Category Archives: Lockdown

Slavery of Fear

Photo by Nathan O’Nions

Flee, Flight or Freeze

In the natural world, there are two kinds of responses to imminent threats: either flee or fight. Most of the time, in order to maximize chances of survival, the decision has to be made by individuals or groups in less than a split second. On one hand, the option to flee is motivated by this immediate assessment. It has, of course, an important fear factor. On the other hand, the option to fight seems brave on the surface, but intense momentary fear perhaps had to be overcome by a massive adrenaline rush. Fear is a primal and powerful emotion that is essential for survival, but it can also be used as a tool to control people through mental, emotional and even physical paralysis.

Photo by The Malt

There is a third behavioral option when fear completely paralyzes the individual or a group: it is the freeze option, similar to the imaginary sense of the impossibility to act or react for someone going through a deep clinical depression. As a collective or a nation, this freeze or depressed state when facing danger is also possible. Eighty years ago, with the exception of General Charles de Gaulle and a few men who decided to flee to carry on the fight, France capitulated to the German enemy. France froze and became trapped in the ignominy of a collective depression that was the collaboration by the Vichy government.

Photo by Torbak Hopper

In human society, during the barbaric lunacy that has been called the art of war, many substances have been used in history to make soldiers less fearful before combat. Drinking alcohol is an obvious one in Europe; chewing coca leaves for South American native tribes; smoking or eating hashish in the Middle-East and Asia — this concentrated form of cannabis is the etymological origin of the word assassin; more recently, during World War II’s spectacular German Blietzkrieg 1940 attack on France, German troops were given the powerful methamphetamine Pervitin. Naturally, the notion of the fearless master-race Nazi soldiers was nothing but a mythology! The intrepid soldiers of the Reich and their beloved Furher, Adolf Hitler, had the fearlessness of crystal-meth addicts. Pervitin kept Nazi troops awake and fighting for days and nights, and increased their aggressive behavior.

Photo by Kyle Pearce

Of course, one cannot reduce the apparent fearless madness of the entire German nation during World War II to the massive consumption of Pervitin. What was probably the most sophisticated propaganda machine of the time had been put together by the Nazis; it had been brainwashing the minds of Germans, young and old, for almost a decade. Hitler and Co. spent about 10 years molding a sophisticated and cultured society into their ideological monstrosity with the mythology of the purity of blood, master race, and crucially the invention of Jews as evil, depraved and subhuman personified. If this was possible in an advanced society like Germany circa 1930, one must consider that such a gruesome turn of events is possible anywhere at any time, as madness can be a contagious disease.

Photo by Mark Rain

Fear of other cultures is a crucial component of racial hatred. Once a group of people like the Jews in Nazi Germany or the Africans during the slave trade to the Americas have been thoroughly dehumanized, it becomes easy, almost trivial, to torture and kill them. All propagandists are psychologists. Therefore they understand that their manipulation of fear gives birth to powerful dark impulses. A fear of abandonment as a child can later bring about morbid jealousy and various sociopathic behaviors. A fear of destitution drives the compulsion to greed. Collectively, fear can be a giant web of invisible chains that enslave a society in a psychological straight jacket. In this regard, September 11, 2001 and its aftermath was a turning point, and to some extent the Western world has been conditioned to live in fear ever since.

Photo by Hartwig HKD

The war of terror

Putting aside the inside-job narrative, what matters is how crises are used. The net benefit of 9/11 for some was to create a constant sense of uncertainty for the population, and cynically a jackpot for the military-industrial complex. It was the notion that the enemy could be lurking anywhere. The war on terror was, and still is, a conceptual war: an absurd Orwellian war without end because it is supposed to fight diffuse groups of people called terrorists whose only common ground is the use of fear as a weapon. Because fear breeds more fear, the 20-year conceptual war made people, almost worldwide, believe security was more important than personal liberty. The war on terror made people slaves of fear, and they were told it was for their own good.

Photo by Duncan C

Do not blame only Donald Trump for the current authoritarian police state in the US. The Department of Homeland Security was a fascist invention of George W. Bush, using 9/11 as a pretext, and it was maintained by Barack Obama, every time with the complicity of Congress. On one hand, the war on terror wrecked several countries: killed or displaced millions at a cost of several trillion dollars. Everyone knew it was not winnable. On the other hand, what worked for the US and its Western allies was the almost 20-year old war of terror that slowly victimized their own populations with the jackboot of a police-military apparatus constantly on their throats. When fear overcomes an entire society it can be beaten to submission. Where fear rules, servitude becomes acceptable.

Photo by Terence Faircloth

Strategy of fear and the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has given an entirely new dimension to the slavery of fear initiated on 9/11. There have been almost two decades, which is one generation, of a war of terror on the collective psyche. There could not have been a better introduction to the global fear of a pandemic. A diffuse Muslim fundamentalist enemy who could be anywhere has morphed to an invisible virus that is everywhere. The quantum leap was easily made, because it is intrinsically the same mechanism. It went a lot further than 9/11, because governments managed to convince their populations to submit themselves to various level of lockdown. Imagine this! Almost all complied worldwide, with little resistance and absolutely no organized rebellion.

Photo by Hartwig HKD

Just like the post 9/11 world infringed on human rights and privacy with various invasive policies, the post COVID-19 world has adopted its own arbitrary rules. They have in common that they fuel a fear of everyone and everything and engender agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, Stockholm syndrome, and depression. The panoply of mandatory social distancing measures and mask wearing decrees have made people hostile, fearful, and paranoid. Authorities worldwide have been on a joy killing mission. Populations have been successfully infantilized and traumatized by forbidding the most essential human behaviors: the joy to see a smile or the surprise of a flaring nostril; the smell of a ripe fruit at a market; the fortitude of what seems to be a time gone when you could dance with a stranger and perhaps steal a kiss.

More than two hundred years ago, Haitian slaves managed to free themselves, and in the process they defeated the world’s three largest empires: respectively, the French, British, and Spanish. Have we all become such pathetic shadows of our former selves? Are we so weak and cowardly today that we cannot free ourselves from the billionaire class and the fear it is imposing on us?

State of Pandemic Disaster: Melbourne Moves to Stage Four

MelbourneBeing in control of a sinking ship is not enviable.  Regulations previously passed have a museum feel to them, distinctly obsolete.  Directions, once dictated with confidence, lack timbre.  Coronavirus is serving as that most wily and cheeky of agents, with the most appropriate of accomplices: Homo sapiens.  Human beings are fed up, munching on conspiracy tales, wondering when a vaccine will arrive, and generally fatigued.

Globally, people are exhausted, disgusted, deluded and dying.  Somewhere in that cocktail of ill-taste are those who think they are doing their best and abide by regulations with understanding obedience.  They are told about a science that is altering. They are told that they must stay home and avoid going to work.  If they are infected, they must undertake measures of self-quarantine, irrespective of whether they have support or income.  Stiff fines and penalties follow in cases of transgression, including the shaming howls of social media junkies.

The language of political authorities in a state of desperation is ominous, paternal, judgmental.  For Daniel Andrews, premier of the Australian state of Victoria, this is starting to seem natural.  “Where you slept last night is where you’ll need to stay for the next six weeks,” he revealed in his statement on Sunday.  Modest dispensation is permitted for those “partners who live apart and for work”.  A curfew operating from 8 in the evening to 5 in the morning is now in place for six weeks.  “The only reasons to leave home during these hours will be work, medical care and caregiving.”  Exercise is confined to an hour a day within five kilometres.  People, at most, can move about as couples.

Like locusts, purchasers have been swarming the aisles, trolleys heavy, and emptying them of meat, vegetables and fruit.  The obsession with lavatory paper does not seem as pronounced this time (purchase limits have been maintained), but people are stocking up on certain food items knowing that their access is stifled by both time and geography.

What is in place is similar to the elimination regime used in New Zealand, though it is not articulated as such.  It might best be described as suppression with an eliminating spirit, a somewhat more brutal approach.  The Melbourne model is even more onerous: no curfew was imposed in New Zealand, or the compulsory wearing of face masks between March 26 and April 27, or a time limit on exercise.  But the view from across the Tasman is that merely applying such a regime to Melbourne is not sufficient.  Valuable time, suggests University of Auckland academic Siouxsie Wiles, has been lost.  The less restrictive Stage 3 level that came into force on July 8, applying only to Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire “provided too many opportunities for the virus to spread.”  From this less oppressive environment bloomed 7,000 active cases of coronavirus, 2,000 of whom are still a mystery to contact tracers.  Wiles’ suggestion?  Imposing Stage 4 restrictions across the entire state, thereby giving “Victoria the best chance of success, rather than setting it up to play an endless game of COVID-19 whack-a-mole.”

Pandemic politics is also proving to be a nasty business. On the state opposition benches, Victorian Liberal MP Tim Smith continues to hyperventilate and fantasise about the ultimate demise of the Labor premier.  “These ministers and Daniel Andrews have blood on their hands,” he spluttered on Sydney radio station 2GB.  “They have so monumentally failed the people of Victoria.”  Smith sees the crisis as an opportunity for political harvesting. “We are so sick of this man… we’re so utterly sick of him.  In the name of God, would he just go!”  On Radio 3AW, he was truculent.  “We can’t suspend democracy, accountability and the basics of a free society just because we’re dealing with a global pandemic.”

Smith’s demagogy is proving rather rich fare, even for those on his side of politics. The federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg preferred giving his party colleague a wide berth. “They’re not words that I would use,” he admitted to radio host Neil Mitchell.  “Daniel Andrews is obviously operating in a very difficult environment.”  For the moment, grievance and disagreement had to be put aside.  “My message would be, to Tim and to everybody else, let’s work together towards that one single objective, namely to reduce the number of cases and to get the virus under control.”

