An Assessment of Global Civilizational State, Evolutionity, along with Global Solidarity and United Citizens Movement.
Germain Joseph Dufour
Department of Physics, University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada
The following article is a very close copy of this original work published by the International Journal of Philosophy. Here is the Microsoft Word document of the article.
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 and Evolutionity are 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. In fact both are also a continuation from the previous Modernity epoch inspired by the mechanistic and deterministic view of societies, and Postmodernity epoch been born out of our dissatisfaction with modernity, and characterized by issues related to the global warming of the planet, globalization, political instability and a social and political regress to irrationality. As Global Civilizational State and Evolutionity along with Global Solidarity and United Citizens Movement begin 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.
Note: We do not have any funds to pay anyone and for anything. We work strictly on a volunteer basis.
David Anderson, Countercurrents Collective (3), Guy Crequie (2), Evel Economakis, Dr Andrew Glikson, Robert Hunziker, Devraj Singh Kalsi, Dr Binoy Kampmark (2), Mahboob A. Khawaja (2), Michael T Klare, Dan Lieberman, Mariana Mazzucato, Calvin Priest, Nomi Prins, Dr. Leo Rebello (2), Kandathil Sebastian , Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, Federico Tabellini, Vasudeva Naidu K, T Vijayendra.
David Anderson, Covid-19 – Postlude Human Life on Planet Earth ?
Countercurrents Collective , Coronavirus Pandemic: More than $4 trillion from global economy will be wiped out.
Countercurrents Collective, Covid-19 Reveals The Ugly Face Of US Hegemonism and imperialism.
Countercurrents Collective, Largest Arctic ozone hole ever recorded over the North Pole.
Guy Crequie, Enseignement à tirer pour les conduites humaines de la crise provoquée par la pandémie du COVID-19 ?
Guy Crequie, La réalité française et ma situation ! French reality and my situation!
Evel Economakis, “May you live in interesting times”: Covid-19 and Capitalism’s Existential Crisis
Dr Andrew Glikson, While we fixate on coronavirus, Earth is hurtling towards a catastrophe worse than the dinosaur extinction.
Robert Hunziker, Abrupt Ecosystem Collapse.
Devraj Singh Kalsi, After the Pandemic
Dr Binoy Kampmark, Coronavirus Socialism for the Wealthy
Dr Binoy Kampmark, Cutting the Funding: The WHO, Trump and the Coronavirus Wars.
Dr Mahboob A Khawaja, COVID-19 Pandemic and the Global Humanity
Mahboob A. Khawaja, 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?
Dan Lieberman, Democratic Socialism Will Soon Replace Capitalism
Mariana Mazzucato, Capitalism’s Triple Crisis.
Calvin Priest, We Won’t Die for Wall Street.
Nomi Prins, Wall Street Wins – Again: Bailouts in the Time of Coronavirus.
Dr. Leo Rebello, HIGH PRIORITY WRIT PETITION FOR KIND ATTENTION BY THE FULL BENCH.
Dr. Leo Rebello, DR. LEO REBELLO'S POEM ON LOCKDOWN,
Kandathil Sebastian, Will this phase of history change us as individuals, communities and nations?
Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, “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.
Vasudeva Naidu K, The ‘alien’, the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ in times of a pandemic
T Vijayendra, Collapse Is Here.
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|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
|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
|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
|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”
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.
A WAY TO A GLOBAL SOLUTION
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.
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)
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
“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.”
“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
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
|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.
|April 4, 2020||
Coronavirus Pandemic: More than $4 trillion from global economy will be wiped out.
by Countercurrents Collective , Countercurrents.org, in World
The coronavirus pandemic will hit the global economy in a much bigger way than previously expected, warned the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has warned in its annual economic report – Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2020.
According to the gloomiest scenario presented by the bank, the impact of the “worst pandemic in a century” will be $4.1 trillion, or 4.8 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP). However, even this forecast could turn out worse given the impact of the outbreak on global supply chains and how long it will take to contain the virus.
“The estimated impact could be an underestimate, as additional channels such as supply disruptions, interrupted remittances, possible social and financial crises, and long-term effects on health care and education are excluded from the analysis,” reads the ADO 2020.
The report said: While the higher forecast reflects the spread of the infection to Europe, the U.S., and other major economies, on the low end, the global cost could be $2 trillion if demand shocks are smaller and containment periods shorten.
Even the best-case scenario indicates a sharp rise in estimated economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
An earlier report released by the ADB, an Asian multinational lender, on March 6 showed that the virus could cost the world around $347 billion in the worst-case scenario.
According to the latest outlook, regional economic growth in developing Asia will decline sharply this year amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
The report forecasts regional growth of 2.2 percent in 2020, down more than three percent from earlier predictions.
However, growth is expected to rebound to more than six percent in 2021, if the world returns to normal.
The pandemic-induced global downturn worse than financial crisis, finds IMF
The pandemic has brought the global economy to a standstill and plunged the world into a recession that will be “way worse” than the global financial crisis a decade ago, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Friday, calling it “humanity’s darkest hour.”
The IMF’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, speaking at a rare joint news conference with the leader of the World Health Organization (WHO), called on advanced economies to step up their efforts to help emerging markets and developing countries survive the economic and health impact of the pandemic.
“This is a crisis like no other,” she told some 400 reporters on a video conference call. “We have witnessed the world economy coming to a standstill. We are now in recession. It is way worse than the global financial crisis” of 2008-2009.
Georgieva said the IMF was working with the World Bank and WHO to advance their call for China and other official bilateral creditors to suspend debt collections from the poorest countries for at least a year until the pandemic subsides.
China is engaged constructively
She said China had engaged “constructively” on the issue, and the IMF would work on a specific proposal in coming weeks with the Paris Club of creditor nations, the Group of 20 major economies and the World Bank for review at the annual Spring Meetings, which will be held online in about two weeks.
Emerging markets and developing economies have been hard hit by the crisis, Georgieva said, noting that nearly $90 billion in investments had already flowed out of emerging markets, far more than during the financial crisis. Some countries are also suffering from sharp drops in commodity prices.
More than 90 countries, nearly half the IMF’s 189 members, have asked for emergency funding from the IMF to respond to the pandemic, she said.
The IMF and WHO have called for emergency aid to be used mainly to strengthen health systems, pay doctors and nurses, and buy protective gear.
Georgieva said the IMF stood ready to use as much of its “war chest” of $1 trillion in financing capability as needed.
The IMF has begun disbursing funds to requesting countries, including Rwanda, with requests from two additional African nations to be reviewed on Friday, she said.
“This is, in my lifetime, humanity’s darkest hour – a big threat to the whole world – and it requires from us to stand tall, be united, and protect the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens,” she said.
She said central banks and finance ministers had already taken unprecedented steps to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and stabilize markets, but more work was needed to keep liquidity flowing, especially to emerging markets.
To that end, the IMF’s board in coming days would review a proposal to create a new short-term liquidity line to help provide funds to countries facing problems. Georgieva also urged central banks and particularly the U.S. Federal Reserve to continue offering swap lines to emerging economies.
World Bank president
World Bank president David Malpass echoed her outlook in a post on LinkedIn, writing, “Beyond the health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are expecting a major global recession.”
In his posting, Malpass said a debt standstill could begin on May 1, providing added liquidity for the poorest countries as they battle the disease. During the suspension period, he said, the World Bank and the IMF could evaluate the sustainability of those countries’ debt and the possible need for a debt reduction by official creditors and commercial creditors.
In March, the IMF chief it’s “clear” that the global economy has “entered recession” due to the pandemic.
Georgieva said she expects the recession to be “quite deep.” Recovery is projected for 2021, but only if the virus can be contained, she said.
