End the Shutdown

undefined

The shutdown of the American economy by government decree should end. The lasting and far-reaching harms caused by this authoritarian precedent far outweigh those caused by the COVID-19 virus. The American people—individuals, families, businesses—must decide for themselves how and when to reopen society and return to their daily lives.

Neither the Trump administration nor Congress has the legal authority to shut down American life absent at least baseline due process. As Judge Andrew Napolitano recently wrote, business closures, restrictions on assembly and movement, and quarantines are not constitutionally permissible under some magic “emergency” doctrine. At a minimum, the federal government must show potential imminent harm by specific infected individuals at some form of hearing or trial.

These due process requirements are not suspended.

State and local officials may claim, or even possess, lawful police powers to shut down their communities. We offer no analysis of such powers or claims under the myriad of state constitutions and authorizing legislation. But they should resist exercising these powers. The governor of Virginia, in particular, deserves admonition for unilaterally imposing a lengthy period of virtual house arrest.

We do not know, and cannot yet know, how many Americans will become sick or die from the virus. We do know that predictions regarding infection and death rates are highly unreliable. Even actual deaths attributable to COVID-19 are not so easy to count, as Italy has discovered. Age, general health, and comorbidity are difficult variables to assess, and people may die “with” the virus but not “from” it. It is also very difficult to assess the lethality of the virus relative to previously known types of flu and colds.

To date, COVID-19 deaths in the US are far fewer than deaths in ordinary flu seasons or from past pandemics such as the H1N1 virus. This understanding is critically important to put the virus, and the government response to it, in perspective. Even during past pandemics, depressions, and world wars, Americans went to work.

In 1850, French economist Frédéric Bastiat helped the world understand the “seen and unseen costs” of state policies. It is simple to see how quarantines and lockdowns will slow the spread of COVID-19. It is critical, but not so simple, to see the costs and harms caused by the economic shutdown.

Only then can we rationally understand the tradeoffs involved. 

How many Americans suffering from other illnesses cannot see a doctor now? How many Americans will lose their jobs, their life savings, their retirement prospects, and their incalculable feeling of self-worth? How many will succumb to depression, drug or alcohol abuse, and suicide? How many will lose their homes, divorce their spouses, or suffer abuse? How many will never recover in their careers? How many small businesses, including the vital ones of doctors, dentists, and veterinarians, will vanish from your community? How many young people will “fail to launch”?

Worse still, will grocery stores and gas stations remain open and stocked? Will crime spike? Will the American social fabric, already thin from politics, tear apart?

These questions are not rhetorical. All of these things happened, to a degree, following the Great Recession of 2008. They will happen again—very soon—if we fail to act immediately. Tomorrow, on April 1, millions of Americans will not pay rent or mortgages. Millions of small businesses will shutter, just as many large employers such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, airlines, and hotels already have. Millions of service workers are unemployed already, but many more jobs will be lost. The effects will cascade.

There is no conflict between humanitarian and economic concerns; in fact they are flipsides of the same coin. A poorer America will be a much less healthy America, one more vulnerable to future illness and disease. Technology, modern medicine, and market actors can address a virus; already we see entrepreneurs producing cheaper ventilators and doctors using cheap generic drugs with very promising results.

This local, bottom-up approach is the only effective way to confront the virus. The federal government, as we see now and have in the past, is comically incapable of competence in times of crisis. 

On a fundamental level, freedom really is more important than security—or, in this case, an illusion of security. We all demonstrate this in our personal lives every day, from flying to driving to riding bicycles, to consuming unhealthy food and drink simply because we like it. Security has never been the sole or even primary goal for a country born in rebellion.

Government cannot decide what aspects of our lives are essential or nonessential. The American people cannot simply sit at home and wait for government checks written on funds that government does not have.

End the shutdown.

Reprinted with permission from Mises.org.

End the Shutdown

undefined

The shutdown of the American economy by government decree should end. The lasting and far-reaching harms caused by this authoritarian precedent far outweigh those caused by the COVID-19 virus. The American people—individuals, families, businesses—must decide for themselves how and when to reopen society and return to their daily lives.

Neither the Trump administration nor Congress has the legal authority to shut down American life absent at least baseline due process. As Judge Andrew Napolitano recently wrote, business closures, restrictions on assembly and movement, and quarantines are not constitutionally permissible under some magic “emergency” doctrine. At a minimum, the federal government must show potential imminent harm by specific infected individuals at some form of hearing or trial.

These due process requirements are not suspended.

State and local officials may claim, or even possess, lawful police powers to shut down their communities. We offer no analysis of such powers or claims under the myriad of state constitutions and authorizing legislation. But they should resist exercising these powers. The governor of Virginia, in particular, deserves admonition for unilaterally imposing a lengthy period of virtual house arrest.

We do not know, and cannot yet know, how many Americans will become sick or die from the virus. We do know that predictions regarding infection and death rates are highly unreliable. Even actual deaths attributable to COVID-19 are not so easy to count, as Italy has discovered. Age, general health, and comorbidity are difficult variables to assess, and people may die “with” the virus but not “from” it. It is also very difficult to assess the lethality of the virus relative to previously known types of flu and colds.

To date, COVID-19 deaths in the US are far fewer than deaths in ordinary flu seasons or from past pandemics such as the H1N1 virus. This understanding is critically important to put the virus, and the government response to it, in perspective. Even during past pandemics, depressions, and world wars, Americans went to work.

In 1850, French economist Frédéric Bastiat helped the world understand the “seen and unseen costs” of state policies. It is simple to see how quarantines and lockdowns will slow the spread of COVID-19. It is critical, but not so simple, to see the costs and harms caused by the economic shutdown.

Only then can we rationally understand the tradeoffs involved. 

How many Americans suffering from other illnesses cannot see a doctor now? How many Americans will lose their jobs, their life savings, their retirement prospects, and their incalculable feeling of self-worth? How many will succumb to depression, drug or alcohol abuse, and suicide? How many will lose their homes, divorce their spouses, or suffer abuse? How many will never recover in their careers? How many small businesses, including the vital ones of doctors, dentists, and veterinarians, will vanish from your community? How many young people will “fail to launch”?

Worse still, will grocery stores and gas stations remain open and stocked? Will crime spike? Will the American social fabric, already thin from politics, tear apart?

These questions are not rhetorical. All of these things happened, to a degree, following the Great Recession of 2008. They will happen again—very soon—if we fail to act immediately. Tomorrow, on April 1, millions of Americans will not pay rent or mortgages. Millions of small businesses will shutter, just as many large employers such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, airlines, and hotels already have. Millions of service workers are unemployed already, but many more jobs will be lost. The effects will cascade.

There is no conflict between humanitarian and economic concerns; in fact they are flipsides of the same coin. A poorer America will be a much less healthy America, one more vulnerable to future illness and disease. Technology, modern medicine, and market actors can address a virus; already we see entrepreneurs producing cheaper ventilators and doctors using cheap generic drugs with very promising results.

This local, bottom-up approach is the only effective way to confront the virus. The federal government, as we see now and have in the past, is comically incapable of competence in times of crisis. 

On a fundamental level, freedom really is more important than security—or, in this case, an illusion of security. We all demonstrate this in our personal lives every day, from flying to driving to riding bicycles, to consuming unhealthy food and drink simply because we like it. Security has never been the sole or even primary goal for a country born in rebellion.

Government cannot decide what aspects of our lives are essential or nonessential. The American people cannot simply sit at home and wait for government checks written on funds that government does not have.

End the shutdown.

Reprinted with permission from Mises.org.

Bob Dylan’s Midnight Message to JFK’s Ghost

For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak with most miraculous organ.

— Hamlet

On May 1, 1962, President John Kennedy was meeting in the Oval Office with a group of Quakers who were urging him to do more for peace and disarmament.  As he kept explaining the great political opposition he was facing within his own government, they kept urging him to do more.  He listened very closely to their words and finally said, “You believe in redemption, don’t you.”  By the next spring he had turned decisively toward the peacemaking the Quakers had urged upon him, resulting in his murder in the fall by treacherous government forces, led by the CIA, that opposed him all along.

Now that Dylan has burst forth from behind his many masks and gifted the world with his incandescent new song about the assassination, with a title taken from Hamlet, from the mouth of the ghost of the dead King of Denmark –“Murder Most Foul “– we have entered a new day in an odd way.  For those who have wondered over the years if Dylan had “sold out,” here is their answer. For those who have wondered if he would go to his grave reciting the words of T.S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock – “I am no Prince Hamlet nor was meant to be” – here is Hamlet’s booming response. Not only does this song lay bare the truth of the most foundational event in modern American history, but it does so in such a powerfully poetic way and at such an opportune time that it should redeem Dylan in the eyes of those who ever doubted him.

I say “should,” but while the song’s release has garnered massive publicity from the mainstream media, it hasn’t taken long for that media to bury the truth of his words about the assassination under a spectacle of verbiage meant to damn with faint praise.  As the media in a celebrity culture of the spectacle tend to do, the emphasis on the song’s pop cultural references is their focus, with platitudes about the assassination and “conspiracy theories,” as well as various shameful and gratuitous digs at Dylan for being weird, obsessed, or old.  As the song says, “they killed him once and they killed him twice,” so now they can kill him a third time, and then a fourth ad infinitum.  And now the messenger of the very bad news must be dispatched along with the dead president.