Frydenberg might well think so, but other party members do not.  Craig Kelly, a federal Liberal MP who can always be counted upon to dynamite the waters of moderate contentment, has mounted his own quixotic crusade against the Victorian premier.  His particular pet project of late is praising the merits of the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, and sniping at those who disapprove and ban its use in treating coronavirus cases.  Should that disposition, he asked over the weekend, mean that Andrews face 25 years in jail?  This drew criticism from shadow health minister Chris Bowen as being positively Trumpian, but a clumsy sidestep from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who refused to “get into what people talk about on Facebook on a day like this”.  This, from a leader keen to take Facebook to task for content extreme and extremist in nature.

The clock has been reset; the gains of the last three weeks regarding the coronavirus annulled.  Many businesses were already on the road to ruin during the previous phase of lockdowns. Many more will now assuredly perish.  Mental health will atrophy.  The death toll will continue to rise.  Other states are monitoring and adjusting their responses.  The measure of grief and concern just went up.

7/20/20: The Moment of Truth Is Now for COVID and Economic Relief

The US Senate returned to work this week after a two-week vacation during which COVID-19 exploded and the economy imploded. The moment of truth has now arrived. Will the House and Senate now bring forth a Covid relief package adequate to the Covid health and economic crises?

The last six months of the pandemic and economic collapse show that the two governing parties are presiding over a failed state. Most other organized societies have test, contract trace, and quarantine programs that have suppressed community spread of the virus and enabled a safe reopening of businesses and schools. The two major parties in the US have continued their dogmatic faith that private enterprise alone can deliver health care and economic recovery. It has been a dismal failure.

With 4% of the world’s population, the US has 25% of the world’s Covid deaths, more than 140,000 deaths so far, with public health experts predicting as many as 800,000 deaths by the end of the year.

Trump gave up. Covid won. Trump is a loser. But where is Biden? He lives within commuting distance of the White House press corps. He can command their attention as the presumptive Democratic nominee. Why isn’t he holding press conferences to pound away on the need for a test, trace, and quarantine program to suppress the virus and safely reopen the economy? He has only done one press conference with questions and answers since he became the presumptive nominee four months ago.

Meanwhile, the economy is now in a depression, with over 35 million unemployed, over 32 million receiving unemployment benefits, and six million dropping out of the labor force entirely since February. With tax revenues collapsing, the failure to provide federal funding to state and city governments risks the jobs of 22 million public sector workers. As of May, states and cities needed nearly $1 trillion in federal aid by this summer to keep operating without big layoffs of public workers.

The last COVID-19 bailout, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), turned into a feast of corruption by members of the Trump administration, Congress, and their families, donors, and political cronies. The disgrace was made worse because one-third of the people could not make their rent payments. 14 million children went hungry in June, three times the number of children who went hungry during the Great Recession, according to an analysis of Census data. The US government is infested with corporate crooks and flunkies. The next COVID-19 relief package must put in place protections against the theft of government funds by politicians, government insiders, and their confidants

Direct federal payments to individuals and small businesses are urgently needed if the US is to prevent long-term job loss by the destruction of Main Street small businesses, which accounted for nearly half of all jobs going into the COVID-19 economic lockdown.

The impact of the economic collapse will hit even harder next week because the temporary weekly increase of $600 in unemployment benefits ends on July 25, as does the federal moratorium on evictions from federally-subsidized housing.  The Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey found 30 percent of renters had little or no confidence that they could meet housing payments in August. 28 million people could face eviction by September. An estimated 27 million people have lost their employer-linked health insurance.

In April we put forward an urgent agenda to address COVID-19 and the economic collapse. The health and economic crises have only deepened since. This updated agenda for the duration of the crises needs to be enacted by Congress now.

  • Medicare to Pay for COVID-19 Testing and Treatment and All Emergency Health Care
  • Defense Production Act to Rapidly Plan the Production and Distribution of Medical Supplies and a Universal Test, Contact Trace, and Quarantine Program to Suppress the Virus so the Economy and Schools Can Be Safely Reopened
  • An OSHA Temporary Standard to Provide Enforceable PPE Protection for Workers
  • $2,000 a Month per Individual (Including Children) Making Less Than $120,000 a Year
  • Loans to All Businesses and Hospitals for Payroll and Fixed Overhead, To Be Forgiven If All Workers Are Kept on Payroll
  • Moratorium on Evictions, Foreclosures, and Utility Shutoffs
  • Cancel Rent, Mortgage, and Utility Payments; Federal Government Pays Those Bills; High-income People Pay Taxes on this Relief
  • Continue the expanded unemployment benefits that provide $600 to the amount received when people receive benefits.
  • Suspend Student Loan Payments with 0% Interest Accumulation
  • Federal Universal Rent Control
  • Aid to State and Local Governments Sufficient to Keep Essential Services Running
  • Emergency Funding to Cover US Postal Service Revenue Shortfalls Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Universal Mail-in Ballot Option for the 2020 General Election

The US needs to immediately hire several hundred thousand people to test and contact trace those infected or exposed to COVID-19. This program is essential to re-opening the economy and schools safely. It is unpardonable that the leadership of both governing parties have failed for six months into the pandemic to implement this basic public health measure to suppress the virus.

The housing crisis is becoming more acute. Even before the economic collapse, US cities suffered from chronic homelessness for hundreds of thousands of people. The homes for all program in the Hawkins/Walker Ecosocialist Green New Deal is a 10-year, $2.5 trillion program to build 25 million units of public housing to ensure that every person has access to affordable housing within a decade. The private housing market has never provided affordable housing for all.

Direct support to people must increase. Hawkins/Walker supports Senator Bernie Sanders’ Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act that would provide a monthly $2,000 check to every person, children included, making less than $120,000 a year. This support must continue until the US achieves economic recovery.

With consumer demand depressed, private investors are not risking job-creating new investments. Economic recovery requires public investment, with an immediate investment on the order of $4 trillion and a long-term public investment of the same yearly scale to sustain an economic recovery and to address the looming economy-killer in the background, the climate emergency.

Hawkins/Walker have called for the Green New Deal to be the engine of the recovery. The 10-Year, $42 Trillion budget for an Ecosocialist Green New Deal would create 38 million new jobs by rebuilding all our production systems for zero-to-negative greenhouse gas emissions, zero-waste recycling, and 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 in order to reverse the climate crisis and other environmental problems. It will employ public enterprise and planning, particularly in the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors, in order to make the clean energy transformation in a decade. The Economic Bill of Rights in the program will end poverty and economic insecurity through a job guarantee, a guaranteed income above poverty, Medicare for All, and doubling of Social Security benefits to provide a secure retirement for all seniors.

The COVID-19 health and economic crises are devastating. But they also present us with the opportunity to institute economic justice, public health, and climate protection measures that will build a sustainable prosperity for our future.

GloboCap Über Alles

So, how are you enjoying the “New Normal” so far? Is it paranoid and totalitarian enough for you? If not … well, hold on, because it’s just getting started. There is plenty more totalitarianism and paranoia still to come.

I know, it feels like forever already, but, in fact, it has only been a few months since GloboCap started rolling out the new official narrative. We’re still in the early stages of it. The phase we’re in now is kind of like where we were back in February of 2002, a few months after the 9/11 attacks, when everyone was still in shock, the Patriot Act was just a few months old, and the Department of Homeland Security hadn’t even been created yet.

You remember how it was back then, when GloboCap was introducing the official “War on Terror” narrative, don’t you?

OK, maybe you do and maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re too young to remember, or you were caught up in the excitement of the moment and weren’t paying attention to the details. But some of us remember it clearly. We remember watching (and futilely protesting) as GloboCap prepared to invade, destabilize, and restructure the entire Middle East, as countries throughout the global capitalist empire implemented “emergency security measures” (which, 18 years later, are still in effect), as the corporate media bombarded us with official propaganda, jacked up The Fear, and otherwise prepared us for the previous “New Normal” … some of us remember all that clearly.

Personally, I remember listening to a liberal academic on NPR calmly speculating that, just hypothetically, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we might need to sacrifice our principles a bit, and torture some people, to “keep America safe.” I recounted this to other Americans at the time, among my many other concerns about where the post-9/11 mass hysteria was heading. Most of them told me I was just being paranoid, or that they didn’t really care, because we needed to do whatever was “necessary” to protect Americans, and, in any event, “the terrorists deserved it.” Shortly thereafter, I started making plans to get the hell out of the country.

I mention that, not to signal my virtue — leaving the U.S.A. didn’t achieve anything, except for improving my standard of living — but to jog your memory, and maybe prompt you to compare that period to the one we are in now. The parallels are overwhelming. The “state of emergency.” The propaganda. The mass hysteria. The mob mentality. The exaggeration of the actual threat. The police-state atmosphere. The suppression of dissent. The constant repetition of the new official narrative. The exhortative catchphrases and meaningless slogans. The confusion. The chaos. The existential fear. And so on. It is all so very familiar.

I’m referring to the simulated pandemic, of course, but also to the racialized civil unrest and identitarian polarization that GloboCap has fomented throughout the United States, and, to varying degrees, the rest of the empire. I’ve been covering the War on Populism and GloboCap’s “Trump-is-literally-Hitler” propaganda since 2016, so the civil unrest isn’t terribly surprising. But, I confess, I did not see the fake plague coming. Running the two psy-ops together was brilliant. The effect on people has been devastating. Everyone is either depressed or enraged, or in some stage of paranoid paralysis. Some have been so thoroughly terrorized that they are literally refusing to leave their houses. Others are lining up at gun shops. White people are getting down on their knees and publicly washing Black people’s feet in “symbolic demonstrations of forgiveness.” Condiments are changing their names. It’s like we’re all trapped in a gratuitously didactic Netflix zombie-apocalypse series set in the world of The Handmaid’s Tale, written, directed, and produced by Spike Lee.