She said countries needed to step up their response measures aggressively, adding that the IMF has received a large number of requests for emergency financing.
Georgieva said the international body has received pledges from Britain, Japan, and China for a “catastrophic containment and relief trust” for the poorest countries and that she hopes more will follow.
She predicted that emerging markets will need assistance of $2.5 trillion, and that estimate is “on the low end.” A practical approach will be needed to prevent indebted countries from “falling off the cliff,” she said.
U.S. needs cushion
Speaking about the U.S. in particular, Georgieva said it will be absolutely necessary to cushion the world’s biggest economy and said the $2 trillion package of measures already agreed on by the Trump administration was a welcome step.
She said it is important to protect workers and families from sudden loss of income, and that it is also critical to protect companies.
The IMF boss confirmed the IMF is working closely with the WHO to raise global production of critical medical equipment. She said China is an important source of health supplies and is stepping up production.
She predicted that the global recovery will be staggered, much like the way the pandemic hit countries one after the other.
The pandemic could trigger global food shortage, UN warns
As the coronavirus crisis escalated, some countries decided to enforce protectionist measures, including export bans for certain products, to satisfy growing domestic demand.
“The worst that can happen is that governments restrict the flow of food,” Maximo Torero, chief economist of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, told the Guardian, adding that we may face the consequences of these steps soon.
For example, Russia halted exports of buckwheat and other grains for 10 days starting from March 20. Neighboring Kazakhstan followed suit and introduced restrictions on shipments of wheat flour, buckwheat, sugar, several types of vegetables, and sunflower oil.
The UN official warns that protectionist measures and trade barriers only make the situation worse, creating “extreme volatility.”
Another problem is that some countries now lack the workforce to harvest the crops due in part to border closures and domestic lockdowns. As the coronavirus sweeps through Europe, farmers in France, Spain, and Italy complain that fruits and vegetables are quickly ripening and will be left to rot if the situation does not change, according to Bloomberg. Strawberry and asparagus growers are already unable to pick their crops, while everything from salad greens and tomatoes, to onions and peas could be next in line.
“Coronavirus is affecting the labor force and the logistical problems are becoming very important,” Torero said as cited by the Guardian. He added that special policies should be introduced to keep the food supply chain operating.
In order to not waste tons of harvest, Germany, which lacks around 300,000 workers, has created a special website to bring together struggling farmers and those who can help. Students and those forced to quit their jobs, for example in the service sector, are welcome to join the initiative. A similar platform was reportedly launched in Austria.
Average citizens themselves are contributing to the looming shortages by hoarding food in amounts they cannot even eat before it expires. Panic buying only deepens the crisis, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said, advising people to avoid wasting food.
Competition for supplies sharpening as pandemic worsens
An AP report said on April 4, 2020:
Scarce supplies of medical equipment are leading to growing competition within the U.S. and among nations, in what one French politician called a “worldwide treasure hunt.”
The governor of New York state, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, vowed to seize unused ventilators from private hospitals and companies, while the U.S President Donald Trump said he was preventing the export of N95 respirator masks and surgical gloves, a move he said was necessary to ensure that medical supplies are available in the U.S.
A more immediate concern was the shortage of masks and gloves, leading to fierce competition among buyers from Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere and aggressive measures such as New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to take ventilators that are not being used. Cuomo says New York, the worst U.S. hot spot, could run out of ventilators next week.
“If they want to sue me for borrowing their excess ventilators to save lives, let them sue me,” Cuomo said. He promised to eventually return the equipment or compensate the owners.
Worldwide shortages have caused health care workers to fall sick and forced doctors in Europe to make life-or-death decisions about which patients get a breathing machine. The search for supplies and bidding wars among buyers have created what Valerie Pecresse, president of France’s battered Île-de-France region, called a “worldwide treasure hunt.”
The governor of the U.S. state of Louisiana said New Orleans could exhaust its supply by Tuesday.
Amid swelling cases, Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has gone from one unit dedicated to coronavirus patients to seven. Nurse Christen Hyde said nurses call families twice a day to give updates on their relatives, in some cases delivering bleak news.
“To have to call a family member and tell them that their family member is not doing well and they are probably going to be passing soon is just devastating,” said Hyde, who has had four patients die.
|April 5, 2020||
COVID-19 Pandemic and the Global Humanity
by Dr Mahboob A Khawaja, Countercurrents.org, in World
Has civilization taught us to be more friendly towards one another? Asked Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher and intellectual and explains further: …Within the herd we are more friendly to each other than are many species of animals, but in our attitude towards those outside the herd, in spite of all that has been done by moralists and religious teachers, our emotions are as ferocious as those of any animal, and our intelligence enables us to give them a scope which is denied to even the most savage beast. It may be hoped, though not very confidently, that the more humane attitude will in time come to prevail, but so far the omens are not very propitious. (Bertrand A. Russell, Ideas that Have Helped Mankind.)
“Pandemic” or Tormenting Fear of The Global Unknown
The 21st century is an age of globalization. Crisis in one part of the world affect all the people of the Earth. We, the humanity live in co-existence with the Nature of Things within the Universe. If we tend to be blind to basic human requisites of human rights, human safety and care, social justice and peace, we tend to challenge and deny the cosmic harmony and justice in which we exist as mankind.
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is a strand that can be found in the interwoven people’s thought and politics of the 21st century knowledge-based informed governance that echoes concerns and priorities that humanitarian imperatives are scarified for political expediency. The common sentiment of human solidarity is increasing over the inept nationalistic politics of the few like President Trump- “America First.” Politicians cannot resolve an exceptionally complex medical problem. When a global paradigm of this nature and unpredictable scope hits the mankind, one cannot think to focus on national interest and political campaigns to get re-elected. We are witnessing the severity of this COVID-19 impact across the globe and how millions and millions reject the politically maneuvered ideological divisions, hatred and fear and opt for understanding, collaboration and human solidarity to fight the virus with ingenuity, compassion and global unity. It is impeccable for the thinking people of the globe to rise up to the challenge and demonstrate how best We, the People are connected together as One Humanity to encounter this invisible enemy of all without borders and nationalities. For several decades, the political elite of the global systematic governance remained pre-occupied with warfare and insanity of victimizing good parts of the humanity in the Middle East, Asia South America and many parts of Africa.
Should the UN-WHO be Re-Organized for the Good of Global Community?
Like the UNO- Security Council, the global humanity is worried to see its failure to resolve man-made conflicts throughout the world. It is a primary concern for the security and safety of the global communities but the UN-Security Council is incapable to address such painful problems. The mankind looks for workable solutions. In an objective analysis, one could repudiate the insane intellectualism of so many policy makers of the war industries overwhelmingly occupied to exterminate the humanity for no other reason except to keep the war economies running and productive. They make money by selling weapons, not safeguarding the people. Could the COVID-19 virus out of the nowhere make us rethink what went wrong with our thinking and strategic priorities to protect the humanity? How come human health and safety were not the priority items of the political elite’s agenda for the present and the future? Was it a planned slaughter of the advanced human civilizations for political change befitting to the agenda of the few? We, the People need to evaluate some of the contemporary global political policies and practices in a rational manner without prejudice and dogmatic judgments. It is not a blame game but a search for truth and accountability throughout the conscientious world.
