human dignity, human rights and respecting the individual. As long as each one of us feelpride’ in our caste identities and the cultural heritage which is linked to this false pride, we will never be able to be a strong nation. India needs to celebrate diversity, question the wrongs of the past and build up its future based on not merely on equality of opportunity but equality of outcome too. Without inclusion of people of diverse cultures and faith in our decision making bodies, in our cultural spheres, media and judiciary, we wont be able to understand its meaning and will always develop superficial ideas about nationalism and national identity.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist

Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat https://www.facebook.com/vbrawat

  Read What can we learn from the responses in the Western world to George Floyd s killing
  June 4, 2020
by John Scales Avery,

A new freely downloadable book

I would like to announce the publication of a book which presents evidence supporting the thesis that elimination of excessive economic inequality makes societies happier and better. The book may be freely downloaded and circulated from the following link:


Ideals of the Enlightenment

The Age of Reason, or the Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas during the 17th to 19th centuries. Sir Isaac Newton's rational explanations for cosmic phenomena demonstrated that reason is better than superstition. Diderot's Encyclopedia and the writings of Voltaire and Rousseau paved the way for the end of Feudalism, the end of the theory of the Divine Right of Kings, and the liberation of serfs and slaves throughout the world.

In England, John Locke was expressing the spirit of the times when he wrote: “Men living together according to reason, without a common superior on earth with authority to judge between them, is properly the state of nature... A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature and the use of the same facilities, should also be equal amongst one another without subordination or subjection...”

“`But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of licence... The state of nature has a law to govern it, which obliges every one; and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.”

Locke's ideas were reflected in the wording of the American Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalinable Rights,  that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...”

Sadly, these ideals do not hold in the United States today, and perhaps they never did. Although years of slavery were ended after the Civil War, and dispite the efforts of the Civil Rights Movement, racisim is widespread today, and in fact US President Donald Trump was elected on an openly racist platform. During his term of office he has been a racist in both word and deed.

Recently many American cities have erupted in protests over the senseless killing by police of yet another black man - George Floyd. The country is deeply divided.

Racism, colonialism and exceptionalism

It seems to be possible for nations, and the majority of their citizens, to commit the worst imaginable atrocities, including torture, murder and genocide, while feeling that what they are doing is both noble and good. Some understanding of how this is possible can be gained by watching the 3-part BBC documentary, ``The History of Racism":


The series was broadcast by BBC Four in March 2007, and videos of the broadcasts are available on the Internet. Watching this eye-opening documentary can give us much insight into the link between racism and colonialism. We can also begin to see how both racism and colonialism are linked to US exceptionalism and neocolonialism.

Looking at the BBC documentary we can see how often in human history economic greed and colonial exploitation have been justified by racist theories. The documentary describes almost unbelievable cruelties committed  against the peoples of the Americas and Africa by Europeans. For example, in the Congo, a vast region which King Leopold II of Belgium claimed as his private property, the women of villages were held as hostages while the men were forced to gather rubber in the forests. Since neither the men nor the women could produce food under these circumstances, starvation was the result.

Leopold's private army of 90,000 men were issued ammunition, and to make sure that they used it in the proper way, the army was ordered to cut off the hands of their victims and send them back as proof that the bullets had not been wasted. Human hands became a kind of currency, and hands were cut off from living  men, women and children when rubber quotas were not fulfilled. Sometimes more than a thousand human hands were gathered in a single day. During the rule of Leopold, roughly 10,000,000 Congolese were killed, which was approximately half the population of the region.

Oligarchy and war

Today the world spends almost two trillion dollars ( $ 2,000,000,000,000) every year on armaments. This vast river of money, almost too large to be imagined, is the “devil's dynamo” driving the institution of war. Politicians notoriously can be bought with a tiny fraction of this enormous amount; hence the decay of democracy. It is also plain that if the almost unbelievable sums now wasted on armaments were used constructively, most of the pressing problems now facing humanity could be solved.

Because the world spends almost two thousand billion dollars each year on armaments, it follows that very many people make their living from war. This is the reason why it is correct to speak of war as an institution, and why it persists, although we know that it is the cause of much of the suffering that inflicts humanity, and that we live under the constant threat of an all-destroying thermonuclear war.

Money from wealthy oligarchs in military-industrial  complexes buys the propaganda of the mass media and the votes of politicians. Numbed by the propaganda, citizens allow politicians to vote for obscenely bloated military budgets, the oligarchs are further enriched, and thus the circular flow of money continues. Excessive economic inequality is at the root of the problem of war, as well as the loss of our democratic institutions.

The poor suffer most in the COVID-19 pandemic

The poor are suffering most from the COVID-19 pandemic. While the rich can isolate themselves in comfort, working people with no savings are faced with the choice between risking their lives in unsafe work-places or starvation because of lack of income. Here are quotetions from a recently-published article by Jake Johnson entitled “'Grotesque': While 41 Million People Lost Jobs Due to Covid-19, US Billionaires Grew Nearly $500 Billion Richer”, Common Dreams, May 28, 2020:

“Billionaire wealth is surging at the same time that millions face suffering, hardship, and loss of life. This is a grotesque indicator of the deep inequalities in U.S. Society.

“Statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor show that with 2.1 million new unemployment claims filed last week, a staggering 40.7 million Americans have lost their jobs over just the past 10 weeks as mass layoffs induced by the coronavirus pandemic continue.

“During that same 10-week period, according to a new analysis by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the combined net worth of America's billionaires soared by nearly half a trillion dollars, bringing their total wealth to $3.4 trillion.”

Equality, happiness  and renewable energy in Scandanavia

The Green New Deal can simultaneously address the climate crisis and the problem of excessive economic inequality. In this context, it is interesting to look at the social and economic systems of the Scandinavian countries, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland.

In these countries the contrast between the rich and poor has been very much reduced. It is almost true to say that poverty has been eliminated in these countries. At the same time, the Scandinavians have strong policies to address the climate emergency. Thus Scandinavian successes are a counter-argument to those who say that the Green New Deal cannot be put into practice.

The Scandinavian countries also rank very highly on the Global Happiness Index and the Human Development Index, thus demonstrating the benefits of equality,

To achieve a happy and sustainable world, we urgently need to decrease excessive economic inequality, both within and between nations.

Other books and articles about  global problems are on these links



I hope that you will circulate the links in this article to friends and contacts who might be interested.

  April 2, 2020
We Won’t Die for Wall Street.
by Calvin Priest, Countercurrents.org, in World

In recent weeks, the bankruptcy of global capitalism has been exposed to millions as the system has gone into deep crisis and its representatives have failed to take the measures needed to stem COVID-19’s spread.

This has been no accident. As scientists and health care professionals shouted themselves hoarse over the need for an urgent response, Trump and the political establishment were slow to act out of a desire to defend business-as-usual and Wall Street profits.

As of April 1, more than 45,000 have died globally, with 912,000 confirmed cases of infection, as the horrifying count continues to rapidly rise. In reality this figure is only the tip of the iceberg. There is little doubt that many millions are now infected around the world. And while this has been concentrated in countries with developed economies, the biggest human toll is likely to come in less developed economies with weaker health infrastructures like Latin America, Africa, parts of the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent.

In areas that have taken more proactive steps, such as with South Korea’s mass testing program of 10,000 people daily, or in Seattle, Washington, which saw the U.S.’s first recorded case of novel coronavirus and where social distancing and other measures were adopted sooner, the curve of contagion has been somewhat flattened.

In Seattle, these measures, while still limited, were driven by pressure from social movements. Seattle’s socialist City Councilmember, Kshama Sawant, urged immediate action at the beginning of the outbreak and organized working people to make a series of demands on the political establishment, including free testing and treatment, guaranteed paid sick leave, ability to work from home, suspended rent and mortgage payments, while emphasizing the crucial need for mass testing. Though the measures taken were very far from enough, they show that when we fight, we can win gains, even in the conditions of a pandemic.

U.S. the New Epicenter

At the same time, Trump has been the world’s poster child for recklessness in his absolutely criminal approach to the crisis.

Trump’s initial response was to dismiss the threat of the virus (“This is a flu,” he said. “This is like a flu.”) and a month was lost in establishing widespread testing for COVID-19 or other urgent measures. He then failed to take the steps needed to step up the supply of protective gear or tests for frontline workers, including the nurses and doctors in increasingly crisis-wracked hospitals. A recent survey of American mayors showed just how steep the shortfall is: 28.5 million face masks, 24.4 million other items of personal protection equipment, 7.9 million test kits, and 139,000 ventilators.

The U.S. is the new global epicenter of the pandemic, and as of today over 205,000 are confirmed infected, 4,516 dead, with projected deaths of between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans. Currently, New York State and especially New York City is the national epicenter but there will soon be other epicenters, likely including Louisiana where the outbreak has rapidly developed. New York State has over 83,000 confirmed cases, 40% of the national total and more than in Hubei province in China, and 1,941 deaths. Hospitals and morgues in parts of New York City are now completely overwhelmed.

In spite of the horrific human costs, Trump and the U.S. ruling class are itching to reopen the economy, in an attempt to restore profits and stock prices.

Calls to Reopen the Economy

On March 24, Trump vowed to lift coronavirus restrictions by Easter, saying “You’ll have packed churches all over our country … I think it’ll be a beautiful time.” Under intense pressure to back down, he adjusted his message, calling instead for April 30 for a general return to work.

But Trump is far from alone in the demands to return to business as usual at any cost to workers’ health and lives.

Well before Trump’s Easter proclamation, the Wall Street Journal editorial board declared, “This won’t be popular to read in some quarters, but federal and state officials need to start adjusting their anti-virus strategy now to avoid an economic recession.”

Most brutal have been the right wing pundits like Glenn Beck who have called for “economic patriotism,” particularly by older Americans, to immediately go back to work and die as needed, to get the economy back on track.

The difference between the “economic patriotism” of right-wing pundits and the wider elite is mainly in the degree of directness, not intent.

The mainstream view of the ruling class was summed up bluntly by former Wells Fargo CEO, Dick Kovacevich, now an executive at Cisco and Cargill: “We’ll gradually bring those people back and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die, I don’t know … Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose.”

It is of course absolutely true that an economic catastrophe is underway alongside the pandemic. There are projections that 30% of American workers may be unemployed within the next month, rivaling the Great Depression. But while Coronavirus has had a huge impact it was the tipping point for a global capitalist crisis with deep roots and which already had the potential to be more serious than the Great Recession of 2008-9 even before the pandemic.

We should not conclude that putting working people’s lives second to the needs of capitalism is just a feature of the right wing or corporate interests. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio incredibly floated the idea last week of reopening the city’s schools by April 20 before universal opposition forced him to drop it. Also for over a week after the city was locked down, construction sites building luxury apartments for the super rich continued work. This only stopped because construction workers and their unions demanded an end to a situation where workers were going up and down in elevators 20 at a time and at serious risk of infection.

New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo recently said on CNN, “We’re talking about protecting lives. There also has to be a parallel track that talks about economic viability … You can’t stop the economy forever, so we have to start to think about does everybody stay out of work?”

Of course economic activity needs to reopen at some point, but under what conditions, in whose interests, and how are these decisions made? Representatives of workers in key sectors from manufacturing to education need to have a direct say and veto in this process. Reopening the economy is not just about “flattening the curve” of the virus. It must be linked to a clear strategy, putting the lives and health of workers first, and with real resources to deal with new outbreaks which are inevitable.

Left to their own devices the bosses and the corporate politicians will move to reopen sectors of the economy heedless of workers’ safety. And if they ask us to put our lives on the line for their profits, we will need to organize in our unions and with our co-workers to fight back.

We should also be clear that the ruling class and Trump may use the opportunity of the pandemic to move to restrict basic democratic rights which we should also resolutely oppose. This has already happened in country after country, from Chile to Hungary, as the New York Times reported on March 31. They describe how Trump’s Justice Department “asked Congress for sweeping new powers, including a plan to eliminate legal protections for asylum seekers and detain people indefinitely without trial.” While Congressional leaders balked, this is a serious warning of what may be coming.

A Bailout for the Billionaires

The ruling class’s priorities were clearly reflected in the March 27 stimulus package. The bill included a whopping $425 billion in corporate bailouts which is being used to capitalize an incredible $4 trillion in loans for big business compared to a far smaller amount for ordinary people. Even the inclusion of limited measures for workers is not due to the growth of a conscience, but rather the recognition that without putting some money directly into people’s pockets the economy could collapse completely.

Bernie Sanders successfully defended a substantial expansion of unemployment and other protections, while AOC raised sharp criticisms of the bill. But we should be clear it was a mistake for them to vote for the bailout package. Working-class representatives should not give left cover for a rotten political establishment in exchange for limited reforms.

At the root of the U.S.’s vulnerability to coronavirus has been not only Trump’s breathtaking failures but also the lack of a Medicare for All style health care system. Both parties have long fought fiercely against public health care – their determination to put profit before human lives didn’t begin with the current crisis. In reality we need to go further than Medicare for All, toward a socialized medical system in which the hospitals, health care, and pharmaceutical industries are taken into democratic public ownership, and run by the workers on the basis of human health and not profit.

In the past month, the Democratic establishment has pulled out all the stops to carry out a coup on behalf of Joe Biden – who has made it clear he would veto Medicare for All – in order to block Bernie Sanders and his political revolution. Yet Biden has been so utterly inept at responding to the pandemic that there has even been speculation about an intervention at the Democratic Convention to replace him with a more capable representative of the ruling class like Andrew Cuomo. But while we completely understand the desire of many to get rid of Trump at all costs, working people can’t support Biden or Cuomo. We need to fight back against the entire corporate establishment.

Getting Organized in the Crisis

In order to win Medicare for All, affordable housing, or other real gains in the context of the global meltdown of capitalism, we need to get organized.

In the last days and weeks, working people have initiated heroic struggles against their bosses. From Instacart workers to sanitation workers in Pittsburgh to health care workers in NYC, there is a growing fightback taking place. Meanwhile, corporations like Amazon are profiting from the pandemic while providing little to no protections for their most at-risk workers, alongside a growing number of confirmed infections at Amazon warehouses.

We need to link working-class struggles to broader demands. All workers have the right to a safe workplace, and no one should have to choose between income and safety. Workers have the right to strike and refuse work, and we should get organized against efforts to demand we return to workplaces until safety policies are in place. The bosses will continue to put profit first, so we need to fight for the creation of elected worker committees to protect the needs of workers on the job. Workers and our unions must reject any suspension of collective bargaining or the right to form a union. We must fight all attacks on union rights! We must also demand “hazard pay” to all essential workers, who should be paid at least “time and a half” during the pandemic. Companies that refuse to operate under these rules should be taken into public ownership with democratic workers control and management. Sign Socialist Alternative’s petition for a bailout for working people, not big business.

Around the country, people are out of work and the rent is about to come due. An organization called Rent Strike 2020 is working with Socialist Alternative and others to build for rent strikes in the coming weeks with a demand for suspension of all rents and mortgage payments during the pandemic. If these demands are not met, they may call for a mass rent strike on May 1. A successful rent strike on this scale will require a high degree of organizing in buildings, in neighborhoods, on a citywide and a national level. But there is an absolutely urgent need, as millions of working people could face eviction during the pandemic or fall yet deeper into debt. Key to winning is renters being well organized with the backing of the wider working class including the unions.

This pandemic has laid bare how rotten and brutal capitalism is. It doesn’t have to be like this. We need to fight not only for emergency measures during the pandemic but also for an alternative to this sick system – for a socialist world in which the resources of society and big corporations are democratically owned and planned in a sane and sustainable way, for our needs instead of their profits.

Let’s show the billionaires that we won’t die for Wall Street.

Originally published in Socialist Alternative

  Read We Won’t Die for Wall Street
  April 3, 2020
Capitalism’s Triple Crisis.
by Mariana Mazzucato, Countercurrents.org, in World

Capitalism is facing at least three major crises. A pandemic-induced health crisis has rapidly ignited an economic crisis with yet unknown consequences for financial stability, and all of this is playing out against the backdrop of a climate crisis that cannot be addressed by “business as usual.” Until just two months ago, the news media were full of frightening images of overwhelmed firefighters, not overwhelmed health-care providers.

This triple crisis has revealed several problems with how we do capitalism, all of which must be solved at the same time that we address the immediate health emergency. Otherwise, we will simply be solving problems in one place while creating new ones elsewhere. That is what happened with the 2008 financial crisis. Policymakers flooded the world with liquidity without directing it toward good investment opportunities. As a result, the money ended up back in a financial sector that was (and remains) unfit for purpose.

The COVID-19 crisis is exposing still more flaws in our economic structures, not least the increasing precarity of work, owing to the rise of the gig economy and a decades-long deterioration of workers’ bargaining power. Telecommuting simply is not an option for most workers, and although governments are extending some assistance to workers with regular contracts, the self-employed may find themselves left high and dry.

Worse, governments are now extending loans to businesses at a time when private debt is already historically high. In the United States, total household debt just before the current crisis was $14.15 trillion, which is $1.5 trillion higher than it was in 2008 (in nominal terms). And lest we forget, it was high private debt that caused the global financial crisis.

Unfortunately, over the past decade, many countries have pursued austerity, as if public debt were the problem. The result has been to erode the very public-sector institutions that we need to overcome crises like the coronavirus pandemic. Since 2015, the United Kingdom has cut public-health budgets by £1 billion ($1.2 billion), increasing the burden on doctors in training (many of whom have left the National Health Service altogether), and reducing the long-term investments needed to ensure that patients are treated in safe, up-to-date, fully staffed facilities. And in the US – which has never had a properly funded public-health system – the Trump administration has been persistently trying to cut funding and capacity for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among other critical institutions.

On top of these self-inflicted wounds, an overly “financialized” business sector has been siphoning value out of the economy by rewarding shareholders through stock-buyback schemes, rather than shoring up long-run growth by investing in research and development, wages, and worker training. As a result, households have been depleted of financial cushions, making it harder to afford basic goods like housing and education.

The bad news is that the COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating all these problems. The good news is that we can use the current state of emergency to start building a more inclusive and sustainable economy. The point is not to delay or block government support, but to structure it properly. We must avoid the mistakes of the post-2008 era, when bailouts allowed corporations to reap even higher profits once the crisis was over, but failed to lay the foundation for a robust and inclusive recovery.