The official propaganda could not be more Orwellian, nor could people’s willingness to go along with it. It doesn’t even have to appear to make sense. Doublethink has taken over. For example, most of the developed world has been in some form of totalitarian lockdown, and subjected to other police-state measures (like being beaten and arrested for not wearing a mask), for no justifiable reason whatsoever, for going on the last five months, but, according to the corporate media (and the millions of people they have apparently brainwashed), it’s only now that Trump has sent his Homeland Security goons into Portland that, suddenly, “democracy is under attack!”

But wait … no, I take it back. The Orwellianism gets even more Orwellian. According to GloboCap and its sanctimonious minions, that sentence I just wrote about Portland is racist, because nearly everything you can imagine is racist, or is a potential threat to the public health. Calling riots “riots” is racist. Silence is racist. Free speech is racist. Refusing to wear a mask is racist. The BLM protesters are immune to the virus, but other large gatherings (which, it goes without saying, are probably racist) all have to be banned. Normality, as Americans knew it, is over, and it is never, ever, coming back, because white supremacy caused the pandemic. Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland (where life has been going on without mass hysteria) do not exist. They have never existed (and, if they ever did, they were probably racist). Talking on public transportation is deadly. Interacting with children is potentially deadly, as are most other forms of human interaction … unless you’re tearing down a racist statue, or burning down a local family business, while wearing a designer anti-racism mask.

Seriously, though, just like in 2002, when GloboCap was still rolling out the “War on Terror” narrative, the facts are all available for anyone who cares. The falsification of Covid statistics and hospital capacity figures, the unreliability of the tests, and so on … it has all been repeatedly documented. Anyone with a positive test result who later dies of any cause (including a fatal motorcycle accident) is counted as a “Covid death.” Anyone admitted to a hospital for anything who tests positive for the virus is a “Covid hospitalization.” And, I’m sorry to disappoint my liberal friends (assuming I have any left at this point), but systematic racism and police brutality did not suddenly begin in 2016.

What suddenly began in 2016 was a concerted effort on the part of GloboCap to put down a growing populist backlash against global capitalism and its soulless ideology. Yes, most of that backlash is neo-nationalist in character, but it also includes a significant number of old-fashioned lefty-types like myself, and a lot of other un-woke folks who aren’t quite ready to embrace their new identities as interchangeable human commodities.

We are experiencing the culmination of that effort (or what they hope is the culmination of that effort) to put down this motley populist insurgency, and ensure that it never happens again. GloboCap is teaching us a lesson. The lesson is:

This is what you get when you fuck around with GloboCap. This is what voting for Trump, Brexit, and all the rest of that ‘populist’ nonsense gets you … global pandemics, civil race wars, riots, lockdowns, economic depression, societal collapse, chaos, fear. Go ahead, fuck around with us some more. We will make you wear ridiculous face masks forever. We will paint little arrows and boxes on the floor to show you where to walk and stand. We will bankrupt your businesses, shut down your schools, psychologically torture your children. We’ll inject them with any fucking thing we want. There is nothing you can do about it. We will make you get down on your knees and apologize for fucking with us, or we will stigmatize you as a ‘racist,’ sic our mobs of fanatics on you, and ‘cancel’ you and your entire family.

This, essentially, is the message that GloboCap is delivering to disobedient populists (left or right, it makes no difference; GloboCap doesn’t care which political labels we cling to or slap on each other). It is our final warning to quit playing grab-ass, get with the global capitalist program, and start behaving and thinking as we’re told … unless we want to get locked down again, and ordered to wear things on our faces, and be otherwise ritually humiliated.

See, the so-called “New Normal” (i.e., the new ideological narrative that GloboCap is rolling out) is actually not that new at all … or, OK, the pathologization part is (and I’ll be paying close attention to that aspect of it), but, basically, it’s just plain old totalitarianism. It isn’t state-totalitarianism, because our world isn’t ruled by nation-states. It is ruled by global capitalism. We are being reminded of that fact at the moment … and being shown what happens if we start to forget it.

Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. My hunch is, it is only going to get worse until they can get Trump out of office, which Americans are liable to help them do, simply to make the whole nightmare stop. Once he’s gone, they’ll probably retire the fake pandemic, call off the riots, and stage some sort of international celebration of the Rebirth of Democracy, after which they can get finally back to the business of ruthlessly destabilizing, restructuring, and privatizing the planet, sanitizing history, curing humanity of racism, hate, and other pathologies, and otherwise enforcing rigid conformity to global capitalist ideology.

Maybe they could get the Hamilton composer to write them a hip hop Deutschlandlied to use as a supranational anthem. They could call it GloboCap Über Alles … it kind of has a ring to it, doesn’t it?

All Confusion and Contradictions in Trump’s Apocalyptic America

In front of White House

Americans are angry. I suspected they would be, but I got confirmation that they are, all over the place: in Miami, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Minneapolis, New York, and Boston. Basically, everywhere I went, while “taking pulse and temperature” of this country where I used to live, cumulatively, for more than a decade, I felt frustration and bewilderment.

“What is your job?” Shouted an African-American lady, right in the middle of the Union Station in the nation’s capital. Obviously, it was a rhetorical question, as she almost immediately answered her own query: “There are no jobs!”

Mr. Floyd got murdered by perverse, sadistic police officers. The economy is collapsing, at least for the poor and the middle class. The COVID-19 pandemic is like a rollercoaster, up and down, up and down, with no end in sight.

People are confused, while the government is increasingly aggressive. Much of the so-called “progressive media” is suddenly not behaving progressively at all. Racism is sometimes fought against with brand new types of racism. Anti-racist movements get periodically infiltrated by the extreme right-wing groups, as I witnessed in Minneapolis.

The U.S. government is basically confronting countries like China, Venezuela, Russia and Iran. Not just verbally, but militarily. And the reason why our world is not in the middle of WWIII, yet, is because of tremendous restrain and wisdom of the U.S. adversaries.

*****

At home, no jobs, no coherent policy on how to fight against the COVID-19; no national unity in the moment of disaster.

What I have been witnessing so far were some jerky, inconsistent moves on the part of the governments (the federal and the state ones), as well as the ensuing confusion, complimented by half-hearted, and patchy solutions. Quite the opposite of what I experienced in Asia, be it in socialist China and Vietnam, but also in the far from the socialist nations such as Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines.

Just a quick reality check, and it becomes clear that the U.S. system already failed, squarely and patently: 30 million people out of jobs since the pandemic began. Three million infected, and probably, by now, much more. Over 130.000 U.S. citizens lost their lives. Of course, it all depends on how the total number of victims is calculated. Still, no matter how it is done, even if the lowest numbers are correct, the United States is the most affected country on Earth, which is an absolute shame, considering that it is still one of the richest.

The Trump Administration is, of course, aware of all this, and just a few months before the Presidential elections, it is desperately searching for someone else to blame for this enormous national disaster. The President and his men are frantically pointing fingers in all directions: from China (P.R.C.) to the World Health Organization (WHO). From the Communist Party of China, from President Maduro to the U.S. state governors and those very few “disobedient” members of the mass media who still dare, at least occasionally, to challenge the official narrative.

Conspiracy theories are abundant. Demonstrations and protests are taking place all over the nation. In New York City, the murder rate is up. Sirens are howling. People are uttering clichés. “Follow the money,” I hear everywhere.

Who is to blame? Inept regime? Monstrous outdated capitalism? Corporatism? Shitty education system? People don’t now. While ‘false prophets’ are thriving.

Government, mass media, as well as a great majority of the so-called ‘progressive’ media (do not confuse it with left-wing media, which hardly exists in the United States, anymore), are blaming socialist China, as they are blaming Russia, Iran, and other independent-minded countries.

*****

This is clearly a political fight. The pandemic is there, of course, but for the White House, it is nothing else other than background noise and stench. On all fronts, the U.S. regime is fighting for its survival. Trump is clashing with various foreign countries, those which have a real, left-wing ideology.

Much is at stake. The survival of the entire repulsive system is now in question. If this terrible scheme collapsed, the whole world would rejoice; it would benefit. But the majority of North Americans would lose. Even those who like to paint themselves as ‘progressives’ or ‘different’ or “also victims”. And so, there are thousands of conspiracies aimed at discrediting the fury which followed the killing of Mr. Floyd. There are countless theories about the origins of the pandemic, as well as its management, or, more precisely, mismanagement.

For both the Trump and his Democratic Party opponents, it is now absolutely essential to discredit morally and socially much more successful countries like China, Russia, even Cuba.

Monstrous propaganda tsunami has been unleashed in the United States, but also the U.K. It is unprecedented and overwhelming. Alternative voices are silenced. Censorship, even amongst the so-called ‘alternative’ Western publications, is becoming bulletproof. And it all happened literally overnight. While my essays used to be reprinted just 2-3 months ago by at least 20 major outlets in the United States and Canada, now it is at most five which dare to publish me. My internationalist, unconditionally left-wing angle did not change at all. But true colors of the U.S. and Canadian “progressive” and “independent” media got exposed. Simultaneously, my work has been gaining great support in non-Western countries. This says a lot about the situation!

Back to Trump. He is attacking foreign countries, horrified that people could notice how optimistic and compassionate some other nations are. And how nihilist, over-rated, empty and depressing is the United States.

He is also antagonizing those who are now bringing down statues of Western bigots, genocidal cadres, slave owners, and conquerors.

He is clearly soiling his pants.

In the same breath he is smearing the health officials, who dare to paint bleak (read: realistic) picture, and urging him to put people’s interests above those of the economy, particularly the private sector.

