AMERICA FAILS PANDEMIC STRESS TEST

05.06.2020 

South Front

America Fails Pandemic Stress Test

Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

It is well established in scholarly literature on international conflict that whenever a country behaves in an erratic, aggressive manner, it is nearly always a reflection of deep-seated internal social, political, and economic problems which the country’s leadership is unable or unwilling to address. United States is an example of what happens when that country is a superpower facing not only international decline, but also internal decay. Zbigniew Brzezinski infamously described the Soviet Union as “Upper Volta with rockets”. That was never a fair comparison, since USSR lacked the massive pockets of poverty, social exclusion, and downright police repression that the United States boasts. Likewise the Soviet health care system could have coped with a pandemic better than the US one or even the current Russian Federation one. Today’s America, however, is that country Brzezinski spoke about. Expanding its global influence through direct, proxy, and hybrid wars became the most attractive policy tool intended to restore the health of the US economy which, since the end of the Cold War, was kept alive mainly by extremely permissive monetary policies of the US Federal Reserve which in the end inflated several stock market bubbles. Even today the Federal Reserve’s main concern is keeping the Dow Jones rally going, because a collapse on the markets would permanently cripple the US economy.

This is Philly around 5:30 today. There is just no defense for this behavior. At all.


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However, at risk of mixing metaphors, an economy built on equity bubbles is a house of card that will collapse at the slightest shock. COVID-19 proved to be that shock, a “Black Swan” event that has been predicted for many years  that would precipitate a radical transformation of domestic political systems and of the balance of power in the international system. The pandemic became a test of not just public health systems, but of the strength of each country’s economy, the cohesion of its society, and the ability of its government to govern. Even though we are still in the early stages of the crisis, we can already see that some states are passing the test (so far) with flying colors, while others are being wracked by internal turmoil. To quote Warren Buffett, when the tide recedes you see who has been swimming naked. The United States has been revealed to be quite wardrobe-challenged in this instance.

America Fails Pandemic Stress Test

The callous slow-motion torture and murder of George Floyd in the Democratic Party stronghold of Minneapolis by four police officers with long histories of brutality against ethnic minorities was the spark that ignited the powder keg of US race relations. It certainly did not help that the United States created forty million new unemployed and failed to provide them with adequate financial support, due to the infamously miserly US social safety net. And just as COVID-19 is disproportionately lethal to US ethnic minorities who suffer from a higher level of underlying medical conditions due to poverty, malnutrition, and stress, so did the job losses disproportionately affect African Americans. The average black worker does not “work from home” on his laptop computer. Rather, the average black worker is employed in food service, hospitality, and retail, all of which have been crushed by the pandemic and, especially, the lockdown measures. It is no wonder that the conservatives wanted to “re-open” the economy as quickly as possible. Chasing millions of African Americans back to their menial jobs, even when it involved them facing greater risk of infection and death, would at least deprive them of the free time they have available to protest.


Just about an hour ago, police officers shove man in Niagara Square to the ground (WARNING: Graphic). Video from: @MikeDesmondWBFO


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The Fuel

The speed with which the protests spread across the country, affecting every state and most large cities, is a reflection of the universality of the problem that the events in Minneapolis revealed. In the face of slow-motion economic collapse and the destruction of the American middle class, the US political system at both state and federal levels has subtly but effectively sought to shift the economic pain to the minorities, in order to preserve the standard of living of the white middle class on whose support the legitimacy of the US political and economic system still rests. The armed white militias that protested at several state legislatures only a month earlier are an expression of that fear. The “don’t tread on me” Gadsden Flags quite clearly express who is to be tread upon, and who is not. They are a warning that should US elites attempt to economically marginalize the white middle class, they may expect a forceful response. The weak police response to law-breaking perpetrated by armed white militias was not lost on most commentators, either. But these politics of “economic triage” where the pain is shifted to the communities of color also implies the need for heavy-handed police repression which US police forces are all too happy to deliver. US law enforcement should not be seen as a collection of politically-neutral guardians of law and order. Rather, it skews heavily toward the right, even the far-right, and it is no surprise that Donald Trump enjoys the overwhelming support of American police unions and organizations. While these trends were evident for the last decade at least, since the 2008 crisis to which the US government never found an adequate response, the pandemic accelerated it to the point of the tensions and grievances finally boiling over.

The Firehose

Whenever a fire breaks out, it is ultimately either put out or burns itself out due to lack of fuel. It is doubtful this is going to burn itself out on its own, given that the US law enforcement is now providing more provocation with its heavy-handed tactics on daily basis, and moreover neither the pandemic nor the economic crisis are going anywhere any time soon. Since the United States is now in the throes of domestic unrest not seen since the days of Vietnam War, it raises the question of what is to be done about it? Which leaders, which policies, might definitively address the grievances of the masses?

