Joe Biden Adopts a Trump Approach to Iran

Lawrence Davidson is professor of history emeritus at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He has been publishing his analyses of topics in U.S. domestic and foreign policy, international and humanitarian law and Israel/Zionist practices and policies since 2010.

An Analysis () by Lawrence Davidson

9 February 2021

Part I—Joe Biden, the Good Stuff

All right! Let’s hear it for Joe Biden! Our new president is leading us in the direction of domestic sanity, and there are even hints of progressive potential in his evolving agenda. Under his leadership, we might soon master the Covid-19 plague and dig ourselves out of our near-depression economic straits. This is terrific!

Some good news when it comes to foreign policy as well. You’ll remember that in Trump’s determination to “make “American great again” (MAGA), the former president decided that international organizations and cooperation were impediments to national greatness. Thus, he systematically withdrew from a number of alignments and also scorned international law. This approach appears to have been part of a MAGA scheme to subvert international order. Its nihilistic undertones were highlighted by the creepy leaders who seemed to warm Trump’s heart. He found men such as the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, along with a long list of dictators ranging from Rodrigo Duterte in Philippines to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi inEgypt, to be really congenial. There was also Trump’s warm admiration for the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. 

President Biden has saved us from this sort of delinquency. He is now operating under new and saner marching orders: “diplomacy is back” and multilateralism is in. The U.S. has recommitted to the international effort to slow down global warming and has rejoined the World Health Organization. Biden has ended all participation in the immoral Yemen civil war and, so it is reported, told the Russians to keep their invasive cyber-fingers to themselves. 

At this point you might have the urge to celebrate what appears to be a full 180-degree turn from Donald Trump’s demented worldview. But hold on, that is not quite the case. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, it appears that a residual lawlessness can be found in at least one the Biden’s foreign policies. We can recognize it in the game he is playing with Iran. 

Part II—Scuttling the JCPOA

Recall that in 2015 then-President Obama invested a lot of political capital, not to mention putting forth a remarkable display of good sense, in helping to negotiate a multilateral agreement with Iran. This is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and it was multilateral because it included not just the U.S. and Iran but also the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China as well as Germany (collectively referred to as the P5+1). Basically, the agreement stated that, under a regime of international monitoring, Iran would forgo any development of nuclear weapons and convert its nuclear facilities to peacetime pursuits. In exchange, the P5+1 would lift all nuclear-related economic sanctions, freeing up tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue and the release of frozen assets. It was a rare display of effective diplomacy and it worked—until Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, unilaterally scuttled the deal. 

Trump withdrew from the agreement in early May 2018. By January 2020 he had increased the number of Iran-related sanctions to over one thousand. In 2019, Trump was suggesting that if Iran wanted to enter into new negotiations with the U.S., he would consider lifting some of the sanctions. Iran refused to begin the negotiating process over again with Trump. On 15 January 2021, five days before leaving office, Trump added new sanctions. Why did he display such maliciousness? Besides a bizarre hatred for anything Obama had achieved, and the disdain for international cooperation which supposedly stood in the way of his MAGA fantasies, there are other factors. Trump is a truly amoral schemer (we might think of him as a modern-day lawless Borgia). And so he almost naturally fell in with amoral regimes with active domestic lobbies in the U.S. (such as Saudi Arabia and Israel), as well as a “pay to play” approach for the votes and donations of Americans who have a grudge against or fear of Iran. Here we can name not only the Zionists, but also the wealthy Iranians who took refuge in the U.S. after Iran’s 1979 revolution. Many of these are Iranian monarchists who want to see regime change in Iran through the return of a shah (king).

Under the circumstances, the Iranian government reaction has been understandable: they see themselves as the aggrieved party. They had negotiated the JCPOA in good faith. They had met the conditions of the agreement to the satisfaction of international monitors. The other side had failed to respond as promised. Not only had the U.S. broke the agreement without cause, but it had then blackmailed its European allies into breaking their commitments under the agreement. This was done by the Trump administration declaring that any party that broke Washington’s sanctions against Iran would themselves be sanctioned.

After a year or so, Iran, noting that it was the only party paying attention to the deal and that the sanctions still applied, began to slowly back away from the nuclear agreement’s provisions. However, it was not until January 2020 that the Iranians announced they would no longer limit their number of centrifuges and thus their capacity to enrich uranium. Even then it was not the obscene number of American sanctions or the gross failure of the Europeans to abide by their promises that finally “broke the camel’s back.” It was Trump’s ordering of the murder of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on 3 January 2020—essentially an act of war, and certainly one in violation of international law.