On July 8, 2020, even pro-regime CNN reported:

Five months into a still-raging pandemic that has killed more than 130,000 Americans, the long-simmering tensions between President Donald Trump and the health experts who staff his government have escalated from private griping to shrugging disagreement to now open dispute.

The result, people at those agencies say, is a new sense of demoralization as they continue their attempts to fight a once-in-a-generation health crisis while simultaneously navigating the whims of a President who has shown little interest or understanding of their work.

That Trump does not trust nor follow the advice of experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, is hardly new. The President has not attended a meeting of his coronavirus task force in months, and recently its sessions have been held outside the White House, including on Wednesday at the headquarters of the Department of Education. Fauci was told to participate in the meeting remotely by videoconference, preventing him from participating in a midday task force press briefing…

Precisely, nothing new. Except that even CNN, one of the mouthpieces of the empire, is finally noticing!

*****

It is all about spreading nihilism, on both domestic and foreign fronts.

China is getting attacked in the most extreme, unreasonable, and even bizarre fashion by both President Trump and his team, but also by their adversaries. After winning the fight against the COVID-19, the P.R.C. has been blamed for virtually everything, from withholding data, negatively influencing the WHO, and even for the manufacturing of the virus in one of its laboratories based in Wuhan, and then spreading it to all corners of the world. “Chinese Virus,” the White House has been calling it, while no one knows yet for certain, where it actually really originated. Naturally, Beijing and entire China have been indignant.

None of the U.S. government accusations have been proven. Allegations after allegations have been ridiculed by the U.S. medical, scientific community, and often by the academia. But the administration already went too far, and it is clearly unable to stop its own attacks anymore. Trump ignores ridicule, hoping that his macho, vulgar and provincial rhetoric would appeal to certain group of uneducated, extremist part of the population, and win him the second term.

Even some individuals related to the U.S. diplomatic community in China, such as Tzu-i Chuang Mullinax and Roseanne Freese, are voicing disagreement with the official White House narrative.

Analyzing the uprising which followed the murder of Mr. George Floyd (who happened to be COVID-19 positive), I spoke to dozens of Americans of all races and social standings. The majority of them have been outraged by the government’s handling of the epidemy and the unrest. Not one person that I spoke to actually blamed China or any other foreign country, directly, for the dire situation in the United States.

Minneappolis burning

Anti-Chinese rhetoric is clearly a political football played by both Republicans and Democrats. The same goes for the anti-Russian sentiments, including belittlement of the Russian foreign aid sent to the United States, at the very beginning of the pandemic.

The strategy of the U.S. government is simple; some would say primitive: “Whatever terrible is happening inside the country, just counterattack and blame everything on the political opponents, and if you can’t, attack the foreign countries; China, Russia, even Iran or Venezuela. Or smear the United Nations agencies, like WHO.  Guide insults to all corners of the world, but also don’t forget to send the battleships.”

There is much that is going wrong in the U.S., very, very wrong. Tents with homeless people could now be spotted all around the downtown Washington D.C. The White House has been converted into a fortress. And while millions of American people are marching, protesting against the endemic racism and discrimination, the K.K.K. and its affiliates like Proud Boys, are burning cities and infiltrating legitimate anti-racist demonstrations (something that I will soon be addressing in my essays).

Images are apocalyptic. The situation is explosive.

This is one of the most dangerous moments in world history. But, shockingly, not much is being written about the urgency and threat which our planet is facing!

• Originally published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook (a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences)

Lessons from the pandemic not yet learned

As the coronavirus, once again, surges out of control in the United States, it is safe to say that even those few lessons learned have been cast aside by those who place profits before people. Greed and ignorance, not public health policy, is deciding the fate of tens of thousands in our nation who are likely to die and many times that who will suffer from COVID-19 as we stumble from one surge to another. As other nations succeed, the US continues to fail under incompetent political leadership and a privatized health care system unprepared to handle a domestic epidemic, let alone a global pandemic. This analysis brings together in one place the reasons for this failure and posits remedies the nation could embrace.

Virus control, absent a vaccine, is entirely dependent on the ability of a society to prevent its spread from its point of origin. The new coronavirus, as we have painfully learned, is not an exception. This is the context for the lessons noted here. Scientists studying the transmission of the coronavirus estimate that without any travel or social distancing restrictions, one infected person on average transmits the virus to 2.5 others daily. Roughly estimated, this means if there were 10 cases on day one, in seven days about 10,000 people could be infected.

However, this depends on the individual’s activities. In April, an outbreak in Minnesota occurred in which one person infected 14 others at a house party attended by dozens of people. This outbreak was quickly contained, but had it not, those 14 infected could have increased to hundreds in a few days. In the US, the inability to prevent transmission meant that infections climbed exponentially from 710 confirmed cases on March 14, one day after the national emergency was declared, to 20,000 just 14 days later on March 28.

Social distancing guidelines aim to bring the transmission rate below 1.0, a rate at which any infected persons on average would only infect only one other person per day. At this rate, the virus spread plateaus. Yet, to successfully quarantine the virus, instead of the virus quarantining society, requires pushing the rate down to 0.30, the point at which three infected people on average would only pass the virus on to one other person. Put another way, dramatically reducing the rate of infection entails preventing transmission about 60­–70 percent of the time. At these rates the virus can be managed, perhaps even extinguished over time.

As a nation, we have been reluctant to accept what the virus requires of us in order to put it in check. Deaths and infections, though less than that at the peak, continue at about one thousand deaths and nearly 20,000 new cases daily. At this rate, estimates show at least 100,000 more people will die by Election Day. The director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, Ashish K. Jha, called this stark trajectory “unconscionable.” Jha said, “It’s stunning to me that we have just decided that it’s okay for tens of thousands of Americans to die and we aren’t going to do what we know we can do to prevent those deaths.”

The following lessons speak for themselves. However, the nation’s institutions and political and corporate leaders are still reluctant to heed them. Americans must demand they do their jobs. If, as predicted, the virus persists and reasserts itself during the upcoming flu season fall the nation must be prepared. Americans should accept no excuses.

Lesson number one

For decades political and corporate forces plotted to cut health care budgets, downsize health facilities, and privatize hospitals and health care systems to make a profit. In this pandemic Americans are reaping the deadly consequences of their scheming. The result is a fragmented US corporate health care system, comprised of a myriad of private for profit hospitals and other medical delivery systems, that was unprepared, under-resourced and under-staffed to effectively respond to the virus.

Correcting this will require bringing all major health care providers into the public domain and replacing the inefficient private insurance system with national health insurance – Medicare for All. We need a system where all are insured in a seamless, efficient, service-focused public health care program. This is lesson number one and requires a systemic solution. The critique and lessons that follow are specific to the shortcomings and failures of the past five months.

Delaying quarantine actions was costly

The US was slow to identify the New York City (NYC) area as an epicenter of the infection. The evidence was in sight but was overlooked or ignored. A study released in early April from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NYC found that the high traffic volume from Europe and, to a lesser but still significant extent, travel directly between the US and China imported the virus to NYC. As the infection began to rage in Italy by mid-February, typical volumes of passengers were arriving at NY-area airports until the federal government blocked most travel from Europe on March 11. By then the damage had already been done, seeding as many as 10,000 cases before the first person tested positive for COVID-19 in NYC.

Even as deaths mounted in NYC, New York political leaders rejected adopting quarantine-level travel restrictions in and out of the NYC region. Instead, travel continued, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers traveled out of the city, spreading the virus further into the region and nationally.

A recent Yale University genetic epidemiological study confirmed this. Within the US, the coronavirus traveled largely from the NYC region to other parts of the country. A smaller portion traveled from Washington State, where the virus arrived with travelers directly from China, seeding infections in California and Oregon and a few other locales. Surprisingly, the study showed an estimated 50 percent of the California cases resulted from travelers transiting through or arriving from NYC.

Restricting travel in or out of the NYC area, except for essential goods, may still have been effective had a quarantine action been taken when Italy locked down its infected northern cities on March 8, an action restricting the movement of 16 million people.

On March 22, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued the stay-at-home order for NYC, tens of thousands of passengers had already returned from Italy and Spain and other EU countries. Between these two dates, thousands more were infected in the NYC region and beyond. According to media accounts, few passengers were screened upon arrival. Yet, passengers reported they were only asked if they had been to China, Iran, or South Korea, not France, Italy or Spain.

A Columbia University study showed that had tighter nationwide control been put in place on March 8, fewer than 4,300 would have died by May 3. Instead the tally rose to 21,800. A little arithmetic would lead to conclude, then, that instead of 1,000 dying daily today in May it could be under 100. Restricting unnecessary domestic travel to and from NYC on March 8 in conjunction with enforcing strict quarantine rules and contact tracing for those returning from Europe would also have limited the spread of the virus to uninfected areas. In Minnesota, where I live, 72 percent of the virus cases were transited from the NYC area, while just 15 percent were transmitted from the West Coast. Passengers arriving in Minnesota were screened if they transited from China or Europe but not domestic travelers from New York airports. A costly omission.

A point of origin quarantine model proved effective in Wuhan, China, even once the virus had spread in small numbers to other cities. A modified version of China’s lockdown regime was adopted by France, Spain, and Italy, after other measures failed. By March 1, Italy banned travel in and out of infected areas with the aid of law enforcement and succeeded in minimizing the virus spreading to southern Italy.

The difference between US results by late May and those of Italy is astonishing. In Italy, new daily infections dropped from a high of 6,000 to 1,000 over a period of just one month, an 80 percent decline. In sharp contrast, in mid-May, 115 days into the pandemic, US daily infections fell just 33 percent, from about 30,000 to 20,000. With the virus still not under control states began to open their economies. The result: 50,000 plus cases a day by late June. Until these lessons are heeded disastrous consequences lie ahead.

