Covid Candide: Isn’t this the best of all possible worlds… and pandemic responses?

Covid Candide: Isn’t this the best of all possible worlds… and pandemic responses?

August 08, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri for The Saker Blog

Eight months into the modern, digitised world’s first-ever global pandemic the results are in: Every government has failed miserably.

Despite the vast differences between socialist-inspired nations and capitalist nations every single government in 2020 has forfeited the chance at the possibility of maybe perhaps having something like a little bit of a rightly-guided mandate of heaven.

Our 2019 taxes must be refunded everywhere. What a waste voting has been, to say nothing of those few countries which have sustained modern revolutions.

Those in the know are hunkering down and bunkering up because the pandemic is proving that “government” (social organisation and collective unity) is an outdated concept in our modern, digitised, disease-ridden world.

Thus, the way you certainly are – wherever you are – being egged into hating your local, rather-poorly paid bureaucrat is something of a major propaganda coup for government-slashing neoliberalism, is it not?

Neoliberalism, per its tenets, cannot congratulate any government for anything other than self-immolation, so how can Western corporate media – owned by a handful of neoliberals – publicly congratulate any government for their handling of this unprecedented corona crisis? They cannot, so neoliberals are publicly shining in glorious vindication that all government is bad, unless and inept, period: the pandemic has decisively proven There Is No Alternative to neoliberalism.

Who knew a virus had enough innate intelligence to contain a political ideology, and despite not even being a life form with a cellular structure? This only proves that God – in His wisdom – is an American neoliberal.

Preposterous, faith-based radicalism, of course….

But firstly: Call me contrarian if you must, but don’t call this “Leibnizian optimism”: I think every nation has done spectacularly well in dealing with Covid, regardless of their guiding ideology.

The West got what they hysterically demanded, yet government is still a Satanic beast?

I think countries like China, Iran, Cuba and Vietnam had a fantastic response to Covid. People died, but not anywhere as many as we initially feared. Tons of radical measures were taken designed to protect the public good, armies of volunteers answered the call, hardships were attempted to be standardised, their peoples showed huge amounts of bravery, self-sacrifice and patience.

However, I see nearly all of these same virtues in the peoples of Western nations as well – don’t you?

Sweden succeeded without a Great Lockdown because their people – who also compose their government – acted so correctly and courageously. The idea that the exact same self-sacrificing virtues aren’t evident all over the place in the US as well is contradicted by countless individual testimonies. The first article I wrote on corona was a backhanded compliment to the West, after all: Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? The West FINALLY issued some “People’s QE” – that was a huge improvement over the West’s previous decade of fiscal policies, certainly.

Indeed, the global pandemic response was the best of all possible worlds, worldwide: incredible concern for public health, a rollback to rabidly right-wing economic policies, and not anywhere close to the number of deaths we all had wild-eyed fears about.

Some systems had more limitations than others – be they cultural, political, financial or whatever – but every government tried to limit the pandemic amid these differing limitations. And they did it democratically, in the broadest sense of that term: Which government truly defied the will of their own majority? I can’t think of any.

The West got exactly what they wanted according to all the polls back then – a Great Lockdown – amid total hysteria, and in total disregard for the political and socio-economic laws which govern their societies and… they are still not happy with their government?!

Clearly, those in their media are shaping public perceptions in order to foment unrest and dissatisfaction instead of urging clarity and stoic realism – this article praising governments should not be such an outlier, but it certainly is.

To be clear, the problem was not necessarily the Great Lockdown but what will come after such a drastic move in certain countries. The West has capitalist-imperialist ideologies which ensure that a Great Lockdowning cannot be coped with – in the US the Republican Party, which is refusing to extend unemployment insurance, is currently insisting this be proven emphatically.

I insisted from the start that when a natural disaster hits – you have no choice but to dance with the girl that brung ya. Mid-crisis is not at all the time to reinvent the wheel, but the time to trust the defences you have been building (or in the case of neoliberalism: not building). The West, of course, has very poor political defences thanks to four decades of anti-government neoliberalism and an even longer history of deranged frontier libertarianism. All the West can do is throw their tons of money at the problem – too bad that can’t buy a modern political infrastructure, culture, perspective, etc.

Building that modern, post-1917 political infrastructure is what the West now has to do, or collapse. Thus, covid is going to drag the West kicking and screaming into political modernity.

Voltaire never lived in the digitised world, much less a truly democratic one

I wouldn’t take down his statue but I would reject the bitter and individualistic (and thus very French) outlook he presented in Candide, where optimism is only for fools. For Voltaire the mantra of the character Pangloss – that “this is the best of all possible worlds”, despite his encountering one misfortune after another – is something to be derided: Pangloss is an idiot for not giving in to black resentfulness.

Well, that’s one view – a mighty cynical one. For those of us lucky to still be alive and fully healthy in August 2020 – that seems like a rather ungrateful perspective, no?

Voltaire’s final moral of “tend your own garden” sounds like Taoist individualism from a guy who was supposed to admire Confucianism, which is active, social and judgemental. We are all stuck at home tending our garden and, guess what: a monkish existence is a lonely, self-centered, unsatisfying and even unproductive life – it is unsurprising that the extremely social and active religion of Islam forbids monasticism and demands charitable social works.

I don’t know what people expected from our modern digitised world in our first-ever response to a pandemic, but judging from the criticism of civil servants it’s clear that many people were expecting way too much. No state worker could make unfat all the Americans who have perished prematurely; no state worker had a fountain of youth for the over-80s who compose the bulk of Sweden’s dearly departed. The Western “Karen’s” babyish “war on dying” was always setting up governments to fail and for faith in political institutions – any institution – to be incorrectly lessened.

Those who read the paper regularly know that the world was not paradise back in December 2019. When we consider how badly things were supposed to get back in spring, pondering the possibility that this is the best of all possible worlds is truly worth more than a moment’s reflection.

And then you can explain to me how this pandemic could have possibly been better handled with less government? This is the impossible task of the deranged American libertarian, the European technocrat, and the neoliberal aristocrat/comprador around the world.

If there is one thing I know for certain it’s this: Covid has definitively proved that big government is our ONLY defense against an often-cruel natural world.

Duh…. Countries who have endured an actual war – not a pandemic war – already knew this.

The US and Eurozone governments have done well in spite of the limitations presented by their elitist and reckless neoliberalism, but the “anti-all government crowd” will eventually be forced to admit that – when compared with socialist-style governments, with their central planning and authority to lead in a crisis – their neoliberal ideals have failed everyone, will continue to fail everyone, and are expressly designed to fail everyone and leave people at the mercy of that often-cruel natural world.

Honest critics of neoliberal capitalism saw all that long ago.

Covid will ultimately be seen as the killer of neoliberalism, not its vindicator.

That’s why it’s not surprising to see so many anti-socialist commentators trying to declare the opposite: they are the ones saying 2+2=5, not any “Big Brother” central government. Again, this pro-government article shouldn’t be so rare – this went pretty well for the first modern, digitised global pandemic. But what do we do now?

Answer: no way we go back to anti-government neoliberalism. This exact light is being switched on in minds around the world.

So, for socialists: it came at a very heavy cost, but this is the best of all possible worlds!

*********************************

Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.

Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020

Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020

A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020 – March 25, 2020

Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020

If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020

Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020

Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020

(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020

Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020

Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020

‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020

Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020

No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020

Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020

No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020

Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020

We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20, 2020

Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020

Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020

The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26, 2020

The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020

What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020

ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020

Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020

The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020

May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020

Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020

Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020

Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020

France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists? – May 15, 2020

Why haven’t we called it ‘QE 5’ yet? And why we must call it ‘QE 2.1’ instead – May 16, 2020

‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!’ That’s Orwell? – May 17, 2021

The Great Lockdown: The political apex of US single Moms & Western matriarchy? May 21, 2021

I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately – May 25, 2021

August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin – May 28, 2021

Corona proving the loser of the Cold War was both the USSR & the USA – May 30, 2021

Rebellions across the US: Why worry? Just ask Dr. Fauci to tell us what to do – June 2, 2021

Protesting, corona-conscience, a good dole: the US is doing things it can’t & it’s chaos – June 3, 2021

Why do Westerners assume all African-Americans are leftists? – June 5, 2020

The US as Sal’s Pizzeria: When to ‘Do The Right Thing’ is looting – June 6, 2020

The problem with the various ‘Fiat is all the problem!’ (FIATP) crowds – June 9, 2020

Politicisation of Great Lockdown result of ‘TINA’ economic ignorance & censorship – June 14, 2020

Trump’s only hope: buying re-election with populist jobless benefits – June, 16 2020

US national media is useless – so tell me the good local news sources? – July 4, 2020

Hamilton movie: central banker worship & proof the US has no left – July 8, 2020

News flash: Capitalism has no answer for 50 million jobless people – July 11, 2020

Naive Millennials: it’s the man (Trump) & not ‘The Man’ (the US system) – July 18, 2020

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for PressTV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism.

Medicine as religion

May 23, 2020

Source

Medicine as religion

original Italian text by by Giorgio Agamben
translated for The Saker Blog by Gulab Bara
posted by permission of the author
original article here: https://www.quodlibet.it/giorgio-agamben-la-medicina-come-religione

It is now plainly evident that science has become the religion of our times, the one that humans believe they believe in. In the modern west, three great systems of faith have coexisted, and to some extent continue to coexist—Christianity, capitalism, and science. In the history of modernity, these three “religions” have intersected a number of times, occasionally coming into conflict before reconciling in one way or another, gradually finding a kind of peaceable and sensible coexistence, if not a real and proper alliance in the name of common interest.

What is new is, that without us noticing, an underlying and implacable conflict has been reignited between science and the other two religions. The victorious outcomes of this conflict for science are today right under our eyes and noses, conditioning every aspect of our existence in unprecedented fashion. Unlike previous conflicts, this one does not concern theory and general principles, but rather religious practice, so to speak. In fact, like every religion, science organizes itself in different forms and levels to establish a structured order. At the theoretical level, science features a subtle and rigorous dogma, while at the practical level there is a corresponding religious sphere that is extremely broad and detailed. This sphere coincides with what we call “technology.”

It is unsurprising that the central role in this new religious war is played by medicine, a field of science that is relatively undogmatic and strongly pragmatic, concerned directly with the living body of human beings. Let’s try to define the essential characteristics of this triumphant religious faith, with which we must increasingly come to terms.

  1. The first characteristic is that medicine, like capitalism, has no need of any special dogma; it limits itself to borrowing its fundamental concepts from biology. Unlike biology, however, it organizes these concepts in a gnostic-manichean sense, i.e., in accordance with an exaggerated dualistic opposition. There exists an “evil” power or principle, which is disease, whose specific agents are bacteria and viruses. At the same time, there exists a “good” force or principle. But this opposing principle is not health, but rather healing, delivered by doctors through medical treatment. As in every gnostic faith, the two principles are clearly separate, but in the real world they can contaminate each other. The power of good, or a doctor that wields that power, can make mistakes and conspire unwittingly with the enemy, without invalidating the dualism and the necessity of the religious practice by means of which the principle of good battles that of evil. Significantly, the “theologians” that are defining the battle strategy are the representatives of a branch of science, virology, that does not occupy a clear space of its own, instead sitting at the boundary between biology and medicine.
  2. Up to now, the religious practice of medicine has been episodic and of limited duration, like other forms of religious worship, but unexpectedly the current phenomenon has become permanent and omnipresent. It is no longer just a matter of taking some medication or undergoing a medical examination or surgical procedure whenever necessary. Our whole lives must become the objects of an uninterrupted religious observance. The enemy, the virus, is ever-present. It must be combated incessantly, without any prospect of a ceasefire. Although similar totalitarian tendencies have marked the Christian religion, these affected limited individuals, most notably monks who opted to devote their whole lives to prayer. The religion of medicine takes this Pauline principle and completely inverts it, however. Whereas monks would assemble to pray in their monasteries, our new religion must be practiced apart, at a distance, though just as earnestly.
  3. Religious practice is no longer voluntary, subject solely to sanctions of a spiritual nature. It must be rendered obligatory by laws and decrees. The collusion between religion and secular power is nothing new, of course. What is totally new, though, is the exclusive concern with the observance of religious practice rather than the profession of dogmas, as was the case with Christian heretics. The secular power must be vigilant to ensure that the religion of medicine, at this point in time a lifelong faith, is promptly observed in every detail. It is immediately evident that we are dealing with a religious practice and not a scientific, rational need. The most frequent cause of death in this country by far is cardiovascular disease. It is well known that its mortality can be easily reduced by healthier living and eating. Yet, no doctor ever considered it necessary to resort to legal measures to compel patients to follow a prescribed lifestyle and diet, to decree what people eat and how they should live, transforming the whole of existence into a set of mandatory healthcare requirements. But it is precisely this that has been done, and at least for now, people have accepted it, as if it were an obvious thing to renounce one’s freedom of movement, work, friendships, loves, social relations, religious faith, and political creeds.

Here, we see how the other great religions of the west, the religion of Christ and the religion of money, have ceded their supremacy to medicine and science, seemingly without resistance. The Catholic Church has disavowed its principles, pure and simple, forgetting that the saint from which the current pontiff takes his name embraced lepers, that an essential element of compassion is to minister to the sick, and that the holy sacraments can only be administered in person. For its part, capitalism, even if with some reluctance, has accepted previously unimaginable losses of productivity, likely hoping to eventually find some accord with the new dominant religion, which seems open to some compromise on this point. XXX

  1. The religion of medicine appears to have unreservedly taken over the function of eschatology, a field of theology that Christianity abandoned long ago. Capitalism had already secularized the theological paradigm of salvation to eliminate the idea of “end time,” substituting it with a permanent state of crisis, without redemption or end. The concept of “crisis” originates with medicine. In the Hippocratic Corpus, krisis indicated the moment when the physician decided if the patient would survive the illness. Theologians later appropriated the term to refer to the Final Judgement on the final day of the world. Reflecting on the extraordinary situation we now face, we might conclude that the medical religion has merged the perpetual crisis of capitalism with the Christian idea of end time. The result is a sense of apocalypse and an unremitting urgency to make extreme decisions. The end is hastened and deferred in turns, in an unrelenting attempt to manage the crisis, without ever resolving it once and for all. It is the religion of a world that feels that it is nearing the end, yet that remains incapable, like the Hippocratic physician, of deciding if it will survive or die.
  2. Like capitalism (but unlike Christianity), the religion of medicine offers no prospect of salvation or redemption. In contrast, the healing at which it aims can only ever be temporary, since the force of evil, the virus, can never be completely eliminated. It mutates continually, assuming new forms, ever more risky it is presumed. As its etymology suggests, “epidemic” is above all a political concept (in Greek demos means people or population; polemos epidemios in Homer refers to civil war), which fits with the fact that it has become the new landscape of global politics, or perhaps “non-politics.” Indeed, the current epidemic may represent that global civil war that some astute political scientists have claimed has taken the place of traditional world wars. Are all the nations and peoples of the world in a protracted war with themselves, because the invisible and elusive enemy they are grappling with lies within them?

Just as at other critical junctures in history, philosophers will need to engage in debate and dispute with religion; this time not with Christianity, but rather with science, or at least that part of it that has assumed the guise of a religion. I’m not sure if we will see a return to the burning and blacklisting, but as already evident, the views of those who seek the truth and refuse to accept the dominant fictions will undoubtedly be excluded from public discourse, or met with accusations of purveying fake news (news, not ideas, because news is more important than reality). As in every emergency, real or simulated, the ignorant will smear the sages and scoundrels will seek to profit from the misfortunes that they themselves have provoked. All this has already happened and will go on happening, but those who bear witness to the truth will continue to do so, since no one can bear witness for the witness.