We can safely say Donald Trump will not be the one, because to the extent he is wielding a fire hose, it seems to be mostly spraying gasoline on the fire. Literally every action, every statement, every tweet, has served to polarize and exacerbate the problems. It may be Trump is doing this deliberately, hoping to replicate Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” strategy, an idea that is supported by Trump himself tweeting these words. Yes, the riots polarize, but the hope is that, when the smoke clears, Trump’s half is the bigger of the two and, like Nixon, he secures his re-election. Richard Nixon won his re-election by a landslide, even though after the fact almost nobody admitted ever voting for him. However, few things motivate voting for conservatives in the US more than the sight of black rioters and looters.

Of course, the problem Trump faces here is that Joe Biden has impeccable “law and order” credentials, complete with the ability to “dog whistle” to white conservatives. Biden, after all, is the politician who said in the 1970s he did not want his children to “grow up in a racial jungle”, and his support of anti-crime legislation which led to the mass incarceration of African-Americans in the last few decades suggests he is willing to put his money where his mouth is. Thanks to his role as Obama’s vice president, he also has certain sway among the African American community that has served him well in the primaries and obscured his previous racist record. But in the end Biden is no Obama, whose combination of personality and politics was just enough to keep America from blowing up. Biden does not have the same combination, and moreover he is presiding over an economic catastrophe that will not be as easy to rectify by throwing money at banks the way the 2008 crisis was.

The one politician who correctly identifies both problems and solutions and who also commands considerable popular support, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has been effectively sidelined by the Democratic Party which is utterly uninterested in adopting policies of economic and social justice. It means that, in the longer term, America will move toward greater police repression which will be far more easily accepted by the white public when it is done during a Biden presidency. Given that neither Biden’s nor Obama’s public appearances were effective at demobilizing the protests, it means the United States is facing the prospect of its own Yellow Vest-style uprising, namely a continuous low-level anti-government uprising that will ebb and flow but never entirely disappear.

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US’ Decline Speeding Up – Iran’s Shamkhani

US’ Decline Speeding Up – Iran’s Shamkhani

By Staff, Agencies

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council [SNSC] Rear Admiral Ali Shamkhani in a message referred to US President Donald Trump team’s empty boasting and said that the decline of the US has been speeding up.

“Empty boasting of #Trump’s team amid the decline of the US has accelerated,” Shamkhani wrote on his Twitter account on Saturday.

“Successive failures in front of the axis of resistance and international conflicts; abroad economic crisis, catastrophic health system, restriction of media, deep social & security crisis; at home are undeniable,” he added.

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a message said lawless bullying threatens international peace and security.

The European Union and the USA are threatened with disintegration الاتحاد الأوروبيّ والولايات المتحدة مهدّدان بالتفكك؟

The European Union and the USA are threatened with disintegration

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Ten years ago, when Gondoleezza Rice was a researcher and obtained a master degree in the political science she predicted of the disintegration of the Soviet Union before she assumed any governmental position. Due to her thesis she got an outstanding scientific position that allowed her to preoccupy the positions she assumed during the era of President George W. Bush. She described what will happen to the Soviet Union which actually happened “The historical empires and the great contemporary countries are disintegrated suddenly without any premises to observe or to have a long context to rely on regarding the disintegration, it is as a flood and earthquake, it just happens”. These true words can be applied on the situation of other empires and superpowers.

What the EU is witnessing nowadays in addition to the reasons of Britain’s exit from the Union as a sign of the end of the presumptive age of the Union and the popular reasons about the advantages in being in it indicate that there are serious risks that threaten the continuation of the Union which lost its mission in the international political and economic geography as a framework that includes Europe from East to West and which can replace the NATO due to the financial incentives in besieging Russia inside its borders. Today it loses its ability to present an example capable to face two kinds of crises; the first kind is the crises of the financial collapse which rocked Greece, Italy, and Spain where the EU appeared in its French and German background an interest group that is away from the threatened countries, and where its support is governed only with loan in exchange of conditions as the International Monetary Fund does. The second kind is represented by the Corona virus where the confrontation plans seemed local and where the EU seemed not exist because the support came from outside the EU especially from China and Russia which are not supposed to be among the traditional supporters.

When hundreds of Chinese doctors and experts and tons of equipment and field hospitals enter to Italy and when the Russian President Vladimir Putin opens the land route in front of his military trucks to transfer aids, experts, and doctors to Italy, then it is not an exaggeration to say that we are in front of a reverse movement of the fall of Berlin Wall since we see that the European eastern countries are accused of treason in Europe while they thank the Chinese and Russian aid as the President of Serbia did, And when we see the scene repeated in Italy and Spain by lowering the flag of the European Union and when we read articles of leaders that raise existential questions about being in the EU to the extent of doubting of the justification of its presence then we do not hesitate to ask whether the EU and the Euro system not only Schengen are threatened with collapse?