Did the official elite ignore the alarming signs of a forthcoming catastrophic disease to affect all the mankind? It demonstrates small wisdom but claims of great knowledge that hold the official portfolios of political responsibility. The health care and safety of the people should have been the top most priority not the modeling of statistical data for deaths and sufferings of the masses. Modeling of the present crisis is based on information (data) to ponder at various perspectives and end-games for finding the remedy, it does not fulfill the public curiosity for a workable solution except to buy more time for rethinking and re-evaluation for the end purpose. Did the WHO failed in its mission to inform the global mankind of a disastrous sickness? The WHO had the information of the COVID -19 deadly viruses in December 2019, and it relied on issuing bulletins of concerns and warnings but not classifying it as an epidemic or pandemic. Were the elite of the WHO living in a different conflicting time zone to have ignored such a vital preemptive and critical information for the rest of the world? “Can We Trust the WHO?” Outlines F. William Engdahl (Global Research, 4/03/2020), lecturer at Princeton University and a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization:
Despite the huge 2009-10 conflict-of-interest scandals linking Big Pharma to WHO, today the WHO under Tedros has done little to clean out corruption and conflicts of interest. The current WHO Scientific Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) is riddled with members who receive “financially significant” funds from either major vaccine makers, or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BGMF) or Wellcome Trust. In the latest posting by WHO of the 15 scientific members of SAGE, no fewer than 8 had declared interest, by law, of potential conflicts. In almost every case the significant financial funder of these 8 SAGE members included the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Merck & Co. (MSD), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (a Gates-funded vaccine group), BMGF Global Health Scientific Advisory Committee, Pfizer, Novovax, GSK, Novartis, Gilead, and other leading pharma vaccine players. So much for independent scientific objectivity at WHO.
To the UN-WHO, it is imperative to be seen as an organization adhering to the facts of human life and to pool the global medical resources and provide prompt assistance and guidance to all the suffering humanity without any reservations.
How to Imagine “Medicine Men” for the Good of Humanity?
Ignorance and complacency should have no place when it comes to human health, safety and sustainable future-making. The medical experts acknowledge of a learning attitude from an ever evolving disease. It knows no perfect explanation or cure to remedy the alarming problem. Strange as is, Husain Abdullah Bu Ali Sina – Ibne–Sina (Avicenna – “Canon of Medicine” and “Book of Healing”), a 10th century Islamic scholar, and Zakria Al-Razi (Russ), a 9th century scientist did treat plague and other diseases successfully. Time and opportunity call for a comprehensive approach to comprehend the consequential sickness and workout a remedial treatment inclusive of the physical and spiritual factors. Ibna-Sina (Avicenna) narrates – ‘whenever a critical problem confronted me, I prayed to God and found the cure.’ We, the humankind are composed of both the physical and spiritual factors. There is no perfection in finding out a workable cure without analytical argument and contradiction. Some researchers funded by corporate world are focusing on the computerized analytical vices and weaknesses of the cases under investigation. Perhaps a global conference of all the concerned should be called for to find a remedy.
To Pharmusutcial establishments rushing for a cure, these vices could be outcome of ignorance and error. But any knowledge-based approach with an inner eye and mind could trace out the truth and place it candidly eradicating the weaknesses in the analytical systems and illuminating a much nobler principle of treatment for the good of mankind. After the facts, most political leaders are awaken from the slumber to rethink of the people’s approach and strategies to combat the catastrophic disease impacting the masses across all fields of human affairs. We, the People of the globe are moral beings, we cannot ignore the sufferings of fellow human beings, not matter how ideologies or political doctrines divide us. It was wonderful that China and Russia dispatched the essential medical doctors and equipment to Italy, Iran, Spain and America.
In a time of humanitarian crisis, this was plausible demonstration – we are not alone – how we care about others, not the “America First.” Often, politically aligned thoughts in Europe and America have ignored the humanitarian vitality of China and Russia for convenient political expediency. There appears to be lot of conjures to be cleaned and clarified for change and a new world order of collaboration and help when it is most needed beyond national flags and borders. We desperately need to re-organize our thoughts and genius for unity and coordination to pool the humanitarian resources to fill the political gaps of egoism and anarchy between inept patriotism and its global outreach to restructure our policies and practices to extend humanitarian help to all those who needed most, not the weapons of mass destruction, not the claims of individual greatness but a revitalized sense of One Humanity ready to protect the present and future of human civilizations.
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in international affairs-global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: One Humanity and the Remaking of Global Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution. Lambert Academic Publications, Germany, 12/2019.
|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
|April 6, 2020||
Wall Street Wins – Again: Bailouts in the Time of Coronavirus.
by Nomi Prins, Countercurrents.org, in World
To say that these are unprecedented times would be the understatement of the century. Even as the United States became the latest target of Hurricane COVID-19, in “hot spots” around the globe a continuing frenzy of health concerns represented yet another drop down the economic rabbit hole.
Stay-at-home orders have engulfed the planet, encompassing a majority of Americans, all of India, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe. A second round of cases may be starting to surface in China. Meanwhile, small- and medium-sized businesses, not to speak of giant corporate entities, are already facing severe financial pain.
I was in New York City on 9/11 and for the weeks that followed. At first, there was a sense of overriding panic about the possibility of more attacks, while the air was still thick with smoke. A startling number of lives were lost and we all did feel that we had indeed been changed forever.
Nonetheless, the shock was momentary. Small businesses, even in the neighborhood of the Twin Towers, reopened quickly enough while, in the midst of psychic chaos, President George W. Bush urged Americans to continue to fly, shop, and even go to Disney World.
Think of the coronavirus, then, as a different kind of 9/11. After all, the airlines are all but grounded, restaurants and so many other shops closed, Disney World shut tight, and the death toll is already well past that of 9/11 and multiplying fast. The concept of “social distancing” has become omnipresent, while hospitals are overwhelmed and medical professionals stretched thin. Pandemic containment efforts have put the global economy on hold. This time, we will be changed forever.
Figures on job cuts and business closures could soon eclipse those from the aftermath of the financial collapse of 2008. The U.S. jobless rate could hit 30% in the second quarter of 2020, according to Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard, which would mean that we’re talking levels of unemployment not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many small companies will be unable to reopen. Others could default on their debts and enter bankruptcy.
After all, about half of all small businesses in this country had less than a month’s worth of cash set aside as the coronavirus hit and they employ almost half of the private workforce. In truth, mom-and-pop stores, not the giant corporate entities, are the engine of the economy. The restaurant industry alone could lose 7.4 million jobs, while tourism and retail sectors will experience significant turmoil for months, if not years, to come.
In the first week of coronavirus economic shock, a record 3.3 million Americans filed claims for unemployment. That figure was nearly three times the peak of the 2008 recession and it doubled to 6.6 million a week later, with future numbers expected to rise staggeringly higher.
As sobering as those numbers were, Treasury Secretary Steve “Foreclosure King” Mnuchin branded them “not relevant.” Tone-deafness aside, the reality is that it will take months, once the impact of the coronavirus subsides, for many people to return to work. There will be jobs and possibly even sub-sectors of the economy that won’t rematerialize.
This cataclysm prompted Congress to pass the largest fiscal relief package in its history. As necessary as it was, that massive spending bill was also a reminder that the urge to offer corporations mega-welfare not available to ordinary citizens remains a distinctly all-American phenomenon.
Reflections From the Financial Crisis of 2008
The catalyst for this crisis is obviously in a different league than in 2008, since a viral pandemic is hardly nature’s equivalent of a subprime meltdown. But with an economic system already on the brink of crashing, one thing will prove similar: instability for a vulnerable majority is likely to be matched by nearly unlimited access to money for financial elites who, with stupendous subsidies, will thrive no matter who else goes down.
Once the virus recedes, stock and debt bubbles inflated over the past 12 years are likely to begin to grow again, fueled as then by central bank policies and federal favoritism. In other words, we’ve seen this movie before, but call the sequel: Contagion Meets Wall Street.
Unlike in 2020, in the early days of the 2008 financial crisis, economic fallout spread far more slowly. Between mid-September of that year when Lehman Brothers went bankrupt and October 3rd, when the Troubled Asset Relief Program, including a $700 billion Wall Street and corporate bailout package, was passed by Congress, banks were freaked out by the enormity of their own bad bets.