The media like their Hamlets impotent and enervated, but Dylan has come out roaring like a bull intent on avenging his dead president.

He has the poet’s touch, of course, a hyperbolic sense of the fantastic that draws you into his magical web in the pursuit of deeper truth.  In many ways he’s like the Latin American magical realist writers who move from fact to dream to the fantastic in a puff of wind.

Dylan is our Emerson.  His artistic philosophy has always been about movement in space and time through song.  Always moving, always restless, always seeking a way back home through song, even when, or perhaps because, there are no directions.  “An artist has got to be careful never to arrive at a place where he thinks he’s at somewhere,” he’s said.  “You always have to realize that you are constantly in a state of becoming and as long as you can stay in that realm, you’ll be alright.”

Sounds like living, right?

Sounds like Emerson, also.  “Life only avails, not the having lived.  Power ceases in the instant of repose; it resides in the moment of transition from a past to a new state, in the shooting of the gulf, in the darting to an aim.  Thus one fact the world hates, that the soul becomes.”

“Murder Most Foul” is Dylan’s soul becoming

“A song is like a dream, and you try to make it come true.  They’re like strange countries that you have to enter.  You can write a song anywhere …. It helps to be moving.  Sometimes people who have the greatest talent for writing songs never write any because they are not moving,” he wrote in Chronicles. 

“Murder Most Foul” is a moving song in every sense of the word – a trip to truth.

Dylan has long been accused of abandoning his youthful idealism and protest music.  I think this is a bum rap.  He was never a protester, though his songs became anthems of the civil rights and anti-war movements.  There is no doubt that those songs were inspirational and gave people hope to carry on the good fight.  But in turning in a more oblique and circumspect musical direction, following his need to change as the spirit of inspiration moved him, Dylan’s songs came to inspire in a new way. You could always tell his sympathies lay with the oppressed and downtrodden, but for decades he didn’t shout it, with perhaps the one exception being the powerful, hard-hitting, and mesmeric Hurricane in 1975.  With that one he stepped into the ring to brawl.

But for the most part over the years, a listener has had to catch his drift. If you go to the music, and dip into his various stylistic changes over the decades, however, you will find a consistency of themes.  He deals with essentials like all great poets.  Nothing is excluded.  His work is paradoxical.  Yes, he’s been singing about death since twelve, but it has always been countered by life and rebirth.  There is joy and sadness; faith and doubt; happiness and suffering; injustice and justice; romance and its discontents; despair and hope.  His music possesses a bit of a Taoist quality mixed with a Biblical sensibility conveyed by a hopelessly romantic American.  He has fused his themes into an incantatory delivery that casts a moving spell of hope upon the listener.  He is nothing if not a spiritual spell-binder; similar in many ways to that other quintessential American – the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, whose best work was a poetic quest for an inspired salvific poetry.

While speaking the unspeakable truth about President John Kennedy’s murder might seem hopeless, it is actually a sign of great hope.  For our only hope is in telling the truth, which Bob has done.

This is art, not theory, and art of a special kind since Dylan is an artist at war with his art.  His songs demand that the listener’s mind and spirit be moving as the spirit of creative inspiration moved Dylan.  A close listening will force one to jump from line to line, verse to verse – to shoot the gulf – since there are no bridges to cross, no connecting links.  The sound carries you over and keeps you moving forward. If you’re not moving, you’ll miss the meaning.

I have no wish to explicate the poet’s brilliant work.  It speaks for itself.  It says far more than it actually says about a system rotten to the core, a country where everything went wrong since “The day the killers blew out the brains of the king/Thousands were watching, no one saw a thing.”

If you listen to Dylan’s piercing voice and follow the lyrics closely, you might be startled to be told, not from someone who can be dismissed as some sort of disgruntled “conspiracy nut,” but by the most famous musician in the world, that there was a government conspiracy to kill JFK, that Oswald didn’t do it, and that the killers then went for the president’s brothers.

Your brothers are comin’, there’ll be hell to pay
Brothers? What brothers? What’s this about hell?
Tell them, “We’re waiting, keep coming,” we’ll get them as well

This is an in-your-face tale, set to music with a barely tinkling piano, a violin, and a soupçon of percussion, whose lightest words, as Hamlet’s father’s ghost said to him:

Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres,
Thy knotty and combinèd locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.

“Murder Most Foul” truly startles.  It is a redemptive song.  Dylan holds the mirror up for us. He unlocks the door to the painful and sickening truth.  He shoves the listener in, and, as he writes in Chronicles, “your head has to go into a different place.  Sometimes it takes a certain somebody to make you realize it.”

Bob is our certain somebody. In these dark times he has offered us his voice.

You believe in redemption, don’t you?

“Can I Keep You Safe? Your Future Is Uncertain”: Climate And The Fate Of Humanity

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the most immediate objective is to slow its spread, minimise the death toll and help people through the crisis.  But, despite government promises to support citizens who are now losing their jobs and income, the underlying establishment concern will be as it always has been: to preserve the global inequitable system of wealth and power.

Private interests, including airlines, fossil fuel industries and sinister-sounding ‘businesses crucial to national security‘, have been busy lobbying governments for taxfunder-paid bailouts. Notoriously, Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic even asked its employees to take eight weeks of unpaid leave, while hundreds of thousands in the UK are struggling to access benefits after becoming unemployed.

Governments are now channelling money into the economy in amounts that have not been seen since the Second World War. However, there have been calls to ensure that public rescue packages should only be agreed if major changes are made to the economy, including significant public ownership of business. There should also be legal and financial consequences for socially irresponsible or criminal corporate behaviour. Surely this all makes sense and would have massive public approval?

So far, the omens are not good. Last week, the US approved a $2 trillion ‘financial stimulus package’ largely intended to prop up the corporate economy. Zach Carter, a senior reporter at HuffPost, warned that:

It is not an economic rescue package, but a sentence of unprecedented economic inequality and corporate control over our politics that will resonate for a generation.

It represents a transfer of wealth and power to the super rich from the rest of us, with the support of both political parties ― a damning statement about the condition of American democracy.

In particular, as we will see below, many voices are rightly urging political leaders around the world not to abuse public funds by bailing out corporations that are complicit in climate breakdown. Instead, the priority should be to stimulate the vitally-needed transition to a truly green economy.

‘An Unraveling Of Our Planet’s Entire Life Support Systems’

The previous global economic crisis and financial meltdown of 2007-2009 only led to a temporary dip in carbon emissions. Vested interests moved quickly at that time to ensure that there would be no long-term shift to a low-carbon future.  In the US alone, $700 billion in public money was given as an initial bailout in 2008 to the very banks who were responsible for the crisis. But public funds were funnelled into the financial system for years afterwards, rising to almost $5 trillion by 2015.

Kyla Tienhaara, an environment and economy researcher at Queen’s University, Ontario, notes of oil, gas and coal corporations after the 2008 crash:

The fossil fuel lobby ensured that carbon capture and storage projects sucked up a significant amount of green stimulus funds, but not a lot of carbon dioxide.

With academic understatement, she warns now that:

Bailouts to the fossil fuel industry and airlines would be monumentally counterproductive.

Daniel Kammen, a professor of energy at the University of California at Berkeley, uses stronger wording:

It would be insane to reflate the fossil economy as it was.

Basav Sen, who directs the Climate Policy Project at the US-based Institute for Policy Studies, is clear:

We’re facing down not just a pandemic and a global economic meltdown, but an unraveling of our planet’s entire life support systems.

He adds:

A healthy future for oil and gas inevitably means a bleak future for most humans and for ecosystems. At precisely the time that scientists say we should be phasing out oil and gas production, a bailout to this destructive industry is a giant step backwards.

Mary Robinson, the former Irish president who served twice as UN climate envoy, warns:

‘Money has poured into the fossil fuel industry since the Paris agreement [of 2015]. That can’t continue.

The figures involved are almost beyond comprehension. A new study by an alliance of US-based environmental groups reveals that the world’s largest investment banks have pumped more than £2.2 trillion into climate-wrecking fossil fuels. US bank JP Morgan has been the biggest offender, responsible for over £220 billion in oil, gas and coal projects.

It was economists at JP Morgan who issued a stark warning last month that the climate crisis threatens the very survival of humanity. Inevitably, there was no sign from the investment bank that it would respond with the only obvious sane move: the immediate cessation of all its fossil fuel funding. Instead, the bank was at pains to point out that the alarming study came from a team that was ‘wholly independent from the company as a whole’.

Does anything more clearly sum up the madness of a global economy fuelled by climate-wrecking industry and Big Money? Not even the imminent threat of human extinction is enough to divert the current profit-driven course towards the abyss.

Civilisation’s demise would be the ultimate crash resulting from a deeply unjust corporate-driven global system of finance and economics.  Even now, at this terminally late stage of human existence, BBC News can only tangentially hint at the grim reality, with bland headlines such as:

Climate change: The rich are to blame, international study finds.

Roger Harrabin, the grandly-titled BBC ‘environment analyst’, wrote that:

The rich are primarily to blame for the global climate crisis, a study by the University of Leeds of 86 countries claims.

Note the BBC newspeak: ‘claims’; not ‘reports’ or ‘concludes’. The BBC article continued in typically anodyne fashion:

The wealthiest tenth of people consume about 20 times more energy overall than the bottom ten, wherever they live.’The researchers warn that:

unless there’s a significant policy change, household energy consumption could double from 2011 levels by 2050.