In recent weeks, new daily cases in Italy, France, and Spain have averaged under 500. The total population of the three countries is 172 million, roughly one-half of the US. A little math shows that if the US had deployed a national coordinated response following these nations’ protocols, new daily US cases would now average just 1,000, not 50,000. What we are witnessing is a national failure. Neglect, denial and unpreparedness has cost tens of thousands of lives, several million to be needlessly infected and incalculable economic suffering. US scientists predicted in March that if the virus is allowed to rule as many as a million may die. Countless others are likely to have scarred lungs and damaged organs after recovering. Learning from these lessons is the only means to avoid such consequences.

Testing, contact tracing and a quarantine regime

Robust contact tracing regimes must be in place, not invented on the fly. Five months after the virus first appeared in the US, we are still implementing a program of testing and isolation. South Korea had such a program in place and quickly implemented it and contained the virus. Those individuals testing positive who could not safely quarantine at home were provided lodging for 14 days. Tracing and health monitoring were done via cell phones. Americans may be reluctant to be monitored like this, but the alternative is to let the virus monitor us. So long as such a regime is not in place, the virus will rule.

Isolating hot spots

In Minnesota and elsewhere, we have heard a lot about hot spots in meat processing plants. In April, a lack of foresight and the capacity to respond caused the virus to travel from a Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to the JBS plant in Worthington, Minnesota. Since the plants are only an hour’s drive apart, workers employed at one plant often have relatives and friends working at the other. The virus was identified at the Smithfield plant the second week in April and two weeks later at the Worthington JBS plant. Could this have been avoided or at least minimized? If a quarantine practice were in place, travel between the two areas would have been prohibited immediately after the Smithfield report (even proactively in March). JBS would have been shut down for cleaning and for testing of workers. JBS workers had earlier expressed concern among themselves the virus would spread from Smithfield. They were not heard.

Nursing homes: again a quarantine regime is needed

Testing residents does not solve the problem unless all staff are deemed virus-free and remain virus-free. Once staff leave a COVID-free workplace, they are susceptible to contracting the disease during their daily activities. Extraordinary precautions are the only means to prevent a virus that has a high mortality rate among the elderly. How might this be possible? Medical and all other staff need to be isolated from public interactions. One trip to the grocery store could infect residents the next day. One option is to rent hotel rooms paid for by COVID-allocated funds. Staff who are mothers with infants should be paid to stay at home. Food and other essential needs for quarantined workers should be delivered.

These measures would not only protect residents but also the health care workers’ families and coworkers. Given what we see unfolding daily, it appears that if dramatic steps are not taken, we can expect more infections and a steady stream of deaths arising from nursing homes and assisted living facilities month after month.

Testing failure

Clearly, the US was unprepared to implement a testing regime. Wholly inadequate supplies of fast and reliable testing made effective contact tracing out of reach until recently and even now cannot meet demand. The federal health administrative system and pharmaceutical firms lacked stores of reagents, testing swabs, and equipment. This was inexcusable negligence at the outset and five months later is still causing illness, death, and economic hardship. So long as we cannot test, track, and isolate, we will be forced to stay at home or, as we are now doing, opening the economy facing high rates of infection and deaths.

Public mandate to wear face masks

The failure to immediately mandate wearing face masks in public spaces and for front-line workers clearly increased the spread of the virus. For yet inadequately explained reasons, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and scientists on the president’s coronavirus task force delayed recommending this preventive measure until April 3rd, weeks after the national emergency was declared. The effectiveness of mask wearing to prevent spread is well established. Asian nations with experience managing epidemics immediately require anyone in public or providing a public service to wear a mask. Why such a logical, well-established preventive measure was not immediately mandated here demands an investigation. Come fall and winter, quality masks for everyone will be needed to prevent the spread of both the coronavirus and new strains of the flu. According to infectious disease control officials in Taiwan, if everyone wears the proper mask, the spread of infection could be reduced by as much as 99 percent.

Are we prepared for fall?

Clearly, not yet. In an interview in May, Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, suggested we are lagging behind the virus. “We have to stop promising people everything will be okay, because that’s not going to be the case,” he said. In other words, so long as the virus dictates our future, we are all in jeopardy.

Five months after the pandemic began, production of personal protective equipment (PPE) still lags behind the need. Firms are still unable to provide frontl-ine medical personnel with adequate PPE, unable to produce tens of millions of high-quality masks for public use and unable to produce sufficient materials needed for mass testing. By fall they must be ready. They dare not fail again.

Collective action is the only remedy we have until a vaccine is available. Any institution, business, and governmental entity impeding taking effective action must be forced to measure up to the challenge. State and federal political leaders found wanting and beholden to profiteers, beginning with the current president, need to be swept out of office. If the top management of private health systems and pharmaceutical firms cannot meet the nation’s needs, they should be replaced. Profit is irrelevant; we need performance. We need cooperation between firms, not competition. The lessons described here require collective cooperation and effective leadership. If one or the other falls short, the virus will prevail.

China’s Economy and Globalization: A Look into the Future

After the corona crisis, may the world be facing a monumental paradigm shift of power towards a more balanced civilization, more social justice and equity? The global almost total lockdown, chosen by most governments around the globe in response to mastering the Covid-19 crisis, devastated the world economy, as we know it, and hundreds of millions of lives. Was it necessary? Will there be a time when those responsible for this universal, scientifically unnecessary lockdown be held accountable?

The last six months, governments around the world have almost unilaterally committed an auto-destruction of their socioeconomic fabric and collectively of the global economy. It may never return to the “normal” of the times before COVID. That, per se, may not be a bad omen, though, as our pre-corona existence, especially in the west, was everything else but an ethical “normal”.

Pre-Corona Globalization and Economic Development

Neoliberal economics have “normalized” greed, inequity, exploitation of people and depletion of resources. This was largely possible due to an ever more reckless ultra-capitalist globalization and privatization of everything – goods, services and assets through international corporatism and globalized private banking.

Global finance was – and still is to some extent – dominated by a fiat US-dollar system aiming at total control of the world’s riches towards a global economic and resources hegemony, enforced by sanctions and confiscation of assets, coercing dissenting nations under the dictate of the United States and her western allies. The countries that did not cave in – Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Yemen, North Korea – and not least, of course, China and Russia are relentlessly assailed.

The corona pandemic temporarily slowed western pressure on China and Russia, as it brought about an abrupt stop to world economic activities, causing a melt-down of assets, plunging stock markets by over 30 percent, creating untold bankruptcies, unemployment and human misery unrecorded in past history. The calamity may be far surpassing the Credit Crisis of 1772, the Great Depression (1929 – 1933) and the Financial Crisis of 2007 – 2009, possibly by orders of magnitude, once the dust settles and a more accurate accounting can take place. This may take months, if not years.

Estimates from the International Labor Office (ILO) now predict unemployment and underemployment may reach up to 2.0 billion people worldwide, more than half of the globe’s total workforce, many of them living in precarious conditions well before the corona outbreak. The World Food Program (WFP) fears that hundreds of millions of people may be affected by famine and tens of millions may die. This is a somber base from which to look forward into – let’s hope – a brighter future.

The silver lining of this dark corona cloud is that the dollar hegemony is coming to an end, and instead the world is presented with a wide-open window of new opportunities to stitch a social fabric that fits all or most of humanity, forging a new social contract towards creating a common future for mankind.

Salient features under globalization as we know it

Economic development under unfettered globalized capitalism has in the past 70 years ravaged the globe and in the Global South has drastically increased inequality, injustice among peoples and nations. The Washington Consensus (1989) has given free reign for forging unequitable trade agreements which often undermined and even annihilated national sovereignties of poorer countries, for example, driving local farmers off their land by forcing subsidized western agricultural crops into their countries.

Globalization under the neoliberal concept has also brought privatization of everything, but especially of social services and infrastructure, destroying the peoples’ accumulated asset base,  shuffling social capital from the bottom to the top, to the western private banking sector and a few oligarchs, thereby destroying the little and often flimsy social safety nets poorer nations may have established – safety nets which would come in handy now with Covid-caused poverty skyrocketing. CNBC reports that America’s billionaires added US $434 billion to their fortunes during the 3 months of U.S. lockdown between mid-March and mid-May 2020.

China’s 1949 Revolution initiated by Chairman Mao presented a new concept of economic and social development, one that still holds as of today. After western devastation of China, it started wisely in building strength by seeking self-sufficiency in education, health and nutrition, and in eradicating poverty. The Chinese society worked — and keeps working — in a flux of constant creation with natural ups and downs and trials and errors, but steadily advancing, learning and succeeding which, in turn, motivates new creation, new achievements.

After reaching this first objective of basic autonomy, China opened her gates to the world to continue the harmonious flow of creating relationships for trade and investments, educational and cultural exchange and gradually moving into research and cutting-edge science to share with the world. It is the contrary of what the west is used to. It is cooperation instead of competition, a concept hardly understood in the profit-driven capitalist west.

The idea of cooperation in economic development coupled with an endless flow of creation – avoiding conflicts and moving forward, a solid Tao principle – has grown China to where she stands today, becoming the world’s second largest economy, after starting practically from zero only 70 years ago. China is a vivid example of socialist success. Or, as the Chinese would say, “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. A nation that never seeks conflicts or invasions of other countries, but strives for partnerships and peaceful cohabitation. This worries the west, especially the self-declared US empire.

On 7 September 2013, Visionary President Xi Jinping re-initiated the ancient 2100-year-old Silk Road at Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University. Adjusted to the 21st Century, it is called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but it is based on the same old principles building bridges between peoples, exchanging goods, research, education, knowledge, cultural wisdom, peacefully, harmoniously and ‘win-win’ style.