Part III—Joe Biden, the Bad Stuff

Now Trump is gone and we have Joe Biden, who, by the way, has not done the right thing and affirmed that his administration would rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. Instead he declared that “I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations” (my emphasis). Later he said that the subsequent negotiations would involve the Islamic Republic’s “violations of human rights and Iran’s role in the regional conflicts.” On its face, this is not an invitation to return to a stabilizing status quo ante, or even a supposed “credible path back to diplomacy.” It is a take-it-or-leave-it demand. This position is remarkably similar to that of Trump posturing for new negotiations back in 2019. And since, as of 7 February 2021, Biden has refused to lift sanctions on Iran—has refused to cease driving that country into poverty—these are no longer Trump’s sanctions. Biden now owns this horror show. Here are some of Biden’s fatal steps.

It was about nine days into the new administration that Biden’s officials began to reference foreign policy and Iran. First appeared Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, who told the U.S. Institute of Peace that “a critical early priority has to be to deal with what is an escalating nuclear crisis as they [Iran] move closer and closer to having enough fissile material for a weapon.” One wonders if Sullivan got his start in advertising, because his description is a purposeful mischaracterization of the situation. The descriptor “escalating nuclear crisis” is a woeful exaggeration. If there is any “crisis” at all, it is because Washington has failed to meet its commitments under the 2015 agreement. The Iranians have repeatedly made it clear that they have no interest in nuclear weapons. And, one can imagine the only thing that could change their mind is an existential outside threat. To date, the only ones that pose such threats are allies of the U.S.: Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Then stepped up Tony Blinken, Biden’s new secretary of state, to continue the new administration’s maneuvers. To wit, Blinken stated “Tehran must resume complying with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal before Washington would do so.” This sort of statement is a rather childish, you-go-first challenge. Blinken then explained that if Iran returns to the deal, Washington would seek to build what Blinken called a “longer and stronger agreement” that would deal with other “deeply problematic” issues. He did not name these, but Biden for his part has drawn attention to Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and its support for proxy forces in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

It took the Iranians no time at all to recognize this gambit for what it is, an effort to enlarge restrictions on Iranian military capacity beyond the scope of the original 2015 agreement. Almost immediately, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, responded that the U.S. position was not practical and will not happen and then added in an op-ed in Foreign Affairs,“once a party leaves an agreement, then that party has no authority demanding others’ compliance to that agreement.”

The Iranians did come back with a more doable proposal to deal with the “who goes first” dilemma. Teheran proposed a timed, mutual U.S. and Iranian return to the original agreement. In an interview with CNN, the Iranian foreign minister said “both countries should synchronize their JCPOA-related moves under the supervision of the European Union”—in other words, achieve the goal with a step-by-step coordinated process. The Biden administration said no to Zarif’s offer, and sane minds, noting the rejection, could hear eerie Trump-like snickering in the surrounding ether. 

Part IV—Conclusion

We have already asked why Trump decided to act in such a malicious manner toward Iran. Now we can ask why Joe Biden has decided to mimic his predecessor and continue a callous, hard-line approach to that same country. As it turns out, the answer is not all that different. Biden is subject to the same lobby pressure from groups to which he has a demonstrated sympathy. Among these are some of the well known suspects mentioned above, but first and foremost are Israel and its Zionist supporters (a rundown of these can be found in a full-page ad in the 5 February 2021 New York Times). 

We can also add one other grouping to this list—various civil rights organizations who would use the moment to pressure Teheran to increase the level of civil liberties allowed in the country. However, as Behrooz Ghamari Tabriz, writing in  Counterpunch notes, “It is a hard sell for those who are genuinely concerned with the question of human rights to ask the American government to be the agent of that change. So long as our government supports the region’s most oppressive regimes, it is hard to imagine that it has any moral authority or political capital to spend on issues of human rights in Iran.”

It is hard to know what exactly is going on inside Joe Biden’s head on this issue. We can assume that it is nothing really analytical. His administration’s actions have, so far, run counter to the other precedents he is laying down in the areas of international cooperation and leadership. They also go against logic. One can imagine no better way to move the Iranians toward nuclear weapons capability than the policies now being pursued. Until Biden acts, in terms of Iran, in the interests of achievable nuclear restraint and stability, that is in the real interests of the country he leads, rather than this or that interest group, he will carry around the residual chains of Donald Trump’s miserable legacy. 

Days of the Future Passed: A Syncretic Look at the Problems of Empire – Book Excerpt

December 10, 2020

‘Days of the Future Passed’ by Jim Miles. (Photo: Book Cover)

By Jim Miles

(Days of the Future Passed – Point of No Return, Jim Miles. Kindle Edition. 2020)

By Introduction

The United States has throughout its existence demonstrated all the features of ‘empire’, from the original settlers using the Papal Doctrine of Discovery (1542)  through to the current propaganda of the global war and terror, now changing to defense doctrines against Russia and China.  My new work, “Days of the Future Passed – Point of No Return” presents the broad outlines of what this represents to the international scene from inception through to today’s ongoing empirical adventures.