2050? Three decades away? We simply do not have that much time. The United Nations insisted two years ago that humanity has only until 2030 to make the radical and drastic carbon cuts necessary to prevent merely the worst impacts of global warming.

For obvious reasons, there is no sustained critical reporting in ‘mainstream’ media about the destructive nature of the global system of profit maximisation and endless ‘economic growth’. As we have long observed, you simply cannot expect the corporate media to report the truth about the corporate world.

Battered By Propaganda

A core problem for society is that we have been battered by a system of propaganda that tells us repeatedly – or simply takes as a given – that capitalism, despite a few ‘failures’ or ‘flaws’, has been primarily responsible for huge progress in the human condition since the Industrial Revolution. However, as economic anthropologist Jason Hickel correctly observes, we should reject this ‘fairytale’ promulgated by big business, political leaders and state-corporate media.

In reality, it has been people at the bottom of the pile – working for centuries to extend the voting franchise, setting up trade unions, improving healthcare and education – who have been primarily responsible for advancements in living standards. These grassroots factors, says Hickel, ‘are the forces that matter’.

Even Noam Chomsky, the world’s most renowned dissident, only ever appears rarely in the ‘mainstream’ to critique the ruling inequitable economic system and the charade that passes for ‘democracy’. Ideologically correct-thinking editors and journalists in the major news media, selected by a system that rewards obedience to power, are unlikely to offend their employers by promoting ‘extreme’ views like Chomsky’s:

What our leaders are good at, and have been very good at for the last 40 years, is pouring money into the pockets of the rich and the corporate executives while everything else crashes.

Meanwhile, climate scientists continue to wave their arms frantically about climate breakdown, trying in vain to make governments and business divert from their disastrous course towards human extinction. A new study of human-caused emissions of methane from the extraction and use of fossil fuels may have been ‘severely underestimated’. Emissions are likely 25-40 per cent even higher than previously thought.

Inevitably, climate records continue to tumble. Researchers are now warning that the polar ice caps are melting six times faster than in the 1990s:

The ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica is tracking the worst-case climate warming scenario set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Is it any wonder, after decades of ignored ‘wake-up calls’, that climate scientists are venting their feelings of powerlessness and despair? Joe Duggan, a science communicator at Australian National University, has been running a six-year project collating such responses from climate researchers.

One scientist, Professor Katrin Meissner of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, told Duggan that:

I feel powerless and, to a certain extent, guilty. I feel like I have failed my duty as a citizen and as a mother because I was not able to communicate the urgency of the situation well enough to trigger meaningful action in time.

What we are doing right now is an uncontrolled, risky experiment with the planet we live on.

Dr Jennie Mallela, of Australian National University, commented:

So how do I feel? Frustrated, angry that our science is ignored by politicians, scared for my husband [a bushfire fighter] and all the others who are on the frontline fighting these fires and trying to help.

But mostly I feel devastated for my son, and his generation, who will have to heal this planet and live with the mass environmental destruction we have caused.

Environmental scientist Alexandra Jellicoe recently published a beautiful and heartfelt open letter to her young children:

Can I keep you safe? Your future is uncertain. Can I prepare you for that? […] I am brokenhearted. What is a mother if she cannot keep her child safe?

She continued:

I imagine sometimes what I would like to do to keep you safe in this terrifying world we have created. I imagine an army of compassionate people fully informed of the risks who live freely enough to disrupt the fossil fuel economy. We would hijack the media and create urgent public awareness campaigns…

The hardest work, I imagine, would be to create a world that is kinder, less competitive and more equal. Philanthropy and aid are not solutions for the world’s poorest but the symptoms of a broken global economy. My army and I would rage at the injustice of it all, driven forward in the knowledge that these things must be addressed to keep you safe.

In short:

We are at a cross-roads now. You have two futures and I am powerless to influence which finds you.

As individuals, it may sometimes feel that we are powerless. But the brighter, safer, saner future can still be attained, if we remember that together we have more power than the destructive forces driving us towards extinction.

Corona is More Than a Health Disaster:  It’s a Human Calamity

The New York Times of March 20, asks rhetorically: “Is Our Fight Against Coronavirus Worse Than the Disease?”

The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, was declared a pandemic by WHO’s Director General, Dr. Tedros, on 30 January 2020, when outside of China there were only 150 WHO-registered infections. This declaration as a pandemic – nowhere justified – has devastating effects on the entire world population and the world’s socioeconomic fabric. The globe is literally on lock-down, until who knows, but the latest date put forward by President Trump is 12 April 2020. It can almost be taken for granted that the date will have global validity. The world at large dances to the tune of the United States.

Some ten days ago, Mr. Trump declared, that this “situation” is enough and that it is time to get the economy working again. He is a business man and knows best. He suggested March 30 for going back to work. He then must have gotten instructions from his higher-ups, that more time was needed – this is just my guess – to prepare whatever sinister plan is in the making. So, he postponed by two weeks the “back-to-normal” day.

The coronavirus, COVID-19, has a catastrophic impact on the world, on the population, on the economy, and most importantly on the livelihoods of about a quarter of the world population, who are at the margin or below the level of vulnerability and precariousness. Without work, even occasional hourly or daily work to make some money to buy food, these people are doomed – doomed to die from disease, famine or sheer neglect. Their disappearance will be unnoticed. They are the non-people.

This fake pandemic is imposed on almost every country of the 193 UN members. It is “fake”, because when the pandemic was declared, as said before, there were only 150 cases outside of China, in a population of 6.4 billion people. This is by no stretch of imagination a pandemic. Noteworthy is, this decision was taken by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos (21 – 24 January 2020), behind closed doors, by an entirely non-medical, but political body. Dr. Tedros, WHO’s DG, who for the first time in WHO’s history is not a medical doctor, was present.

The short- medium- and long-term impact of this decision will be of a dimension that nobody can fathom at this time. It may bring a paradigm shift in our lives and society that mankind has never experienced in the last 200 years and beyond.

In Germany, scientists with integrity start moving, standing up against authority, telling them the facts. Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, Professor Emeritus of Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, sent an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling for urgent re-evaluation of the response to Covid-19, asking the Chancellor five crucial questions. This is the letter, dated 26 March 2020.

What about China? You may ask. China is different. Virologists in Wuhan found out very early that what was originally called 2019-nCoV (renamed by WHO to COVID-19), was nothing else but a stronger mutation of the SARS virus that hit Hong Kong and China in 2002 / 2003 and which killed worldwide 774 people. Since the SARS virus was tailor-made for the Chinese genome, Chinese scientists knew that its new and stronger mutation was also focused on the Chinese DNA.

China also knew, since it was a lab-made virus, that it came from outside, probably from the US which is waging an economic war against China. A deadly virus may be an ideal and invisible tool to weaken China and her economy. Therefore, without a moment of hesitation, China declared as quarantined large areas of the country, and later proceeded to a complete lock-down. Thanks to this fast reaction by President Xi and the people’s discipline, China is now in control of COVID-19 – and her economy is rapidly recovering.

It is like a global coup d’état, carried out by an invisible Deep Dark State – in certain select countries imposing curfew and even house arrest on everyone – not by guns or bombs, not by rolling tanks in the streets and an oppressive police force, but by an invisible tiny-tiny enemy, a microscopic virus. Can you imagine! It’s sheer genius. Controlling the world by – a virus. You have to give it them. The 0.01% has brought the 99.99 % to their knees and begging, begging for mercy. Begging for vaccinations, ignorant of the cocktail of substances that this malignant dark force may want to inject into your body. Please, please bring us vaccines. People will run into the streets – when it is allowed again – offering their arms and bodies to anyone who comes with a syringe.

The injections may be nefarious agents that sterilize, that may bring long-term neurological damage, damages that may be passed on to future generations, DNA-manipulating proteins, life-reducing agents? Injections may also comprise an electronic nano-chip that keeps track of all personal data, from health records to bank accounts. At the stage of total despair, people are not interested. They want to get rid of fear and sleep again in peace at night.

This man-made outbreak of a pandemic is not new. Of course, it’s never mentioned in the mainstream media that the corona virus COVID-19 is laboratory-made (and so are SARS, MERS, H1N1 Swine Flu, Ebola, Zika and many more), and that outbreaks can be and are being targeted on specific populations. In fact, the infamous Plan for a New American Century (PNAC), which is still very much alive, in its update of 2000, mentions on p.60 – that future wars may not be fought with conventional or nuclear weapons, but with invisible agents, biological weapons, viruses which are more effective than conventional weapons and don’t destroy infrastructure.

The new corona is the making of a bonanza for Big Pharma. It was planned for years, and patterned on the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak, or the H1N1 virus. It lasted for about a year – April 2009 to April 2010. According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Swine flu killed about 12,500 people in the US, and caused worldwide about 300,000 deaths. Contrary to COVID-19, the vast majority, about 80%, of H1N1 infected people were under 65.

Then, like today, WHO declared a pandemic – green light for the pharma industry to race for the production of a vaccine. The Big Pharma promised they could produce 4.9 billion H1N1 vaccines – they delivered millions to governments – which by the time they arrived were no longer used, because the flu was over. The taxpayers paid billions in vain. Since the annual flu mutates from year to year, there was no use to keep the vaccines. What some governments did, though – listen to this! – they sent them to Africa as development assistance, where the vaccines, of course, were equally useless.