In the USA there are many serious questions about the federal system and what does it present to the states especially the states that have more income and contribution in the federal budget. After the outbreak of Corona virus, the barriers which were set on the entrances of the major roads that link the states together sound like there is a need of a visa granted by a state to the visitors of other states. Therefore, it is enough to say that the federal system has been hit in the core. New York State provides an example of how it suffers from the federal system through the miserable scenes of hospitals transmitted by the social media, where its patients are distributed on rusty iron beds in corridors, backyards, and parking. So there are major questions about the usefulness to stay under the federal system if it is incapable of providing help when disaster strikes. Therefore after Corona and along with the collapse of stock markets and banking system it is no longer surprising to witness an escalation in the debate about the justifications to bear a partnership of loss and the necessity of the federal system especially with the presence of old and renewed calls of rebellion that will meet more advocates whenever the federal system seems incapable.


Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

الاتحاد الأوروبيّ والولايات المتحدة مهدّدان بالتفكك؟

ناصر قنديل

– تنبأت غونداليسا رايس بتفكك الاتحاد السوفياتي، عندما كانت صفتها الباحثة التي نالت شهادة الدكتوراة في العلوم السياسية قبل أكثر من عشر سنوات من توليها أي مسؤولية حكومية، ونالت بسبب أطروحتها مكانة علميّة لفتت نحوها الأنظار ورشحتها للمناصب التي تبوأتها في عهد الرئيس جورج بوش الإبن، وقالت في وصفها لما سيجري في الاتحاد السوفياتي، وقد جرى فعلاً، «إن الإمبراطوريات التاريخية والدول العظمى المعاصرة، ترحل وتتفكك فجأة دون أن تمنحك مقدّمات تراقبها وتبني عليها سياقاً طويلاً ينتهي بالتفكك، إنها كما الطوفان والزلزال عملية تحدث فجأة، إنها تحدث وحسب». وهذا الكلام الذي صح في حال الاتحاد السوفياتي، لا يمكن إنكار إمكانية أن يصح أيضاً في حال غيره من الإمبراطوريات والدول العظمى.

– ما يشهده الاتحاد الأوروبي هذه الأيام، بخلفيّة فهم إضافية لأسباب خروج بريطانيا من الاتحاد كعلامة على نهاية الزمن الافتراضي لعمر الاتحاد، وبدء تبلور أسئلة شعبية حول جدوى البقاء تحت عباءته، يقول إن مخاطر حقيقية تتهدد استمرار الاتحاد، الذي فقد وظيفته في الجغرافيا السياسية والاقتصادية الدولية كإطار جامع لأوروبا بغربها وشرقها يتيح بقوة الحوافز المالية، الحلول مكان حلف الأطلسي، لمحاصرة روسيا داخل حدودها، وهو اليوم يفقد قدرته على تقديم نموذج قادر على الحياة في مواجهة نوعين من الأزمات، لا مبرر لبقائه إذا عجز عن إثبات أنه آلة جماعية أشدّ فعالية من القدرات المنفردة للدول على مواجهتها، النوع الأول هو أزمات الانهيارات المالية التي عصفت باليونان وإيطاليا وإسبانيا، وظهر خلالها الاتحاد، بخلفيته الفرنسية الألمانية، جهة مصلحية تتخذ مسافة من الدولة المهددة، وتكون مساهمتها محكومة بسقف هو الإقراض كما يفعل صندوق النقد الدولي، مقابل شروط، والنوع الثاني هو التهديد الذي مثله فيروس كورونا، حيث لم يظهر الاتحاد أنه موجود، وبدت خطط المواجهة محلية حصراً، كما بدا العجز محلياً، لكن بدت المعونة حاضرة من خارج الاتحاد، وخصوصاً من الصين وروسيا، المفترض أنهما من خارج نادي الأصدقاء التقليديين.

– عندما يدخل الصينيون بمئات الأطباء والخبراء وأطنان المعدات والمستشفيات الميدانية إلى إيطاليا، وعندما يحرك الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين الطريق البري لشاحناته العسكرية لنقل المساعدات والخبراء والأطباء نحو إيطاليا، فليس من المبالغة القول إننا أمام حركة معاكسة لسقوط جدار برلين، ونحن نرى بأمّ العين أن دول أوروبا الشرقية تتهم بالخيانة أوروبياً، وهي تتوجّه بالشكر على المعونة الصينية والروسية كما فعل رئيس صربيا، وتتسابق بإعلان تخلّيها عن علم الاتحاد الأوروبيّ، وعندما نرى المشهد يتكرّر بقوة في إيطاليا وإسبانيا، بإنزال أعلام الاتحاد الأوروبيّ، ونقرأ مقالات وآراء لقادة في الدولة والأحزاب تطرح أسئلة وجودية حول فرص البقاء في الاتحاد الأوروبيّ، وصولاً للتشكيك في مبررات بقائه، عندها علينا أن لا نتردد في طرح السؤال عما إذا كان الاتحاد، وربما منظومة اليورو، وليس منظومة الشنغن فقط، تتهدّدهم مخاطر الزوال؟