The two main constants have been economic influence and military influence.  The two are highly integrated and always have been even from before Independence, through the conquest of much of North America, where sometimes the soldiers led the way, and sometimes the settlers led the way, but neither being far apart from the other.  Today the economy of the US empire is highly dependent on the military mindset of the US supporting its economic adventures overseas, the bottom line being support for the global reserve currency, the fiat ‘petrodollar.’

Three other ideas enter into this picture.  An additional military factor is the threat of nuclear war, an event only a hair trigger action away from ultimately ending all of our problems.  The current increase in propaganda rhetoric against Russia and China makes a nuclear scenario unfortunately all too realistic.  Added to this, climate change is affecting our chances at long term safety and overall survival, much of it caused by our consumer oriented economy based on fossil fuels – control of the latter being of paramount importance for the US dollar and thus the US military.  Add to all that the current Covid-19 pandemic, and the empire appears to be slowly losing its grip on its desired hegemony, but not without threatening much of the rest of the world.

Days of the Future Passed – Point of No Return” argues that we have passed some tipping points for which there will be no return to normal, within economics, the environment, and the military industrial complex.  Ideas for solutions are easy, their implementation is not as the inertia of empire is not easily restrained or controlled.

Excerpt

2020 – Tipping Points

It may not be evident yet, but in another ten or twenty years, the year 2020 may also be looked on as a pivotal year in global interactions – geopolitical, environmental, and financial – all of which are highly interrelated.

Imagine the lowly teeter-totter, a playground piece not as common as it used to be.  The teeter-totter is aptly named as many a child, and many an adult has stood above the bar that makes the plank teeter and totter, trying to maintain balance but also testing how far they can go before touching down on one side or the other.   Now imagine that teeter-totter is poised on the edge of a cliff, where one side can touch down and avoid the unknown drop, and the other side obviously is the drop from which there is no recovery to equilibrium.

It is a simple metaphor, but it illustrates for several sectors of our lives, we have allowed ourselves to drop into the unknown.

The unknown is simply the future.  This future is to be determined by a declining global economy becoming saturated with massive US money printing to prop up the banksters and corporate CEOs.  It will be determined by the disregard domestically and in foreign affairs for the supposed ‘rule of law’ but more importantly international law and true justice for all people. The changes to our environment are at the moment relatively slow but are becoming irreversible under current trends.   Finally, the massive military investments on a global scale for both nuclear and conventional weaponry threatens everyone with a very delicate balance of power.

….Under the Trump presidency, combined with the economic impact of the virus and actions to contain it (for better or worse, not a point of discussion here), the US has assuredly reached a point where its huge national debt can never be repaid.   Combine this with the main source of income and wealth in the US no longer being production, but financialized services simply creating money at the stroke of a keyboard and the economy is surviving precariously on the whim of people servicing the US$.

Put simply, the US survives on the Federal Reserve Bank (a consortium of private banks) pumping money into the economy.   With much of the economy based on debt, and interest rates kept necessarily low in order to service the debt, the strength of the US$  as a global reserve currency – the petrodollar – is jeopardized.

….This year there have been several accounts of how the climate/environment is showing signs of tipping into conditions where there can be no reversals to ‘normal’ without serious changes to our atmospheric inputs:  Greenland’s ice sheet melts more than it accumulates in snowfall each year by a significant amount; the Amazon has reached the status where it can no longer regenerate itself after a series of droughts; the forest fires in Siberia, Australia, and California demonstrate the overall pattern of global warming; each succeeding month has set record new global highs.

….The main feature here is that the combination of China and Russia have created a multi-polar world whether the US is willing to admit it or not.  Russian resources, defensive military achievements, and a renewed domestic scene under the direction of the much-vilified Vladimir Putin have combined with China’s increasing defensive measures in the Western Pacific, its Belt and Road initiative throughout Asia and extending elsewhere, and the economic power that China has achieved as the largest economy in the world (on purchasing power and domestic market basis).

Above all, both China and Russia have stated they no longer support the hegemony of the US$ as the global reserve currency.  They cannot replace it themselves, but they can operate outside of it, and they can support alternate global systems such as a ‘basket’ of reserve currencies, and their own digital exchange systems.   That is what truly scares the US as it sees its own debt problems trap it into hyperinflation while other countries start to shift away from supporting the US$.   That could mean war, hybrid for sure, but it could also go kinetic.

– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and analyst who examines the world through a syncretic lens.  His analysis of international and domestic geopolitical ideas and actions incorporates a lifetime of interest in current events, a desire to preserve and conserve our natural environment and stop the commodification of the environment.  He has been active as a critical writer in opposition to the US empire and its militarization of most aspects of domestic and international affairs. Miles’ work has been published globally and has appeared on a variety of websites including Palestine Chronicle, Axis of Logic, Countercurrents, and Global Research.  He has appeared on RT News and The Tyee concerning events in Palestine/Israel.  This is his first book and effectively summarizes many years, indeed a lifetime, of interest in international geopolitical and environmental affairs. He contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle. 

Apocalypse Now!

 BY GILAD ATZMON

apocalypse now.jpg

By Gilad Atzmon*

“Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.” (Proverbs 28:14)

‘Blessed is the one who always trembles before Covid19, but whoever fails to put a facemask falls into trouble.’ (CDC 2020)

For two decades, we, the people who happen to dwell on this planet, have been subjected to repeated apocalyptic hysteria. Following 9/11 we were taken into a world war against Islam as the ‘Islamists,’ we were told by our Neocon masters, were ‘intending to eradicate our civilization.’ Shortly after, the economic bubble collapsed. We were prepared for global poverty. Even as we recovered from the economic turmoil, global warming was threatening to grill us alive or maybe flush us into the ocean. In between all of those catastrophic scenarios, Isis was also a global existential threat and then came Covid-19.

Being repeatedly globally, universally and collectively terrified of an ‘imminent apocalyptic catastrophe’ is a new phenomenon. It is inherently tied to the rise of the global economy, global markets and global corporations. It may imply that we are already subject to the rule of an elusive global power whose characteristics and mode of operation are yet to be unveiled let alone discussed. It may even be that the true nature of that global power is mysterious even to itself. But the practical meaning of such a ‘new order’ and its impact on the world is there for all to see.

In theory, at least, the fear of a ‘global pogrom’ or ‘universal holocaust’ is supposed to unite us. It is designed to show us that we don’t stand a chance to fight or win alone, as individuals, as tribes, as classes, as a nation or as a continent. If we want to survive both individually as well as a human race, we are told we must act at once and as one people and obey a certain set of rules.

In the late 19th and the early 20th centuries Marxism also promised to unite us globally, make us a fist of resistance in the name of worldwide proletarian revolution. At present, it is actually the post-Marxists who break us into biologically driven identitarian fragments, and it is global capitalism and some odd tycoons who unite us by means of global fear. The threat of global apocalypse is there to undermine: the national state, local markets, local manufacturing, the old elites, the old traditions and any other recognized hegemonic setting. From a globalist perspective, it is hard not to see a certain continuum between the Marxist global prophecy and the current globalist apocalyptic ‘reality.’

In practice, things often work differently. As powerful and convincing as our apocalyptic clerics happen to be, often the reality on the ground contradicts the global prophecy. Some states were not convinced by the Neocon fantasy and refused to join the ‘war against Islam’ failing to see Islam or Muslims as a global threat. US president Trump learned recently that his plan to defeat Iran by means of sanctions on behalf of Zion may not be an easy task. Similarly, a few world leaders aren’t convinced that the planet is getting warmer (peculiarly enough, the name Trump comes to mind again). And when the current Corona pandemic started, we noticed what was the opposite of global unity. Instead, we saw borders closing down and nationalist lines resurfacing. In March, Italy was left alone to face its crisis and the EU returned to a collection of states. In the USA we see similar fragmentation among the states. Corona has become a political battle zone. It emphasizes difference, it acts to separate rather than unites us.

However new to us is the attempt to keep us under the threat of a constant ‘universal holocaust,’ such a threat isn’t new to everybody.

In my first non-fiction book, The Wandering Who, I defined a peculiar but common, mental condition. I argued that while most people are familiar with the notion of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Post TSD) – a stressful condition caused by a real or imaginary past event, it seemed to me that many self identified Jews often manifest symptoms of stress which I defined as Pre Traumatic Stress Disorder (Pre TSD). In the case of Pre TSD a human subject is tormented by the phantasy of an imaginary catastrophic event in the future. This destructive fantasy evolves into trauma that may manifest in emotionally driven irrational conduct. Pre TSD often operates as a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’- the condition in which ‘prediction’ becomes reality simply because the person who believes it adopts certain behavioral patterns that result in the fulfilment of his belief.