Today, we are again confronted with a tireless 24 x 7 propaganda machine, dishing out fear and anxiety  because of an invisible virus. An enemy that cannot be seen by the population. An enemy that cannot be followed, for example, how it spreads, or doesn’t spread. An enemy that the people just have to believe the authorities exists. How clever! Propaganda and fear are enough to dominate within a few weeks the entire world population.

For example, a new Oxford University Study concluded that COVID-19 most likely exists in the UK since January 2020, and that in the meantime about half of the British population has been infected, and is, thereby, immunized against the virus. Most people have none or only mild symptoms. This would mean that only about 1 out of 1,000 infected people needs to be hospitalized. This corresponds to the common flu or less. Here the study .

An American physician and the founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, Dr. David Katz, says:

I am deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near-total meltdown of normal life — schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned — will be long-lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself. The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.

Nobody of those who hyped-up the pandemic-panic seems to have a clear view of the Big Picture. Government officials around the world are co-opted. They follow orders. They know they must. Or else. This is an important step to bring about this gigantic societal paradigm change for the New World Order (NOW) to reign. It involves a shift or enormous sums of resources over time, in the quadrillions, perhaps quintillions, being moved from the common people to a small elite, or “Dark Deep State”, for lack of another term.

Key Organization Implementing the Dark State’s Destructive Endeavor

There is a little-known agency, called Agenda ID2020 which is behind implementing the Dark Deep State’s agenda. The infamous Agenda ID2020 is a public-private partnership, including UN agencies and civil society. Key partners include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (co-founder), the Rockefeller Foundation (co-founder), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance that “brings together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries”; Accenture, A global management consulting and professional services firm; and IDEO.Org, an international consulting firm, “to design products, services, and experiences to improve the lives of people in poor and vulnerable communities.”

Agenda ID2020’s principal objective is implementing an electronic ID program that uses generalized vaccination as a platform for digital identity. In May 2016, at the impulse of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the United Nations Office for Partnership (UNOFP) organized an international Summit in New York to create Agenda ID2020. According to the Summit’s own website, Agenda ID2020 is a strategic, global initiative launched in response to the Sustainable Development Goal 16.9: “Provide legal identity to all, including birth registration, by 2030 …. harnessing Digital Identity for the Global Community…. Around one-fifth of the world’s population (1.8 billion people) is without legal identity, which deprives them of access to healthcare, schools, shelter.”

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 16 is to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” To implement and justify this objective, the vaccination king, Bill Gates, needed a special sub-goal, No.16.9 – see above.

Agenda ID2020 is closely linked to GAVI, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization – also a Bill Gates creation. Gavi identifies itself on its website as a global health partnership of public and private sector organizations dedicated to “immunization for all”. GAVI is supported by WHO, and needless to say, its main partners and sponsors are the pharma-industry.

The ID2020 Alliance at their 2019 Summit, entitled Rising to the Good ID Challenge”, in September 2019 in New York, decided to roll out their program in 2020, a decision confirmed by the WEF in January 2020 in Davos.

Curiously, on October 18, 2020, The Gates Foundation, WEF and the Johns Hopkins Institute for Public Health sponsored Event 201 in New York City. Essentially, Event 201 focused on simulating a worldwide epidemic, which was coincidentally based on the SARS outbreak and called 2019-nCoV, the name first given to the outbreak in China, before WHO changed it to a more generic form, COVID-19.

The simulation resulted over an 18-month period in 65 million deaths worldwide, a stock market dive of 15%-plus and countless bankruptcies and unemployment. Just a few weeks later, the first 2019-nCoV infected person was identified in Wuhan. Coincidence?

Is it also just a coincidence that ID2020 is being rolled out at the onset of what WHO calls a Pandemic?  Or is a pandemic needed to ‘roll out’ the multiple devastating programs of ID2020?  See also here.

After three months of the outbreak, and only two weeks of complete world lock-down, we can already see signs of disastrous obliteration as the stock market dove at least 30%, wiping out savings of small investors, bringing about bankruptcies of millions and millions of small and medium-sized enterprises around the globe, creating unemployment of biblical proportions, untold misery, poverty, famine, and deaths  by starvation, homelessness, despair, absence of health care, and ultimately suicide.

The New York Times reports on 27 March, more than 3.3 million new claims for unemployment benefits, in an economy that is coming apart. President Trump on 27 March signed a bill for US$ 2 billion as a rescue package. Nobody really knows whom and how this money should benefit the desperate and jobless, the hungry and homeless. This money is peanuts as compared to the overall damage to the US economy alone. Now, at the beginning of the crisis it is estimated at between US$ 3 and US$ 5 trillion, about a fourth of US GDP. Worldwide – US$ 10 to US$ 20 trillion. And, we are far from the end of the calamity.

In developing countries, or the Global South, where poverty for a large proportion of the population is already rampant, the impact of this man-made disaster is even worse and potentially irreversible. The NYT reports that an estimated 1.7 billion people worldwide are in an acute precariousness.

Developing countries, especially big cities, have a large “informal” sector – often 30% or higher of the so-called work-force – which consists mostly of younger people from age 15 to 35, who have no fixed jobs, who find occasional work on a daily or hourly basis on weekly wages that allow them just barely to survive. With small enterprises or construction sites coming to a halt — going broke in most cases — these people have no longer even a minimal income. Their numbers will grow, as the economy is spiraling further into recession, the magnitude of which is uncertain, but most likely gigantic, and possibly irrecoverable.

These people, moneyless, roofless, hungry, and often sick and desperate, they may turn to crime, or to suicide. In Greece, for example, according to the Lancet, the suicide rate increased almost exponentially after the 2008 / 2009 also man-made debt-driven depression (by Greece’s European traitors). Crime rates may explode. Hungry people have nothing to lose. Looting supermarkets for food and other shops for cash is nothing new. Shanty towns in Europe and North America may rapidly proliferate. Migration to rich or richer countries may explode.

Countries will be offered “rescue” type loans by the sorts of the World Bank and the IMF. The WB has already offered at least US$ 12 billion to alleviate the adversities of the COVID-19 crisis. The IMF started out with US$ 50 billion, and now following demand. from an estimated already 60 countries, upped the ante to a trillion. Some IMF board members call for the creation of a special fund of up to 4 trillion SDRs (Special Drawing Rights).

The “rescue” of these countries will be sheer debt bondage.  Even if low interest, debt has to be repaid and the collateral is privatization of social services, infrastructure, concessions to foreign corporations to exploit their natural resources, oil, gas, forests, water, minerals, all what the rich oligarchs who stand behind this criminal Agenda ID2020 covet. And so, another shuffling of funds from the grassroots to the top will take place – and further dependence and enslavement of people and entire nations is in the books.

Conspiracy theory?  Yes, of course, that’s what they always say. Those who are attempting to wake people up, to tell them how corrupt the western system functions, are not only “fake news” conspiracy theorists, but they are linked to the Kremlin or to Beijing, as Russian or Chinese assets. That’s standard.

The next step in this paradigm shift is uncertain.  It may not follow immediately after this corona-crisis. That would be too obvious. Instead there may be a respite – where the people may breathe – and forget. Yes, forget. Because that is an important tool of those who manage and manipulate humanity, our forgetfulness. We may ask ourselves, what makes very-very rich and powerful people so pathologically inhumane for wanting to dominate not only mankind, but the entire Mother Earth with all her rich resources? What is it that brings about so much evil?  I don’t have the answer.

On a positive note…

After Dark follows Light. That’s a universal law of nature. And as the saying goes, every dark cloud has a silver lining. Might it be that this low-intensity ticking of the world may have an earth rejuvenating effect? Big portions of industrial pollutions have been wiped out, and healthier, oxygenated air moves in. Air and water are in constant transition. They move fast and endlessly. Even a short break in the lambasting of nature may bring bright results which, in turn, may inspire changes in human behavior. And a whole new ecological ball game may emerge.

Trees are breathing again, the sea starting to regenerate her constantly moving marine life, heavy industrial chimneys spewing out carbon dioxide have stopped – the skies get bluer, the grass greener, insects return and are happily chirping away, and the birds start singing again.  A dream?  Some of it may have begun. There may be some humans who awakened to this new potentially cleaner, healthier and safer environment, a world of smiles that reflects the light that is gradually replacing the dark. New, clean and safe life-sustaining activities may be born and come to light. We don’t know. But we hope. Dynamics are unpredictable, but endless.

We, mankind, do have the spiritual capacity to abandon the disaster path of western neoliberal capitalism, and instead espouse solidarity, compassion and love for each other, for our society and for Mother Earth, nourishing the emerging new era of Light.

While Trump Fights Coronavirus, Pompeo’s On The Warpath

Keep your eye on Pompeo! President Trump is understandably distracted by the coronavirus outbreak in the US but in the "never let a good crisis go to waste" mode, the neocons in his Administration - led by Pompeo - are launching their war plots without the normal scrutiny. Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Russia - the long knives are coming out. Trump has been able to put the kibbosh on Pompeo's plans before, but a distracted Trump is in danger of losing control of his foreign policy. Launching a foolish war in the midst of the current crisis would surely spell disaster for the president. Watch today's Liberty Report:

What is Socialist Psychology? Lev Vygotsky, Activity Theory and Socio-historical Psychology

PART ONE

Orientation

The field of psychology is a big capitalist business, whether it is helping capitalists with advertising, finding new consumers, selling self-help books to an anxious public, or helping psychiatrists or counselors make a living off of people’s misery. There are six schools of psychology:  psychoanalysis, behaviorism, humanistic psychology, cognitive psychology, physiological psychology and evolutionary psychology. While all these schools are different from each other, they all have in common stripping individuals from their social and historical identity and either ignoring it, suppressing it or are unaware of it. They then present this isolated, alienated individual of capitalist society as ground zero, as normal.