Giorgio Agamben
May 2, 2020

Who Are You to Call Me a Virus?

By Jeremy Salt

Source

Trump Delivers Remarks During a Coronavirus Update Briefing 01d3b

So the actor Alec Baldwin thinks Trump is a virus. An interesting idea, the virus as a metaphor. Some would say the US itself is a virus, taking millions of lives in its endless wars. Yet others would say we, homo sapiens, are the virus. Imagine how we must look from a million miles away. Squiggling organisms hanging on to a clod of earth as it whirls through space.

Corona is only doing what viruses do. They latch on to living bodies, and die or mutate into different forms when the host can no longer sustain them, which is the state the host of the organism known as homo sapiens, Planet Earth, seems to be rapidly approaching. We adapt to changing circumstances, as all viruses do, but are we are reaching the point when it will be too late to adapt?

Like any virus, we are consuming our host, and never more greedily than in the past 100 years.We are being warned all the time that when the planet is ecologically dead, we will die too. We know this but, riddled with another virus, consumerism, we cannot stop ourselves. We take what we can while we can, just like the viral microdots colonizing our bodies as we once colonized Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Those affected died in their millions. We in the ‘developed world’ lived off their poverty and plundered resources. Now it is our bodies being plundered by an enemy we cannot even see.

We are already being told there will be no return to the normal. Of course, there is no static normal any more than there is a static ‘human nature.’ ‘Normal’ and ‘human nature’ depend on geography, education, cultural conditioning, socio-economic structures and natural or man-made disasters such as war and earthquakes. Both change as circumstances change. Additionally, what is normal in one society is not necessarily regarded as normal somewhere else. ‘Normal’ is what we perceive as being normal, what we are taught to believe is normal but that changes, too. Who in the 19th century could have believed that governments around the world would pass legislation allowing men to marry each other?

Our greedy leaching of the planet’s resources may be hastening the frequency and increasing the scale of natural disasters. After all, how much battering can any fixed object take? Hit a rock often enough and hard enough and it will break. So will iron. While earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis have been recorded throughout history, sinkholes appear to be relatively new. They certainly weren’t in the news three or four decades ago. Could they be a sign that the tormented earth’s crust just can’t take it anymore?

Accelerating consumption requires accelerating industrialization to meet demand. We in the so-called ‘developed world’ know that even if we can drink clean water and breathe relatively fresh air, countless millions elsewhere don’t have either. They live in Africa or they work in the factories of China and Southeast Asia that produce the goods enabling us to lead the good life. Their cheap labor subsidizes the way we live. Their air, rivers, and seas are heavily polluted because of the absence of effective environmental safeguards in their world. This is not accidental or coincidental but the inevitable consequence of economic ‘globalization.’

When the normal gives way to the new normal, what will we learn, something or nothing? The fallout is bound to be substantial. The virus has again exposed the corrupt underpinnings of capitalism. This has happened many times before but we still don’t learn the lesson. Capitalism commodifies everything. Much of what used to have a moral value now has only a market value. Education is still regarded as a right and a necessity, as it certainly is for a corporate sector needing workers and consumers, but the quality frequently depends on money. As for health care, in most ‘liberal democracies’ the citizen only gets as much as he or she can afford. Public health in the US is frequently provided in hospitals starved of staff and resources. This is the same population the capitalist order wants to work and consume endlessly but is not prepared to pay for health services to make sure it can do both.

Globalization appeared as the latest evidence of the adaptability of the capitalist order. It was based on the ‘deregulation’ of economies, which added up to the clearing away of all global obstacles in the way of corporate profits. National borders were turned into lines on the map and governments into the regional satraps of corporations, which would make their offers and go somewhere else if their terms were not accepted. As they had the money, they had the power.

Societies were turned against each in the interests of profit. With tariff barriers dropped, the corporations closed their factories and headed for countries where labor was cheap and the workforce controlled by anti-strike legislation and the competition for jobs. In these countries, they could produce goods at a fraction of the production costs in their home countries. They could then export their goods back to the home country and sell them as if they had been made there.

This is not just what governments allowed but encouraged. They opened the door to the flight of manufacturing industry. In cities across the US, Britain, Australia, wherever one looked, once-thriving factories were abandoned and the people who worked in them left without jobs and possessed of skills employable only in other factories that had been closed down. The privatization of essential government services swung into effect at the same time. Given that no risk was involved in the supply of water, gas and electricity, this was no more than the transfer of vast amounts of public money into private pockets. Social services built up with public money over more than a century disappeared almost overnight. The fine old buildings from which these services were provided were sold off for corporate use.

These shifts were harnessed to the destruction of labor unions and the notion of ‘enterprise bargaining’ which left the individual worker in search or a higher salary or better working conditions to face the corporation on his or her own. This was like putting a bantamweight into the ring to fight a heavyweight. Herbert Spencer’s rugged 19th-century individualism and the jungle rules of social Darwinism underpinned the new order, summed up by Margaret Thatcher in her remark that “there is no such thing as society.” Economically, of course, for the corporations to take maximum advantage of the new/old circumstances, society – a word denoting a small or large human community working together for the common good and forming associations to protect common interests – there could be no such thing as what society used to be.

Alighting on new hosts, the virus of globalization left the old host in ruins. The rust belt in the US is the evidence. Factories were closed down en masse and cities fell into ruin. Livelihoods had already been swept from under the feet of blue and white-collar workers when the financial institutions collapsed in 2008/9. The endless privatization of profit was succeeded by the socialization of loss. It was the people who had to pay for the corruption and malpractice endemic in financial institutions, through the loss of their jobs and homes and the siphoning-off of their taxes. The res publica – the ‘public thing’ – had shown the people where their government’s first loyalties lay.

According to Mike Collins, writing in Forbes business magazine, “The operating principles of the big banks is a cesspool of greed, [lack of] ethics and criminal intent.” Insider trading was a large part of the picture, so was money-laundering with the US branch of HSBC bank, which was found to have laundered $881 billion for Mexican drug cartels. The rating agencies (Moody’s and Standard and Poor) giving a AAA rating to the banks granting a flood of unrepayable sub-prime mortgages were paid by the same banks. By 2015, Mike Collins estimated, the bailout had cost not the $700 billions the people were originally told but $16.8 trillion (Mike Collins, ‘The Big Bank Bailout,’ Forbes, July 14, 2015.)

There had to be some sacrificial lambs (Lehman Brothers) but with the help of ‘government’ money – the people’s money – the rest were soon back on their feet, making mega profits without having to pay back one cent of the torrents of cash that had pulled them out of the ditch. What better metaphor can there be for such rapacious capitalism than that of the virus? Having eaten its way through society – the host body – it was then given a new lease of life by a government elected to protect society.

The virus is a metaphor that has no limits. All living things consume to live. Something has to die so they can live. Some people eat to live. Others seem to live to eat. They are encouraged to over-consume by the addictive ingredients deliberately fed into the food and drink chain by producers. An obese population is an unhealthy population but one that keeps returning healthy profits even as medical costs soar that the corporations don’t have to pay. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 42.7 percent of the US population was obese in 2017/18, with the prevalence of obesity increasing 1999-2000 from 30.5 to 42.4 percent. The annual cost of treating obesity was $147 billion. Thus, while Africans and many others starve, many Americans are eating until they practically burst.

Extreme violence is another aspect of the American demographic. The viral nature of capitalism requires a police and a miitary to suppress discontent at home and open up new territories abroad. Profit-seeking can know no territorial limits. Like any virus, it will spread as fast and as far as it can. Eduardo Galeano’s ‘open veins’ of Latin America were veins opened up in every part of the non-European world. The prize was natural resources, the means were the cycles of invasion and occupation that have continued for centuries down to our time. When Donald Trump says of Syria’s oil that it is ours “and we will do with it what we want” he was only expressing the logic that has underlain imperialism all along, if rarely so crudely expressed.