In his inauguration speech, President Xi spoke about “People-to-People Friendship and Creating a better Future”. But he went further, pointing to the history of exchanges under the Ancient Silk Road among people from different creeds and cultures: “They had proven that countries with differences in race, belief and cultural background can absolutely share peace and development as long as they persist in unity and mutual trust, equality and mutual benefit, mutual tolerance and learning from each other, as well as cooperation and win-win outcomes.”

This is the corner stone for the development endeavor of the 21st century. It signals a globalization under different terms, a globalization under equals. And, yes, a New Social Contract. Partner countries are invited, not coerced, to participate in this mammoth enterprise to span the world with land and maritime routes, for trade, for joint research and scientific exchanges, leading to an endless flow of ideas for new technologies but also of social sciences to enhance peaceful human interactions. A case in point may be the new China-Cuba collaboration in health science that emerged from the corona crisis.

Globalization under a new normal

China will play a major role in the new emerging world order, not a One World Order as a small western elite envisions, but a new paradigm built on partnership, on equality on building bridges, instead of walls, avoiding and resolving conflicts peacefully and without violence. Call it a new Social Contract to span the world for all those who are interested in participating. The corona crisis is gradually bringing an awakening for a new consciousness, one that we always had but got buried in the rush of things – greed, power, comfort and also neglect for the less privileged and destitute.

China may be a guiding light for the realization of this new paradigm. Why? Because China experienced in her 70 years of Revolution what the corona-devastated world needs today to rebuild and to restart with a new set of values towards a better equilibrium of access to goods, services and resources, while maintaining a healthy environment.

What propelled China forward was the simple principle of local production for local markets and local consumption with a local currency through a public banking system managed by a sovereign central bank working for the good of the people (not for shareholders), gearing towards an equitable development and self-sufficiency for all. This does not preclude private sector participation at all. But the State sets rules and parameters within which private interests may move. That’s why China is “A socialist nation with Chinese characteristics.”

Prospects for a new concept of globalization

China’s economy is strong. Despite a practical standstill of about two months, China has almost recovered, while the west is still struggling to find common denominators for collaboration and for revamping their economies. The IMF had originally predicted a global GDP decline of 3% for 2020, and a slight growth for 2021. In the meantime, the IMF adjusted the decline to 5.5 %; still way too little, since the world hasn’t even seen the tip of the iceberg yet of this global mammoth socioeconomic disaster. For China the IMF foresees a modest growth of 1.1% in 2020. Both figures are likely underestimates. Given the massive wipe-out of much of the global economy, 2020 negative GDP for the world may be as high as 10% to 15% when the chips are down and counted.

On the other hand, China having recovered rather quickly and with a public banking sector destined to address the economy’s weak spots, 2020 growth might be in the order of 3% to 3.5%. But as a leading economist from the International Monetary Institute (IMI) of Beijing’s Renmin University says – “we are talking about quality growth”, meaning, growth will focus on the social dimension of people’s needs.

China will forge ahead with the socioeconomic development program of the century – the BRI –and expand her partner and associate members, already more than 160 today. Due to the corona catastrophe, foreign debt has been rising almost in reverse proportion as GDP has declined. President Xi has pledged 2 billion dollars to fight the virus. Additional debt relief especially to the poorer debt-strangled Belt and Road partners, might facilitate progress towards a better-connected world.

A new kind of globalization will rise from the ashes of the corona crisis. Restoring individual countries sovereignty, as well as their monetary, financial and economic autonomy and without a debt stranglehold preventing them from prospering, is crucial for becoming equal partners in a new globalized world. BRI is the new vehicle promoting self-assured partners that do not have to fear “sanctions” for wanting to preserve their sovereignty.

The west, especially Washington, may not like this “game changer” approach. Therefore, China may not be spared in the foreseeable future from western bashing and aggressions. The reasons are NOT corona guilt or mismanagement, or unfair trade, reasons Washington likes to propagandize. These false accusations are meant to denigrate China to break or weaken the world’s trust in China’s economy and in particular her strong and gold backed currency, the yuan.

China’s central bank (People’s Bank of China – PBC) has just launched a trial run in a number of cities, including Shenzhen, Suzhou, Chengdu, and Xiong’an of her new crypto-currency, the e-RMB (Ren Min Bi, meaning People’s Money), or Yuan.

Eventually the new cyber money will be rolled out internationally for trade, commodity pricing – and even as a safe and stable reserve currency. The digital block chain money assures the users total security, no interference from outside. It is a protection from” sanctions” and arbitrary confiscation. This will add a new dimension to China’s economic strength. Not only will her economy soon outrank that of the United States, but the yuan may also shortly become the key reserve currency in the world.

Look at the huge continent of Eurasia which is also connected to Africa. To serve this enormous landmass no seas have to be crossed. Its easy trading, friendly relations, no conflicts, because equal partners strive for the real meaning of trade, no losers, only win-win. Then there are the countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which in addition to China include also Russia, India and Pakistan – and soon also Iran, with Malaysia and Mongolia in observation status waiting in the wings.

China is also boosting trade among the ASEAN+3 countries (Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam; plus 3 = Japan, South Korea and China). Monetary transactions will take place in local currencies, not the US dollar. They will be using CIPS (Cross-Border Interbank Payment System), avoiding the dollar controlled SWIFT payment scheme.

SCO and ASEAN+3 account for about half the world population and for one third of the globe’s economic output. It is a formidable market and most of it on this huge landmass called Eurasia. No need for the belligerent west.

This new form of non-aggressive and non-invasive globalization may make example and evoke reflection. Perhaps it may serve others, Europe, for instance, as a vehicle to recover from the colossal corona collapse. Imagine a globalized world among equals – a community seeking a common future for mankind.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

The End of History lasted 2 Years: I’ll give the Great Reset 18 Months

The many similarities in the unfolding narrative of Covid-19 to that of September 11, 2001 — the mass hysteria, the banker bailouts, the insider trading, the censorship of dissent, the apparent foreknowledge (Lockstep, Event 201, PNAC, Catastrophic Terrorism, A Clean Break etc), the rollout of mass surveillance measures and more — make the two seem like parallel conspiracies. Covid-19 could also be compared to 9-11 in that it seems to be a ‘controlled demolition’ of the world economy by the global financial powers, one that was either planned, or at very least allowed to happen.

One of the initial red flags surrounding the events of 9-11 was NORAD’s failure to scramble a single interceptor in response to the attacks. It was later claimed that they were conducting a ‘training exercise’ at the time which created confusion. Strange how these training exercises always seem to take place during major crises. Event 201, a joint venture of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum hosted by Johns Hopkins University in October 2019 was billed as a simulation response to a novel disease pandemic. Was this also a training exercise which went live? Mike Pompeo’s remarks during a White House press conference in March would seem to suggest so:

Pompeo: “This matter is going forward — we are in a live exercise here to get this right.”

Trump (under his breath): “You should have let us know.”

The case for conspiracy in the events of 9-11 is easily made when we allow our reasoning to be guided by the principle of cui bono. Who has benefited from two decades of regime change wars in the Middle East and North Africa? Arms manufacturers and their many private investors? Big Oil? International finance? The Zionist occupation state?

The question of who was responsible for 9-11 doesn’t hinge on whether or not jet fuel can melt steel beams (it can’t.) It hinges on the fact that the US had been planning a war in the Middle east for a decade prior to the event. The US decision to invade and occupy Afghanistan and to depose Saddam Hussein was made during Western liberal democracy’s ‘uni-polar moment’, a fleeting window which Francis Fukuyama would describe as ‘the end of history’ — the period following the collapse of the Soviet Union during which the US was the world’s only superpower. 9-11 was a staged event which provided the pretext for maintaining the preeminence of U.S. military force in the new century. There are several key policy documents which spell this out if you could be bothered reading them. They even talk about the need for a Pearl Harbour like event to galvanise public opinion. At least two of the authors of these documents had specifically mentioned attacks on the World Trade Centre prior to September 11, 2001.

With the benefit of hindsight, how can policy directives such as Richard Perle’s “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”, and PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces And Resources For A New Century” be seen as anything less than manifestos by the conspirators themselves? Similarly the article by Ashton B. Carter, John Deutch, and Philip Zelikow entitled Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger which appeared in Foreign Affairs November/December 1998 edition presents chilling circumstantial evidence of foreknowledge of the events.

Most incriminating of all, however, is the Patriot Act. Passed into law soon after the 9-11 attacks, this draconian bill expanded terrorism laws to include ‘domestic terrorism’ and subjected US citizens, journalists, whistle blowers and political organisations to surveillance, wiretapping, harassment, and potential criminal action.

Within seven weeks, October 24th 2001, the House of Representatives was presented with the Patriot Act and passed it the next day. After the Senate passed it President Bush signed it the following day. Later it would be revealed that not one congressman read the 900 page Patriot Act before voting for it, nor does anyone know who wrote it, which makes many believe the Patriot Act was sitting in some right-winger, globalist’s desk just waiting for something like 9-11 to happen.

— Randolph Polasek, Powers Behind JFK Assassination (Expanded Edition, October 8, 2009)

The World Economic Forum’s COVID Action Platform is a comprehensive plan for world governance, covering every aspect of life, from employment, to food production, to mobility, to management of oceans and forests — everything from the biggest issues — ‘great power politics’, right down to the micro-management of our daily lives — religion, ethics, human rights, mental health, and even ‘human enhancement’, aka, transhumanism. The platform is presented as a manifesto for the new era into which we are being thrust; an era of ‘sustainable development’ and ‘impact investment’ through human capital bonds. Much like the Patriot Act, it is difficult to believe that such an incredibly dense, user-interactive online document could have been written start-to-finish during the initial weeks of the unfolding Covid pandemic. It is simply too comprehensive. Was this document also sitting around in some globalist’s desk just waiting for the right moment?