The purpose of these two  articles is to suggest a psychological ray of hope for all socialists who have rightfully been suspicious of the field of psychology or those who have put up with therapists who tell them their problems are due to:  a) lousy parenting; b) positive or negative reinforcement; c) conditional love; d) cognitive distortions; e) chemical imbalances in the body; f) evolutionary mismatches or sexual selection maladaptation. In other words, everything but cut-throat competition and capitalist irrationalities. How do socialists navigate our psychological problems when both the analysis and the remedies are all products of a capitalist society?

Lev Vygotsky is currently “hot stuff” in the field of American psychology. But as in the case of Freud, his work comes to the United States truncated and sanitized as it crosses the Atlantic. These “neoliberal” (Ratner) American psychologists praise the work of Vygotsky as the “father of cooperative learning” or discuss his learning theory as “zone of proximal development” solely in micro-interpersonal ways. They ignore the impact of macro-cultural forces like capitalism, state surveillance, propaganda, class stratification, anti-democratic politics or the prison industrial complex on psychological issues. These bourgeois psychologists either don’t know or actively suppress the reality that Vygotsky was a Marxist who wanted to build a communist psychology which is ontologically and epistemologically at odds with the social contract theory of society that these neo-liberal psychologists consciously or unconsciously support. As a Marxian psychologist in the Soviet Union Vygotsky set out to answer the question: what would a communist psychology look like?

This article will begin with a high contrast between what capitalist psychology is and what socialist psychology would be like in general. Secondly, I will contrast the differences between atomistic, organic and dialectical theories of human development in general. Third, I will contrast the developmental theories of Vygotsky to the well-known theories of the great cognitive psychologist Jean Piaget in childhood and adolescent development. This will be Part I.

In Part II I will show how socio-historical psychology can explain the psychological changes whole societies go through as the economy, the technology and the politics of society change. I will cover the work that Alexander Luria did with the Russian peasants to show how their perception, identity and cognition changed because of the revolutionary changes in Czarist Russia as Russia moved to be industrialized under socialism. Next I will discuss what a Marxian theory of the emotions looks like and how it contrasts with bourgeois theories of the emotions. Then I  will discuss how socialist therapy would differ from bourgeois therapy. Under socialist therapy the group would be the basic unit of psychological transformation rather than the individual. Lastly, we will apply Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development not to learning opportunities in child development, which is what Neoliberal psychologists do, but how the zone of proximal development (renamed by one scholar “the zone of proletarian development”) helps us to understand revolutionary situations.

I Capitalist vs Socialist psychology

Capitalist psychology splits the individual from his social, historical and class identity. It takes the stripped-down, isolated, alienated individual as human nature and its point of departure. Socialist psychology connects the individual to the type of society we live under (capitalist), the historical period in which we live (a descendant phase of capitalism), and our social class location (upper-middle, middle or working class) as our point of foundation. Most every psychological problem is rooted in the chaotic nature of all three systems and how they interact.

Capitalists eternalize alien relations under capitalism and treat them as if they were always there. They project how people learn, think, emote and remember under capitalism into other historical periods. For example, they present narcissism, attention-deficit disorders or manic depression as present in tribal or state civilizations just as much as they are under capitalism. On the other hand, socialist psychology is historically sensitive to how changes in the political economy will create, amplify or destroy, narcissism, attention-deficit disorder or manic depression. Different social formations create different psychologies and different systems of health or pathology. Narcissism, the preoccupation with oneself and sense of entitlement, are products of capitalist society. In Colonial America there was no such thing as narcissism.

In socialist psychology, working class, middle class and upper middle class have different psychologies of emotion, thinking, remembering, love making or mental disturbances. There is a reason why working-class men and women die seven to ten years younger than middle classes. They are hammered into the ground early by the kind of work they do, the neighborhoods they live in and their eating and drinking habits. In capitalist psychology social class is ignored. Psychological theories, whether cognitive, humanistic, physiological or evolutionary act as if class doesn’t matter. Bourgeois psychology will reluctantly cede ethnic or gender differences as a result of the political work done by liberals in the past but last 50 years. But Yankee psychologists either ignore social class or assume that there are three social classes, upper, middle and lower middle. This is a 70 years out-of-date stratification system. Sociologists today agree there are at least 6 social classes and they are deeply graded.

Capitalist psychology treats human consciousness as if it were separate from human practice. In other words, what people do for a living and how their work affects them has no serious bearing on their sense of awareness. States of consciousness are treated as if the individual were free to be aware of whatever they want. In socialist psychology what a person does in work over and over again affects and shapes the parameters of their consciousness. All consciousness is class consciousness.

Every social class lives in a little micro-bubble of reality. A working-class person inhabits a world of religion, community, recreational habits, child-rearing and occupational awareness that is rooted in wage labor. A middle-class person experiences world of religion, community, recreation, music, child-rearing and occupational habits from a salaried professional viewpoint. Crossing states of consciousness is awkward because class states of awareness are different. This is why attempts by “human resources professionals” to get social classes to mix at company picnics rarely turns out well as middle managers will change tables and sit with other middle managers and cashiers and factory workers will disrupt attempts to integrate classes at tables and will sit with members of their own social class.

Capitalist psychology assumes people are fundamentally selfish, as if we individuals are like Hobbes’ atoms, greedy, insensitive, grasping and mindlessly crashing into each other. Whether it is Freud’s ego or the behavioral motivation of pain or pleasure, individuals’ primary motivation is self-interest. A socialist psychology understands people are primarily collectively-creative. This is demonstrated when workers are given the opportunity to operate cooperatives, create workers councils in revolutionary situations or even during natural disasters. Selfishness is a product of capitalism and not the primary way human beings operate.

The contradictions within capitalist economic relationships are visited on the emotional life of its individuals. Capitalist divide-and-conquer strategies create racism on the job by giving privileges to white workers to keep them from uniting with minorities for better pay. Capitalists expect loyalty to sports teams even when the owners move the team away and the players sell themselves to the highest bidder. Capitalists expect working-class loyalty to a nation and for them to fight wars, while capitalists exercise no loyalty to workers when they relocate in another nation where the costs of labor and land are cheaper. In socialist psychology where the forces of production (technology and methods of harnessing energy) and the relations of production (the political economy) are harmonious human beings are not pulled and pushed in opposite directions.

In capitalist psychology the intelligence of people is determined by tests which ask individuals to answer questions on an IQ test. This ignores the fact that most real-life situations occur at work where people’s intelligence is harnessed by having to cooperate with others. For Vygotsky, true intelligence is measured first by their cooperative relationship with people at work before they have internalized the skills. Intelligence is further tested when they apply what they have internalized at work to non-work situations, such as play or artistic or scientific endeavors outside of work. Vygotsky called this cooperative learning the “zone of proximal development”.

In capitalist psychology the unconscious is personal. What is unconscious is a history of what is behind the scenes in an individual’s personal life. In Freud’s case, that would be a painful past. For a socialist psychology what is unconscious, at least for the working class,  is a “social” unconscious. It is the repressed collective creativity of the human past, dead labor, that causes this individual to have “social amnesia”. The wisdom that has accumulated from revolutionary situations: the heroic stance of the Paris Commune; the heroism of Russian factory councils and the workers’ self-management experiments in Spain from 1936-1939. All this is blocked from the individual. To make this social unconscious conscious is to make the working class shapers of history rather than just being a product of it.

In capitalist consumption, commodities are fetishized. Commodities acquire a life of their own and oppress the very people who created them. Capitalist psychology has nothing to say about this. Besides Wilhelm Reich, Erich Fromm is the only psychologist in any of the six schools of psychology I know who attempted to create pathological category of neurosis called “the marketing type”. Most capitalist psychologists accept accumulation of commodities and capitalist mania for accumulation as not worth capturing as a diagnostic category.

For a socialist psychology, our work – collective creative activity – is the very process that makes us human. It can raise us to heaven (under socialism) or condemn us to hell (life under capitalism) but there is nothing neutral or private about it. Meaningful work is what makes us most human. For capitalist psychology, work is just something to either put up with or derive private pleasure from. Life for bourgeois psychologists begins when an individual has leisure time. Work under capitalism still possesses a religious root of the result of original sin.

For capitalist psychologists’ individuals have free will and they more or less freely choose their situations. Religious institutions, educational manipulation, propaganda, legitimation, mystification and collusion in oppression is completely Greek to them. For socialist psychologists all these forms of socio-political control affect free will. While none of these processes by themselves or even all together determine a person’s free will, the options people choose to exercise are significantly constrained.

Lastly, speaking therapeutically, capitalist psychology glorifies the private relationship between the individual and the therapist. The individual’s private world is best handled away from other individuals. This, despite the research that says group therapy has a better success rate. In a socialist psychology theory the group is not just a witness to the drama of the individual. Rather it is the vehicle for individual development. Socialist psychology encourages individuals to find their lost group identity and to learn that through cooperation in groups personal problems can be either gotten rid of or minimized. More of this in Part II.