This time, rescue measures absolutely must come with conditions attached. Now that the state is back to playing a leading role, it must be cast as the hero rather than as a naive patsy. That means delivering immediate solutions, but designing them in such a way as to serve the public interest over the long term.

For example, conditionalities can be put in place for government support to businesses. Firms receiving bailouts should be asked to retain workers, and ensure that once the crisis is over they will invest in worker training and improved working conditions. Better still, as in Denmark, government should be supporting businesses to continue paying wages even when workers are not working – simultaneously helping households to retain their incomes, preventing the virus from spreading, and making it easier for businesses to resume production once the crisis is over.

Moreover, bailouts should be designed to steer larger companies to reward value creation instead of value extraction, preventing share buybacks and encouraging investment in sustainable growth and a reduced carbon footprint. Having declared last year that it will embrace a stakeholder value model, this is the Business Roundtable’s chance to back its words with action. If corporate America is still dragging its feet now, we should call its bluff.

When it comes to households, governments should look beyond loans to the possibility of debt relief, especially given current high levels of private debt. At a minimum, creditor payments should be frozen until the immediate economic crisis is resolved, and direct cash injections used for those households that are in direst need.

And the US should offer government guarantees to pay 80-100% of distressed companies’ wage bills, as the UK and many European Union and Asian countries have done.

It is also time to rethink public-private partnerships. Too often, these arrangements are less symbiotic than parasitic. The effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine could become yet another one-way relationship in which corporations reap massive profits by selling back to the public a product that was born of taxpayer-funded research. Indeed, despite US taxpayers’ significant public investment in vaccine development, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, recently conceded that newly developed COVID-19 treatments or vaccines might not be affordable to all Americans.

We desperately need entrepreneurial states that will invest more in innovation – from artificial intelligence to public health to renewables. But as this crisis reminds us, we also need states that know how to negotiate, so that the benefits of public investment return to the public.

A killer virus has exposed major weaknesses within Western capitalist economies. Now that governments are on a war footing, we have an opportunity to fix the system. If we don’t, we will stand no chance against the third major crisis – an increasingly uninhabitable planet – and all the smaller crises that will come with it in the years and decades ahead.

Mariana Mazzucato is Professor of Economics of Innovation and Public Value and Director of the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP). She is the author of The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy, which was shortlisted for the Financial Times-McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.

Originally published in Project Syndicate

  Read Capitalism’s Triple Crisis
  April 2, 2020
Is the Covid-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression?
by Michael T Klare, Countercurrents.org, in World

As the coronavirus sweeps across the planet, leaving death and mayhem in its wake, many theories are being expounded to explain its ferocity. One, widely circulated within right-wing conspiracy circles, is that it originated as a biological weapon developed at a secret Chinese military lab in the city of Wuhan that somehow (perhaps intentionally?) escaped into the civilian population. Although that “theory” has been thoroughly debunked, President Trump and his acolytes continue to call Covid-19 the China Virus, the Wuhan Virus, or even the “Kung Flu,” claiming its global spread was the result of an inept and secretive Chinese government response. Scientists, by and large, believe the virus originated in bats and was transmitted to humans by wildlife sold at a Wuhan seafood market. But perhaps there’s another far more ominous possibility to consider: that this is one of Mother Nature’s ways of resisting humanity’s assault on her essential life systems.

Let’s be clear: this pandemic is a world-shattering phenomenon of massive proportions. Not only has it infected hundreds of thousands of people across the planet, killing more than 40,000 of them, but it’s brought the global economy to a virtual stand-still, potentially crushing millions of businesses, large and small, while putting tens of millions, or possibly hundreds of millions, of people out of work. In the past, disasters of this magnitude have toppled empires, triggered mass rebellions, and caused widespread famine and starvation. This upheaval, too, will produce widespread misery and imperil the survival of numerous governments.

Understandably, our forebears came to view such calamities as manifestations of the fury of gods incensed by human disrespect for and mistreatment of their universe, the natural world. Today, educated people generally dismiss such notions, but scientists have recently been discovering that human impacts on the environment, especially the burning of fossil fuels, are producing feedback loops causing increasingly severe harm to communities across the globe, in the form of extreme storms, persistent droughts, massive wildfires, and recurring heat waves of an ever deadlier sort.

Climate scientists also speak of “singularities,” “non-linear events,” and “tipping points” — the sudden and irreversible collapse of vital ecological systems with far-ranging, highly destructive consequences for humanity. Evidence for such tipping points is growing — for example in the unexpectedly rapid melting of the Arctic icecap. In that context, a question naturally arises: Is the coronavirus a stand-alone event, independent of any other mega-trends, or does it represent some sort of catastrophic tipping point?

It will be some time before scientists can answer that question with any certainty. There are, however, good reasons to believe that this might be the case and, if so, perhaps it’s high time humanity reconsiders its relationship with nature.

Humans vs. Nature

It’s common to think of human history as an evolutionary process in which broad, long-studied trends like colonialism and post-colonialism have largely shaped human affairs. When sudden disruptions have occurred, they are usually attributed to, say, the collapse of a long-lasting dynasty or the rise of an ambitious new ruler. But the course of human affairs has also been altered — often in even more dramatic ways — by natural occurrences, ranging from prolonged droughts to catastrophic volcanic activity to (yes, of course) plagues and pandemics. The ancient Minoan civilization of the eastern Mediterranean, for example, is widely believed to have disintegrated following a powerful volcanic eruption on the island of Thera (now known as Santorini) in the 17th century BCE. Archaeological evidence further suggests that other once-thriving cultures were similarly undermined or even extinguished by natural disasters.

It’s hardly surprising that the survivors of such catastrophes often attributed their misfortunes to the anger of various gods over human excesses and depredations. In the ancient world, sacrifices — even human ones — were considered a necessity to appease such angry spirits. At the onset of the Trojan War, for example, the Greek goddess Artemis, protectress of wild animals, the wilderness, and the moon, stilled the winds needed to propel the Greek fleet to Troy because Agamemnon, its commander, had killed a sacred deer. To appease her and restore the essential winds, Agamemnon felt obliged — or so the poet Homer tells us — to sacrifice his own daughter Iphigenia (the plot line for many a Greek and modern tragedy).

In more recent times, educated people have generally seen coronavirus-style calamities as either inexplicable acts of God or as explicable, if surprising, natural events. With the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution in Europe, moreover, many influential thinkers came to believe that humans could use science and technology to overpower nature and so harness it to the will of humanity. The seventeenth-century French mathematician René Descartes, for example, wrote of employing science and human knowledge so that “we can… render ourselves the masters and possessors of nature.”

This outlook undergirded the view, common in the last three centuries, that the Earth was “virgin” territory (especially when it came to the colonial possessions of the major powers) and so fully open to exploitation by human entrepreneurs. This led to the deforestation of vast areas, as well as the extinction or near-extinction of many animals, and in more recent times, to the plunder of underground mineral and energy deposits.

As it happened, though, this planet proved anything but an impotent victim of colonization and exploitation. Human mistreatment of the natural environment has turned out to have distinctly painful boomerang effects. The ongoing destruction of the Amazon rain forest, for example, is altering Brazil’s climate, raising temperatures and reducing rainfall in significant ways, with painful consequences for local farmers and even more distant urban dwellers. (And the release of vast quantities of carbon dioxide, thanks to increasingly massive forest fires, will only increase the pace of climate change globally.) Similarly, the technique of hydraulic fracking, used to extract oil and natural gas trapped in underground shale deposits, can trigger earthquakes that damage aboveground structures and endanger human life. In so many ways like these, Mother Nature strikes back when her vital organs suffer harm.

This interplay between human activity and planetary behavior has led some analysts to rethink our relationship with the natural world. They have reconceptualized the Earth as a complex matrix of living and inorganic systems, all (under normal conditions) interacting to maintain a stable balance. When one component of the larger matrix is damaged or destroyed, the others respond in their unique ways in attempting to restore the natural order of things. Originally propounded by the environmental scientist James Lovelock in the 1960s, this notion has often been described as “the Gaia Hypothesis,” after the ancient Greek goddess Gaia, the ancestral mother of all life.

Climate Tipping Points

Posing the ultimate threat to planetary health, climate change — a direct consequence of the human impulse to dump ever more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, potentially heating the planet to the breaking point — is guaranteed to generate the most brutal of all such feedback loops. By emitting ever more carbon dioxide and other gases, humans are fundamentally altering planetary chemistry and posing an almost unimaginable threat to natural ecosystems. Climate-change deniers in the Trumpian mode continue to insist that we can keep doing this with no cost to our way of life. It is, however, becoming increasingly apparent that the more we alter the climate, the more the planet will respond in ways guaranteed to endanger human life and prosperity.

The main engine of climate change is the greenhouse effect, as all those greenhouse gases sent into the atmosphere entrap ever more radiated solar heat from the Earth’s surface, raising temperatures worldwide and so altering global climate patterns. Until now, much of this added heat and carbon dioxide has been absorbed by the planet’s oceans, resulting in rising water temperatures and the increased acidification of their waters. This, in turn, has already led to, among other deleterious effects, the mass die-off of coral reefs — the preferred habitat of many of the fish species on which large numbers of humans rely for their sustenance and livelihoods. Just as consequential, higher ocean temperatures have provided the excess energy that has fueled many of the most destructive hurricanes of recent times, including Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Maria, Florence, and Dorian.

A warmer atmosphere can also sustain greater accumulations of moisture, making possible the prolonged downpours and catastrophic flooding being experienced in many parts of the world, including the upper Midwest in the United States. In other areas, rainfall is decreasing and heat waves are becoming more frequent and prolonged, resulting in devastating wildfires of the sort witnessed in the American West in recent years and in Australia this year.

In all such ways, Mother Nature, you might say, is striking back. It is, however, the potential for “non-linear” events and “tipping points” that has some climate scientists especially concerned, fearing that we now live on what might be thought of as an avenging planet. While many climate effects, like prolonged heat waves, will become more pronounced over time, other effects, it is now believed, will occur suddenly, with little warning, and could result in large-scale disruptions in human life (as in this coronavirus moment). You might think of this as Mother Nature saying, “Stop! Do not go past this point or there will be dreadful consequences!”

Scientists are understandably cautious in discussing such possibilities, as they are harder to study than linear events like rising world temperatures. But the concern is there. “Large-scale singular events (also called ‘tipping points,’ or critical thresholds) are abrupt and drastic changes in physical, ecological, or social systems” brought about by the relentless rise in temperatures, noted the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its comprehensive 2014 assessment of anticipated impacts. Such events, the IPCC pointed out, “pose key risks because of the potential magnitude of the consequences; the rate at which they would occur; and, depending on this rate, the limited ability of society to cope with them.”

Six years later, that striking description sounds eerily like the present moment.

Until now, the tipping points of greatest concern to scientists have been the rapid melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. Those two massive reservoirs of ice contain the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of square miles of water. Should they melt ever more quickly with all that water flowing into neighboring oceans, a sea level rise of 20 feet or more can be expected, inundating many of the world’s most populous coastal cities and forcing billions of people to relocate. In its 2014 study, the IPCC predicted that this might occur over several centuries, at least offering plenty of time for humans to adapt, but more recent research indicates that those two ice sheets are melting far more rapidly than previously believed — and so a sharp increase in sea levels can be expected well before the end of this century with catastrophic consequences for coastal communities.

The IPCC also identified two other possible tipping points with potentially far-reaching consequences: the die-off of the Amazon rain forest and the melting of the Arctic ice cap. Both are already under way, reducing the survival prospects of flora and fauna in their respective habitats. As these processes gain momentum, entire ecosystems are likely to be obliterated and many species killed off, with drastic consequences for the humans who rely on them in so many ways (from food to pollination chains) for their survival. But as is always the case in such transformations, other species — perhaps insects and microorganisms highly dangerous to humans — could occupy those spaces emptied by extinction.

Climate Change and Pandemics

Back in 2014, the IPCC did not identify human pandemics among potential climate-induced tipping points, but it did provide plenty of evidence that climate change would increase the risk of such catastrophes. This is true for several reasons. First, warmer temperatures and more moisture are conducive to the accelerated reproduction of mosquitoes, including those carrying malaria, the zika virus, and other highly infectious diseases. Such conditions were once largely confined to the tropics, but as a result of global warming, formerly temperate areas are now experiencing more tropical conditions, resulting in the territorial expansion of mosquito breeding grounds. Accordingly, malaria and zika are on the rise in areas that never previously experienced such diseases. Similarly, dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease that infects millions of people every year, is spreading especially quickly due to rising world temperatures.

Combined with mechanized agriculture and deforestation, climate change is also undermining subsistence farming and indigenous lifestyles in many parts of the world, driving millions of impoverished people to already crowded urban centers, where health facilities are often overburdened and the risk of contagion ever greater. “Virtually all the projected growth in populations will occur in urban agglomerations,” the IPCC noted then. Adequate sanitation is lacking in many of these cities, particularly in the densely populated shantytowns that often surround them. “About 150 million people currently live in cities affected by chronic water shortages, and by 2050, unless there are rapid improvements in urban environments, the number will rise to almost a billion.”

Such newly settled urban dwellers often retain strong ties to family members still in the countryside who, in turn, may come in contact with wild animals carrying deadly viruses. This appears to have been the origin of the West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016, which affected tens of thousands of people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Scientists believe that the Ebola virus (like the coronavirus) originated in bats and was then transmitted to gorillas and other wild animals that coexist with people living on the fringes of tropical forests. Somehow, a human or humans contracted the disease from exposure to such creatures and then transmitted it to visitors from the city who, upon their return, infected many others.

The coronavirus appears to have had somewhat similar origins. In recent years, hundreds of millions of once impoverished rural families moved to burgeoning industrial cities in central and coastal China, including places like Wuhan. Although modern in so many respects, with its subways, skyscrapers, and superhighways, Wuhan also retained vestiges of the countryside, including markets selling wild animals still considered by some inhabitants to be normal parts of their diet. Many of those animals were trucked in from semi-rural areas hosting large numbers of bats, the apparent source of both the coronavirus and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, outbreak of 2013, which also arose in China. Scientific research suggests that breeding grounds for bats, like mosquitoes, are expanding significantly as a result of rising world temperatures.

The global coronavirus pandemic is the product of a staggering multitude of factors, including the air links connecting every corner of the planet so intimately and the failure of government officials to move swiftly enough to sever those links. But underlying all of that is the virus itself. Are we, in fact, facilitating the emergence and spread of deadly pathogens like the Ebola virus, SARS, and the coronavirus through deforestation, haphazard urbanization, and the ongoing warming of the planet? It may be too early to answer such a question unequivocally, but the evidence is growing that this is the case. If so, we had better take heed.

Heeding Mother Nature’s Warning

Suppose this interpretation of the Covid-19 pandemic is correct. Suppose that the coronavirus is nature’s warning, its way of telling us that we’ve gone too far and must alter our behavior lest we risk further contamination. What then?

To adapt a phrase from the Cold War era, what humanity may need to do is institute a new policy of “peaceful coexistence” with Mother Nature. This approach would legitimize the continued presence of large numbers of humans on the planet but require that they respect certain limits in their interactions with its ecosphere. We humans could use our talents and technologies to improve life in areas we’ve long occupied, but infringement elsewhere would be heavily restricted. Natural disasters — floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, and the like — would, of course, still occur, but not at a rate exceeding what we experienced in the pre-industrial past.

Implementation of such a strategy would, at the very least, require putting the brakes on climate change as swiftly as possible through the rapid and thorough elimination of human-induced carbon emissions — something that has, in fact, happened in at least a modest way, and however briefly, thanks to this Covid-19 moment. Deforestation would also have to be halted and the world’s remaining wilderness areas preserved as is forever. Any further despoliation of the oceans would have to be stopped, including the dumping of wastes, plastics, engine fuel, and runoff pesticides.

The coronavirus may not, in retrospect, prove to be the tipping point that upends human civilization as we know it, but it should serve as a warning that we will experience ever more such events in the future as the world heats up. The only way to avert such a catastrophe and assure ourselves that Earth will not become an avenger planet is to heed Mother Nature’s warning and cease the further desecration of essential ecosystems.

Michael T. Klare, a TomDispatch regular, is the five-college professor emeritus of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and a senior visiting fellow at the Arms Control Association. He is the author of 15 books, including the just-published All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change (Metropolitan Books).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Books, John Feffer’s new dystopian novel (the second in the Splinterlands series) Frostlands, Beverly Gologorsky’s novel Every Body Has a Story, and Tom Engelhardt’s A Nation Unmade by War, as well as Alfred McCoy’s In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power and John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II.

Originally published by TomDispatch.com

  Read Is the Covid-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression?
  April 4, 2020
Covid-19 – Postlude Human Life on Planet Earth ?
by David Anderson, Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy

If the warfare against each other and Planet earth continues, the Cosmic experiment with human life, which in principle could support its  harmonious and joyous flourishing existence far into the future, could soon come to a premature end. This would be one of the supreme tragedies of the universe.

Our Biological Vulnerability

The Pandemic Covid-19 as it builds in intensity is turning our attention to our biological vulnerability on this planet. It is also turning our attention to the inadequacy of our understanding of that vulnerability.

It is showing us that we are living in contradiction to biosphere planetary Gaia equilibrium. (Gaia Theory: the earth and all life on it as an interdependent organism)

We were given ideal ecological conditions for our evolutionary development when our journey began some eight million years ago; then when standing upright four to three million years ago and then when beginning to develop a large brain cage 400 to 300 thousand years ago. But now with over seven billion in population, (more than double since 1950) mostly packed together like sardines in a can and in a planetary “free-for-all” potpourri of ecologically destructive social, political, economic religious systems for the first time in our evolutionary history we find ourselves in violation of the divinely grounded Gaia laws of nature; laws that are rooted in the laws of physics, chemistry and biology.

As for the virus, in the long run there will be a vaccine. It will then be far more manageable. Nevertheless, the question before us will remain:

Will Covid-19 teach us the underlying Gaia lesson or will the self-destructive demonic within us continue to be a force leading to Homo sapiens extinction?