The Covid Action Platform presents a blueprint for the hostile takeover of every aspect of human decision making; a undertaking which is being accomplished right now, through blockchain technologies, image recognition and mechanised translation; through deep learning algorithms which make use of our smartphones and computers and employ cutting edge technologies such as facial recognition and speech translation to assimilate whole libraries of information about us — a vast neural network capable of making accurate predictions about our behaviour — in particular, our purchasing habits. In this late stage of capitalism our value to the ruling class is increasingly as consumers rather than producers. Ever wondered how it is that products and services are advertised on our screens immediately following a phone call or private conversation? Even now artificial intelligence is plotting our behaviour and making predictions based on the data it collects. The more information we feed it, the more it is able to predict and control us.

[The human population is controlled] via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G, IoT [Internet of Things], and AR [augmented reality] environment. The billionaire class has built and is rapidly putting the finishing touches on infrastructure to run human capital social impact markets that will securitize the lives of most people as data streams. The technology that underlies this 4IR automation will hasten the death of the planet. The World Economic Forum is advancing a technocratic system of control and domination of humanity and the planet… Why should we agree to this? It is a profound sickness of Western culture. Hubris. Sick. And totally ignoring the impact our actions have on the natural world around us.

— Alison Hawver McDowell, Wrench in the Gears

It is the need for increased surveillance and data gathering capability that is currently driving the roll out of 5G technology. Our new augmented reality lifestyles are going to require a great deal more speed and bandwidth, not to mention all those new driverless trucks on the road. Is this perhaps also why the horse shit peddlers are claiming that 5G itself is spreading the virus? Leaving aside the potential harmful effects of electromagnetic radiation in confined spaces, blaming 5G for the pandemic is about as nuanced as blaming ‘the Jooz’ for 9-11. And yet 5G does play a crucial role in this conspiracy. It will provide the extra capacity needed to micro-manage our lives when we are eventually released from lockdown into a world of digital surveillance, biometric I.D. and social credit.

The layoffs and retrenchments of workers by the million also present new opportunities to bring online automation on a scale hitherto imagined. We should not be surprised that figures like HRH the Prince of Wales and other illustrious world leaders are now calling this a golden opportunity to reshape the world. The ruling class are literally calling for a new social contract. Would you let your employer ‘renegotiate’ your contract without your union representative present? There is no historical precedent for the ruling class giving up their power and privilege. Why would they do so now?

We are indeed entering Huxley’s Brave New World; a digital panopticon where our every move will be tracked and traced; where Universal Basic Income will function as behavioural scrip; where our Covid Passes will provide access to public spaces. All of these things will be packaged and sold as the solution to our current predicament; the way we ‘reopen’ our economies and return to normal. All thanks to Covid-19.

This is a social engineering on steroids. It is not, however, unprecedented. Our rulers have made no secret of their plans to implement technocracy, couched in terms from the sublime “the systems approach to complex global challenges” to the brazenly unabashed “the self direction of human evolution”. From Julian Huxley’s foundational philosophy of Unesco to the managerial technocracy described by Carroll Quigley and Edward Bernays; from David Rockefeller’s work on global governance to Jacques Attali’s Brief History of the Future, the conceptual framework has been spelled out clearly for more than a century for anyone willing to pay attention. Texts once dismissed as works of speculative fiction now look more like the blueprints of mad scientists, social Darwinists and Malthusian eugenicists. These are the manifestos of the elite. We are living in HG Wells Open Conspiracy; in Aldous Huxley’s Ultimate Revolution. Covid 19 is simply providing the theatrical smoke and fog between acts.

Technocracy is no more compatible with human happiness than Ayn Rand’s theory of rational self interest, but this, we are told, is what progress demands, and history shows there is little we can do to stop revolutionary change. Do we become Luddites? Do we join the masses with their pitchforks and go out and set fire to the 5G ‘cancer towers’? Or do we recognise Robert Frost’s truism that “the best way out is always through”?

It’s clear that technology is here to stay. Alas, the shape of our future will depend entirely on those who control it. Failing a return to fashion of the guillotine, power is likely to remain concentrated in the hands of an increasingly small and elite group. We might find comfort, however, in the fact that hubris seldom has the final word in human affairs, and we can be reasonably assured that Huxley’s ultimate revolution will be every bit as fleeting as Fukuyama’s End of History.

Aldous Huxley’s Programme

There have been for some time, especially from libertarian quarters, accusations that the COVID-19 crisis has led to a state that has been called by some “medical martial law”. I believe the more accurate term and point of departure is “medical social engineering and management”. Martial law sounds more dramatic and seems simpler to understand. Yet we have to get beyond slogans and deal with long-term processes and policies if we are to find adequate responses today. Literary metaphors, like those found in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984 have been reduced to clichés. While their ideas may in part illustrate what today seems like prophecy, it is not enough just to imagine that there is — or might be — some underlying or even secret “plan”.

Much of this reporting creates the impression that some base of fundamental liberties (civil or human) is at risk here, only now. Sporadic attention is given to the relationships between pharmaceutical companies, the BMGF and governmental as well as international entities, e.g. WHO. This reporting is easily dismissed by a population that has been immunised to such reporting, pre-emptively since the introduction of such communication concepts as “fake news”. The developments in digital and especially internet-based mass communications have reinforced the belief that technology is independent and that science and what is called knowledge is not only independent but also inevitable in form and substance. We have internalised the beliefs in our own domination so that we cannot conceive it as domination at all. A sentimental reference to lost or endangered liberties is really a distraction from the problems at hand, even if such “liberties” may be part of the heritage we honestly want to save from destruction.

The long-term perspective is missing because it is difficult to render comprehensible. John Maynard Keynes was to have said, “in the long term we are all dead.” Yet by mimicking the news cycle, grasping for some novelty or titillation, and omitting the redundancies of historical context, writers and speakers with ambitions to overcome the propaganda barriers to political activism are unlikely to reach anyone but the converted.

In my February article Re-Orientation I tried to give the emerging crisis, nominally triggered by the viral incidents in Wuhan, China, some of the historical context which even alternative media in their addiction to the “fear mongering news cycle” are wont to report. The first point is that there is no true, undeniable “origin”. We have to start with a problem and then draw on numerous sources and observations – research — to define the problem by giving it a context into which the history flows. We create a history by the way we define the problem. The origin is, in fact, the beginning—the value we pursue in uncovering events and translating them into fields of action rather than frustration.

If we assume that the governments of the West, in particular that of the US, are what they claim to be, then all the concern about the USG response to the so-called pandemic remains focussed on whether and how it meets the needs of the people on whose behalf it claims to govern. In other words framed in the propaganda terms specified by the regime itself. If, however, we recognize that the governments of the West, in particular the US, but also those governments it helped to reorganise after the subsequent world wars in the 20th century (most of the Western peninsula and much of the Western hemisphere) are Business operations or extensions of corporate power, then the focus changes fundamentally — depending on whether one is on the side of Business or its target.

The USG as an extension of Business, especially its monopolist/ oligarchic forms, and has been firmly established as such since 1913 at the latest. It is also from about this time that the major oligarchs in Business set about organising first the US and then the rest of the world in ways amenable to system maintenance and control for Business. This strategic organisation pre-dates such post- WWII institutions like the IMF or UN and the quasi-conspiratorial committees so familiar now that they need not be mentioned here.

WWI was a milestone because it essentially created the current Anglo-American Empire through which Business rules to this day.

Without rehearsing all the actions and transformations along the way, it is useful to focus on some relevant policies or attitudes that became anchored in the West.

  1. The Bank of England became the model for international financial management and manipulation. After WWII it would become the model for all central banking. This was the significance of the so-called Aldrich Plan and the Federal Reserve Act.
  2. Military-led industrialization and economic organisation would prevail under so-called “scientific” management principles, promulgated by elite “business schools” where mathematical modelling would displace political contests. Alfred Marshall was one of the principal theorists for the creation of de-politicised “scientific” economics based on mathematics. Frederick Taylor and Henry Ford helped establish “scientific” industrial organisation.
  3. Mass media organisation would be integrated throughout state and commercial organizations — propaganda would be shared to promote Business. The formalisation of this practice derived from the work of the Creel Committee and was later theorised and intensified by Edward Bernays.
  4. Medicine would become the focus of all social engineering and management. Medicine would replace religion as the ideological vanguard of imperialism. This was the principal contribution of the Rockefeller tax dodges (General Education Board, Rockefeller University, Rockefeller Foundation et al.) under the management of Frederick T. Gates.

The problem we face here is that after a century of “scientific” management and medicine we are unable to reconstitute political contests. Even those people who claim to be trained in fields like economics are thoroughly dominated by the ideology of positivist science, which became the underlying religion of 20th century capitalism. Science in the West was adopted primarily as a weapon of anti-communism and against popular democratic movements.

We therefore have enormous almost insurmountable difficulties in challenging the State politically because there is only a scientific-technological framework (purified of any historical context). This framework asserts above all class neutrality — thus denying the political power struggle that is really the core of events. It is not an accident that one of today’s grand political managers, George Soros, named his espionage and political warfare operations after the concept popularised by Karl Popper, whose main ideological contribution was to insist that “real science” was only possible under capitalism in what he called the “Open Society”. What he actually meant was a translation of the US “Open Door” doctrine. The US regime’s “Open Door” is a euphemism for manifest destiny or Business domination through the Anglo-American Empire.