Most wars have an economic motive, usually dressed up as what we are doing for you, not what we are doing to you. The wars on Iraq were not only about oil, as they were designed to pulverize a country regarded as threatening to ‘order’ and ‘stability’ as defined by the US and more generally ‘the West.’ The language was the same in the 19th century and between then and now, so were the consequences for the native population: mass destruction and death. By such means were ‘civilization’ and progress preserved. Only the principal actors (Britain and France in the 19th century, the US now) and the technology have changed, the latter allowing the invader to kill and crush more comprehensively.

American violence has a viral quality, intrinsic to the organism from the beginning of European settlement. Once the native Indian population had been suppressed, other threatening elements had to be contained and destroyed as they arose. As blackness threatened whiteness, Afro-American were enslaved, segregated, lynched and burnt alive until finally granted the rights and opportunities that came as the birth right of white Americans. Random killings by police, the massively disproportionate black prison population and the activism of white supremacists stand as the evidence even now that the virus of racism has not been suppressed.

Viruses always move on. Suppressed by a vaccine, they will mutate into a slightly different form and take root again in the host body. This is what the world is experiencing with the coronavirus, which surfaced just after the financial institutions began to plunge into a deeper abyss than 2007/8. According to the New York Times, the US administration is now contemplating “a vast financial bailout that would dwarf the federal government’s response to the 2008 crisis … the scale of the problem is unlike anything Washington has ever faced before.” This bailout “could” top $2 trillion and not the initial $18.3 billion approved by Congress. (‘Washington Weighs Big Bailout to Help US Economy Survive Coronavirus,’ New York Times, March 18, 2020. Note that the bailout is designed to rescue the ‘economy’ from the virus, not from the failures of a socio-economic system which has sent to the country to the wall time after time).

No questions as to where the money is going will be allowed despite the Freedom of Information Act: as the virus is allowing state governments to confine people to their homes, there can be no public protests. The police and national guard will be on hand to suppress those who defy the ban. Memories of outrage at the bilking of the public in 2008 will account for these precautions.

As one commentator has observed, in 2008 Wall Street was bailed out and Main Street landed with the bill. A repetition could ignite a public backlash with “potentially catastrophic consequences” (‘Washington Weighs Big Bailout,’ New York Times) so the bailout this time has to be handled with greater finesse, with more of the cash allocated to the hard-pressed citizenry. Even as the financial crisis broke, however, the familiar chicanery, insider trading and the timely selling-off of shares by corporations, was resurfacing.

Can this be mere coincidence, the appearance of one virus to hide the latest ravages of another? The corporate media dismisses the very notion as a “conspiracy theory,” as if governments do not scheme, plot and conspire all the time, against each other, against their mutual enemies and frequently against their own people. Within the realm of possibilities, the possibilities of an accidental release of the virus or of foul play by a government or rogue elements inside a government at least have to be allowed. We still don’t know who was behind the assassination of John Kennedy or the attacks of 9/11. How long will it be before we know the truth or, like these two other world historical events, will we ever know it?

The war on terror having run its course, the war on the virus has followed without a break, allowing governments to build on the ‘homeland security’ edifice constructed after 9/11. Outside fiction, police and the military everywhere are being handed unprecedented powers of arrest, surveillance, and control. In the US and elsewhere millions of people have been subjected to ‘lockdown,’ generally a term applied to a prison after a riot. Whatever a government decides to do, whatever measures it takes to bail out the financial institutions once again, the people will not be allowed into the street to protest.Panicked, fearful of the enemy they cannot see, terrorized by the media, confused by contradictory evidence, and baffled by statistics open to more than one reading, they are doing what they are being told. They have been too effectively frightened to go into the streets. Only the virus is in the headlines, allowing the bailout to proceed quietly behind the scenes.

We live in a world of viruses. Emptying the planet’s natural resources and preying on other species to feed ourselves, we behave no differently ourselves. Eventually, someone will come up with a cure for the coronavirus but who is going to cure us? We have to do it ourselves, but will we?

The Bigger Picture Is Hiding Behind a Virus

By Jonathan Cook

Source

Things often look the way they do because someone claiming authority tells us they look that way. If that sounds too cynical, pause for a moment and reflect on what seemed most important to you just a year ago, or even a few weeks ago. 

Then, you may have been thinking that Russian interference in western politics was a vitally important issue, and something that we needed to invest much of our emotional and political energy in countering. Or maybe a few weeks ago you felt that everything would be fine if we could just get Donald Trump out of the White House. Or maybe you imagined that Brexit was the panacea to Britain’s problems – or, conversely, that it would bring about the UK’s downfall.

Still feel that way?

After all, much as we might want to (and doubtless some will try), we can’t really blame Vladimir Putin, or Russian troll farms spending a few thousand dollars on Facebook advertising, for the coronavirus pandemic. Much as we might want to, we can’t really blame Trump for the catastrophic condition of the privatised American health care system, totally ill-equipped and unprepared for a nationwide health emergency. And as tempting as it is for some of us, we can’t really blame Europe’s soft borders and immigrants for the rising death toll in the UK. It was the global economy and cheap travel that brought the virus into Britain, and it was the Brexit-loving prime minister Boris Johnson who dithered as the epidemic took hold.

The bigger picture

Is it possible that only a few weeks ago our priorities were just a little divorced from a bigger reality? That what appeared to be the big picture was not actually big enough? That maybe we should have been thinking about even more important, pressing matters – systemic ones like the threat of a pandemic of the very kind we are currently enduring.

Because while we were all thinking about Russiagate or Trump or Brexit, there were lots of experts – even the Pentagon, it seems – warning of just such a terrible calamity and urging that preparations be made to avoid it. We are in the current mess precisely because those warnings were ignored or given no attention – not because the science was doubted, but because there was no will to do something to avert the threat.

If we reflect, it is possible to get a sense of two things. First, that our attention rarely belongs to us; it is the plaything of others. And second, that the “real world”, as it is presented to us, rarely reflects anything we might usefully be able to label as objective reality. It is a set of political, economic and social priorities that have been manufactured for us.

Agents outside our control with their own vested interests – politicians, the media, business – construct reality, much as a film-maker designs a movie. They guide our gaze in certain directions and not others.

A critical perspective 

At a moment like this of real crisis, one that overshadows all else, we have a chance – though only a chance – to recognise this truth and develop our own critical perspective. A perspective that truly belongs to us, and not to others.

Think back to the old you, the pre-coronavirus you. Were your priorities the same as your current ones?

This is not to say that the things you prioritise now – in this crisis – are necessarily any more “yours” than the old set of priorities.

If you’re watching the TV or reading newspapers – and who isn’t – you’re probably feeling scared, either for yourself or for your loved ones. All you can think about is the coronavirus. Nothing else really seems that important by comparison. And all you can hope for is the moment when the lockdowns are over and life returns to normal.

But that’s not objectively the “real world” either. Terrible as the coronavirus is, and as right as anyone is to be afraid of the threat it poses, those “agents of authority” are again directing and controlling our gaze, though at least this time those in authority include doctors and scientists. And they are guiding our attention in ways that serve their interests – for good or bad.

Endless tallies of infections and deaths, rocketing graphs, stories of young people, along with the elderly, battling for survival serve a purpose: to make sure we stick to the lockdown, that we maintain social distancing, that we don’t get complacent and spread the disease.

Here our interests – survival, preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed – coincide with those of the establishment, the “agents of authority”. We want to live and prosper, and they need to maintain order, to demonstrate their competence, to prevent dissatisfaction bubbling up into anger or open revolt.

Crowded out by detail 

But again the object of our attention is not as much ours as we may believe. While we focus on graphs, while we twitch the curtains to see if neighbours are going for a second run or whether families are out in the garden celebrating a birthday distant from an elderly parent, we are much less likely to be thinking about how well the crisis is being handled. The detail, the mundane is again crowding out the important, the big picture.

Our current fear is an enemy to our developing and maintaining a critical perspective. The more we are frightened by graphs, by deaths, the more we are likely to submit to whatever we are told will keep us safe.