– في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية أسئلة لا تقل خطورة تتعالى أصواتها في العديد من الولايات الأميركية، حول النظام الفدرالي وماذا يقدم لولاياتهم، خصوصاً بالنسبة للولايات الأكثر دخلاً ومساهمة في الميزانية الفدرالية، ومع تفشي فيروس كورونا، ظهرت الحواجز على مداخل الطرق الكبرى التي تربط الولايات ببعضها، توحي بأن المطلوب تأشيرة دخول تمنحها الولاية لأبناء الولايات الأخرى ليتاح لهم الدخول إلى أراضيها. وهذا كافٍ للقول إن النظام الفدرالي أصيب في الصميم، وتقدم ولاية نيويورك نموذجاً عما تعانيه مع النظام الفدرالي عبر المشاهد التي تتناقلها وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي لمستشفياتها، بحال تدعو للشفقة، على مرضى يتوزعون أسرة حديدية صدئة، في الممرات والباحات الخلفية ومواقف السيارات، وأسئلة كبرى عن جدوى البقاء في النظام الفدراليّ ما دام عاجزاً عن تقديم النجدة عند وقوع الكارثة، وبعد زلزال كورونا لن يكون مستغرباً، مع تداعي البورصات والنظام المصرفي، أن نشهد تصاعداً في النقاش حول مبررات تحمل الشراكة في الخسائر، وحول جدوى النظام الفدرالي نفسه، تلاقي دعوات استقلال، قديمة متجددة لأصوات وازنة في عدد من الولايات تنادي بالتمرّد على الصيغة الفدرالية، وستلقى مزيداً من المؤيدين كلما بداً النظام الفدرالي عاجزاً.

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Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for?

March 23, 2020

by Ramin Mazaheri exclusive for the Saker Blog

In any sane, modern nation a financial crisis combined with a (due to sub-standard) health care crisis would almost certainly produce election victories for progressive, big-government candidates.

Few call the US sane, and many say it’s not even modern. Iranian relatives of mine visit they US and say: that place is a falling-down dump – and it’s not like the TV show “Friends”, neither. The problem is that they had already seen places like South Korea, China and other modern nations.

Of course South Korea has the technological ability to smart-test and smart-track, and probably smart-cure, the Corona virus into remission: when I was there in 2013, covering the Korean nuclear war hysteria/diversion (version 14.0), I realised Korea had passed a major human threshold when I found that they had done away with physical keys – doors locks are digitised. That is like building a better mousetrap; the door key must be one of the oldest, least-improved upon inventions in human history, but young Seoulians only see them in history books.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating: millions are going to be unemployed in the US as a result of a hugely, hugely drastic shutdown of the West’s two native continents. It defies all Marxist logic that neo-imperial Rome would do this, so I’m quite at a loss. Either it’s mass hysteria, or the 1%ers believe all must be sacrificed to protect the health of the Hamptons, or the West’s leaders don’t know what they hell are doing (as I recently discussed here). The Corona conspiracy thing – sure, nothing is impossible… just give me proof I can print, first.

The reality is that my focus on the economic impact of Corona is just not shared by my many of my journalistic colleagues – they just don’t care about economics, period. Trying to talk economics with them is how they must feel trying to talk Kardashian with me – my thoughts are entirely superficial (as well as unprintable).

So none of them can likely concentrate enough to comprehend this brief paragraph: the West has decided to add an “Everything-Is-Tanking Bubble” on top of the “Everything Bubble”. For those who have followed economic trends since way back in 2008, “Everything Bubble” is really “Everything Bubble 2”, of course. Quantitative Easing and Zero Interest Rate Policies – a.k.a. “helicopter money” and “no-strings attached central bank loans, because the loans will surely trickle-down” – have only re-inflated the 1%er dominated asset classes like stocks and real estate to new record-dangerous levels.

The markets are tanking – and by that I mean every market (although crypto has held on – S. Koreans are big fans). Safe havens like gold are also tanking, so even The New York Times knows that this phenomenon is “weird”. “Weird” is a word that adolescents love to use because it is so vague and can cover anything – it is thus nearly useless,, and one would think that the world’s greatest journalistic enterprise could find better writers than that… but no. It’s a “weird” time precisely because the rich, investor class knows that central banks have since 2008 foolishly wasted all their ammo and can now only print paper.

And what’s wrong with massive money printing? Nothing, sometimes.

It has taken 12 years but we are finally seeing a “People’s QE” possibly being passed in the US. (No MSM is using that phrase, of course – that would be “weird”.) Surely it’s going to be well-written: it is being cobbled together and slammed through Congress as fast as possible in order to prevent more “rich people” markets from tanking. Anyway, giving some $1,000 per American might actually see QE invested into the “real” economy, and thus improve it far more than using it for stock buybacks ever did.