In ‘The Wandering Who’ I argued that many disasters in Jewish history were the direct outcome of Pre TSD. It is for instance, easy to point out that the ‘fear of anti-Semitism’ and the suppressive actions that are pushed by Jewish institutions often lead to a sharp rise in antagonism towards different aspects of Jewish politics, culture, ideology and history. Similarly, the Jewish State’s phantasmic fear of Iran’s nuclear armament that is followed by endless Israeli attacks on Iranian interests in the region deliver a clear message to Iran and every other nation in the region that a failure to possess a substantial arsenal of WMD as a means of the deterrence is, all but a suicidal act. In reality, Iran’s advanced missile technology (both precision and ballistic) is a direct outcome of Israeli Pre TSD. It is the Israeli Pre TSD that made Iran into a regional superpower that endangers Israel (i.e. self-fulfilling prophecy’).

But Israel is not alone. By the time we landed on Covid 19, Pre TSD was no longer a ‘Jewish symptom.’ Pre TSD had become a universal global condition.

Religion of Fear

Fear and fearfulness of one’s deity, is at the heart Judaic existence. ‘Fearful Jew’ (Yehudi Hared, חרד יהודי) is how the Hebrew language refers to an orthodox Jew. Anxiety is at the root of the Judaic thought. The Hebraic expression attributed to a pious Jew is ‘heaven dreading man’ (Ish Yare Shamayim, מייםש ירא איש ). The idea that a good Jew is a trembled Jew is expressed in its clearest form in Proverbs 28:14 “Blessed is the one who always trembles before God.” Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki 1040 – 1105), acclaimed for his ability to present the basic meaning of Biblical text in a concise and lucid fashion summarizes the proverb as follows: “Always (be) afraid – worry about punishment , thus moving away from transgression.”

Why do the Jews dread their God? Is it because the God of the Old Testament can easily outdo Quentin Tarantino’s most barbaric scenes? Is it because they know that the God of the Ten Plagues of Egypt wouldn’t stand a chance in The Hague? Is it because they know that their deity character is a jealous God (“For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”: Exodus 34:14)? Agnostic critics of Judaic thought may even push it further and wonder why the Jews bothered to invent such a jealous God. But it can hardly be denied that the Jews and their not so merciful deity have managed to survive for three millennia while other sophisticated and superior civilizations have, one after another, disappeared into oblivion. Surely, in terms of its survival strategy, Judaism as a precept has managed to prevail and sustain itself against all odds.

The Athens vs. Jerusalem dialectical battle serves to untangle the meaning of the current apocalyptic era and throw light on the above. In Western cultural ethos, Athens stands for the city of philosophy, the birthplace of science, the poetic and tragedy. Jerusalem is the city of revelation. The birthplace of legalism (Halacha, Mitzvoth) and strict obedience. Athens teaches you how to think for yourself. Jerusalem tells us what to say and what never to think about. Before I continue I would like to reiterate that the philosophical context in which I discuss Jerusalem and Athens does not point at a split between ‘Jews and gentiles’ as Christianity and Islam are also suffused with legalistic Jerusalemite elements. Jerusalem vs. Athens is a dialectic battle between two forms of cognition that historically often do not agree with each other. We are at the midst of such a dramatic point in history.

Like the orthodox Jew who is in constant dread of his own God, the rest of us are expected to be mobilized by different narratives of colossal universal catastrophes, be it ‘Islamism,’ global warming or Covid19. Our status in society, as in the proverb (verse 28:14) is defined by the amount of fearfulness we are willing to manifest. The facemask has become our universal ‘skullcap.’ It is a symbolic identifier of our adherence to the current politics of ‘Corona menace.’ The orthodox Germophobes cover their bodies with the latest chemical warfare gear, they wash their hands with the most advanced alcogel every two minutes, they may reach libidinal climax by the act of mitigation. Ordinary believers are slightly more relaxed. They cover their faces with light paper masks. The Atheists, the Athenians, the Agnostics and the Pagans also wear facemasks, as they are ordered to do by law, but often stick their noses out either as an act of protest or just to enjoy the rare sensation of fresh air.

We observe that those who express any doubts about the official 9/11 narrative, global warming hysteria or Covid 19 are quickly labelled by the media as ‘rightwing,’ ‘Nazis,’ Conspiracy Theorists and antisemites. And we should know why: those who question the current apocalyptic religions interfere with our ‘new monotheistic Jerusalemite order’ — they think for themselves. They are Athenian or even ‘worse,’ a bunch of Pagans.

Torah and Mitzvoth

It is a crucial question, how is Jerusalem sustained throughout history as the existence of conditions of constant fear contradict the pleasure principle*? Why would the followers of Judaism agree to follow such an abusive religion? Is it possible that followers actually enjoy being scared of their chosen not-so-merciful deity character? I believe that the most insightful answers to this were given by the genius Israeli scholar and professor, Yeshayahu Leibowitz RIP..

Leibowitz was a rare polymath. He was a scientist as well as a philosopher and he was also a pious orthodox Jew who inspired generations of Jewish and Israeli thinkers and intellectuals in general.