Go to my Blog 55 and read my essay:  “Our Biosphere Problem”


Essay Summary

Over the next 50/150 years our Biosphere will undergo drastic temperature change. That change may bring about our extinction. Unlike past extinctions, this one will not be brought on by a random meteorite/asteroid or natural planetary happening. It will be self-inflicted by Homo sapiens.


Understanding of the “Demonic” by way of

A world dialogical imperitive leading to religion/science pluralism


Religious belief as it exists in its varied permutations throughout the world is a powerful force.

Because our planetary survival problem is a global problem, leaders of the world religious belief systems need to come together and reach consensus as to commonality in thought and how that can be energized so as to find a way for continued human existence on Planet earth.

They will find that many seemingly different religious assertions that at first appear contradictory underneath express complementary truths.

This is not a call for debilitating religious relativistic debate. It is a call for definition of commonality of religious objectives. People can strongly affirm the primary doctrines of their faith while determining universalities.

Physical Sciences

As for the physical scientists, they too need to come together and acknowledge a Modern Age fact: There are cosmic truths within which a deeper understanding of the confluence between religion and science can be found. That understanding must center on the need for an understanding of the continuance of Homo sapiens on Planet earth from a scientific, philosophic and religious viewpoint. (Yes and that includes atheists)

Social Sciences

And as for the in the Social Sciences it is time for it to be concentrating attention on the eukaryotic/neurotic/psychotic thinking imperfection (religion called the demonic) that we brought with us into this New Age.

A New Social Political Economic – and Religious – Order

Such a form of world-wide exploration and reconciliation could establish a framework for a new social political economic – and religious – order based on divine values replacing the present world order; which is now without question under demonic control.

A few quotes from one of our great American thinkers can give insight. In my view he and his publishers wrongly presented its title. It should have been: (See Sources NY Times Below)

Religion in America Gone Wrong

The Christian Gospel for Americans  A Systematic Theology

David Ray Griffin

God’s Experiment

“If the warfare against each other and the rest of the earth continues, the creator’s hope for this planet, which in principle could support the harmonious and joyous flourishing of human beings and other forms of life far into the future – God’s experiment with human beings – could come to a grossly premature end. This would be, we can only suppose, one of the supreme tragedies of the universe.”

The Demonic

“Jesus clearly believed, in line with widespread beliefs of the time that the world was under demonic rule.”

“Demonic power is now even more complete than in New Testament Times in effective control of the trajectory of human civilization. This control is now so complete that, although we are on the verge of destroying human civilization and much of the rest of the planet’s advanced forms of life, our leaders are, rather than changing course, actively fanning the flames of conflict.”

“The present world order is demonic because it is based on principles that are diametrically opposed to divine purposes and powerful enough to defeat them, and because it is idolatrous giving primary devotion to wealth and power.”

The Need for Religious Pluralism

“Promotion of religious pluralism in our world today is vitally important.”

“The conclusion that Christianity, like every other religion, is limited, said Knitter, leads to the dialogical imperative, because it is through dialogue with members of other religious traditions that we can expand or correct the truth that we have, therefore overcoming the limitations of our own viewpoint.”

“A theological impetus for dialogue is that once we see that our own religion is not the one and only true religion, we realize that other traditions may have truths and values that are not provided, at least as clearly, in our own religion.”

“If civilization is to have much hope of surviving even the present century, we must find solutions to our global problems of war, imperialism, nuclear weapons and global warming, plus ocean acidification.”

“The world’s religions, with their ability to motivate people could provide a powerful force for the kind of civilizational transformation we need if they cooperate toward that end in the name of their common values. But thus far the religions have been the source of discord as much as sources of solidarity. The growth of religious pluralism in the various traditions could encourage a mutual respect and appreciation that would facilitate cooperation.”

“Growth of religious pluralism is now especially important among Christians. This is because the tendency of religious absolutism has been very strong because Christians have in recent centuries had far more power – militarily, economically and culturally – than adherents to other religions, making for the Christian tendency to accept religious absolutism.”

Abrahamic Recognition of the Demonic

“Many systematic thoughts have no discussion of the prophets; they go directly from Scripture, God and Humanity to Jesus. But to understand Jesus, it is essential to know something about the prophets.”

A Few Judaic Christian Quotes

Amos 750 BCE  2:6-7

“The elite deserve punishment because they sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals – they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and push the afflicted out of the way.”

Isaiah 740-55 BCE  (685 year period)  24:5-6

“The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants. For they have transgressed laws, violated statues broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth. And its inhabitants suffer from the guilt.”

Matthew 70 AD  19:24

“Jesus said: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Ephesians 20 AD  6:10-12

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly.”


The Christian Gospel for Americans  A Systematic Theology

David Ray Griffin


Watch listen Jane Goodall’s brief beautiful message




To understand all that we will be losing listen to Igor Stravinsky

Igor Stravinsky The Rite of Spring Leonard Bernstein



From The New York Times: In God We Divide The political dimensions of worship have never been greater.




David Anderson brings together a wide range of interests in his writings, namely; theology, history, evolutionary anthropology, philosophy, geopolitics, and economics. He has written four books. The fourth is about a necessary geo political, social, religious, economic paradigm shift for human survival. Go to: http://inquiryabraham.com/new-book.html

  Read Covid-19 – Postlude Human Life on Planet Earth ?
  April 4, 2020
Collapse Is Here.
by T Vijayendra, Countercurrents.org, in India


The novel corona virus or COVID 19 has finally triggered the collapse of the industrial/capitalist economy. In the first part of this article we outline this collapse and the solution that has been proposed for the last decade and a half by a variety of green initiatives all over the world. However the COVID 19 has also posed an unforeseen challenge. About the best method of facing the challenge of COVID 19 is to maintain social distance in coming 6 months or so. But then how do we implement these ‘solutions’ keeping the social distance that is necessitated by this very COVID 19 that has triggered the present collapse. Can we wait for 6 months for the storm to be over? In Part II we will consider this.

Part I: The Collapse

1) Ever since 2008 financial melt down, the world economy has been on a slow recession. It has been said that it has been the longest drawn recession in the history of capitalism. People expected a repeat of the phenomenon in about 10 years based on earlier cycles in the past 50 years. Through out last year a bigger recession has been setting all over the world. Many have been expecting a ‘Black Swan’ (The black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise and has a major effect.) event to trigger this. Only a couple of months ago people were talking of Australian bush fires or locust attack could be such a trigger. As it turned out, COVID 19 proved to be the black swan event.

2) This event is once in a century event and has been compared to Spanish Flu of 1918 when 50 million people died. In India18 million died, so much so that there was no population increase between 1911 and 1921 census. Other such event in India have been Bengal famine of 1943 and partition riots of 1947 where the death toll has been in hundreds of thousands, approaching a million.

3) This time it is different from any of those events mentioned above. We do not know what the number of deaths would be. Probably we would never know in India because of under reporting. However this crisis is an end of era event – end of the era of industrial society/capitalism era.

4) The reason is that, it is bringing a host of other crises together and the whole crisis is bigger than the parts. The parts are: 1. Global Warming 2. Resource depletion 3. Ecological degradation 4. Growing Inequality and Social Unrest.

5) The results of this mega crisis are: i. Collapse of the present economy ii. End of globalisation iii. A big reduction of many sectors of economy e.g. air travels, auto industry, tourism, petro- chemical industry, iron and steel, coal and many many more.

6) The alternative will consist of: 1. Equality 2. Scaling down of the use of resources-particularly energy 3. Local self-sufficient economy 4. Ecological restoration of the present degraded ecology 5. A value system or ethical base which is more cooperative and less competitive than the present society.

7) At a political level it will be federation of states based on ecology. For example present day India can be a federation of 65 states based on ecological regions. The borders – both internal and international borders will be ecological soft borders – a border across which there is no tension.

8) How the local will be organised depends on local ecology. I have elaborate this in the booklet: A call for local action in the wake of global emergency.

9) Essentially there will be about 10 areas around in which the local economy will reorganised. Some existing examples are the transition town movement cities around the world.

10) These 10 areas are: 1. Air 2. Water 3. Waste Management 4. Food Production 5. Energy 6. Health 7. Education 8. Housing 9. Commons and Heritage 10. Employment Generation and Entrepreneurship.

For details see the booklet ‘Kabira khada bazar mein: A call for local action in the wake of local emergency’.

Part II: Rebuilding the economy keeping the social distance

1) On the face of it it seems an insoluble problem. We have the theoretical option of waiting fort six months – let the storm blow over and then we start rebuilding. But we don’t know what happen in these 6 months and whether we can delay it by these 6 months. So we have to start thinking how to start rebuilding the economy through facing COVID 19 – through following the discipline of social distance.

2) One possible answer is to study the rise and decline of this pandemic. We notice that it started in China in may be December 2019 and while it spread quickly all over the world, in China itself it has been brought under control. In many parts of the world its spread is minimal and they may escape relatively unhurt. These parts of the world are ‘undeveloped’ in the modern sense, that is penetration of capitalist society is minimal. So the new initiative should start simultaneously in both the areas: Areas which have recovered and areas which are not likely to be affected seriously.

3) We see at once that there are advantages in both the areas. In the areas where recovery has occurred-they are very developed and with high level of education, health care and environmental consciousness. Some thing like the conditions that were obtained in Cuba in 1991 when they faced this kind of crisis. Can we expect that these areas – China, South Korea, Japan etc. may respond like Cuba did?

4) The backward/undeveloped areas. Many of these areas are tribal/indigenous people’s area. As it is they don’t face any problem on their own. Many of them have healthy traditions of the kind of things that we desire. They don’t need to rebuild so much. The main problem is to remove the capitalist penetration and influences of the market economy – influences of the glitter of urban life – clothes, films, English medium schools, smart phones, motorcycles and so on. It has been a tough problem so far, but with the economic collapse it may become relatively easier to face these problems.

6) In India it started with Kerala on January 30 and Kerala will probably recover first. There has been a talk of Transition Kerala. Such a group should immediately get active through social medial/whatssap etc. Also within Kerala, particularly in Northern Kerala there are indigenous areas and work may start there first.

5) What we do in areas which are in the middle of the pandemic? The first thing to do is to organise relief within the paradigm of social distance. Solutions are emerging daily all over the world. Basically home delivery of food and medicines to all the people and keep the health services going. Meanwhile through electronic/social media local green groups should start planning concrete plans of recovery and rebuilding step by step. Many ngos have good experience in disaster management. Some good initiatives will come from them.

March 21, 2020

P. S. I wrote the above on March 21. Within 7 days the collapse, at least in India is staring at us. (See Jayati Ghosh’s interview by Karan Thapar, The Wire.) Even that is old before the lock down. In the last two days alarming reports are coming. So I decide to circulate widely for what it is worth. Who knows if we will access to internet.

T. Vijayendra (1943- ) was born in Mysore, grew in Indore and went to IIT Kharagpur to get a B. Tech. in Electronics (1966). After a year’s stint at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, he got drawn into the whirlwind times of the late 60s. Since then, he has always been some kind of political-social activist. His brief for himself is the education of Left wing cadres and so he almost exclusively publishes in the Left wing journal Frontier, published from Kolkata. For the last nine years, he has been active in the field of ‘Peak Oil’ and is a founder member of Peak Oil India and Ecologise. Since 2015 he has been involved in Ecologise! Camps and in 2016 he initiated Ecologise Hyderabad. He divides his time between an organic farm at the foothills of Western Ghats, watching birds, writing fiction and Hyderabad. He has published a book dealing with resource depletions, three books of essays, two collections of short stories, a novella and an autobiography. Vijayendra has been a ‘dedicated’ cyclist all his life, meaning, he neither took a driving licence nor did he ever drive a fossil fuel based vehicle.

Email: t.vijayendra@gmail.com

  Read Collapse Is Here
  April 6, 2020
“May you live in interesting times”: Covid-19 and Capitalism’s Existential Crisis
by Evel Economakis, Countercurrents.org, in World

There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen.  When history is compressed enough and people bend their minds to new problems, consciousness can change with lightning speed.  Because of the emotional rollercoaster that is accompanying the Covid-19 pandemic, the world’s collective weltanschauung is shifting noticeably to the left.

Fear and panic are poor advisers, of course. Absurd, visceral predictions are floating on the internet and from the lips of people everywhere. I have heard conspiracy theories and divinations of impending social and economic collapse that run the gamut from rising nationalism, military dictatorship, world war and zombie apocalypse to mass de-urbanization, a return to the countryside and a hybrid form of postmodern feudalism.

Such views are not on all fours.  Take the last one, for instance.  It is ridiculous to speak of any large-scale return to the countryside.  If the failed attempts to create communism in Russia and China achieved anything (something capitalism also achieved) it was the elimination of the individual peasant household as a major factor in production.

But what if Covid-19 kills a lot more people than the algorithms project?  What if it becomes a new Great Plague, or something akin to the merciless onslaught of smallpox and measles that ravaged the New World after 1492?  These disasters claimed so many lives that the price of labor soared and the value of land and other capital plummeted.  With such a shortage of labor, workers ate and dressed better, and landlords complained that the humble turned up their nose at employment.  Clearly, this sort of situation cannot benefit the planet’s movers and shakers.

Not to mention that the Grim Reaper cannot wreak such extreme havoc on the world’s population.  Modern medicine, the great expansion of the state (a result of WWI), the digital revolution and speed with which information now travels, will most likely restrict the danse macabre to a quick twist rather than a long waltz.  This is reflected in the statistics, which pale in comparison with the Great Plague or even the Spanish “lady,” the deadly 1918-20 influenza epidemic.

Covid-19 is much more Darwinian and less indiscriminate or “democratic” than past pandemics.  It tends to spare the young.  Even in the worst case scenario, it will make the world a younger place than it is already (especially in developing areas).

Yet aren’t the rich and powerful benefiting from the crisis?  Not really.  Although the pandemic is a great opportunity to cut wages, any advantage gained from reducing salaries is offset by the tremendous decline in world trade.  Despite their policies of austerity, quantitative easing, buying securities and keeping interest rates near zero, the volume of world trade was falling long before the Covid-19 crisis unleashed itself on the world.

The crisis has revealed the incompatibility of the existing system with the health of billions of human beings. Decades of austerity decimated the healthcare system in many countries. This was done to cut “unnecessary” spending and compel people to seek private alternatives, opening a very lucrative field of investment for private healthcare companies. Many doctors jumped on the bandwagon, exchanging the Hippocratic Oath for a hypocritical one as they milked money from broken bones, internal pathologies and the like.

The free-market system is facing an existential threat.  It cannot survive it the way it has in the past—through world war, which ensured the destruction of so much capital that profits could be had in the process of rebuilding.

The growth of post-War production around the world glutted the international market and profit margins tanked.  Beginning in the 1980s, investors began to seek miraculous profits in non-essential spheres. First among these was the financial sector, which swelled far beyond the extent justified by the value created in the productive economy.  Neoliberal, “financialized” capitalists also invested surplus capital in a range of other speculative gambles.  These included real estate bubbles, commodity and shares markets, and unicorns that rode the wave of smart technology and the proliferation of app-based services.  You know them well: Uber, AirBnB, Instacart, Snapchat, Pinterest and Dropbox, among others.

Surf the net and you cannot fail to notice a lot of people are still calling the pandemic a hoax.  This is obviously wrong, but such comments express the fears people have that they are being duped again and that the rich and powerful will use the crisis against them.

Still and all, the big grab is over.  And it is unreasonable to expect that neoliberal “casino” capitalists will take advantage of the falling cost of labor to reinvent themselves as new Henry Fords, John Rockefellers and Andrew Carnegies.

The Great Depression shrank the world’s economy and destroyed international trade and travel.  The Covid-19 pandemic is doing the same, only with a colossal difference.  It appears we are lucky in our misfortune.  This time a tremendous blow to the world economy cannot lead to global war because the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in the summer of 1945 made total war impossible.

Epidemics are a mirror for humanity, reflecting existing moral relationships that governments and institutions have toward people, as well as those that people have towards one another.  There is a marked difference between the way the former and the latter have reacted to the Covid-19 crisis. When the pandemic first began, a number of governments peddled vanilla statements that played down the danger. Their main concern was not the health of their citizens, but saving the profits of the banks and monopolies. The contrast with how simple people around the world are reacting to the crisis is sharp.

The Covid-19 pandemic is much worse than a natural calamity.  Greta Thunberg’s strident words about climate change seem almost irrelevant now.  As during a war, people’s lives are abruptly interrupted and families are torn apart and separated.  Unlike war, however, the crisis is uniting people across all manner of boundaries and borders.  The effect it is having on a grassroots level is akin to that one might expect from an attack on our planet by extraterrestrials.

Governments are worried that people will begin taking matters into their own hands. In a number of countries, including Italy, Spain but also the United States, employees have intervened directly and imposed the closure of some plants.  It is important to note that strikes were on the rise before the pandemic erupted.  In September and October of 2019, for example, the United States witnessed the first national strike by auto workers in more than forty years.

People are demanding the abolition of the profit motive in medicine and publicly owned health services. Some are even calling for the immediate requisitioning of hotels, empty luxury apartment blocks and mansions in order to turn them into hostels for sick people.

If this crisis leads to a return to production, this can only be a good thing.  It will force millions of people, especially in economically advanced countries, off their posteriors. Sedentary social behavior is symptomatic of societal decay.  During major crises, social institutions that support hyper-specialization are removed and people tend to become more generalized in their work and daily habits.

For decades the catchword of the ruling elites has been privatization. Large state-owned corporations were chopped up and sold off for a song to the wealthy.  The very concept of nationalization was ridiculed as something belonging to the spectral past. Now all of a sudden, the tune has changed. Take, for instance, the recent words of Bruno Le Maire, France’s Minister of Finance: “I won’t hesitate to use all means available to protect big French companies…I can even use the term nationalization if necessary.”  In the same spirit, President Donald Trump, of all people, has compelled General Motors to make ventilators.

Neoliberal analysts are coming to the painful realization that the free-market system is in serious trouble.  The prestigious Australian stock broking magazine Macquarie Wealth Management has warned that “conventional capitalism is dying” and that the world is headed for “something that will be closer to a version of communism.”  To paraphrase a lyric by the Charlie Daniels Band, all hell is breaking loose and the devil is dealing the cards!

