The U.S. Has Surrendered To The Pandemic. Protect Yourself.

Source

July 08, 2020

Yesterday the United States registered more than 60,000 new Covid-19 cases. As the number of new cases continues to increase unabated about two weeks from now it is likely to reach hundred thousand new cases per day.


Source: 91-divoc – bigger

The increase of testing is not the cause of higher new case numbers. The rate of people among those who were tested and were found positive has also increased. In Florida, which yesterday had nearly 10,000 new cases, the positive test rate has reached nearly 20%. That means that the epidemic is still accelerating.

This did not need to happen. Yesterday Germany, at a quarter the size of the U.S., had 279 new cases. It does 1 million tests per week and the positive rate is decreasing. China has defeated a new local outbreak in Beijing by testing more than 10 million people. The last two days it reported zero new cases.

Many of those who test positive, especially the younger ones, will not fall ill with severe symptoms. But some 10-15% are estimated to need medical support. How many of them will die depends on the quality of care that can be given to them. Some thirty hospitals in Florida have already run out of space in their intensive care units. That is the point where the real emergency begins.

Six months after the disease was discovered more is known of how to care for Covid-19 cases. The death rate per cases has therefore decreased. But this only holds when there are sufficient beds, doctors and staff available. At the current U.S. rate that will soon no longer be the case.

We do know that the hospitalization curve follows the testing/symptoms curve by some 10-14 days while ICU admittance follows the above curve with some 15 to 20 days delay. The eventual recovery in an ICU bed takes up to four weeks. A bed once occupied will not be available for quite some time.

Trump’s new policy is to ignore the epidemic. He hopes that the people will get used to the carnage it causes:

Trump’s advisers [..] are seeking ways to reframe his response to the coronavirus — even as the president himself largely seeks to avoid the topic because he views it as a political loser. They are sending health officials to swing states, putting doctors on TV in regional markets where the virus is surging, crafting messages on an economic recovery and writing talking points for allies to deliver to potential voters.

The goal is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year and the economy will continue to improve.

White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official.

“They’re of the belief that people will get over it or if we stop highlighting it, the base will move on and the public will learn to accept 50,000 to 100,000 new cases a day,” said a former administration official in touch with the campaign.

That may, to some extend, be possible. But 100,000 new cases per day also means that there will soon be 1,000 or so new death per day. The hospitals will fill up and the death rate will increase. More and more people will know someone who died of Covid-19. The economy will continue to only limp along as long as people fear to get infected.

My take is that Trump’s calculation is simply wrong. The epidemic will continue to get wide media coverage. The hot spots will change but without local lockdown measures each of them will lead to the overflow of local hospitals. This will increase the death rate.

It is now too late to stop the epidemic in the United States. That makes it even more important for its citizens to take personal safety measures.

All spreading events that affected multiple people took place in enclosed spaces. The virus prefers it cool and dry. Places with unfiltered air condition should therefore be avoided. Open a window to create airflow if possible. Stay at a distance from other persons. Wear a mask.

Masks significantly reduce the chance of catching Covid-19. Your mask also protects the people around you should you unknowingly have caught the disease. This week high quality N95 masks (FFP-2 in Europe) were again available in my local pharmacy. The price (€6.80) was ridiculous but I bought two to use them in turn. I put one on whenever I leave the house. (It is not required to wear one outside but I am simply too lazy to put it on and off whenever I enter or leave some place.)

These masks (see pic below) are quite comfortable, tight enough to not fog my glasses and there is no problem breathing through them. The masks are officially one time use only but there are safe and simple ways to steam sterilize them for reuse.My FFP-2 masks are similar to the one below but white and without a brand name printed on them.

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Get used to wearing a mask. It is the new normal that is likely to stay with us for at least another year.

Posted by b on July 8, 2020 at 17:55 UTC | Permalink

حالة الانكشاف

سعادة مصطفى ارشيد

تمر العلاقات الدولية عالمياً في حال متغيّرة، تفرضها من جانب قوانين التغير والحركة والتطور دائمة الدوران، ومن جانب آخر عوامل مساعدة منها جائحة كورونا التي تجاوز عدد ضحاياها نصف المليون نفس بشرية، وعدد المصابين بالفيروس قد قفز عن حاجز الاثني عشر مليوناً، والأعداد في تزايد مستمر. ومع دخول الجائحة طوراً ثانياً اعتبرته منظمة الصحة العالمية أكثر ضراوة، نلاحظ أنها تجاوزت في عدوانها الإنسان وسلامته لتصيب وتعطل الدورة الاقتصادية من صناعة وتجارة وزراعة في طول العالم وعرضه؛ الأمر الذي قاد إلى معدلات بطالة مرتفعة حتى في المجتمعات الصناعية النشطة وكساد اقتصادي وانهيار في أسعار النفط ومعظم السلع وأثر بدوره على الرعاية الاجتماعيّة والنظم الصحيّة اللاهثة وراء الجائحة.

دفع كل ذلك دول العالم للانكفاء إلى دواخلها، وإلى البحث عن حلول لما تعانيه بشكل منفرد، والتفكير بأساليب الحماية والاكتفاء الداخلي (الذاتي) وإعادة التفكير باتفاقيات التجارة الحرة وضريبة القيمة المضافة، وظهر الوهن على المنظمات العابرة للقومية، كالاتحاد الأوروبي الذي فشل في معالجة الجائحة كاتحاد وترك إيطاليا وإسبانيا واليونان تعالج كل منها جراحها بشكل منفرد فيما رأت ألمانيا أن أولوياتها ألمانية بحتة، نتيجة لذلك أخذت دول الاتحاد تتلمس طرقها القومية القديمة بمعزل عن القوميات الشريكة لها في الاتحاد الأوروبي. فبدأت الدولة الإيطالية طريق العودة إلى إيطاليتها وإسبانيا إلى إسبانيتها وكذلك ألمانيا بمعزل عن المشروع الإقليمي.

وإذا كان العالم يمرّ في هذا المخاض المأزوم، فإن العالم العربي يمرّ بما هو أدهى وأمرّ. حاله غير مسبوقة من السيولة وأبواب أمن قومي مشرّعة لا حارس لها، في المشرق العربي استطالت الأزمة السورية، وإن كانت ملامح نهايتها بادية، إلا أن الأعداء لا زال لديهم من الأوراق ما يطيل في عمرها. ولبنان يترنّح تحت ضغط سعر صرف الليرة مقابل الدولار، والدولة تعاقب القاضي الفاضل الذي أنفذ القانون بالطلب من سفيرة الولايات المتحدة عدم التدخل في شؤونه الداخلية. العراق يعيش حالة تقسيم بادية للعيان، والأردن يعاني من التغول الإسرائيلي بالضفة الغربية. الأمر الذي يمثل تهديداً وجودياً له، فيما تكشف تصريحات رئيس وزراء أسبق عما يدور في العقل السياسي لبعض جماعة الحكم، ولمن رسم شكل الأردن في مرحلة ما بعد عام 1994 (اتفاقية وادي عربة)، وفلسطين التي تعارض رسمياً قرار نتنياهو بضمّ ثلث الضفة الغربية، إلا أنها لا تملك من الآليات وأدوات الضغط ما يحول دون ذلك، هذا وإن تفاءل البعض من المؤتمر الصحافي المشترك لقياديين من فتح وحماس، إلا أن المؤتمر الصحافي لم يتطرق للبحث في الآليات أو في إنهاء حالة الانقسام البشع أو الاتفاق على برنامج حد أدنى واقتصر على مجاملات متبادلة. وعملية الضمّ من شأنها تقطيع ما تبقى من الضفة الغربية إلى ثلاثة معازل منفصلة بالواقع الاستيطاني الذي سيتم ضمة ويحول دون قيام دولة أو شبه دولة في الضفة الغربية. اليمن يصمد ويقاوم بأكلاف عالية، فيما الكورونا والفساد يضربان كل هذه المجتمعات.

الأوضاع في غرب العالم العربي تفوق خطورة وتهافت الأوضاع في مشرقه على صعوبتها، فحالة السيولة وأبواب الأمن القومي المشرّعة، خاصة في ليبيا ومصر والسودان. ليبيا اليوم مسرح وساحة مفتوحة للفرنسيين والأتراك فيما تلعب مصر دوراً ملحقاً بالفرنسيين بدلاً من أن يكون العكس، وأصبحت ليبيا مصدر خطر على مصر من خاصرتها الغربية التي لم تكن عبر تاريخ مصر الطويل تمثل تهديداً لأمنها القومي، فلم يحدث أن غُزيت مصر من الغرب إلا مرة واحدة على يد المعز لدين الله الفاطمي.

طيلة عقود تحاشت مصر الاهتمام بمسائل الأمن القومي، وهي التي رسمت أولى ملامح نظريات الجغرافية السياسية والاستراتيجية وضرورات الأمن القومي بالاشتراك الصدامي مع اتحاد الدول الكنعانية وذلك في القرن الخامس عشر قبل الميلاد في معركة مجدو الشهيرة بقيادة مملكتي قادش ومجدو، حيث رأى الفرعون المصري أن أمن بلاده يبدأ من مرج إبن عامر، فيما رأى التحالف الكنعاني أن أمن اتحادهم يبدأ من غرب سيناء. تطوّرت نظرية الأمن القومي المصري لاحقاً لتضيف عنصراً ثانياً وهو نهر النيل وفيضانه ومنابعه. هذه الرؤية الاستراتيجية سكنت العقل السياسي المصري وعقل كل مَن توالى على حكم مصر منذ تحتمس الثالث حتى عهد الرئيس الأسبق أنور السادات.

منذ تسلم السادات حكم مصر بدأ العمل على إخراج مصر من عالمها العربي، وقد أخذت ملامح هذا الدور تتبدّى خلال حرب تشرين، بمحادثات فك الارتباط بمعزل عن دمشق، ثم ما لبث أن أخذ شكله الصريح عام 1977 في زيارة السادات المشؤومة للقدس وتوقيع اتفاقية كامب دافيد في العام التالي، ثم الترويج لذلك الانقلاب على الاستراتيجيا بالتنظير أن العالم العربي كان عبئاً على مصر التي تستطيع بالتخفف منه الانطلاق في عوالم السوق الرأسمالي والتطور والازدهار وتحقيق الرخاء، ولم تلتفت تلك التنظيرات إلى أن علاقة مصر مع العالم العربي تكاملية يحتاج فيها كل منهما أن يكون ظهيراً للآخر. هذه المدرسة أنتجت ورثة السادات، ومنهم مَن أيّد بحماس تدمير العراق واحتلاله، وتواطأ على الجناح الشرقي للأمن القومي في سورية، وافتعل معارك لا لزوم لها حول منطقة حلايب مع السودان، ولم يلتفت – ولا زال – لخطورة الاعتراف بدولة جنوب السودان التي يمرّ من أراضيها النيل الأبيض، واستمر بعلاقات عدائية مع إثيوبيا التي ينبع من هضبتها النيل الأزرق، ولم يستقبل من أمره ما استدبر لإيقاف مشروع سد النهضة أو للتفاهم مع إثيوبيا بالدبلوماسية أو بغيرها طيلة عقد من الزمن كانت الشركات الإسرائيلية والأميركية تنفذ خلاله مشروع بناء ذلك السد، ولم تستشعر أجهزة أمنه أن خمس مؤسسات مالية مصرية قد استثمرت في السندات الإثيوبية التي موّلت بناء السد الذي قد يحرم مصر من سرّ وجودها، وقد قيل قديماً أن مصر هبة النيل.

في شرق مصر تم إهمال الخاصرة الشرقية التي حددها تحتمس الثالث وسار على هديها كل من أتى من بعده، فلم يتم ايلاء شبه جزيرة سيناء أي اهتمام وتمّ استثناؤها من مشاريع التنمية والرعاية الحكومية، هذا الإهمال والتجاهل الذي هدف إلى إفراغها من كثير من سكانها إرضاء لتل أبيب عاد على مصر بنتائج عكسية إذ خلق بيئة رطبة ومناسبة لجراثيم الإرهاب والتطرف، في حين انصبّ اهتمام الدولة في مرحلة ما قبل الربيع الزائف على بناء حاجز تحت الأرض يحول دون إمداد غزة بحاجاتها الأساسية، وفي العهد الحالي تم إغراق الأنفاق الغزيّة بمياه البحر وإقامة جدار مكهرب فوق الأرض، وكأن المهم أمن «إسرائيل» لا أمن مصر القومي.

مصر التي نحبّ في خطر، وهذا الخطر لا يصيبها منفردة وإنما بالشراكة مع كامل المحيط العربي، مصر لم يهزمها الغرباء والأعداء ولا الجهات الخارجية أو المؤامرات الأجنبية، وإنما هزمها مَن قدّم أولوية البقاء في الحكم على حسابات الاستراتيجية والأمن القومي، ومن جعل الأمن القومي ضحيّة لأمن النظام.

لك الله يا مصر.

*سياسيّ فلسطينيّ مقيم في جنين – فلسطين المحتلة

‘We’ve Lost Control’ of Pandemic, Top Israeli Adviser Says as Active Cases Spike

Source

 July 7, 2020

Coronavirus in 'Israel'

The head of the advisory panel helping to craft the government’s response to the latest coronavirus outbreak warned on Sunday that ‘Israel’ had “lost control of the pandemic.”

“In terms of the number of infected, and the fact that they’re scattered throughout the country, we don’t know the sites of infection for most of the infected, so we’re unable to control the outbreaks,” Prof. Eli Waxman, a physicist who heads the panel of experts advising the National Security Council’s deliberations on combating the pandemic, elaborated in a Channel 12 interview.

“In today’s situation, with 1,000 infected [daily], we can no longer disrupt the chain of infection — even if there were a working system to do that, and there isn’t.”

He warned: “We are facing Israel’s greatest ever national civilian crisis.”

The coronavirus cases in ‘Israel’ reached Tuesday 31,186 with 338 related deaths, causing a political crisis in the entity.

The Israeli army also restricted the anti-coronavirus measures among the soldiers, ordering them to wear face masks and observe the hygiene rules.

WHO’s Conflict of Interest?

By David Macailwain

Source

Pompeo Meets Ghebreyesus 2e5bb

Last week the French National Assembly convened an inquiry into the “genealogy and chronology”  of the Coronavirus crisis to examine the evident failures in its handling and will interview government ministers, experts and health advisors over the next six months. While we in the English-speaking world may have heard endless arguments over the failures of the UK or US governments to properly prepare for and cope with the health-care emergency, the crisis and problems in the French health system and bureaucracy have been similar and equally serious. Given the global cooperation and collaboration of health authorities and industry, the inquiry has global significance.

Judging by the attention paid by French media to the inquiry, which comes just as France is loosening the lock-downs and restarting normal government activities, it is set to be controversial and upsetting, exposing both incompetence and corruption.

Leading the criticism of the Macron government’s handling of the crisis are the most serious accusations that its prohibition of an effective drug treatment has cost many lives, a criticism put directly to the inquiry by Professor Didier Raoult, the most vocal proponent of the drug – Hydroxychloroquine. At his institute in Marseilles, early treatment with the drug of people infected with Sars-CoV-2 has been conclusively demonstrated to reduce hospitalization rates and shorten recovery times when given along with the antibiotic Azithromycin, and consequently to cut death rates by at least half.

Raoult has pointed to the low death rate in the Marseilles region of 140 per million inhabitants compared with that in Paris of 759 per million as at least partly due to the very different treatment of the epidemic in Marseilles under his instruction. The policies pursued by local health services there included early widespread testing for the virus and isolation and quarantining of cases, aimed both at protecting those in aged care and in keeping people from needing hospitalization with the help of drug treatments.

It incidentally seems quite bizarre that some countries – notably the US, UK and Australia, are only now embarking on large testing programs – and claiming a “second wave” in cases – which Raoult calls a “fantasme journalistique”. The consequent reimposition of severe lock-downs in some suburbs of Melbourne, and in Leicester in the UK is a very worrying development.

The efficacy of HCQ and Azithromycin is well illustrated – one should say proven – by this most recent review of its use on 3120 out of a total of 3700 patients treated at the Marseilles hospitals during March, April and the first half of May. Unlike the fraudulent study published and then retracted by the Lancet in May, the analysis in this review is exemplary, along with the battery of tests performed on patients to determine the exact nature of their infection and estimate the effectiveness of the drug treatment. The overall final mortality rate of 1.1% obscures the huge discrepancy in numbers between treated and untreated patients. Hospitalization, ICU, and death rates averaged five times greater in those receiving the “other” treatment – being normal care without HCQ-AZM treatment – equivalent to a placebo.

The IHU Marseilles study and its discussion points deserve close scrutiny, because they cannot be dismissed as unsubstantiated or biased, or somehow political, just because Professor Raoult is a “controversial figure”. There is a controversy, and it was well expressed by Raoult in his three hour presentation to the inquiry. His criticisms of health advisors to government include conflicts of interest and policy driven by politics rather than science. Raoult has been vindicated in his success, and can now say to those health authorities “if you had accepted my advice and approved this drug treatment, thousands of lives would have been saved.”

This is quite unlike similar statements in the UK and elsewhere, where claims an earlier imposition of lock-down would have cut the death toll in half are entirely hypothetical. As Prof. Raoult has also observed, the progress of this epidemic of a new and unknown virus was quite speculative, and its handling by authorities has failed to reflect that. In fact, one feels more and more that the “response” of governments all around the world has followed a strangely similar and inappropriately rigid scheme, of which certain aspects were de rigueur, particularly “social distancing”.

There seems little evidence that would justify this most damaging and extreme of measures to control an epidemic whose seriousness could be ameliorated by other measures – such as those advocated by Raoult’s Institute – which would have avoided the devastating “collateral damage” inflicted on the economy and society in the name of “staying safe”.

Prof. Raoult’s vocal and consistent criticism of the political manipulation of the Coronavirus crisis is hardly trivial however, to be finally excused as a “failure”- to impose lockdowns sooner, to have sufficient supplies of masks or ventilators, or to use more testing and effective contact tracing. What lies beneath appears to be, for want of a better word, a conspiracy.

As previously and famously noted by Pepe Escobar, French officials seemed to have foresight on the potential use of Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID-19 infection, with its cheapness and availability being a likely hindrance to pharmaceutical companies looking to make big profits from new drug treatments or vaccines. Of even greater significance perhaps, was the possibility – or danger – that the vast bulk of the population might become infected with the virus and recover quickly with the help of this cheap drug treatment, while bypassing the need, and possibly interminable wait for a vaccine.

Now it can be seen that in Western countries the demand for a vaccine is acute, and the market cut-throat, despite assurances from many quarters that “vaccines must be available to all” and that “manufacturers won’t seek to profit” from their winning product. (the profit will naturally be included in what their governments choose to pay them) The clear conflicts of interest between health officials, public and private interests make such brave pronouncements particularly hollow. Just one case is sufficient to illustrate this, as despite its unconvincing performance in combatting the novel Coronavirus, the drug developed and promoted by Dr Anthony Fauci and company Gilead, Remdesevir, was rapidly approved for use following a research trial sponsored by the White House.

More concerning however is what appears to be a conflict of interest in the WHO itself, possibly related to the WHO’s largest source of funding in the Gates organization. While the WHO has not actively opposed the use of Hydroxychloroquine against the virus infection for most of the pandemic, neither has it voiced any support for its use, such as might be suggested by its obvious benefits, and particularly in countries with poor health facilities and resources.

Had the WHO taken at least a mildly supportive role, acknowledging that the drug was already in widespread use and there was little to lose from trying it against COVID-19, then it is hard to imagine that those behind the recent fabricated Lancet paper would have pursued such a project. Without claiming that the WHO had some hand in the alleged study that set out to debunk HCQ treatment, it should be noted that the WHO was very quick to jump on the non-peer-reviewed “results” and to declare a world-wide cancellation of its research projects on the drug. And while it had to rescind this direction shortly afterward when the fraud was exposed, the dog now has a bad name – as apparently intended.

This stands in sharp contrast to the WHO’s sudden enthusiasm for the steroidal drug Dexamethasone, recently discovered by a UK research team to have had a mildly positive benefit on seriously ill COVID19 patients:

“The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to update its guidelines on treating people stricken with coronavirus to reflect results of a clinical trial that showed a cheap, common steroid could help save critically ill patients.

The benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with COVID-19 and was not observed in patients with milder disease, the WHO said in a statement late Tuesday.

British researchers estimated 5,000 lives could have been saved had the drug been used to treat patients in the United Kingdom at the start of the pandemic.

“This is great news and I congratulate the government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the many hospitals and patients in the UK who have contributed to this lifesaving scientific breakthrough,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in the press release.”

There is something more than ironic in the WHO’s interest in a different cheap and available drug that has also been widely used for decades, but which is no use in protecting those people in the target market for the vaccine. To me, and surely to Professor Raoult and his colleagues, this looks more like protecting ones business interests and investor profits, at the expense of public health and lives.

Postscript:

It has just been announced that GILEAD will start charging for its drug Remdesevir from next week at $US 2340 for a five-day course, or $US 4860 for private patients. Generic equivalents manufactured in poorer countries will sell for $US 934 per treatment course. Announcing the prices, chief executive Dan O’Day noted that the drug was priced “to ensure wide access rather than based solely on the value to patients”.

It seems hardly worth pointing out that six days treatment with Hydroxychloroquine costs around $US 7, so for the same cost as treating one patient with Remdesevir, roughly four hundred could be given Hydroxychloroquine. If this is compounded by the effective cure rate, Remdesevir treatment costs closer to one thousand times that of HCQ. The addition of Azithromycin and Zinc doubles the cost of HCQ treatment, but also increases its efficacy considerably.

Panic and the Pandemic ‘Down Under’: The Ultimate Unseen Enemy

By Jeremy Salt

Source

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In the southeastern corner of Australia a State of Emergency has replaced what was known until recently only as the State of Victoria. The unseen enemy has been a fact of modern life since the 1950s but at least the red under the bed could be seen if found. COVID-19 is the ultimate unseen enemy, because it literally cannot be seen except through a microscope and noone knows where it is and when it will strike.

The panic generated by the spread of the virus is completely disproportionate to the risk of dying from it. Between late January and July 1, 2020, 2,505, 923 people were tested for COVID-19 in Australia. As updated by Worldometer on July 3, of the 8255 cases that tested positive, 7319 had recovered.  A further 832 cases were still active (99 percent in mild condition; of the 7423 ‘closed’ cases 99 percent of those infected had recovered and one percent (104) had died.

Figures issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that of the deaths associated with COVID-19, no-one below the age of 39 had died.  In the 40-49 age bracket, there had been one death; 50-59, two; 60-69, 13; 70-79, 31; 80-89, 35; over 90, 20. Thus, well over 80 of the 104 deaths were in the 70s-90s age bracket.

By comparison 3334 Australians died from influenza/pneumonia in 2016 (median age 88.8). In 2017 the figure was 4269 (median age 88.3): in 2018, 3102 (median age 89.3). In the same year, 2952 Australians died from accidental falls, their median age 87.3. A further 3046 Australians died from “intentional self-harm” and hundreds of others from traffic accidents or drowning.  This is not to underplay the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus but only to put it into perspective and the context of deaths from other causes.

The figures for influenza deaths in 2019 have not yet been published.  According to a report published on August 18, 2019, however, even before the influenza season (June-September) was over 430 people had already died (some deaths were attributed to other causes despite showing “flu-like symptoms).” Hospitals were said to be “overrun,” with nearly 217,000 people diagnosed with the illness and “experts” believing the final death toll could could be much higher. [1] The Queensland government’s Ministry of Health confirmed that 264 people in Queensland alone had died.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one billion people around the world get the flu every year, with a loose estimate of 290,000-650,000 deaths, compared to the number of people misleadingly listed by the WHO as dying ‘of’ the COVID-19 virus: 472, 541 by June 23, 2020, and more than half a million by the end of the month. Despite the comparatively high global death toll from influenza, only five pandemics have been declared in more than a century, the worst of them in 1918 and the most recent after the ‘swine flu’ outbreak of 2009.

While COVID-19 may be ‘a’ cause of the 104 deaths it is not generally ‘the’ cause.  Those who die are listed as having been infected with the virus and its significance in their deaths remains unknown. Most of those infected have other serious and possibly terminal diseases likely to end their lives anyway (only about four percent of those said to have been infected with the virus when they died had no preconditions) and statements that people have died ‘from’ the virus or ‘of’ the virus, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) on its website, are misleading.