For Leibowitz, as for Maimonides, central to Jewish monotheism is the acceptance of the radical transcendence of God. The Jewish God is defined by its incomprehensible and inaccessible nature. Adopting a Kantian manner of thought, Leibowitz accepts that the Jewish God transcends beyond the spatio-temporal and therefore cannot be realised in terms of human experience as the human cognition of reality is bound by categories of space and time.

If God is a radical transcendental entity inherently foreign to human experience what is left to the Jew? What do the Jews believe in? Leibowitz’ answer is fascinating yet simple: throughout history, at least until the emancipation of European Jewry, Judaism was defined through strict adherence to Jewish mitzvoth, commandments of the Torah itself. For Leibowitz, Judaism is the story of the development of mitzvoth, the all encompassing system of Jewish law. Judaism is basically a legal apparatus.

One may wonder then at what is the meaning of Judaic belief. Leibowitz answer: It is the halakhic (legalistic) observance that constitutes the faith and this faith cannot be identified independently of its practice. Stated another way, Judaism is a form of strict observance and it is those rituals that constitute the faith.

For Leibowitz, to be a Jew was to accept the “burden of Torah and Mitzvoth.” To be a Jew, is to surrender, to do first and ask later, to obey blindly. To be a Jew is not to ‘believe in God’ voluntarily but to accept Maimonides’ prescription that belief in God is actually the ‘first commandment,’ out of 613 Mitzvoth (Maimonides commandment #:1 The first mitzvah is to believe in the Divinity: to believe that there is a cause and a reason, which is the Maker of all creations. As The Exalted One has said: “I am the G-d, your G-d”)

As such, Judaism is fundamentally different from both Isalm and Christianity. While in Christianity and Islam the belief in God is a voluntary act, in Judaism the ‘belief’ itself is a matter of a decree. It is an act of ‘observance,’ a practice, an affirmation by means of total subservience.

Leibowitz further observed that “Emancipation from the bondage of nature can only be brought about by the religion of Mitzvoth.” This shocking observation of the Judaic code may explain why Orthodox Judaism didn’t participate or contribute to the development of science, philosophy or Western thought. Jews were happy to be ‘emancipated from nature’ as Leibowitz describes it, immersing themselves in Torah and Mitzvoth. They left science, math, medicine, philosophy and the arts to the ‘goyim.’ It was only at the time Jewish emancipation in Europe that assimilated Jews started to familiarise themselves with Western thinking and soon after involved themselves in these fields.

Leibowitz has told us all we need to know about Covid 19 and the other apocalyptic Jerusalemite faiths that have too often imposed themselves on us. Questioning global warming, doubting 911, refusing to see Islam as a global menace and doubting, literally, anything they tell us about Covid19 will get you labeled as ‘rightwing,’ ‘Neonazi’ and an ‘anti-Semite’ because these discourses are structurally set as Jerusalemite apparatuses. As in Leibowitz’s reading of Judaism’s ethos, ‘Emancipation from the bondage of Covid 19 can only be brought about by the religion of Lockdown and Mitigation.’ We are dealing with a perception that is sustained by strict observance as opposed to a search for logos. It demands the performance of blind ‘beliefs’ that are sustained by practice and are defined by defiance of reason and curiosity. In these new global Jerusalemite apocalyptic religions, thought police algorithms set by media companies replace the traditional orthodox rabbinical vetting of that which we are allowed to say and that which we are not even entitled to think for ourselves.

Skullcap vs. Facemask

Jewish men are required to cover their heads. The Talmud states, “cover your head in order that the fear of heaven may be upon you.” A head covering acts as a symbolic identifier that displays its wearer’s subscription to belief in the Jewish God. This is how the Jewish male admits the concept of “honouring (the Jewish) God.”

The theological rationale behind the Jewish skullcap is flimsy. If God knows ‘what’ is in your heart’ as the Torah keeps repeating, there is no reason to try to deceive the Almighty by hiding your true thoughts under a skullcap. Some Rabbis in Jewish history have admitted that there is indeed a slight theological problem entangled with the skullcap as it makes the Jewish male a master over the Jewish God as the Jewish male can apparently fool God simply by covering his head.

Indeed, more than just one Rabbi contributed to the shift in the meaning of the Jewish skullcap. They decided that the skullcap is there to distinguish between Jews and the rest of humanity. The Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Ovadia Yosef, ruled at one stage that skullcaps should be worn to show affiliation with the religiously observant community. The skullcap as such, has little to do with God, it acts as a Jewish symbolic identifier; it differentiates the Jew from the Goy. It operates as a facemask within the Covid 19 religion. While scientists may agree or disagree how useful the facemask is in preventing the spread of Covid 19, the wearing of the mask confirms that you adhere to the Covid19 belief whether you agree with it or not. The wearing of the facemask makes clear that ‘blessed you are trembled before Corona.’