One thing is certain: the Rubicon has been crossed. In a matter of a few weeks, so much has changed that it is quite impossible now for the leaders of the world’s big players—the United States, China, Russia and the European Union—to return to the status quo ante. Who, for instance, will acquiesce to the kind of money spent thus far on military might and technology?  Covid-19 represents not only a powerful blow to the world’s military-industrial complexes but also to the very urge to conduct politics by “other” means.

Our postmodern world is sick with something much worse than Corona virus, and people know this.  Once we manage to contain the invisible enemy, we will turn to confront a far more visible one.  And we will finally make our farewell with an expectorating system that has outlived its usefulness.

Evel Economakis teachs IB history at Ionios Lyceum in Athens, Greece

  Read  May you live in interesting times: Covid-19 and Capitalism’s Existential Crisis
  April 6, 2020
Covid-19 Reveals The Ugly Face Of US Hegemonism and imperialism.
by Countercurrents Collective, Countercurrents.org, in World

 People thought Covid-19 has united the whole world, erasing borders and frictions. Indeed people – medical personnel, scientists, journalists and administrators across countries joined hands in educating and mobilizing people to face the calamity. But US acted erratically, promoted anti-China tirade and calumny, called it Chinese virus or Wuhan virus, despite WHO’s explicit appeal not call it that way.

China has gone out of the way to supply millions of masks, thousands of ventilators etc to US and Europe, despite the bad blood caused by US and the West. 

But alas, the leopard did not change its spots : Going against the people’s aspirations for peace and good health, the US State led by Trump came out with its hegemonism, racism, and all its ugly features, even as its own people faced one of the worst calamities, lakhs of deaths, many of them avoidable, awaiting them.

White House experts, and Trump, are anticipating 1 to 2.4 lakh deaths, next week being a nightmare. 

More than three (3.36) lakh people tested positive in US, and deaths are reaching 10000 as on April 5. New York alone had 1.23 lakh cases and 4100 deaths.    

US hijacking mask shipments in rush for coronavirus protection  is the title of a report in UK magazine, theguardian , Fri 3 Apr 2020.

US buyers waving wads of cash managed to wrest control of a consignment of masks as it was about to be dispatched from China to one of the worst-hit coronavirus areas of France, according to two French officials. The masks were on a plane at Shanghai airport that was ready to take off when the US buyers turned up and offered three times what their French counterparts were paying.

Another French official also involved in procuring masks from China said the group were acting for the US government.

“Today the US sent 23 of their biggest cargo planes to China to pick up the material they had acquired. Many of our purchases, which we had hoped to confirm in order to supply [our health system], fell through,” he said.

Jean Rottner, a doctor and president of the GrandEst regional council, said part of the order of several million masks heading for the region, where intensive care units are inundated with Covid-19 patients, had been lost to the buyers.

“On the tarmac, they arrive, get the cash out … so we really have to fight,” he told RTL radio.

Rottner would not identify the buyers, who they were working for or which US state the cargo was flown to, but another French official also involved in procuring masks from China said the group were acting for the US government.

 “Today the US sent 23 of their biggest cargo planes to China to pick up the material they had acquired. Many of our purchases, which we had hoped to confirm in order to supply [our health system], fell through,” he said. “The whole world wants [these things] too. There is a problem of hyper-demand.”

As the pandemic worsens, panicked governments have been accused of using questionable methods to acquire supplies in the battle against the coronavirus. Tactics have ranged from blocking exports of medical supplies to sending spies on clandestine missions to find tests.

Fearing shortages and a strain on their health systems, a number of states, including France, Germany and Russia, have taken measures such as stockpiling masks and hazardous materials, or hazmat suits. This has meant limiting exports of protective medical equipment.

China has, however, since been one of the few countries to go the other way, selling or donating millions of masks to Europe. One such shipment bound for Italy went through the Czech Republic, where it was seized by authorities under disputed circumstances.

Fears of shortages are driving many countries to take increasingly devious measures to secure masks and tests, the report said.

“Modern-day piracy” by US, says Germany

The US diverted a delivery of Chinese-made face masks bound for Germany at a Bangkok airport, (freemalaysiatoday.com reported)

a Berlin city official said Friday, accusing Washington of “modern-day piracy” as competition for protective gear against the coronavirus heats up.

In a statement Berlin’s state minister of the interior, Andreas Geisel, said 200,000 highly sought-after FFP2 masks, made by an American firm in China and destined for use by Berlin police, were “confiscated” in Bangkok.

President Trump, after a late start in procuring urgently needed protective gear, has in recent days invoked the Defense Production Act to get US firms to divert their resources to the battle against the pandemic.

According to German newspaper Bild, the hijacked shipment contained masks made in China by US firm 3M, one of the leading brands in the sector, that were then diverted to the US. Local official Geisel was more blunt, blasting the US for resorting to “methods from the Wild West”.

He urged the German government to remind Washington to “comply with international rules”.

French officials have also complained this week that Americans had swooped on Chinese masks ordered by France, after apparently outbidding them on a shipment that had already been lined up.

washingtonpost, April 5, 2020 reported with this title : 

White House scrambles to scoop up medical supplies worldwide, angering Canada, Germany.

It said : The Trump administration’s global scramble to secure more protective masks for U.S. health-care workers has sparked tensions with allies including Canada and Germany, which fear they could face shortages as they battle their own coronavirus outbreaks.

The White House late Thursday ordered Minnesota mask manufacturer 3M (producing in its China factory) to prioritize U.S. orders over foreign demand, using its authority under the Defense Production Act, or DPA, to try to ease critical shortages of N95 masks at U.S. hospitals.

The Trump administration has asked 3M to stop exporting the masks to Canada and Latin America, and to import more from 3M’s factories in China, the company said Friday.

CNN reported it with the title :

Coronavirus sparks a ‘war for masks’ as accusations fly

(CNN) As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across Europe and the United States, a global scramble for protective equipment such as masks and gloves is underway. In France they are calling it the “guerre des masques” — the war of the masks.

Some French officials have even alleged that their consignments from China have been hijacked by Americans.

The presidents of two regions in France have claimed that American customers — without specifying who — have tried to pay Chinese suppliers three or four times the agreed price to get critical supplies diverted.

Renaud Muselier, president of the Sud region, alleged in several interviews that an order from one French region had been bought by the Americans for cash — and the plane that was due to fly to France had instead gone to the US.

Muselier was asked by CNN affiliate BFM-TV whether masks had been taken by Americans at Chinese airports. He replied: “Exactly,” before adding, “There is a foreign country that paid three times the price of the cargo on the tarmac. So the masks are gone and the region that ordered them has been destitute.”

Muselier later tweeted that masks for his own region were on their way and had “not been bought by a foreign power.”

Contacted by CNN, Muselier referred further questions to the French Foreign Ministry, which said Thursday it was looking into the reports.

Jean Rottner, the president of another French region — Grand Est — echoed Muselier’s remarks, telling French radio network RTL that it was a daily battle to secure orders.

“It’s true,” he claimed, “that on the tarmac the Americans arrive, take out cash and pay three or four times more for the orders we have made, so it’s necessary to fight.”

Rottner tweeted that 2 million masks had arrived on April 1 from Shanghai, posting video of the cargo being shipped on his Twitter account. Two more shipments are due to arrive at the weekend, he said.

Contacted by CNN, Rottner’s office would not elaborate on his claims, but a third regional president, Valérie Pécresse of Île-de-France, said the quest for masks was a global treasure hunt.

“We had made an order but were unable to complete it because others were ready to pay three times the market price,” Pecresse told radio network Franceinfo. She did not identify the “others.”

It’s unclear which US entity — federal, state or commercial — might have tried to secure orders destined for France.

CNN reached out to the US Department of Health and Social Services Thursday but has not heard back.

The US Embassy in France, which only speaks for the federal government, said the US “has not purchased any masks intended for delivery from China to France.”

In an interview with French television Thursday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said securing deliveries was “not always easy.”

The problem, he said, was “not logistical difficulties related to missing aircraft but difficulties sometimes in accessing the products from orders that are not always delivered. This is for a variety of reasons, including the huge demand that comes to China from the United States, from Europe, and indeed from the whole world.”

CNN has submitted several questions to the Prime Minister’s office about problems with deliveries.

On Friday, the German Health Minister Jens Spahn responded to media reports that a PPE consignment bought by the state of Berlin had been diverted to meet an American order. “Reports of this kind — I don’t know if it is true in this specific case — but it is not the only report of this kind,” Spahn said.

“This is not a good development in general, but at the same time it is due to a very strong demand that is there.”

Spanish and French officials say that logistical bottlenecks in China have compounded the problem of shipping personal protective equipment (PPE.)

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa told a parliamentary committee in Madrid last week that everyone was trying to buy from China — but could not confirm when Spanish orders would be met “because the market is crazy and the logistics are hard.”

One French region, Centre Val de Loire, told CNN its order had been diverted to Zhengzhou airport due to congestion at Shanghai airport.

Prices spiral

In the meantime, several governments are requisitioning what they can. Last month the French government said it was seizing all masks being made in the country.

One French company, Valmy SAS, was obliged to divert an order for PPE from the UK’s National Health Service, a regular customer. A representative of the company in the UK told CNN that the order had been blocked by customs officials at the French coast.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned for several weeks that hoarding and shortages of protective equipment is leaving doctors and nurses “dangerously ill equipped” to look after Covid-19 patients.

A month ago, its director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that “prices of surgical masks have increased six-fold, N95 respirators have more than tripled, and gowns cost twice as much.”

“Supplies can take months to deliver, market manipulation is widespread, and stocks are often sold to the highest bidder,” he said.

And demand has only multiplied since.

Several European governments have sounded the alarm about the difficulty of obtaining protective equipment for health workers. In Germany, the Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said Thursday that Germany would need “billions of masks” to fight coronavirus.

Spahn has said he wants Germany to become less dependent on masks made elsewhere. “We must become more independent of the world market, for the security of our citizens. That is one of the lessons of these weeks,” he said on Twitter.

In Spain, labor unions have complained about a lack of protective equipment for health workers.

Last week Fernando Simon, director of the Center for Coordination of Emergencies and Health Alerts, said that “Although access to personal protective equipment is proving sufficient, it is true that at some points there may be critical moments.” PPE, he said, was a scarce global commodity and there was no easy availability.

Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa said last week: “Not enough masks for the global market are being produced; not enough ventilators are being produced.” Illa said. He was also critical of delays in a joint European Union program to buy PPE.

Several French regions told CNN that they’d had problems securing supplies. Bourgogne Franche Comté has ordered 4 million masks but are using two different suppliers in case one fails to deliver.

In the United States, a congressional source told CNN on Wednesday they’d been informed that the coronavirus task force — led by Vice President Mike Pence — was stopping overseas shipments of the medical equipment and instead asking that the supplies be distributed within the United States.

France, Spain, Germany and the UK are all trying to accelerate domestic production of PPE as scarcities bite. But that’s not something that can happen overnight in the volumes now needed as coronavirus stretches hospital resources across the world.

(Mia Alberti in Lisbon, and CNN’s Nadine Schmidt in Berlin and Max Ramsay in London contributed to this report.)

A question was raised on this sordid episode:

After all, the manufacturer, US firm 3M, one of the leading brands in the sector, was a US company. US has no right to take its production?  

The MNC was producing not in USA but in China, and are obliged to fulfill orders placed by customers on a first-come-first basis…they are bound by rules and conditions, often framed by US and West as part of globalization…

US probably can order, under its Defense Production Act , that the US MNC must give priority to US.

But that can be only prospectively. It would not be legal for US to hijack stocks, booked and paid for by others, and being dispatched to others…US action , seizing the goods on the tarmac of a foreign soil, is part of its hegemony, and wont be acceptable….

Given globalization and agreements and conventions, among G-8, the MNC operating in a foreign land need not necessarily oblige. 

US imports most its requirements from around the world, also presently to tackle Covid-19. If this logic is applied, the others can obstruct even consignments already booked, and divert them as they wished.

China goes out of the way to supply crucial materials.

China was hard pressed with Covid-19. New cases reappeared, and another bout is feared. In spite of that China had exported in recent weeks lakhs of masks, and other medical supplies to many countries in the West, and to USA. China and its companies also made donations to some, despite their own problems, and fears of corona re-appearing after a gap.

US in desperate need of supplies from China changed tune. On April fools Day, Wednesday, Mr. Trump was effusive in describing his relationship with President Xi Jinping of China, whom he spoke with last week.

See this report from nytimes.com April 2, 2020 :  

In Sudden Shift, U.S. and China Seek to Cooperate

Several of President Trump’s top aides are advising him to work with China on the coronavirus pandemic, but national security officials are skeptical the truce will hold.

WASHINGTON — For weeks, President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo forcefully used the controversial terms“Chinese virus” and “Wuhan virus” in public and said they intended to hold Beijing responsible for the crippling coronavirus pandemic.

Now, they have avoided using those phrases, and the administration is welcoming planeloads of medical equipment from China.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump was effusive in describing his relationship with President Xi Jinping of China, whom he spoke with last week.

“The relationship with China is a good one, and my relationship with him is really good,” Mr. Trump told reporters. The president added that he “will always assume the best” of China’s leaders. Asked whether American intelligence agencies have assessed that China falsified case and fatality numbers over the virus, Mr. Trump said, “I’m not an accountant from China.”



Photo By AP 2 Apr 20200

The New England Patriots’ private team plane is returning to Boston from China carrying more than one million masks critical to health care providers fighting to control the spread of the coronavirus.

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker found himself in need of an assist to help the state fight the coronavirus pandemic. He called on the New England Patriots.

The team’s private plane was on schedule to return to Boston from China on Thursday evening carrying more than one million masks critical to health care providers fighting to control the spread of the virus..

Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers but had no way of getting them to the U.S. He reached out to Patriots team owner Robert Kraft, who loaned the Boeing 767 painted in the team’s colors and logo that is usually used to carry the team to and from NFL games.

Baker confirmed the joint venture in a news conference Thursday.

Chinese technology company Tencent was a huge help in the process, Nolan said. It agreed to gather the masks, got them through the inspection process, stayed with them to ensure their security and eventually their movement on to the Patriots’ plane.

“This isn’t in their wheelhouse, but they thought it was the right thing to do,” Nolan said.

There were hurdles that included legal logistics that were only cleared thanks to cooperation involving multiple state, U.S. and international entities.

There was little margin for error once the airplane arrived in China, which granted the Patriots three hours to fill the plane with the masks. They were on the ground for 2 hours, 57 minutes according to flight tracker data Nolan monitored.

Tencent looked after approximately 1.7 million masks. The Patriots’ plane took on 1.2 million, Nolan said.

They are working with Tencent to bring additional equipment back from China via a cargo plane

The masks will be going into Massachusetts’ stockpile for distribution to medical personnel.

Nolan said 300,000 of the masks will also be going to New York to help medical personnel there. Baker said Rhode Island will also receive some of the masks.

  Read Covid-19 Reveals The Ugly Face Of  US Hegemonism and imperialism
  April 6, 2020
Coronavirus Socialism for the Wealthy
by Dr Binoy Kampmark, Countercurrents.org, in World

When capitalism screeches to a halt and starts its old business of killing off the adventurous but weakened, the enterprising but foolish, those who initially benefited, shed tears.  Losses mount, accountants tally up current and future losses.  Huge profits somehow do not matter now, as the diminishing balances bite and impress.  As this happens, the corporatocrats start to search.  Options usually end up at the same spot they always tend to in the last few centuries: the state treasury, the public purse.

Despite the dogma of neoliberalism, one that worships the market that miraculously orders and delivers goods and efficiency, global shocks have found it wanting.  When these happen in the international system, binge spending of the Keynesian sort, otherwise known as stimulus packages, is encouraged.

In 2008, the Great Financial Crisis, which sounds like an affliction of sorts, encouraged states to turn to socialism or at the very least, a shade of it.  Banks, despite being put into the “too big to fail” basket became partly and, in some cases, fully owned, by the tax payer.  Debts were wholly bought over by tax income.  The historian Eric Hobsbawn, in writing on the crisis, suggested that a progressive policy needed “a return to the conviction that economic growth and the affluence it brings is a means and not an end.”  What was required was a policy focused on non-profit public initiative, a focus on improving collective capabilities in society.

This was not to be.  Within a matter of years, it was forgotten.  The rugged individualism of capitalism, at best a misnomer and worse, a lie, supposedly prevailed. Predatory capitalism was resaddled, kitted now in the new language of confidence and initiative.  In Australia, the banking and insurance sector proved to be rapacious, confident to have weathered the crisis of 2009.  Customers, dead or alive, were there to be milked.  Speculation was rife.  The election of Donald Trump to the White House in 2016 was a signal to bash the idea of equitable distribution on its head and encourage corporations and the wealthy to do their thing.  On the back of the public spending undertaken during the Obama years, Wall Street roared with confidence.

Then came the coronavirus.  How a pandemic can encourage a mass drive for socialisation is interesting but not surprising.  As in 2008, it has seen the private sector withered.  The assessments of the impacts vary, but they are generally gloomy.  Combined with crashing oil prices and political chaos, COVID-19 was, according to Naomi Klein, “laying bare the extreme injustices and inequalities of our economic and social system.”  Robert Reich, Secretary of Labour in the Clinton administration, reiterates the same theme of unveiling.  “The coronavirus has starkly revealed what most of us already knew: The concentration of wealth in America has created a health care system in which the wealthy can buy care others can’t.”

Some states have effectively resorted to paying people to avoid going to work.  On some level, it showed, as ecological economist Simon Mair puts it, “a shift from the principle that people have to work in order to earn their income, and a move towards the idea that people deserve to be able to live even if they cannot work.”  Those on opposite sides of the political spectrum – take Australia’s conservative Morrison government and the labour unions – find themselves in a moment of rare cooperation in terms of covering threatened wages and income, though the business bias in the rescue package remains strong.  It remains, as Guy Rundle concludes, a means of preserving “capitalist socio-economic relations in as static a form as possible.”

A more invidious form of top-end socialism is evident in other states.  In countries such as the United States, the democratic socialist message of Bernie Sanders is being suppressed in favour of a Wall Street form of socialist rescue. The rescue package put together by Congress and the White House focuses on assistance and bailouts of cruise lines, airlines and other companies in a pickle, often the result of heavy leveraging.  “So long Bernie,” snort economics John M. Griffin and James M. Griffin.  Washington was “only interested in socialism for the connected rich, whose share prices have plummeted.”  Both state the fundamental point that such socialism for the rich policies are rewards for myopic planners who refused to squirrel away some security when things were rosy.