Under cover of the public’s fear, and of justified concerns about the state of the economy and future employment, countries like the US are transferring huge sums of public money to the biggest corporations. Politicians controlled by big business and media owned by big business are pushing through this corporate robbery without scrutiny – and for reasons that should be self-explanatory. They know our attention is too overwhelmed by the virus for us to assess intentionally mystifying arguments about the supposed economic benefits, about yet more illusory trickle-down.

There are many other dramatic changes being introduced, almost too many and too rapidly for us to follow them properly. Bans on movementIntensified surveillanceCensorship. The transfer of draconian powers to the police, and preparations for the deployment of soldiers on streets. Detention without trialMartial law. Measures that might have terrified us when Trump was our main worry, or Brexit, or Russia, may now seem a price worth paying for a “return to normality”.

Paradoxically, a craving for the old-normal may mean we are prepared to submit to a new-normal that could permanently deny us any chance of returning to the old-normal.

The point is not just that things are far more provisional than most of us are ready to contemplate; it’s that our window on what we think of as “the real world”, as “normal”, is almost entirely manufactured for us.

Distracted by the virus 

Strange as this may sound right now, in the midst of our fear and suffering, the pandemic is not really the big picture either. Our attention is consumed by the virus, but it is, in a truly awful sense, a distraction too.

In a few more years, maybe sooner than we imagine, we will look back on the virus – with the benefit of distance and hindsight – and feel the same way about it we do now about Putin, or Trump, or Brexit.

It will feel part of our old selves, our old priorities, a small part of a much bigger picture, a clue to where we were heading, a portent we did not pay attention to when it mattered most.

The virus is one small warning – one among many – that we have been living out of sync with the natural world we share with other life. Our need to control and dominate, our need to acquire, our need for security, our need to conquer death – they have crowded out all else. We have followed those who promised quick, easy solutions, those who refused to compromise, those who conveyed authority, those who spread fear, those who hated.

If only we could redirect our gaze, if we could seize back control of our attention for a moment, we might understand that we are being plagued not just by a virus but by our fear, our hate, our hunger, our selfishness. The evidence is there in the fires, the floods and the disease, in the insects that have disappeared, in the polluted seas, in the stripping of the planet’s ancient lungs, its forests, in the melting ice-caps.

The big picture is hiding in plain sight, no longer obscured by issues like Russia and Brexit but now only by the most microscopic germ, marking the thin boundary between life and death.

استمرار الصراعات العالميّة بأشكال متجدّدة

د.وفيق إبراهيم

يسجّل التاريخ في صفحاته أن الأوبئة خطيرة وفتاكة وقاتلة، لكنها لم توقف الصراعات للسيطرة الاقتصادية إلا في أوقات قصيرة جداً، وسرعان ما كان الصراع الدولي يتجدّد بأشكال إنسانية ظاهرية فقط مختزناً في عمقه المزيد من الرغبة في الاحتكار.

هذه هي الرأسمالية المتوحشة التي لا تمثل عرقاً او قومية بل طبقة لها رأس اميركي – غربي وتحالفات في أصقاع اخرى.

وهذا هو دونالد ترامب الرئيس الاميركي الذي أحيا أساليبها الهمجية القديمة مزيلاً عنها تلك القشرة الدبلوماسية المراوغة، ومعاوداً اقتحام المشهد العالمي بأسلوب الكاوبوي الوقح والمجرم.

لذلك فإن وباء كورونا الذي يعبث بأمن الإنسانية حالياً مقتحماً تجمعاتها البشرية السياسية بشكل تدريجي يُسدي خدمة لهذه الطبقة المتوحشة حتى تستطيع تجديد أساليب هيمنتها باختراع استثمارات في عالم الطب.

لا يعني هذا الكلام انحيازاً لمن يقول إن كورونا «وباء مصنّع» في مختبرات دول صناعية لنشر ذعر إنساني يتيح للرأسمالية المتوحشة إعادة تجديد مواردها الاقتصادية «بلبوس حبي رعائي» كمواعظ الكهنوت، في كل الطوائف، إلا ان هذا الكلام لا يستبعد كلياً ان يكون كورونا وباء مصنعاً لاستخدامه في الصراعات الدولية.

أما المبرّرون الذين يتذرعون بأنه أصاب أميركيين وأوروبيين ما يرفع عن دولهم تهمة تصنيعه، فيمكن التأكيد مرة أخرى أن الاقتصاد الغربي طبقة اقتصادية لا تأبه لأجناس المصابين مع اهتمامها الأكيد بالإمساك بالموقف ومنع تفلته.

هذا هو «الوباء المضبوط» على ساعة «الرأسمالية المتوحشة» سواء أكان من صناعتها أو من نتاج التفاعلات الصحية والمناخية في الأرض بأسرها.

فالمهم بالنسبة اليها هو الاستثمار المربح حتى على جثث المصابين به وضحاياه.

للتوضيح فإن مدارس طبية انسانية تتهم «الغرب الطبي» الصناعي حتى الآن بأنه لم يبذل جهوداً فعلية لمكافحة الأنواع المختلفة والمتعددة للسرطانات بل ذهب الى ابتكار اساليب للعناية بالمصابين بها ولم يعمل مطلقاً على التوصل الى ادوية وقائية تمنع تشكله او تطوره منذ البداية وقبل انطلاقته.

اما الفارق بين الحالتين فكبير، ففي حالة اكتشاف ادوية وقائية لا يستفيد المستثمرون الصناعيون في الطب من علاجات مرضى السرطانات في العيادات والمستشفيات والأدوية والعمليات والرعايات وحتى إجراءات الدفن.

وتقتصر استفادتهم على الادوية الوقائية هذا بالاضافة الى ان السرطانات تخدم نظرية منع التكاثر، وللاشارة فقط فإن السرطان كان معروفاً باسم «الأكلة» منذ العصر العباسي وربما في مراحلة أكثر قدماً.

هذا ما يجري حرفياً على جبهة وباء كورونا من صراعات دولية تندلع لاكتشاف لقاحات للمعالجة وليس لمنع تشكله بما يتيح اعتبار هذا الوباء او اوبئة أخرى مشابهة لسرطانات «القرن الواحد والعشرين».

ما هي اشكال هذه الصراعات الدولية على كورونا؟

كالعادة يحاول الأميركيّون احتكار المشهد والاستعجال في ابتكار لقاحات للمعالجة.

فهم يدركون أهمية احتكارهم لإنتاج ما يقلص حركة انتشار الذعر، لذلك يسارعون الى احتواء الوباء بضبط حركة الذعر وليس إلغاءها واطالة العلاجات والاكثار من المواد المستعملة بما يزيد من قيمة الاستثمار الرأسمالي في عالم الأوبئة ما يجعلها لاهثة خلف مختبرات لإنتاج الاوبئة والجراثيم وأخرى لمعالجتها.

لجهة المانيا فتبدو وحيدة في قارة أوروبية تعاني من الشيخوخة، فتحاول بدورها التوصل الى لقاحات على الرغم من الحجم المتواضع للإصابات التي تعرض لها شعبها، الا ان المانيا ما زالت تعاني من الاستكبار الاميركي على الاوروبيين ولا تزال محتلة من احتلال عسكري اميركي منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية بموجب معاهدات.

«ألمانيا» هذه، تريد تأكيد دورها العالمي وتقديم مستواها الجدير بالعالمية ولها اخيراً حاجة داخلية لمنع انتشار هذا الوباء عندها اولاً وفي العالم ثانياً، لانها تستفيد من نظام العولمة بتصدير سلعها في دائرة عالمية واسعة فيما يؤدي كورونا الى تقليص التفاعلات الاقتصادية بما يؤذي الاقتصاد الالماني الذي لا يمتلك قوة إقناع وهيمنة عسكريين كما الاميركيين.

بأي حال تبدو الصين في اتجاه مختلف، ما يفرض عليها الحرص الشديد في التعامل مع كورونا خصوصاً والأوبئة عموماً، وذلك لأن كورونا أصابها اولاً منتشراً بين مواطنيها الذين يصلون الى مليار و400 مليون نسمة.