Doctors in the UK are authorized to list the virus as a cause of death on the clinical “balance of probabilities.” In Australia doctors are instructed that COVID-19 should be recorded on the death certificate when the disease caused “or is assumed to have caused or contributed” to the death. The doctors might be right but probabilities and assumptions are hardly scientific as a means of assessing the causes of death. Bearing this in mind, the veracity of the statistics has to be regarded with some caution.

A further issue in COVID-19 control is the reliability of the basic WHO-approved test for the virus, which two investigators have concluded after detailed research is “scientifically meaningless.”[2]  Many deaths associated with COVID-19 have occurred in nursing or aged care homes, where the Swiss Policy Research Institute estimates that up to 30 percent may ultimately have been caused not by the virus but by the consequences of the lockdown, including isolation, panic and fear.[3]

Australian politicians will insist that without the lockdown the figures would have been much higher. This will forever remain a moot point but other countries have come through well without adopting such restrictive measures as Australian governments, Singapore, Japan and Taiwan among them.

Sweden, on the other hand, the bad boy of the pandemic, took minimal measures and suffered a comparatively high death toll of 5280, 51.85 deaths per 100,000 or a 8.1 fatality rate per 100,000. Of the deaths, 1151 were in the 70-79 age bracket and 2191 in their 80s to 90s, a total of 3342 deaths, more than two-thirds of the total, suggesting that while Sweden was correct in thinking that no more than minimal restrictions were necessary for the general population, it failed to provide sufficient protection for the most vulnerable, the aged and seriously ill.

In the state of Victoria 20 people infected with COVID-19 had died by the end of June, 2020 (compared to 68 deaths from influenza in 2016 and 297 in 2017).  The battle to contain the virus is being led by the Premier, Daniel Andrews, an aspiring or professional politician since he left university, and his Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos, a tax lawyer before she went into politics.  They have closed down schools and businesses.  Tens of thousands of people have been thrown out of work and the center of Melbourne turned into a dead zone.  In a city that is a magnet for young people, with hundreds of bars and other music ‘venues, the ‘hospitality’ sector has been severely affected.

While staff can claim unemployment benefits, restaurant and bar owners have been hung out to dry, with the government that closed their businesses offering nothing beyond small dollops of financial support and the suggestion that they take out bank loans. Many will go under (some already have) and others will be saddled with debt if/when they are able to reopen.  The easing of restrictions can mean little in practice, when owners of a ‘music venue’ have to apply a ‘density quotient’ of one person per four square meters.  This obviously rules out the numerous small bars where people like to meet because they ARE small and therefore cozy.

The politicians, the police, the health ‘experts’ and the media are all speaking with one voice.  There is no two-way conversation between the state and the people but a monologue, with the government and its ancillary forces telling the people what they have to do, what they have to understand, as the media frequently puts it.  In the name of suppressing the pandemic the dividing line between the authoritarian state and the liberal democracy is gradually being erased.

Expanded police powers include random home door-knocks to check that people are ‘self-isolating,’ with the police searching for anyone not at home.   A recent video showed police harassing a woman walking in the center of the city with a child in a pusher.  While one policeman wrestled her to the ground when she objected, another wheeled the child away. Groups of police are arriving unnannounced at restaurants to make sure social distancing guidelines are being observed and the names and contact phone numbers of all customers recorded on the official government form.  Police ‘enforcement patrols’ have been set up in viral ‘hot spots’, with traffic stopped across the city to check whether drivers have moved out of these suburbs.

Both the Federal (national) and state police have an arm called Protective Service Officers. In Victoria, they were created for the express purpose of providing security at suburban railway stations but are now being redeployed at shopping centers and in residential areas.   In the words of Police Minister Lisa Neville, “What we hadn’t predicted was that we would be given the opportunity to test how using them in shopping centers and other areas would go and we’ve had that opportunity.”   Assistant Police Commissioner Shane Patton concurs, as it had been a “real advantage” for the Victoria Police to be able to use the PSOs elsewhere during the pandemic.

Hundreds of people have been calling the “police assistance line,” set up for reports of “non-urgent” crime, to report breaches of the pandemic regulations: 61,000 in February, before the pandemic was declared; 71,000 in March and 102,000 in April, an average of  3500-11,500 day, mostly about the virus.  ‘Dobbing in’ – snitching – has always been regarded with the greatest contempt in Australia, along with contempt for the ‘scab,’ the worker who breaks the union picket line, but now the police see the snitch as a virtue, as doing “the right thing and holding others to account,” says Assistant Police Commisssioner Patton. “It’s about saving lives.”

Fines of up to $1652 are being imposed for people not doing the right thing, by failing to wear a face mask or not observing the correct social distance.   Apart from police surveillance and intervention, the phone app millions of Australians have been persuaded into downloading enables the government to track them down wherever they happen to be, in the name of ‘tracing’ contacts of those who might have been infected.   The fact that anyone with a smartphone can be tracked down anyway, can even be heard and photographed without their knowledge is no argument for taking the surveillance possibilities of the virus app lightly when there is no verifiable protection against its use for other purposes.

With the number of new cases on the rise, Andrews called in the army to give logistical support. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, talking as though this was Afghanistan, said the army was already “on the ground” in Victoria.  Discussions were continuing with Mr Andrews and the Minister of Defence.   The army had already been summoned “to assist with compliance” at the hotels where nationals returning from overseas are being quarantined in their rooms for 14 days (at least at the government’s expense: in Queensland overseas arrivals have to pay $2800 per person).

The quarantine hotels have been placed under the overall control of Corrections Victoria, which runs the state’s prisons.  Media images show up to a dozen police and soldiers in uniform with slouch hats surrounding travelers bussed in from the airport as they wheel their luggage into a hotel foyer.  In South Australia police armed with assault rifles have been patrolling “at risk” areas.

As the number of infections continued to rise in Victoria, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called on anyone offering accommodation – hotels, hostels and Airbnb –  to turn away people from Victoria.  The NSW government then took a further step, closing its borders to Victorians from ‘hot spots’ and threatening those who ‘slip across’ with an $11,000 fine and six months in jail.  Queensland has closed its borders to all visitors from Victoria.  Cars crossing from Victoria into South Australia have been vandalized and the drivers abused, such is the hysteria that has been generated.

While travelers arriving in Melbourne are quarantined in hotels for 14 days at the government’s expense, those arriving in Brisbane on a flight from overseas have to pay $2800 per person.   No arrangement seems to have been made for travelers who need to be in Queensland and don’t have $2800 to spare.

With dire reports of death, new ‘hot spots’ and ‘spikes’ filling the papers every day, people have been wondering when and how it will all end, “when will I be able to hug my grandchildren again?” as the headline over one article read but “do the right thing”,  “do the decent thing”, “play it safe and stay at home” are the messages repeatedly being hammered home by politicians, police, bureaucrats,  health experts and the media, in and out of uniform, but all speaking with the same voice of authority.

Around the world ‘lockdowns’ have had profound economic and social consequences, including mass unemployment (about half the British workforce is now unemployed or underemployed), depression, domestic violence, eviction from homes, impoverishment, the denial of regular medical service even to people with serious and possibly terminal illnesses and ‘distance education,’ with parents expected to hold down jobs and simultaneously supervise the education of their children at home.

Health practitioners writing for the British medical journal the Lancet say the closure of schools in 107 countries around the world has been based on evidence and “assumptions” from influenza outbreaks.  About 862 million children and young people – “roughly half of the global student population” [4] – have been affected, apart from the impact on the lives of parents and other relatives.

The other consequences include the loss to society of parental productivity, the possibility of vulnerable grandparents called on to provide child care transmitting the virus to children (or children transmitting it to them), the loss of education, harm to the welfare of the child especially among the most vulnerable childen and nutritional problems caused to children for whom free school meals are “an important source of nutrition.”  Social isolation is listed as another negative byproduct.

The Lancet study notes the “remarkable dearth of policy-relevant data” on school distancing, including closures.  The authors question whether the closures were necessary and draw attention to the adverse effects, which include the economic harm to working parents, health-care workers and other workers “forced” from work to provide child-care.

İt finds that “the evidence to support national closure of schools to combat COVID-19 is very weak and that data from influenza outbreaks suggest that school closures could have relatively small effects on a virus with COVID-19’s high transmissibility and apparent low clinical effect on school children.”

Writing in the New York Times, David Katz, President of the True Health Initiative and founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre, proposed more targeted ways of dealing with the pandemic, based on preferential protection for the medical and those over 60 years of age while allowing ‘herd immunity’ to develop among the population at large.  Infection would spread but only in a mild form for the vast bulk of the population, with adequate medical resources then available to treat those who become seriously ill. [5]

Although contact-tracing phone apps have been introduced in many countries, including Australia, the WHO has recommended against their use in any circumstance, whether epidemic or pandemic.   Issues of privacy, increased government surveillance at a time when it has already reached an all-time high and the possible ‘repurposing’ of the apps are immediately raised.

These questions only add to a long list that need answers, including where the virus first surfaced.  The media fed the first assumption that it was transferred to humans from a ‘wet market’ in China but numerous other countries, including the US, have since been identified as an earlier possible source (according to a Spanish report, the COVID-19 virus was discovered in waste water in Barcelona in March 2019).

The supposedly ‘natural’ origin of the virus has been challenged by some eminent epidemiologists who say it can only have been developed in a laboratory.  If so, was its release accidental or deliberate? Given the intense security measures observed in biological research laboratories, especially when a virus can threaten human life, how could such a release have been accidental?

On October 18, 2019, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation sponsored a pandemic exercise called ‘Event 201.’  According to the scenario as laid down, it would only be a matter of time before an epidemic turned into a pandemic with catastrophic global consequences, arising from the transmission of a virus to humans through bats and pigs.  The ‘matter of time’ turned out to be only two months later, when the first outbreak of COVID-19 was identified in China (subsequent reports had it appearing much earlier elsewhere).

Fortuitously, the virus surfaced at the precise point when US banks, trading houses and other financial institutions were about to plunge off the cliff, more disastrously than in 2007-09.  While the world was looking the other way, the Federal Reserve bailed Wall Sreet out to the tune of trillions of dollars: $6.6 trillion from September, 2019 – March, 2020, a total of $29 trillion since 2007.  When the root of the problem is systemic, however,  these trillions might end up as good money thrown away after bad.  Writing in the current issue of the Atlantic, Frank Partnoy warns that the US financial system could be on the cusp of calamity and “this time we might not be able to save it.” [6]

The enormity of this second bailout would surely have caused public fury if exposed to the light of day but the bigger story was what it represented, not just the collapse of financial houses but an epochal collapse of the global ‘free market’ capitalist order as it had operated since 1945.  Based on over-production and artificially-stimulated consumerism in a world of shrinking resources, the system had not been sustainable for a long time.  Astute observers had seen the end coming for years. Already in 2015 the UN Agenda 2030 had as its central theme “a sustainable world with income equality, gender equality and vaccines for all.”  But how was the changeover to be managed, how was the new world going to be built on the ruins of the old and how could the global capitalist order be preserved in these new circumstances?

At this point COVID-19 appeared like a genie out of the bottle. In the short term it provided cover for the trillions of dollars paid out in the US to faltering corporations and financial institutions.  Banks and corporations in the UK, Australia and other countries were also the prime beneficiaries of multiple billion dollar ‘stimulus’ packages.   Media-generated pandemic panic then enabled governments to lock down entire populations and prepare them for the post-COVID-19 world.

On June 3, 2020, the WEF announced ‘The Great Reset,’ the theme of its next global forum, in January 2021.  This ‘reset’ would be based on economic restructuring built around sustainable development. The ‘market’ would be steered towards new outcomes; investments would advance equality and sustainability; and a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ would be launched to address health and social issues.

The ‘reset’ has been endorsed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the corporate world.  Goldman Sachs has developed “a framework for investing after Covid-19,’ which it regards as a “rule-changing” and an “existential event where capital needs to find new homes.”  Retooling, winners and losers, new learning, and filling empty spaces created by failed businesses are some of the key phrases in a research paper on how Goldman Sachs (which would have collapsed in 2007-9 but for the $12.9 billion it received in the ‘bailout’ of that time) plans to be part of ‘The Great Reset.’[7]

The ‘reset’ is top-down management by the same institutions and corporations that created and kept alive a failing economic order for as long as they could and only accepted change when the system was on the point of collapse. The First Industrial Revolution did not lead to social equity and balance but to children working in coal mines for ten hours a day or losing their fingers in the spinning jenny at the textile factory.

The notion now, that those who have exploited humanity in every age are about to become its benefactors, is amusing but not to be taken seriously. The promises of great health, social and environmental benefits made by the architects of the ‘great reset’ and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are no more than the sales pitch for the restructuring of the old economic order.

Just like the old order, the new one is destined to serve the money and power interests of governments, institutions and corporations stratospherically above the interests of the people. The economic and social debris of the old world, the collapsed businesses, the millions of jobs lost (almost half the working age population of the US is presently unemployed) and the countless lives destroyed will be cleared away, leaving the corporations, protected, refinanced, and coming through unscathed, to fill Goldman Sachs’ empty spaces.

There could not be a ‘great reset’ without the pandemic. With the consent of the people, fear bordering on hysteria has been used to turn ‘liberal democracies’ into working models of authoritarian states.  The world has been subjected to a training exercise for the balance between state and society once the world has been reset.  State intervention and micro- surveillance will be generally accepted as part of the ‘new normal.’ Consensual authoritarianism will prevail.  Rights and responsibilities will be reversed: even more than previously, it will be the right of the state to intervene and the responsibility of the individual to obey.

The leaders 

Finally, the background and personalities of the politicians who have locked down Australia raise questions of their own. Internationally, Scott Morrison, the prime minister, was last seen on holiday in Hawaii, a big smile on his face and frangipani wreathing his head, Nero-like, as large parts of Australia burnt down.  The folly of his behavior might have finished him off had not the virus given him the opportunity to renew himself as a national leader.

Politically, Morrison is an arch-conservative; religiously, he is a Christian fundamentalist, a Pentacostalist who regularly attends Sydney’s Horizon Church.  The Pentecostalists believe in the ‘inerrancy’ of the Bible and ‘prosperity theology,’ acording to which the rich are rich because they deserve to be rich.  They also believe in miracles, faith healing through the laying on of hands and the vocal gifts of ‘glossolalic’ utterances, otherwise known as speaking in tongues, and xenoglossia, which is speaking or writing in a language noone else can (yet) understand.

In Morrison’s political life there is little of the mercy, compassion and humility usually associated with Christianity.  As Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in 2014, he did his best to stop asylum seekers from reaching Australia and was accused by the Australian Human Rights Commission of falling down on his responsibilities under international law to protect children being kept in detention. He has denied that there was ever slavery in Australia, in complete ignorance of the 19th century ‘blackbirding’ of tens of thousands of Pacfic islanders, tricked into coming to Queensland to work on plantations as indentured laborers or the indigenous people exploited by church missions. He opposes gay marriage and has upheld the ‘right’ of religious schools under the Sex Discrimination Act to expel gay or lesbian students.

In foreign affairs he has further cemented Australia’s place as a camp follower of the US, whatever it decides to do. On Palestine, his government has recognized West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and has tried to block the prosecution of Israelis for war crimes at the International Criminal Court.  In late June only the Marshall Islands and Australia voted against resolutions tabled by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) opposing Israel’s annexation of the West Bank.

Morrison has signaled that if the US decides to go to war against Iran he will “seriously consider” Australia joining it.  Australia hosts a number of US military/communications bases, is fully inside the current US military-economic ‘pivot’ against China and Morrison has just announced a $270 billion ‘defense’ program for a “dangerous and disorderly post-COVID19 world” policy fashioned around the ‘threat’ from China.  Here the virus is again used as cover, this time to justify massive (in Australian terms”) ‘defence’ spending.

Both Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne have made numerous public statements that could only antagonize China.  In late June the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Organization (ASIO) raided the home and office of an NSW Labor Party MP, Shaoquette Mosolmane, on the basis of an allegation that the office had been infiltrated by a Chinese government agent. Although no evidence was presented and no charges laid, Mosolmane was immediately suspended from the Labor Party.  The raid would have had to have been authorized by Morrison. These developments plus the accusation that Wuhan was the source of the COVID-19 virus have directly fed public and media anti-Chinese sentiments.

In the private sector, Morrison was hired as the director of New Zealand’s Office of Tourism and Sport in 1998 but ‘let go’ in 2000 with a year of his contract still to run, after criticism of the board’s conduct and performance by the Auditor-General. In 2004 he was taken on as managing director of Tourism Australia by the Howard government and, again, ‘let go’ in 2006   a year before his contract ended, after complaints of $184 million being awarded in contracts without proper assessment that the organization was getting value for money. The fact that a federal Liberal Party government let Morrison go is a fair enough indication that what he did wrong was serious. In 2007 he entered federal parliament after a dirty election campaign which saw him collaborating with a Labor Party figure, Sam Dastyari, to do in a rival within his own party.

While Morrison presents himself as a man of the people, as an open, good-hearted suburban dad, he has a tainted background in business, has engaged in underhand behavior in politics, has shown no empathy with the wretched of the earth in line with the tenets of the Christian faith he professes and has played on public biases and fears to advance his own political interests.

Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, comes across as a far cleaner figure, if increasingly out of his depth in the handling of the pandemic.  He also has a religious background, as a Catholic, but a progressive one. He supports abortion on demand, has opened safe injection rooms for drug addicts and has legalized euthanasia for the terminally ill.   Nevertheless, his close daily control of the messages coming out of the government and increasingly authoritarian management style have earned him the nickname of “Chairman Dan.’

The consequences

So far the federal Australian government has spent $138 billion to support workers and businesses, but many – especially in the hospitality sector – have received little or no financial support and will either not be able to reopen their businesses or will reopen them saddled with years of debt.  In May unemployment had jumped in one month from 5.2 percent to 6.2 percent of the work force, with 600,000 people losing their jobs in April and a further 230,000 in May.   At 13.8 percent, youth unemployment was especially high.   The ABS statistics show that about 2.7 million workers – one in five of the work force – ‘left’ their employment in March-April or had their hours reduced.   According to current predictions, unemployment will reach 10 percent.

The financial costs incurred in the name of suppressing the virus are likely to set Australian economic development back for decades.  The social costs and medical costs are yet to come in.  These would cover the number of people whose medical needs have been disrupted by the single-minded focus on COVID-19, and those whose health has been worsened by isolation, loneliness and the inability to maintain businesses and provide for their families, leading in some cases, without any doubt, to suicide.

Victorians, and Australians more generally, need to do the right thing, the decent thing, and ask questions instead of docilely accepting what they are being told, much of it misleading and lacking context.  Overall, the question eventually to be asked may not be whether the cure was worse than the disease, but how much worse it was.

Does the next Presidential election even matter?

Source

President Barack Obama and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden head toward the Capitol Platform during the 58th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2017. More than 5,000 military members from across all branches of the armed forces of the United States, including reserve and National Guard components, provided ceremonial support and Defense Support of Civil Authorities during the inaugural period. (DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos)

THE SAKER • JULY 2, 2020

Just by asking the question of whether the next Presidential election matters, I am obviously suggesting that it might not. To explain my reasons for this opinion, I need to reset the upcoming election in the context of the previous one. So let’s begin here.

The 2016 election of Donald Trump

The first thing which, I believe, ought to be self-evident to all by now is that there was no secret operation by any deep state, not even a Zionist controlled one, to put Donald Trump in power. I would even argue that the election of Donald Trump was the biggest slap in the face of US deep state and of the covert transnational ruling elites this deep state serves. Ever. My evidence? Simple, look what these ruling “elites” did both before and after Trump’s election: before, they ridiculed the very idea of “President Trump” as both utterly impossible and utterly evil.

As somebody who has had years of experience reading the Soviet press or, in another style, the French press, I can honestly say that I have never seen a more ridiculously outlandish hate campaign against anybody that would come even close to the kind of total hate campaign which Trump was subjected to. Then, as soon as he was elected, the US neo-liberals (who are not liberals at all!) declared that Trump was “not their President”, that Trump was put into power by Putin and that he was a “Russian asset” (using pseudo-professional jargon is what journos typically do to conceal their abject ignorance of a complex topic) and, finally, that he was a White racist and misogynist who will deeply divide the country (thereby dividing the country themselves by making such claims).

The fact is that for the past four years the US liberals have waged a total informational war against Trump and it would be absolutely unthinkable for them to ever accept a Trump re-election, even if he wins by a landslide. For the US Dems and neo-liberals, Trump is the personification of evil, literally, and that means that “resistance” to him and everything he represents must be total. And if he is re-elected, then there is only one possible explanation: the Russians stole the election, or the Chinese did. But the notion that Trump has the support of a majority of people is literally unthinkable for these folks.

Truth be told, Trump has proven to be a fantastically incompetent President, no doubt about that. Was he even worse than Obama? Maybe, it really all depends on your scoring system. In my personal opinion, and for all his very real sins and failings, Trump, at least, did not start a major war, which Obama did, and which Hillary would have done (can’t prove this, but that is my personal belief). That by itself, and totally irrespective of anything else, makes me believe that Trump has been a “lesser evil” (even if far more ridiculous) President than Obama has been or Hillary would have been. This is what I believed four years ago and this is what I still believe: considering how dangerous for the entire planet “President Hillary” would have been, voting for Trump was not only the only logical thing to do, it was the only moral one too because giving your voice to a warmongering narcissistic hyena like Hillary is a profoundly immoral act (yes, I know, Trump is also a narcissist – most politicians are! – but at least his warmongering has been all hot air and empty threats, at least so far). However, I don’t think that this (not having started a major war) will be enough to get Trump re-elected.

Why?

Because most Americans still like wars. In fact, they absolutely love them. Unless, of course, they lose. What Americans really want is a President who can win wars, not a President who does not initiate them in the first place. This is also the most likely reason why Trump did not start any major wars: the US has not won a real war in decades and, instead, it got whipped in every conflict it started. Americans hate losing wars, and that is why Trump did not launch any wars: it would have been political suicide to start a real war against, say, the DPRK or Iran. So while I am grateful that Trump did not start any wars, I am not naive to the point of believing that he did so for pure and noble motives. Give Trump an easy victory and he will do exactly what all US Presidents have done in the past: attack, beat up the little guy, and then be considered like a “wartime President hero” by most Americans. The problem is that there are no more “little guys” left out there: only countries who can, and will, defend themselves if attacked.

The ideology of messianic imperialism which permeates the US political culture is still extremely powerful and deep seated and it will take years, probably decades, to truly flush it down to where it belongs: to the proverbial trash-heaps of history. Besides, in 2020 Americans have much bigger concerns than war vs. peace – at least that is what most of them believe. Between the Covid19 pandemic and the catastrophic collapse of the economy (of course, while the former certainly has contributed to the latter, it did not single-handedly cause it) and now the BLM insurgency, most Americans now feel personally threatened – something which no wars of the past ever did (a war against Russia very much would, but most Americans don’t realize that, since nobody explains this to them; they also tend to believe that nonsense about the US military being the best and most capable in history).

Following four years of uninterrupted flagwaving and MAGA-chanting there is, of course, a hardcore of true believers who believe that Trump is nothing short of brilliant and that he will “kick ass” everything and everybody: from the spying Russians, to the rioting Blacks, from the pandemic, to the lying media, etc. The fact that in reality Trump pitifully failed to get anything truly important done is completely lost on these folks who live in a reality they created for themselves and in which any and all facts contradicting their certitudes are simply explained away by silly stuff like “Q-anon” or “5d chess”. Others, of course, will realize that Trump “deflated” before those whom he called “the swamp” almost as soon as he got into the White House.

As for the almighty Israel Lobby, it seems to me that it squeezed all it could from Trump who, from the point of view of the Zionists, was always a “disposable President” anyway. And now that Trump has done everything Israel wanted him to do, he becomes almost useless. If anything, Pelosi, Schumer and the rest of them will try to outdo Trump’s love for everything Israeli anyway.

So how much support is there behind Trump today? I really don’t know (don’t trust the polls, which have always been deeply wrong about Trump anyway), but I think that there is definitely a constituency of truly frightened Americans who are freaking out (as they should, considering the rapid collapse of the country) and who might vote Trump just because they will feel that for all his faults, he is the only one who can save the country. Conversely, they will see Biden as a pro-BLM geriatric puppet who will hand the keys of the White House to a toxic coalition of minorities.