This is good news. I’m all for the downfall of neo-imperial Rome… but I do hate to see the lower classes suffer, and suffer they already are. The stay-at-home orders in the helicopter Mom-dominated Northeast, Chicago and West Coast are being met with a universal cry: “So how do I pay my rent?”

A People’s QE… finally. If, and that’s a big “if”, it is actually passed. Newspaper editorial boards across the country are already screaming that it will be wasted by 99%-er peons, or that it will be uselessly saved, or that we will anger the vengeful one true god – the markets – with such an intervention. How dare we blaspheme? WWHD – What Would (Alexander) Hamilton Do?

Well, does Trump want to get re-elected?

If so, he better jump all over this Huey Long moment.

Huey Long was the Depression Era governor of Louisiana who famously promised “a chicken in every pot”, and was assassinated for it of course.

He was rather character assassinated in the tremendously fine classic novel, All The King’s Men by poet Robert Penn Warren, whose main flaw was that he likely was – like most poets – totally disinterested by economics, that most un-metaphorical of disciplines. The 2006 movie version was an artistic assassination of the novel, but who in 2006 Hollywood was pushing economic populism? Who in Hollywood ever pushed economic populism?

Despite rejecting race-baiting Long is synonymous with the evils of populism in the US. Go watch some of his speeches on youtube: it is incredible to see the type of body language he used, as well as other politicians did back then. If he’s not pounding the lectern he is theatrically twirling an upraised fist over and over before smashing it into his palm. Nobody can do stuff like that in 21st century America – soccer Moms would cower, and hipsters too.

But the Depression Era was not about niceties. And neither is Trump, of course. The screen shot of him crossing out “Corona” virus on a speech and replacing it with “Chinese” virus exemplifies this. Trump is terrible – a neo-fascist – and we all knew this going in. Another Long slogan was “Every man a king”, but Trump always viewed only himself as the one true king.

Well, I can report that in France many fellow Muslims have told me that they have seen the light: many will vote for Marine Le Pen in the 2nd round of the 2022 presidential election IF Macron is the other option (ugh!). Why? Because economics is more important that racism; identity politics is for fake-leftists – class warfare for real ones. Nobody, Muslim or not, wants to vote for Le Pen in 2022, but more Macronism? Nobody in the 99% should vote for that twice.

Maybe Trumpism can be different? He’s certainly running out of time, but maybe Corona is when Trump becomes the not-neo-fascist populist which many had initially hoped for?

Maybe Trump becomes the 21st century Huey Long, which is what the overwhelming majority of America wanted in 2016, given that: no, you stupid MSM journalist, the average Trump voter is not a rabid White supremacist, merely “White Trash” (To use seemingly the only ethnic slur which has not been “reclaimed” in the PC era – it is, of course, a class slur more than an ethnic slur).

“Ramin, why are you writing books about socialism but pushing Trump, then Le Pen, now Trump again and then probably Le Pen again! You are too complicated – no wonder you are unmarried!”

Well that’s not holding back on me, LOL! I can take the tough criticisms, though – can’t dish ‘em out, otherwise. And, fool that I am, I chose to be a journalist so….

I am “pushing” Trump because it seems certain that the Democratic candidate this November will be the senator from America’s tax haven state; the right-hand man of guy who said to Latino media (here),“The truth of the matter is that my policies are so mainstream that if I had said the same policies back in the 1980s I’d be considered a moderate republican,” Barry Obama; and a guy whom in me evokes no sense of warm, sentimental, safe, elderly, youth-fearing nostalgia – Joe Biden.

Biden is terrible. Biden has been a corporate tool his whole career, and that’s why he was placed on the dais next to Obama in 2008, as we all know. Hell, Biden is now senile – that doesn’t get better, you know?

Biden in office means People’s QE remains the same-old Corporate QE. Biden in office means nothing changes – status quo-ism reigns. How can we advance socialism if – out of fear of big, bad, racist Trump – we keep cowering in status-quoism?

So I reject that I am “playing devil’s advocate” – I am not an adolescent (nor French), and I know the devil doesn’t need any more help than he already has. (Or “she” already has – I don’t want to micro-trigger someone here.)

Can Trump become Baby Huey? Well, for those who really want to know: Listen to me – hear what I say: No, I don’t think Trump can.

Trump has never been a neo-populist but a neo-fascist. He is a race-baiter and totally in bed with corporate domination of the lower classes. The MSM can’t talk about neo-fascism and the reality of it in America – because they support it of course – thus they have focused exclusively on the race-baiting part; that allows the soccer moms, hipsters and snowflakes a chance to virtue-signal about how terrible racism is while doing nothing about it structurally other than posting a yard sign about how “Hate doesn’t live here”.

But one can’t blame my imagination for getting fired up when – after a decade of covering QE from Paris – I read about a QE which may not totally go directly into the pockets of private bankers, stockholders, landlords and luxury goods owners. Full disclosure: I, too, am currently rather desperate for $1,000.