Yet no one then should have been surprised, as I and others had been reporting that the amount of leverage, or debt, in the financial system was a genuine danger, especially given all those toxic subprime mortgage assets the banks had created and then bet on. After Bear Stearns went bankrupt in March 2008 because it had borrowed far too much from other big banks to squander on toxic mortgage assets, I assured listeners on Democracy Now! that this was just the beginning — and so it proved to be. Taxpayers would end up guaranteeing JPMorgan Chase’s buyout of Bear Stearns’s business and yet more bailouts would follow — and not just from the government.
Leaders of the Federal Reserve would similarly provide trillions of dollars in loans, cheap money, and bond-buying programs to the financial system. And this would dwarf the government stimulus packages under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama that were meant for ordinary people.
As I wrote in It Takes a Pillage: An Epic Tale of Power, Deceit, and Untold Trillions, instead of the Fed buying those trillions of dollars of toxic assets from banks that could no longer sell them anywhere else, it would have been cheaper to directly cover subprime mortgage payments for a set period of time. In that way, people might have kept their homes and the economic fallout would have been largely contained. Thanks to Washington’s predisposition to offer corporate welfare, that didn’t happen — and it’s not happening now either.
None of this is that complicated: when a system is steeped in so much debt that companies can’t make even low-rate debt payments and have insufficient savings for emergencies, they can crash — fast. All of this was largely forgotten, however, as a combination of Wall Street maneuvering, record-breaking corporate buybacks, and ultra-low interest rates in the years since the financial crisis lifted stock markets globally.
Below the surface, however, an epic debt bubble was once again growing, fostered in part by record corporate debt levels. In 2009, as the economy was just beginning to show the first signs of emerging from the Great Recession, the average American company owed $2 of debt for every $1 it earned. Fast forward to today and that ratio is about $3 to $1. For some companies, it’s as high as $15 to $1. For Boeing, the second largest recipient of federal funding in this country, it’s $37 to $1.
What that meant was simple enough: anything that disrupted the system was going to be exponentially devastating. Enter the coronavirus, which is now creating a perfect storm on Wall Street that’s guaranteed to ripple through Main Street.
The Fed, the Casino, and Trillions on the Line
In total, the CARES Act that Congress passed offers about $2.2 trillion in government relief. As President Trump noted while signing the bill into law, however, total government coronavirus aid could, in the end, reach $6.2 trillion. That’s a staggering sum. Unfortunately, you won’t be surprised to learn that, given both the Trump administration and the Fed, the story hardly ends there.
More than $4 trillion of that estimate is predicated on using $454 billion of CARES Act money to back Federal Reserve-based corporate loans. The Fed has the magical power to leverage, or multiply, money it receives from the Treasury up to 10 times over. In the end, according to the president, that could mean $4.5 trillion in support for big banks and corporate entities versus something like $1.4 trillion for regular Americans, small businesses, hospitals, and local and state governments. That 3.5 to 1 ratio signals that, as in 2008, the Treasury and the Fed are focused on big banks and large corporations, not everyday Americans.
In addition to slashing interest rates to zero, the Fed announced a slew of initiatives to pump money (“liquidity”) into the system. In total, its life-support programs are aimed primarily at banks, large companies, and markets, with some spillage into small businesses and municipalities.
Its arsenal consists of $1.5 trillion in short-term loans to banks and an alphabet soup of other perks and programs. On March 15th, for instance, the Fed announced that it would restart its quantitative easing, or QE, program. In this way, the U.S. central bank creates money electronically that it can use to buy bonds from banks. In an effort to keep Wall Street buzzing, its initial QE revamp will enable it to buy up to $500 billion in Treasury bonds and $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities — and that was just a beginning.
Two days later, the Fed created a Commercial Paper Funding Facility through which it will provide yet more short-term loans for banks and corporations, while also dusting off its Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) to allow it to buy securities backed by student loans, auto loans, and credit-card loans. TALF will receive $10 billion in initial funding from the Treasury Department’s Emergency Stabilization Fund (ESF).
And there’s more. The Fed has selected asset-management goliath BlackRock to manage its buying programs (for a fee, of course), including its commercial mortgage and two corporate bond-buying ones (each of which is to get $10 billion in seed money from the Treasury Department’s ESF). BlackRock will also be able to purchase corporate bonds through various Exchange Traded Funds, of which that company just happens to be the biggest provider.
Surpassing measures used in the 2008 crisis, on March 23rd, the Fed said it would continue buying Treasury securities and mortgage-backed securities “in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning.” In other words, unlimited quantitative easing. As its chairman, Jerome Powell, told the Today Show, “When it comes to this lending, we’re not going to run out of ammunition, that doesn’t happen.” In other words, the Fed will be dishing out money like it’s going out of style — but not to real people.
By March 25th, the Fed’s balance sheet had already surged to $5.25 trillion, larger than at its height — $4.5 trillion — in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and it won’t stop there. In other words, the 2008 playbook is unfolding again, just more quickly and on an even larger scale, distributing a disproportionate amount of money to the top tiers of the business world and using government funds to make that money stretch even further.
A Relief Package for Whom?
By now, in our unique pandemic moment, something seems all too familiar. As in 2008, the most beneficial policies and funding will be heading for Wall Street banks and behemoth corporations. Far less will be going directly to American workers through tangible grants, cheaper loans, or any form of debt forgiveness. Even the six months of student-loan payment relief (only for federal loans, not private ones) just pushes those payments down the road.
The historic $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package is heavily corporate-focused. For starters, a quarter of it, $500 billion, goes to large corporations. At least $454 billion of that will back funding for up to $4.5 trillion in corporate loans from the Fed and the remainder will be for direct Treasury loans to big companies. Who gets what will be largely Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s choice. And mind you, we may never know the details since President Trump is committed to making this selection process as non-transparent as possible.
There’s an additional $50 billion that’s to be dedicated to the airline industry, $25 billion of which will be in direct grants to airlines that don’t place employees on involuntary furlough or discontinue flight service at airports through September. Right after the bill passed, the airline industry announced that more workforce cuts are ahead (once it gets the money).
Another $17 billion is meant for “businesses critical to maintaining national security,” one of which could eventually be White House darling Boeing. There’s also a corporate tax credit worth about $290 billon to corporations that keep people on their payrolls and can prove losses of 50% of their pre-coronavirus revenue.
More than $370 billion of that congressional relief package will go into Small Business Administration loans meant to cover existing loans and operating and payroll costs as well. Yet receiving such loans will involve a byzantine process for desperate small outfits. Meanwhile, the big banks will get a cut for administering them.
About $150 billion is pegged for the healthcare industry, including $100 billion in grants to hospitals working on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis and other funds to jumpstart the production of desperately needed (and long overdue) medical products for doctors, nurses, and pandemic patients. Another $27 billion is being allocated for vaccines and stockpiles of medical supplies.
An extra $150 billion will go to cities and states to prop up budgets already over-stretched and in trouble. Those on unemployment benefits will get an increase of $600 per week for four months in a $260 billion unemployment expansion.
Ultimately, however, the relief promised will not cover the basic needs of the majority of bereft Americans. With Main Street’s economy sinking right now, it won’t arrive fast enough either. In addition, the highly publicized part of Congress’s relief package that promises up to $1,200 per person, $2,400 per family, and $500 per child, will be barely enough to cover a month of rent and utilities, let alone other essentials, for the typical working family when it finally arrives. Since disbursement will be based on information the Internal Revenue Service has on each individual and family, if you haven’t filed tax returns in the last year or so or if you filed them by mail, funds could be slower to arrive — and don’t forget that the IRS is facing coronavirus-based workforce challenges of its own.