So what if Trump does get re-elected?

In truth, the situation is so complex and there are so many variables (including many “unknown unknowns”!) that make predictions impossible. Still, we can try to make some educated guesses, especially if based on some kind of logic such as the one which says that “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior”. In other words, if Trump gets elected, we will get more of the same. Personally, I would characterize this “same” as a further destruction of the US from within by the Democrats and their “coalition of minorities” combined with a further destruction of the US Empire abroad by delusional Republicans.

I very much doubt that it makes any sense at all to vote for that, really. Better stay at home and do something worthwhile with your time, no?

Now what about a Biden election?

Remember that Biden is now the de-facto leader of what I would loosely call the “anti-US coalition”, that is the “coalition of minorities” which really have nothing in common except their hatred of the established order (well, and, of course, their hatred of Trump and of those who voted for him).

These minorities are very good at hating and destroying, but don’t count on them to ever come up with constructive solutions – it ain’t gonna happen. For one thing, they are probably too stupid to come up with any constructive ideas, but even more important is the fact that these folks all have a hyper-narrow agenda and, simply put, they don’t care about “constructing” anything. These folks are all about hatred and the instant gratification of their narrow, one-topic, agenda.

This also begs the question of why the Dems decided to go with Biden in spite of the fact that he is clearly an extremely weak candidate. In spite? I am not so sure at all. I think that they chose him because he is so weak: the real power behind him will be in the hands of the Schumer-Pelosi-Obama gang and of the interests these folks represent.

Unlike Trump who prostituted himself only after making it to the White House, the neo-liberal Dems have *already* prostituted themselves to everybody who wanted to give them something in return, from the Ukie Nazis to the thugs of BLM, to the powerful US homo-lobby. Don’t expect them to show any spine, or even less so, love for the USA, if they get the White House. They hate this country and most of its people and they are not shy about it.

What would happen to the US if the likes of Bloomberg or Harris took control? First, there would be the comprehensive surrender to the various minorities which put these folks in power followed by a very strong blowback from all the “deplorables” ranging from protests and civil disobedience, to local authorities refusing to take orders from the feds. Like it or not, but most Americans still love their country and loathe the kind of pseudo-liberal ideology which has been imposed upon them by the joint actions of the US deep state and the corporate world. There is even a strong probability that if Biden gets elected the USA’s disintegration would only accelerate.

On the international front, a Biden Presidency would not solve any of the problems created by Obama and Trump: by now it is way too late and the damage done to the international reputation of the United States is irreparable. If anything, the Dems will only make it worse by engaging in even more threats, sanctions and wars. Specifically, the Demolicans hate Russia, China and Iran probably even more than the Republicrats. Besides, these countries have already concluded a long time ago that the US was “not agreement capable” anyway (just look at the long list of international treaties and organization from which the US under Trump has withdrawn: what is the point of negotiating anything with a power which systematically reneges on its promises and obligations?)

The truth is that if Biden gets elected, the US will continue to fall apart internally and externally, if anything, probably even faster than under a re-elected Trump.

Which brings me to my main conclusion:

Why do we even bother having elections?

First, I don’t think that the main role of a democracy is to protect minorities from majorities. A true democracy protects the majority against the many minorities which typically have a one-issue agenda and which are typically hostile to the values of the majority. Oh sure, minority rights should be protected, the question is how exactly?

For one thing, most states have some kind of constitution/basic law which sets a number of standards which cannot be violated as long as this constitution/basic law is in force. Furthermore, in most states which call themselves democratic all citizens have the same rights and obligations, and a minority status does not give anybody any special rights or privileges. Typically, there are also fundamental international standards for human rights and fundamental national standards for civil rights. Minority rights (individual or collective), however, are not typically considered a separate category which somehow trumps or supplements adopted norms for human and civil rights (if only because it creates a special “minority” category, whereas in true “people power” all citizens are considered as one entity).

It is quite obvious that neither the Republicrats nor the Demolicans represent the interests of “we the people” and that both factions of the US plutocracy are under the total control of behind-the-scenes real powers. What happened four years ago was a colossal miscalculation of these behind-the-scenes real powers who failed to realize how hated they were and how even a guy like Trump would seem preferable to a nightmare like Hillary (as we know, had the Dems chosen Sanders or even some other halfway lame candidate, Trump would probably not have prevailed).

This is why I submit that the next election will make absolutely no difference:

  1. The US system is rigged to give all the power to minorities and to completely ignore the will of the people
  2. The choice between the Demolicans and the Republicrats is not a choice at all
  3. The systemic crisis of the US is too deep to be affected by who is in power in the White House

Simply put, and unlike the case of 2016, the outcome of the 2020 election will make no difference at all. Caring about who the next puppet in the White House will be is tantamount to voting for a new captain while the Titanic is sinking. The major difference is that the Titanic sank in very deep water whereas the “ship USA” will sink in the shallows, meaning that the US will not completely disappear: in some form or another, it will survive either as a unitary state or as a number of successor states. The Empire, however, has no chance of survival at all. Thus, anything which contributes to make the US a “normal” country and which weakens the Empire is in the interests of the people of the USA. Voting for either one of the candidates this fall will only prolong the agony of the current political regime in the USA.

VIDEO: The 2020 Economic Crisis. Global Poverty, Unemployment and Despair

Source

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, June 30, 2020

We are living one of the most serious crises in modern history. 

According to Michel Chossudovsky, the coronavirus pandemic is used as a pretext and a justification to close down the global economy, as a means to resolving a public health concern.  

A complex decision-making process is instrumental in the closing down of national economies Worldwide. We are led to believe that the lockdown is the solution.

Politicians and health officials in more than 150 countries obey orders emanating from higher authority.

In turn millions of people obey the orders of their governments without questioning the fact that closing down an economy is not the solution but in fact the cause of  global poverty and unemployment. 

What we are dealing with is a crime against humanity.

Fear, intimidation, media disinformation prevail. The Lie has become the Truth

This is an imperial project emanating from powerful economic interests.

A global fear campaign is sustained by the media. And now a so-called second wave is envisaged.

The social and economic impacts are beyond description.


FULL TRANSCRIPT

The 2020 Economic Crisis. Global Poverty, Unemployment and Despair
By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

June 30, 2020

We are undoubtedly living (in) one of the most serious economic and social and crises in modern history. In some regards, we are living history and we are unable to comprehend the logic of the corona virus pandemic.

What is at stake is the pretext and the justification for closing down national economies worldwide based on a public health concern.

We have to understand the causalities. Closing down an economy, nationally and globally does NOT resolve the pandemic. In fact, it creates a situation of INSTITUTIONAL INSTABILITY.

It also results in massive unemployment, confinement of people in their homes, without employment, without food . . . That is what we’re living.

There is NO justification for closing down national economies based on a public health concern, which can be resolved, and SHOULD be resolved!

There is a very complex decision-making process, which has been PLANNED WELL IN ADVANCE. From ‘central authority’, governments are instructed to close down their economies and then, in turn, the governments instruct people to implement social engineering, not to meet, not to have family reunions . . .

And, essentially, what we do not understand, and which is fundamental, is that economic activity is the basis for the reproduction of real life. By that I mean, institutions, purchasing power of families, a whole series of activities, which have developed in the course of history – economic activity constitutes the foundation of all societies.

And what these measures have resulted in is a massive crisis, in which particularly small and medium sized enterprises are being precipitated into bankruptcy, millions of people have become unemployed, and in many countries this has resulted in mass poverty, famine, among certain groups of the population.

We have ample evidence to this effect and we have to understand that this process of closing down national economies is deliberate. IT’S A PLAN.

And, it’s co-ordinated with the financial crisis which took place in the month of February (2020), which led to massive collapse in banking institutions, stock markets and so on. Economists, conventional economists, have a tendency to say that there’s no relationship between the corona pandemic crisis and the financial crash in February. That is utterly mistaken. The fear campaign, the disinformation campaign, have facilitated the MANIPULATION OF STOCK MARKETS. And we’re (I’m) talking about the use of very sophisticated derivatives, speculative instruments and so on.

What is now happening is that governments have been indebted up to their ears. They’re paying out compensation to companies which have been affected; in some cases it’s generous bailouts, in other cases it’s part of a social safety net coming to the rescue of workers and small-scale enterprises.

And the next stage is the MOST SERIOUS DEBT CRISIS IN WORLD HISTORY. In other words, the levels of employment have crashed and companies are bankrupt. We will have a fiscal crisis of the state. In other words, a dramatic decline in (income) tax revenues due to the collapse in employment, and the  companies (which have not gone bankrupt) are going to deduct corporate losses, of course (on their tax statements). How will the governments around the world continue to govern, finance social programs and so on?

It will ultimately be through a gigantic global debt operation implemented both in the so-called ‘developed’ countries – e.g. Italy, France, United States, Canada – and in the developing countries where it will be more the international financial institutions, the World Bank, the IMF, the regional development banks.

Now, the problem of Western governments is that that debt is NOT REPAYABLE. The Italian government has issued bonds with the support of Goldman Sachs and so on; that was done a couple of months back. And what has happened? Italy’s debt is categorized (by Standard and Poor). . . these Italian bonds, are classified ‘BB’, which essentially means junk bond status. In other words, that means that an entire state apparatus is now in the hands of the creditors. And these creditors are the financial institutions, the banks and so on.

And the next stage is ultimately the confiscation of the State! THE STATE WILL BE PRIVATIZED. All the programs will be under the helm of the creditors. We can say, “Goodbye” to the welfare state in Western Europe. Why? Because the creditors will immediately, following what they did in Greece a few years back . . . they will immediately impose austerity measures, and the privatization of social programs, the privatization of anything that can be privatized – cities, land, public buildings.

And, in other words, we are living a very important evolution because the State, as we know it, will no longer exist. It will be run by private banking interests, who will . . . and they’re already doing that . . . APPOINT their governments, or their politicians, their corrupt politicians, and essentially they will take over the whole political landscape.

That is happening in a number of countries. And in some countries they have even instructed the governments NOT to debate (in parliament) the enormous debts which have been accumulated in the last few months as a result of the pandemic, which now are the object of financing by these powerful financial institutions. In Canada there was an agreement between Prime Minister Trudeau on the one hand and the leader of the opposition – NO DEBATE in parliament on $150 billion of debt, which then has to be covered through public debt operations and loans from financial institutions.

And essentially the scenario that we are living. . . which is unfolding is that, on the one hand, the real economy in the course of the last few months starting in March, well, in fact, starting in February with the stock market crash is in a state of crisis, production activity has been affected, trade has been affected. Millions and millions of people are going to be unemployed, without earnings, and it’s not only poverty – it’s poverty and despair. It’s the marginalization of large sectors of the world population from the labour market. There are figures on that, published by the ILO (International Labour Organization) that in fact, at this stage, it is premature to even start estimating these impacts.

We can look at it country by country. We can see, for instance, that in developing countries the informal sector, let’s say in India or in certain countries in Latin America, (such as) Peru, a large sector of the labour force is involved in what is called the ‘informal sector’; self-employed, small-scale industries and so on. Well, this has been COMPLETELY WIPED OUT and the people affected are left very often, homeless. The only choice they have is to do it to go back to their home villages and in the process they are the victims of famine and a situation of TOTAL MARGINALIZATION.

That is the scenario. It’s beyond global poverty. It’s mass unemployment. It is something which has been ENGINEERED, it’s not something which is accidental. And it’s certainly not something which has been used to resolve a global health crisis.

The global health crisis pertaining to covid has been MULTIPLIED. People have been confined, they have fallen sick, they have lost their jobs, and at the same time the whole health apparatus has been in crisis, unable to function.

What we have to understand is that this process HAS TO BE CONFRONTED! There has to be an organized opposition. This is a neo-liberal project! It’s neo-liberalism to the extreme.

Now, bear in mind that today, what we have, (is that) in some regards, the stock market crash used speculative instruments, insider trading, but also the fear campaign to implement what is THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TRANSFER OF WEALTH IN WORLD HISTORY! In other words, everybody loses money in the stock market crash and the money goes into the hands of, you know, a limited number of billionaires. And there have been estimates as to the enrichment of this class in the course of the last three months. I won’t get into details. So that, this, in a sense, this crisis of February, the stock market crisis, sets the stage for the lockdown.

And on (the topic of) the lockdown, we can call it by another name. The lockdown is the CLOSURE OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMY! It is an act which instructs national governments to close down their economy, and they obey! That’s what we call, ‘global governance’. But it’s an imperial project. They obey and they close down everything.

And then they they try to convince their citizens that this is all for a good cause, we are closing down the economy so that we can save lives due to covid-19. That is a very strong statement and at the same time the statistics on covid-19 are the source of manipulation.

I won’t get into that particular dimension but I can say in all certitude that the impact of this crisis is so dramatic, the economic crisis, that it DOESN’T COMPARE to the impact of covid-19, which, according even to people like Anthony Fauci, is comparable to the seasonal influenza. They’ve written that in their peer-reviewed articles.

What they say online, on CNN is a different matter. But they do not consider covid-19 as an ultimate danger of all dangers. It’s not. There are many other health pandemics affecting the world. That does not mean that we shouldn’t take it seriously but we should understand, it’s common sense, it’s not by closing down the global economy that you’re going to resolve this pandemic.

So somebody’s lying, somewhere. And in fact, the lies are ‘becoming the truth’, they’re becoming part of the ‘consensus’ and THAT IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

Because when the lie becomes ‘the truth’, there’s no turning backwards.

And we notice how independent scientists, independent analysts, are being CENSORED,  that we have many doctors and nurses and scientists, virologists as well as economists who are speaking out. And you just have to look at the figures, the millions and millions of people who are unemployed as a result of this.

So, what we really need is a historical understanding of what’s going on, because closing down the economy through orders from ‘somewhere up there’ . . .

First of all, it’s DISTINCT FROM ANY PREVIOUS CRISIS. But secondly, we have to RESIST THAT MODEL. And it’s not by changing the paradigm, no. It’s a mass movement; it’s a mass movement against our governments, it’s a mass movement against the architects of this diabolical project . . .

And we can’t ask the Rockefellers, “Please lend us the money” to pay for our expenses, we have to do that on our own.

And that’s why all these NGOs, which are funded by corporate foundations Cannot  . . . I’m not saying . . . some of the things they do are fine but they cannot wage a campaign against those who are sponsoring them, that’s an impossibility.

So we have to implement a grassroots movement, nationally and internationally, to CONFRONT THIS DIABOLICAL PROJECT and to restore our national economies, our national institutions. And, to DENY THE LEGITIMACY OF THE DEBT PROJECT. And to investigate the elements of corruption which have led to this diabolical adventure, which is affecting humanity in its entirety.

This is a war against humanity, implemented through complex economic instruments.

Goodbye and we will continue our battle and our analysis to the best of our abilities at Global Research.

***

Our thanks to Chris Green for the Transcript of the above video.

CAPS indicate emphasis


The Globalization of Poverty and the New World OrderThe Globalization of Poverty: Deconstructing the New World Order

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Reviews:

“This concise, provocative book reveals the negative effects of imposed economic structural reform, privatization, deregulation and competition. It deserves to be read carefully and widely.”
– Choice, American Library Association (ALA)

“The current system, Chossudovsky argues, is one of capital creation through destruction. The author confronts head on the links between civil violence, social and environmental stress, with the modalities of market expansion.”
– Michele Stoddard, Covert Action Quarterly

CLICK HERE FOR A SPECIAL INSIDE LOOK AT THE PREFACE

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca. He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

The original source of this article is Global

ResearchCopyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2020

Netanyahu and Covid19

 

BY GILAD ATZMON

netantahu  and Crona.jpg

FNA*: Netanyahu was very quick to administrate a lockdown at the outset of the coronavirus outbreak in Israel. Was Covid-19 his only reason for the lockdown?

 Gilad: You are tapping here into a crucial aspect of the Covid 19 affair which none of the Western media has been brave enough to look into. As early as March 12, the Israeli PM announced nationwide school closures and urged the formation of an emergency unity government to “save the lives of tens of thousands” of Israelis from the coronavirus, Netanyahu presented a profoundly stark assessment in which there would be “tens of millions of deaths” worldwide unless the pandemic was stopped.  Political analysts who follow Netanyahu closely immediately understood that Netanyahu desperately needed the pandemic and the hysteria around it. And it is clear that the Israeli PM managed to utilize the corona crisis to serve his cause. He postponed his trial. He formed a large unity government and practically destroyed both his rival party (Blue & White) and its leader Benny Gantz.  So it was no surprise that once Netanyahu was finally able to form his unity government, Israel was relieved of its lockdown: Israelis were free to enjoy the sun again. Far more peculiar is the fact that the rest of us needed Netanyahu to form his government so that our leaders would also allow us to enjoy the blue sky.

FNA: The political deadlock came to an end with the formation of an emergency cabinet to address the coronavirus outbreak. Why did Netanyahu unite with his forever rival Benny Gantz after they competed with him for power for over a year? Why did he make such an abrupt political u-turn?

Gilad: We are often misled into believing that the Jewish state is a pluralist political entity divided between Left and Right political blocks. The truth can’t be further. The Jewish State is a hard-core nationalist entity. It is institutionally discriminatory. It differentiates racially between Jews and the indigenous people of the land.

Though it seemed for a while that the Israeli Knesset was divided between Netanyahu’s block and the so called ‘centre Left block,’ the vast majority of the Knesset Members within the so called Centre Left block are actually to the right of Netanyahu.  This applies to Avigdor Lieverman and his party. Many of the Blue & White’s politicians, some of them war criminals, ended up in Netanyahu’s government. Even the Labour party is ardently right wing in its approach to the Israeli Arab conflict. In Israel there is only one left party that upholds universal and ethical philosophy. It is called the United Arab List.    

FNA: When all of the courts, including the court in which his case was pending, were closed as a measure to counter the coronavirus outbreak, Netanyahu formed a unity cabinet,  became  Prime Minister and was granted immunity against the court’s decision in his case. Do you believe that at some point in the future justice will be served, and he will be held accountable for the allegations of bribery and favouritism? 

Gilad: I am not so sure how valid or serious the bribery and favouritism allegations are against Netanyahu. I can tell you that Israeli war crimes against Palestinians are by far more grave than Netanyahu’s cigar consumption. I would like to add here that I believe that it was Netanyahu’s early and radical reaction to the coronavirus that defined the tone and policies of many Western governments. Since we still do not know the origin of coronavirus, what it is all about, I tend to believe in the possibility that the current health crisis is the result of a military affair. If there is any basis for such an assumption, Israel amongst just a few other countries is a major suspect. I do believe that the constant havoc that we see in the world at the moment is there to divert attention from crucial questions to do with the crisis and its possible origin. 

True scrutiny of the criminal possible aspects involved with the pandemic is overdue, as the notorious virus clearly hasn’t killed as many millions as Netanyahu predicted in early March. 

  • An interview conducted by Iran’s FNA

RUSSIA’S NEW DEAL AND WESTERN REACTION

Russia's New Deal And Western Reaction

Russia is holding a national voting on amendments to its Constitution. Last Thursday kicked off one week in which Russians are asked to cast their votes on changes to the document. The formal date is July 1, but the polling stations were opened as early as June 25 in order to avoid too high turnout due to the so-called pandemic.

Vladimir Putin announced a set of amendments to the Constitution in his annual address to the Federal Assembly on January 15. The same day he ordered to form a working group to draft these amendments. The group was composed of 75 politicians, legislators, scholars and public figures and it submitted the proposals that formed the basis of the new Constitution. On March 11, the State Duma adopted the draft amendments to the Constitution in the third reading. On the same day, they were approved by the Federation Council.

The referendum was originally scheduled for April 22. The date coincided with Vladimir Lenin’s 150th birthday. It was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft amendments to the Constitution were submitted to a referendum in accordance with article 2 of the Law on Amendments to the Constitution adopted on March 16, 2020. Voters are given a yes-or-no vote on the full text of the new Constitution.

After Putin proposed constitutional changes, the amendments sparked significant debate both inside the country and beyond its borders. The proposed amendments to the Constitution affect various spheres.

The amendments, which can be described as ideological, received the great public response. According to a sociological study, the most important among them for Russians was the amendment to “on the protection of historical truth”:

“The Russian Federation honors the memory of the Fatherland defenders and protects the historical truth. Belittling the significance of the feat of the people in the defense of the Fatherland is not allowed.”

This amendment is extremely relevant in Russian society. This is due to various external factors. First of all, Russia’s neighboring states such as Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland issue resolutions condemning Russia’s position in the Second World War. This is accompanied by the demolition of the monuments to Soviet heroes in large cities, what causes great indignation among Russians and arouses great controversy at the international level.

Moreover, this amendment is gaining popularity due to the ongoing unrest in the West. In the USA protesters demolish monuments to prominent historical figures who formed the American identity – Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jefferson, and so on. The Russian government tries to prevent this in its own country, believing that the Empire collapses when it loses its ideology. Today, the strengthening of Russia as independent conservative ideological center may contribute to the further strengthening of the Russian position on the international arena.

Russian servicewomen march during the Victory Day parade. They were among 14,000 troops from 13 countries who took part in the event. Soldiers taking part had been tested and placed in quarantine ahead of the parade.

If this amendment is primarily of concern to the countries of Eastern Europe and has received little coverage in the Western media, the following amendment to the Russian Constitution has aroused great interest in Western Europe and the United States.

The proposals to amend the Article 72 of the Constitution gained wide resonance in the West.  The article says (the changes are in bold):

“In the joint jurisdiction of the Russian Federation and subjects of the Russian Federation are:

… the protection of family, motherhood, fatherhood and childhood; the protection of the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman; the creation of conditions for worthy education of children in the family, as well as for adult children responsibilities to care for their parents…”

Despite the fact that today same-sex marriages are not recognized in Russia, if the amendment is approved by a vote, the marriage between members of the LGBT community will be excluded at the level of the Constitution. Currently, there are no special laws prohibiting same-sex relationships or gender reassignment surgeries in Russia. At the same time, since 2013, there is a Federal law prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality among minors, which criminalizes public manifestations of non-traditional sexual orientations.

Conservative views on homosexuality are widespread in Russia, and recent polls show that most Russians are opposed to accepting homosexuality in their society. In particular, intolerance of homosexuality is present in regions with persisting traditional way of life, such as Chechnya or Dagestan.

Covering the proposal to introduce this amendment to the Constitution of the Russian Federation, The New York Times wrote in March:

“President Vladimir V. Putin has proposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in what political analysts suggest is an effort to raise turnout for a constitutional referendum that could keep him in power but has so far stirred little enthusiasm among Russians.”

The Guardian in the article «Putin submits plans for constitutional ban on same-sex marriage» claimed that “[t]he move, announced by Putin in January, was initially seen as a way for him to hold on to power after 2024, when as things stand he will no longer be able to serve as president because of term limits.

Moreover, a flag of the LGBT community was displayed on the buildings of the US Embassy in Moscow to protest the proposed amendments on the first day of the national voting. The US move was followed by embassies of Canada and the UK. This is a concerted political action in direct contravention of Russian law on responsibility for propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.

US Embassy Helps Russians To Vote YES On Constitutional Amendments

The amendment to the Constitution excluding the possibility of same-sex marriage does not correspond to the newly imposed neo-liberal values labeled as the Wester-rooted. At the same time, believing its own values to be the only correct and universal, the collective West imposes them in various regions of the world, including in Russia. The promotion of liberal values is certainly necessary for the West to strengthen its world domination, but this often leads to negative consequences.

The reaction of the West to the amendment to article 72 primarily emphasizes that the introduction of changes to the legislation regarding LGBT communities serves as a distraction for the population, which will allow Vladimir Putin to remain in power after the end of his presidential mandate in 2024. Also, the Western community itself is much more concerned about the amendments to reset Putin’s terms than about the well-being of homosexuals in Russia.

By its ideological changes, Russia confirms the unacceptability of Western ideology for its society, while also making important changes to the country’s administrative apparatus itself, which will allow it to be strengthened.