Trump is going to have to be some sort of a leftist populist to get re-elected because millions are going to be unemployed in the US. The lower classes will demand it, even in America.

Hell, the custodial class – whom nobody in the US writes about it – is seemingly going to be decimated by corona, right? Why are there no political cartoons lauding them as heroes – only for doctors? Nobody cares about the custodial worker class in the West – not only are they poor, they are also non-White. Such an unheard of view can only be thought of by someone who has embraced socialism in their heart, and one who views no worker as disposable Trash.

But Western capitalism-imperialism certainly does view workers of all colors as disposable. Something drastic has to be done about it – I doubt Trump cares, but he does seem to prefer being president to going back to starring in a reality show.

The Deep State undoubtedly and immediately attacked Trump for his effort to rejigger US foreign policy and free trade policy, but he does appear so very, very ethically malleable; he certainly can connect with the average American. Could he be a new Huey?

Watch some Huey Long, railing here against “the 4%” and you’ll see that the answer is no, of course. Why? because Trump’s huge ego would be tremendously insulted if anyone said he was part of “the 4%” and not the 1%; not part of the .1%; not the .01%!

Unlike Huey Long: “How many men ever been to a barbecue and would let one man take off the table what they intended for nine tenths of the people to eat? The only way you’d ever be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of dat grub he ain’t got no ‘bidness with!”

Huge applause indeed! That’s hilarious and awesome American politics! No wonder they shot him.

The US cannot do better than that, they have proven – America is not even close to socialist revolution. Yes, there are socialists in the US of course, but a Baby Huey is surely the best they can do this November. Hell, they ran to Biden even before the Corona crisis and they probably will stone the “rabble rouser” “socialist” Sanders now.

And it’s not like race-baiting isn’t still ruining the American psyche. But we have the MSM to thank for that, along with doing everything they could have done to inflame – rather than calm – the Corona crisis.

And $1,000 isn’t going to cut it. Not by a long shot.

So no matter how you look at it 2020 is looking tough for America – somebody might even have to pound a lectern?

PS – I am not complicated, LOL! It is Western politics which are unnecessarily complicated! And contradictory! Don’t blame me for trying to bring some sense to it all.

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

A Lesson Coronavirus Is About to Teach the World

By Jonathan Cook

Global Research, March 19, 2020

If a disease can teach wisdom beyond our understanding of how precarious and precious life is, the coronavirus has offered two lessons.

The first is that in a globalised world our lives are so intertwined that the idea of viewing ourselves as islands – whether as individuals, communities, nations, or a uniquely privileged species – should be understood as evidence of false consciousness. In truth, we were always bound together, part of a miraculous web of life on our planet and, beyond it, stardust in an unfathomably large and complex universe. 

It is only an arrogance cultivated in us by those narcissists who have risen to power through their own destructive egotism that blinded us to the necessary mix of humility and awe we ought to feel as we watch a drop of rain on a leaf, or a baby struggle to crawl, or the night sky revealed in all its myriad glories away from city lights.

And now, as we start to enter periods of quarantine and self-isolation – as nations, communities and individuals – all that should be so much clearer. It has taken a virus to show us that only together are we at our strongest, most alive and most human.

In being stripped of what we need most by the threat of contagion, we are reminded of how much we have taken community for granted, abused it, hollowed it out. We are afraid because the services we need in times of collective difficulty and trauma have been turned into commodities that require payment, or treated as privileges to which access is now means-tested, rationed or is simply gone. That insecurity is at the root of the current urge to hoard.

When death stalks us it is not bankers we turn to, or corporate executives, or hedge fund managers. Nonetheless, those are the people our societies have best rewarded. They are the people who, if salaries are a measure of value, are the most prized.

But they are not the people we need, as individuals, as societies, as nations. Rather, it will be doctors, nurses, public health workers, care-givers and social workers who will be battling to save lives by risking their own.

During this health crisis we may indeed notice who and what is most important. But will we remember the sacrifice, their value after the virus is no longer headline news? Or will we go back to business as usual – until the next crisis – rewarding the arms manufacturers, the billionaire owners of the media, the fossil fuel company bosses, and the financial-services parasites feeding off other people’s money? 

‘Take it on the chin’ 

The second lesson follows from the first. Despite everything we have been told for four decades or more, western capitalist societies are far from the most efficient ways of organising ourselves. That will be laid bare as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

We are still very much immersed in the ideological universe of Thatcherism and Reaganism, when we were told quite literally: “There is no such thing as society.” How will that political mantra stand the test of the coming weeks and months? How much can we survive as individuals, even in quarantine, rather than as part of communities that care for all of us?Western leaders who champion neoliberalism, as they are required to do nowadays, have two choices to cope with coronavirus – and both will require a great deal of misdirection if we are not to see through their hypocrisy and deceptions.

