Category Archives: Fearmongering

How Different Classes in Russia Feel About Yankeedom, China and Europe: More Letters from Russia

Dear Barbara,

I hope that my email finds you and Bruce in good health and doing fine.

I will try to answer your interesting questions, please note that my answers are from my personal point of view, it is built on daily observations, readings, talking to different people, and even watching tv now and then, with no pretenses whatsoever.

How would you characterize the class structure in Russia in terms of upper class, upper-middle class, middle class, and working class?

The super-rich and oligarchs: This thin social layer is an entity by itself, it owns assets and shares in the big companies, banks and financial institutions. There is an uneasy peace between them and the government that regularly gathers them and “politely” reminds them of their social responsibilities and where their riches came from. They are at the present untouchable due to the fact that some of them are on boards of companies belonging to the state or near persons holding high positions in the government. That is when the political situation becomes corruptible.

The upper-middle class include the upper echelons of the government bureaucracy, the top management of companies, banks and financial institutions and people holding valuable assets (immovable and moveable). There is very little upward movement, the danger of moving downwards exists.

The middle class: mostly concentrated in the cities, professionals, engineers, teachers, doctors, small lawyers, office workers, shop owners, and small businessmen.  This is a relatively new class for Russia. Dynamic with porous boundaries, the danger of slipping to its lower level is higher than making a leap into its higher level or to the upper-middle class.

The working class is the most interesting and complex class. The classic working class person is in the military industrial complex, metallurgy, auto industry, oil and gas, power generation, and all types of transportation.  The upper classes make a point of a pretense of treating them well which includes salaries, perks and bonuses. Construction is a big part of the economy. Skilled workers are mainly Russians or citizens of the Russian Federation. There is a big part of the low skill jobs that are done by migrants from republics of what once was the Soviet Union. Their numbers are significant, including, janitors and, delivery workers.  They mostly do not integrate and hold on to their religion (mostly Muslim). Some of them are involved in misdemeanors and crimes, which are blown up and generalized to a whole nation or region. This is a sharp weapon in the hands of the authorities, pitting the migrants against locals. There is much more to be said but I will leave it for other occasions.

How do the different classes feel about “The Oligarchs” (billionaires in Russia) – do they think they deserve what they have?

I am afraid that my reply to this question is going to be a short one because there are no ambiguities or subtleties. Once again in my opinion it is not just a matter of class but a nearly unanimous negative attitude, especially from the working and middle classes and even from some of the upper classes. The Communists and left are just itching to nationalize some industries or at least have a better tax law. Fortunately, the majority of the people see the oligarchs as acquiring their fortunes like in Gustave Myers book History of Great American Fortunes as not having earned it.

What’s the range of differences in how the Russian people see the American people?

The range is narrow, and it does not depend on class.  Rather, it depends on age and the change in subtle things like music, art, and clothing.  I think that the average Russian attitude is negative, this is especially true for people older than 25 years. It is also a reaction to the US and western policies in demonizing and humiliating the Russian people. A western person a priori thinks that he is superior, and this not only on official state levels but in the mentality of the ordinary person. It is ubiquitous in art, literature, and Hollywood. From Harry Truman to Joe Biden nothing much has changed.

The Russian reaction was predictable, I am now mentioning daily stuff – not high politics or economics. It all started by making fun of the Americans and their ignorance about the history and geography of Russia, as well as their traditions and literature. Allow me to tell you one of the more famous stories of a well-known comedian (Mikhail Zadornov) who passed away not so long ago.

A Russian is traveling to the US to visit his friend, at the customs when they open his suitcase, they find a bunch of small branches (around 50 cm) tied together. The inspectors immediately are very suspicious. The Russian tries to explain that these branches are for the Sauna where they dip them in water and lightly hit each other (this is the Russian way and Sauna for some is like a religion, they can talk endlessly about which trees should be chosen for the best smell). The inspector’s eyes become like saucers. “This guy is not only a narcotic maniac, he is also sadomasochistic.”

I am not being flippant. I just want to show that ignorance and prejudice from nuclear policy to sauna lead us to making stupid decisions.

At the present the majority of the Russians, as a reaction to all the Russophobia, sanctions against any kind of activity, from industry and science to art and sport have really stiffened their stance against Americans. There is a set of people, belonging to the TV, cinema as well as some economists, and sports celebrities who are pro-western, which is not exactly pro American.  Anyway, many of them have left Russia after the beginning of the conflict with Ukraine. I should point out that in a real capitalistic society, a filmmaker or a painter is on his own in making his life. In Russia the majority receive help from the government on a regular basis. It is especially galling to the Russian taxpayer, who thinks his money is being wasted on someone who curses his country.

The Russians reacted coolly to the departure of US brands of fast food and clothes. This left many Americans wondering. Russia is not what it was in the 1990s. This is a different time. Russians now bring up their children not to eat fast food and drink soda pop (not always successfully), just like any sane parent in the US would do.

How do the different classes in Russia feel about China?

I do not think it is just a matter of classes. Defining how the Russians feel about China should be according to a number of factors that would include class. At the present there are two more or less evident trends. The first trend is supported by the state, the left, Communists and some of the nationalists who support strong ties with China on many levels. The Russians want to be sure that the Chinese have their backs through the Chinese Silk Road project and the Russian oil and gas supply to China. The liberals and pro-westerners try to find fault in any Chinese initiative.

However, all that being said, there is the human, psychological factor that broadly affects a significant number of Russians. There are cases when it is definitive and that is race. Many Russians, as most Europeans, cannot easily rid themselves of their racism that appeared after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. They see themselves as superior and have been taken in by the western propaganda. The ignorance and prejudice regarding Russia about China is colossal in dimension.  Culture and humanitarian sciences are Eurocentric. The Yellow Peril of the early 20th century is alive and well. Anti-Chinese propagandists love to bring up the border conflict that took place in 1969 between the Soviet Union and China.

The Russian Far East regions have a special relationship with China. There are some that welcome trade and financial possibilities while others are afraid that they would swamp their region and take it over. The Chinese buy unprocessed Russian timber from Siberia, and some of the local producers are eager to do this because they get paid in US dollars. The government frowns upon this, and a lot of commotion is raised. Despite their racism, the upper-class businessman is still eager to do business with China. The average man is wary and cautious. It is only the incomprehensible, myopic, bone-headed American foreign policy that is driving Russians to overcome their racism and have more sympathy for the Chinese.