Given that the West in general has a negative attitude to the figure of Vladimir Putin, primarily because of his success in governing the country and in strengthening Russia, the amendment to reset the terms of his rule is particularly frowned upon. Paragraph 3 of Article 82 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation states:

“The same person may not hold the office of President of the Russian Federation for more than two consecutive terms.”

In this wording, it is proposed to remove the word “consecutive”, and to extend the effect of this amendment only to the current President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. This allows resetting the terms of Vladimir Putin’s presidency, and gives him the opportunity to run for the presidency in 2024.

Political analyst Nathaniel Reynolds wrote in a paper for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace:

“Putin’s use of more than 200 amendments was a “stunning trick” to mask the real purpose of the constitutional vote — allowing him to remain in office. It was a shocking exercise in political deception, even to the many regime insiders left in the dark.” Reynolds also noted: “A younger Putin recognized the dangers of such a precedent. He told a journalist in 2005 that if leaders change the constitution for their own purposes, there will be nothing left of the state.”

Moreover, Western media reproach that the attention of the population is not particularly focused on this key amendment. The Russian authorities are conducting a large advertising campaign of other amendments, primarily socially conservative ones such as protection of historical truth or a ban on dual citizenship for government employees. These principles, designed to unite Russians, are at the heart of the system of conservative Patriotic values of the head of the Russian state.

During his presidency, Vladimir Putin brought Russia to the international arena and significantly strengthened its position as a regional power center. Further strengthening of the country is unacceptable for the West that provokes strong criticism of this amendment. However, the abolition of the presidential term limit only increases the level of democracy in the country because people have a chance to vote for an actual president as many times as they want. The President can only be chosen through democratic elections, and allowing Putin to run in 2024 does not guarantee his victory. Moreover, most likely, the amendment to reset the time frame allows to stabilize the situation in the country for the next few years. If it is not accepted now, then a tough power struggle in Russia will begin today which will significantly destabilize the country.

On June 18, the Venice Commission criticized some amendments to the Russian Constitution initiated by Vladimir Putin.

The European Commission for Democracy through Law – better known as the Venice Commission as it meets in Venice – is the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters. It involves all countries that are members of the Council of Europe, including Russia, and some countries outside this organization. Its role is to analyze the laws and draft legal advices to its member states.

Russia's New Deal And Western Reaction

European experts expressed concern that the new Constitution proposes to include the possibility of dismissal by the Federation Council of judges of the constitutional court on the proposal of the President.

‘’The proposed innovations make the constitutional court more vulnerable to political pressure, since the powers of judges can be terminated on the proposal of the President,’’ experts say.

European experts also recommended the proposed amendment to Article 79 to be changed or completely deleted. It proposes to affirm the right not to execute “decisions of interstate bodies adopted on the basis of provisions of international treaties of the Russian Federation in their interpretation contradicting the Constitution of the Russian Federation”.

This amendment provides for the possibility of not complying with the decisions of international courts, including the European court of human rights. Experts of the Venice Commission in their conclusion point out that by joining the Council of Europe and ratifying the Convention on human rights, Russia is obliged to comply with the decisions of the European court of human rights, and with article 46 of the Convention, which indicates that the execution of court decisions is mandatory.

On June 25, the representative of the European Commission Peter Stano made a statement that the amendment on the priority of the Russian Constitution over international law violated the international obligations of the Russian Federation.

In response to criticism from Europe, the Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of Russian State Duma, Leonid Slutskiy, emphasized that this practice is widely used by countries, including members of Europe, and the amendment does not cancel Russia’s international obligations.

We have consistently explained and continue to explain to our European partners: the amendments to Article 79 do not nullify the international obligations of the Russian Federation, Russia has fulfilled them and will continue to do so. It is an issue of establishing the primacy of the Constitution, which fully complies with foreign experience. For example, there is much stricter primacy of national legislation over international legislation in European states like the UK and Germany, not speaking about the United States,”

Russia in its foreign policy has always defended the rule of international law in the world system. This international law should be based on consensus, and first of all should be represented by international institutions such as the UN. Today, Russia recognizes that international law is not more presented by an international agreement but by American legislation that applies anywhere in the world. The adoption of the amendment on the supremacy of the Russian Constitution over international law strengthens the country’s position and underlines its frustration with the current destruction of the entire world system.

According to social research, the most important for Russians is the amendment on the protection of the country’s sovereignty at the constitutional level. This amendment suggested to Article 67 is one of the most criticized abroad:

 “The Russian Federation ensures the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Actions (with the exception of delimitation, demarcation, redemarkation of the state border of the Russian Federation with neighboring States) aimed at alienating part of the territory of the Russian Federation, as well as calls for such actions, are not allowed.”

This amendment to the Constitution regarding the territorial integrity of the country caused a large condemnation by the United States.

Krista Wiegand, American expert on territorial disputes of the Center for Global Security Studies in Tennessee, claimed that “Russia does not want to play by international rules” and this is dangerous for Japan and Ukraine.

This statement is completely unjustified.

According to the Soviet-Japanese Declaration of 1956, ending the state of war between the countries, the USSR agreed to transfer the Habomai and Shikotan Islands to Japan on the condition that the actual transfer would be made after the conclusion of a Peace Treaty. Moscow’s position is that the southern Kuril Islands became part of the USSR, which Russia became the legal successor to, are an integral part of the territory of the Russian Federation legally based on the results of World War II and enshrined in the UN Charter, and Russian sovereignty over them, which has the appropriate international legal confirmation, is not subject to doubt. Today, it is not Russia that threatens Japan, but the opposite, as Japan claims “its northern territories” to be under Russian occupation.

A similar situation has developed on the Eastern borders of Russia. Since the accession of the Crimea to Russia is a fait accompli, Ukraine has no choice but to declare annexation and try to claim de facto Russian territories.

The amendment suggested to article 67 does not threaten any other state. First of all this amendment prevents separatism inside Russia.

The Guard of Honor of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army take part in the military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War on Red Square in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2020.

The creation of the threatening image of Russia is beneficial for the Democratic American establishment. At the same time, countries with territorial disputes with the Russian Federation reacted with more restraint.

Japanese government Secretary General Yoshihide Suga noted that changes to the Constitution are an internal matter for Russia. Political expert Ikuro Nakamura noted that the Japanese government believes that the changes to the Constitution are aimed at increasing Patriotic consciousness in Russian society.

Former advisor to the Greek prime minister for co-operation with the Russian Federation and Eastern Europe, Dimitrios Velanis, said:

“Russia has many times throughout its history experienced an attack or an attempt by other powers to occupy its territory. It was in almost all wars. From all these wars Russia emerged victorious and lost none of its territories. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory.”

Furthermore, the French Foreign Ministry proclaimed through its representative that “the constitutional change is a sovereign decision of the Russian Federation, which must fully comply with international obligations”.

It would be difficult to imagine the opposite reaction of the West to the proposed amendments to the Russian Constitution. They strengthen the country both insight and in the international arena, which causes fear in Western countries.

In response to criticism of the package of amendments to the Constitution, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Federation Council Konstantin Kosachev said:

“The West’s reaction to public discussions of amendments to the Russian Constitution is taking the form of an aggressive campaign bordering on interference in the country’s domestic affairs. The reaction of what can be described as ‘Collective West’ is taking the form of a hostile and aggressive campaign against Russia, which is bordering on interference in our domestic affairs.”

At the same time, Russian experts say that they expected a larger company from the West, and today’s criticism was much weaker than it could have been. Indeed, the US has demonstrated that it could lead strong anti-Russian companies, for example, by accusing it of interfering in the election of President Trump. The UK also conducted a strong informational campaign, which was called the “Skripal Case”. Today, Russia is faced with a choice, and its society is really experiencing great differences regarding the future development of the country. This moment is most favorable for external intervention and, if the West had the opportunity, it would be able to significantly influence the development of Russia in a way that would be beneficial to it. However, today the influence from outside is insignificant, which is primarily due to the weakness in the Western countries themselves. The crisis after the coronavirus epidemic, followed by large-scale protests in all countries do not leave the power for weakened world leaders. In addition, on a more global scale, while still maintaining the role of world hegemon, the US has never been so weak in relation to developing new centers, and it seems that it can no longer control the situation in various world regions, including Russia.

Collective West hostile campaign against Russia

The amendments to the Russian Constitution demonstrate that the current Russian leadership has tried to pass the period of reconstruction after the crisis of the 1990s and the period of the rise of the 2000s. The Constitution adopted in Russia in 1993 was essentially an ideal document that would allow Russia to reconcile with the market system world. It was mostly designed to satisfy interests of Western puppeteers of the new post-Soviet Russian ‘democratic’ elites. Russia was as an independent state and an international actor was weak in 1991. 30 years later, a stronger Russia is embarking on its own path of development, different from the Western one. And the gap between the Western way and the Russian one seems to be widening. Therefore, a chance exists that in the bright multicolored future there will be place not only for the neo-liberal minorities-ruled West and the radically-conservative Islamic East, but also for a balanced center in Eurasia.

Russia constitution amendment and West’s reaction

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Trump Is Out Of Excuses

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Trump Is Out Of Excuses

By Jennifer Rubin – The Washington Post

President Trump’s failures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, to maintain US leadership in the world (instead of doing Russia’s bidding) and to address the profound national rethink on race cannot be squared with genuine concern for America’s well-being and values. It is no wonder that his closest advisers and former advisers cannot explain his conduct in ways consistent with the national interest. As a result, they simply refuse to answer basic questions about his decisions.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was asked about Trump’s refusal to wear a mask in contradiction of medical advice, including his own:

HOST CHUCK TODD: Mr. Secretary, multiple times with me in our seven minutes so far that we’ve talked you’ve brought up masks, you’ve brought up social distancing. But without the president of the United States doing this, how is half the country going to listen? Have you directly asked the president to please ask the country to wear a mask?

AZAR: So I’m the president’s secretary of health. I’m telling you, practice social distancing. Where you can’t appropriately social distance, we encourage you to wear a facial covering. The vice president of the United States on Friday stood on stage, walked up on stage wearing a mask even though he doesn’t need to in the sense that everybody around him is tested, he’s in a bubble. The president, we know, is a very unique circumstance as leader of the free world. He’s tested constantly and those around him are tested constantly and they’re kept at a distance even with that. But we’re all saying this. The president’s guidelines for reopening, the president’s guidelines, his guidelines have said from day one, practice social distancing. If you can’t, wear face coverings. Practice appropriate personal hygiene. And always please consider your individual circumstances and those of your household members. Protect the most vulnerable, those over 80, and those over 65 with three or more of the serious comorbid conditions. These are the people we have to ring-fence and protect right now.

TODD: It’s a do — but what you just articulated, Mr. Secretary, is a ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ The president of the United States holding indoor rallies, twice in the last 10 days. Once in a state that is seeing a potential of an out-of-control spread in Arizona. He doesn’t talk about wearing a mask. And you avoided my question about whether you’ve asked the president to at least ask the country to wear a mask. Just because you put guidelines under his name, when he doesn’t do it, his people don’t listen.

AZAR: Well, Chuck, I’m not going to talk about politics.

It is distressing to say the least that Azar thinks the president refusing to set an example regarding the worst domestic crisis in a century is simply “politics.” Todd never got his answer because there is no excuse for Trump’s cavalier conduct, which is mimicked by his base.

The administration’s reported failure to respond to intelligence indicating Russia was paying bounties to militants to kill Americans is yet another issue on which there is no good answer. If Trump was not told, his advisers are utterly incompetent and should never have been appointed. If he was told (the White House has denied that the president was “briefed,” contrary to reporting by the New York Times), then he has betrayed the troops. Whatever the explanation, Trump still has not expressed outrage over the bounty on US troops. Trump’s lack of response is one more act of supplication to Russian President Vladimir Putin (along with pulling troops out of Germany, trying to extort Ukraine by withholding military aid, attempting to let Russia back into the Group of Seven, bugging out of Syria and denying Russia manipulated the 2016 election).

Former national security adviser John Bolton has no acceptable theory to explain this conduct. As he said on “Meet the Press”: “[W]hy is the president so defensive about Putin? … If I had evidence, I would reveal it. I just don’t know what to say other than he likes dealing with strong authoritarian figures.” That’s the most generous explanation. In the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on ABC’s “This Week”: “This is as bad as it gets, and yet the president will not confront the Russians on this score, denies being briefed.”

Just as there is no defense for Trump’s conduct, there is no justification for giving him another term. Bolton concedes Trump is a menace but cannot bring himself to acknowledge that failing to vote for former vice president Joe Biden increases the chances of a debilitating second Trump term. “I believe America can recover from one term of Donald Trump,” Bolton said. “I believe that very, very strongly. I’m more worried about a second term. And it’s not just decisions in the national security space. I’m worried about the corruption of the civil discourse in this country by a president who says the sorts of things that you quoted at the outset of our discussion. I think it degrades the body politic.” (If Trump is that bad, why did Bolton keep working for him? Why didn’t he ring the alarm for the country earlier?)

There are presidents who make faulty policy judgments (e.g., George W. Bush’s decision to launch the Iraq War). There are presidents who fail to lift the country’s spirit (e.g., Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech). However, until now there has never been a president whose conduct — from refusing to wear a mask to trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act with no replacement plan to selling out our troops — does not even attempt to serve the public interest. There is no excuse for Trump — or for Republicans’ continued indulgence.

The Media Is Lying About the ‘Second Wave’

By Rep. Ron Paul

Global Research, June 30, 2020

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity 29 June 2020

For months, the Washington Post and the rest of the mainstream media kept a morbid Covid-19 “death count” on their front pages and at the top of their news broadcasts. The coronavirus outbreak was all about the number of dead. The narrative was intended to boost governors like Cuomo in New York and Whitmer in Michigan, who turned their states authoritarian under the false notion that destroying people’s jobs, freedom, and lives would somehow keep a virus from doing what viruses always do: spread through a population until eventually losing strength and dying out.

The “death count” was always the headline.

But then all of a sudden early in June the mainstream media did a George Orwell and lectured us that it is all about “cases” and has always been all about “cases.” Death, and especially infection fatality rate, were irrelevant. Why? Because from the peak in April, deaths had decreased by 90 percent and were continuing to crash. That was not terrifying enough so the media pretended this good news did not exist.

With massive increases in testing, the “case” numbers climbed. This is not rocket science: the more people you test the more “cases” you discover.

Unfortunately our mainstream media is only interested in pushing the “party line.” So the good news that millions more have been exposed while the fatality rate continues to decline – meaning the virus is getting weaker – is buried under hysterical false reporting of “new cases.”

Unfortunately many governors, including our own here in Texas, are incapable of resisting the endless lies of the mainstream media. They are putting Americans again through the nightmare of forced business closures, mandated face masks, and restrictions of Constitutional liberties based on false propaganda.

In Texas the “second wave” propaganda has gotten so bad that the leaders of the four major hospitals in Houston took the extraordinary step late last week of holding a joint press conference to clarify that the scare stories of Houston hospitals being overwhelmed with Covid cases are simply untrue. Dr. Marc Boom of Houston Methodist said the reporting on hospital capacity is misleading. He said, “quite frankly, we’re concerned that there is a level of alarm in the community that is unwarranted right now.”

In fact, there has been much reporting that the “spike” in Texas cases is not due to a resurgence of the virus but to hospital practices of Covid-testing every patient coming in for any procedure at all. If it’s a positive, well that counts as a “Covid hospitalization.” Why would hospitals be so dishonest in their diagnoses? Billions of appropriated Federal dollars are being funneled to facilities based on the number of “Covid cases” they can produce. As I’ve always said, if you subsidize something you get more of it. And that’s why we are getting more Covid cases.

Let’s go back to the original measurements used to scare Americans into giving up their Constitutional liberties: the daily death numbers. Even though we know hospitals have falsely attributed countless deaths to “Covid-19” that were deaths WITH instead of FROM the virus, we are seeing actual deaths steadily declining over the past month and a half. Declining deaths are not a great way to push the “second wave” propaganda, so the media and politicians have moved the goal posts and decided that only “cases” are important. It’s another big lie.

Resist propaganda and defend your liberty. That is the only way we’ll get through this.

*

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Featured image is from CODEPINKThe original source of this article is The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and ProsperityCopyright © Rep. Ron PaulThe Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, 2020

الاستطلاعات عدوّ ترامب الجديد

 الأخبار 

الثلاثاء 30 حزيران 2020

الاستطلاعات عدوّ ترامب الجديد
نفت حملة الرئيس بشدّة إمكانية انسحابه من السباق الانتخابي (أ ف ب )

بالرغم من مهاجمة دونالد ترامب للاستطلاعات التي أجرتها وسائل الإعلام الأميركية، أخيراً، فإنّ واقعاً جديداً فرض نفسه على الرئيس وحزبه الجمهوري، سببه تعاطي الإدارة مع «كورونا» والاحتجاجات… وترامب نفسهيواجه الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب تهديداً من نوع آخر، جسّدته موجة استطلاعات أجراها العديد من وسائل الإعلام الأميركية، أخيراً، من بينها شبكة «فوكس نيوز» المقرّبة منه، والتي أظهرت تخلّفه بشكل كبير عن منافسه الديموقراطي جو بايدن. وإن كانت هذه الاستطلاعات قد دفعت ترامب إلى وصفها بـ«الكاذبة»، إلّا أنّ ذلك لم يكن كافياً لإلغاء المخاوف التي تعتري الحزب الجمهوري بشأن المخاطر التي تصطدم بها فرص إعادة انتخابه.

وفق شبكة «فوكس نيوز»، فقد دفع هذا الواقع ببعض النافذين في الحزب الجمهوري إلى التساؤل عمّا إذا كان ترامب سينسحب من السباق الانتخابي، في حال لم تتحسّن أرقام الاستطلاعات. وبالرغم من تشكيك البعض في إمكانية حصول ذلك، فإن أحد هؤلاء النافذين قال للشبكة إنه «إذا استمرّت الاستطلاعات في التدهور، يمكنك أن ترى سيناريو حيث ينسحب»، بينما راهن آخر على أنّ ترامب «قد ينسحب في حال رأى أن من المستحيل أن يفوز».
الأسباب وراء هذه التكهّنات تعود إلى ما شهدته الأسابيع الأخيرة الماضية من انخفاض كبير لأرقام ترامب في الاستطلاعات، وسط الانتقادات التي طالت إدارته بشأن تعاملها مع جائحة «كورونا»، وردّ البيت الأبيض على التظاهرات والاحتجاجات، على خلفية مقتل جورج فلويد، في أواخر شهر أيار /مايو في مينيابوليس، عندما كان في عهدة الشرطة.

وفي هذا السياق، أظهر استطلاع أجرته شبكة «فوكس نيوز» أنّ الرئيس متأخّر عن بايدن بـ12 نقطة، بينما أفاد معدّل الاستطلاعات الصادر عن موقع «RealClearPolitics» بأنّ بايدن يتقدّم ترامب بحوالى 10 نقاط. وما يعطي هذه الأرقام أهمية أكبر، هو تقدّم بايدن في العديد من الولايات التي تشكّل ساحات معارك أساسية، بينما يظهر جنباً إلى جنب مع ترامب في ولاياتٍ طالما عُدّت معقلاً للجمهوريين، مثل تكساس.


أظهر استطلاع لـ«فوكس نيوز» أنّ ترامب متأخّر عن بايدن بـ 12 نقطة


وعن هذا الواقع بالذات، أوضح موقع «بوليتيكو» أنّ «انفجار» إصابات «كوفيد ـــــ 19» في ولايات «الحزام الشمسي» (المنطقة الممتدة عبر جنوب الشرق وجنوب الغرب من الولايات المتحدة) بات يشكّل عائقاً جديداً أمام آمال إعادة انتخاب دونالد ترامب، ما يفتح المجال أمام فرصة جديدة لجو بايدن والديموقراطيين في تشرين الثاني/ نوفمبر. وأشار الموقع إلى أنّ الحكّام الجمهوريين لولايات فلوريدا، وأريزونا وتكساس، اتّبعوا تعليمات ترامب القاضية بإعادة فتح ولاياتهم، بشكل سريع، بينما اعتمدوا نهجاً متساهلاً في إطار التباعد الاجتماعي. وبالرغم من أن من الصعب تقدير مدى خطورة الوضع بالنسبة إلى ترامب، فإنّ «بوليتيكو» لفت إلى أنّه «في حال خسر واحدة من الولايات الثلاث، تصبح إعادة انتخابه محكومة بالفشل».

في مقابل ذلك، نفت حملة ترامب بشدّة إمكانية انسحاب هذا الأخير من السباق الانتخابي، وانتقدت الاستطلاعات «التي اختزلت الناخبين الجمهوريين بشكل متعمّد». يأتي ذلك بعدما كانت حملته قد أصدرت مذكّرة، بعد الاستطلاعات الأخيرة، يوم الأحد، رفضت فيها الادعاءات بأنّ فرص إعادة انتخاب الرئيس كانت تواجه مشكلة. أمّا ترامب، فلم يلبث أن ردّ، في تغريدة عبر موقع «تويتر»، قال فيها: «آسف لإعلام الديموقراطيين الذين لا يفعلون شيئاً، ولكنّي أحظى بأرقام جيدة جداً في الاستطلاعات الداخلية للحزب الجمهوري». وأضاف: «تماماً مثل عام 2016، استطلاعات ذي نيويورك تايمز كاذبة! استطلاعات فوكس نيوز نكتة! هل تظنّون أنهم سيعتذرون منّي ومن مشتركيهم مجدّداً عندما أفوز؟ الناس يريدون القانون، والنظام والأمن».

مع ذلك، وفي ظلّ اقتراب الانتخابات الرئاسية، بعد أربعة أشهر، يتطلّع المهتمّون بشؤون الحزب الجمهوري وموظّفو حملة ترامب، إلى تحويل مسار الاستطلاعات السيّئة، عبر توجيه هدفهم إلى ما اعتبروه نقاط ضعف بايدن الرئيسية. من هذا المنطلق، تسعى حملة ترامب إلى التركيز على هفوات المرشّح الديموقراطي، إضافة إلى مهاجمته على اعتبار أنه «ناعمٌ» مع الصين، مشكّكين في صحّته العقلية، ومشيرين إلى أنه سيصبح رهينة يسار حزبه، إذا ما تمكّن من الوصول إلى البيت الأبيض.

كذلك، أفادت صحيفة «واشنطن بوست» بأنّ ترامب وفريق حملته يتجادلون حول كيفية إحياء جهود إعادة انتخابه الهشّة. وفي هذا الإطار، أشارت الصحيفة إلى أنّ عدداً من مستشاري الرئيس وحلفائه يدفعون بشكل خاص إلى إحداث تغييرات في حملته، بما فيها تغييرٌ كبير في الموظفين، وذلك بينما يسعون إلى إقناع ترامب بأن يكون أكثر انضباطاً في رسائله وسلوكه.

http://program.almanar.com.lb/episode/120496

Race, Economy and Viruses

Source

June 28, 2020

Race, Economy and Viruses

By Jimmy Moglia for the Saker Blog

Whatever busies the mind without corrupting it has at least this use, that it rescues the day from idleness, and he that is never idle will not often be vicious.

The previous unnecessary remark is intended as a pre-emptive application for absolution from the reader whose views expressed hereafter may not mirror his. We live in explosive times and some believe that diseases desperate grown should by desperate measures be relieved or not at all. Furthermore, historically, some of the deadliest conflicts centered on metaphysical disputes. And some of the current arguments may border, if not with metaphysics, at least with what is invisible to most of us.

An alleged pandemic affects, has affected and/or may continue to affect the world, from the most populous and largest countries to the remotest and tiniest, such as, for example, the Faroer Islands or St. Helena.

Not an exaggeration. A few weeks ago a plane flew from England to St. Helena, to drop a load of masks and swabs for her 4000 inhabitants. Who may be somewhat perplexed at how and when a virus (many millions of which are needed to make up an inch) could purposely drift or float or fly and reach unaided a faraway island in the middle of the South Atlantic. A proposition that, if not endorsed by theological medicine, would appear extravagantly fanciful and ineffably imaginative.

Overall I think we are living with a curious phenomenon that our calmer reason may style a pan-sociological experiment, involving a perplexing physical virus, now suddenly coexistent with a sudden, endemic and equally perplexing social virus, namely racism. But on this later.

I do not intend to tire the reader with disputes about the validity, let alone the accuracy of statistics on infections, deaths and survivors of the coronavirus. Suffice to say that the collective perception would probably change, if the grim and harsh statistics of death included the average age of the deceased, namely 80 years.