For several months now debate has focussed on the truth and accuracy or efficacy of the science and governmental actions supposedly derived from said science. This is best dramatized in the obsession on all sides with “body counts”. The factual basis of the pandemic is reduced to how many “pairs of ears” the COVID armed propaganda teams bring back from their raids. The constant repetition of the official pandemic narrative is illustrated by video footage of the same scenes every day, hours on end. If one watches at least TV reporting carefully one will notice that most of the video film shows practically empty wards, single patients at the most and lots of people in hazmat suits standing around machines. In footage from Brazil- a regime even more merciless toward its poor than the US—the images bear more resemblance to the Christo (1935-2020) public wrappings and happenings of the 1990s, promoting the sensationalism of the country’s archetypical telenovellas, rather than radical political action. Yet the repetition has its effect also by supplanting all other information. 30,000 deaths per day due to preventable starvation never got so much coverage as the deaths of an 88-year-old and 94-year-old this week, attributed to COVID.

There has been no serious challenge to the science, per se, or the claim that the government acts based on science rather than the interests of the people for whom it ostensibly governs (although it is clear that the “for whom” is Business and not real human beings).

Moreover the theology of economics has not been challenged either — as if this were a real science; e.g., something objective. Pronouncements from central banks and government ministries are presented as based on accurate measurement and analysis. A cursory review of the history reveals, however, that the definitions of such core concepts as “cost of living”, “unemployment”, “inflation”, “purchasing power” etc. are changed routinely to permit the Business regime to present data which is misleading at best. The benchmark figure, growth in GDP, bears little or no relation to the most important issue for real human beings, the capacity to generate enough income to sustain a decent living; i.e., home, food, clothing, education, healthcare, etc.

It is particularly telling that the same material misstatements in all manner of economic data are made by officials clothed with government or scientific authority are made now during the so-called pandemic.

For example, it is no secret that unemployment is undercounted—all the time. For real people unemployment means lack of a source of adequate income. However, the regime’s definition of unemployment is number of people who register under whatever narrowly specified conditions permit such registration. The informal sector is omitted as well as those who were previously self-employed but due to bankruptcy, illness or disability are no longer able to work. Then, of course, there are the deliberate deceptions like not counting people who have been assigned to “programs”, like training or part-time subsidised jobs of limited duration. Then, of course, there are people who are not counted because there is no one counting.

In the case of the pandemic, it must be said that the definition of “case” has also been changed from time to time to permit reporting in line with the prevailing political warfare agenda:

“A COVID-19 case includes confirmed and probable cases and deaths. This change was made to reflect an interim COVID-19 position statement issued by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists on April 5, 2020. The position statement included a case definition and made COVID-19 a nationally notifiable disease.”

Thus “probable cases” include–

“A probable case or death is defined as:

The “epidemiological evidence” means that you have been in close proximity (less than 6 feet) with a person who is a confirmed case. Clinical evidence means only that you have COVID-like symptoms and those include colds, flu, allergies, and much more.

This is abetted by the quasi-official status given to people who are, in fact, agents of Business—but then again the entire government apparatus is an extension of Business. Official sounding entities like the “Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists” suggest higher authority without any indication of who the members of this body are and what interests they may actually represent, let alone who constituted them with the colour of authority in the first place. The creation of “authorities” was one of the major innovations of the 20th century PR industry.

Why should we trust statistics or statements about COVID from people and entities that habitually lie and distort data as a matter of public policy? If they cannot count the living accurately, why should we believe when they pretend to count the dead? This data cannot be adopted seriously. There must be a presumption that it is at best wilfully misstatement intended to support the interests and policies of the Business in “disease”, as well as any other Business interests that may be conveniently so achieved.

Just as DuPont has more or less controlled the US atomic weapons program since its inception, the pharmaceutical cartel has controlled the chemical and biological weapons programs jointly managed by the Pentagon and the CDC/ NIH establishment. To determine for whom someone like Dr Fauci works is easy enough when one checks his patent and investment portfolio. It requires no feats of magic or sorcery to recognise that virtually every mass campaign leading into the COVID “pandemic” has been organised and promoted by Business. Moreover these campaigns have been focussed since 2016 on the removal of the present POTUS, Donald Trump, at all costs! To put this in perspective, we should remember that the Inquisition and the Crusades were colossal undertakings mainly for the benefit of controlling the Papacy in the Middle Ages. The Papacy as the titular head of the largest multinational corporation of its day (and still one of the “big players” today) was to the barbarians of the Western peninsula what the POTUS is today for the barbarians of the Anglo-American Empire.

Since we have lost the capacity to engage in politics and pursue a human political-economy, we are forced to accede to a form of rule which at present will become “corporate medical social engineering” in a pure form unmediated by any of the rituals of political process. In fact, it is a religious form of control just like the Inquisition was in its heyday. It relies upon fear of disease, instead of mere sin. We are already witnessing the denunciatory culture, fanatical moralism, irrational fear, obsession with rituals, and all of those human practices that were supposedly banished by Enlightenment. Although it has been common sense for decades that viruses are vulnerable to the light of day and humans flourish in fresh air, Business—the universal Church of our era—is returning us all to our caves and huts, to the very conditions which led humanists to call that past era of Christendom—the DARK AGES.

That is a problem that needs to be taken seriously as a precondition for any critical attack on the kinds of actions and transactions that will — if continued — destroy the material basis for real human life and whatever civilisation we have been able to maintain despite Business and the Church.

The Coronavirus Seal: Victoria’s Borders Close

The state of Victoria is being sealed off from the rest of Australia.  On Tuesday, at 11.59pm, the border with New South Wales will be shut with publicised resoluteness.  It is happening at the insistence of politicians across the country with a panicked urge.  On the way are reminders about the miracle that was federation in 1901.  That a Commonwealth was ever formed from the Britannic nuts and bolts of an invasive penal settlement was remarkable, given the otherwise innate hostilities, not to mention competitiveness, the states had shown to each other.

The last time this happened was a touch over a century ago, when the borders were sealed in a response to the ravages of pneumonic influenza, inaccurately named Spanish flu.  The venture is going to be heavily policed.  Human personnel, drones and surveillance equipment will be deployed.  55 ground crossings including four major highways, 33 bridges, two waterways, various numbers of train stations and airports will be subjects of interest.  Even with this, there is scepticism.  Viruses will find their carriers and unwitting accomplices, however impressive the policing effort.

The closure, according to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, will be “enforced on the New South Wales side, so as not to be a drain on resources that are very focused on fighting the virus right now across our state.”  Residents in border towns must apply for permits for movement between the states.  As the ABC describes it, “Only permit holders, emergency services workers, freight drivers and returning travellers will be able to cross into New South Wales from Victoria.”  The penalties for breaching such rules are severe: $11,000 in fines or six months in jail.  Businesses on the border face ruin and considerable opacity in terms of regulations.

While that is happening, 3,000 residents in Flemington and North Melbourne continue their quarantine in the public housing towers that have been designated as COVID-19 hotspots.  Promises of assistance made by Andrews have yet to materialise in any meaningful way.  Mental health practitioners and social workers seem few and far between.  The government food supplies remain spectral.  That said, FareShare, despite being a charity, claims to have provided, at the prompting of the Department of Health and Human Services, Sunday roasts, vegetarian casseroles and family pies, supplemented by 3,500 quiches and 1,600 sausage rolls.  The charity has set up, according to The Advocate, “an emergency cool room packed with thousands of nutritious, cooked meals” in North Melbourne, though it is hard to see how these “cater to a range of cultural and dietary preferences”.

The feeling that “prison food” is being supplied to “inmates” is unmistakable, though even that has been in short supply.  As Nine News reported with much fanfare, “A daughter and her elderly mother trapped in Melbourne’s public housing lockdown have broken down in tears, detailing how they have only been given four sausage rolls to eat in more than 48 hours.”  But no matter: this has provided charities such as FareShare with a few good publicity snaps.  The show of false remedies must go on.

While this is taking place, the premier remains convinced that food and toys are making their way to the residents.  “This is a massive task and the message to everybody in the towers… (is)those staff – thousands of them – are doing the very, very best they can and they will continue to do everything they can to support those who are impacted by this lockdown.”

One thing is distinctly not in short supply.  The police, some 500 of them, are out in force on all nine estates.  These armed officers have been shown to be as ill-informed as the residents.  Communal spaces continue being used; movement through the buildings is permitted.  The prospects of mass infection through the tenements seems likely.  Even the healthy stand condemned.

Residents are mouldering in desperation.  Papers with the pleas of “Treat us as Humans: Not Caged Animals” have been pasted against windows.  Malevolent attitudes, many traditionally prejudiced against public housing residents, have been given a good airing.  To that have come good dollops of racial presumption.  It all looks fitting for such critics: the darkies, the ill, the derelict, being fenced by police, monitored less for their safety than the greater good of society.  The diseased, as with epidemics in history, will be walled up.

One of Australia’s most conspicuous reactionaries, One Nation leader and Senator Pauline Hanson, spoke approvingly of such measures.  Never one to shy away from the race card and its impurities, she suggested that the residents in the nine towers were “drug addicts” and “alcoholics”, which was not helped by the fact that they could not speak English.  Even this was a bit much for the good people of Channel Nine’s Today Show.  “The Today Show has advised Pauline Hanson,” came a statement from Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs Darren Wick, “that she will no longer be appearing on our programme as a regular contributor.”  Perhaps hypocrisy is less palatable in the morning.

The spectacles unfolding in North Melbourne, Flemington and parts of the city convey an ugliness that has become normalised in certain countries.  Public health is not merely a matter for doctors and health practitioners but truncheons.  Another sentiment is also detectable: a certain delight at Victoria being made whipping boy and pariah of the states.  All this shows the power a virus can wield.  To coronavirus go the spoils.