The Best Offense Is a Good Defense
The global economic freeze caused by the coronavirus has crushed more people in a shorter span of time than any crisis in memory. Working people will need far more relief than in the last meltdown to keep not just themselves but the very foundations of the global economy going.
The only true avenue for such support is national governments. Central banks remain the dealers of choice for addicted big corporations, private banks, and markets. In other words, given congressional (and Trumpian) sponsored bailouts and practically unlimited access to money from the Fed, Wall Street will, in the end, be fine.
If ground-up solutions to help ordinary Americans and small businesses aren’t adopted in a far grander way, one thing is predictable: once this crisis has been “managed,” we’ll be set up for a larger one in an even more disparate world. When the clouds from the coronavirus storm dissipate, those bailouts and all the corporate deregulation now underway will have created bank and corporate debt bubbles that are even larger than before.
The real economic lesson to be drawn from this crisis should be (but won’t be) that the best offense is a good defense. Exiting this self-induced recession or depression into anything but a less equal world would require genuine infrastructure investment and planning. That would mean focusing post-relief efforts on producing better hospitals, public transportation networks, research and development, schools, and far more adequate homeless shelters.
In other words, actions offering greater protection to the majority of the population would restart the economy in a truly sustainable fashion, while bringing back both jobs and confidence. But that, in turn, would involve a bold and courageous political response providing genuine and proportionate stimulus for people. Unfortunately, given Washington’s 1% tilt and Donald Trump’s CEO empathy, that is at present inconceivable.
Nomi Prins, a former Wall Street executive, is a TomDispatch regular. Her latest book is Collusion: How Central Bankers Rigged the World. She is also the author of All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power and five other books. Special thanks go to researcher Craig Wilson for his superb work on this piece.
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 in TomDispatch
|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.
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.
|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: email@example.com
|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.
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
|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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
|April 13, 2020||
Largest Arctic ozone hole ever recorded over the North Pole.
by Countercurrents Collective, Countercurrents.org, in Environmental Protection
Source: NASA Ozone Watch
A vast ozone hole, probably the biggest on record in the north, has opened in the skies above the Arctic, on the other side of the planet from the infamous hole that forms each year above the Antarctica, better-known Antarctic ozone hole. It rivals the Antarctic ozone hole.
Scientists from the European Space Agency said this week that this rare hole is the largest of its kind ever recorded over the planet’s northern hemisphere. It covers an area about three times the size of Greenland, according to the journal Nature (Nature, 580, 18-19, 2020).
Earth’s atmospheric ozone layer acts as a protective barrier between the sun’s harmful rays and the Earth’s surface. Human-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons have been destroying the layer for the past century, causing thinning, and eventually, the massive hole that formed in Antarctica in the 1980s.
Experts point to “unusual atmospheric conditions” as the cause of the massive hole, including freezing temperatures that bring high-altitude clouds together. Industrial chemicals interact with these clouds to eat away at the ozone layer.
While temperatures consistently plummet in the South Pole each year, these conditions are rare in the North, making ozone depletion much less common.
After signing the Montreal Protocol in 1987, 197 countries agreed to phase out chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons in order to protect the ozone from further damage, which has contributed to a decrease in the size of the hole over Antarctica.
While the newest hole is concerning, scientists say it is expected to heal within the next month as temperatures get warmer. The hole is still nowhere near as worrisome as its southern counterpart and does not currently threaten human health.
In 2018, NASA announced the first direct connection between the ban on chemicals and ozone-hole recovery in the Southern Hemisphere. However, it will still take decades for the layer to repair and the chemicals to completely vanish from the atmosphere.
Alexandra Witze wrote on March 27, 2020(“Rare ozone hole opens over Arctic — and it’s big”):
Record-low ozone levels currently stretch across much of the central Arctic, covering an area about three times the size of Greenland. The hole does not threaten people’s health, and will probably break apart in the coming weeks. But it is an extraordinary atmospheric phenomenon that will go down in the record books.
“From my point of view, this is the first time you can speak about a real ozone hole in the Arctic,” says Martin Dameris, an atmospheric scientist at the German Aerospace Center in Oberpfaffenhofen.
Ozone normally forms a protective blanket in the stratosphere, about 10 to 50 kilometers above the ground, where it shields life from solar ultraviolet radiation. But each year in the Antarctic winter, frigid temperatures allow high-altitude clouds to coalesce above the South Pole. Chemicals, including chlorine and bromine, which come from refrigerants and other industrial sources, trigger reactions on the surfaces of those clouds that chew away at the ozone layer.
The Antarctic ozone hole forms every year because winter temperatures in the area routinely plummet, allowing the high-altitude clouds to form. These conditions are much rarer in the Arctic, which has more variable temperatures and is not usually primed for ozone depletion, says Jens-Uwe Grooß, an atmospheric scientist at the Juelich Research Centre in Germany.
But this year, powerful westerly winds flowed around the North Pole and trapped cold air within a ‘polar vortex’. There was more cold air above the Arctic than in any winter recorded since 1979, says Markus Rex, an atmospheric scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany. In the chilly temperatures, the high-altitude clouds formed, and the ozone-destroying reactions began.
Researchers measure ozone levels by releasing weather balloons from observing stations around the Arctic (including the Polarstern icebreaker, which is frozen in sea ice for a year-long expedition). By late March, these balloons measured a 90% drop in ozone at an altitude of 18 kilometers, which is right in the heart of the ozone layer. Where the balloons would normally measure around 3.5 parts per million of ozone, they recorded only around 0.3 parts per million, says Rex. “That beats any ozone loss we have seen in the past,” he notes.
The Arctic experienced ozone depletion in 1997 and in 20111, but this year’s loss looks on track to surpass those. “We have at least as much loss as in 2011, and there are some indications that it might be more than 2011,” says Gloria Manney, an atmospheric scientist at NorthWest Research Associates in Socorro, New Mexico. She works with a NASA satellite instrument that measures chlorine in the atmosphere, and says there is still quite a bit of chlorine available to deplete ozone in the coming days.
Things would have been much worse this year if nations had not come together in 1987 to pass the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty that phases out the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, says Paul Newman, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Antarctic ozone hole is now on its way to recovery — last year’s hole was the smallest on record — but it will take decades for the chemicals to completely disappear from the atmosphere.
The Arctic ozone hole is not a health threat because the Sun is just starting to rise above the horizon in high latitudes, says Rex. In the coming weeks, there is a small chance the hole might drift to lower latitudes over more populated areas — in which case people might need to apply sunscreen to avoid sunburn. “It wouldn’t be difficult to deal with,” Rex says.
The next few weeks are crucial. With the Sun slowly getting higher, atmospheric temperatures in the region of the ozone hole have already started to increase, says Antje Inness, an atmospheric scientist with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts in Reading, UK. Ozone could soon start to recover as the polar vortex breaks apart in the coming weeks.
“Right now, we’re just eagerly watching what happens,” says Ross Salawitch, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Maryland in College Park. “The game is not totally over.”
|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:
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.
 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”
|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.
|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.
|April 17, 2020||
Cutting the Funding: The WHO, Trump and the Coronavirus Wars
by Dr Binoy Kampmark, Countercurrents.org, in World
The US president is in a warring mood. Having declared himself a president at war, a meaningless gesture given that the US is always, somewhere in the world, at war, finding necessary enemies in distraction was always going to be a priority. Donald Trump already had the “China virus” in his artillery, attaching nationality to pathogen. Now, and it took some time in coming by his standards, is the World Health Organization, a body which has, as its utopia, an idea of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
The US tends to contribute a large slice of funding to the WHO – some $400 million a year and ten times, say, what China does. It has been foot dragging lately: $200 million is still to be paid for the last round. (As a point of interest, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the second largest donor, with a touch over $200 million based on 2018-9 figures.) In a flourish of indignation, Trump has decided to freeze the revenue stream. On Tuesday, he claimed that the WHO had “failed in its basic duty” in responding to COVID-19. “I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to assess the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”
The White House has been eager to disgorge any material to press outlets keen to understand the nature of WHO villainy and corruption. Accusations read like mirror portraits, and the headline of one of the factsheets is hysterical: “Delaying world mobilization in the fight against COVID-19: Working with China to cover up the deadly spread of COVID-19, who hindered critical efforts that could have saved lives.”