How do the different classes feel about the European continent around the natural gas issue?

Soviet gas reached Germany in 1973 and each side signed a contract for 20 years, after lengthy negotiations. The German side noted that in spite of the different ideologies, all the procedures were very business-like. Since then, the Soviet, and afterwards the Russian supply of gas continued more or less smoothly to Germany and most European countries as well. Countries that have natural resources to sell as a policy diversify their routes of outlet. Just by taking a look at any modern map of gas or pipelines of nearly every producing country one can notice that. Therefore, Russia’s Nord Stream gas pipelines were logical and legitimate, especially if your pipeline passes through territory that is unstable.

The prevailing opinion about Europeans and gas supply has been formed by the fact that Europe has blocked Russian assets that are counted in hundreds of billion dollars, besides stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The Russians took a step from their side, dividing the countries that they were supplying with gas into “friendly” and “unfriendly”. The friendly would continue to pay in US dollars or euros while the unfriendly that had blocked Russian assets would pay in Russian rubles. Although the contracts were in US dollars, Russia decided that blocking their assets was a force majeure clause, and they therefore took this step to defend their interests. It is not so much a class issue as it is an issue that affects nearly the whole nation. The majority of the Russians are fed up with Europe, with the gas issue and all the holier-than-thou attitude of nations filled up to their elbows in the blood of the people of the Third World as well.

With affection and respect

HCE

First published at Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post How Different Classes in Russia Feel About Yankeedom, China and Europe: More Letters from Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Economic Tectonic Shifts: Letters from Russia

Note to our readers: These are letters from a comrade of ours who currently lives in Russia. English is not the first language of HCE so please be understanding. In order to preserve the integrity of these letters, we kept the original phrasing as best we could.

March 11th

Hello Barbara,

Thank you for your message and concern. My wife and I are passing through a difficult phase in our lives. After our second vaccination in December, we, for some reason or other, went through a period of being sick, myself in a light form while my wife gave me a scare. Anyway, that is behind us.  Barbara, I thought that in my late years, being 80 years old now, we would settle down and I would take good care of my wife, go for long walks in the forest-parks of Moscow. Fate, however, had other plans for us, and here we are in the midst of another war and sanctions surrounded by nations led by clowns, comedians, lunatics, and obsessed madmen. Allow me to give you my opinion on a number of issues.

The dependence of Europe on Russian natural gas

The US tried all the possible tricks to stop the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Generally, they want this energy market for US companies, in spite if the fact that gas will be in liquid form and transported by ships. The port that has to receive the liquid gas must have a very expensive plant. Besides the market factor there is the geopolitical factor of having Europe depending on the US for their energy. Russia has always delivered through thick and thin and always will. I wonder whether the US and their companies will be just as trustworthy.

Zelensky’s dirty bomb threat

Chernobyl, the place where the terrible catastrophe happened, is located in the Ukraine.  Zelensky declared that he would consider making an atom bomb if not given the security guarantees that he was asking for from Europe and the US on the second day of the war. He had in mind using materials from the damaged reactor and make a “dirty bomb”. I think that was the last straw. Russian special troops immediately moved to occupy Chernobyl. Thank goodness not a single shot was fired as the Ukrainian troops laid down their arms. The 8 years that the people of Donbas served as a shooting gallery for the Ukrainian nationalists and fascists has finally come to an end. Chernobyl at the present is being patrolled by joint Russian – Ukrainian units. There is a huge Sarcophagi covering the damaged reactor (if you see a clip or pictures, it is so ominous and awe striking. It makes you shiver).

The Mood of the Russian people

Now let me discuss the mood of the Russian people who I see on the street, the people who I talk to, and what I read and watch on local tv. Russians differ in their assessment of the war. By far the broadest section supports their president, and especially their armed forces. They are mainly working class, solid people, nationalists, and the majority of the left including CPRF.

Since the nomination of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats’ obsession with Russia’s and Trump’s supposed ties with them, these Democrats have played a terrible role in pushing the Russian people more to the right. Anything that is seen as part of the Democrats, like BLM, MeToo, or LGBT is derided here. White supremacy is on the rise. I have tried on many occasions to explain, for example, BLM. The conversation usually begins with “I don’t take a knee before a N.” So, I have to explain the rules of US football, who Colin Kaepernick is and the conditions of his kneeling during the national anthem. Presenting the subtleties of this is not easy when Russians are already riled up. The Communist Party in Ukraine was prohibited many years ago and in this void came nationalism and religion. Both cards were used to divide the Russians and the Ukrainians. Russia has officially declared that the aim of their operation in the Ukraine is demilitarization and denazification.

Then there is a loud minority of very young people guided by NGOs financed by the West, part of the humanitarian intellectuals, artists, and actors. They are against their army and its operations in the Ukraine. The Russian Government has started taking measures against openly anti-Russian channels like Echo Moscow and Dozhd/Rain.

The situation in Russia is characterized by a retreat of the liberals and pro-western opposition. The polls show that the support for the president is 75% as of today, March 11. The street is calm, my apartment is near a university and campus and I see hundreds of young people going about their studies. I see people shopping, and I go shopping too. No panic, no rush. If the West thinks by imposing draconian sanctions it will change the mood of the people, then it is right but exactly in the opposite direction, instead of the critical and quite often satiric attitude towards the authorities. In fact, they are consolidating and supporting it.  A new world is being born and Russia with all her faults and problems is the midwife and godmother. I will stop here but I have lot more to say. Please let us continue with the dialogue

With affection and respect

HCE

Dear Bruce,

Before writing on my observations on religious hostilities, allow me to make some notes on what the Ukraine fascist and ultra-national ideology is based on and where it comes from.  I will not go too far back in history but pick it up after WW2.

Nazi collaborators and their role:

The Ukrainian government after the disintegration of the Soviet Union till today, with V. Zelensky have tried their best to whitewash and portray these collaborators as heroes and founders of the Ukraine State. I have chosen to describe Stepan Bandera, who probably is the most popular among the fascists who march with his portrait. Kindly find below my translation from Russian about Bandera. I have taken extracts from an article and what seemed to me important that would provide an idea of the basis for fascism.