To be clear, this number only reflects what I could obtain from official statistics related to a country I followed (Italy). Though there is plausibly reliable and apparently consistent similar information regarding other countries.

It is uncontested, however, that mass information outlets have, since the inception of the pandemic, aimed heavily at inducing panic, hysteria and consternation among their audience.

Italy was the first country in the headlines as the European target of the virus, with the highest number of related deaths. In the city of Bergamo military trucks were repeatedly shown on TV carrying coffins away from the hospital as the local facilities were overwhelmed.

It now appears that the main hospital of the city became the collection point of all dead bodies from the surrounding districts, that funeral homes shut down due to panic, and that the hospital had minimal facilities for cremation. Added to this, the famous ventilators, early deemed instruments of salvation, actually contributed to the demise of the patient, for reasons that the interested reader can easily find online.

And one of the most eminent among the eminent specialists in infectious diseases said recently that the statistics provided by the media were/are “like the numbers of a lottery” and that, due to expediency or collective mesmerism many hospital deaths were summarily attributed to the coronavirus. A point broadly confirmed by the director of the main hospital of Milan.

All this proves that seemingly unquestionable medical authority can drive millions into the pale of questionable beliefs. And it is patently undeniable that medicine has since long contracted a dubious and unorthodox alliance with power, implicitly accepting the idolatrous monotheism of the market as the only allowed religion.

Not an exaggeration. Even the Pope has adopted the language of immunization and metaphysical vaccination. Here is one of his very recent tweets,

“The Lord knows that evil and sins are not our identity; they are illnesses, infectious diseases and He comes to cure them with the Eucharist, which contains antibodies for our memory sick of negativity. With Jesus we can immunize ourselves from sadness.”

Sometimes words say more than they appear to mean. Here they represent the latest of several instances, showing how the Church has surrendered to the new scientific and medical theology. A theology that, in the times of the coronavirus, has become a new doctrine, both therapeutically and politically correct.

Considering also that the Pope, against the will of the Episcopal Conference, has quietly accepted, in the name of the emergency, all the restrictive measures concerning the Catholic Mass and most other rites.

He says that Catholics must ‘obey’ the government – which, in the instance, means the suspension of the freedom of religion. There is/was online the video of a rebellious priest in Italy celebrating the Mass, with irrupting policemen halting the ceremony and taking him away.

Furthermore, ‘obeying’ is a revealing word, showing how the Church has essentially bowed to the relativistic nihilism of the victorious market civilization.

Bergoglio metabolizes the lexicon of medical theology, the syntax of a therapeutically correct world and the language of a new scientific theology. Today Capital accepts Christianity only if it becomes a religion of individual concern, a privatized cult practiced in one’s own private sphere. Or it is tolerated in the public domain if it renounces transcendence and becomes a simple secular agency for the administration of the world order.

Bergoglio’s words are interesting, for they reveal the metabolization by the Church of a new and therapeutically correct language. Sins become diseases and infections, the Eucharist becomes the equivalent of rescuing antibodies, and Jesus Christ becomes the great vaccine – a transfiguration of dubious taste, converting the Christian into a medical discourse.

A medical discourse supported, sponsored and promoted by power. But power does not believe the fables it spreads and defends. For it owns the instruments of fear and denies those of knowledge through an infernal noise inescapable by its victims and even by its perpetrators.

That the coronavirus has raised the prospect of a pecuniary bonanza for a few and of calamities for many others needs no demonstration. The few are those who will gain and are already gaining from the prospect of one or more coronavirus vaccines. The others are those, for example, who lost a job, a business or their livelihood.

Still, the fierce debates and confrontations among authorities in virology and related sciences may also prompt us to examine the very meaning of knowledge, somehow forgotten in the current disputes and diatribes among experts.

Knowledge is essentially the awareness of its boundaries. The phases of development in modern science reflect and correspond to the capability of questioning its limits. Whereas, during the primitive phases of human development man thought that magic explained the world, and that by explaining it he could control it.

The phenomenon is not new, though it appears in different disguises. Just think of the many officially approved and heavily promoted drugs, scientifically branded as salvific medicines and shown in proof but deadly poisons. The coronavirus pandemic has only raised the stakes to a new and higher level.

The sum of the preternaturally disturbing events that have accompanied the “pandemic” of the Covid/19, during this first half of 2020, must cause us to reflect on the origins, the unfolding and the end goal of this veritable “pandemonium.” In which, under the pretext of the physical health of man (that replaced the health of his mind and/or soul), we witnessed a real coup d’etat on a world scale, to establish an absolutist and totalitarian tyranny under therapeutic/eugenic disguises.

This coup attacks the very nature of man by limiting his freedom, which is his essential mark, and without which he ceases to be himself, as in Aristotle’s definition of a ‘rational and free creature.’ And by isolating him the coup renders man a-social, again quoting Aristotle’s words.

It represents the beginning of that New World Order that recently has been more openly spoken-of. For, with the compulsory delivery of vaccines and pandemic-monitoring APPs, the New World Order will remotely control, direct and dominate not only the public, but also the private life of humanity.

The 1968’s Cultural-Marxist upheaval had already revolutionized man’s mental interiority, especially the soul of the young, through drugs, psychedelic music and the Freudian unfettered freedom of passions. Yet they were phenomena still external to man, whom intelligence and free-will could save or preserve – at least those who did not buy into the tenets of the Frankfurt School.

The new world order, instead, wants to install into our body, brain and/or DNA sundry technological transmitters and markers that will force man to do what the Kalergian Owners of the World want him to do. All under the guise and objective of maintaining his bodily health.

The plan is diabolic and well planned. After all, already in 2012, Jacques Attali, hyper-Zionist and mentor of Manuel Macron of France said that, “A little pandemic will enable to install a World Government.” We now directly witness its progress, starting at the end of 2019 and especially with the beginning of 2020. Until a few months ago, nobody would have believed it.

From what I could gather, there are actually two competing factions in the rush to implement the Judaic-Masonic Globalist charter. One is the radical wing, trans-national and trans-religious. Names associated with the faction are Soros, Rothschild, Rockefeller, Gates, (the ‘Deep State’), and Pope Bergoglio (the ‘Deep Church’). This faction supports China, which is ultraliberal in economics and communist in politics.

The other faction is public, somewhat esoteric, political, national, parliamentary, democratic and moderate in a modern sense. It includes Trump, perhaps even Putin, and would support the North American nation, allied with Russia, in an anti-Chinese function.

Patently missing is a counter-revolutionary force, anti-Zionist and anti-masonic. This responsibility once fell on the Catholic hierarchy, now completely adrift, socially and theologically, after the second Vatican Council.

Ex US nuncio Cardinal Vigano’, – who represents the hub of the Catholic anti-Bergoglio opposition – recently wrote an open letter to Trump, from which I quote,

“In recent months we have been witnessing the formation of two opposing sides that I would call Biblical: the children of light and the children of darkness. The children of light constitute the most conspicuous part of humanity, while the children of darkness represent an absolute minority. And yet the former are the object of a sort of discrimination, which places them in a situation of moral inferiority with respect to their adversaries, who often hold strategic positions in government, in politics, in the economy and in the media. In an apparently inexplicable way, the good are held hostage by the wicked and by those who help them either out of self-interest or fearfulness.

These two sides, which have a Biblical nature, follow the clear separation between the offspring of the Woman and the offspring of the Serpent. On the one hand there are those who, although they have a thousand defects and weaknesses, are motivated by the desire to do good, to be honest, to raise a family, to engage in work, to give prosperity to their homeland, to help the needy, and, in obedience to the Law of God, to merit the Kingdom of Heaven. On the other hand, there are those who serve themselves, who do not hold any moral principles, who want to demolish the family and the nation, exploit workers to make themselves unduly wealthy, foment internal divisions and wars, and accumulate power and money: for them the fallacious illusion of temporal well-being will one day – if they do not repent – yield to the terrible fate that awaits them, far from God, in eternal damnation.

In society, Mr. President, these two opposing realities co-exist as eternal enemies, just as God and Satan are eternal enemies. And it appears that the children of darkness – whom we may easily identify with the deep state which you wisely oppose and which is fiercely waging war against you in these days – have decided to show their cards, so to speak, by now revealing their plans. They seem to be so certain of having already everything under control that they have laid aside the circumspection that until now had at least partially concealed their true intentions. The investigations already under way will reveal the true responsibility of those who managed the Covid emergency not only in the area of health care but also in politics, the economy, and the media. We will probably find that in this colossal operation of social engineering there are people who have decided the fate of humanity, arrogating to themselves the right to act against the will of citizens and their representatives in the governments of nations.

We will also discover that the riots in these days were provoked by those who, seeing that the virus is inevitably fading and that the social alarm of the pandemic is waning, necessarily have had to provoke civil disturbances, because they would be followed by repression, which, although legitimate, could be condemned as an unjustified aggression against the population. The same thing is also happening in Europe, in perfect synchrony.

…. it will not be surprising if, in a few months, we learn once again that hidden behind these acts of vandalism and violence there are those who hope to profit from the dissolution of the social order so as to build a world without freedom.

… Although it may seem disconcerting, the opposing alignments I have described are also found in religious circles. There are faithful Shepherds who care for the flock of Christ, but there are also mercenary infidels who seek to scatter the flock and hand the sheep over to be devoured by ravenous wolves. It is not surprising that these mercenaries are allies of the children of darkness and hate the children of light: just as there is a deep state, there is also a deep church that betrays its duties and forswears its proper commitments before God.”

end of quote

The reader may guess who are the “children of darkness holding strategic positions in government, in politics, in the economy and in the media,” the “offspring of the serpent,” the “ravenous wolves,” “those who serve themselves and do not hold any moral principles who have decided the fate of humanity,” and “those who hope to profit from the dissolution of the social order so as to build a world without freedom.”

The historian who will review with an impartial eye the events of Winter, Spring and Summer of 2020, may wonder in awe at the almost seamless transition and smooth blending between the viral pandemic – possibly questionable, at least in the eye of some – and the definitely questionable pandemic of destruction prompted by alleged racism. Even a Cardinal of the Catholic opposition sees a connection between the two phenomena. Which may prompt a reflection by those who brand interpretations of events not sanctioned by authorities as conspiracy theories or phantoms in the clouds.

The coronavirus has equally produced a worldwide economic pandemic, caused by measures that placed entire nations under house arrest. It has been (is) a global social earthquake aimed at destroying the middle class. For even in this we may note a continuity with the dominant lines of globalization, now advanced and accelerated thanks to the coronavirus.

We are dealing with an authoritarian turn that guarantees to the dominant class dominion without consent. A move that also accelerates the fusion of the shrinking middle class with the proletariat, into one amorphous social body, with limited rights and limited options for redress.

But even in these conditions, the signs of solicitude and of a struggle to escape are never completely absent. This new social body, however timidly and tentatively, is becoming aware of the global trick it has been the victim of – given also the hyperbolic inequality, the billionaires who idly prosper in the eye of wealth and the millions who struggle with distress in the elusive search for a decent life, or at least for some degree of economic safety.

This awareness would or could turn into a proper class struggle against the novel therapeutic and authoritarian capitalism – a capitalism that uses the coronavirus to create a new political model based on unquestionable and repressive authority.

The owners of the world are not exempt of fear. Fear produces vigilance and vigilance prudence. For revolts and revolutions are like a snow-ball on a deep slope. It is difficult to get it started, but when it does it cannot any longer be controlled.

To prevent being victims of an avalanche, the owners of the world have started and re-directed it. The controllers of the discourse, the administrators of the superstructures and the managers of consensus have launched and resorted to the well-tested, ever-ready and useful issue of racism.

And here the paradoxes pile on top of each other. The new ’anti-racists’ are the same that, as of yesterday, were the most racists (capitalist-wise) ever since man began to buy, sell and exploit.

And here is another paradox. This is what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – a US Congress representative and by ethnicity a natural member of the revolting minority – wrote in a recent tweet: “It’s critical that governors keep restrictions on businesses until after the November election, because the economic recovery will help re-elect Trump. Some closures or job losses are a small price to pay to be free from his presidency.”

“A small price to pay?” BS is a more decent rather than a less but more spontaneous response. It shows how those who most vocally claim that “black lives matter” couldn’t give a damn about the actual lives of blacks (and, by inference, of all the people that don’t count).

The Ocasio-Cortez(es) of this world are the voice of those who, overseas, do not hesitate to starve entire peoples to change regimes they don’t like. Power does not believe the fables it spreads and defends. For it owns the instruments of fear and denies those of knowledge via censorship applied to all popular means of communication. Indeed, the tweet fully exposes the gears of the media trick-machine and the undeclared intentions on which the pandemic narratives were built.

But the trick is/was useful and effective. Move the target of the struggle from the real problem – caused by the economic pandemic and by sanitary capitalism – to the problem of racism. Get the blacks to hate the white, particularly the less affluent or poor, so as to convert the class into a phony race struggle. In the end and in the current circumstances, racism is a permanent alibi for mass distraction from the class struggle.

Besides, most of us also would agree that racism is a convenient label for hiding true, serious problems left untouched and unspoken. Nor I intend to task any further the reader’s patience. But just to give some perspective and using the most recently available US statistics, in 2018 the number of crimes committed by black on whites were 547,948. The number of crimes by whites on blacks 59,778.

Can we explain all this concentrated defiance of logic, of numbers and of common sense? Probably not. For ours is the age of endless growth and triumphant turbo-capitalism. And though endless growth is physically impossible, the owners of the world disagree. Which means that turbo-capitalism represents the metaphysics of limitlessness, the idolatrous monotheism of the market, and the theology of the market economy as the only allowed religion.

But this extreme capitalism, unlike its previous externations, does not need stability. In order to survive and grow it needs rather a state of continuous crisis. Which, as it burns a bit of wealth to fuel the engine of speculation, it also prevents the coalescence of social forces to fight against the massacres of rights, of wages and of the future.

As of now, if there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I’d say it’s a train coming towards us. For we are still far away from learning to realign those elements in our human action that are most difficult to align: goodness without universal toleration, courage without fanaticism, intelligence without apathy, and hope without blindness.

Bridging China’s past with humanity’s future – Part 1

June 27, 2020

Bridging China’s past with humanity’s future – Part 1

by Straight-Bat for the Saker Blog

This will be presented in 3 parts and in 3 different blog posts

PART – 1

1. INTRODUCTION

The world is tottering under the omnipresent virus covid19. Since January’2020, economic and sociological parameters went into a tailspin in one after another country across the globe. By end of year 2020, when the corona pandemic would be under control in all the top 25 countries (with GDP PPP more than 1 trillion $ in 2018, as per World Bank estimates), global economic fabric would have been torn apart with unheard of impact on society, few of which are:

  • millions of sick people will need medical care,
  • millions of unemployed people (and continuously growing) will need food and shelter,
  • at least one-third of the medium and large industrial and utility producing units will be financially sick, while close to half of the small scale units permanently closed down,
  • due to decline of overall purchasing power among the citizens, demand of manufactured products will decline dramatically with simultaneous upsurge of demand for medicines,
  • banking system will be under tremendous stress to renegotiate with their clients to reschedule loan repay and/or write-off loans,
  • Governments will be embarrassed with dwindling tax collection, large scale impoverishments which would accompany increasing unrest among common people

Under the above circumstances, what would be the action plan of the global oligarchy who collectively own banking and industrial sectors and who maintain the current unipolar world order through chosen members of the so-called (USA/5Eyes/Israel) Deep State? We need to remember that there exist nothing like ‘national capitalism’ – by virtue of its expansionary characteristic, ‘capitalism’ has always been global in outlook which resulted in ‘world system’ with industrially advanced society forming the ‘core’ and rest of the world forming the ‘periphery’. The global oligarchy has its interest in EVERY nook and corner of the globe. Deep State elites maintain strong economic and political alliances with almost all countries where, ALL significant political parties and large business houses of every hue and colours are joined through invisible covenant to continuously extend their support, and, in return get benefitted from the global oligarchy. (Cuba and North Korea are the exceptions owing to their overtly and fiercely ‘independent’ policy of governance; for past two decades, Russia-China-Iran-Venezuela governments are resisting the global oligarchy and their local partners with gusto.)

The answer to above question is – state policy and implementation of the same would be geared towards accumulation of capital in every country except the above mentioned six countries. Other than getting humongous sums as bailout packages from governments and share buy-back programmes through zero interest loan, the oligarchy (1% of the population) and flunky elites (5% to 15% of the population) has little interest in governance and support to common people in distress.

[ Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/21/american-billionaires-got-434-billion-richer-during-the-pandemic.html ]

A closer look reveals that, among those six ‘resistance camp’ countries, only China has both: landmass and population, that can be termed as ‘resources’ necessary to resist unipolar world order, roll back onward march of global capitalism, and simultaneously build a multipolar world order and more equitable society in close coordination with Russia. So it is natural to expect that China leads socio-economic rejuvenation of the world with full support from Russia. China is also well positioned to harness the strengths of Iran-North Korea-Cube-Venezuela. On behalf of peace-loving people who believe in truth-justice-equality, let me dig deeper into the proposition.

The journey will begin with review of Qing Chinese society as well as economy and industry of Qing era, then discuss the current Communist epoch, and end with future possibilities. Looking back is necessary, because a society which have a significant past would have a remarkable future as well.

2. CHINA IN QING ERA

While mentioning three successive empires: Yuan-Ming-Qing in late medieval and early modern China, it is often forgotten that, Yuan empire was divided into two parts: Ming and Northern Yuan empires, and most of the regions falling under these two empires were brought under control by Qing empire. Even though during the ‘century of humiliation’ starting from 1839 CE Qing empire gradually lost large territories in north-east, north, north-west as well as smaller tracts of land in the south and South China Sea, Qing empire should be given due credit for the following:

  1. Notwithstanding the preferential treatments meted out to the Manchu aristocrats, the Qing emperors transformed the Chinese empire as a multi-ethnic multi-language empire in official policy and procedures (in contrast to Ming era that was truly Han chinese in outlook), thereby creating a fundamental basis of a modern Chinese society. Starting in 1618 through renunciation of Ming overlordship and creating Manchu kingdom by Jurchen/Manchu tribal chief, by 1648 Qing dynasty formed by the Jurchen/Manchu tribal chief extended their control over most part of the erstwhile Ming empire through a military force in which Manchu Bannermen represented below 20% of the manpower while Han Bannermen made up more than 70%. This data amply represented the multi-ethnic character of Qing policies.
  2. The successive Qing emperors maintained warm relationship with all tributary states and protectorates until the onset of the ‘century of humiliation’ in 1839. Commentators and academicians who bring up Westphalian concept while discussing relationship between empires/kingdoms in pre-colonial Asia generally forget that Westphalian sovereignty was a concept that was necessary for and was derived under ‘feudal’ environment of medieval and early modern Europe. Except Japan, statecraft in Asian empires/kingdoms never introduced ‘feudalism’ in medieval and early modern Asia. Hence, the relationship between Qing empire and different categories of vassals had multiple vectors that can’t be seen through the Westphalian lens. Even though Qing empire didn’t lack manpower or military resources that would be necessary to directly rule over the vassals, they were comfortable with the tributary system (based on Confucian ideals) whereby different kingdoms surrounding the Chinese empire would accept Chinese emperor as the predominant authority of that part of the world, and the benevolent Chinese empire would guarantee the opportunity of peaceful trading and commerce across central, east and south-east Asia – this ensured continuation of the two millennium long exchange of goods-services-knowledge-culture between Asia and Europe.
  3. Continuation of the merit-based entry through examination system to the bureaucratic institutions and pre-eminence of Confucian family value system (both were adopted from earlier dynasties) ensured that Qing China stepped into the modern era keeping the fundamental socio-political basis of Chinese society intact. Both of these ancient Chinese practices are valued in all modern societies across world.

By the end of the 18th century, Qing empire commanded an area of around 14 million sq.km with estimated population of around 300 million. Qing society was divided into mainly five categories:

  • Bureaucratic Officials
  • Gentry elite aristocracy
  • Literati, scholar
  • Respectable “Commoner”
    • occupational group of farmers
    • occupational group of artisans
    • occupational group of merchants
  • Debased “Mean” people (slaves, bond-servants, entertainers like prostitutes, tattooed criminals, very low-level employees of government officials)

About 80% of total population were peasants. Landholding peasants were largest labour force with presence of insignificant number of hired (landless) labour. The state also recruited army personnel from rural population.

Agriculture and Land-use:

Agriculture sector was the largest source of employment in Chinese society. With private property rights over land, the farmers had natural incentive to produce more quantity and produce variety of crops. This resulted in increased factor productivity. Land owning peasantry also got benefitted from the state policy that supported hiring of labourers. On the other hand, tax from agriculture made up the largest share of state revenue. So, the landholding peasantry and fiscal-military state both had incentive for territorial expansion. And, the state often resettled farmers in new regions with material (seed and farming tools) and finance (free passage and tax holidays). By the 18th century the Han ‘refugees’ from northern China who were suffering from drought and flood were resettled in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia regions. The Han farmers farmed about 0.5 million hectares of privately owned land by Manchu elites in Manchuria and about 200,000 hectares of lands that were part of noble estates and Banner lands.

There were other innovative actions as well – introduction of maize and sweet potatoes, double cropping, fertilizer such as bean-cakes, re-introduction of early-ripening rice – that helped to increase productivity and conversion of marginal land into regular farm land. A system of monitoring grain prices helped the rulers to eliminate severe shortages, as well as to eliminate hoarding and price shock to the consumers.

The farmers on the basis of a high-yield agriculture produced a constant and sizeable ‘surplus’ that ensured development of market economy in (medieval and) early modern China. Historians estimate that up to one-third of China’s post-tax agricultural output was subject to market exchange. This surplus also became the basis of growth and development of other sectors in the economy.

Trade and Commerce:

For the first time, a large percentage of farming households began producing crops for sale in the local and national markets rather than for their own consumption or barter in the traditional economy. Surplus crops were placed onto the national market for sale, integrating farmers into the commercial economy from the ground up. This naturally led to regions specializing in certain cash-crops for export as China’s economy became increasingly reliant on inter-regional trade of bulk staple goods such as cotton, grain, beans, vegetable oils, forest products, animal products, and fertilizer.

Merchant class functioned within the state-imposed boundary. At the apex of the market structure, the state controlled key commodities like salt, wine, iron and steel etc. Qing state refused new mining rights to private merchants. Foreign trade was controlled by the state, participated by both state and private merchants. So the Chinese merchant class was left with unrestricted platform to engage in commercial transactions at village level (surplus-based market exchange with farmers) and at region level (estimated around 1,000–1,500 such regions in Qing empire). Trade between markets at the village level, region level, and province levels developed into a network covering much of Qing empire. Hence, the merchant class became very wealthy but lacked the strength (as a class) to influence the economy and state politics.

Merchant guilds proliferated in all growing cities in China who sourced manufactured items (by artisans and commoners) like textile, handicraft, ceramics, silk, paper, stationary, cooking utensils. More efficient administration of the Grand Canal created new opportunities for private merchants who could transport goods easily within Qing empire. It has been estimated that in the early nineteenth century, as much as one-third of the world’s total manufactures were produced by China. Though In 1685 the state opened maritime trade for the merchants along the coast by establishing customs offices in port cities like Guangzhou, Xiamen, Ningbo, due to internal political moves such trade arrangement was abandoned. By the time when maritime trade was again made legal, trade with west Europe grew to such an extent that, Canton alone housed more than forty mercantile houses. China primarily imported war horses (for the army), and metals (for currency). China exported silk, ceramics, textiles, metal products (made of iron, copper, bronze etc.), non-metal handicrafts, tea. Trade between China and Europe grew at an average annual rate of 4% between 1719 and 1806. Qing state established the Canton System in 1756 CE that restricted maritime trade to Canton/Guangzhou and gave monopoly trading rights to private Chinese merchants. European merchant ‘companies’ British East India Company and Dutch East India Company had been granted similar monopoly rights by their governments long ago. In the early modern era, demand in Europe for Chinese goods were met through import for which payments were made by silver (sourced by European colonial powers from western hemisphere colonies). Resulting inflow of silver expanded the money supply, facilitating the growth of competitive and stable markets. Thus China had gradually shifted to silver as the standard currency for large scale transactions and by the beginning of 18th century collection of the land tax was done in silver. Since China was self-sufficient in all types of consumer goods, very low import caused imbalance of trade vis-à-vis Europe, which in turn resulted in drain of silver from European powers. British East India Company started importing opium into China. Import of opium into China were paid for by silver – It is estimated that between 1821 and 1840, as much as one-fifth of the silver circulating in China was used to purchase opium. Alarmed with both over the outflow of silver and damage that opium smoking was causing to Chinese people, emperor ordered to end the opium trade, which started the conflicts with European powers in 1839 CE.