II Theories of Development: mechanistic, organicist and dialectical

Any theory of human development must consider the relationship between biological processes (the brain), psychological processes (the mind) and social structures and processes. In this section I have followed the work of Jonas Langer (Theories of Development); Klaus Riegel (Psychology, My Love); Heinz Werner’s Comparative Theory of Mental Development, and lastly, Valsiner’s book on Werner (2005).

There are four major theories of human development. The Freudian psychoanalytic theory is not included here because most of Freud’s theory has been either proven wrong or it has not been subjected to scientific experiment. Of the four theories, nativist, behavioral, constructionist and socio-historical, the first three come out of bourgeoisie psychology which began at the end of the 19th century. Only the last theory is socialist.

This first theory, nativism, goes as far back as the turn of the century. Nativists have argued that heredity and genetic predispositions are primarily, if not exclusively, the drivers of human development.

Later, evolutionary psychologists (Cosmides and Tooby) have added a more dynamic approach by specifying the evolutionary reasons why some behaviors are more adaptive than others. All nativists see change as gradual and continuous. Gesell, Buhler and Hall would emphasize that the individual is passive (genetically determined) and the environment is passive because it takes generations before new adaptive skills are required. Since most nativists don’t have specific stage theories, I include them to show that not all psychological theories even contend that stages exist. In Pepper’s book, World Hypothesis, nativist theories are classified as “formist” with its philosophical roots in Plato and Leibniz.

The second theory, radical behavioristic theories of development, is mechanistic. Whether it’s Pavlov or Skinner, they see the individual (whether their focus is the brain or the mind) as passive and an environment as relatively passive.  This environment either conditions responses resulting from past associations (Pavlov) or the environment rewards or punishes the individual (Skinner). But the environment for the behaviorist operates at a micro level of family, friends, teachers, or school-mates. The environment for behaviorists is not macro-social institutions such as capitalism or an authoritarian state. These theories are called mechanical theories of growth because:

  1. they emphasize what is going on external to the individual;
  2. see change as gradual and quantitative adaptations to external conditions;
  3. the individual mind, brain or body is a blank slate which doesn’t bring in anything active in the interaction with the environmental slate; and,
  4. the whole is a product of the build-up of the parts.

Langer has called these theories the “mechanical mirror” theories because the goal is for the individual to ideally reflect the environment. Its philosophical roots are in Aristotle as well as Locke’s association theory. Like the nativists, behaviorist theories have no stages.

A variant of the second type of behaviorism is Bandura’s social learning theory. This theory sees the environment as active and the person as passive. Bandura argues about the power of social models – attractive, powerful and having expertise in shaping the individual. This kind of theory would be a mechanical materialist, one in which individuals are seen as victims of social circumstances not of their choosing. In sociology, Durkheim’s description of the movement from mechanical to organic society historically might be an example because the individual appears as a passive victim of the division of labor in society. In geography a mechanical materialist attitude would be the environmental determinism of Ratzel, which says that the climate and geography directly impact how the individual turns out.

The third type of theory emphasizes the active person and a relatively passive environment. Since the work of Piaget on cognition will be considered in depth in the next section, there is no point in describing it in detail here. Meaning-making is confined to changes in internal states, while the objective world is passive, a prop for a psychobiological drama staged within the body of an individual. Social mediations such as teachers, media, religion are secondary.

Heinz Werner is another “organic” developmental psychologist who saw a child going through predictable stages.  In the first stage of child development, there is a primitive globalism, a whole without parts. The child in a global primitive state does not make a distinction between the objective and the subjective worlds. Boundaries are fused. Boundaries are porous between:

  • dreams and imagery;
  • percepts and outer reality;
  • physical body and the objects in the world;
  • names of things and the things themselves; and,
  • motives for doing something and actions.

In this primitive globalism, space has no objective properties and is inseparable from the objects or people within the space.  In terms of time, children at first cannot tell the difference between objective time passing as measured by clocks, and subjective time which speeds up or slows down based on the level of interest. This primitive fusion is also characterized by rigidity and instability in its functions.

As part of the developmental process, these states of fusion are followed by a stage of differentiation in which the objective characteristics of the physical world are clearly separated from the subjective experiences of the individuals. This leads to a stability and flexibility in their functions. After gaining the capacity to tell the difference between the objective and subjective world, a new whole can be created, but this time it is a complex whole with fully differentiated parts.

Werner was very bold in his claims, arguing that the similar patterns can be comprehended not only in the differences between younger and older children, but also in the development of primates; the difference between abnormal and normal adults; and even the difference between people in primitive societies and modern societies. If Werner’s theories were applied to the subject matter of history, he would say that in the Middle Ages there was a primitive unity in outlook. The sense of space, time, cause, human identity was formerly a similar parallel with the fused state of consciousness of a child.  Beginning in early modern Europe, societies would be characterized by gradual separation between the objective world and the subjective world. This third theory is organic because:

  • development is seen to be an unfolding process of a plan which is internal to the organism;
  • the stages an individual goes through are qualitatively different from each other and go through accumulating levels of complexity; and,
  • there is a primitive whole right from the beginning. From there, differentiation takes place, resulting in a new, more complex whole.

Werner’s theory can be categorized by Pepper as “organicist” with its philosophical roots in Kant and Mach.

The fourth way of thinking of development is the dialectical approach. Here the environment is active and the person is active. This is typified in the work of Vygotsky, Luria and Leontiev. Compared to the dialectical theory, the mechanical and organic theories attitude towards interaction is weak. All those theories say either the individual is active or the environment is active. But what they all have in common is that the interaction between the environment and the person is not co-creative. The subjective and objective systems are self-subsisting and only interact through accidental or in a predetermined way, not in a self-organizing way.

The active-active stage of dialectical development is the only one in which both the social world and the individual co-create each other. On the one hand, social forces produce individuals, but those individuals, through their work, reproduce social forces. The individual is first the yarn and then becomes the weaver of social life. The individual-social relationship is not static. It evolves into a spiral, either getting better or worse but never staying the same over the course of history. This is what socialist psychology is all about!

Please see the table at the end of the article  for a summary.

III Stages of Cognitive Development: Vygotsky vs Piaget

Similarities between Piaget and Vygotsky

Piaget and Vygotsky had important similarities. They both opposed the behaviorists’ reduction of consciousness to “behavior”. So too, they opposed nativists’ reduction of human consciousness to instincts. At the other end, while both were sympathetic to the Gestalt theory of perception in which human consciousness was a whole which was more than the sum of its parts, they both criticized it as being static. Both Piaget and Vygotsky felt Gestalists ignored human consciousness as developing. Both Vygotsky and Piaget claimed that there were qualitative leaps between levels of development.

Furthermore, they both asserted that cognitive development was rooted in actions and could not be simply something that goes on inside the body or the mind of the individual. Second, they both agreed that actions were driven by goals, unlike the behaviorists who believed “behavior” was driven by associations and consequences, both of which came from external forces. Third, Piaget and Vygotsky were both dialectical. They explained development processes as a result of multiple causation where what was once a cause becomes an effect. This was opposed to looking for a single cause. Fourth, each was skeptical of what research on human beings could achieve in a lab. Both used interviewing techniques. Fifth, both did not think much of intelligence testing in formal settings for different reasons. Lastly, both were interdisciplinary. Piaget started as a biologist before he became a psychologist and he never put these disciplines aside in his psychological work. As for Vygotsky, before becoming a psychologist, he was an art critic and a producer of plays.

Differences between Piaget and Vygotsky

Vygotsky and Piaget had many differences. For one thing, each came out of radically different philosophical traditions. Piaget was most influenced by Kant and Ernst Mach, while Vygotsky’s influences were Spinoza, Hegel and, of course, Marx and Engels. They also disagreed over the nature of human beings. Piaget saw human beings as primarily bio-psychological creatures. He once said that prior to the ages of 7 – 8, children didn’t have much of a social life. Vygotsky saw human beings as primarily socio-historical beings right from birth, with biology only setting the necessary conditions.

The third difference has to do with the relationship between language and thought. Piaget argued that language was a product of cognitive maturation, an add-on after thinking is completed. Vygotsky saw language as a mediator for the completion of thought. Fourth, Vygotsky and Piaget saw the role of adults and schooling very differently. Piaget trusted children to spontaneously learn new things and that adults were just background sources providing a setting in which children learned. The same relationship was played out in schools. Vygotsky argued that, left to their own devices, children are not spontaneously curious. It takes adults to get the ball rolling. Children only sustain curiosity when adults take center stage first. In the case of schooling, Vygotsky argued that without school, scientific concepts cannot be learned. Children do not naturally learn to think more scientifically as a product of maturation.

Fifth, in the relationship between learning and development, Piaget emphasized that maturation leads to learning. For him, learning is a secondary process which occurs later in time. For Vygotsky, cooperative learning through the zone of proximal development is the leading edge of maturation. Our biological nature becomes background and the older we get, the more our social learning takes over.

Each had theories of cognitive development. Piaget’s stages were sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational. Vygotsky, in his book Thought and Language, argued that children go through four cognitive stages: syncretism, complexification, graphic-functional and categorical deductive. A comparison of these stages shows considerable overlap,

There are many other differences, but these differences center around child development, whereas I want to turn to the subject of history. For our purposes, the most important difference between Piaget and Vygotsky centers around whether the stages of cognitive development are affected by history. Piaget argues in Psychogenesis and the History of Science that his four cognitive stages of development are not affected by social evolution. All four of his stages will unfold inside the individual, regardless of whether the society is composed of hunter-gatherers, horticulturalists, members of agricultural states, herders or members of industrial capitalist societies. Vygotsky and his colleagues Luria and Leontiev disagreed. Luria did research on the impact of the Russian Revolution on peasants. In the late 1920’s, he found that peasants underwent profound changes in perception, how they categorize, their concepts of self and cognition. He found changes in cognition from thinking complexes, to the graphic-functional to categorical-deductive stages as peasants moved from the countryside to the cities. More of this in the second part of this article soon to come.