The airline industry is a case in point.  Their representatives have been particularly apocalyptic in tone.  But Richard Squire, a specialist in the law of corporate bankruptcy, is not impressed about airline executives passing around their deep begging bowl.  “Without a bailout,” he explains confidently, “the air carriers would renegotiate their terms of credit with their lenders outside court, or they would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  Either way, they would keep flying.”  Squire makes the pertinent observation that airline carriers are rather good at fibbing when it comes to imminent corporate doom, portraying Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a form of financial death.  Not so, given that between 2002 and 2011, American, Delta, Frontier, Northwest, United and US Airways all went for the generous provisions of Chapter 11.  Flying did not cease.  “Most of their customers didn’t even notice.”

But the begging bowl is set to be filled, with carriers able to lodge applications by last Friday for funds to the value of $25 billion.  JetBlue, American, United and Delta have made applications to the Treasury Department for generous grants to avoid furloughing their employees or slashing their pay through to September 30.  Even with this, the handsomely remunerated Delta CEO Ed Bastian has asked for more, claiming such funds “are not nearly enough.  We are expecting our revenue in the second quarter to be down 90%.”

COVID-19 has, briefly, caused a stir of transformation in some circles.  “In 2020,” Will Bunch muses, “a liberal is a conservative who’s been exposed to the coronavirus.”  But the long convention of socialising losses while privatising profits remains, for the most part, undisturbed.  It is a fashion, most conspicuous in the United States, that refuses to go away.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

  Read Coronavirus Socialism for the Wealthy
  April 7, 2020
While we fixate on coronavirus, Earth is hurtling towards a catastrophe worse than the dinosaur extinction.
by Dr Andrew Glikson, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change

At several points in the history of our planet, increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have caused extreme global warming, prompting the majority of species on Earth to die out.

In the past, these events were triggered by a huge volcanic eruption or asteroid impact. Now, Earth is heading for another mass extinction – and human activity is to blame.

I am an Earth and Paleo-climate scientist and have researched the relationships between asteroid impacts, volcanism, climate changes and mass extinctions of species.

My research suggests the current growth rate of carbon dioxide emissions is faster than those which triggered two previous mass extinctions, including the event that wiped out the dinosaurs.

The world’s gaze may be focused on COVID-19 right now. But the risks to nature from human-made global warming – and the imperative to act – remain clear.


The current rate of CO2 emissions is a major event in the recorded history of Earth. EPA

Past mass extinctions

Many species can adapt to slow, or even moderate, environmental changes. But Earth’s history shows that extreme shifts in the climate can cause many species to become extinct.

For example, about 66 million years ago an asteroid hit Earth. The subsequent smashed rocks and widespread fires released massive amounts of carbon dioxide over about 10,000 years. Global temperatures soared, sea levels rose and oceans became acidic. About 80% of species, including the dinosaurs, were wiped out.

And about 55 million years ago, global temperatures spiked again, over 100,000 years or so. The cause of this event, known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, is not entirely clear. One theory, known as the “methane burp” hypothesis, posits that a massive volcanic eruption triggered the sudden release of methane from ocean sediments, making oceans more acidic and killing off many species.

So is life on Earth now headed for the same fate?

Comparing greenhouse gas levels

Before industrial times began at the end of the 18th century, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere sat at around 300 parts per million. This means that for every one million molecules of gas in the atmosphere, 300 were carbon dioxide.

In February this year, atmospheric carbon dioxide reached 414.1 parts per million. Total greenhouse gas level – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide combined – reached almost 500 parts per million of carbon dioxide-equivalent



Carbon dioxide is now pouring into the atmosphere at a rate of two to three parts per million each year.

Using carbon records stored in fossils and organic matter, I have determined that current carbon emissions constitute an extreme event in the recorded history of Earth.

My research has demonstrated that annual carbon dioxide emissions are now faster than after both the asteroid impact that eradicated the dinosaurs (about 0.18 parts per million CO2 per year), and the thermal maximum 55 million years ago (about 0.11 parts per million CO2 per year).

An asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Shutterstock


The next mass extinction has begun

Current atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are not yet at the levels seen 55 million and 65 million years ago. But the massive influx of carbon dioxide means the climate is changing faster than many plant and animal species can adapt.

A major United Nations report released last year warned around one million animal and plant species were threatened with extinction. Climate change was listed as one of five key drivers.

The report said the distributions of 47% of land-based flightless mammals, and almost 25% of threatened birds, may already have been negatively affected by climate change.

Many researchers fear the climate system is approaching a tipping point – a threshold beyond which rapid and irreversible changes will occur. This will create a cascade of devastating effects.

There are already signs tipping points have been reached. For example, rising Arctic temperatures have led to major ice melt, and weakened the Arctic jet stream – a powerful band of westerly winds.


A diagram showing the weakening Arctic jet stream, and subsequent movements of warm and cold air. NASA

This allows north-moving warm air to cross the polar boundary, and cold fronts emanating from the poles to intrude south into Siberia, Europe and Canada.

A shift in climate zones is also causing the tropics to expand and migrate toward the poles, at a rate of about 56 to 111 kilometres per decade. The tracks of tropical and extra-tropical cyclones are likewise shifting toward the poles. Australia is highly vulnerable to this shift.

Uncharted future climate territory

Research released in 2016 showed just what a massive impact humans are having on the planet. It said while the Earth might naturally have entered the next ice age in about 20,000 years’ time, the heating produced by carbon dioxide would result in a period of super-tropical conditions, delaying the next ice age to about 50,000 years from now.

During this period, chaotic high-energy stormy conditions would prevail over much of the Earth. My research suggests humans are likely to survive best in sub-polar regions and sheltered mountain valleys, where cooler conditions would allow flora and fauna to persist.

Earth’s next mass extinction is avoidable – if carbon dioxide emissions are dramatically curbed and we develop and deploy technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But on the current trajectory, human activity threatens to make large parts of the Earth uninhabitable – a planetary tragedy of our own making.

Abstract of paper

published in Global Change Biology in May 2016

Cenozoic greenhouse gases (GHG) variations and warming periods underscore the extreme rates of current climate change, with major implications for the adaptability and survivability of terrestrial and marine habitats. Current rise rate of greenhouse gases, reaching 3.3 ppm CO2 per year during March 2015–2016, is the fastest recorded since the Paleocene‐Eocene Thermal Event (PETM) when carbon release to the atmosphere was about an order of magnitude less than at present. The ice core evidence of concentration of (GHG) and temperatures in the atmosphere/ocean/cryosphere system over the last 740 kyr suggests that the rate of rise in GHG over the last ~260 years, CO2 rates rising from 0.94 ppm yr−1 in 1959 (315.97 ppm) to 1.62 ppm yr−1 in 2000 (369.52 ppm) to 3.05 ppm yr−1 in 2015 (400.83 ppm), constitutes a unique spike in the history of the atmosphere. The reliance of pre‐740 kyr paleoclimate estimates on multiple proxies, including benthic and plankton fossils, fossil plants, residual organic matter, major and trace elements in fossils, sediments and soils, place limits on the resolution of pre‐upper Pleistocene paleoclimate estimates, rendering it likely recorded mean Cenozoic paleoclimate trends may conceal abrupt short‐term climate fluctuations. However, as exemplified by the Paleocene–Eocene thermal maximum (PETM) and earlier GHG and temperature spikes associated with major volcanic and asteroid impact events, the long‐term residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere extends the signatures of abrupt warming events to within detection limits of multiple paleoproxies. The mean post‐1750 temperature rise rate (approximately ~0.0034 °C per yr, or ~0.008 °C per yr where temperature is not masked by sulfur aerosols) exceeds those of the PETM (approximately ~0.0008–0.0015 °C per yr) by an order of magnitude and mean glacial termination warming rates (last glacial termination [LGT] ~ 0.00039; Eemian ~0.0004 °C per yr) by near to an order of magnitude. Consistent with previous interglacial peaks an increasing likelihood of collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Ocean Circulation is threatening a severe stadial event.

Andrew Glikson  is an Earth and paleo-climate scientist, Australian National University

Originally published in The Conversation

  Read While we fixate on coronavirus, Earth is hurtling towards a catastrophe worse than the dinosaur extinction
  April 8, 2020
Democratic Socialism Will Soon Replace Capitalism
by Dan Lieberman, Countercurrents.org, in World

Capitalism will slowly evolve into a Democratic Socialist system that will be able to provide the structures for maintaining democratic substance and resolving the challenges of a difficult future. 

Theory and logic indicate Socialism’s possible superiority. If centralized planners, especially in the technological age of data mining and artificial intelligence, responsibly control the processes, allocate resources, create an agreeable work ethic, and capably enter into the international trading system, Socialism might succeed. Apparently, except for China, which is more of an authoritarian mixed or semi-fascist economy (government and industry working together), this has not occurred. The public views Socialism as a totally failed concept.

Despite numerous failures of theoretical inferiority, Capitalism sustains, going through crises of fall, revival, and survival. “Can Socialism’s failures be ameliorated, can Capitalism contue to revive and survive, and can Socialism replace Capitalism?” are questions arising from the debate between Socialist and Capitalist competition. Answering the questions allows changes in qualifications for reception. Enhancing quality of life, increasing material wants, and augmenting Gross National product are becoming lesser qualifications. The future portends more importance to meeting challenges posed by climate change, pandemics, greenhouse gases, and other potential crises. The future portends more importance to survival, to having sufficient means to meet the next day in a gracious and inviting manner.

In a capitalist system, the capitalist owns means of production, invests profits to regenerate more profits, and increases capital from this constant reinvestment. An outgrowth of the industrial revolution, Capitalism promoted industrial progress and greatly increased the material wants of much of the world. Stagnating through recessions, depressions and panics, Capitalism periodically breaks down, retreats, and petitions government rescue. From another perspective, pure Capitalism had a short life, needed to be constantly resuscitated, and finally evolved into neoliberalism Capitalism, a sub-system to a mixed economy that uses capitalist structures. Severity of forecasted global problems indicates that neoliberal Capitalism cannot meet the challenges, and a new socioeconomic system is demanded.

Pure Socialism is an economic and political system, where the government owns much of production and controls most prices. Considered, from historical attempts, to be a liability, Socialism has two primary built-in failures ─ inability to properly allocate resources and to motivate workers. The former occurs from industries hoarding to meet quotas, which creates waste, and from other industries being unable to meet commitments, which creates production bottlenecks. The latter is a product of workers having lifetime employment and not requiring motivation to maintain security. Although they occur in the capitalist system, Socialism also allows a more sinecure and corrupt system, where close associates are favored.

Democratic socialism has many definitions. For this conversation, Democratic Socialism defines an economy and society that is politically democratic, allows private enterprise to generate surpluses and uses government controls to assure profits are optimally reassigned for both business (profit reinvestment) and public needs (taxation). Government policies, such as subsidizing, regulating, and distributing, help shape the economy. Social ownership of businesses is encouraged. These include worker-owned cooperatives, publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives, and workplace democracy, where workers sit on corporation boards. Some inefficient and vital industries necessitate some form of state ownership, but most industries are best run as private enterprises.

Democratic Socialists consider central planning for major  public industries — mass transit, housing, and energy — and permit market mechanisms to determine the demand for consumer goods. Mainly, Democratic Socialism attempts to combine the positives of Capitalism and Socialism and eschew the faults of both systems.

Failures of Capitalism and its neoliberal doppelganger ─ free enterprise

Behind the appearance of Capitalism’s (free enterprise) success in providing material wants to vast population, lie failures — economic depressions, world wars, civil strife, and inability of the private sector to respond quickly to catastrophes, as shown by western response to the corona virus.

Periodic economic recessions, depressions, and panics gripped the United States since its beginnings. Government actions to repair the defects and readjust the failures proceeded from recognition that Capitalism becomes comatose every few years and must be constantly revived. A plethora of laws, regulations, agencies, government deficits, and other ameliorations have provided stitches, transplants, band-aids, and surgical operations to patch up and rescue a constantly ailing patient, reviving the collapsed after each fall. The history of Capitalism reveals a system that ignored the nation and a nation that did its utmost to maintain free enterprise.

From 1867 to 1929, the U.S. economy exhibited a shock every several years. Seven severe depressions or financial panics occurred during that 62-year period. One of these started in 1873, and is considered to be the Long Depression ─ a period of bursts of prosperity and contractions from 1873-1896.

Constant economic disturbances and sputtered growth prompted lawmakers to socialize capitalism, and  correct the excesses of “rugged individualism capitalism,” in which a few financiers exercised control of the economic system and used it for their private gain ─ essentially robbing banks by owning them. Establishment of the Interstate Commercial Commission in 1887 for regulating the railroads, passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which “declared illegal all combinations in restraint of trade,” creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1912 to regulate the money supply, stabilize the financial system and subdue inflation, passage of the Clayton Act in 1914 in order to further restrict anti-competitive practices and enforce the earlier Sherman Antitrust act, establishment of the Federal Trade Commission in 1914, an agency with powers to “prevent business practices that are anti-competitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers,” and formation of The Federal Communications Commission , by the Communications Act of 1934, to “maintain jurisdiction over the areas of broadband access, fair competition, radio frequency use, media responsibility, public safety, and homeland security,” are a few examples of government attempts to rectify Capitalism’s problems. They did not halt the calamities ─ “boom” and bust” persisted; speculation remained rampant; mergers tending to monopolies continued; banks went bankrupt.

The call for regulatory legislation proved that the capitalist system, which had its moments of genuine success, was, as constituted, insufficiently effective or efficient ─ it could not exist without government intervention. Legislators, in their ardor to preserve the system, neglected to realize that the capitalist system had survived with special advantages. How far would the capitalist system in the United States have advanced without a century of slave labor, land and resource appropriation from the Native Americans, constant wars to seize territory in North America and command global markets, and tens of millions of immigrants working at subsistence wages? Government attempts to stabilize the erratic free enterprise system with regulatory capitalism served as a temporary palliative, which eventually became co-opted and could not prevent the Great Depression.

Hunger and unemployment in the land of plenty drove the New Deal toward the rescue plan of welfare capitalism ─ government sponsored programs and legislation that fostered institutions to re-distribute wealth and enable all citizens to escape poverty and gain equal opportunity. Soon more rescue was needed, such as government construction of transportation, communication and power infrastructure ─ interstate highways, airports, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants, and ARPANET (the first wide-area packet switching network). Equal opportunity laws, subsidized mortgage loans, and direct coordination in research and development between the defense department and private industry drove free enterprise toward a mixed economy. Extensive cessions of public lands made to states and to railroad companies, between 1850 and 1872, promoted railroad construction; government defense contracts developed the electronics and aviation industries; Eisenhower administration’s interstate road system magnified the automobile and steel industries.

The role of the defense department in providing sustenance to the free enterprise system is insufficiently considered. Entire industries — defense, armaments, electronics, shipbuilding, aviation, space exploration — and parts of some industries — airlines, plastics, chemical, metallurgical, Internet — owe their existence and prosperity to defense department developments, funds and contracts. Airplane designs and manufacture are direct outgrowths from defense industry warplanes. Airline growth relied upon government subsidies, mail and freight deliveries, and airport constructions. Despite the assistance, the airline industry, until recently, consistently showed bottom line losses and most of the many airlines have gone bankrupt. Without government assistance, the free enterprise economy would have permanently collapsed decades ago.

OPEC’s  higher oil prices challenged a troubled Capitalism with inflation, ultra-high interest rates and a 1981 recession, which invoked the final rescue plan ─ pump the economy with government deficits and easy credit ─ the final attempt to rescue the system.

Since the Reagan administration, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has closely followed an almost continually increasing sum of public and private debt. Growth in the Capitalism system became allied to and dependent upon growth in debt.

Excessive debt enabled the Reagan administration to emerge from its incipient recession. Escalated private debt offset budget surpluses during the Clinton administration. A combined whammy of private and public debt during the Bush term soon hit a wall and caused the huge 2008 recession. Wisely, Obama pursued slow growth policies that needed slow accumulation of debt and prevented any downfall during his entire administration.

Almost all money is conventional debt, issued by banks in their lending process, and by Federal Reserve open market operations. Capitalism runs on this debt. As debt plus interest is retired, new and more expensive debt must replace it or the monetary base will decrease and money available for purchase of goods and services will decline. Aligned with this decline is the rapid disappearance of profit.

Capitalism needs profit in order to grow and generate its periods of prosperity. Because profit is the lifeblood of the capitalist system, understanding the modern concept of profit ─ how profit is made, its functions, problems, benefits, and failures ─ provides an improved understanding of the contemporary Capitalism system.

The price of goods Pr = C+ P, where C is cost, and P is profit. In the production process, excepting for some subsidies, no funds are supplied to the economy for purchase of the goods represented by profit, or as Karl Marx defined it, the surplus value, the value of goods that worker wages are insufficient to purchase. From where comes the added purchasing power to obtain the mysterious profit?

Increasing the Purchasing Power

(1) Private debt supplies a major increase in purchasing power. (2) Distribution of profits by dividends, share buybacks, and bonuses to management and employees recirculate profits for purchase of goods. (3) Government deficit spending supplies the knockout punch to clear the shelves, growing when private debt shrinks. (4) A positive trade balance brings purchasing power into the system, reclaiming dollars circulating throughout the world. A negative balance, which has occurred during the last decades, removes purchasing power from the system. (5) Some liquid funds from savings and investments re-enter the system.

The first three components have operated strongly and actively to restore purchasing power. Regardless of approaches to stabilize the capitalist system, the profit motive has built-in failures and must eventually collapse.

Ultimate failure

The ultimate failure of the profit system is apparent. To increase purchasing of goods, the money supply must increase. Trade imbalances (subsidized by government debt), and retirement of private debt and its interest decrease the money supply. When, securing debt becomes saturated, which means the money supply cannot increase, wants from all sectors are fulfilled, or workers become unavailable for increased production, the economy must stagnate and soon must decline. Proper actions can slow the failures but not forever. Bust is inevitable.