ولا تريد الصين إيذاء اقتصادها المرشح ان يسبق نظيره الأميركي في اقل من عقد، لذلك فإن مصلحتها ايجاد لقاحات وادوية استباقية للانتهاء من هذا الوباء وهذا ما يدفع الصين الى مسألتين: حث مختبراتها على ابتكار وسائل الوقاية ومنع التشكل واطلاق برنامج مساعدات للدول المتضرّرة، بما يعزز من صورتها الإنسانية.

هناك ايضاً روسيا وإيران اللتان تعملان بإمكاناتهما المتواضعة على انتاج لقاحات وادوية مسبقة، وذلك لفائدة الشعوب، من جهة ومنع الاستثمار الغربي الاحتكاري فيه، والدليل أن الأميركيين الذين يحاصرون إيران ويمنعون العالم من التعامل معها، لا يسمحون لها حتى باستيراد الادوية، أليست هذه هي الرأسمالية المتوحشة بشكلها الترامبي البشع؟

يتبين اذاً ان الغرب الصناعي يحاول الاستثمار في كورونا، وربما بأوبئة جديدة قيد الإعداد او الظهور، وبما يخدم هيمنتها الاقتصادية من جهة والقضاء على الاقتصادات المنافسة من الصين وروسيا وايران واليابان من جهة اخرى.

وضحايا هذا الصراع هم كل الشعوب البعيدة عن المستوى العلمي والثقافي للعصر، وهذا يشمل المنطقة العربية وأفريقيا وأوروبا، باستثناء الثلاثي الألماني – الفرنسي – الانجليزي.

كما يصل الى اميركا الجنوبية واوستراليا بما يؤكد ان الرأسمالية الاميركية، المتحالفة نسبياً مع قوى اوروبية محدودة تعاود رسم الخارطة الاقتصادية – السياسية للعالم بأرواح ضحايا كورونا واشباهه.

فهل تنقذ الصين ومعها إيران وروسيا، وربما المانيا العالم من التنين الترامبي المخيف؟

بانتظار نتائج مختبراتها، يجب انبثاق تضامن علمي عالمي لم يظهر حتى الآن لوقف ما يفعله هذا التنين من محاولات خنق للناس على الأرض.ة

Miscegenation as elephant in the room

February 12, 2020

Miscegenation as elephant in the room

Source

by Denis A. Conroy for The Saker Blog

In the capitalist West, a reinvention of bourgeois culture is continuously expressed through ownership of devises that legitimise power. Alternating forms of bourgeois culture come and go to allow the public to toy with alternative bourgeois values, but never with the idea of alternatives ‘to’ bourgeois values as such. The net result of all of this is that the public is permitted to pay lip service to democracy while being forced to submit to a stitch-up…or, an exogenous variable whose time-line is no longer relevant but continues to do what it has always done, allow elites to emasculate the public voice. The best example of this is to be found in private narratives that exist for the purpose of legitimising the private sector’s methods of wealth extraction by promoting a trickle-down version of philanthropic mush to those who passively accept the status quo.

This capitalist trajectory is indubitably observed in the stepping-stones that history’s dealers put in place for themselves to achieve positions of pre-eminence. From Mayer Amschel Rothchild(ren), banker, 1744-1812, to our present time, dealers have made an artform of dealership, and the current President of the USA…Donald Trump is no exception. It’s his form of exceptionality (make America great again) that we need to look more closely at.

It wasn’t serendipity that enabled elites to acquire the power needed to lord it over the masses, but rather an ability to trade a passage toward creating a centre that could ultimately achieve an institutionally sacrosanct level of security for themselves…the ‘too-big-to-fail’ phenomenon we live with today. As the fundamental building-blocks of a ‘free state’ emerged in America, a branding process was devised that would enable mainstream media and Hollywood to collaborate in imposing a narrative upon an unwitting public. As the old-world class system was introduced into the new world, it became evident that history was repeating itself; people were provided with a catechism by the elites…a propagandistic one…and they swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

Thereafter, believing that they were baptised and rendered secure in the holy waters of patriotic impunity, they set to performing their anointed role as cheerleaders to the wacky sheriffs who ruled over them. A too-big-to-fail corporate posse came into existence to convince them…bully fashion…that America’s destiny lay in colonizing the world.

Witness the American public’s incontrovertible need to believe in their own exceptionality. They swallow the gruel that their masters feed them without it ever affecting their conscience…their rampaging foreign policy attests to this! If Trump’s blunt assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, or his administration’s Middle Eastern “deal of the century” signifies anything, it is that Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” acknowledges the success of indoctrination vis-à-vis myth. It is the elite who possess the power to awakens an innate call-to-arms mentality in the public when they choose to.

As a consequence of this, the collective mind is alerted to the possibility of losing ‘top dog’ status and it’s self-appointed role in the world. The massive military budget attests to the fact that the myth of American supremacy is to be aggressively pursued at all costs…and considering the stockpile of nuclear missiles, one must assume that this myth has been swallowed hook, line and sinker by the masses.

Washington’s commitment to power owes much to His or Her Majesties Governments when it comes to deal making. The principles acted upon during the time of the First World War are the same principles that explain the current American imperial foreign policy…focus on the money trail and to hell with insignificant natives as they have insignificant cash resources.

On the subject of insignificant natives, the White House published a 180-page document recently entitled “Peace to Prosperity: Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People”…it had all the Balfourian myopia of a similar declaration produced in 1917.

BALFOUR DECLARATION

Foreign Office

November 2nd. 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Author(s)Walter Rothschild

Arthur Balfour

Leo Amery

Lord Milner

On reading the above document, one cannot but conclude that America and Zionist Israel have one notable trait in common, the ability to feel exceptional despite the horror their settler cultures imposed on the indigenous people whose countries they have occupied. That their energies go into replicating bourgeois class values, there can be no doubt. The stratified model of class that underpins Western culture, now sadly in need of an overhaul, is of itself a blinkered vision of the world and irredeemably flawed. What the above document reveals, is the Anglo-Zionist banking system’s propensity to see the world in terms of ‘low-hanging-fruit’, especially when it is ripe for the picking.

Donald Trump’s cave-man determination and Bibi Netanyahu’s fake and sugary comity do little to disguise the fact that they are in the business of extracting what blood remains of Palestine’s corporeal existence. A beautiful country exposed to collusion and perfidy at the hands of Anglo-Zionist whose intentions all along were to devour Palestine. The duplicitous process that commenced in 1917…moved from London to Washington, where Harry Truman (1948), while acting as midwife in an onerous deal at a banker’s tea party, set in motion a move that was little more than approving the transfer of a parasite into the host body… Palestine!

That the parasite has devoured most of Palestine in this time frame, seems of little matter to Trump or his ilk. In effect, it is a deal that runs roughshod over the concept of human rights. Indeed, the cabal Trump colludes with convey the impression that they would have no compunction in stripping the Palestinians of the last vestiges of their heritage. But the truth is, contemporary elites can do deceitful things and they are especially capable of repeating this piece of infamy yet again.

And what do we Westerners do about that? Sadly, the answer is nothing, nothing, nothing, because we no longer seem to feel the rapture that comes with being alive. And not being alive, we have become inured to violence. It’s o.k. when Jared Kushner-real-estate-investor extraordinaire, Donald Trump-wheeler-dealer extraordinaire and Bibi Netanyahu-purveyor-of-biblical- myths extraordinaire come together vis-à-vis America’s elitist media to promote more cynical ‘honest-broker-tropes’ to obfuscate the truth behind the occupation of Palestine.

Trump, it must be said, is just one more presidential enabler doing it for Zionist Israel. One can imagine Don phoning Bib and congratulating him; “Bib…honey, you shrunk the Palestinian kids and you have our blessing, its’ a proud day for Zion!” It appears that the intention all along was to reduce Palestine to a few Bantustans. The deal, which proposes granting Zionist Israel all of the West Bank land where it wants to build its settlements beggars belief.