The History of S. Bandera and the rehabilitation of fascism in Ukraine including by V. Zelensky

Bandera Stepan Andreevich was a leader and organizer of the Ukrainian national movement in Western Ukraine and considered a terrorist. He was a member of the Ukrainian military organization (from 1928) and the Organization of the Ukraine nationalists (OUN) from 1929, and organizer of a series of terrorist acts. Bandera was condemned by the Polish authorities to life in prison and his memory has not been rehabilitated till now. He was considered a criminal. 

Stepan Bandera and his supporters sought “independence” through violence, revolution, and genocide. The theoretical activity of the Bandera supporters started in Poland, their most notorious terror cases was the killing of government personalities Soviet Cousul Andre Mailov in 1933. In 1934 he participated in the organization in the killing of the Polish minister of interior Bronislav Peratski and the director of the Ukraine academic gymnasium Ivan Babi. He organized an explosion in the offices of the “Pratsia” newspaper.

In the summer of 1934, polish authorities arrested Bandera. On January 13, 1936, Stepan Bandera and his accomplices were sentenced to death for the murder of Peratski. Then the death penalty was changed to life in prison, which he spent till 1939 in Polish prisons. After the Nazis occupied Poland in 1939 he was freed.

During the German occupation, Bandera and his supporters cooperated with Hitler’s Germany and they terrorized the population. Poles and Jews were killed most of all. Immediately after the capture of Lvov the Bander, supporters jointly carried out mass pogroms.

In our days in Ukraine one of the dates that is commemorated as the “liberation movement for the independence of Ukraine” is 30 June 1941, when the Bandera supporters in Lvov declared the restoration of the Ukrainian state. In the “Act of the declaration of the Ukraine state”, there was the following point:

“The newly created Ukraine state will closely cooperate with the great National –Socialist Germany under the leadership of its leader Adolf Hitler, who is creating a new order in Europe the world and helps Ukraine to free itself from the Moscow occupation”

After the war, Stepan Bandera lived in Munich and worked for the British security services. A Soviet agent executed him in 1959.

The Ukraine authorities and V. Zelensky personally make a hero out of Bandera. Monuments are erected and marches take place in his honor in which the participants call for the killing of Russians. The original text of the link above contains pictures of the fascists in Ukraine during their marches, as well as a document in Ukrainian and its Russian translation, where Bandera and his supporters glorify Hitler and fawn over the Nazis, I recommend taking a look at it.

This is the ideology of a minority that has managed, with the financing and support of the West, to create an atmosphere of hate and terror, Russophobia, and xenophobia. The forces that could have stood up to them were either banned (the communists), or brainwashed and tempted by the dream of EU and NATO.

Fascist and nationalistic ideology in Ukraine is not a phenomenon that is purely local. it is part of the populist ultra-right ideas that have swept Europe and the US. These include the appearance of fascist movements that rode on the wave of capitalist austerity instability, lack of steady employment, to scapegoating refugees for the lack of capitalist prosperity.

Place of Religion: Ukraine Greek Orthodox vs Ukraine Greek Catholic Church  

There is another card that has been played by the west, the card of religion. Little has been said in the western media about this, but the fact that religion started to play a big role in the life of the people of the countries who were living in what was the  Soviet Union is undeniable. People of various classes and occupations became religious, some even fanatics.

Very briefly, historically in Ukraine there were two main religious tendencies. Ukraine Greek Orthodox in the East and Ukraine Greek Catholic in the West. Relations are not the best. The Ukraine Greek Catholic Church actively cooperated with Nazi Germany during its occupation of Ukraine. Moreover, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Greek Orthodox Church in Ukraine from being part of the Moscow Patriarchy split into different parts mainly along nationalistic lines. This hatred was built not only on theological differences, but on property, including churches and land.

Economic self-sufficiency                                                                                                                             

I do not know whether you have heard Sergei Lavrov’s interview. There were the following words that made an impression on me:

“As for our economic problems, we will deal with them. We have coped with difficulties at all stages of our history when these difficulties arose. But this time, I assure you, we will get out of this crisis with a completely healthy psychology and a healthy consciousness. We will have no illusions about the reliability of the west as a partner. We will not have any illusions that the West, when it talks about its values, does not really believe in its promises and spells, and we will have no illusions that the West is capable of betrayal at any moment. It will betray anyone and betray its own values.” TASS reports Lavrov’s words. (My translation)

With affection and respect

HCE

•  First published at Socialist Planning Beyond Capitalism

The post Economic Tectonic Shifts: Letters from Russia first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Economic Restructuring, Democratic Deficit and Locking Down Liberty  

Remember how the notion of freedom was spun by the ideologues of neoliberalism for decades prior to COVID? The freedom to consume. The freedom to make money. The freedom to be plunged into poverty and debt.       

Platitudes about ‘individual responsibility’ and ‘standing on your own two feet’. A relentless ideological attack on the state and collective responsibility. The doctrine of ‘no such thing as society’ Thatcherism. Ideologically, at least, the individual and ‘the market’ were paramount. But in reality, of course, there was no genuine rolling back of the state: its machinery was used differently to facilitate the needs of global capital while attacking the labour movement. 

In all this ‘freedom’, there was never much talk in the mainstream political and media narrative about the plight of the poor or workers who felt the brutal effects of the brave new world of neoliberal capitalism. 

Never sufficient analysis about offshoring manufacturing and service-sector jobs to cheap labour economies to boost profits. This was merely presented as efficiency and job creation for poorer countries, as if the owners of industry were on some kind of humanitarian mission. 

But it was only ever the old colonialist mentality passed off in new clothing. 

Today, this mentality manifests by subjecting poorer nations to IMF-World Bank ‘structural adjustment’ directives and beating them into being ‘business friendly’ and compliant with the needs of global (Western) capital. Spin it any way you like, whether ‘foreign direct investment’ or ‘liberalising’ the economy, it amounts to richer countries merely using or loaning back money to the poorer countries (with strings) that they stole from them over the centuries. 

Courtesy of lop-sided trade deals, the WTO and the international financial institutions, we see a model of ‘development’ characterised by indebtedness, displaced populations resulting from ‘infrastructure projects’ (to facilitate the needs of capital) and a deliberate running down of indigenous models of agriculture. 

There was not much talk about ‘freedom’ in relation to the subsequent state-corporate economic brutality experienced by society’s most marginalised, highlighted, for instance, by Arundhati Roy in The Ghosts of Capitalism – the ‘invisible’ and shoved-aside victims of a rampant neoliberalism, with a good dose of state-backed violence always on hand to secure compliance.