The charge list on the White House fact sheet is the usual muddle of slung mud and mild accuracy: the role played by brave Taiwan; the WHO deference to “Chinese propaganda that covered up the virus’ spread and fatalities, praising Beijing for its false efforts and promoting the use of Chinese traditional medicine to treat the disease.”
Nor can we deny the obvious remark that the US was “not alone in its well-founded criticism. WHO has faced constant critique over its poor coordination, lack of transparency, and finances from multiple parties.” This would sound like a superb summary of the Trump administration, but the president lacks humour in such matters.
The organisation’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who had previously praised Trump as showing “leadership” in this crisis (we are all entitled to slips), was regretful. The US had been “a long-standing and generous friend… and we hope it will continue to be so.”
The WHO is the convenient whipping boy of pandemic and epidemic; of premature assessment or over eager commitment. Uncertainty is its curse, leaving it vulnerable in such instances as the swine flu epidemic, when it was accused of being too quick off the mark in declaring it to be a pandemic; or too foot slow in declaring the West African Ebola outbreak a pressing health emergency. And forgotten in its current shade of demonization by Washington is the fact that the WHO, for decades, was belittled for being an auxiliary of US foreign policy. “Like other United Nations (UN) agencies,” comes a sombre assessment in the American Journal of Public Health in 2016, “the WHO quietly abandoned its dreams of a collaborative community of nations and instead began to come to terms with international political realities. The agency moved closer to US foreign policy and became partially captive to US resources and priorities.”
By no means should the WHO be seen as angelic. No international organisation is, marked as they tend to by the gravy train effect, the flabby end of upper management more interested in first class travel than fighting healthy problems. At the same time, it has also operated with one hand tied behind its back, reliant, as it were, on the initial drips and drabs coming from the source country where an infectious outbreak has taken place. Its chief has, it is true, shown an unsettling tendency to praise the Chinese effort, which has veered between harsh and muscular concealment to harsh and muscular quarantine. But it is worth casting an eye to the more workmanlike nature of the process of how the WHO formed a picture of what was happening.
China’s first smidgens of information on COVID-19 reached the WHO on December 31, describing it as “a pneumonia of an unknown cause”. On January 5, the organisation, based on what was provided by Chinese sources, stated that the material showed “no evidence of significant human-to-human transmission.” No causal agent had been as yet identified or confirmed, and the WHO admitted to having “limited information to determine the overall risk of this reported cluster of pneumonia of unknown etiology.” The advice given in that note now seem like the haunted warnings of premature assessment: no recommended specific measures for travellers; no application of travel or trade restrictions on China. Again, the caveat, weighty as ever, was always on what was in the hands of WHO functionaries, who, it should be said, are not entirely shock horrors in the epidemiology department.
In time, the picture became more muddled as information started to clot the canvas. The Wuhan Health Commission refused to rule out the possibility of human-to-human transmission. The WHO, as January progressed, started drawing parallels, basing its assessments on other coronaviruses. What this chaotic swirl of information does not seem to show, as Trump alleges, is that Taiwan in its exchanges with WHO, went heavy on the idea of human-to-human transmission.
Then came Trump’s own glorious words of praise, lost in consciousness but retrievable in cyberspace. “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus,” he tweeted with boyish enthusiasm on January 25. “The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American people, I want to thank President Xi!” Not exactly hostile.
Trump’s change of heart revolves upon supposed tardiness in sending in that class of individuals he tends to despise: the experts. “Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China’s lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death.” Lacking in this resentful assessment is the point that plagues all international bodies: their need to respect the sovereignty of member states.
The immediate consequences of such funding will have the effect, as has been threatened before, of driving the WHO to bankruptcy. The front organisation responsible for marshalling the medical side of combating disease and infection will be hobbled. Trump can at least have one historical comfort: in pulling US funding, he joins the defunct Soviet Union in refusing to pay membership fees for several years after it had “deactivated” its membership. Grievances with international governance, be it over health, security, even sport, never age.
Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: email@example.com
|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)
|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.”
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.
|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
|April 9, 2020||
HIGH PRIORITY WRIT PETITION FOR KIND ATTENTION BY THE FULL BENCH.
by , Dr. Leo Rebello
firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.healthwisdom.org Email : email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Website : http://www.healthwisdom.org
HIGH PRIORITY WRIT PETITION FOR KIND ATTENTION BY THE FULL BENCH
To President Abdulqawi Yusuf of the World Court at Hague
Vice President Xue Hanqin of the World Court at Hague
FOR YOUR KIND AND IMMEDIATE ATTENTION/CONSIDERATION UNDER WORLD EMERGENCY SITUATION.
Namaste, Prof. Dr. Leo Rebello, World Peace Envoy since 2004, Bombay-India
From: DR. LEO REBELLO
Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2020 12:32 PM
Subject: HIGH PRIORITY WRIT PETITION FOR KIND ATTENTION BY THE FULL BENCH
Freedom of Information // Freedom to Seek Justice -- for Top Priority Attention of Lord Robert Reed and other Judges of
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom,
Dear Lord Robert Reed, Chief Justice of UK High Court,
Namaste from Bombay, India
From: DR. LEO REBELLO
Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2020 11:43 AM
Subject: DR. LEO REBELLO'S WRIT PETITION UNDER ARTICLE 226 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA -- FINAL DRAFT
IN THE BOMBAY HIGH COURT
Via Email: email@example.com
A HIGH PRIORITY WRIT PETITION UNDER ARTICLE 226 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
This Petition Prays to Withdraw the Unconstitutional LockDown forthwith.
DR. LEO REBELLO,
SHRI NARENDRA MODI ...... The Opposite Party
Prime Minister of Democratic India working like a Dictator
HIGH PRIORITY WRIT PETITION UNDER ARTCLE 226 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA FOR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION
For Suo Motu consideration under Epistolary Jurisdiction, since there is Restriction on Movement and Danger to Life due to Abuse of Power and Communal Attacks on the Minorities in this Dictatorial Dispensation. Petition is Self-Explanatory. Hearing if required can be done via Video Conferencing.
SUBMITTED FOR IMMEDIATE KIND CONSIDERATION
Locus Standi of the Petitioner
Affected Citizen for self, his family, friends and others and as the President of Litigants Welfare Forum since 1990 and known Legal Activist and as World Peace Envoy since 2004 for Peace, Safety and Sanity.
Ere it will lead to full-fledged Biological Warfare through Virus created in a Lab in Advance, Patented and Released according to the Time Table created and set by a few morons to have Control of World Economy in the hands of few. Whereas Democracy works to Liberate people and create a World Family. And we as Guardians of Democracy have to Unite and Fight to Save ourselves and the Green Planet Earth.
Whether the Prime Minister was issued Notice in this Regard. Yes, by Email & through Social Media, Print and Electronic Media to withdraw the Lockdown on 25th March Gudi Padva [Hindu New Year], 2nd April Ram Navami [Since PM always talks of Ram Rajya], on 5th April Palm Sunday [When Jesus was given tumultuous welcome into Jerusalem upon his return from India after 12 missing years].