Apart from short-term credit systems, offering house and farm land as collateral to raise long-term money was also present. But, community and state interference with such contracts by blocking land transfers from debtors to creditors was one of the significant factors that displacement and dispossession (basis of ‘capitalistic’ primitive accumulation) never took root in China.

Due to ‘equal opportunity’ meritocracy and social mobility, the talented youth were generally drawn towards literati and officialdom (‘Pan’ family of Anhui transformed from one of wealthiest merchant family to powerful family of bureaucrats within two centuries). Merchant class was not considered as sufficiently suave which can attract talented people. They could not rival the influence of large landholding aristocracy notwithstanding localised influence of very rich merchants. Instead, the existence of factor markets for land allowed merchants to join the landholding class.

Some merchants with entrepreneurship zeal migrated to the European colonial outposts like Manila, Macau, Jakarta to avoid empire’s policies which were Confucian (assigning merchants and other commoners same level who deserved equal treatment from the state as a patriarch).

Early Banking:

Copper coins were used for everyday transactions, while silver was used for larger transactions as well as for payment of tax to the government. Apart from monetary conversion the money-changers also provided credit, and rudimentary banking services. Remittance banks evolved during this period that would take cash deposits from merchant in one place and issue remittance certificates, which the merchant could then take elsewhere to pay his supplier. That person would in turn go to bank in his vicinity and exchange the certificate for coins. By the 18th century there was a vast network of such banks which played a stellar role for development of commercial activity in China.

Development of Trade Towns:

Due to the commercialization of the surplus agricultural products as well as booming ‘cottage industry’ (if I may say so), merchants were involved in inter-region and inter-province trades with help of long-distance transportation network. Towns popped up as commercial centres to direct the flow of domestic trade. As more and more people travelled, ‘guild halls’ came up in market-towns for lodging and boarding of those people which included merchants, buyers, and sellers. It has been that about 45,000 market towns developed, some of which became home to some of the merchants.

During mid-17th century guild halls were introduced for more specific purpose – to facilitate craftsmen and artisans of specific sectors like textiles weaving, carpentry, medicine, iron and steel work. Thus those guild halls acted as nucleus of industrial-towns, which further developed into large cities with real estate, water supply, sewerage system etc.

Similarities & Dissimilarities with Western Europe:

In 18th century Qing era, the standards of living in south and east regions of China reached a high level which was comparable with wealthy regions of 19th century Western Europe. As per renowned Historians-cum-Sinologists key factors were ‘(1) the rationality of private property rights-led growth, (2) total factor productivity growth associated with China’s green revolutions from Han to Ming-Qing and the economic revolution under Song dynasty, and (3) China’s export capacity (hence China’s surplus output) and China’s silver imports (hence purchasing power of China’s surplus)’.

Ken Pomeranz showed that the core productive regions in China and West Europe both faced major bottlenecks in the form of land and energy constraints in the 19th century. A combination of domestic and international factors as well as much luck enabled England to overcome these challenges and embark on a capital-intensive path of industrialization. As per Pomeranz, two major factors here were ‘(1) the conveniently located coal reserves, which, being near the core areas helped Britain escape its energy constraints more easily, and (2) Britain’s coercive colonization of the western hemisphere, which served as a source of land-intensive goods such as cotton, sugar and grain, while at the same time providing a market for its manufactured goods. In China, where coal reserves were not as readily available, and a policy of coercive colonization, which could provide it with free land, was absent, ecological constraints led to a turn to labour-intensive agriculture.’

Yet another line of thought considers (1) families of ‘strong, urban, entrepreneurial class capable of concentrating the agrarian surplus to foster a capitalist-industrial’ were absent in China unlike in UK, (2) In both agriculture and cottage industry sectors the Qing emperors’ policy of conflict-containment (between landlord and tenant, between owner and labour) contained appeasing and accommodating attitude towards the tenants and labours (very much unlike the UK where merchants, landlords and entrepreneurs received unconditional support from state) which ultimately were detrimental to accumulation of capital.

Socio-economic indicators:

As per Maddison, percentage share of global GDP and GDP per Capita of China, West Europe, and USA:

YearChinaGDPChinaGDP per CapitaWest EuropeGDPWest Europe GDP per CapitaUSAGDPUSAGDP per Capita
150024.91.115.51.4
182033.00.920.41.91.81.8
19406.40.327.52.520.63.6

As per Allen, and Pomeranz, select socio-economic indicators in early-modern China and England:

CountryAverage Life Expectancy at Birth in mid-18th centuryAverage Calorie Intake/male/dayin 19th centuryLand Productivity 1806 to 1820 CE (Pound/Acre)Labour Productivity 1806 to 1820 CE (Pence/Day)
China35 to 39About 260026.151.3
England31 to 342000 to 35003.360.9

Significant observations on Qing China:

1. Even though Chinese society maintained a robust lead over rest of the world in science and technology (as conclusively shown by Joseph Needham) including metallurgy, porcelain, gunpowder, compass, silk, paper, block printing, water turbine, herbal medicines and many other areas, China was slow to catch up with the technology behind (a) industrial machinery, (b) transportation systems, (c) military arms developed in West Europe since mid-18th century

2. By end-18th century when territorial expansion stopped, population continued a healthy growth. Due to prevailing equal-inheritance practice, farm-owners started facing the problem of a shrinking farm that resulted in decreasing prosperity among farmer class, which finally reflected in less than expected tax realisation by the Chinese state. Combination of key factors like (a) the organised hooliganism and colonialism of European trading companies, (b) internal discontent and rebellion among the common people, and (c) territorial competition with Russian and Japanese empire, proved fatal after 1840 CE

3. With a thriving agriculture and a splendid cottage industry that catered domestic demands China mostly needed war horses and metals to be imported. This was in direct contrast to West European states who needed consumer goods to be imported from China but couldn’t offer goods to be exported to maintain somewhat balance in trade, so they brought in opium. Qing administration should have analysed this problematic trading relation beforehand to take necessary actions to forestall such developments

4. The debate among a large number of Historians and Sinologists about ‘why China couldn’t develop capitalism before West Europe’ continues till date. The fact of the matter is that, the social-economic-political checks and balances that existed in China since 1st millennium BCE (largely due to pervasive Confucian thought in Mandarin Chinese mainland as well as Buddhist thought in Mongolian-Tibetan dominated regions) were diametrically opposite to concept of the so-called ‘animal spirit’ of zionist capitalism. The wealthy landlord and merchant class in China could never pursue profit and endless accumulation of capital by controlling state super-structure. However, the hard-working and merit-based dynamic society of China allowed commercialization, trading, proto-industrialization, and urbanization in a big way since medieval Song era.

3. CHINA IN MAO ERA

Since mid-19th century, one-after-another onslaught by the west European colonialist powers, and Russian-Japanese empires devastated China: first the Qing empire up to 1911, then the Nationalist China up to 1945. Overcoming the ‘century of humiliation’, through armed struggle and huge loss of life, the Chinese Communist Party seized state power in mainland China in 1949. Mao Zedong lost his wife, a son, two brothers, and sister, Zhou Enlai lost all his children, while Zhu De found decapitated head of his pregnant wife nailed to the city gate. At the time, China was a backward agrarian economy with widespread poverty, lawlessness and illiteracy; of its five hundred million people, eight in every ten people were illiterate, one in every eight people was drug addict. It was a time when peasants had to give away two-thirds of their produce in rent/tax, and people sold themselves to avoid starvation.

One can only look back at 1949 China with bewildering awe about how the Peoples’ Liberation Army completed their task of liberation under Mao and his comrades, which culminated with CPC’s emphatic take-over of state power. No other revolutionary leader, anywhere in the world till date, could mobilise such vast number of his countrymen through such enormous hardships for decades. Initial acts were swift and effective. The banking system was nationalized and People’s Bank of China became the central bank for the country. The government tightened credit, established value of the currency, implemented centrally controlled government budgets – all of these ensured that inflation was under strict control. CPC undertook a land reform programme through which 45% of the arable land were redistributed to the 65% of peasant families who owned little or no land. These peasants were encouraged to form sort of mutual aid teams among 7-8 households. CPC also nationalised most of the industrial units as soon as they came to power. By 1952, 17% of the industrial units were outside state-owned enterprises compared to about 65% during Kuo Mindang government.

The First Five-Year Plan (1953–57) followed the Soviet Union model which assigned primacy to development of heavy industry. Government of China controlled about 67% as directly state-owned enterprise and 33% as joint state-private enterprise. There was no more privately owned company. Key sectors like Coal and Iron ore mining, Electricity generation, Heavy Machinery manufacturing, Iron and Steel manufacturing, Cement manufacturing etc. were modernised by construction of hundreds of new factories with help from engineers sent by Soviet Union. Growth of industrial production increased at average rate of 19% per year during this period. During this period, more than 90% of cottage/handicraft industries were organized into cooperatives.

The agricultural sector however didn’t perform as per expectation and only clocked average growth rate of 4% per year. From loosely constructed ‘mutual aid teams’, peasants were encouraged to form ‘cooperatives’, in which individual families still received some income on the basis of their contribution of land. In the next stage, ‘collectives’ were formed on which income was based only on the amount of labour contributed by each family. In addition, each family was allowed to retain a small plot to grow vegetables and fruit for their personal consumption. By 1957 the collectivization process covered 93% of all farm households.

Second Five-Year Plan (1958–62) was abandoned. The leadership introduced new set of policies, and decided to engage entire population to produce a “great leap” in production for all sectors of the economy at once. 3-tier Communes were built to spearhead quantum jump in agricultural produce – at the top level commune central administration, at the next level 20 or more production brigades represented by the old ‘collectives’, and the last tier production team that consisted of about 30 families of village. They attempted to build vast irrigation network by employing unemployed and underemployed farmers – final objective was to increase the agricultural output and employment. Similarly, surplus rural labour was also employed in thousands of small-scale, low-technology, industrial projects in rural areas – final objective was enhancement in industrial and agricultural output and employment. Such small scale industry (including steel making furnaces) were also run by communes. The communes proved to be too bulky to carry out administrative functions efficiently. As a result of economic mismanagement, and unfavourable weather for two years, food production in 1960 and 1961 plunged. As a result, China faced a famine – in 1960 the death rate was 2.54% compared to average death rate of 1.14% registered during 1957 and 1958.

In 1958 industrial growth was 55%, in 1961 it was 38%. By 1962 overall economic collapse propelled the leadership to devise a new set of economic policies. Agricultural taxes were reduced, supplies of chemical fertilizer increased, agricultural machinery were made available, procurement prices for agricultural products were raised, the role of the commune central administration was significantly reduced, and private farming plots were restored. In industry, planning was again emphasized, import of technologically advanced foreign machinery started, hydro-electric power plants were setup, old plants were refurbished, chemical fertilizer plants and agro-machinery plants were setup in large numbers. Between 1961 and 1966, average annual growth of industrial output surpassed 10% while agricultural output grew at an average rate more than 9% a year.

The Cultural Revolution, a political upheaval whereby Mao re-established control over the party by pushing aside the right-of-centre and left-of-centre factions of CPC. It didn’t produce major changes in official economic policies or the basic economic model. Nonetheless, the disturbances affected urban society which impacted about 14% decline in industrial production in 1967. By 1969 industrial sector returned to a normal growth rate. Fourth Five-Year Plan (1971-1975) saw resumption of systematic economic growth especially in industrial sector (with new plants setup for Petroleum Exploration and Refinery, Fertilizer, Steel, building materials, Chemicals etc.). Petroleum and Coal were exported since the beginning of 1970s. With industrial sector average rate of 8% and agricultural sector average rate of 3.8% it was clear that, contrary to popular image Mao era targeted industrial growth as the top priority.

CPC leadership re-evaluated the economic state of affairs and Zhou Enlai presented a report to the Fourth National People’s Congress in Jan’1975. He formulated the famous ‘Four Modernizations’ policy targeting agriculture, industry, defence, science and technology. By 1976, when both Mao and Zhou departed, foundation for a strong self-reliant country had been built, and mainland China had (1) a very large, and healthy labour force having basic education, (2) a huge battery of state-owned industrial enterprises across sectors, (3) infrastructure, power, communication required for further economic growth, (4) an economy burdened by extremely low external debt (2.99% of gross national income as of 1981).

Socio-economic indicators:

Except three interludes – Great Leap Forward (1958–60), Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–69), and post-Mao political struggle (1976–78) – different sectors of the Chinese economy (agriculture, mining, manufacturing) experienced healthy growth, albeit with quite difficulty aroused out of frequent policy changes. Economists estimate that during the period 1952–1978, China’s real GDP per capita grew at a robust 4% average annual rate, the industrial share of GDP rose from 20.9% in 1952 to 47.9% in 1978 (as per Chinese National Bureau of Statistics), industrial labour productivity grew by 236.7% and agricultural labour productivity growth was only 25.5% over the same period, the fraction of the labour force in agriculture declined from 83% to 75% with the value added produced in agriculture declined from 78% in 1953 to 30% in 1977, household consumption grew by only 2.3% annually, retail prices for consumer goods grew at an average rate of 0.6% a year. Life expectancy at birth improved from 43.5 years in 1960 to 66.5 years in 1978, according to World Bank data.

YearGDP Nominal(Billion USD)GDP per Capita(USD)Population(Billion)
195230.55540.569
196059.72890.667
197092.601130.818
1977174.941850.943

Significant observations on Mao China:

1. Treading on the same path taken by Soviet Union, 1949 onwards China went on to implement a mode of production which was essentially ‘state capitalism’. Soviet Union as a state was the owner of the means of production and ‘commodity’ (which by definition is integrated with exchange-value i.e. ‘price’ in the ‘market’) that were produced. Following similar model, China created a new economy that also revolved around commodity production by state-owned enterprises, agricultural output production by state-owned communes and accumulation of capital by the state (through extraction of surplus from the rural agriculture and light industry). In Soviet Union and China, the ideologues termed it ‘socialist commodity’, however, socialism’ can’t theoretically accommodate production of ‘commodity’ that inherently refers to ‘market’.

In fact as Marxism suggests, the concepts of ‘commodity’, ‘market’, ‘capital’ and ‘surplus capital’ are intricately joined with ‘ownership’ of means of production. Marx and Engels were clear that these concepts don’t have place in socialist/communist society. It is not true that ownership pertains to only ‘private’ citizens, even ‘state’ can own assets to be used as ‘capital’ and the profits out of business gets appropriated by the state authority and close followers.  Undoubtedly, Stalin and Mao being the most committed followers of philosophy and ideology of Marx-Engels-Lenin, were well aware of the final destination of the Marxist journey. Why then both of them set out to accumulate capital in the state treasuries? We will come back to this question again in the last part of this hypothesis in section 5.

2. The central planning system initially adopted from Soviet Union, was the punching bag for CPC leaders whenever they reviewed the planned-vs.-achieved results and found variance (actual results were less than planned). The centralised economic planning as a concept was correct – there were shortcomings in the execution process. Firstly, sector-wise prioritization should have been done that reflects the reality in the society – Chinese society being overwhelmingly agrarian, the 1st Five Year Plan should have assigned primary importance to agriculture and next level of importance to light industry, heavy machinery being at the last layer of importance. Secondly, centralised economic planning needs accurate and complete set of data – China being a vast country with wide regional differences in weather, natural resources, social norms, demography, occupation, infrastructure etc., compilation of complete and correct and data for planning process 70 years back was much more complex than we can imagine today. Thirdly, in reality the central planning was a top-down process albeit with participation of all concerned ministries and departments. In a large country like China, bottom-up would have been a better approach.

3. Government introduced hukou system (originated in medieval China) in 1958 through which all rural households got registered through which the family members will get entitlement for housing, education, medical care in the place of their registered birthplace. In a way government controlled migration of rural population towards urban and semi-urban regions. Intellectuals who value human rights as inalienable natural right, termed this system as draconian. However, such arrangements were highly effective in controlling large-scale migration of unemployed rural people to urban areas causing socio-economic problem in both rural and urban areas.

4. The revolutionary spirit of Mao knew no bounds. Undoubtedly, he was right in emphasizing that, (a) not only economic sphere needs transformation from capitalism to socialism, but cultural sphere of society equally calls for such transformation, (b) the proletarian revolution has a long way to go. Time and again he became impatient with policies that were developed by him and his team earlier. Possibly Mao was oblivious of the fact that, frequent changes in political and economic policy would leave a trail of inefficiency, maybe he was not. During the second half of 1950s, the decisive rejection of Stalin’s achievements by CPSU, dampening of Leninist ideals, and withdrawal of all kinds of Soviet support from China made Mao deeply perceptive of the overall challenges on the way to build socialism in a country– this alone can explain Mao’s vacillation in policy issues and in-depth deliberations on socio-cultural aspects of socialist revolution (a territory, which was much less travelled by Lenin and Stalin). Thus Mao delved into too many intangible factors (apart from political economy) that would influence the final outcome of a complete communist transformation of any society.

4. CHINA IN DENG ERA

After a brief struggle for leadership, Deng Xiaoping took control of CPC in 1978. At the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the CPC held in December’1978 in Beijing, the majority party leaders decided to undertake reform and opening up of economy. They repudiated the Cultural Revolution of Mao era. The reform, as Deng proposed, would develop productive forces through increasing role of market mechanisms and reducing role of government planning.

Agricultural production was stimulated by an increase of over 22% in the procurement prices paid to the peasants for farm produces. The commune system was decollectivized but the state still owned the land and household responsibility system was introduced in agriculture starting in 1979 – individual farming families would get ‘right to use’ on plots of land (divided from old ‘communes’) from government, earn profit by selling their products on the market in lieu of delivering a small contractual amount of produce to the state as taxes. This arrangement increased productivity through the profit incentives for the farmers, and about 98% of farm households were brought under this system by 1984. In 1985, by employing 63% of the country’s labour force the agricultural sector achieved 33% of the GNP, agricultural production got increased by about 25%. Among agricultural produces grains like rice, wheat, corn, barley, millet, cash crops like oil seeds, sugarcane, cotton, jute, fruits, vegetables, poultry and pigs were primarily produced by peasant families. Though efficiency of agriculture sector improved a lot with all arable plots producing at least one crop per year, and under favourable conditions two or three crops a year, fundamental problems remained as before – small farm size, and inadequate agriculture equipment.

Apart from a significant category of small handicraft/cottage industry, light industries formed second category while large industry category included Power plants, Petroleum Refineries, Petrochemicals, Chemicals, Fertilizers, Textile, Steel, Cement, and Automobile. Reforms targeted in urban industrial regions. In industrial sectors, state-owned industries received permission to sell production above the ‘plan quota’ at market at prevailing market prices, as well as received affirmation to experiment with the bonuses to reward higher productivity among employees. Industrial Responsibility System introduced in mid-1980s allowed individuals or groups to manage the state-owned enterprise by entering into contract with government. Private businesses (which almost disappeared after the Cultural Revolution) were allowed to operate and price flexibility was introduced, and gradually private ownership enterprises began to make up a greater percentage of industrial output. Bringing in modern business enterprise management process, government allowed managers to gain control over their business operation including recruitment and layoff (with approval from bureaucrats and CPC). Industrial sector generated around 46% of GNP in 1985 by employing only about 17% of the total labour force in China. Enterprises further got incentive when in 1985 the policy of retaining the net profit (after payment of tax-on-profit to government) within the enterprise was made across China. On banking and financing also there were policy changes – bank loans were made available to the enterprises at a very low interest which would have to be paid back to banks. Budgetary support by government was reduced. For industries, foreign trade procedures were made much easier; (soon special economic zones would be launched to be in the forefront of the boom in foreign trade). The effect of profit-driven competitive environment on working class people was that, many enterprises slowly replaced permanent employment with short-term contractual job as well as eliminated welfare packages for workers – this impacted industrial workers’ living standard and social security negatively.

Perhaps the most sweeping policy decision taken by Deng related to the open door policy for foreign investment. Starting in January’1979, Chinese government created initial 5 special economic zones (SEZ) in Shantou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai (all in Guangdong province), Xiamen (in Fujian province), and Hainan province where many additional infrastructure, fiscal incentives, and freedom from too many bureaucratic regulations were provided to foreign investors for setting up industry. Primarily geared to exporting goods, the five SEZs housed foreign joint ventures with Chinese companies as well as fully owned foreign companies. In 1984, China opened 14 coastal cities to MNC investment: Dalian (Liaoning province), Qinhuangdao (Hebei province), Tianjin, Yantai, Qingdao (both in Shandong province), Lianyungang, Nantong (both in Jiangsu province), Shanghai, Ningbo, Wenzhou (both in Zhejiang province), Fuzhou (Fujian province), Guangzhou, Zhanjiang (both in Guangdong province), and Beihai (in Guangxi province). Beginning in 1985, new economic zones were established in Liaodong peninsula, Hebei province, Shandong peninsula, Yangtze river delta, Pearl river delta, Xiamen-Zhangzhou-Quanzhou in southern Fujian province, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. In the post-Deng era, these regions became high-power engines of economic growth and technological breakthroughs for the Chinese economy.

The open door policy changed the landscape of foreign trade in China. Before the reforms, combined exports-imports in 1969 was 15% of GDP; with reforms in 1984 it became about 20% and in 1986 it reached 35% of GNP. Textiles, Petroleum, and foodstuff were main export goods while machinery, transport equipment, and chemicals were key import items. By 1986, Japan became the dominant trading partner accounting for 28.9% of imports and 15.2% of exports. During the same time, USA appeared on the horizon as the third largest overall trade partner, next only to Hong Kong which accounted for 13% of imports and 31.6% of exports. Under Deng, the SEZ and foreign trade became significant tools for both foreign direct investment (FDI) and modern technology. Most interesting part of China’s industrial drive was ‘technology transfer’. While historically China was always on the forefront of applied science and technology, as the 18th century was drawing to a close China was slowing down in the technology race compared to west Europe – hence Deng made it a point that following the ‘four modernisation’ programme China should rapidly close the technology gap by upgrading old mining and manufacturing plants as well as installing plants with sophistication.

Apart from huge coal reserves, China had substantial reserves of natural gas. With many rivers running across the country, hydroelectric potential was among the largest in the world. Large number of coal-fired thermal power plants and large hydroelectric projects were undertaken by the government to generate electric energy necessary for a thriving industrial economy.

Undoubtedly Deng’s overall reform programme accomplished very impressive success, but it also gave rise to several serious socio-economic problems – rise of factions attached to neoliberal free-market political economy within CPC, managerial autonomy in state owned and private owned enterprises, rampant corruption, economic crime, widening income disparities, uncontrolled inflation, and large scale moral deterioration. These concerns created huge storm within CPC and party general secretary Hu Yaobang was forced to resign in 1987. The left-of-centre faction of CPC stalled some of the reform programmes. Student leaders mainly based in Beijing and Shanghai who were fascinated by the neoliberal free-market ideology, pointed out to such socio-economic issues in the then Chinese society and built a movement (supported by the Zionist Capitalist Deep State) that aimed at toppling the CPC rule. The People’s Liberation Army was mobilised to break seize by protesting students at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in June’1989.

In November and December of 1990 Deng reopened the Shanghai Stock Exchange and established the Shenzhen Stock Exchange respectively. Party Congress in 1992 echoed Deng’s views while stating that China’s key task ahead would be to create a ‘socialist market economy’. And, in 1992 Deng undertook ‘southern tour’ during which he underscored the need to continue reforms to open up the economy. Through these actions Deng re-established control over the party (which was weakened in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square protests) by pushing aside the far-left and left-of-centre factions of CPC. Deng made Jiang Zemin the CCP’s new top leader. A new round of market reforms was initiated. Private enterprises and enterprises owned by the local governments took advantage of easy loans from state-owned banks to expand their business. This again caused inflation and fiscal deficit during 1993. New policy of floating exchange rate and convertibility for renminbi caused about 33% devaluation of renminbi. Foreign Direct Investment was further encouraged and capital inflows to China poured. Economy cooled down after enterprises owned by local governments transferred a larger portion of revenue to the central government, and bank credits were tightened. Exports surged due to devaluation. In 1996, the economy grew at around 9.5% accompanied by low inflation.