Their ‘freedom’ never amounted to much in the first place. 

Economic structural violence waged against people, economies and ecosystems courtesy of elite interests bent on monopolising energy, money, food, land and violence across the globe. 

Yet the system now purports to care about the well-being of those it persistently regards as ‘collateral damage’ and ‘economic fodder’. A system that by its very nature concentrates money, control and power at the top of the pyramid. 

Consider that prior to COVID, Pfizer was “the least trusted company in the least trusted industrial sector in the United States”, according to Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice. 

But we are supposed to have faith in Pfizer and disregard its lengthy corporate rap sheet and its unscrupulous profiteering practices regarding its COVID vaccine rollout across the globe. We are supposed to trust its products and its vaccine data that it is trying so hard, with help from the US Food and Drug Administration, to keep from the public. 

At the same time, to facilitate uptake of Pfizer’s injections, we hear a lot about ‘collective responsibility’. A much-maligned concept in a dog-eat-dog neoliberal regime. Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and others spin vaccine sceptics’ talk of ‘freedom of choice’ regarding what is allowed to be injected into their own bodies as selfish and the domain of right-wing women haters and fascists. 

The right to protest, to free speech, to associate and so forth were (and often continue to be) suspended as people were locked down waiting for ‘the vaccine’ thanks to a virus that mainly targets those over 80 and those with compromised immune systems due to existing (serious) morbidities. 

We have seen all manner of state interference in the private lives of citizens over the past two years. 

Political leaders like Macron, Trudeau, Biden, Merkel and Arden – the frontline managers and facilitators of private capital – have seemingly become so concerned about the public’s welfare that their freedoms and rights must be trampled on by the state. 

Those who demand freedom and have questioned the mainstream COVID narrative have been labelled ‘anti-vaxxers’, ‘granny killers’, irresponsible and as prioritising their own selfish needs over those of the collective. 

Even those who claim to be of the ‘left’ have become part of the ideological apparatus of the state: joining in the chorus and defending tyranny as well as Big Pharma’s rushed-to-market injections and its right to your body and right to make billions in the process. 

Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine brought in $37bn in 2021. Nick Dearden calculates the NHS has paid a mark-up of at least £2bn – six times the cost of the pay rise the UK government agreed to give nurses last year. 

Moreover, Dearden argues companies like Pfizer behave more like hedge funds, buying up and controlling other firms and intellectual property, rather than traditional medical research companies. 

He says: 

The truth is, they aren’t the sole inventors of the vaccine. That was the work of public money, university research and a much smaller company, Germany’s BioNTech. As one former US government official complained, the fact we call it the ‘Pfizer’ vaccine is ‘the biggest marketing coup in the history of American pharmaceuticals’.

Even though many on the ‘left’ have campaigned against the brutality of capitalism over the years, they bought into the fear propaganda from the start without question, helping to pave the way for pharma’s distorted profits, the destruction of small businesses and the loss of countless livelihoods due to lockdowns. 

Many stood by in silence and watched the mega rich accrue enormous profits. Research by Oxfam has shown that the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by $3.9tn between March and December 2020. The world’s 10 richest billionaires collectively saw their wealth increase by $540bn over this period. In September 2020, Jeff Bezos could have paid all 876,000 Amazon employees a $105,000 bonus and still be as wealthy as he was before COVID. 

While lockdowns and restrictions were imposed on ordinary people and small businesses, the winners were the likes of Amazon, Big Pharma and the tech giants. The losers were small enterprises and the bulk of the population, deprived of their right to work and an entire panoply of civil rights. 

A report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) stated that COVID-19 policies had severely disrupted economies and labour markets in all world regions, with estimated losses of working hours equivalent to nearly 400 million full-time jobs in the second quarter of 2020, most of which were in emerging and developing countries. 

Among the most vulnerable were the 1.6 billion informal economy workers, representing half of the global workforce, who were working in sectors experiencing major job losses or had seen their incomes seriously affected by lockdowns. Most of these were self-employed and in low-income jobs in the informal sector. 

For policies that were supposedly brought in to protect health, there has also been immense damage resulting in lengthy non-COVID healthcare waiting lists for all manner of life-threatening diseases and conditions. 

A more logical approach to protecting public health would have involved the promotion of a targeted strategy based on risk along with early intervention treatments as set out in the Great Barrington Declaration. But this was not even up for debate. Censorship and smears were the norm. 

Locking the global population in their homes, or in places like India compelling millions to walk huge distances or travel in crowded conditions to return to the countryside, until a vaccine was made available smacks of incompetence or worse – a predetermined agenda. 

Writing in the Contemporary Voice of Dalit journal (31 October 2021), researchers Krishna Ram and Shivani Yadav note the effects of COVID policies in India: 

The economic tumult caused by the pandemic over the past two years has the potential to double the nation’s poverty… Our calculations show that around 150–199 million additional people will fall under poverty in 2021–2022; a majority of which are from rural areas, owing to the immiserate nature of the rural economy. Further disaggregation reveals that the SC/ST [Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes], casual labour and the self-employed are the most impacted groups.

It is clear who was influencing the lockdown-COVID public health policy. In a report by Yohan Tengra of the Awaken India Movement, it is described how the Gates Foundation and Big Pharma have infiltrated and co-opted key public health institutions at the national level in India, not least the COVID-19 National Task Force. 

Tengra says the report has exposed: 

… not just the names of those who are sitting in this task force but also how they are financially connected to the pharmaceutical industry and vaccine mafia. This task force has been responsible for the aggressive push to lockdown, mandatory mask requirements, forced testing of asymptomatics, dropping ivermectin and hcq from the national protocol, suppressing vaccine adverse events and a lot more!

It was fitting that an MP recently asked in Canada’s parliament just who does the government serve: Klaus Schawb and the World Economic Forum (WEF) or Canadian citizens? 

A pertinent question. But any enquiry should also look to include the wider digital-financial-industrial complex which has used COVID as cover for bailing out financial markets and restructuring capitalism and trying to manage the long-term falling rate of profit. 

These issues are at the heart of the ‘Great Reset’ or ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ that Klauss Schwab and others talk of. Concepts that – like neoliberal globalisation in the 1980s – are given a positive spin and which supposedly symbolise a brave new techno-utopian future. 