A few final observations are crucial in light of the above. And I am sure these observations won’t make me popular.

Since Islam and Christianity are peppered with Jerusalemite patterns of legalistic structures, it is unlikely that Islam or Christianity have the powers to emancipate us from the current tsunami of crude apocalyptic religions. This task may be left to Pagans, Agnostics and Athenians, people who extend beyond banal binaries and instead bond with the human spirit and the search for the meaning of Being. This may explain the popularity of dissenting voices like Alexander Dugin, David Icke and outlets like Unz Review and London Real that, although subject to the most restrictive authoritarian measures, only become more popular. It is because they resemble the Hebrew prophets, Jesus and Spinoza. It is true that questions to do with Being in the World are not popular in Jerusalem but history remembers Jesus, Spinoza and Heidegger, it pays zero attention to the Jerusalemites and rabbis who tried to silence them.

This also explains why Rabbinical Jews do not take Covid19 very seriously. Jews have been trembling in front of their God for 3000 years. It has worked just fine, there is no reason for them to jump into new apocalyptic regimes that clumsily attempt to clone their own. Let Covid19 run for a few millennia, let Dr. Fauci and Bill Gates assemble their Corona like ‘Torah and Mitzvoth’ before Orthodox Jews consider it as a serious candidate in their deity contest.

* Pleasure Principle – In Freudian psychoanalysis refers to the instinctive seeking of pleasure and avoidance of pain to satisfy biological and psychological needs.

*Published originally on: www.unz.com

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Visions of a Post-Covid-19 World

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by JOHN DAVIS

Photograph Source: Isengardt – CC BY 2.0

While most of us sit at home, the planet continues to warm – polar ice melts, oceans acidify, glaciers disappear, and seas rise. Plants, animals, and humans continue to be displaced from their accustomed habitats. Life in our climatological greenhouse goes on, but now, one of a trillion microbial species has our attention.

Zoonotic infections, exacerbated by urban development pushing ever further into the remaining wildlands of the world, where fauna and humanity newly comingle, are symptomatically allied to global warming. The Covid-19 pandemic is a late manifestation of ‘The Great Acceleration’, the era of unprecedented human expansion that was initiated post-WWII and has continued into this century – fueled by new technologies and a vastly expanded utilization of fossil energy. Infections are now rapidly disseminated – as the spawn of globalization – on airliners burning kerosene, and cruise ships and freighters burning diesel fuel, across global trade and tourism routes.

Accustomed to fire, flood, drought, extreme temperatures, crop failures, desertification, and the increased incidence of hurricanes and storm surges, either through direct experience or, more often, through the media, the link between the burning of fossil fuels and global warming has effectively infiltrated human consciousness – even as it continues to be fiercely denied by some. This consciousness must now expand to include these connections between fossil fuels and viral pandemics.

Since the mid-1970s, with the advent of computerized climate models, it has been scientifically irrefutable that increased CO2 levels are warming the world in life-threatening ways.  For that almost fifty-year span, we, as individuals, communities, nations and international organizations have sat on our collective hands. Action, in the form of remediation, has been characterized by its absence – the void only breached by broken promises, betrayals, futile bureaucratic machinations, and outright denials of the foundational premise for its necessity.

This spring, a plot twist unfolded in this dispiriting and stultifying saga. While we, perforce, sit at home, inured to many decades of sleep-walking towards the climate apocalypse, the skies cleared, the price of oil dropped to negative $40 a barrel (rebounding to just short of positive $20 at the time of writing) and a global reduction in carbon emissions of nearly 8% is forecast for the year. We are living the dream of effectively confronting our egregious consumption of fossil fuels. From a global warming perspective, our social isolation has been highly efficacious – the pernicious, growth-driven habits of exploitation, extraction and habitat destruction have been put on hold. A window has opened to a less polluted, less traveled, less rapidly warming, and healthier world, albeit one in which the enduring human susceptibility to viral disease has again been exposed.

While the global pandemic has put everyone at risk, the most vulnerable are the elderly, the ill, the obese, the economically distressed, the inadequately housed and the homeless, minorities, the institutionalized and all those who occupy lands governed by the inept and the venal. Across the globe, the frontline communities which suffer the ‘first and worst’ impacts of global warming are similarly devastated by Covid-19.  Yet, at a biological level, the SARS-CoV-2 virus practices rigorous non-discriminatory levels of infection.  Wealth and circumstance can only confer certain levels of protection, to which the daily obituaries attest – none of us is safe. Despite those many exposed to extreme levels of risk by the inequities of their lives, our common humanity is emphasized by our shared vulnerability to this mutated bat virus.