The true meaning of profit

Profit is perceived with awe, glorified as the deserved result of risky and arduous effort. Household debt is viewed with sympathy, as an opportunity to purchase hard goods and participate in the material life of the nation for those who cannot immediately earn enough to buy the goods. Government debt has severe detractors who consider it a theft on future generations. The true meaning of profit is that they are all the same, the principal component of someone’s profit is debt accrued by others.

As described, a Capitalist system does not exist on its own merits; capital formations are only one part of a complex socioeconomic system, which includes credit control, welfare, government spending, taxes, subsidies, regulation, directives, and oversight, all which determine production, growth, and progress. The entrepreneur deserves remuneration, but he/she and the capitalist system maintain existence only due to government largesse.

Profit is not tied to Capitalism, and other economic systems can incorporate it for growth and material enrichment. A severely modified Capitalism can more efficiently and effectively employ profit, which has significant benefits.

A Democratic socialized system can issue credit to those willing to amortize expensive items that would ordinarily require years of savings. Instead of dividends to stockholders, profits from the credit purchases are recirculated as bonuses to laborers. The profit motive remains, and the rewards enrich a greater number of people.

Industry wide sharing of profits between investors and employees extends the years between economic cycles and allows stable and high profits ─ previous year distributed profit allows purchase of next year’s surplus. Less domestic and government credit are needed to keep the system alive.

The Economic Consequences of Wealth Concentration

An economy that has operated as “trickle down” has reached a peak, and it is time for an economy that pours itself out for all. Share the wealth and lessening inequality by distribution of income are not just idealistic expressions or populist proposals; they are sound economics. More equitably distributed wages and spending power lessen social grievances, reduce social problems, and increase domestic spending. More equal distribution of wealth has also been associated with improvements in national health. Fairness to all reflects as benefits to all, including a lower need for government spending on social programs.

Rationalizing ill-conceived wealth distributions by describing the American poor as wealthier than the lower middle class in many developed nations is deceiving. Poverty is defined as an absolute number, but its effects are relative. The lower wage earners in the United States are unaware of what they have in relation to foreigners; they are aware of what they do not have in relation to others living close to them. The wide disparity in wealth creates resentment and tension leading to psychological and emotional difficulties. Minimizing social problems means combining the giving of more to the lower classes with the taking of less by the upper classes.

The social problems and associated costs in developed nations that have wide distributions of income and wealth are well-documented — elevated mental illness, crime, infant mortality, and health problems. Every citizen suffers from and pays for the social problems derived from income inequality, an unfair condition in a democratic society. Several investigators have clarified the social determinants of health.

Kawachi, I. and B.P. Kennedy, 1997, in Socioeconomic Determinants of Health: Health and Social Cohesion: Why Care About Income Inequality? British Medical Journal.

Growing evidence suggests that the distribution of income, in addition to the absolute standard of living enjoyed by the poor, is a key determinant of population health. A large gap between rich people and poor people leads to higher mortality through the breakdown of social cohesion. The recent surge in income inequality in many countries has been accompanied by a marked increase in the residential concentration of poverty and affluence. Residential segregation diminishes the opportunities for social cohesion.

University of Chicago, Nov, 16-22, Sir Michael Marmot, The Social Determinants of Health and Disease Health

One of the dominant features affecting the health situation of all industrialized countries is the social gradient in health and disease. Analysts who approach this topic commonly think of it as a problem of poor health for the disadvantaged and good health for those who are not in the disadvantaged category. This is an inadequate way to pose the problem. The Whitehall Study of civil servants showed that, amongst people who are not poor, there is a social gradient in mortality that runs from the bottom to the top in each society. People in each socio-economic category have worse health than those above them in the hierarchy.

Impact of the Coronavirus on Health and Economics

Response to the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the inability of the private sector to adequately contain a pandemic and diminish its deleterious economic effects. Only a fully committed government can completely mobilize the public to subdue a serious epidemic and arrange the nation’s resources to assure its economic health. In a socialized system, an epidemic will not lead to economic uncertainty; the public will know that basic care will be provided. Nor will there be confusion of for whom, how, where, and when health services will be available. The Covid-19 epidemic revealed the capitalist system dropped the ball, slowed to a walk, and finally was temporarily replaced by a quasi-Democratic Socialist system that planned, controlled, and distributed resources to the citizens, a prelude to governing the future.

The Future

A future of growing challenges — climate change, pandemics, robotics and artificial intelligence replacing workers, greenhouse gas emissions heating the atmosphere, change from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, prevention of nuclear war, migration chaos, political polarization, and redistribution of the wealth — demand a realignment of the socioeconomic system.

Governments are needed that can assure the safety and security of all the worlds peoples, no matter their economic status, and no matter the hardships of the prevailing circumstances. Wealth will be immaterial, and escaping human extinction will be the motivation, requiring government action in many aspects of human existence. Capitalism will slowly evolve into a Democratic Socialist system that will be able to provide the structures for maintaining democratic substance and resolving the challenges of a difficult future.

Dan Lieberman edits Alternative Insight, a commentary on foreign policy, economics, and politics. He is author of the book A Third Party Can Succeed in America, a Kindle: The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name). Dan can be reached at alternativeinsight@earthlink.net 

  Read Democratic Socialism Will Soon Replace Capitalism
One Humanity and the Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution.
by Mahboob A. Khawaja, Countercurrents.org,

Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD in interdisciplinary Social Science (Syracuse University, New York, USA), an academia and international scholar believes in One Global Humanity living peacefully on One Earth and shares new ideas and vision for change and critical thinking action to transform the obsolete global systems of thinking and governance into remaking of global peace, security and conflict resolution. While science and technology has advanced immensely the human thoughts, pleasure-seeking sports and entertainment, comforts and lifestyles, the mankind remains disconnected to the imperatives of its own origin, purpose of life and relationships to the Nature of Things within a splendid Universe.  The 21st century of knowledge and advanced artificial intellect, the Nation States, global institutions and large segments of the humanity live as if they do not belong to the Earth and continued to undermine the viability of peaceful co-existence in complete violations of the basic norms of understanding and living in harmony within the natural environment. The author reminds the global political elite and institutions of reasoned vulnerability to avoid indifference, ignorance and arrogance in the conduct of global affairs and to return to foment human relations based on human equality, justice, solidarity and freedom for all.

One Global Humanity – the concept articulates an enlightened vision of globalization of the people, by the people and for the people.  As a scholar in global affairs (global peace, security and conflict resolution), the author contributes to enhance the multidisciplinary international experiences and cross-cultural expertise to produce much needed academic publications for universities and colleges programs, foreign policy research and to serve the interests of informed global citizens. If history is an instrument of learning, the 20th century leaders failed to lead to safeguard the humankind from the horrible consequences of the Two World Wars.  Armed with political absolutism and nationalism, they had no sense of time, history and public accountability. But the 21st century global community is well informed, active and a forceful persuasive factor in global participation for change and future-building. The time horizon operating in global crises is very short and critical in nature. To avert the coming of a Third World War, the book envisions the transformational change of global politics and sustainable future for One Global Humanity and calls it ‘The Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Management.’

In a constantly changing and complex global culture of politics, the book exposes the treacherous illusion of global politics, presently unmanageable by conventional treatise, lack of leadership visions and integrity, failing system of nation states and institutions, and the impotence of the UNO, that cannot uphold its own Charter for peace and conflict resolution to end the dehumanizing systems of governance.

“Globalization of the People, by the People and for the People.” Success is power of visualization and affirmation by doing the best asserts the author. Rejecting cynicism and contemporary political quagmire, the author offers a new vision of One Global Humanity – the globalization of the people, by the people and for the people – a revulsion against the contemporary standardized norms of  global systems of thinking, institutions, peace and security and focusing on global capacity-rebuilding of human communication, systematic institutions and accountability with decent progressive normalization of global society; and transforming superpower’s indifference and political chaos into peaceful co-existence and security for all.

Destiny and future making are always timeless moving and young phenomena with inner evolutionary spirit seeking new and creative horizons beyond the obvious. The innovative inner human eye and spirit cannot be boxed-in to any imaginary blocks, no matter how powerful its encroachment could be on the march for new ideas and vision of future making. If the 20th century’s global systems of politics and governance had consisted on truth and facts of human life, the wars should not have happened or caused dreadful consequences to the human societies.

The contemporary world is fraught with man-made problems unfolding ignorance, exploitation of the Nature of Things, political indifference and wars against the humanity, wars on moral and socio-cultural and spiritual values and the larger universe in which we breathe and maintain our hopes for the future. But the earth is continuously an abject of destruction by wars and weapons of mass destruction, global warming, and greenhouse gases, rising temperature and depleting natural resources affecting the entire spectrum of human existence and survival on this planet. What is being destroyed was not created or built by the human beings, institutions or the world governments. We, the people of the globe must ponder at our own ways of thinking and human priorities, hegemonic control of the natural resources, exploitative policies and practices and to discover workable solutions to ensure the sustainability of our future on Earth.

Progressively evolving is a new information-age of plausible global culture of Thinking of One Global Humanity and a new proactive civilization of strong bonds and affinity of people to people cultural communications – global citizenry participation in social, economic and political thinking and globalization – man in one part of the world feels, thinks and acts-reacts to what happens to any man in another remote corners of the globe. Mankind is neither blind, nor inept, it defines its own purpose, meaning and identity for peace and harmony that the established institutions of governance – be it in America or Europe or elsewhere miserably failed to recognize or value their importance in global political affairs. Given the inherent systematic deficiencies and moral and intellectual corruption in worldwide political governance and policy formulation toward the international community, the global community is actively organized and morally and intellectually powerful to halt all the belligerent nightmares planned and orchestrated by the few war lords.

Will the morally and intellectually conscientious global community face the challenge of realism and strive for coherent manifestation of normalization of global peace, security and conflict resolution and making of a promising and progressively sustainable future? The requisites for the 21st century age of creative knowledge, information and technological advancements call for ‘change’ as a proactive phenomenon in thinking and actions to be a reality. Whether an individual or an organizational, ‘change’ is never easy as it may disturb the comfortable ones and detach us from the safe and certain. But it can also challenge our ingenuity and unfold best in us to open the new vistas of human, intellectual and global opportunities, unknown and unexplored to the human ‘self’ and the living present.

  Read One Humanity and the Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution
  April 14, 2020
Resignation and optimism on the brink of the apocalypse.
by Federico Tabellini, Countercurrents.org, in Counter Solutions

Despite the misleading title, I will not talk to you today about the coronavirus, but of that other, far more insidious crisis that we cannot hope to solve with a vaccine. The global ecological crisis: a crisis in which we are the virus. I would like to share with you some brief reflections on human agency, human nature and their relationship with the possibility of a sustainable society. I know, philosophical stuff – but with very practical implications.

The idea for this article came from a series of conversations I recently had with a reader of my book ‘A Future History of the 21st Century: How We Overcame the Crisis of Civilization’. The text debates the nature of the current socio-economic system, and analyses which of its structural elements constitute obstacles to our transition to a sustainable society. It then discusses how we could potentially overcome those obstacles, focusing on specific economic, institutional and political reforms. All of this while avoiding the well-known trap into which many Degrowth theorists still fall today, which can be summarized by the dead end idea that bottom-up change is the only way out of the crisis, and that to change the world we first need to change ourselves. In short, this is a dead end idea because it cannot be translated into concrete policies. Conversely, to be carried out successfully, a bottom-up change requires a top-down change that facilitates and supports it. In other words: institutional, political and economic reforms.

After this necessary introduction, let’s get to the core topic of the article. The reader I spoke of earlier agrees with the book’s analysis of our current situation and acknowledges that the solutions proposed could produce the desired transition to a sustainable steady-state economy. However, he argues that human nature will never allow us to implement those changes. In other words, not only can human beings not change themselves – they can’t even change the very institutions they created. And this is not an unlikely change either, he claims, but an absolutely impossible one. This is the same as saying that we are trapped in a car that is heading speedily towards a ravine, with a functioning brake in easy reach of our hands, but sadly we are programmed not to pull it.

To put it another way, the problem is not to be found in a defect of the hardware (our hands) or in the resilience of the system (the car), but rather in the software code (our head). The software, he argues, is programmed for accumulation, for a growth without limits and without purpose, for constant acceleration. These things are not cultural constructs, but rather inalienable characteristics of human nature.

He then proceeds to claim, based on fringe clyodynamic theories – which he of course accepts as undisputable scientific proofs – that history demonstrates this; that civilizations have always grown until they could, and when they stopped doing so, they without exception collapsed. The only solution, he concludes, is exactly that: collapse. A non-solution. Worse still: to embrace the very idea that a solution is not possible. That we cannot pull the brake. That we cannot change direction. That we need to give up and accept that we are going to fall into the ravine, and die along with the system. Not everybody, of course. Those of us that will survive will have the chance to start again, little by little, from down there, the slow climbing of the cliff. Only this time with fewer resources. And this ad infinitum, with our heads forever preventing us from learning from the mistakes of the past: until the final suicide.

Of course – I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now – I do not agree that this is the unavoidable destiny of our species. I do acknowledge, however, that we are indeed genetically programmed for accumulation and growth, and that we are not programmed to individually impose limits to ourselves. We get immediate pleasure from accumulation, while the most we get from limits is a kind of long-term serenity. To obtain the latter we need effort and perseverance, while to accumulate more and more, we just need to follow our instincts.

In other words, starting from a clean sheet and without culture, we tend to long for growth. To have more, to produce more, to do more. What I do not agree with is that our culture has to strengthen this inclination, and cannot instead compensate for it, for everyone’s sake.

Let me be clear: contemporary global culture intensifies these human tendencies more than any other culture that preceded it. The fact that we live inside this culture makes us see it as the most natural outcome of human nature, just as the ancient romans thought of their own culture as the peak of human civilization. Neither they nor we were right, of course. In the same way as we constrained our human tendencies to indulge in gratuitous violence, and no longer slaughter slaves in an arena, so people in the future can stop growing their production and consumption beyond the carrying capacity of the ecosystems. What allows us to do this is human agency: the ability to change our culture and our institutions based on what we think is right. In this case, what is right for most people (including the author of this article) is to increase the lifespan of the human race on this planet, and make sure that life is worth living for future generations.

In this sense, we should note that our current situation involves never before seen elements that work in our favour. Here are some of the most significant:

  1. Today, for the first time in history, we know that our socio-economic model is environmentally unsustainable, and that a change is necessary (although there is currently no complete agreement on what type of change we need, or how to produce it).
  1. Today, for the first time in history, the entire world is interconnected, and can potentially discuss shared solutions (although coming to an agreement is not as easy as we hoped).
  2. Modern technologies make producing the goods and services essential to human survival more efficient. We produce and consume too much, but each unit we produce and consume has a lower impact on the environment compared to the past.
  3. It is now a consolidated fact that beyond certain levels of consumption, further consumption does not equal more well-being for human beings.[1] We already passed those limits, which means that a reduction of our per-capita consumption would not produce a reduction in aggregate well-being.

There is also historical evidence that points towards the possibility of complex social models that are not based on the relentless accumulation of material goods.

There have been entire communities in Asia and Africa that for centuries lived in societies in which the individual accumulation of material goods was socially sanctioned. These are examples of instances in which culture compensated nature, producing ecologically sustainable social models as a result.

Thus, the real fundamental question is not whether it is possible to build a sustainable society, but rather whether it is possible to do so without sacrificing the fundamental values of the West and people’s well-being. If by ‘fundamental values of the West’ we mean things such as human rights and political and civil liberties, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ (you can find a demonstration of this in my book). If we instead mean unchecked capitalism and a lawless market, then the answer is ‘realistically, no’.

However, we do not need to ask history to know this, because history does not include the full range of possible futures. If there is a constant in human history, it is novelty. The creation of new things that constantly confute the idea that history is destined to repeat itself. History is not the full toolbox we have at our disposal to build our future. Many things that exist today did not exist before. These things are as varied as computing technologies and the internet, but also liberalism, the state of law, and human rights. We also, for the first time, live in a full world, without new frontiers to exploit. Human history has always been a history of exploitation because, among other things, there was an abundance of resources to exploit; now we are consuming (far) more than what nature produces. The situation has changed, and there is no reason to believe that we cannot change also. Before we did not need to change. Now we do. The very fact that we can see this as a problem is a relatively new thing, and a hint that we have the power to solve it.

My reader, however, appears to be blind to the very possibility of change, any change. This is because he draws his arguments not from history, but from an interpretation of history. A highly deterministic interpretation that excludes human agency. Doing so, he looks at the forest as an actor independent from the trees it is made up of. In this way, culture becomes an entity separated from people, which controls them as a puppet master. It has its own will, or moves as if it had one. There is no way we can control it. And even when it looks like we are in control, in reality we are just executing its directives. It is not the trees that make up the forest; it is the forest that makes up the trees.

Conversely, my position is one shared by most social scientists: the forest makes up the trees and at the same time, the trees make up the forest. The influence is mutual. Under certain historical conditions, it is mostly the forest that shapes the life of the trees. It decides where they lay roots, where they extend their branches, where they spread their seeds. In times of uncertainty and crisis, however, the trees can shape the life of the forest. They can shape which direction it expands. Whether it grows or retreats. If it provides sufficient nourishment for the living beings that inhabit it.

In a similar fashion, human beings are not slaves to their culture, although going against it, to change it, requires a considerable effort. An effort that the majority will not want to undertake unless they perceive it as absolutely necessary. Unless – and this is the main message I want to pass here – they believe that a change is possible.

Such a change is not likely to occur spontaneously, without direction. Most great changes in history have occurred when capable and innovative leaders (not only politicians, but also intellectuals) come together with a mass of people united by a common goal. A mass that starts small, but little by little grows until it reaches the critical threshold necessary to spark a change. This happened with women’s rights, with workers’ rights, with the liberal-democratic model, with communist revolutions, with Nazism. Change is not always positive. But it is almost always possible.

This does not mean it is probable. Often it is not. Today I think it is not probable. But it is possible. And this is really, really important. Another thing is important: change becomes more probable if we believe it possible. If the ideas of my aforementioned reader spread, change would become less probable: a self-fulfilled prophecy that could condemn our race (and others, too) to a dreadful future.