The alliance between America and Zionist Israel is based on religious mythology. Religious mythology, unlike secular mythology (or unreligious stories) tends to be male oriented and its iterations tend toward defending a patriarchal or tribal premise. In the Jewish context, it is primal to the point of loathing the concept of miscegenation…a threatening concept that stubbornly repeats itself in religious myths…and much written about in the Old Testament. It appears that Jewish religious mythology brought forth a phobic fear of emasculation that has now taken a turn for the worse in our modern era. A new iteration involving assets and concomitant devises is expressing itself in a most retrograde fashion…is phobia becoming viral, we need to ask ourselves?

In Zionist Israel, a new milieu has come into existence to launch tribalism into a secondary phase of identity politics. A phase shaped by religious mythology implying something strange and undemocratic. If you are not Jewish, then you are of a lesser stripe…or, of no worth at all!

Perspectives from beyond Zionist Israel might suggest that there is a breeding program afoot that may intensify the Jewish propensity to generate entities that end up looking like angry Meerkats wearing yarmulkes while snarling over territorial rights that keep on stacking up…and surely there must exist somewhere in their bible a text that says that God gave the entire world to them?

On the other hand, America’s part in the alliance is somewhat different. Their brand of religious fervour is part New and part Old Testament but laced with a uniquely American brand of evangelical hubris. It acts out it’s narrative on an industrial scale so as to find traction with the national psyche which loves all things big. It’s the good-guy-bad-guy component that gets it to the Box Office every time. It needs to capitalise on the myth that America as a country exists for the good of mankind. Being good guys (?) they, like the Israelis, need a very large military capability as back-up to their presence on mother earth.

So, it was against this background that Russian Jews…and there were many of them who came to America in the early part of the 20th century…to apply their talents to what might have been thought of as an amorphous culture rich for the picking. They were very talented in matters of business. Upon gaining ownership of media and having become extremely active in the development of Hollywood etc., their influence in American was soon very apparent. As time went by, the general population failed to notice that Zionism, based on religious mythology had entered the body-politic of America’s heartland to reshape the American dream as a corporate one. It was this trend that killed any chance of the Palestinians receiving justice.

To many in the outside world, their voice within the American narrative had become disproportionately righteous, and their use of money to buy support for the colonization of Palestine so egregious, that more and more people across the world were sickened by their continues carping on about the Holocaust…as though it were the only one that mattered…which many in the outside world noticed was used as a means to deflect attention away from criticism.

Eventually the world outside the American-Jewish nexus became weary of Jewish insistence that they were the only voice on the block that had credibility. They began to feel that the kerfuffle surrounding anti-Semitism was one where you were expected to passively accept the righteousness of a Judaic ‘right’ to interpret their own narrative as faultless, and if you questioned this premise, you were against them…anti-Semitic! They were demanding that their interpretations, in matters relating to the holocaust, be taken as gospel.

All of the above was allowed to happen because coup-d’etats are a feature of the American way of doing business. Yesterday it was colonial Europe (foremostly the British empire), today its’ the USA who have the gall to make proposals that concern six million Palestine lives with all the nonchalance attributable to the puerile of mind.

At what point did vulgar materialism begin to shrink the Western imagination? Does quantifying the aspirational desires of America’s notion of freedom distort the amplitude of the American dream? Do Americans and Israelis believe that only they can achieve emancipation per acquisition of other people’s assets? They both like to think that it is their God-given right to own the countries they occupy. It is already clear that these are the defining features of 21st. century statecraft and Trump and his administration is there to do deals with his mate Bibi that entails suffocating what is left of Palestine. If this is America as leader of the democratic world, God help us all!

But the multiplicity of energies that live within the strange narrative that is sold as the American way of doing business remains captive to the whims of the media. Self-congratulatory vectors operate 24/7 in the hope of keeping the average Joe and Joie focused on the splendours and opportunities that exist for them in their market culture. On the home front, political chicanery has trumped the rule of law and foreign policy has become just another way of shafting foreigners. In the main, matters of morality and lack of accountability have become de rigueur. Since money became the elixir of life, the dirty linen factor behind Donald Trump’s impeachment merits little more than a yawn. It seems that the deeds of the elite need to be kept hidden from public scrutiny.

But what is most strange with the American way of doing business is how elites have managed to reverse the roles of journalists who would otherwise disclose truth. An in-your-face culture has come into existence to target whistle-blowers and muffle their voices.

An excellent article by Caitlin Johnstone entitled, “The Primary Mechanism of Oppression is Not Hidden” (February 5, 2020) and published in Consortiumnews.

She writes;

“The key to turning this ship around does not lie hidden somewhere behind a veil of government opacity. It lies in you. It lies in all of us. We can begin awakening our fellow humans right now by attacking the narrative management of the propaganda machine that sits right in front of us, unarmoured and unhidden.”

In conclusion, it is refreshing to encounter writers whose clarity of mind and insights into mythology remain free of religious myths.

John Campbell, the author of “The Power of Myths” is one such writer.

“People say that we’re all seeking a meaning for life.

I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. Rather I think we’re seeking an experience of being alive, so that our life expressions will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture to be alive.”

Lets’ wish it to be so for the Palestinians too!!


Denis A. Conroy, Freelance Writer, Australia

Harvesting the Blood of America’s Poor: The Latest Stage of Capitalism

By Allan MacLeod

Source

 

Blood Plasma Bags c4cc4

For much of the world, donating blood is purely an act of solidarity; a civic duty that the healthy perform to aid others in need. The idea of being paid for such an action would be considered bizarre. But in the United States, it is big business. Indeed, in today’s wretched economy, where around 130 million Americans admit an inability to pay for basic needs like food, housing or healthcare, buying and selling blood is of the few booming industries America has left.

The number of collection centers in the United States has more than doubled since 2005 and blood now makes up well over 2 percent of total U.S. exports by value. To put that in perspective, Americans’ blood is now worth more than all exported corn or soy products that cover vast areas of the country’s heartland. The U.S. supplies fully 70 percent of the world’s plasma, mainly because most other countries have banned the practice on ethical and medical grounds. Exports increased by over 13 percent, to $28.6 billion, between 2016 and 2017, and the plasma market is projected to “grow radiantly,” according to one industry report. The majority goes to wealthy European countries; Germany, for example, buys 15 percent of all U.S. blood exports. China and Japan are also key customers.

It is primarily the plasma– a golden liquid that transports proteins and red and white blood cells around the body– that makes it so sought after. Donated blood is crucial in treating medical conditions such as anemia and cancer and is commonly required to perform surgeries. Pregnant women also frequently need transfusions to treat blood loss during childbirth. Like all maturing industries, a few enormous bloodthirsty companies, such as Grifols and CSL, have come to dominate the American market.

But in order to generate such enormous profits, these vampiric corporations consciously target the poorest and most desperate Americans. One study found that the majority of donors in Cleveland generate more than a third of their income from “donating” blood. The money they receive, notes Professor Kathryn Edin of Princeton University, is literally “the lifeblood of the $2 a day poor.” Professor H. Luke Schaefer of the University of Michigan, Edin’s co-author of $2 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, told MintPress News:

The massive increase in blood plasma sales is a result of an inadequate and in many places non-existent cash safety net, combined with an unstable labor market. Our experience is people need the money, that’s the primary reason people show up at plasma centers.”

Almost half of America is broke, and 58 percent of the country is living paycheck to paycheck, with savings of less than $1000. 37 million Americans go to bed hungry, including one-sixth of New Yorkers and almost half of South Bronx residents. And over half a million sleep on the streets on any given night, with many millions more in vehicles or relying on friends or family. It is in this context that millions in the red have turned to selling blood to make ends meet. In a very real sense then, these corporations are harvesting the blood of the poor, literally sucking the life out of them.