The WEF, Big Finance, Big Tech, the Gates Foundation and Big Pharma have been heavily promoting the COVID-Great Reset agenda from the start. This has to date resulted in the reinvigoration of an ailing pharma sector with a multi-billion-dollar windfall, the eradication of smaller firms and jobs, cementing the dominance of the online retail giants, global chains and the digital payments sector and the injection of much-needed liquidity into what were by late 2019/early 2020 collapsing financial markets. 

In the 1980s, to help legitimise the deregulated neoliberal agenda, government and media instigated an ideological onslaught, pressing home the notion of individual rights and responsibility and emphasising a shift away from the state, trade unions and the public sector. This reflected economic changes underpinned by notions of the primacy of the market and individual consumer choice.  

But there is now a new ideological shift. We hear claims of a ‘democratic deficit’, whereby individual rights are said to be undermining the wider needs of society. The message is that individual freedom is posing a threat to ‘national security’, ‘public health’ and ‘safety’.” As a result, there must be clampdowns on the right to travel, associate and protest and on freedom of speech.  

As stated by journalist Iain Davis in a recent article, a commitment to the ‘public interest’, ‘safety’ and protecting the population from ‘harm’ will replace freedom and democracy. Technocracy: The Operating System For The New International Rules-Based Order (unlimitedhangout.com) 

As in the 1980s, this messaging is being driven by economic factors. Neoliberalism has privatised, deregulated, exploited workers and optimised debt to the limit. We have collapsing markets kept afloat by endless financial injections and an overall declining rate of profit with firms suffocating under mountains of debt. 

AI and advanced automation of production, distribution and service provision (3D manufacturing, drone technology, driverless vehicles, lab grown food, farmerless farms, robotics, etc) are also on the horizon. 

A mass labour force – and therefore mass education, mass welfare, mass healthcare provision and entire systems that were in place to reproduce labour for capitalist economic activity – might in the near future no longer be required. Labour’s relationship to capital is being transformed. So, if labour is the condition for the existence of the working class, why bother with the working class?  

COVID has accelerated economic restructuring and the shift towards an authoritarian form of capitalism that is ultimately to be based on a Chinese-style social credit system to ensure the population complies with its coming servitude.  

Former WEF-sponsored ‘young global leaders’ like Trudeau, Macron, Merkel and Arden rose to the political helm of various countries after having been suitably groomed. They will continue to fulfill their roles by managing dissent through mass surveillance and clamping down on civil rights as the effects of inflation (induced by the liquidity injected into the system), joblessness and post-COVID austerity measures kick in. 

They will, of course, still facilitate freedom: the freedom of the billionaire class to continue to plunder across the globe. And the freedom for citizens to submit. 

 

The post Economic Restructuring, Democratic Deficit and Locking Down Liberty   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Fear Not to Be

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the theologian Paul Tillich’s famous book, The Courage to Be.  Widely read in the days when an educated public read books, it is long forgotten.  In it, Tillich surveys the history of anxiety and fear and their relation to courage, religious faith, and the meaning of life.  His closing sentence – “The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt” – became acclaimed as an astute description of the existential need to find a foundation for faith and courage when their foundations were shaking.

His writing profoundly influenced many, even when they didn’t wholly agree with him.  This included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who, commenting on Tillich’s death in 1965, said, “His Christian existentialism gave us a system of meaning and purpose for our lives in an age when war and doubt seriously threatened all that we had come to hold dear.”

I mention The Courage to Be not to engage in a recondite theological and philosophical analysis, which is the last thing we now need, but to contrast his call for spiritual courage with what we have been experiencing pouring forth from the mass corporate media for years  There is a drumbeat of fear-mongering so intense and constant that it is almost comical if it weren’t so effective in reducing people to quaking, frightened children.

Primarily about Covid and the need to obey the authorities and submit to being jabbed with mRNA Covid “Vaccines” – the idolatrous religion of bio-security – this  religion of fear goes much further and much deeper.  Scenarios of fear have been rehearsed and produced for decades by the intelligence/IT/media giants on a multitude of issues, large and small.  They are rooted in a spiritually nihilistic political propaganda campaign that is exponentially increasing fear, anxiety, and despondency on a vast scale, which is its intent.  Fearful people are easily cowered and controlled.  The elites know that regular people throughout the world are fed up with being subjected to violence and abuse in multiple forms, and if courage triumphs over their fears, they might join in worldwide solidarity and revolt, as they have been doing in various places recently. To prevent this, the authorities must use terror tactics to divide and conquer them. If people dare to rise up and even question the propaganda, they have been and will be called terrorists for doing so.  Dissent is now equated with terrorism and thus it must be censored.

All this fear-mongering draws on people’s normal fears of “not to be,” meaning dead. It is, of course, understandable not wanting to be dead, but living in constant fear is a living death.  Tillich, who suffered deep trauma as a chaplain in the trenches of WW I and was later dismissed from his teaching position in Germany when Hitler came to power, wrote that courage is rooted in the spiritual acceptance that underlying our individual lives is the power of Being, by which he meant God, and that fear and anxiety about our fates can be confronted only through the courage to accept in faith this foundational reality.

I think it is self-evident to anyone who glances at the mainstream media that fear is their staple.  In just the last week or so, I have seen The New York Times, an official organ of propaganda if there ever were one but known historically as the Grey Lady for understatement, tell its readers in a hyperventilating style that anxiety about climate change has spawned a growing field of therapeutic treatment for sufferers, how deer in your back yard are infected with Omicron, how the Russians are coming, etc.  This is the typical fear promoting propaganda that headlines all the media sites every day and has been doing so for years.  Any casual observer can list them on a daily basis, from major to minor matters to fear.

Yet despite this constant, blatant propaganda, governments flip the truth and warn that anyone who questions this are conspiracy theorists intent on causing trouble and therefore must be watched and refuted. Just the other day the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a “Summary of Terrorism Threat to the U.S. Homeland,” saying:

The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors.

After twenty years of such obvious propaganda, you would think these people would be embarrassed, but they obviously are not and intend to propagate this bullshit for years to come.  They and their media accomplices have taken their lingo lessons straight from Nineteen Eighty-Four.