Our leaders can let us “take it on the chin”, as the British prime minister Boris Johnson has phrased it. In practice, that will mean allowing what is effectively a cull of many of the poor and elderly – one that will relieve governments of the financial burden of underfunded pension schemes and welfare payments.

Such leaders will claim they are powerless to intervene or to ameliorate the crisis. Confronted with the contradictions inherent in their worldview, they will suddenly become fatalists, abandoning their belief in the efficacy and righteousness of the free market. They will say the virus was too contagious to contain, too robust for health services to cope, too lethal to save lives. They will evade all blame for the decades of health cuts and privatisations that made those services inefficient, inadequate, cumbersome and inflexible.

Or, by contrast, politicians will use their spin doctors and allies in the corporate media to obscure the fact that they are quietly and temporarily becoming socialists to deal with the emergency. They will change the welfare rules so that all those in the gig economy they created – employed on zero-hours contracts – do not spread the virus because they cannot afford to self-quarantine or take days’ off sick.

Or most likely our leaders will pursue both options.

Permanent crisis 

If acknowledged at all, the conclusion to be draw from the crisis – that we all matter equally, that we need to look after one another, that we sink or swim together – will be treated as no more than an isolated, fleeting lesson specific to this crisis. Our leaders will refuse to draw more general lessons – ones that might highlight their own culpability – about how sane, humane societies should function all the time. 

In fact, there is nothing unique about the coronavirus crisis. It is simply a heightened version of the less visible crisis we are now permanently mired in. As Britain sinks under floods each winter, as Australia burns each summer, as the southern states of the US are wrecked by hurricanes and its great plains become dustbowls, as the climate emergency becomes ever more tangible, we will learn this truth slowly and painfully. 

Those deeply invested in the current system – and those so brainwashed they cannot see its flaws – will defend it to the bitter end. They will learn nothing from the virus. They will point to authoritarian states and warn that things could be far worse. 

They will point a finger at Iran’s high death toll as confirmation that our profit-driven societies are better, while ignoring the terrible damage we have inflicted on Iran’s health services after years of sabotaging its economy through ferocious sanctions. We left Iran all the more vulnerable to coronavirus  because we wanted to engineer “regime change” – to interfere under the pretence of “humanitarian” concern – as we have sought to do in other countries whose resources we wished to control, from Iraq to Syria and Libya.

Iran will be held responsible for a crisis we willed, that our politicians intended (even if the speed and means came as a surprise), to overthrow its leaders. Iran’s failures will be cited as proof of our superior way of life, as we wail self-righteously about the outrage of a “Russian interference” whose contours we can barely articulate. 

Valuing the common good 

Those who defend our system, even as its internal logic collapses in the face of coronavirus and a climate emergency, will tell us how lucky we are to live in free societies where some – Amazon executives, home delivery services, pharmacies, toilet-paper manufacturers – can still make a quick buck from our panic and fear. As long as someone is exploiting us, as long as someone is growing fat and rich, we will be told the system works – and works better than anything else imaginable. 

But in fact, late-stage capitalist societies like the US and the UK will struggle to claim even the limited successes against coronavirus of authoritarian governments. Is Trump in the US or Johnson in the UK – exemplars of “the market knows best” capitalism – likely to do better than China at containing and dealing with the virus?

This lesson is not about authoritarian versus “free” societies. This is about societies that treasure the common wealth, that value the common good, above private greed and profit, above protecting the privileges of a wealth-elite.

In 2008, after decades of giving the banks what they wanted – free rein to make money by trading in hot air – the western economies all but imploded as an inflated bubble of empty liquidity burst. The banks and financial services were saved only by public bail-outs – tax payers’ money. We were given no choice: the banks, we were told, were “too big to fail”.We bought the banks with our common wealth. But because private wealth is our era’s guiding star, the public were not allowed to own the banks they bought. And once the banks had been bailed out by us – a perverse socialism for the rich – the banks went right back to making private money, enriching a tiny elite until the next crash.

Nowhere to fly to 

The naive may think this was a one-off. But the failings of capitalism are inherent and structural, as the virus is already demonstrating and the climate emergency will drive home with alarming ferocity in the coming years.

The shut-down of borders means the airlines are quickly going bust. They didn’t put money away for a rainy day, of course. They didn’t save, they weren’t prudent. They are in a cut-throat world where they need to compete with rivals, to drive them out of business and make as much money as they can for shareholders.

Now there is nowhere for the airlines to fly to – and they will have no visible means to make money for months on end. Like the banks, they are too big to fail – and like the banks they are demanding public money be spent to tide them over until they can once again rapaciously make profits for their shareholders. There will be many other corporations queuing up behind the airlines. 




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Sooner or later the public will be strong-armed once again to bail out these profit-driven corporations whose only efficiency is the central part they play in fuelling global warming and eradicating life on the planet. The airlines will be resuscitated until the inevitable next crisis arrives – one in which they are key players.