Piaget’s four stages have stood the test of time. While the ages that children and adolescents go through these stages are not what Piaget originally proposed, the  sequence of the stages as well as their contents have held up. As for Vygotsky and Luria’s work, the work of a group in Russia whom Yuriy Karpov calls “Neo-Vygotskians” (The Neo-Vygotskian Approach to Child Development) does not follow up on Vygotsky’s and Luria’s stages of cognitive development.  In addition, it is far more difficult to find research from Russia where most of his Marxian followers are likely to be. Many of the books have not been translated from Russian to English. In addition, if the books have been published, they are extremely expensive for an author no longer affiliated with an educational institution. Lastly, Vygotsky and his colleagues were in and out of trouble with Stalin and it is hard to know how much of their research has been lost, suppressed or marginalized.

IV Retrospect and Prospect

In Part I of these articles I have introduced a side of Lev Vygotsky that most Yankees know nothing about. He was a Marxist who sought to build a communist psychology. I have contrasted capitalist to socialist psychology across eleven categories: psychological disorders, social class, consciousness, motivation, emotions, intelligence, the place of the unconscious, consumptive patterns, work, free will and therapy. Lastly I compared socialist dialectical human development to the nativistic, mechanistic, organicist theories. Lastly, two great psychologists of development were compared: the constructionism of Piaget to the socio-historical psychology of Vygotsky.

But what crisis was going on in the field of psychology in the mid 1920’s that made Vygotsky intervene? What was Luria trying to prove when he went into peasant villages during the Russian Revolution to test their sense of self, their perceptions and their reasoning?  In bourgeois psychology emotions are a big deal. We are told we are repressing them, need to get in touch with them or share them. Emotions are understood as the sacred private property of individuals. They are in our guts, or for the cognitive psychologists in our minds. Socialist psychologists think neoliberal psychologists are looking in the wrong place for our emotions. For us, emotions are socially constructed, class-based and change over the course of history.

When it comes to bourgeois therapy, the capitalist political economy, commodity fetishism and alienation are nowhere to be found in their analysis. At best people enter group therapy not because research shows it works better than one-on-one, but because it is cheaper. It is clearly a second choice. For socialist psychologists, the collective creativity of the group not only helps to solve individual problems but it is the key to reducing all problems in capitalist society.

What happens to people during revolutions psychologically? Research in mass psychology shows both increased anxiety and increased joy accompanies building barricades, taking over workplaces and throwing Molotov cocktails. Can Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development explain what is going on here? In the second part of this article we will find out.

Theories of Ontogenetic Development

The Swedish Alternative: Coronavirus as a Grand Gamble

As draconian lockdowns, punitive regimes and surveillance become the norm of the coronavirus world, Sweden has treaded more softly in the field.  This is certainly in contrast to its Scandinavian cousins, Denmark and Norway.  The rudiments of a life uninterrupted generally remain in place. Cafes, restaurants and shops, for the most part, remain open and stocked.  As do gyms and cinemas.  Vibrant after-ski parties persist, much to the bemused horror of those across the border.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, embracing the principle of voluntariness over coercion, has issued warnings to citizens to keep travel down to a minimum, avoiding anything non-essential.  The traditional age group – those over 70 – have been told to mind their movements and stay at home.  In the prime minister’s words during a televised speech, “Us adults need to be exactly that: adults.  Not spread panic or rumours.  No one is alone in this crisis, but each person carries a heavy responsibility.”

Despite all of this, Sweden’s authorities show that they do have a foot on the brake, albeit one applied with slow motion caution.  Gatherings used to be limited to 500 – that confidently embraced number has now been reduced to 50, a measure that will be policed.  Bars can only provide table service.  Colleges and universities have moved to a virtual format in line with recommendations issued on March 18.

But the Public Health Agency exerts a powerful influence, insisting that a lockdown is simply unwarranted.  Local sports tournaments and matches required no cancellations – exercise and sports were healthy initiatives.  Organisers of events and seminars were responsible for conducting a risk assessment and providing information “about good hand hygiene, and access to hand washing facilities for all participants.”

The focus, rather, is on individual initiative, minimising instances of transmission while herd immunity builds up, or a vaccine is found.  If over 70, avoid using public transport, shopping in supermarkets, visiting areas of congregation.  “Instead, ask friends, family or neighbours to do your shopping etc.” Work from home, if you can.  “This is to decrease the speed of transmission and the number of people needing hospital care.”

Central to such recommendations is a modelling game.  As with all such games, risks abound.  The go-easy approach has certainly caused little alarm in the country; if anything, it has given the Social Democrats a hearty boost.  The wisdom of authorities is generally taken for granted, suggesting the customary, even awesome power of the Swedish civil service.  The eggheads remain in charge.

The Swedish example shows a differing approach to measurement, which invariably involves looking at a crystal ball of sorts.  Paul Franks and Peter Nilsson, both epidemiologists based at Lund University, suggest that the government is gambling on simulations made by the public health authorities on “surge requirements”. “From these simulations, it is clear that the Swedish government anticipates far few hospitalisations per 100,000 of the population than predicted in other countries, including Norway, Denmark and the UK.”

The observations by Franks and Nilsson are filled with characteristic scientific caution.  Which modelling do you go for?  Using British variants suggests a higher death toll for Sweden, though the authorities seem to be holding to the point that most infected people will have no symptoms, leaving one in five requiring a stint in hospital.  And Britain is not Sweden.

We are left with the treacherous nature of public health modelling.  COVID-19 prediction models, for instance, tend to rely on the examples in China and Italy, furthering upon data gathered from previous Ebola outbreaks, SARS and MERS.  This brings the old question of demography into play, and the need to gather evidence of community transmission (so far, material on this is sketchy in Sweden).  An inescapable fact is that Sweden has one major metropolitan area, so any accurate modelling would require material specific to that.  Ways of interaction between generations would also have to be considered.  In Sweden, less intergenerational conduct would lessen the risk to the elderly.  More than half of Sweden’s households consist of one person, another telling factor.

The data does not tend to focus on hospital admissions and fatalities, a point stressed by Franks and Nilsson.  “This latter can be used to be a ‘poor man’s estimate’ of community transmission, providing approximately how many fatalities occur among those infected.”  The accuracy of this is somewhat compromised by the two-week period between diagnosis and the mortality, a “very blunt instrument” indeed.

The numbers of COVID-19 cases in Sweden have not been negligible.  From the first recorded case on February 4, 2020, the total, as of March 30, 2020, stands at 4,028.  Deaths come in at 146, though a disproportionate number come from a Somali community located in less commodious quarters with extended families.

Despite the highest death toll of the Nordic countries, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell is supremely confident that the “strategy” has worked well, with Sweden showing a relatively flat curve of infection relative to Italy and Spain.  “We want to slow down the epidemic until Sweden experiences a sort of peak, and if the peak is not too dramatic we can continue.”

A large number of citizens, bearing their heavy responsibility, have chosen to avoid public transport – Storstockholms Lokaltrafik claims a fall of 50 percent in the number of commuters.  Schools might be open, but many parents are keeping their children at home.  Remote and work-from-home options have been embraced by companies with gusto.

The warning calls, while not shrill, are in evidence.  An epidemiological battle is taking shape, though it remains one dominated by parrying disagreements of expertise.  Britain’s chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance has much praise for the approach, having made similar suggestions to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the “herd immunity” phase of discussions.  In contrast, a petition featuring over 2,000 doctors, scientists and academics, which boast among its numbers the chairman of the Nobel Foundation, Prof Carl-Henrik Heldin, has called for more aggressive measures.  “It is risky to leave it to people to decide what to do without any restrictions,” opines a paternalistic Joacim Rocklöv, an epidemiologist based at Umeå University.  “As can be seen from other countries this is a serious disease, and Sweden is no different than other countries.”

Virologist Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, based at the Karolinska Institute, has not held back in her views, claiming with some punchiness that the government has committed all the big no-nos in responding to a pandemic.  “We’re not testing enough, we’re not tracking, we’re not isolating enough – we have let the virus loose.”  In so doing, Sweden had been placed on the path to catastrophe.  To avoid a lockdown, a mass-testing approach as adopted by South Korea would have to be adopted.  Time will tell which one stacks up.

Change Is In The Air

Quite literally.

In a single week air pollution cleared up, housing was found for the homeless, evictions were banned, the stock market ceased being the gauge of social well being, water shut-offs ended, jails were emptied, debt peonage was suspended, universal basic income was proposed by “free market” die-hards, people started caring about the elderly and front-line workers, personal competition gave way to mutual aid networks, kids abandoned digital serfdom to go outside to play, and Donald Trump outflanked Bernie Sanders to the left, calling for public equity in bailed-out corporations, in other words, public profit.

The only restrained observation one can make is: Holy Shit!

The battle has barely begun, but all can plainly see that the U.S. operates a planned economy, which places socialism squarely on the table, even as Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign fades rapidly away, like Joe Biden’s mind.