On the bio-security religious front alone, Kit Knightly of Off-Guardian has recently reported that the authorities have warned us that there is a vast underdiagnosis of heart disease that may stealthily be coming to get us (not from “vaccines,” of course) and that HIV testing and vaccines look to be the next big push, for there is now the claim that a new variant of HIV is spreading in Europe.  President Biden declared in December 2021 that his administration was aiming to “end the HIV/Aids epidemic by 2030.”  While Covid restrictions may be easing, the mRNA “vaccine push” is not, and their promoters will only find different germs to defeat with “vaccines” and tests to ease the fears of the propagandized public, so many of whom have been turned into hypochondriacs.

The promulgation of the fear of germs and disease and foreign and domestic “threat actors” is permanent.  For anyone naively thinking that there will be an easing of this elite war of lies, I would suggest they rethink that assumption.  The state of siege that is the Covid crisis will be followed by many more, and this germ warfare includes a vast array of foreign variants, led by Russia and China.  We are in a permanent crisis and emergency engineered by the ruling classes to maintain their control.

This elite war against regular people has no end in sight.  The elites know that people get worn down over time and lose hope; thus, they plan for the long haul and keep hammering away.  Paul Tillich’s book is important because of its stress on the need for courage in the face of the fear-mongering.  Without a spiritual foundation to sustain one for the long haul, depression will lead to despair or surrender.  History should teach us this. The evil ones often win, at least in the short run, and each of us doesn’t have a long run.  Our time is brief.

The great dissenters and rebels of the past, even when not overtly religious, kept faith with their comrades and causes because they felt a deep, unbreakable, invincible connection.  It is called different names or none at all.  Maybe faith is the best word.  Faith in what?  Some call it God, as I do. Words can’t explain it; I feel it. Others say nothing and just carry on, sustained by the invisible. Some call it faith in human solidarity.  The names don’t matter.  It is not about naming but experiencing. The poet D.H. Lawrence said wisely that we are transmitters of life, “and when we fail to transmit life, life fails to flow through us.”  And he added in his inimitable style: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  But it is a much more fearful thing to fall out of them.”  It is not easy, but fear helps us fall out.

There were those who called Tillich an atheist because his philosophical explanation sounded too abstruse, which is true.  But he made a fundamental point about how as human beings we participate in Being, which is the ground of our existence.  We are part of something that is far larger than our puny selves –  beings in the sea of Being.  Who can deny that?  His call to courage hit a resonant cord with believers, agnostics, and atheists alike.  Not a poet but a German trained immigrant scholar who emigrated to the U.S.A., his language was steeped in heavy philosophical verbiage, yet it found a wide audience in its analysis of fear, anxiety, and especially courage because it was about fundamental truths.  Courage is fundamental, as is faith.

The Spanish poet Antonio Machado put it less philosophically and more elegantly:

I talk always to the man who walks along with me;
– men who talk to themselves hope to talk to God
Someday –
My soliloquies amount to discussions with this friend,
Who taught me the secret of loving human beings.
….
And when the day arrives for the last leaving of all,
And the ship that never returns to port is ready to go,
You’ll find me on board, light, with few belongings,
Almost naked like the children of the sea.

We are children of the sea and courage keeps us afloat.

Humor also helps, for we are funny creatures.

It is not often that one escapes an unintended assassination attempt.  I am glad to say that I have.

This is an example of the power of fear. Where I live, the winter has been quite cold and there was a recent ice storm with thick ice everywhere on top of snow.  My wife was fearful of falling and so had bought hiking poles for herself and me as Christmas gifts.  I said I didn’t want them and wouldn’t use them; that I wasn’t afraid, that I had faith in my ability to sustain myself.  So I didn’t use them, which angered her.  One day when the ice in the driveway and on the car was inches thick, she cajoled me into using the sticks to reach the car.  She set them for me with their clips at the proper height, since they are adjustable.  We toddled down the pathway to the car, setting one pole out ahead of the other in turn.  I exaggerated my need for them, bending far over as if I were in great need of the crutches.  Approaching the driveway, I extended my right hand pole out in front and it collapsed because the clips weren’t set tight and I went flying face forward onto the ice.  She looked at me in fear, not sure if I was dead or hurt or if her fear had made her into an accidental assassin.  She needn’t worry.  It was funny.

We all fall eventually, but in the meantime, worrying about it is self-defeating.  It is a reaction to fear.  Worrying is a form of preying on oneself (etymology: to seize by the throat with one’s teeth and kill), and it can be induced – and is – by the campaigns of fear that we are being subjected to.

The courage to be was Tillich’s way of saying that we are upheld by far more than we know.  Call it Being, Tao, the Great Spirit, or God.  Courage is contagious and will carry us on.  It is what we need to resist the fear-mongers who are at our throats.

The post The Fear Not to Be first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The left’s contempt for bodily autonomy during the pandemic is a gift to the right

When did parts of the left get so contemptuous of the principle of “bodily autonomy”? Answer: Just about the time they started fetishising vaccines as the only route out of the current pandemic.

Only two years ago most people understood “bodily autonomy” to be a fundamental, unquestionable human right. Now it is being treated as some kind of perverse libertarian luxury, as proof that the “deplorables” have been watching too much Tucker Carlson or that they have come to idealise the worst excesses of neoliberalism’s emphasis on the rights of the individual over the social good.

This is dangerous nonsense, as should be obvious if we step back and imagine what our world might look like had the principle of “bodily autonomy” not been established through centuries of struggle, just as were the right to vote and the right to health care.

Because without the principle of bodily autonomy, we might still be dragging virgins up high staircases so that they could be sacrificed to placate the sun gods. Without the principle of bodily autonomy, we might still be treating black people like animals – chattel to be used and exploited so that a white landowning class could grow rich from their enforced labours. Without the principle of bodily autonomy, we might still have doctors experimenting on those who are “inferior” – Jews, Romanies, Communists, gays – so that “superior races” could benefit from the “research”. Without the principle of bodily autonomy, we might still have the right of men to rape their wives as one of the unwritten marital vows.

Many of these battles and others were won far more recently than most of us care to remember. I am old enough to recall listening in the car on the way to school to “serious” debates on BBC Radio 4 about whether it was justifiable for the courts to presume a husband’s right to rape his wife.

Arguments about whose bodily autonomy has primacy – a woman’s or the foetus she is carrying – are at the heart of ongoing and inflammatory abortion debates in the United States. And protection of bodily autonomy was the main reason why anyone with an ounce of moral fibre opposed the US torture regime that became normalised in the war on brown people known as the “war on terror”.