Mindless clamping 21-day lockdown across the country with further proviso to extend it upto June 2020, will destroy India and the World beyond redemption. Narendra Modi makes announcement as if he is an Emperor of India without consulting the Cabinet, the elected President of India, the Vice President, Speaker of India, Cabinet Secretary, Attorney or Solicitor General. He styles himself as a Yogi, but does not even know the cardinal principles of Natural Medicine, namely, (a) Milieu Interne: Inner Environment and interdependence of various organs in the body. (b) Vis Medicatrix Naturae: Healing is Within. Body heals itself if you do not pump lethal drugs into it. (c) Primum Non Nocere: Treatment should not be worse than the disease. And even though he was gifted my popular book Nature Cure & Yoga Therapy in 6 popular editions including in Turkish through which I have introduced him and the world to 10 most wonderful doctors of the world, namely, * Dr. Pure Air, * Dr. Pure Water, * Dr. Vegetarian Diet, * Dr. Rest or Sleep, * Dr. Exercise, *Dr. Sunshine,
Valid Questions: If COVID - 19 is dangerous why Hospitals are empty? Why doctors are moving like Aliens from the Mars or some Distant Planets? Why Hazmat Suits, Masks when the so-called Virus is not air borne? Why Malaria drug Chloroquinn or AIDS drugs which are known Carcinogens are given as treatment? What science is that? Why are Police lathi-charging women, children, senior citizens and wheel-chair based handicapped mercilessly? Why clamping section 144 on home going persons instead of facilitating them to go to their homes. This overcrowding infact leads to more danger to lives if the Virus is really the Killer. All this shows mindless administration and mis-governance violating various fundamental rights as noted above.
As the contagious coronavirus cuts through India, the little islands of good news in these terrible times have seen the performance of individual chief ministers, such as, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan, Rajasthan's Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh's Bhupesh Baghel, Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal and the irrepressible Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal and Maharashtra's novice CM Uddhav Thackeray. These leaders are doing a noticeably good job in corona-fighting and make a convincing case for the federal model of governance in India. Their response to the crisis has been marked with daily communication to ensure there is no public panic, leading from the front with strategies of communication and containment, setting up camps for migrant workers, and, most importantly, squelching attempts to communalise the health crisis.
'Family of Mankind' is waking up to who is behind Massive Deception that is destroying the Global Economy enforcing #LockDown #SocialDistancing using Fear Psychosis, Police Raj, Concentration Camps to push the Hidden Agenda of Population Control Pogrom through 5G towers in densely populated areas (see videos), Mandatory Vaccines Regime and ID 2020 - a chip being designed to implant under index finger to identify, control people and drive them like 'sheeple' to the concentration camps controlled by the conscience-less capitalists and eliminate those who question. The very fact that the Judges too have accepted the gross lies and instead of working more, sitting passively. This is an earnest request to Wise Judges of the World to Wake Up and Do your Best to save Humanity and Green Planet Earth.
1.. End the Lockdown forthwith and fully. Absolutely no further extension of Lockdown beyond 14th April, Ambedkar Jayanti.
3.. Remove the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi and Dissolve his Cabinet, more particularly the Health Minister, AYUSH Minister, Law and Justice Minister, Home Minister, for failing in their duties and prosecute them by the Lok Pal and NHRC for corrupt practices and gross violation of the Constitution of India.
4.. Install Dr. Leo Rebello as the Prime Minister with a Cabinet of 15 ministers, on Merit cutting across party lines from amongst the Elected Reps of his choice. There is precedence when Shri Deve Gowda was appointed as the Prime Minister mid-way and later as per rule he was elected to the Parliament.
5.. Likewise, Dr. Leo Rebello should either be nominated/elected to Rajya Sabha or LokSabha urgently to avoid mid-term polls and social unrest/civil war and the present House of Elected Representatives need not be dissolved.
6.. Hearing should be in the Open Court with the Petitioner arguing himself and the proceedings should be directly relayed Live to the Nation/World to avert civil unrest and to establish how revolution could be brought through the Constitutional Process without resorting to violence.
7.. Financial Reparation to Dr. Leo Rebello and other poor citizens should be recovered from the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and the Parties in Power since they have received millions of dollars from Pharma Companies to impose Medical Hegemony.
8.. Any other prayer that may be added or Hon'ble Court in its wisdom impose on the culprits to meet the ends of justice.
Verification: I, Dr. Leo Rebello, (70th Birthday on 11 April 2020), proud Citizen of India and also the Registered World Citizen vide India's Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam Vedantic Philosophy or African Ubuntu Caring and Sharing, do hereby Solemnly Affirm that whatever recorded above is drafted by me and I believe it is fair and proper and as per the established laws of the land. Self Affirmed.
Dr. Leo Rebello, MD (TNM or AYUSH), Ph.D., D.Sc., LL.D. (Honoris Causa)
Address: 28/552 Samata Nagar, Kandivali East, Mumbai 400101
Copies served on
1.. PMO of Democratic India behaving/working like a Dictator Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3.. Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu email@example.com
4.. Lok Sabha Speaker firstname.lastname@example.org
|11 April 2020||
by DR. LEO REBELLO'S POEM ON LOCKDOWN,
Dr. Leo Rebello email@example.com http://www.healthwisdom.org Email : firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Website : http://www.healthwisdom.org
No Parting Kisses
Bcoz of Fear of Virus
Work for Change
Right the Wrong
Peace and Safety
|April 5, 2020||
Enseignement à tirer pour les conduites humaines de la crise provoquée par la pandémie du COVID-19 ?
by Guy Crequie
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Ecrivain français à finalité philosophique. Blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com
La crise mondiale actuelle provoquée par la pandémie liée au COVID-19 met en évidence le poids décroissant de l’ONU sur les décisions des grands pays !Ceci, était déjà caractéristique s’agissant du droit de véto exercé de plus en plus fréquemment par les pays détenteurs de l’arme nucléaire au sein du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU ! Cette crise également met en évidence l’absence de coordination régnant entre les pays s’agissant de dispositions communes à mettre en place et du partage des moyens ! C’est notamment le cas au sein de l’union Européenne !
C’est bien la grande question philosophique du sens de l’existence et de sa totalité qui est posée pour une refonte de nos modes de pensée et d’agir trop liés exclusivement au marché roi ou tout est marchandise y compris l’être humain !Après mon 33 e ouvrage qui était autobiographique, vu mon âge allant sur mes 77 ans, j’avais escompté cesser l’écriture sous la forme de livres, mais les événements actuels me conduisent à en prévoir 3 autres divers dans le style, mais complémentaires sur le fond de l’humanisme contemporain !
Celui relatif à la non- violence d« GANDHI et DEPUIS » ont je suis un modeste contributeur avec 81 autres chercheurs de 25 pays dont 5 détenteurs du prix Nobel, d’autres, ont reçu le prix des Nations Unies, d’autres encore, sont Docteurs d’Universités dans leur discipline, figure également dans l’ouvrage un ancien Président de l’Etat indien, le Directeur du Muséum GANDHI, etc.
« POESIE PLANETAIRE » Enfin, un ouvrage fondamental « PHILOSOPHIE ET HUMANITE (Hâtons –nous de rendre la philosophie populaire et nécessaire ) comme l’a proclamé DIDEROT !Par continent, il faudrait d’urgence des Etats généraux pluridisciplinaires regroupant des penseurs de toutes disciplines de sciences humaines et sociales sous l’égide de l’UNESCO, et des organismes continentaux adaptés pour tenter de répondre aux défis de notre temps, le temps presse !
L’intelligence humaine = à quoi la destine- t-on ?? A accompagner le déclin ? Ou à réagir en personnes lucides, responsables, aptes à anticiper notre devenir sur cette planète ?Si la personne est traitée comme une fin et non comme un simple moyen, l’éthique de la responsabilité et du respect de la dignité de toute existence devrait éviter le tri face à la panoplie des fléaux humains.