The neo-liberals may grasp power again, though that is far from guaranteed, but legitimacy will elude them, as an aroused populace in revolt will not heed their irrelevant commands once it becomes clear that the crumbs they are willing to toss the public’s way will not in any way arrest exploding indebtedness, much less bring economic security. A second consecutive generation of young people – Generation Z – has no future, while politicians continue indulging economic masturbation fantasies about a mythical free market bringing prosperity to all. “Gigs” are nothing to hang one’s hat on.

We have been fed a steady diet of illusions about the gig economy constituting a “labor revolution,” which is like calling panhandling an earning revolution.  Deliberately misclassified as independent contractors, gig workers remain unprotected by minimum wage laws, earning as little as $3 or $4 an hour or even less, as by definition there is no economic floor in our glorious “free market.” Crowd workers, forty percent of whom rely on the work as their main source of income, earn somewhere between $1 and $5.50 an hour. 1

Worse, these digital coolies have no way of knowing when work will be delivered, so they can’t take on other commitments for fear of forfeiting income. They check their computer screens anxiously, trying to piece together fragments of work so as to earn a decent income, like a hungry diner assembling crumbs in hopes of enjoying a decent meal.

The agonizing search for gigs without ending up with a real job is capitalism’s latest refinement of torture for the poor. Digital work delivered over the internet requires being glued to a screen. You can’t go anywhere or do anything for fear of missing a work opportunity. All one’s downtime goes to the search for more work. Spending endless hours applying for gigs and not getting them is one thing when one has money in the bank: it’s quite another when one doesn’t know how this month’s rent will get paid.

Prospects are especially bad given that Third World workers can underbid America’s poor, who can’t afford to work for $3 an hour. True, there are better paid gigs, but those tend to be extremely specialized, requiring college or master’s degrees. Only thirty percent of Americans have college degrees.2

As a whole, gig economy workers are disproportionately poor. Compared to Americans in general, twice as many of them earn less than $30,000 a year, below what MIT calculates to be a living wage for a family of four. They are members of in increasingly insecure “precariat,” living permanently hand-to-mouth. (According to a report from the Federal Reserve released in May, 2015, forty-seven percent of Americans cannot cover an unexpected $400 expense with their savings or a credit card).

The grossly exploitative nature of gig employment is nowhere more apparent than in the current crisis of Uber drivers during the corona virus pandemic. The unofficial “plan” is to let these drivers work right up to the moment they get sick, then hope they don’t die as they shelter in place at home awaiting a compensation check based on their collapsed earnings. In short, a token tiny payment inside a get-well card.

The Uberization of everything promises a “sea change in work” the same way sub-prime mortgage debt promised a sea change in wealth generation leading up to the 2008 financial collapse.  New technologies chop up traditional jobs into discrete tasks that are then assigned to individual workers just when a paying customer needs them, with wages set by highly volatile supply and demand, and every gig worker’s performance constantly tracked, reviewed, and publicized.  Though Kim Jong Un didn’t invent this system, he should probably pay the ones who did.

Long in the making, this dismantling of jobs and middle-class prosperity has been openly celebrated by CEOs, presidents, pundits, and stock markets around the world. Consultants replaced executives at the top, temp-workers took over from office workers in the middle, and day laborers displaced union workers at the bottom. Now gig workers are slated to replace everyone, including themselves, once they have taught computers to perform the rote tasks still done by humans.

Yes, change is in the air in the form of a virus that has stopped the market cold, starkly revealing its socialist underpinnings. Trillions of dollars are shamelessly funneled to corporations that refuse to concede public equity to the taxpayers underwriting their operations. If the “aid” comes at that price, say the corporate chieftains, we do not want it. But if they do not want it, then it’s clear they don’t really need it.

The socialist moment will pass if we don’t build a fierce and sophisticated democratic movement that can replace the current oligarchy’s disastrous rule. The former Occupy movement, the two Bernie Sanders campaigns for president, and the Medicare For All struggle can become the basis for economic democracy in the United States, otherwise known as socialism.

Our minimal demands should be full and dignified employment in good times, universal basic income in bad times, and free medical care (at the point of service) all the time.

Let’s make it happen.

  1. See: Gigged – The End of The Job and The Future of Work, by Sarah Kessler (St. Martin’s Press, 2018).
  2. See: Temp – How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary, by Louis Hyman (Viking, 2018).

Gaia’s Revenge?

There is a meme circulating online with a biblical quote that contains a message from Solomon’s god accepting the consecration of the temple as a place he will receive his sacrifice. Solomon’s god claims to have sent drought, locust and epidemics to drive his people to repentance and obedience. An obvious message for believers in the midst of a pandemic?

On the other side, amongst the enlightened, there are those who would ascribe this contagion as some sort of “Gaia’s Revenge,” with the earth extracting payment from this errant species that has so decimated this planet over the course of the last century. A vengeful ecosystem allowing a cosmic karma to overwhelm an arrogant civilization?

What is arrogant, of course, is our pretension to anthropomorphize the universe that surrounds us and to define everything in accordance with our own prejudices and understanding. We have created father gods and mother earths because the very idea that some things are beyond our understanding or control triggers a primitive, palpable fear. Whether through science or religion we, as a species, have always sought human supremacy in one form or another.

Indeed, as a species, we have come a long way from our primordial past to this 21st century present. We span the globe in hundreds of countries speaking thousands of languages and fueling our societies with a myriad of businesses and industries. A global economy worth well over $86 trillion touches in some form every person on this planet. Is arrogance appropriate for a civilization richer and more populous than at any point in our history?

There are answers to such questions in odd places such as within our literature and entertainment. Two stories that have gained interest and fame in recent years were the Star Wars saga and to a lesser degree Lord of the Rings. While here is not the place to rehash the entire lengthy narratives there is one common lesson hidden within the action and adventure that I believe is relevant to our subject.

In the sixth chapter of the Star Wars saga a seemingly insignificant species of beings, the Ewoks, play a pivotal role in the defeat of an empire. In the Lord of the Rings the little noticed Hobbits are the key to the defeat of the Dark Lord. Some nerdy details admittedly but they serve to illustrate the point that it can be the most seemingly inconsequential things that can totally alter the trajectory of the story.

So we come back to earth 2019; Russia is fighting alongside Syrian forces and saving the Assad regime. Saudi Arabia and Iran continue a proxy war against each other in Yemen. The United Kingdom exits the European Union. The American President is impeached but not removed from office. Amid these and more significant events an unknown and perhaps unknowable person among the 58 million people that populate the Hubei Province of China comes into contact with a novel strain of the corona virus.

The pathogen was zoonotic, passing into the human population from an animal. It has been theorized that its emergence can be traced to the consumption of an infected bat or pangolin. Whatever the exact source there is no denial of the effect. From what we can assume was seen as a simple, innocuous meal the earth population of over 7 billion people and its $86 trillion economy has been brought to it proverbial knees. So do we return to our original assumption of karma, divine retribution, or some cosmic game of chance upended by the appetite of an anonymous Chinese peasant?

There is a line from the Don Henley song “Goodbye to a River” that keeps repeating itself in my head, “In the damage done since we have gone where we ought not to be.” I can’t help but correlate this Covid-19 crisis with the issue of Climate Change that hangs above us like Dionysius’ sword over Damocles’ head except we fail to realize the precarious nature of the horse’s hair that holds it.

One of the most common misquotes of Christian scripture is that money is the root of all evil when, in fact, it says that the love of money is the root of all evil. While we won’t debate the nature of our conception of good and evil here we do have a common understanding that the drive for capital, the quest for economic expansion at all cost is the factor that has brought us to this precipice upon which we stand. The corona virus has made plain the faults in the foundation of not just our economic empire but of our flimsy grasp of life itself.

Not being an economist or a player in the stock market I was unaware of trading curbs built into the Wall Street Exchange since 1987 to prevent panic sell-offs. Described as “circuit breakers,” they kick in at certain percentage levels to stop trading temporarily to allow the market time to stabilize. We’ve seen them used recently to save the stock market from freefall as this Covid-19 crisis wreaks havoc on the American and world economies.

So what if this particular coronavirus preforms a similar function. Perhaps it is not the vengeance of an angry god or an indignant mother earth but rather just a component of a vast universal ecosystem of which we are a part. Could this be a “circuit breaker” kicking in because we have pushed past our boundaries going to those places where we should not have been? Can this serve as a reminder that we are not lords of this creation, that we do not have dominion over this earth and its inhabitants? Can we contain pride and hubris and find the understanding that all our indigenous ancestors once possessed the ability to live with the earth and not against it?

Eventually treatments and vaccines will be found and we will find our way out of this calamity but it will change us in ways we are not yet aware of. Once we make to the other side we will ask these and many more questions and how we answer them will determine our future to a great degree. As our economy has slowed we have gained new insights into our conception of critical infrastructure and we have found a new appreciation of not just doctors and nurses but also of teachers, store clerks, truck drivers, and warehouse workers. In our social isolation we are beginning to see a measure of our interdependence.

Beyond that we should come to understand that when it comes to our world, our ecosystem, perhaps we are not the critical infrastructure we took ourselves to be. If we continue to push those boundaries our arrogance encourages us to push we stand the chance of exposing even more virulent pathogens that could remove us from the equation entirely. Humanity depends on this earth for its existence; the earth existed for millennia without us and is more than capable of doing so again.