Bad faith

There is good reason why, in western societies, vaccination uptake is lowest among ethnic minorities. The clues are embedded in the three preceding paragraphs. Powerful nation-states, run by white elites for the benefit of white elites, have been trampling on the bodily autonomy of black and brown people for centuries – sometimes because those elites were indifferent to the harm they were causing, and sometimes because they professed to be helping these “inferior” peoples, such as in the “war on terror’s” promotion of neoliberal “democracy” as the grounds for invading countries whose oil we coveted.

The pretexts change but the bad faith is the same.

Based on their long histories of suffering at the hands of western, colonial states, black and brown communities have every reason to continue assuming bad faith. It is not solidarity, or protecting them, to ignore or trivialise their concerns and their alienation from state institutions. It is ugly arrogance. Contempt for their concerns will not make those concerns evaporate. It will reinforce them.

But, of course, there is also something arrogant about treating the concerns of ethnic minorities as exceptional, patronising them by according them some kind of special dispensation, as though they need indulging on the principle of bodily autonomy when the rest of us are mature enough to discard it.

The fact is each generation comes to understand that the priorities of its ancestors were misplaced. Each generation has a powerful elite, or a majority whose consent has been manufactured, that luxuriate in the false certainty that bodily autonomy can be safely sacrificed for a higher principle. Half a century ago the proponents of marital rape argued for protecting tradition and patriarchal values because they were supposedly the glue holding society together. With 50 years’ hindsight, we may see the current debates about vaccine mandates – and the completely unscientific corollary that the unvaccinated are unclean and plague carriers – in much the same light.

The swelling political consensus on vaccine mandates intentionally ignores the enormous spread of the virus after two years of pandemic and the consequent natural immunity of large sections of the population, irrespective of vaccination status. This same consensus obfuscates the fact that natural immunity is most likely to prove longer-lasting and more effective against any variants of Covid that continue to emerge. And the consensus distracts from the inconvenient fact that the short-lived efficacy of the current vaccines means everyone is potentially “unclean” and a plague carrier, as the new variant Omicron is underscoring only too clearly.

No solidarity

The truth is that where each of us stands on the political divide over bodily autonomy says less about how much we prioritise human rights, or the social good, or solidarity with the weak and powerless, and much more about other, far less objectively rational matters, such as:

  • how fearful we are personally about the effects of Covid on ourselves or our loved ones;
  • whether we think the plutocrats that run our societies have prioritised the social good over the desire for quick, profit-making technological fixes, and the appearance of strong leadership and decisive action;
  • how sure we are that science is taking precedence over the interests of pharmaceutical corporations whose profits are booming as our societies grow older and sicker, and whether we think these corporations have captured our regulatory authorities, including the World Health Organisation;
  • whether we think it helpful or dangerous to scapegoat an unvaccinated minority, blaming it for straining health services or for the failure to eradicate a virus that is, in reality, never going away;
  • and, especially in the left’s case, how reassured we are that non-western, official “enemy” governments, such as Cuba, China, Russia and Iran, have thrown most of their eggs into the vaccine basket too – and usually as enthusiastically as western societies.

It is possible, however, that the way our technological, materialist world has evolved, ruled by competitive elites in nation states vying for power, means there was always likely to be a single, global conception of how to end the pandemic: through a quick-fix, magic bullet of either a vaccine or a drug. The fact that nation states – the “good” and “bad” alike – are unlikely to think outside this particular box does not mean it is the only box available, or that this box must be the one all citizens are coerced into.

Basic human rights do not apply only in the good times. They can’t just be set aside in difficult times like a pandemic because those rights are a nuisance, or because some people refuse to do what we think is best for them. Those rights are fundamental to what it means to live in a free and open society. If we get rid of bodily autonomy while we deal with this virus, that principle will have to be fought for all over again – and in the context of hi-tech, surveillance states that are undoubtedly more powerful than any we have known before.

Coerced vaccination

It is wrong, however, to focus exclusively on bodily autonomy. The undermining of the right to bodily autonomy is slipping into an equally alarming undermining of the right to cognitive autonomy. In fact, these two kinds of autonomy cannot be readily disentangled. Because anyone who believes that people must be required to take a vaccine will soon be arguing that no one should be allowed to hear information that might make them more resistant to vaccination.

There is an essential problem about maintaining an open and honest debate during a time of pandemic, which anyone who is thinking critically about Covid and our responses to it must grapple with every time they put finger to keyboard. The discourse playing-field is far from level.

Those who demand vaccine mandates, and wish to jettison the principle of bodily autonomy as a “medical” inconvenience, can give full-throated voice to their arguments in the secure knowledge that only a few, isolated contrarians may occasionally dare to challenge them.

But when those who value the principle of bodily autonomy or who blanch at the idea of coerced vaccination wish to make their case, they must hold back. They must argue with one arm tied behind their backs – and not just because they are likely to be mobbed, particularly by the left, for trying to widen the range of arguments under consideration in what are essentially political and ethical debates masquerading as scientific ones.

Those questioning the manufactured consensus – a consensus that intentionally scapegoats the unvaccinated as disease carriers, a consensus that has once again upended social solidarity among the 99 per cent, a consensus that has been weaponised to shield the elites from proper scrutiny for their profiteering from the pandemic – must measure every word they say against the effect it may have on those listening.

Personal calculations

I place a high value on autonomy, of both the cognitive and physical varieties. I am against the state deciding for me what I and you are allowed to think and say, and I am against the state deciding what goes into my and your body without our consent (though I also recognise that I have little choice but to breathe polluted air, drink polluted water, and eat chemically altered food, all of which have damaged my and your immune systems and made us more susceptible to viruses like Covid).

But at the same time, unlike the vaccine mandate mob, I never forget that I am responsible for my words and that they have consequences, and potentially dangerous ones. There are a significant proportion of people who almost certainly need to be vaccinated, and probably regularly, to avoid being seriously harmed by exposure to the virus. Any responsible writer needs to weigh the effect of their words. I do not wish to be responsible for making one person who would benefit from a vaccine more hesitant to take it. I am particularly wary of playing God during a pandemic.

However, my reluctance to pontificate on a subject on which I have no expertise – vaccine safety – does not confer a licence on others to command the debate on other subjects about which they appear to know very little, such as medical and political ethics.

The fact is, however much some people would be best advised to take the vaccine, there is a recognised risk involved, even if we are not supposed to mention it. The long-term safety of the vaccines is unknown and cannot be known for several more years – and possibly for much longer, given the refusal of the drug regulators to release vaccine data for many more decades.