Working on the free trade and economic zone policy after 1990, the government opened the Pudong New Area in Shanghai and cities in Yangtze river delta to overseas investment. Since 1992 the government opened more border cities and capital cities of provinces and autonomous regions.

The total number of industrial enterprises rose from 377,300 in 1980 to nearly 8 million in 1990. During the Deng era, higher levels of inflation appeared with reduced government controls – in 1980 consumer prices rose by 7.5% while in 1985 the increase was 11.9% going down to 7.6% in 1986. In 1995 China exported 24.7 billion USD to USA and 149 billion USD to rest of the world. In 1997, the year when Deng departed, share of private consumption in GDP was only around 43% while share of exports in GDP was around 22%.

Changing socio-economic indicators:

Economists John Whalley and Xiliang Zhao estimated the impressive performance of Chinese economy (using Barro-Lee approach) between 1978 and 1999:

  • Output growth rate – 9.72%
  • Growth rate in Input
    • physical capital – 7.30%
    • labour – 2.03%
    • human capital (represented by average years of schooling) – 2.81%
  • Growth rate in Total Factor Productivity (TFP) – 3.64%
  • Contribution to GDP growth
    • physical capital – 36.35%
    • labour – 10.78%
    • human capital – 14.95%
    • TFP – 37.93%
YearGDP Nominal(Billion USD)GDP per Capita(USD)Population(Billion)
1980306.173120.98
1990394.573481.135
1997961.607821.23

Significant observations on Deng China:

1. The 14th National Communist Party Congress held in the year 1992 not only backed Deng’s continuous push for market reforms but they thought that China was on the way to create a ‘socialist market economy’. This was the official expression of CPC to document their push for reform using market forces. I doubt, if such terminology existed in pre-Deng China or in pre-Gorbachev Soviet Union.

Again, as the Marxist theory proposed, socialism would be antithesis to market-driven economy which had been propelled by capitalistic mode of production. In capitalist society the ‘factor of production’ would be sourced from ‘market’ and commodity would be sold in the ‘market’. In socialist parlance, concept of market shouldn’t exist irrespective of whether the concept is proposed by any faction within the communist party: ‘left’, ‘right’, or ‘centre’. It was, primarily, the inability of the then CPC leadership to reorganise and galvanize the rural and urban economy to unleash the productive forces; instead they got into the ‘market economy’ which was the engine of ‘mercantile’-‘agrarian’-‘industrial’ versions of capitalism that took root in west European societies since 16th century.

2. Deng was the great architect of what can be termed as the ‘Chinese juggernaut for export’. China’s market reform was undertaken much later compared to Japan and other Asian Tigers. Beginning in the 1980s the late-coming exporter did a splendid job of absorbing huge amount of investment and latest manufacturing technology. Relatively stagnant urban living standards and falling rural living standards resulted in massive transfer of rural labour into the growing export sector. Additionally, the state-owned enterprises already had disciplined, educated, and skilled labour force that made the entry of big Multi-National Corporations (MNC) easy into Chinese market – giants like Boeing, Toyota started their businesses in China through collaboration with Chinese state-owned enterprises who were in same sector of aircraft or automobile. This environment was another legacy of the Mao era. China’s attractiveness to global capital was further enhanced by persistently low level of workers’ wage compared to other Asian countries like Japan, Singapore, as well as the competitive pressure among local provinces who raced with one another to achieve high GDP growth by offering favourable terms possible to foreign investors (ranging from tax breaks to free industrial land).

While China went on to build world’s largest export-dependent economy in 2000s, unlike Japan and other Asian Tigers who built on the basis of private-owned enterprises, Chinese government depended on both: state-owned and private-owned enterprises to manufacture and to export an amazing range of consumer goods to every nook and corner of the world. Deng foresaw this economic boom that provided much needed upliftment of living standard of millions of educated Chinese. However, Chinese economy couldn’t avoid the short-term economic hardships unleashed by such rapid reforms to push export-oriented economy.

3. Far from being a follower of liberal capitalist political thought, Deng was a committed socialist unlike many top leaders of Soviet Union at that point of time. Researchers should remember that for Deng, ‘market economy’ was ‘a method of using black cat to catch mice instead of using a red cat’, and capability development in China would follow the policy ‘hide your strength, bide your time’. In my opinion, Deng didn’t have ever any doubt on the final outcome of the Marxist view that, the final history will be written by the classless communist society. Hence, his advice to build strength.

While authorising the deployment of PLA forces to remove the protesting student by force from Tiananmen Square in 1989, Deng was clear that the leadership of protesting students were liberal capitalist ideologues who was trying to bring down the CPC rule in China using the discontent among the people about corruption-inflation-nepotism. Had Deng and most other senior leadership believed an iota of liberal capitalist philosophy, by 1991, words like ‘socialism’, ‘communism’, ‘Marxism’ would have been completely erased from even the written history of civilization.

Part 2 – pending

Part 3 – pending


By profession I’m an Engineer and Consultant, but my first love was and is History and Political Science. In retired life, I’m pursuing higher study in Economics.

I’m one of the few decade-old members of The Saker blog-site. Hope that this website will continue to focus on truth and justice in public life and will support the struggle of common people across the world.

An Indian by nationality, I believe in humanity.

Fourth Reich? Mass-Tracking COVI-PASS Immunity Passports Slated to Roll Out in 15 Countries

By Raul Diego

Source

COVI-PASS will determine whether you can go to a restaurant, if you need a medical test, or are due for a talking-to by authorities in a post-COVID world. Consent is voluntary, but enforcement will be compulsory.

Through the magic of Internet meme culture, most Millennials will be familiar with the famous opening scene of the 1942 film, “Casablanca,” where two policemen stop a civilian in the “old Moorish section” of Nazi-occupied French Morocco and ask him for his “papers.” The subject is taken away at once after failing to produce the required documents. The cinematic exchange has been used ever since as a popular reference to the ever-encroaching hand of the state, which is now on the verge of attaining a level of control over people’s movements that puts the crude Nazi methods to shame.

A British cybersecurity company, in partnership with several tech firms, is rolling out the COVI-PASS in 15 countries across the world; a “digital health passport” that will contain your COVID-19 test history and other “relevant health information.” According to the company website, the passport’s objective is “to safely return to work” and resume “social interactions” by providing authorities with “up-to-date and authenticated health information.”

These objectives mirror those that Bill Gates has been promoting since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown. In an essay written by Gates in April, the software geek-cum-philanthropist lays out his support for the draconian measures taken in response to the virus and, like an old-timey mob boss, suggests the solutions to this deliberately imposed problem. Ironically, Gates begins to make his case for the adoption of mass tracking and surveillance technology in the U.S. by saying that “For now, the United States can follow Germany’s example”; He then touts the advantages of the “voluntary adoption of digital tools” so we can “remember where [we] have been” and can “choose to share it with whoever comes to interview you about your contacts.”

COVI-Pass APP

Gates goes on to predict that the ability to attend public events in the near future will depend on the discovery of an effective treatment. But he remains pessimistic that any such cure will be good enough in the short term to make people “feel safe to go out again.” These warnings by the multi-billionaire dovetail perfectly with the stated purposes of the aforementioned COVI-PASS, whose development is also being carried out in partnership with Redstrike Group – a sports marketing consultancy firm that is working with England’s Premier League and their Project Restart to parse ticket sales and only make them available to people who have tested negative for the virus.

VST Enterprises goes viral

VST Enterprises Ltd (VSTE) is led by 31-year old entrepreneur, Louis-James Davis, who very recently stepped down from a “science & technology ambassadorship” in the African nation of Zimbabwe to focus on the company’s role in the UN’s SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Collaboratory initiative, comprising a series of “cyber technology projects across all 193 member states of the United Nations.”

These will use the same proprietary VCode and VPlatform technologies underpinning the COVI-PASS that will reportedly tackle issues such as illegal mining and counterfeiting. This “third generation” barcode technology overcomes the limitations of older “second generation” versions like QR-codes, according to Davis. “Data and sensitive information scanned or stored in either a QR code and barcode can be hacked and are inherently insecure,” Davis claims, “leaving data and personal details to be compromised.” These, and other flaws of the prevailing “proximity apps” were exploited by VST Enterprises to position itself to land large government and private sector contracts.

By all measures, the strategy has proven wildly successful and VST now enjoys strong favor in the highest circles of the UK government as evidenced by the ringing endorsement of former Prime Minister Theresa May, prominently displayed on the COVI-PASS website. More practically, VST now has a direct partnership with the UK government and has secured contracts to deploy its technology in 15 countries, including Italy, Portugal, France, India, the US, Canada, Sweden, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.

In May, VST signed a deal with international digital health technology firm and owner of COVI-PASS, Circle Pass Enterprises (CPE) to integrate VST’s VCode into the biometric RFID-enabled “passports” which can be accessed via mobile phone or a key fob will flash colored lights to denote if an individual has tested negative, positive or is to be denied entry to public locations. Awarded the ‘Seal of Excellence’ by the EU, VCode® technology will ensure that all of our most sensitive personal and health information can be accessed by authorities at a distance, dispensing with messy and potentially dangerous face-to-face encounters with police or other enforcement personnel.

Infusing the narrative

So far, the concerns over the digital health passport’s threat to freedom and privacy have been lukewarm at best and it seems as if the world has already accepted that full-fledged population control methods such as these will simply be a fact of life. While the coronavirus pandemic has certainly done much to bring the public over to this way of thinking, the campaign to normalize this sort of Orwellian power-grab has been ongoing for many years and Bill Gates – who many media outlets have whitewashed out of stories related to these measures – has been at the forefront of its promotion.

The Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunisation (INFUSE) project was launched in Davos, Switzerland in 2016. The program was developed by an organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation called GAVI (The Vaccine Alliance), which has been calling for a digital health ID for children along with partners in the broader !D2020 initiative like the Rockefeller Foundation and Microsoft.

In a recent interview, the deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Hassan Damluji, derided the idea that the COVID-19 pandemic was in any way subsiding and even warned that, far from receding, the pandemic was “deep into wave three.” His remarks were specifically targeted to the very regions he oversees for the foundation, which include the Middle East and parts of Asia, which he stressed would be the focus of the next wave. Damluji was “most recently involved in a five-year fundraising cycle for GAVI,” an effort led by Saudi Arabia, whose investment he praised as a powerful “signal [that] others had an obligation to follow.”

Gates concludes his editorial with a comparison to World War II, stating that said conflict was a “defining moment of our parents’ generation” as the COVID-19 pandemic is to ours, implying that the changes taking place now are akin to the Allied forces’ defeat of the Third Reich. Except, of course, that immunity passports or digital health certificates sound exactly like what Hitler wished for the most. After all, wasn’t the idea of a superior race based on considerations of superior health and vitality over the ostensibly sick and unfit? Hard to argue against the idea that a universal health passport is nothing less than the ultimate fulfillment of that dystopian nightmare.

Two Suns in the Sunset

I had an idea to make an album of all the songs we did as encores on the US and Them tour.

We did “Mother” first. Had to do it remotely because of Covid 19.

“Two Suns in The Sunset” is #2.

Hope you like it.

I love it.

What a beautiful band they are. Love R.

PS. That we allow Nuclear Weapons to exist in a world controlled by deranged sociopaths is, in itself, a deranged arrangement.

We are many they are few.

We could just say no, to the whole MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) insanity. It makes zero sense and is potentially omnicidal.

Roger Waters: Guitar and Vocal Dave Kilminster: Guitar Joey Waronker: Drums Lucius- Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig: Vocals Gus Seyffert: Bass Jonathan Wilson: Guitar Jon Carin: Piano and Keys Bo Koster: Hammond Ian Ritchie: Saxophone Wrangled together by Sean Evans & Roger Waters Mixed by Gus Seyffert Assisted by Sean Cook Edited by Andy Jennison

Economic Cycles and Coronavirus

Economic Cycles and Coronavirus

June 13, 2020

by Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

‘’The years since the 1970s are unprecedented in terms of their volatility in the price of commodities, currencies, real estate, and stocks. There have been 4 waves of financial crises: a large number of banks in three, four or more countries collapsed at about the same time. Each wave was followed by a recession, and the economic slowdown which began in 2008 was the most severe and most global since the great depression of the 1930s … Bubbles always implode, since by definition they always involve non-sustainable increases in the indebtedness of a group of borrowers and/or non-sustainable increases in the price of stocks/shares … Debt can increase much more rapidly than income for an extended period …’’ But ‘’… when eventually the rate of their indebtedness slows the ‘day of reckoning’ occurs, when there isn’t enough cash to pay the interest on outstanding loans the bust is inevitable.’’ (1)

Interestingly enough 1971 was the year when Nixon took the world off the gold standard, which had been in effect since 1944. At a stroke this was probably the most destabilizing event since the Wall Street Crash of 1929. But the full effects didn’t filter through the system until the decades beginning in the 1960s. The problem was the fact that the US economy had undergone a metamorphosis from being a surplus trading nation to being a deficit nation. Earlier, in 1944 to be exact, it was agreed at the Bretton Woods conference that a new trading system needed to be constructed, this in order to overcome the problems of the inter-war trade wars which had led to mutual impoverishment. The new global trade architecture was to be based upon a hierarchy of hard currencies, the British pound, the French Franc, the Italian Lira et cetera all aligned at a fixed rate of exchange with the US dollar which was to be convertible with gold at $35 per ounce.

The system worked for a while but excess US expenditures – namely the imperial expeditions in Korea and Indo-China, as well as a bloated system of some 800 military bases stationed in areas all over the world, and add in the social expenditures of the LBJ administration in the US, all of which meant that abundant US$s were turning up all over the place, particularly in Europe and Japan. Holders of these surplus greenbacks sought conversion into either their own currencies or the universal equivalent – gold. This gave rise to a run on gold since the US was required to honour the arrangement of convertibility. In its turn this led to a serious depletion of US gold reserves which necessitated the US (and by implication involve the rest of the world) to unilaterally suspend the gold standard. Henceforth US trading partners would, whether they liked it or not, take dollars which they were assured were as good as gold (a ridiculous proposition). This was described by the French politician Valery Giscard D’Estaing as an ‘Exorbitant Privilege’ and of course he was perfectly correct. At this point the Triffin Dilemma/Paradox kicked in. But I have covered this elsewhere (See The Rise and Fall of Empires).

It should be understood that booms and busts have always been normal in a capitalist economy. Two eminent political economists have put forward their explanation of this phenomenon as follows.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) explained that capitalists would try to boost their profits in new and more productive technology to save labour costs. In a letter to his close compatriot and friend – Friedrich Engels – he wrote: ‘’All of you note that from reasons I no longer have to explain, that capitalist production moves through certain periodical cycles.’’ He particularly identified the rate of profit to be the independent variable in capitalist production; this variable gave rise to a number of other dependent variables such as employment and unemployment, investment decisions, stock market booms and slumps, and capitalist companies borrowing monies by issuing shares/stocks or borrowing directly from banks. They also began to issue bonds as did governments. Thus the role of finance capital was enormously enhanced.

Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) reckoned that when capitalism went into a crisis or slump, it made much of the old equipment or plant obsolete. Other capitalists then began to turn to the new technology to gain advantage, so capitalist slumps led to innovations. Schumpeter called this process ‘creative destruction’. So a cycle of new technology would start after a major slump. But this new technology would not be developed until the profits cycle moved into upswing. Then there would be a take-off of the new technology. The next downward wave would mean a setback to the new technology cycle and an even worse situation for capitalists depending on the old technology. Finally, in another new upswing for profits, the new technology would take over as the dominant force. In the next downswing the new technology would become mature and capitalists would look for new systems and the whole process would restart.

These cycles, however, would very much vary in duration from fairly short-term business restocking, to longer term business cycles, property cycles, profit cycles and into longer and more profound upheavals which may have matured over decades. The Kondratiev cycle being a prototype which has lasted for at least 60 years. Nikolai Kondratiev himself was a Soviet economist who was able to identify such cycles. Four such waves were identified from the late 1700s and four complete waves were identified by Kondratiev. Such waves were occasioned by the usual boom-bust cycle but essentially these cycles were pushed forward by the production and diffusion of new technologies and the operationalization of new modes of production. From water powered, steam powered, electrification, Fordist organized production, and digital communications and computerization of the entire economy. These were the ongoing means of production, although the class nature of the capitalist system did not change.

Unfortunately Kondratiev found himself on the wrong side of the Stalinist nomenklatura and was arrested for suggesting that the US would not necessarily collapse in the great recession of ’29. Heresy! He was arrested and did 8 years in one of those grim Soviet prisons, and finally taken out and was shot by firing squad in 1938. These were grim times.

In recent years, however there has been a new development feature which has been exacerbated during crisis situations involving that part of the economy indicated by the acronym FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) and its growing importance in the economy in both qualitative and quantitative terms.

Finance as it is referred to has always been part of the general economy. But it was always in a sense the junior partner to industry and subordinate as such. Its role was to support the productive sector in terms of credit and liquidity, but the relationship has now become almost inverted. Value producing Industry is now relegated to the second tier of the economy and finance now runs the show.

‘’To maintain the semblance of vitality Western capitalism has become increasingly dependent on expanding debt levels and on the expansion of fictitious capital … fictitious capital is made up of financial assets that are only symbols of value, not real values. For example company shares that are traded like goods and services do not in the same way embody value. They are tokens which represent part ownership of a company and the potential of a distribution of future profits in the form of dividends. The paper or electronic certificate itself is not a genuine value that can create more value. Rising share/stock prices are often presented as the evidence of a healthy economy, but the amount of money that a share/stock changes hands says nothing definitive about the value of the company’s assets or about its productive capacity. On the contrary, it is when real capital stagnates that the amount of fictitious capital tends to expand.’’(2)

Turning to financialisation proper and its genesis. This phenomenon was enabled through the holy trinity of privatisation-liberalisation-deregulation. This was a political/economic project which began to take root in the 1970s but came into full fruition in the 1980s led by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. At both the political and economic level radical theorists such as those ensconced at the Chicago University department of Economics became the crucial protagonists in a movement led by Milton Friedman and which was to become known as the Chicago School. Its impact was profound. This insofar as it signalled the end of one epoch and the beginning of another.

‘’The expansion of the financial sector is the most recognisable aspect of financialisation. However a more telling part for how the workings of the economy change is the adoption of financial activities by the non-financial corporate sector, by the wider industrial economy. The core feature of financialisation is the fusion of industry with financial activity. (My emphasis -FL) Troubled financial firms turn to financial activity in order to raise cash and/or shore up profitability.

These activities start with raising debt to fund business operations working at sub-par profitability. They extend into financial engineering where buying and selling shares or acquiring companies take precedence over productive investment and organic growth in the underlying businesses. Financial services companies are often helpful in conducting these activities. The drive-through comes from the non-financial businesses that are obliged to pursue financial activities when their original productive ones are less profitable and remunerative.’’ (3)

The hegemon of deregulated finance had thus assumed a seemingly unstoppable momentum from the late 20th century, through to the 80s and 90s until the early 21st century. It has been a process whereby financial markets, financial institutions, and financial elites gain greater influence over economic policy and economic outcomes. It has impacted on the economy producing deep-going changes, not necessarily for the better. But its principal raison d’etre has been to elevate the significance and practice of rent-seeking activities relative to the real value-producing sector. Economic rent is essentially parasitic involving the tapping into those income streams which are producing real value. These consist inter alia of – banks, credit agencies, investment companies, brokers and dealers of commodities and securities, security and commodity exchanges, insurance agents, buyers, sellers, lessors, lessees and so forth – has now reached such a level that it has become larger, more ubiquitous, and profitable than productive industry.

In contemporary terms financial institutions had been involved in the acquisition of economic rent. This consisted of little more than a parasitic claim on real value as was produced in the production process. To cite a simple example. Parking meters don’t produce any new value, they merely transfer existing value from the motorist to whoever is collecting the meter charges. Other examples are rent from land, patents and copyrights, monopolistic pricing and so forth. This situation was initially outlined by David Ricardo (1772-1823) who argued that ‘’The interest of the landlord is also opposed to the interest of every other class in society – namely, capitalists and workers. Ricardo’s animus toward the land-owning classes was in part based upon this theory of economic rent as outlined in his definitive work, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation first published in 1817. It was a theme that Keynes took up 2 centuries later with his recommendation of the early ‘euthanasia’ of the ‘rentier’ and the rentier class. The views of Ricardo and Keynes were unfortunately disregarded, and to this day, in the UK at least, the Monarchy, landed aristocracy and rentier class are still very much a power in the land. (The UK never had its bourgeois revolution, or rather it did in the civil war between Parliament and the King – 1642-49. Cromwell and Parliament won, and Charles 1 had his head chopped off in 1649, but there was a restoration whereby his son Charles 2 was brought back from France to claim the throne of England.)

But I digress.

The whole process of financialisation was to divert income from the real value-producing sector of the economy and transferring it through various rental manipulations to the financial sector. Needless to say this would purposely result in inequality and stagnant and/or falling wage levels.

Thus from 1970 onwards this part of the economy has grown from almost nothing to 8% of US Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This means that one dollar in every ten is associated with finance. In terms of corporate profits finance’s contribution now represents around 40% of all corporate profits in the US. This is a significant figure and, moreover, it does not include those overseas earnings of companies whose profits are repatriated to their countries of origin.

Finance operates at different levels in the economy: through changes in the structure and operation of financial markets, changes in the behaviour of nonfinancial corporations, and changes in economic policy

The increasing pervasiveness of finance in the contemporary world economy and its ever-expanding role in overall economic activities, and in addition to its ongoing growth in profitability, are the indicators of growth and spread of financialisation. Given the historical record, however, it seems highly probable that this financial ascendency will not be permanent and the whole house of cards will eventuate into a collapse into debt-deflation and a long period of economic depression.

The template for contemporary financial operations can be described from activities of Investment banks like Goldman Sachs as well as run-of-the-mill commercial banks. Of course, as stated, these venerated institutions do not create value as such; they are purely rent-extractive. Commercial banks can and do make loans out of thin air, debit this loan to the would-be mortgagee who then becomes a source of permanent income flow to the bank for the next 25 years. At a more rarefied level Goldman Sachs is reputed to make year-on-year ‘profits’ by doing – what exactly? Nothing particularly useful. But then Goldman Sachs is part of the cabal of central banks and Treasury departments around the world. It is not unusual to see the interchange of the movers and shakers of the financial world who oscillate between these institutions. Hank Paulson, Mario Draghi, Steve Mnuchin, Robert Rubin, and most recently from the IMF to the ECB, Madame Lagarde … on and on it goes.

This system now moves into ever more vertiginous levels of instability. But this was the logical consequence of deregulation. Regulation involves additional costs, but the last thing financial markets want is an increase in costs: ergo, deregulation. But this was to be wholly expected. As a result the history of regulation is that new types of institutions are developed that exist outside the scope of regulations, e.g., money-market funds were developed as a way to pay interest on demand deposits. The offshore market developed to avoid the costs that domestic banks incur in the form of reserve requirements and deposit insurance premiums; the offshore branches of US banks – i.e., the Eurodollar market – could pay higher interest rates than their domestic branches. The whole institutional structure – its rules, regulations and practises were deregulated, and finance was let off the leash. Thatcher, Reagan, the ‘Big Bang’ had set the scene and there was no going back: neoliberalism and globalization had become the norm. From this point on, however, there followed a litany of crises mostly in the developing world, but these disturbances were in due course to move into the developed world. Serial bubbles began to appear.

Ever mobile speculative capital was to move from one financial debacle to the next leaving a trail of wreckage and destruction in its wake. But, hey, that was someone else’s problem. The Savings and Loans crisis 1980’s and 90’s, Long Term Capital Management, 1998, dot.com bubble 2000/2001 and the property market bust in 2008 where the precursors of the current and even deeper blow-out.