It is true: human beings are, to a certain extent, programmed by genes and culture. But they can also reprogram culture. Often they can only do this indirectly, like when the standard working day was reduced to 8 hours (an institutional reform). This produced more free time for individuals, which in turn translated into a proliferation of new activities, giving birth, among other things, to the entertainment industry and sport (previously, sport had been something that only athletes and nobles engaged in).

In conclusion, between my reader and myself there is both agreement and disagreement. We agree that the world is hurrying towards a ravine. We disagree on the possibility of pulling the brake. I firmly believe that resignation is the worst enemy of change. It paralyzes us. And I believe that optimism is needed more, not less, on the brink of an apocalypse. If we want to produce a positive change in the world, we need to look at the ravine with a smile on our lips, but also – and especially – with rolled up sleeves and our brains at work. It may be highly unlikely that we will be able to pull the brake. Nonetheless, we have the moral obligation to try. Success might not be probable, but it is surely possible. And this possibility, being rooted in the present and not in the past, is something that no deterministic interpretation of history will ever be able to disprove.

[1] See, for example, D. G. Blanchflower, A. J. Oswald, Well-being over time in Britain and the USA, in “Journal of Public Economics”, 88 (2004), pp. 1359-1386; R. Layard, S. Nickell, G. Mayraz, The marginal utility of income, in “Journal of Public Economics”, 92:8/9 (2008), pp. 1846-1857; D. Kahneman, A. Deaton, High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being, in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America”, 107:38 (2010), pp. 16489-93; E. Proto, A. Rustichini, A Reassessment of the Relationship between GDP and Life Satisfaction, in “PLoS ONE”, 8 (2013).

Federico Tabellini is the author of “A Future History of the 21st Century”

  Read Resignation and optimism on the brink of the apocalypse
  April 15, 2020
After the Pandemic
by Devraj Singh Kalsi, Countercurrents.org, in World

Our admiration, interest, and respect spikes for countries where the spread of Covid-19 is flattened or limited with early measures. As we track global statistics on a daily basis, any country with less than 1000 cases makes us react with Wow and How. As we scroll further down the list, those with 500 or less than 100 cases make us feel positive and we conclude: This is the place to live. These may or may not be counted as fantasy lands or ideal destinations in normal times, but when it comes to survival, we salute them for keeping citizens safe in these dark times.

When I discussed this with some friends in an online chat, they are reluctant to bat for developed and advanced nations now. Countries more efficient in the management of crisis and saving human lives, countries more benevolent towards the poor, countries with more nature-friendly policies, countries where a citizen is considered much more than a statistic are weighed against the traditional heavyweights. When the pandemic subsides and people have lesser emotional stress, perhaps the same set of questions will have completely different answers. Or maybe, the magnitude of this crisis enables us to imagine grief more closely and we are compelled to revise our assessment of growth, development, and quality living.

While the recovery phase will take its time, the nations least affected will have having a clear advantage over the severely affected ones. Whether they will be able to leverage on their strengths and give the world the option of a better life with limited but sufficient resources remains to be seen.

Economists and artists will get busy mapping the COVID-19 impact on people once the pandemic is contained. GDP predictions, recession, relief packages and stimulus will form the key discussions. The wealthy of every nation will look for growing economies to park their funds and they will come together to create rich economies — lured by maximum plough back of profits. They will look for economies with double-digit annual growth or for high single-digit economies with enormous potential to double up in the short term itself.

Job losers and fresh job seekers will migrate in search of better and stable options anywhere in the world. The top ten nations for immigrants will be another interesting development. Many new countries will enter this list and many big names will be excluded from the list. Globalisation will become a word of caution for some nations while the rest of the world will begin to harness its potential.

Tragedies inspire artists. The political class that creates global tragedies will be defeated by nature this time. Man-made tragedies kindle the angst in artists far more than the natural ones, even if the extent of damage remains the same or even greater. Being lovers of nature, the community of artists will not be ruthless towards the eco systems. They will blame mankind for being unkind, for the excesses against nature, and treat every natural disaster as the planet’s brave attempt to heal or reclaim what it lost. Artists will remind people and countries to be friendlier towards the Earth as will environmentalists, who have always emphasised harmonious co-existence with nature. This enthusiastic drive will continue with full force.

As soon as the element of greed raises its ugly head and the countries become competitive to provide a ‘better life’ or restore the ‘better’ life, the return towards normal will start. Although we live under greater threat, we have greater confidence that we will survive every kind of threat. The resumption of the predictable cycle will make us return to our lives of consumerism, to flaunt fancy gadgets or something precious to suggest our material abundance. The lessons from COVID-19 will be forgotten and buried.

Rich countries fear the death of their privileged status more than the death of thousands and millions of people. Those who survive will need to live in the same country with pride in its strengths. A country with the highest casualties will continue to say it is far below the expected numbers. If a million die, they will boast of saving many millions more. They will boost the morale of the nation with solidarity drives and keep them upbeat about a quick bounce back. It is a humongous task that brings a battery of opinion makers, public relation strategists and pliant media to play a constructive role in helping governments build – or rebuild – their image.

However, as critical assessment will have lesser tolerance, masses will expect their governments to do what is required. In such times, elected leaders will get the opportunity to showcase their potential. State leaders will grow in stature through their performance. National leaders will find suitable roles other than criticising the government. Social service measures to benefit the poor will help them connect better. Instead of lampooning the governments, people should be seen aligned with the government. These images will linger in the public mind for long. And a new class of leaders will emerge as viable alternatives –some reaching the helm through sacrifice, some reaching it through service.

It will not matter whether democracies deliver the best care or totalitarian regimes perform better. Any kind of governance will find resonance if the citizens conclude their leaders prevented severe loss of human lives. At the end of the day, survival matters. The political class has understood it is not only important to do enough, but it is equally important to be seen you are doing enough. When one game seems lost, the other has to be won.

Global leaders are trying their best to tell their citizens they have a responsive and proactive government. When elected leaders get affected by the virus, they appear vulnerable as individuals. When they get cured faster, they prove their stronger ability to fight and survive. A subtle message that the nation is safe in their hands.

Devraj Singh Kalsi works as a senior copywriter in Kolkata. His short stories and essays have been published in Deccan Herald, Tehelka, Kitaab, Earthen Lamp Journal, Assam Tribune, and The Statesman. Pal Motors is first novel.  

  Read After the Pandemic
  April 15, 2020
Abrupt Ecosystem Collapse.
by Robert Hunziker, Countercurrents.org, in Climate Change

A new study in Nature (April 2020) casts a disturbing light on the prospects of abrupt ecosystem collapse. The report analyzes the probabilities of collapsing ecosystems en masse, and not simply the loss of individual species. (Source: Trisos, C.H. et al, The Projected Timing of Abrupt Ecological Disruption From Climate Change, Nature, April 8, 2020)

The paper states that a high percentage of species will be exposed to harmful climate conditions at about the same time, potentially leading to sudden and catastrophic die-offs of biodiversity. If high greenhouse gas emissions remain in place, abrupt events are forecast to begin before 2030 in tropical oceans and spread to tropical forests and temperate regions over time.

Without doubt, no nation is prepared for the consequences of collapsing ecosystems nor are they doing anything to avert it. Yet, it is all about the quintessence of life on the planet.

There is a high probability that fossil fuel emissions will not be curtailed enough in enough time to prevent abrupt ecosystem collapse(s). Sufficient mitigation efforts to slowdown carbon emissions are not happening, not even close.

Regrettably the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects future usage of fossil fuels that look an awful lot like “the reverse” of rapid emission mitigation with plans afoot by the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other major producers to increase fossil fuel production by 120% by 2030, and China and India have elaborate, surprisingly huge, plans to increase usage of coal. All of which portends big-big-big trouble down the pike. Of course, it’s a crushing blow to the Paris ‘15 climate accord. (Sources: Dangerous Levels of Warming Locked in by Planned Jump in fossil Fuels Output, National Geographic, Nov. 20, 2019 and BBC News d/d November 20, 2019: “Climate Change: China Coal Surge Threatens Paris Targets” and IEA)

Problematically, CO2 emissions, the primary catalyst for global warming, are on a 62-year semi-parabolic uptrend (Keeling Curve) year by year higher, never lower. The recent Mauna Loa Observatory (est. 1958) monthly average for CO2 emissions for March 2020 registered 414.50 ppm versus 411.97 ppm in March 2019.

For perspective, in 1963 it was 322.28 ppm. In 2000 it was 368.74 ppm. Notice: It took 37 years from 1963 to 2000 to increase by 45 ppm. Since 2000, it’s only taken 20 years to increase by that same amount, 45 ppm. Meaning, turbo-charged greenhouse gas emissions are compressing the timeline to ever-higher levels. Bad news.

More to the point, worldwide carbon emissions were 36.8 billion tons in 2019. By way of an historical context, when nature traversed its own course 55 million years ago similar levels of emissions, in the aggregate, cranked temperatures up by 5C, but it took centuries and centuries to achieve.  That level of temperature today would take civilization down to its knees.

Back in the day, 55 million years ago, the annualized rate of carbon emissions by nature on its own accord was 1.1 billion tons per year but spread out over a few thousand years. Today world economies emit more than 36 billion tons per year. That’s as much carbon in 1 year as 30 years of emissions generated by nature on its own 55 million years ago, when sea levels rose by 50 feet. Hmm.

More to the point, today’s rapid growth 30xs faster does not allow time for ecosystems to adapt, especially when compared to the drawn-out affair of a few thousand years 55 million years ago. Of significance, back then ecosystems had enough time to adjust to a hotter planet.

Nowadays ecosystems have no chance of adjusting because of hyper-speed emissions thirty times faster than the paleoclimate record of 55 million years ago. In turn, that prompts some level of contemplation about the bitter truth that the planet was not designed for 7 billion people in the first instance, but that’s a much longer story.

In fact, clarifying the point even further, the Human Footprint consumes 1.75 Earths. Therefore, and because the biosphere is overused and overly abused, at its margins the planet is ultra-sensitized to the repercussions of human activity. In turn, this gives rise to collapsing ecosystems that are crucial for life support throughout the planet. Oops! Without viable ecosystems, life ends.

Meantime, the initial stages, or early warning signals, of abrupt ecosystem collapse are already happening in real time. A prime example is the Great Barrier Reef suffering its worst coral bleaching on record because of too much planetary heat. February of 2020 saw the most extreme ocean temperatures at the Great Barrier Reef since records began in 1900.

Thus, the world’s largest living organism has experienced three devastating bleachings in only five years. Metaphorically, that’s kinda like a glittering red neon rapidly blinking light extending across the sky above the entire 2,300-kilometre (1400-mile) Great Barrier Reef flashing the words: Help! Save the planet!

Consider this, for the first time in recorded history severe bleaching, which kills coral outright caused by excessive levels of heat, hit all three major regions of the Great Barrier Reef, the northern, central, and southern portions. That’s unprecedented and should scare the daylights out of anybody and everybody. It’s a startling example of anthropogenic-generated global heat at work at the margins of the planet and likely marks the beginning of ecosystems collapsing en masse.

“A survey of 1,036 reefs in the Great Barrier Reef over the last two weeks of March revealed the most widespread bleaching event on record.” (Source: Theresa Machemer, The Great Barrier Reef Is now Facing Most Widespread Bleaching Event Yet, Smithsonian Magazine April 9, 2020)

There is no stronger signal of serious trouble for the planet than 3 consecutive massive bleachings of the Great Barrier Reef within only 5 years, as ocean temperatures hit all-time recorded highs. That’s a no-brainer.

The implications are downright scary. The fact that collapse is already underway in real time today should be enough evidence to bring world leadership together to take advantage of “coronavirus-forced downtime” to reorganize the world economy around planet-friendly eco economics and drop, like a hot potato, the neoliberal brand of capitalism of the past 40 years.

But still, getting real, what can be done?

Only a worldwide Marshall Plan can save civilization, as it is currently constituted, but maybe not, some say it’s too late. Still, there’s no competent leadership, with vision, in the world to take charge. After all, high-end capitalism forged a new brand of leadership, as it depends upon iron-fisted tyrannical leadership to survive its obvious foibles, and there are many!

However, even in a world of perfect leadership, or even imperfect leadership but smart and informed, and based upon real science, a sober-minded (studious and logical) leader would toss out neoliberalism in favor of eco economics in a NY minute as a rescue-line to the planet.

Meanwhile, according to the above-referenced Trisos ecosystem study: “Keeping global warming below 2°C effectively ‘flattens the curve’ of how this risk to biodiversity will accumulate over the century,” said co-author Dr Alex Pigot from UCL, “providing more time for species and ecosystems to adapt to the changing climate.” (Source: Climate Change Could Abruptly Alter Biodiversity, University of Cape Town News, April 8, 2020)

Since studying climate change/global warming for over a decade, it’s readily apparent that it is careening down a path of doomsday-type events. Its trajectory is clearly up, up, and away. Accordingly, horrific problems could ensue, unexpectedly, for example, abrupt loss of adequate food resources due to mid/lower latitude agriculture collapse under the stress of too much global heat.

Ecosystem collapse is already evident. The Fertile Crescent (Middle East) where Western Civilization started, is rapidly disappearing as a breadbasket because of: (1) severe droughts and (2) stupid human mismanagement of natural resources. Portions of eastern and southern Mediterranean landmass are drying up faster than anywhere else on the planet. Hence, eco migrants commit to arduous pathways to Europe, in time morphing into a retro Mad Max world.

A planet that transitions from a healthy source of natural resources to a bruised limp shell of its former self is potentially much more deadly than coronavirus, which is merely one more example of an abrupt happenstance (Black Swan) that nobody expected, as it happened all of a sudden, out of the blue.

Abrupt ecosystem collapse is similar to coronavirus in some aspects but dreadfully different and much more sinister in many others.

Postscript: “The main finding that surprised us was how much biodiversity is at risk in the first half of this century,” said Dr Christopher Trisos, senior researcher at the African Climate & Development Initiative at the University of Cape Town (UCT). “The risk doesn’t accumulate gradually, but can go from low risk to high risk within a decade. This abruptness of risk was really a shocking finding for us.”

Robert Hunziker, MA, economic history DePaul University, awarded membership in Pi Gamma Mu International Academic Honor Society in Social Sciences is a freelance writer and environmental journalist who has over 200 articles published, including several translated into foreign languages, appearing in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He has been interviewed on numerous FM radio programs, as well as television.

  Read Abrupt Ecosystem Collapse
  April 17, 2020
Will this phase of history change us as individuals, communities and nations?
by Kandathil Sebastian , Countercurrents.org, in World

Last night, I got a call from my cousin sister. She is a Nurse in a big hospital in NY. She was calling me after a long time. In fact, I started getting many such phone calls from several other friends and relatives after the current pandemic driven global lockdown. Glad that people are finding more time to interact as relatives, friends and family members.

My cousin Jyoti who called me yesterday, told me that right at the time when she called me, three trucks full of dead bodies are lying outside her hospital. On an average 70 bodies are taken out daily from only her wing of the hospital. For the 10 minutes or so we have spoken, I could hear continuous sirens of ambulances coming into her hospital. She said people above 70 are not given any treatment or ventilators. There is only a 50 – 50 chance for death or life for even those who go into the ventilators. This is NY.

We do not know where we are headed to in India. I sit now in an apartment house in south Delhi which is inside a ‘red’ marked zone. Occasionally I go out for a short and quick visit to the nearby market to buy necessities such as vegetables and milk. I do attend zoom calls from the office and my children attend online classes. As a family, we spend our time cooking, cleaning and also investing some time on our favorite hobbies including music, social media and reading books. We do not know how long this will continue.

I called my servant yesterday. She used to come in the daytime to help us with cooking and cleaning. She sounded very fragile and weak. She wanted to get some money to buy food, but she does not have an account with a money transfer facility. Servants are not allowed to enter our apartment. She somehow managed to send me the account details of her brother through whom I was able to send her some money. But I feel helpless to the plight of hundreds of hungry people out there in the street. How long?

It is clearly an uncertain time. We are going through very difficult, stressful and shocking times. This is unprecedented and a very rare period of human history.

But if we look back into history, we see these kinds of epidemics were kept on happening in human history at periodic intervals.

There was a well-known scientist called Malthus. He said, when the rise in population is greater than that of the food supply, it creates a condition of disequilibrium. As a result, people will not get enough food even for survival. People will die due to a lack of food supply. But nature will have its own mechanisms of checks and balances. People will be subjected to wars, epidemics, famines, starvation, and other natural calamities. These are named as positive checks by Malthus.

There are many criticisms against the Malthusian theory of population checks. But one thing is certain. Whenever men lived against the rules of nature, beyond limits, there were always serious consequences.

Human beings are supposed to live within the sustainable limit that nature suggests. Unfortunately, we see people are exploiting the nature beyond measure. ‘Human need’ is being replaced by ‘human greed’.

Popular author Yuval Noah Harari says, “As a species, humans prefer power to truth. We spend far more time and effort on trying to control the world than on trying to understand it – and even when we try to understand it, we usually do so in the hope that understanding the world will make it easier to control it.” As a result, we had several floods, famines, earthquakes, and pandemics.

Humans as a species have survived many disasters and pandemics. In the case of COVID we know that those who have better immunity are escaping from infection. Experts say nutritious food, adequate physical exercise, low-stress levels and enough sleep can boost our immunity.

In this time of confusion, fear and chaos, it is very difficult to maintain a low stress. Many people ask a lot of ‘IF’ questions. If I get the infection, what will happen to me, to my children, to my project and so on. Experts say it is better to stay away from such hypothetical questions and be always positive in our mindset.

My classmate Ajimol Mohan is a Psychologist in Toronto. She shared a method called ‘appreciation’ to reduce our stress levels. Whenever we experience high levels of stress, pick up a piece of paper and note our stress level on a scale of 1-10, say 6. Then we should sit quietly at a comfortable place and think about a pleasant memory or look at some pleasant object. It could be a thing or a person or a painting that is very pleasant and generating some positive vibes. We shouldn’t think about individuals, objects or events which can give us pain or unpleasant thoughts. After some time, we will notice that our stress levels have come down considerably. We may go back to the piece of paper and note down our stress levels which may be lesser than the earlier score. If needed, we can repeat the process.