Adam H. Johnson

@adamjohnsonNYC

i see we’ve moved on to the “harvesting the blood of the poor” stage of late capitalism

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MintPress News spoke to a number of Americans who consistently donated plasma. Some of them did not want to be fully identified. But none were under any illusions about the system and how they were being exploited.

“The centers are never in a good part of town, always somewhere they can get a never ending supply of poor people desperate for that hundred bucks a week,” noted Andrew Watkins, who sold his blood in Pittsburgh, PA for around 18 months.

The people who show up are a mix of disabled, working poor, homeless, single parents, and college students. With the exception of the college students who are looking for booze money, this is probably the easiest and most reliable income they have. Your job may fire you at any time when you’re on this level of society, but you always have blood. And selling your blood doesn’t count as a job or income when it comes to determining disability benefits, food stamps, or unemployment eligibility so it’s a source of money for the people who have absolutely nothing else.”

Rachel from Wisconsin, who donated hundreds of times over a seven-year period, also commented on the obvious socio-economic makeup of donors.

We were poor, all of us in there you could easily tell that we were on the lower ends of the income bracket. They incentivize you with bonuses and the more you donate in a month the more you’ll get paid, recruiting friends bonuses, holiday bonuses, etc.”

Keita Currier from Washington, D.C., noted how she and her husband had little choice but to continue visiting clinics in Maryland for years but resented their payment methods.

They’re predatory, the price set for your plasma is based on a whim. For example, one place I donated the first five times you get $75, then you get 20, 20, 30, 50, 25. It’s random, it doesn’t matter, but they know you are desperate and if you don’t do your $30 donation you won’t get your 50 next time. Apparently, the plasma is worth something in the hundreds, so it is not surprising that you’re screwed over.”

Zombifying America’s poor

Respondents all agreed that they were indeed being exploited, but in more ways than one. Desperate Americans are allowed to donate twice per week (104 times per year). But losing that much plasma could have serious health consequences, most of which have not been studied Professor Schaefer warns, stressing that more research is necessary. Around 70 percent of donors experience health complications. Donors have a lower protein count in their blood, putting them at greater risk of infections and liver and kidney disorders. Many regulars suffer from near-permanent fatigue and are borderline anemic. All this for an average of $30 per visit. Rachel described the terrible Catch-22 many of the working poor find themselves in:

I got turned away twice – once for being too dehydrated and once for being anemic. Being poor created a shitty paradox where I couldn’t eat, and because I couldn’t eat my iron levels weren’t high enough to allow me to donate. That was a week of a pay cut, money I desperately needed for rent and bills and meds.”

A common method of cheating in endurance sports is to inject extra blood into your system before a race, giving you a huge performance boost. But extracting it has the opposite effect, making you sluggish and tired for days. Thus, this debilitating practice is zombifying America’s poor.

The process of giving blood is not a pleasurable one. Currier noted that after constantly donating, “the bruising gets terrible…Sometimes they can’t find the vain ‘n’ shit or they insert it wrong and they have to adjust the needle underneath your skin” she said, claiming that just thinking about it freaks her out, and revealed that her husband had to temporarily stop donating as his bosses thought he was on heroin due to the track marks on his arms.

Watkins agreed. “You could always tell how long someone had been doing the job by that needle,” he recalls. “Once they’d been there a year or so, they’d have stabbed literally thousands of people and could just tap your elbow once and slide the needle into the vein with no problems. New guys would miss the vein, punch through the vein, or try to hunt for it with the needle tip, which would leave terrible bruises.”

There is also little thought for the comfort of the patients. As Watkins explained, the thermostats are always turned down to around 50-60ºF for the plasma’s sake. Once the amber-colored plasma has been extracted, your cooled blood is re-injected in a painful process that feels as if ice is being inserted into the body. “Combined with the already cold air temperatures, this was maddening,” he notes.

Thus, America’s zombie poor are left almost permanently mentally drained like heroin addicts, and with similarly bruised and punctured arms, except they are being paid for the inconvenience. But perhaps the worst thing about the experience, according to those interviewed, is the dehumanization of the process.

Donors are publicly weighed to make sure they are heavy enough. Obese people are worth more to the bloodthirsty companies as they can safely extract more plasma from them each session (while paying out the same compensation). “They definitely turn you into a product in a very literal sense,” Watkins says; “It’s deeply exploitative and a symptom of just how far gone capitalism is.”

Many centers are enormous, with multiple rows of dozens of machines working in an attempt to appease the insatiable appetite of the vampiric corporation. And there is, according to Watkins, no lack of human “victims” willing to be treated like animals in battery farms, in exchange for a few dollars: “It was an assembly line to extract liquid gold from human mines,” he notes.

Currier also highlighted the treatment of the staff and the cost-cutting measures of clinics in Maryland she visited would enact:

Usually the places are hugely understaffed which means they frequently don’t change gloves, the people are overworked, and at the minimum you’re staying there for 2-3 hours which means you have to plan a whole day around this shit only to get 20 bucks in your pocket to make it through the next few days. It’s depressing, disheartening and frankly embarrassing to have to hustle like this. I feel like shit after I donate.”

Exploitation reaches new levels

But the exploitation of humans has reached new levels in clinics on the U.S.-Mexico border. Every week, thousands of Mexicans enter the U.S. on temporary visas to sell their blood to for-profit pharmaceutical corporations. The practice is banned on health grounds in Mexico but is completely legal north of the border. According to ProPublica, there are at least 43 blood donation centers along the border that prey primarily on Mexican nationals in a legally ambiguous practice.

According to a Swiss documentary on the subject, there are precious few checks on the cleanliness of the blood these companies accept, with some donors interviewed admitting they were drug addicts. But all is sacrificed in the pursuit of dazzling profits, something donors were well aware of. Rachel from Wisconsin admitted,

 I did it for the money, I think we all do it for the money, but it’s not really something you out and out say because there’s a veneer of “helping the sick” slathered over it. But I caught glimpses of what kind of industry it was on occasion through innocuous questioning. The amount of plasma drawn from one person per donation was worth upwards of $600, I never really got a clear answer on that.

Andrew from Pennsylvania agreed, noting wryly,

 I know my plasma was worth thousands of dollars per donation [to others], because I’ve seen what a hospital in my city charged a hemophiliac for platelets, so the pittance that they pay is ridiculous, but there is only one buyer making offers at the human level. If you’re poor and out of other options, you’ll take $40 however you can get it. Any port in a storm.”

Michael, a social worker from Georgia who sold his blood for extra cash, was deeply scornful of the entire situation. “I’ve known quite a number of people who rely on money made by selling plasma. A lot of times it’s to cover childcare or prescriptions or something along those lines,” he said. “It’s absolutely deplorable to leverage literal blood money from people who have so few options.”

students to sell blood d2c56

*(A sign encouraging students to sell blood to fund their education. Credit: tjulrich/ Twitter)

Big pharma is particularly interested in the blood of the young. One billboard campaign from Grifols intentionally targeted working-class students. “Need books? No worries. Donate Plasma” reads the headline. Teenager blood is in high demand in, of all places, Silicon Valley, where anti-aging technologies are the latest trend. One company, Ambrosia, charges $8,000 per treatment to aging tech executives, infusing them with the blood of the young, turning these individuals into bloodsuckers in more ways than one. Despite the fact that there is no clinical evidence that the practice has any beneficial effects, business is booming. One committed customer is PayPal co-founder turned Trump surrogate Peter Thiel, who is reportedly spending vast sums of money on funding anti-aging startups. Thiel claims that we have been conned by “the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual” and believes that his own immortality may be just around the corner, a notion that has deeply concerned academics and commentators alike.

The new and booming blood market is the perfect embodiment of the late capitalist dystopia modern America has become. The dehumanizing process of harvesting the blood of the poor to fund the quixotic immortality dreams of the super-wealthy turns the former into walking, living zombies and the latter into vampires, feasting on the blood of the young; a true American horror story worthy of Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft. As Rachel from Wisconsin said:

It really is an industry where ‘squeezing blood from stones’ is about as literal as you can get.”

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