Ce jour, j’ai reçu une contribution de IPS à Genève
« INSTITUTE FOR PLANETARY SYNTHESIS » en son sein on peut y lire :L'année dernière, selon la FAO, cinq millions d'enfants dans le monde sont morts de faim (sur 162 millions souffrant d'un retard de croissance et 51 millions en dénutrition). C'est 200 fois plus que le nombre de personnes qui sont mortes jusqu'à présent à cause du coronavirus, et pourtant aucun gouvernement n'a déclaré l'état d'urgence ou demandé que nous modifiions radicalement notre mode de vie pour les sauver.
On ne voit pas non plus de niveau comparable de cris d’alarme et d'actions au sujet des suicides – la pointe de l’iceberg des cas de désespoir et de dépression – qui tue plus d'un million de personnes par an dans le monde, dont 50.000 aux États-Unis. Ou encore au sujet des overdoses de médicaments qui tuent 70.000 personnes aux États-Unis, de l'épidémie de maladies auto-immunes qui affecte entre 23,5 millions (chiffre du NIH) et 50 millions de personnes (chiffre de l’AARDA), ni de l'obésité qui touche largement plus de 100 millions de personnes et .
Pourquoi donc, ne faisons-nous pas preuve d’une telle frénésie pour éviter l’apocalypse nucléaire ou l'effondrement écologique, mais au contraire, continuons-nous à faire des choix qui amplifient ces dangers ? …….. »J’ajoute GC :Ceci est dit : non pour sous- estimer le COVID-19 qui est effectivement une pandémie effroyable, et hélas, des pandémies, il peut y en avoir d’autres au stade de la mondialisation des échanges dont ceux des grands moyens de communication et des transports.
Mais pour avoir une conscience aigüe de notre réalité de citoyen ou citoyenne ancrée dans un tissu social donné régional et national, mais également disposant d’une vision de citoyen du monde.
Un jour viendra, où il ne devra plus y avoir de philosophes dits de métier et d’essayistes patentés et médiatisés délivrant leur savoir théorique et historique sur les plateaux de télévision pour nous épater, mais une révision du système scolaire et médiatique nous permettant d’y accéder !
Le comment faire = fera partie de la rédaction de mon livre. Cependant, d’ores et déjà "l‘homo- economicus" quelque peu prétentieux, devra laisser plus de place à un travail pluridisciplinaire impérieux pour mieux affronter les défis du millénaire engagé. Ainsi, une remise en question de nos conceptions et pratiques s’impose !
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Poète écrivain et chanteur
Individual Messenger of the culture of the peace of UNESCO
|April 1, 2020||
La réalité française et ma situation ! French reality and my situation!
by Guy Crequie
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Ecrivain français à finalité philosophique. Blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com
La réalité française officielle est celle de plus de 40.0000 personnes atteintes par la pandémie du COVID 19 dont plus de 4000 décès chiffres qui changent journellement !
Mais cette réalité ne prend pas actuellement en considération les malades de cette maladie en maison de retraite, ni ceux décédés à leur domicile !
Personnellement, j’ai fait le choix en son temps de ne pas être un intellectuel coupé du vécu du peuple, et même si je dispose d »un appartement au bord de mer ( auquel confiné je ne peux pas me rendre en ce moment) sinon, régulièrement je vis à Vénissieux dans le quartier populaire des Minguettes !
C’est une ville et un quartier parmi les plus pauvre de France avec une population multiculturelle, des incivilités, un taux de sans -emploi supérieur à la moyenne nationale !
La conséquence de tout cela est que bien des personnes ne lisent pas ; ne respectent pas les mesures de confinement obligatoires, on voit encore des attroupements ou des personnes assisses à côté les unes des autres = notamment jeunes et de nationalité diverse !
Il y a encore quelques jours la Maire a fait un appel au respect des mesures de confinement qui a été relayé par les médias nationaux !
La conséquence de tout cela est que le taux de malades atteint du virus explose ! Dans ce contexte, même faire ses courses est un risque surtout qu’au printemps je conjugue 2 allergies respiratoires qui affaiblissent mes défenses immunitaires et que présentement je ne peux pas traiter avec des soins énergiques telle la cortisone déconseillée avec le COIVID-19
Actuellement en France, l’ouest est relativement ménagé par rapport à la région Ile de France, l’Est est très touché, et le sud est ! Pour combien de temps ? Ensuite, l’économie française connait 35% d’arrêt total de son économie, de ses activités ?.En leur sein, les activités culturelles et sportives arrêtées sont parmi les plus importantes ! Ainsi présentement, j’ai 4 livres en attente d’édition dont le GANDHICA, le mien autobiographique, et 2 car homme généreux, j’ai aidé 2 personnes à publier !
Il y a quelques jours encore l’éditeur était optimiste !
Présentement, les librairies en France pour l’essentiel sont fermées, Hachette le diffuseur est au ralenti, et l’éditeur ne fonctionne plus le temps du confinement !
Avec l’aide d’Heli que je remercie encore, bien que ce n’était pas moi qui devait le faire, j’ai consacré un temps considérable pour les mises au point, relecture, en mauvaise santé avec y compris des opérations = présentement au bout du rouleau, je suis dans l’incapacité d’écrire des poèmes ou textes pour notre réseau !
J’attire l’attention de Léo sur le fait que celles ou ceux qui ne s’expriment pas ayant leurs difficultés sont cependant aussi méritants que celles et ceux qui le font !
Présentement, je me mets en retrait, je vous aviserai lors des publications réelles de livres intéressant notre réseau et dans ce cadre bien entendu : le GANDHICA !
Cordialement à vous.
Official French reality is that of more than 40.0000 people reached by the pandemia of the COVID 19 including more than 4000 deaths figures which change daily!
But this reality currently does not take into account the patients of this disease in old people's home, nor those deceased in their residence!
Personally, I made the choice in his time not to be an intellectual cut of lived of the people and even if I lay out D” an apartment at the edge of sea (to which confined I cannot go in this moment) if not, regularly I live in Vénissieux in the popular quarters of Minguettes!
It is a city and a district among poorest of France with a multicultural population, incivilities, a rate of unemployed person higher than the national average!
The consequence of all that is that many people do not read; do not respect the obligatory confinement measures, assemblies are still seen or people sat at side from/to each other = in particular young people and of various nationality!
There is still a few days the Mayor made a call with the respect of the confinement measures which was relayed by the national mediums!
The consequence of all that is that the rate of patients reached of the virus explodes! In this context, to even make its races is a risk especially that in spring I combine 2 respiratory allergies which weaken my immunizing defenses and which at present I cannot treat with energetic care such cortisone disadvised with the COIVID-19
Currently in France, the west is relatively spared compared to the Ile de France region, the East is very touched, and the south is! For how long?
Then, the French economy knows 35%d' complete stop of its economy, of its activities?.In their center, the cultural activities and sporting stopped are among most important! Thus at present, I have 4 books on standby edition of which the autobiographical GANDHICA, mine, and 2 because generous man, I helped 2 people to publish!
There is a few days still the editor was optimistic!
At present, the bookstores in France essentially are closed, Hachette the diffuser is with the idle, and the editor does not function any more time of containment!
With the assistance of Heli that I still thank, although it which was to do it, I was not me devoted a considerable time for clarifications, second reading, in bad health with including operations = at present at the end of the roller, I am in the incapacity to write poems or texts for our network!
I draw the attention of Léo to the fact that the one or the ones that is not expressed having their difficulties is however as deserving as those and those which do it!
At present, I put myself in withdrawal, I will warn you during the real publications of books interesting our network and within this framework of course: the GANDHICA!
Cordially with you.
Individual Messenger of the culture of the peace of UNESCO