After the coming of COVID many people started saying that ‘religion is dead’, ‘science win’ etc. All these are meaningless assertions. In fact, science is only one form of religion and all these religions and spirituality will continue to co-exist till human beings exist. I have seen many scientist friends who gained strength through spirituality and faith. Faith, hope, and love are our bridges to the future. Science and spirituality offer tools and fuel to cross the river of human miseries!

COVID like shocks and uncertainties are part of a process of rejuvenating the earth. Such processes happen at the micro-level and macro-level too in individuals, communities, nations and even in planets.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has written a beautiful book called ‘Antifragile’. In this book, Taleb says: “Modern society assumes that anything can be ‘fixed,’ but most of the time it is better to leave well alone. Socioeconomic life and the human body can actually be harmed by intervention, leaving the whole more fragile to shocks and uncertainty. Often, the best course of action is to ignore the noise from too much data, and let time take care of the problem.”

It is good and even essential to have such shocks for organizations also. According to Taleb, best systems (whether of organizations or of individuals) are the ones that overcame shocks, volatility and uncertainty! They gain a natural empathy for those who are suffering and the marginalized. We all need to face COVID like shocks. To him, “Suppressing volatility and randomness in our economy, our health, our education, or our political life makes systems more fragile. Without stressors, complex systems become weak and even die”. We can use this time as an opportunity to re-discover life and to live life in its fullness.

Those who are religious may subject themselves to the will of God while having full faith in God’s plans for them. Others may regain their strength through whatever processes which usually offer them peace and tranquillity and hope.

Haruki Murakami discussed a similar scenario to what we live in today in one of his stories. He writes: “Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. All you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

We are in a storm of confusion and chaos. This phase will definitely pass. We will overcome this sooner than later. When we overcome this, let us be resilient, changed and loving individuals and communities. Will we?

(Kandathil Sebastian is a researcher, novelist, and commentator on social issues)

  Read Will this phase of history change us as individuals, communities and nations?
  April 17, 2020
The ‘alien’, the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ in times of a pandemic
by Vasudeva Naidu K, Countercurrents.org,in Life/Philosophy

“When I described the tumor in my esophagus as a “blind, emotionless, alien,” I suppose that even I couldn’t help awarding it some of the qualities of a living thing. That at least I know to be a mistake: an instance of the pathetic fallacy by which we ascribe animate qualities to inanimate phenomena.”

    • – Christopher Hitchens, Mortality

The world, needless to say, is currently battling with a similar kind of a ‘blind, emotionless, alien’ in the form of CoVid-19, which has efficiently rattled the 21st century’s ‘global village’, matching in its pace in bringing the fast paced life to a grinding halt, rupturing the grand apparatus of globalisation by reinforcing the borders of nation states along with creating new borders of quarantine from  cities, towns, streets to new segregations, even  within the space one calls ‘home’. Hitchens’s understanding of the cancer in his esophagus as an ‘alien’ is understandable to most and relatable to some, almost familiar in a sardonic way (in the limited confines of language) as a foreign invader of a host’s body. But cancer never managed to evoke the kind of global terror that CoVid-19 has managed to do in such a short time, primarily because of the scale of damage it has done and is still capable of until contained. What makes CoVid-19 more alien is the directly proportional relationship between its rapid global spread and the looming unfamiliarity of the virus without a potential cure.

Taking a break from the Covid-19 virus for a moment, if one should just look at the term ‘alien’ without getting into its historiography, one can still broadly club together the polysemic aspects of this term as primarily constituting the ‘other’, in a colonial, castetist, classist and racial sense, flowing from the notion of ‘self’ within the confines of the anthropocentric world view.  In other words, the term ‘alien’ has been used by some humans to categorize other humans in order to oppress, supress or separate the latter, in different contexts throughout history. Until the advancement of modern science in the last two centuries and the discovery of the microbial universe (of which CoVid-19 is very much a part of), the explanations for the occasional outbreaks of plague and disease (at best or worst) were angry acts of God, catering to the need to give form to the mysterious , thereby  restricting the definition of ‘alien’ to the social sphere.

The term ‘alien’ attained new meanings as science developed, while retaining the ones in the social sphere. One can argue that this addition of new definitions to the term ‘alien’ by modern science is gradually marring the ascribed social categories of ‘self’ and the ‘other’, as the human species understands more and more about the planet and the universe. On the other hand one can also argue (very convincingly) that the advancement of technology in this capitalist structure of the current ‘global village’ has only reinforced the notions of ‘self’ and ‘other’, of rich and poor, of haves and have nots, of the expendable and the unexpendable, where the old dictum ‘knowledge is power’ has evolved to ‘control of knowledge is power’. One can continue to argue that there is a looming gap between the advancement of technology and scientific/rational thinking in the ‘modern’ society. This holds especially true in the case of India, where the state is actively participating in endorsing and encouraging pseudo-scientific and superstitious practices among its citizens in the name of ‘warding off’ the CoVid-19. Most recent example is the active response to the Prime Minister of India’s call to chant, ring bells, bang empty utensils of steel and light candles. It would be redundant to interpret this as simply respecting the position one holds in the office or a mere matter of showing national solidarity or worse feeling patriotic. Rather, (if one should draw from Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punishment) is an ostentatious display of power on the human body in modern society through the instruments of pseudo-science and the fear of the unknown, where the politics of subjugation derive legitimacy through a hazy mix of the scientific and the pseudo. The facilitation of the ‘known’ through science for an individual (thanks to technology) feeds into the fear of the unknown for the collective, becoming a breeding swamp for the pseudo and the superstitious to take control and subdue. In other words, the fear of the unknown (CoVid-19) is crucial in facilitating this mass performance to mitigate the social angst caused by the virus. But this mass act is not a spontaneous one. It needs a sutradhara, a director, a father figure, the dear leader to “administer” it. Theodor Adorno in Freudian Theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda writes:

“When the leaders become conscious of mass psychology and take it into their own hands, it ceases to exist in a certain sense… just as little as people believe in the depth of their hearts that the Jews are the devil, do they completely believe in their leader. They do not really identify themselves with him but act this identification, perform their own enthusiasm, and thus participate in their leader’s performance.”

Until the age of the Industrial Revolution, when the world was yet to be fully explored and colonised by the white man,  the notion of ‘other’ always had room for the mythic and the unknown. Animal motifs in art since antiquity are replete with examples (like the unicorn) giving a form to the fantastic and the mysterious. Fantasy played a significant role in trying to bridge the gaps between the known and the unknown, the rational and the irrational, the ‘self’ and the mysterious ‘other’. This fantasy has evolved with the evolution of the scientific discipline over the centuries, consistently finding room to accommodate the irrational. In the quote at the beginning, Hitchens’ conscious acknowledgement of ‘attributing qualities of a living thing’ to the cancer in his body is at best an affectation on the not-so-conscious attribution of the ‘bad spirit’ like stature given to CoVid-19 by the Indian mass psyche. Therefore, while labs across the world are trying to find effective ways to test and treat the spread of the virus, there seems to be no harm (as is endorsed by many popular figures in India from the film industry), to look at the astrological chart and pick a time to collectively generate ‘positive vibrations’ by ringing bells and banging utensils to fight the virus (a seeming Pascalian wager).

Also, the fear of the CoVid-19 virus has strengthened the fear and alienation towards the known ‘other’. For instance, the most recent development in the treatment of the minorities in India (Muslims and the North-East people included), is their perceived symptomatic relationship in the spread of CoVid-19 in the popular discourse. Another instance is the treatment meted out to the doctors and the nurses working tirelessly to treat the infected across the country in spite of the lack of proper protective gear. While on one hand this has resulted in vague praises by the state and the civil society, it has also catapulted them into the category of the ‘other’ in many parts of India. They are being ostracised and vilified by certain sections of the same civil society with the fear of them acting as agents for the spread of the virus.  It is interesting to note that, ideally this lockdown should have brought the plight of Kashmiris closer to the broader Indian psyche but it is not so. If anything, the fear of the virus has only segregated and monstrosised the ‘other’ from this ‘Pan-Indian’ majoritarian ‘self’.


Image: The Phantom (From Dreams: A Series) by Vasudeva Naidu

As the pandemic continues its work and the potential ‘modern’ host languishes in the confinement of the indeterminate quarantine (exempting the poorest of the poor), there are notes of hope that when this is all over, the virus will leave an indelible mark on the existing economic structure of the world for the better. One can already feel the pitch of optimism in a particular class of the society who for instance while reading Milan Kundera’s Slowness would periodically post Instagram stories, musing on how slowness facilitates remembering, helping in coming to terms with one’s ‘self’ as opposed to the fast paced life brought about by modernity and technology, that one is only too familiar with.  Maybe the virus will manage to do just that in an alchemic way, turning isolation into solitude for many, or maybe not. But, this renewed form of assertion and negotiation of the self with the ‘self’ as a consequence of the conditions imposed by the virus has left enough room for the possibility of a reassertion of the known ‘other’ as a more ‘alien’ and  dangerous entity, pushing the category closer and closer towards the fear of CoVid-19 and latching it altogether with the virus, leading to a phantasmagoria of the pandemic.

One cannot help but remember William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, in which the band of boys trapped on an island during wartime, organise themselves democratically to survive hoping to be rescued eventually. As the novel progresses, this order quickly deteriorates as the majority of the boys become idle giving room to paranoias, the chief of which is a supposed monster they call the “beast”. Acting on this paranoia results in the escalation of a series of tragic events leading to the death of Piggy who represented civility and rationality on the island.

Vasudeva Naidu K Was a research scholar in the department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Gandhinagar from 2014 to 2017. Currently teaching in Salesian College, Darjeeling.

  Read The ‘alien’, the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ in times of a pandemic
  April 17, 2020
“State Is The March Of God On Earth”: Re-examining Hegel In Times Of Corona Crisis
by Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, Countercurrents.org, in Life/Philosophy

Famous German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel was the first philosopher who linked social science and natural science by applying the principle of Thesis, Anti-Thesis and Synthesis. He effectively separated State and Religion while allowing them to function in their separate spheres and advanced the scientific thinking of modern world. In these times of coronavirus war on humanity we must understand his game changing statement that “State is the March of God on Earth”. Three major religions of the world–Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, are still struggling to accept State, Science and Medicine as the saviors of the humanity and religion should move into the private sphere. Religions must leave the public domain to the State in a situation when a pandemic like corona erupted and shaken the foundations of human life. State, according Hegel, is a rational institution as an agent of rational God. He transformed God from a superstitious element into a rational element and from subjective being to objective reality.

Modern state is much more developed than what it was during Hegel’s time in early nineteenth century. In India, for example, with the Bharatiya Janatha Party coming to power in 1999 and 2014, state is seen as an irrational faith based institution. Yogi Adityanath, who was supposed to be a non-political sanyasi, became the Chief Minister of biggest state in India and is handling it as if it is a Mutt like religious institution, risking the nation itself. A global Islamic body, Tablighi Jamaat, by organizing an international conference at Delhi at a time when corona was attacking the world put whole of India in great risk. In America a pastor of major church in Florida was arrested for refusing to lock down a church and still holding mass services 1

Hegel died of Cholera in 1831 at the age of 61. Religion in those days was very dominant and conflict between medical science and faith based religion was very intense. Cholera was not a pandemic like Corona which we are struggling with. But it was a major epidemic in Germany of his time. Large number of people were dying in Germany as they were dying world over in 2020. Hegel went out of Berlin for fear of cholera but after  his university was re-opened he came back and was said to have died having contracted cholera.

Hegel was an intense reader of Bible and a serious follower of Jesus Christ and wrote a book on Him– Life of Jesus. In fact Hegel was trained to be a pastor but he left that course and became a philosopher.

At that time also the religious masses perhaps were not caring the state controls to save themselves. In those trying times Hegel declared that ‘State Is the March of God on Earth’. He conjoined State with God which no religious person or preacher would accept. It was a blasphemic statement. But Hegel wanted them to understand the role of strong state in difficult situations. He thought that his German rulers were not strong enough hence he wanted Napoleon to take over Germany.

But we are living in times that democracy is a dominant political system where discussion, consultation and policy formulation even to tackle pandemic situations would play a better role than dictatorship. People must be sensitive enough to understand the importance of public health than that of individual pleasure or right in times of pandemics. Very organised religion is far more well spread now than in Hegel’s times. Hegel’s was post crusades and post Martin Luther period and the Islamic and the Hindu religions were not so well organised at that time. Buddhism always remained a different entity without pushing itself into fundamentalism at any time in its existential history. Its only fundamentalist tendency was maintaining all male Sangha system in the modern times. But by and large the states where Buddhism is dominant religion, there the religion functions under the guidance of state laws as religious congregations were never critical to that religion. Socialism and semi-socialism are the main socio-political structure in these Far Eastern Buddhist nations, except Japan. The notion of God in those countries is focused in the image of Buddha or on their ancestors.

At a time when Coronavirus is waging a war on global humanity, there are billions who still believe that God, Allah or Eswar will save people from coronavirus in Hindu, Muslims and Christian religious nations and they do not have to care for the state, doctors and medicine. Many of them do not want to practice Disease Distancing ( I am against using the phrase Social Distancing) in the markets and at home. Particularly some religious communities like Muslims believe in herded prayer life. They normally organize religious congregations with huge number of people at the religious spaces. Many Muslim countries have not adopted democracy where debate and expert opinion does not play any role in decision making on health issues. They use Quoranic injunctions to pass decrees. In many Muslim countries monarchies or dictatorships are handling power at the time of coronoa pandemic attack. Social science and medical science discourses have not acquired much place in those countries. India which was a secular democracy from 1947 began to change the course  after the Bharatiya Janatha Party/Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh came to power in 1999 and 2014. The social science, natural science and medical science developmental discourse in the country came under cloud. Investment in the sciences–social, natural and medical–got reduced drastically. The State is not seen as the ‘March of God on the Earth’but began to be seen ‘Mythology is the State’. The RSS/BJP forces have no understanding of European thought of materialism and science and religion negotiated with each other. They started treating the ancient texts as ready made answer books like the Quoran in the Muslim world even on medical issues.

Corona pandemic suddenly intervened into this process of change from democratic to theocratic state in India. Science, particularly medical science had to come to central stage as the corona pandemic threatened everybody’s life like a nuclear war on a particular zone. No nuclear war can shake the whole world at once like the coronavirus could do.

Globally the contemporary state–whether of democratic or of one party or of one man dictatorship–is far more powerful and organized than what it was in Hegel’s time. The virus has attacked the word in the thick of the right wing spiritual forces took control of many nation states. Hence there is a confused handling of virus.

The Muslim world has been depending more on Allah than on state, doctor and medicine even in times of corona attack. Many Muslim  countries have not focused on medical infrastructure at all. The Hindutva forces in India are spreading superstition and myth as source of state power and kept the morale of Indian scientists and doctors at low by the time the virus attacked in March 2020. Babas and yogis became Chief Ministers and most Hindutvawadis are more baba worshipers than God worshipers. The Indian secular State was transformed into baba state and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hanging between astrology and science. He declares at 9 AM on 3rd March that people should lit lamps on 5th March at 9 PM for 9 Minutes. Some astrologer must have told him that number 9 works like an anti-corona vaccine. The Indian PM while ruling 1.3 billion people believed in that kind of astrology. He is known as more sensible among the BJP/RSS leaders who are ruling the nation yet his regime never gave reason, science and medicine priority over belief and faith. An individual can rely on belief and faith and face the consequence as an individual but the state must be a an embodiment of Reason as Hegel wanted it to be.

Modi and his team have been attacking Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, who believed in reason and science as the foundation of modern Indian democratic secular state. If only that beginning was not made in the 1940s India would have been a hot bed of superstition and ignorance. Though BJP/RSS combine praises Dr..B.R.Ambedkar it does not believe in the rational state that he advocated for.

Even the Christian world where secularism and rationality gained ground over a period of time went back into more fundamentalist beliefs where Pentecostal spirits not Jesus started dominating by the time corona landed in the West from China. America had to arrest pastors who refused to lock down churches. The case of a Muslim Mullah international conference organized at Delhi from 13 January to 16, which spread the virus across India that was contracted by the native Muslims from the air traveled foreign Mullahs is case in point. At Ayodhya on Sriramnavami (marriage celebration Sriram with Sita) massive gathering on 2nd April was planned by Yogi Adityanath but that had to be forcefully stopped by Modi Government.

There is an international guiding body called the United Nations Organization and  its health wing, World Health Organization, to guide people on protection of health through modern medical science practices now. The guide lines are coming from there. But each state has to implement those guidelines with a scientific temper. Religious fundamentalists do not bother about the medical science and many of them are ready to die in the name of God, Allah or Eswar. But a virus like corona does not kill just one individual even s/he wants to die for the sake of their belief. It kills many people who want to live and depend on reason and medicine. The modern state has to ensure the life of those who want live more seriously than those who want to die without any concern for others. Death in a pandemic situation does not remain and individual affair. An individual death becomes a community or nation’s death.

Like the Chinese doctor Li Weliang who warned the Chinese state about the deadly virus and became victim of that virus but saved millions from the virus the modern state must save every life with the help of science, medicine and doctors . There are many science believers who would want to live long and preserve many lives would die if the state does not take timely steps. The solution to the problem of contradiction between science and faith lies in Hegelian formulation that ‘State is the March of God on Earth’.

India is a country of 1.3 billion people. If the pandemic is not handled by the Indian state based on science, medicine and doctor and para medical strength , the nation will stand to lose millions of people.

Hegelian state was an embodiment of Reason and God but not of  superstitious faith. In a crisis like this that state needs to operate on rational grounds. Any rational state deploys science as the driving force of disease cure. Doctor and nurse with the help of medicine and technology  play a key role in saving human beings but not superstition or astrology or prayer. Every religious institution has to surrender to modern rational state so that human life could be saved first. Hegel understood the relationship between God, State and Science. His famous statement that State is the March of God on Earth is more relevant now than any other time before. Let that God function with full powers but not as dictator but as democracy.

Hegel was not a socialist like Marx. But he laid the foundation for socialist thought, state and society. The socialist state emerged and has undergone ups and downs. But during coronacrisis of the world it seems to re-emerge as the best alternative for human survival. Hence Hegel becomes more relevant now than ever before.

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd is Political Theorist, Social Activist and Author

  Read State Is The March Of God On Earth: Re-examining Hegel In Times Of Corona Crisis

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