But contrary to popular mythology – ‘this time it’s different’ – any boom and bust has an inflexion point where boom turns to bust. This is when buyers incomes, and borrowers inability to extend their loans could no longer support the rise in the price level. Euphoria turned to panic as borrowers who once clamoured to buy were now desperate to sell. 2008 had arrived. The same financial drama of boom and bust was to repeat itself. In the initial euphoria property prices went up but the market became oversold. At this point house prices and the prices of attendant derivatives – e.g. Mortgaged Backed Securities (MBS) – began to stall. The incomes and borrowing of would-be purchasers could no longer support the ever-rising property asset prices. The cycle had reached its inflexion point, now the whole thing went into reverse. Everyone was frantic to sell, prices collapsed. Some – a few – made money, quite a few lost monies. Investors were wondering what had happened to their gains which they had made during the up phase. Where had all that money gone? In fact the ‘gains’ were purely fictional as were the losses. Such gains/losses which had appeared then simply disappeared like a will ‘o’ the wisp. The gains and losses were never there in the first place given as an accounting identity they were balanced.

One would have thought that past experience would have chastened investors into a more conservative frame of mind. But no. Whenever there was a sniff of something for nothing the mob starts to move like Wildebeest on the plains of the Serengeti, an unstoppable stampede. Even such luminaries as Sir Isaac Newton perhaps one of the greatest scientific minds of his day who lost a cool £20000.00 on the South Sea Bubble lamented in 1720 that ‘’I could calculate the movement of heavenly bodies but not the madness of the people.’’ I suppose you could see this as being yet of another instance of human irrationalism – a recurring theme and instances in human nature, of which sadly there have been many.

And what has all of this to do with Coronavirus? Well everything actually. I take it that we all knew that the grotesquely overleveraged and dangerously poised world economy was heading for a ‘correction’ but that is rather an understated description. Massive downturn would be more accurate. This was already baked into the cake prior to the COVID-19s emergence and warnings were duly given and then routinely ignored. We are now left with a combination of a dangerous pandemic crisis combined with a huge financial and economic correction. The world was a combination of a unprecedently bloated paper money bubble and a rampant and virulent pandemic virus. Anticipated consequences can only be imagined.

NOTES

(1) Manias, Crashes and Panics – Kindelberger and Aliber – P.1/2 – 6th Edition 2011.

(2) Phillip Mullan – Creative Destruction – p.22

(3) Mullan – Ibid, – p.22/23

*A note on fictitious capital:

Fictitious capital is a by-product of capitalist accumulation. It is a concept used by Karl Marx in his critique of political economy. It is introduced in chapter 25 of the third volume of Capital. Fictitious capital contrasts with what Marx calls “real capital”, which is capital actually invested in physical means of production and workers, and “money capital”, which is actual funds being held. The market value of fictitious capital assets (such as stocks and securities) varies according to the expected return or yield of those assets in the future, which Marx felt was only indirectly related to the growth of real production. Effectively, fictitious capital represents “accumulated claims, legal titles, to future production’’ and more specifically claims to the income generated by that production.

The moral of the story is that it is not possible to print wealth or value. Money in its paper representation of the real thing, e.g., gold, is not wealth it is a claim on wealth.

Trump Attacks China and Others Falsely, Puts More Bodies in Bags

Trump Attacks China and Others Falsely, Puts More Bodies in Bags

By Nour Rida

Amid the coronavirus chaos, US President Donald Trump has shown that he is probably the worst at tweeting, his political discourse standards reached a new level of unprecedented frenzy and panic in US history and the best he could is ask people to explore disinfectants as a possible treatment for COVID-19 virus — an extremely dangerous proposition that medical experts warn could kill people.

He has also succeeded in a few things; attacking friends and foes and making accusations such as the case of China, cutting funds for international organizations like the case is with WHO or the UN, setting a blind eye to US theft of coronavirus aid and equipment if not giving consent to the hijacking of the medical aid of other countries, and attacking the people of his own country and carrying out racist and violent actions against them. Of course we must not forget his contradicting statements throughout the crisis reported by mainstream media outlets.

Media reports suggest that the growing public distrust in Trump’s ability to lead the country in its fight against COVID-19 is why he attacked China in first place, accusing it of spreading the virus.

“Trump is trying to divert public outrage over China as he is increasingly accused of the unwillingness the US has encountered in the pandemic. Because of this, Trump also targeted the World Health Organization [WHO],” read a report in late April.

Sarcastically, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a statement in late April debunking false claims about COVID-19 origins, saying that the virus was “not manmade or genetically modified.”

This came while China has extended a helping hand, sending out tens of millions of protective wards, masks, medical equipment, medicines as well as medical teams to the world, with Italy as a clear example.

Known now for his threads of racism, lies and imprecision, he used the term “China Virus” multiple times when referring to coronavirus, a phrase of racial discrimination which had drawn criticism for both domestically and internationally since it was coined in mid-March.

The World Health Organization has issued guidance against “stigmatizing certain communities” when naming illnesses. US lawmaker Judy Chu – a California Democrat and chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus – was not impressed by Trump’s remarks, according to NBC News.

According to Chu, Trump’s comments would not “be necessary if he and his supporters had not already endangered so many by spreading this toxic xenophobia”.

With the mainstream media of the US and some of its allies creating a collective media campaign attacking China, the same media which claims impartiality sets a blind eye to reports on how US deportation flights increase the spread of the virus, which remains to be a fact and not just rumors.

According to Michele Heisler, medical director at the US-based nonprofit Physicians for Human Rights and a professor of internal medicine and public health at the University of Michigan, “the flights do not only put people in deportation proceedings at risk, but also threaten to spread the coronavirus to countries ill-equipped to deal with the disease.”

Countries in the region have been forced to deal with deportees infected with the virus, including Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, and Haiti, many of which have fragile health-care systems.

As the US sinks in its own chaos amid the incompetence of its administration in facing the coronavirus, it has been accused of “modern piracy”. One instance of it is redirecting 200,000 Germany-bound masks for its own use. The local government in Berlin said the shipment of US-made masks was “confiscated” in Bangkok.

Countries including the US, France, and Turkey have been accused of confiscating shipments, holding on to supplies, and last minute outbidding each other in an escalating war for supply goods.

Following Trump’s furies and fits, media reports have harshly criticized Trump and his attitude towards the pandemic and his justifications. Commenting on Trump’s dealing with the coronavirus crisis, the Foreign Policy wrote in a report “Like Bush, who couldn’t grasp the fact that al Qaeda was not the tool of an adversarial state, Trump refused to believe—or professed not to believe—that the virus was not an instrument of a hostile Chinese state, invented in a laboratory, and unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Just as Bush shifted the nation’s focus to Iraq, Trump seized the coronavirus to justify his obsession with China.”

The US did not stop at pouring all the blame falsely on China, or deporting thousands regardless of health concern warnings. In mid-April, Trump decided to suspend funding to the World Health Organization. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said it was “not the time” to be reducing funds to the WHO or any other organization fighting the pandemic.

“Now is the time for unity and for the international community to work together in solidarity to stop this virus and its shattering consequences,” Guterres said in a statement.

Reacting to Trump’s action and threats, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week that it was not the time for such rhetoric.

“The focus of all political parties should be to save their people. Please don’t politicize this virus,” Tedros said at a press briefing in Geneva last week.

“If you want to have many more body bags, then you do it. If you don’t want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it … We will have many body bags in front of us if we don’t behave.”

Trump made his decisions; he keeps contributing in isolating America rather than making it great as he claims, and helps put more body in bags in the US as well as around the globe.

لا عقوبات على بري وباسيل ولا ضمّ للضفة

ناصر قنديل

ينجح الأميركيون بنشر غبار كثيف تتشكل منه المادة الإعلامية العربية، وتبقى لزمن، لا يلبث بعده الغبار عن التبدّد، لينتشر غبار جديد ويدخل الرأي العام العربي في عاصفة غبار متجددة. والمقيمون في واشنطن والمهتمون بما يحدث فيها وما يصدر عنها، يسألوننا، لماذا يقع المحللون العرب ومن ضمنهم المحسوبون على خيارات يفترض أنها مناوئة للسياسات الأميركية في فخاخ توحيل الغبار، فيخلطونه بماء من نهر الوقائع الجارية فتجعله قابلاً للتصديق، ويربطونه بمستنقعات تنتجها حال الركود والفراغ، ليصير الغبار وحلاً، والشائع عن عمليات التوحيل أنها تسعى لرسم معادلة نهايتها أنه، كلما حاول أحد الخروج من الوحل غرق فيه أكثر.

منذ التداعيات التي خلفتها جائحة كورونا ولا تزال، عالمياً بصورة عامة، وأميركياً بصورة خاصة، وما طال منها الاقتصاد وقطاع النفط بصورة أخصّ، والأميركيون قلقون من تأثيرات سريعة لذلك على مكانتهم السياسية في المنطقة، لإدراكهم أن لهذه التداعيات تأثيرات يدركها بدقة خصوم واشنطن وعلى رأسهم إيران وحلفائها، على المسار الانتخابي للرئيس دونالد ترامب، وسعي لإقامة توازن مع إمكانية استثمار هذه التداعيات لجعل ترامب أشد ضعفاً كلما اقترب موعد الانتخابات، وقد تفاقم هذا القلق مع الأحداث التي شهدتها الولايات المختلفة في إطار الاحتجاجات الواسعة التي أطلقها مقتل المواطن الأميركي من أصول أفريقية جورج فلويد، واتخاذ هذه الاحتجاجات طابع الانقسام الوطني بين تيار مناهض للعنصرية يصب غضبه على سياسات ترامب، وتيار يزداد ضعفاً يقف وراء الرئيس الأميركي، والقلق الأميركي المزدوج من استثمار الخصوم في الداخل والخارج لهذه الأحداث المتمادية والمتواصلة في تأثيراتها، لا يمكن تبديده بخطوات ومبادرات هجومية، خصوصاً على الصعيد العسكري، الذي بات محكوماً بمعادلة السعي للتهرب من كل استحقاق مواجهة، وقد جاءت المبادرة الإيرانية الهجومية بإرسال ناقلات نفط تخترق نظام الحصار والعقوبات على إيران وفنزويلا، والعجز الأميركي عن التصدّي لها، لتبت هذه المعادلة وتمنح هذا القلق الكثير من المشروعيّة.

يقول العارفون بالداخل الأميركي، إن الأزمات التي حملتها تداعيات كورونا، ليست حكراً على أميركا، وما فعلته في المجتمع والاقتصاد الأميركيين، أنها ضخمت وظهرت إلى السطح بقوة، أزمات كانت غائرة في قعر المجتمع، ومشاكل مالية واقتصادية بنيوية كانت تختفي وراء سرعة الحركة والمداولات، وأنه من الطبيعي أن يحدث الشيء نفسه لدول ومجتمعات أضعف من الدولة والمجتمع الأميركيين، وهذا هو الحال مع ما يجري في إيران وسورية والعراق ولبنان وسواها من دول العالم، التي كشفت تداعيات الجمود الاقتصادي المرافق لكورونا، مشاكلها وضخمتها وعمّقتها وظهرتها إلى السطح، ولذلك يسعى صناع السياسة في واشنطن لمنح سياسة العقوبات جائزة لا تستحقها بنسبة كل ما تشهده دول ومجتمعات خصومهم لهذه العقوبات. فالعقوبات التي تطال أفراداً ومؤسسات في هذه الدول لا تقدم ولا تؤخر في الاقتصاد المعاقب بما هو مهم وبالأهم أصلاً، ومنذ سنوات، سواء لجهة منع تصدير النفط الإيراني والسوري، أو ملاحقة التحويلات المالية للاغتراب اللبناني، أو منع فتح الاعتمادات المصرفية للاستيراد لحساب السوقين الإيراني والسوري، والضغط على العراق ولبنان لفصلهما عن هاتين السوقين الإيرانية والسورية، وكل جديد لا يعدو كونه طلقة صوتية بلا مفعول في غير السياسة، إلا إذا صدق المعنيون في هذه الدول والمجتمعات أن ما تسببت به أزماتهم التي كانت تحت السطح وظهرت بقوة مع تداعيات كورونا هي من نتاج العقوبات الجديدة، والتي هي في الغالب لم تفرض بعد.

يتوقف العارفون بالداخل الأميركي، أمام نماذج مما هو رائج عربياً هذه الأيام، أولها ما يجري تسويقه حول قانون قيصر للعقوبات على سورية، فيقولون اقرأوا القانون أولاً وستكتشفون بسرعة أن كل ما ينسب إليه من جبروت في تدمير الاقتصاد السوري مبالغات إعلامية، لأن ما يمكن معاقبته لضرب الاقتصاد السوري قد عوقب منذ زمن، والقانون هو ورقة سياسية للضغط على موسكو ودمشق لحجز مقعد للجماعات الكردية المحسوبة على واشنطن في قطار التسوية السياسية، بشروط ترفضها دمشق لاتصالها بالمساس بوحدة سورية ومفهوم السيادة فيها. والقانون بالتوازي محاولة التوصل لصيغة توافقية مع دمشق وموسكو في جنوب سورية تمنح بعض الاطمئنان لكيان الاحتلال، تسهيلاً لجعل الانسحاب الأميركي من سورية، مرتبطاً بوفاء واشنطن بقدر من وعودها لكل من الجماعات الكردية وكيان الاحتلال، بأنها لن تتركهم يواجهون قدرهم، في مواجهة معادلات لا يقدرون على مواجهتها وحدهم.

النموذج الثاني الذي يتحدث عنه العارفون بالداخل الأميركي، هو ما يكثر الحديث عنه عن ربط العقوبات بمسعى للتغطية على تمرير ضم الضفة الغربية من جانب حكومة كيان الاحتلال، كترجمة للوعود التي تضمنتها صفقة القرن، ويقول العارفون إن واشنطن وتل أبيب تدركان حجم المخاطرة التي ستنجم عن إجراءات الضمّ التي تطال 40% من الضفة الغربية، وفقاً لنصوص مشروع صفقة القرن، لأن الخاسر الرئيسي فيها سيكون الفريق الفلسطيني الذي أقام برامجه على مفهوم التفاوض وخيار التسوية، بتبخّر آخر أحلامه بعودة لاحقة للفرص أمام مسارات تفاوضية نحو التسوية، والمعني هنا هي حركة فتح والسلطة الفلسطينية، اللتان ستجدان نفسيهما أمام اضطرار التصعيد الذي يعني انتفاضة ثالثة كبرى يصعب أن تنتهي في العديد من نقاط الضفة الغربية إلى غير ما انتهى إليه مسار الانتفاضة الثانية من تحرير غزة، وما يعنيه ذلك من تفكك الجغرافيا العسكرية للكيان، وخلق تحديات استراتيجية جديدة فوق طاقته، ولذلك فكل السعي الأميركي منصبّ على توزيع أدوار مع حكومة بنيامين نتنياهو، لمقايضة التراجع عن قرار الضم بالمزيد من إجراءات تطبيعيّة مع حكومات الخليج، التي ستصيبها إجراءات الضمّ كما تصيب القيادة الفلسطينية في طرح الأسئلة حول جدوى الخيار التفاوضيّ، ويقول العارفون إن السقف الذي يجري الحديث حوله بين واشنطن وتل أبيب للضم المفترض انخفض من 40% إلى 3% وربما ينخفض أكثر ليقتصر على عدد محدود من المستوطنات، وربط اعتباره نهائياً بنتائج أي مفاوضات مقبلة.

النموذج الثالث الذي يتحدث عنه العارفون بالداخل الأميركي، هو التسريبات التي تطلق منذ مدة حول نيات فرض عقوبات على حلفاء حزب الله، خصوصاً كل من رئيس مجلس النواب نبيه بري ورئيس التيار الوطني الحر جبران باسيل، ويقول العارفون إن الترويج لهذا التهويل يثير السخرية عند صناع السياسة في واشنطن، الذي لا يصدقه إلا بعض الذين يرددونه في لبنان والعواصم الخليجية، فواشنطن تدرك أنها تحتاج لبقاء خيوط العلاقة وخطوطها مع بري وباسيل، لأنها لا تريد الخروج من لبنان، وترك حزب الله يتفرد بالقرار مع حلفاء خسروا مثله ما يجعلهم ينتقلون معه إلى السياسات الراديكالية. والقضية المحورية التي تهم واشنطن ليست اليوم سلاح حزب الله الذي يفوق ما تتيح به المعادلات، ويتسلى بعض النشطاء المغرومين بواشنطن بجعله عنواناً لإرضائها، ولا قطع العلاقة اللبنانية بسورية، التي يحتاجها الأميركيون تحت نظرهم مصدراً لمنح لبنان بعض شروط الحصول على أوكسيجين قليل الكلفة، لأن الاهتمام الأميركي لبنانياً له محور واحد حالياً هو ترسيم الحدود البحرية للنفط والغاز، وهذا ما ستظهره مفاوضات الحكومة اللبنانية مع صندوق النقد الدولي قريباً، والسعي الأميركي بتوظيف التلويح بالعقوبات على بري وباسيل يتمحور حول دعوة باسيل لطلب تسلم ملف التفاوض تحت عنوان نقل المرجعية التفاوضية إلى رئاسة الجمهورية، ودعوة بري للتخلي عن الإمساك بملف التفاوض، أملاً بالحصول على فرص أفضل لترسيم يريح كيان الاحتلال، قبل الانسحاب الأميركي من المنطقة، ويمكن تمريره لبنانياً تحت شعار الحاجة اللبنانية لتقديم موارد سيادية واعدة يمكن لصندوق النقد الدولي الاستناد إليها لتبرير تقديم المساهمة التي يطلبها لبنان.

يوجز العارفون بالداخل الأميركي خلاصتهم بالقول، سيكتشف الجميع خلال فترة قريبة أن قانون العقوبات على سورية هامشي الأثر، لكنه سيبقى سيفاً مشهراً للتهويل، وأن ضم الضفة الغربية سيتحول إلى إخراج هوليودي ضعيف بهوامش إعلامية لا أكثر ولا أقل لكن بجوائز تطبيعيّة، لكن الضم لن يسحب من التداول، وأن العقوبات في لبنان قد تطال أسماء سيضحك اللبنانيون عندما يسمعون أنها حصيلة حملة التهويل فتبقى الأسماء الكبيرة في التداول، لأن الهدف سيبقى وهو إبقاء عاصفة الغبار مستمرة وإبقاء الباب مفتوحاً للتهويل والتوحيل، هنا وهناك وهنالك. ويختم العارفون بالقول، إنه لو يترك أهل المنطقة الغبار الأميركي غباراً، ويكفون عن توحيله سواء بنيات حسنة وسيئة، لنقلته التيارات الهوائية بعيداً، ولما بقيت منه إلا بعض الذرات التي يسهل مسحها عن سطوح الطاولات وزجاج النوافذ.

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شوقي عواضة

منذ العام 2011 بدأت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية فرض عقوباتٍ اقتصاديةٍ على حزب الله من خلال وضع بعض قياداته على قوائم الإرهاب إضافةً إلى بعض المحسوبين أو الداعمين والمقرّبين منه. وقد فعّلت الإدارات الأميركية من خلال مؤسّساتها التشريعية والتنفيذية منذ ذلك التاريخ العمل بتلك العقوبات وتطويرها ليشمل كلّ دول الممانعة التي عجزت فيها الولايات المتحدة عن تحقيق أيّ إنجازٍ أو تقـــدّم ميدانـــي بدءاً من حصارها لسنواتٍ طويلةٍ لإيران وقيادتها ثمّ الحصار والعدوان على اليمن وحصار الفلسطينيين في غزة، إضـــافةً إلى فرض حصارٍ اقتصادي على لبنان وســورية لا سيما في ظلّ إعلان قانون قيصر وتهديد العراق بالمزيد من العقــوبات في حال عدم الرضوخ لسياسات ترامب دون أن ننسى الحصار على فنزويلا.

كلّ ذلك يندرج ضمن محاولة إدارة ترامب قلب المشهد بعد تلقيها المزيد من الهزائم والفشل لمشاريعها التآمرية، هذا الفشل يحاول من خلاله البيت الأبيض التعويض عنه بفرض المزيد من الحصارات الاقتصادية التي تطال أفراداً وشركاتٍ ومؤسساتٍ مختلفةً ومصارفَ، وبذلك فإنّ واشنطن تمارس المزيد من الضغط في محاولةٍ من أجل تطويع وإنجاز الوعد التاريخي لنتنياهو في صفقة القرن قبل انتهاء ولايته وإجراء انتخابات أميركية يحتمل أن يكون فيها ترامب الخاسر الأكبر لا سيما في ظلّ سياساته الفاشلة في مواجهة جائحة كورونا وبعد مقتل المواطن الأميركي جورج فلويد الذي فجّر فتيل الاحتجاجات في الشارع الأميركي.

وبالرّغم من سياسات ترامب الفاشلة على المستوى الداخلي لم يعد أمامه المزيد من الحلول في ظلّ ارتفاع وتيرة غضب الشارع الأميركي تجاه تلك السياسات إلى جانب استغلال هذه الأزمات وتجييرها لصالح منافسيه في الانتخابات المقبلة أمر دفع ترامب للبحث عن إنجازٍ كبيرٍ يغطي فشله الذريع على المستوى الداخلي ويعيد لراعي السياسة العنصرية بريقه الذي قد يحققه بالمزيد من الحصار على سورية بقانون قيصر الذي يريد فرضه والالتزام به على حكومات لبنان والعراق، في التجربة التاريخية وعلى مدى أربعين سنة من الحصار على إيران الثورة لم تنجز الإدارات الأميركية المتعاقبة وحكّامها من الجمهوريين والديمقراطيين أيّ إنجاز ولم تحقّق أيّ هدفٍ من أهداف الحصار والعقوبات وعلى الأقلّ فشلت الولايات المتحدة في إيقاف البرنامج النووي الإيراني وإيقاف تطوير منظومات الصواريخ البالستية الإيرانية والصناعات العسكرية بشكلٍ عام وأصبحت إيران في طلائع القوى العسكرية العالمية التي استطاعت أن تضع حدّاً لتلك الغطرسة الأميركية في المنطقة. وبالرّغم من الحصار الطويل والعقوبات المديدة استطاعت إيران تسجيل العديد من الانتصارات وإلحاق المزيد من الهزائم للولايات المتحدة وحلفائها من الكيانين السعودي والصهيوني وما استمرار فصائل المقاومة الفلسطينية في غزة والمقاومة في لبنان وهزائم داعش في سورية والعراق وصمود اليمن الأسطوري بعد أكثر من خمس سنوات على العدوان وكسر الحصار عن فنزويلا بإرسال ناقلة النفط الإيرانية فذلك ليس سوى دليل واقعي على هزيمة المشروع الأميركي في المنطقة يحمل الكثير من الأبعاد والرّسائل منها رسالة إيرانية تقول بعد حصار أربعين سنة أثبتت الولايات المتحدة فشلها الذريع وتراجع مشروعها وتضعضعه أمام صمود الإيرانيين وتنامي قدراتهم في شتّى المجالات، ورسالة يمنية خطّت بسواعد المقاومين والصامدين من أبناء الشعب اليمني الشريف تفيد أنه بعد عدوانٍ وحصار لأكثر من خمس سنوات بقيادة الولايات المتحدة الأميركية أنجز خلالها الجيش اليمني وأنصار الله تحرير مساحاتٍ كبيرةٍ وشاسعةٍ من الأراضي اليمنية محققين بذلك انتصاراً تاريخياً على أعتى تحالفٍ للشّر تقوده الولايات المتحدة وترسانتها العسكرية المتطورة.

أما الرسالة الأخيرة فهي رسالة سورية الأسد حصن المقاومة ودرعها الذي سيتـــهاوى عنده امبراطورية الشيطان الأكبر وقيصر الشياطين ترامب الذي يعتقد أنّه فرض المزيد من العقوبات من خلال قانون قيصر وسيُرضخ سورية، لكن الواقع التاريخي والمعاصر لسورية يقول إنّ ماضي السياسات الأميركية في المنطقة لم يضعفنا بل زادنا قوّةً وصلابةً وعزماً وأنّ ما تمارسه إدارة ترامب من ضغوطٍ لن يرهبنا بل سيزيدنا إصراراً على مواجهة ذلك الشـــيطان وحلفائه وأنّ ترامب بسياسته هذه يضع المنطقة على فوهة بركان لن تكون نتائجه دون تدمير من يقاتل من أجله وهو الكيان الصّهيوني فانتظر إنّا منتظرون.

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