A boot stamping on a face

Capitalism is an efficient system for a tiny elite to make money at a terrible cost, and an increasingly untenable one, to wider society – and only until that system shows itself to be no longer efficient. Then wider society has to pick up the tab, and assist the wealth-elite so the cycle can be begun all over again. Like a boot stamping on a human face – forever, as George Orwell warned long ago.

But it is not just that capitalism is economically self-destructive; it is morally vacant too. Again, we should study the exemplars of neoliberal orthodoxy: the UK and the US.

In Britain, the National Health Service – once the envy of the world – is in terminal decline after decades of privatising and outsourcing its services. Now the same Conservative party that began the cannibalising of the NHS is pleading with businesses such as car makers to address a severe shortage of ventilators, which will soon be needed to assist coronavirus patients.

Once, in an emergency, western governments would have been able to direct resources, both public and private, to save lives. Factories could have been repurposed for the common good. Today, the government behaves as if all it can do is incentivise business, pinning hopes on the profit motive and selfishness driving these firms to enter the ventilator market, or to provide beds, in ways beneficial to public health.

The flaws in this approach should be glaring if we examine how a car manufacturer might respond to the request to adapt its factories to make ventilators.

If it is not persuaded that it can make easy money or if it thinks there are quicker or bigger profits to be made by continuing to make cars at a time when the public is frightened to use public transport, patients will die. If it holds back, waiting to see if there will be enough demand for ventilators to justify adapting its factories, patients will die. If it delays in the hope that ventilator shortages will drive up subsidies from a government fearful of the public backlash, patients will die. And if it makes ventilators on the cheap, to boost profits, without ensuring medical personnel oversee quality control, patients will die.

Survival rates will depend not on the common good, on our rallying to help those in need, on planning for the best outcome, but on the vagaries of the market. And not only on the market, but on faulty, human perceptions of what constitute market forces.

Survival of the fittest 

If this were not bad enough, Trump – in all his inflated vanity – is showing how that profit-motive can be extended from the business world he knows so intimately to the cynical political one he has been gradually mastering. According to reports, behind the scenes he has been chasing after a silver bullet. He is speaking to international pharmaceutical companies to find one close to developing a vaccine so the United States can buy exclusive rights to it.

Reports suggest that he wants to offer the vaccine exclusively to the US public, in what would amount to the ultimate vote-winner in a re-election year. This would be the nadir of the dog-eat-dog philosophy – the survival of the fittest, the market decides worldview – we have been encouraged to worship over the past four decades. It is how people behave when they are denied a wider society to which they are responsible and which is responsible for them.




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But even should Trump eventually deign to let other countries enjoy the benefits of his privatised vaccine, this will not be about helping mankind, about the greater good. It will be about Trump the businessman-president turning a tidy profit for the US on the back of other’s desperation and suffering, as well as marketing himself a political hero on the global stage.

Or, more likely, it will be yet another chance for the US to demonstrate its “humanitarian” credentials, rewarding “good” countries by giving them access to the vaccine, while denying “bad” countries like Russia the right to protect their citizens.

Obscenely stunted worldviewIt will be a perfect illustration on the global stage – and in bold technicolour – of how the American way of marketing health works. This is what happens when health is treated not as a public good but as a commodity to be bought, as a privilege to incentivise the workforce, as a measure of who is successful and who is unsuccessful.

The US, by far the richest country on the planet, has a dysfunctional health care system not because it cannot afford a good one, but because its political worldview is so obscenely stunted by the worship of wealth that it refuses to acknowledge the communal good, to respect the common wealth of a healthy society.

The US health system is by far the most expensive in the world, but also the most inefficient. The vast bulk of “health spending” does not contribute to healing the sick but enriches a health industry of pharmaceutical corporations and health insurance companies.

Analysts describe a third of all US health spending – $765 billion a year – as “wasted”. But “waste” is a euphemism. In fact, it is money stuffed into the pockets of corporations calling themselves the health industry as they defraud the common wealth of US citizens. And the fraudulence is all the greater because despite this enormous expenditure more than one in 10 US citizens has no meaningful health cover.

As never before, coronavirus will bring into focus the depraved inefficiency of this system – the model of profit-driven health care, of market forces that look out for the short-term interests of business, not the long-term interests of us all.

There are alternatives. Right now, Americans are being offered a choice between a democratic socialist, Bernie Sanders, who champions health care as a right because it is a common good, and a Democratic party boss, Joe Biden, who champions the business lobbies he depends on for funding and his political success. One is being marginalised and vilified as a threat to the American way of life by a handful of corporations that own the US media, while the other is being propelled towards the Democratic nomination by those same corporations.

Coronavirus has an important, urgent lesson to teach us. The question is: are we ready yet to listen?

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This essay first appeared on the author’s blog site, Jonathan Cook’s blog.

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

Featured image is from Health.milThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Jonathan Cook, Global Research, 2020

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