To recapitulate: societal response to the pandemic has slowed the frantic pace of economic activity, largely driven by the one-time energy bonus of unearthed fossil biomass, first realized in the mid nineteenth century but risen to an unprecedented frenzy since the 1950’s. This respite has moderated the climatological blow-back of a carbon-laden atmosphere. The wealth generated by fossil capital has been distributed with extreme prejudice. It has accrued to the rich (made wealthy in former times by land, inheritance, and, in the U.S. and its trading partners, by slavery) and has exacerbated those gross inequalities of power, resources and well-being originally institutionalized in feudal societies and then spread around the world through the process of colonization and conquest.

The subtext of global warming is thus exposed as the ever-widening gulf between the world’s obscenely rich and its metastasizing poor. The recent microbial intervention is revealed as a potential inflexion point in both global warming and wealth disparity.  Still wrapped in the cocoon of social isolation and stunned by the sudden freeze of economic activity, we can now ponder the form society will assume upon its emergence from these unprecedented changes of state. Jason Moore in, Capitalism in the Web of Life, 2015, writes, “Civilizations do not form through Big Bang events. They emerge from cascading transformations and bifurcation of human activity…” He suggests that capitalism “…emerged from the chaos that followed the epochal crisis of feudal civilization after the Black Death, (1347-1353).” What will emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic?

Broadly, there appear to be two competing visions. One favors a return to the status quo ante, a restoration of the old evils for the continued benefit of a tiny minority confident in their ability to ride out the coming climate cataclysm and escape the coming plagues. The other sees the potential for ‘cascading transformations’ that might lead to greater equality, opportunity and increased well-being for the majority in a world that eschews fossil fuels, moderates the escalating impacts of global warming and pulls back from rapacious habitat destruction and its concomitant exposure to novel zoonotic diseases. Recent history suggests the former vision, with little or no consideration of the latter, will prevail. The moment of clarity, expressed in climate and consciousness, will pass and progressives will resume their regular, but now carefully washed, handwringing.

The bank bailouts of 2008, after the financial crash initiated by the mortgage derivatives melt-down, will likely provide the template for the U.S. and other first-world countries re-starting their economies. Old fossil-fuel dependent heavy industries will be revived, airlines resurrected, factory-farming jump-started, the auto industry saved from bankruptcy, the oil industry revivified, and a new era of deregulation birthed – all justified by the economic crisis.

George Monbiot in his weekly Environment column for the U.K. Guardian suggests,

“This is our second chance to do things differently. It could be our last. The first in 2008, was spectacularly squandered. Vast amounts of public money were spent reassembling the filthy old economy, while ensuring that wealth remained in the hands of the rich. Today, many governments seem determined to repeat the catastrophic mistake.”

In the U.S. we can be sure that Trump will promote the feeding of the zombie economy with massive quantities of public monies and celebrate its every flicker of life as it slowly lumbers back to its accustomed habits of growth, pollution and the advertising propaganda that fuels our  search for identity and social meaning through consumption. The Club of Rome, the distinguished international think-tank that published its seminal report, The Limits to Growth, in 1972, suggests an alternative,

“Covid-19 has shown us that overnight transformational change is possible. A different world, a different economy is suddenly dawning. This is an unprecedented opportunity to move away from unmitigated growth at all costs and the old fossil fuel economy, and deliver a lasting balance between people, prosperity and our planetary boundaries.”

In the Netherlands, more than seventy academics have co-signed, Five Proposals for a Post-Covid-19 Development Model.  Leiden University’s web site, where this document originated, has, for the moment gone off-line, perhaps hacked or over-loaded. Its first proposal call for a move away from development focused on aggregate GDP, suggesting that degrowth should be applied to extractive industries and advertising, while growth is encouraged in the health, education and clean energy sectors. Its second recommends a universal basic income funded from progressive taxation, along with job-sharing and a reduced work week. Its third proposes a regenerative transformation of agriculture, local food production and fair wages for farm workers. Its fourth focuses on the need to reduce travel and heedless consumption, and its fifth suggests debt forgiveness for students, workers, small business owners and impoverished nations in the Global South.

This standard wish-list of a progressive agenda would indeed fulfill the Club of Rome’s call for ‘a lasting balance between people, prosperity and our planetary boundaries.’ Endless growth can only end in tears, yet our leaders are addicted to an expansionary economic model that continues to be fossil-fuel dependent. The extraordinary circumstances of a global stand-down as SARS-CoV-2 careens across the planet, has given us, amidst the appalling realities of viral sickness and death, a momentary vision of a saner, healthier, and a cooler world.

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More articles by:JOHN DAVIS

John Davis is an architect living in southern California. Read more of his writing at urbanwildland.org  

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