The vaccine technology is novel and its effects on the complex physiology of the human body and the individual vagaries of each of our immune systems will not be fully apparent for a long time. The decision to take a new type of vaccine in these circumstances is a calculation that each individual must weigh carefully for themselves, based on a body they know better than anyone else.

Pretending that there is no calculation – that everyone is the same, that the vaccines will react in the same manner on every person – is belied by the fact that the vaccines have had to be given emergency approval, and that there have been harsh disagreements even among experts about whether the calculation in favour of vaccination makes sense for everyone, especially for children. That calculation is further complicated by the fact that a significant section of the population now have a natural immunity to the whole virus and not just vaccine-induced immunity to the spike protein.

But stuffing everyone into a one-size-fits-all solution is exactly what bureaucratic, technocratic states are there to do. It is what they know best. To the state, you are I and just a figure on a pandemic spread-sheet. To think otherwise is childish delusion. Those who refuse to think of themselves as simply a spread-sheet digit – those who insist on their right to bodily and cognitive autonomy – should not be treated as narcissists for doing so or as a threat to public health, especially when the immunity provided by the vaccines is so short-lived, the vaccines themselves are highly leaky, and there is little understanding yet of the differences, or even potential conflicts, between natural and vaccine-induced immunity.

Perpetual emergency

Nonetheless, parts of the left are acting as if none of this is true, or even debatable. Instead they are proudly joining the mob, leading the self-righteous clamour to assert control not only over the bodies of others but over their minds too. This left angrily rejects all debate as a threat to the official “medical” consensus. They insist on conformity of opinion and then claim it as science, in denial of the fact that science is by its nature disputatious and evolves constantly. They cheer on censorship – by profit-driven social media corporations – even when it is recognised experts who are being silenced.

Their subtext is that any contrary opinion is a threat to the social order, and will fuel vaccine hesitancy. The demand is that we all become worshippers at the altars of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, at the risk otherwise of being denounced as heretics, as “anti-vaxxers”. No middle ground can be allowed in this era of perpetual emergency.

This is not just disturbing ethically. It is disastrous politically. The state is already massively powerful against each of us as individuals. We have collective power only in so far as we show solidarity with each other. If the left conspires with the state against those who are weak, against black and brown communities whose main experiences of state institutions have been abusive, against the “deplorables”, we divide ourselves and make the weakest parts of our society even weaker.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn understood this when he was one of the few on the left to publicly resist the recent move by the UK government to legislate vaccine mandates. He rightly argued that the correct path is persuasion, not coercion.

But this kind of mix of reason and compassion is being drowned out on parts of the left. They justify violations of bodily and cognitive autonomy on the grounds that we are living in exceptional times, during a pandemic. They complacently argue that such violations will be temporary, required only until the virus is eradicated – even though the virus is now endemic and with us for good. They silently assent to the corporate media being given even greater censorship powers as the price we must pay to deal with vaccine hesitancy, on the assumption that we can reclaim the right to dissent later.

But these losses, in circumstances in which our rights and freedoms are already under unprecedented assault, will not be easily restored. Once social media can erase you or me from the public square for stating real-world facts that are politically and commercially inconvenient – such as Twitter’s ban on anyone pointing out that the vaccinated can spread the virus too – there will be no going back.

Political instincts

There is a further reason, however, why the left is being deeply foolish in turning on the unvaccinated and treating the principles of bodily and cognitive autonomy with such contempt. Because this approach  sends a message to black and brown communities, and to the “deplorables”, that the left is elitist, that its talk of solidarity is hollow, and that it is only the right, not the left, that is willing to fight to protect the most intimate freedoms we enjoy – over our bodies and minds.

Every time the left shouts down those who are hesitant about taking a Covid vaccine; every time it echoes the authoritarianism of those who demand mandates, chiefly for low-paid workers; every time it refuses to engage with – or even allow – counter-arguments, it abandons the political battlefield to the right.

Through its behaviour, the shrill left confirms the right’s claims that the political instincts of the left are Stalinist, that the left will always back the might of an all-powerful state against the concerns of ordinary people, that the left sees only the faceless masses, who need to be herded towards bureaucratically convenient solutions, rather than individuals who need to be listened to as they grapple with their own particular dilemmas and beliefs.

The fact is that you can favour vaccines, you can be vaccinated yourself, you can even desire that everyone regularly takes a Covid vaccine, and still think that bodily and cognitive autonomy are vitally important principles – principles to be valued even more than vaccines. You can be a cheerleader for vaccination and still march against vaccine mandates.

Some on the left behave as if these are entirely incompatible positions, or as if they are proof of hypocrisy and bad faith. But what this kind of left is really exposing is their own inability to think in politically complex ways, their own difficulty remembering that principles are more important than quick-fixes, however frightening the circumstances, and that the debates about how we organise our societies are inherently political, much more so than technocratic or “medical”.

The right understands that there is a political calculus in handling the pandemic that cannot be discarded except at a grave political cost. Part of the left has a much weaker grasp of this point. Its censoriousness, its arrogance, its hectoring tone – all given cover by claims to be following a “science” that keeps changing – are predictably alienating those the left claims to represent.

The left needs to start insisting again on the critical importance of bodily and cognitive autonomy – and to stop shooting itself in the foot.

The post The left’s contempt for bodily autonomy during the pandemic is a gift to the right first appeared on Dissident Voice.

No Substantive Economic Recovery In Sight

One of the fundamental economic laws under capitalism is for wealth to become more concentrated in fewer hands over time, which in turn leads to more political power in fewer hands, which means that the majority have even less political and economic power over time. Monopoly in economics means monopoly in politics. It is the opposite of an inclusive, democratic, modern, healthy society. This retrogressive feature intrinsic to capitalism has been over-documented in thousands of reports and articles from hundreds of sources across the political and ideological spectrum over the last few decades. It is well-known, for example, that a handful of people own most of the wealth in the U.S. and most members of Congress are millionaires. This leaves out more than 95% of people. Not surprisingly, “policy makers” have consistently failed to reverse these antisocial trends inherent to an obsolete system.

At the same time, with no sense of irony and with no fidelity to science, news headlines from around the world continue to scream that the economy in many countries and regions is doing great and that more economic recovery and growth depend almost entirely, if not entirely, on vaccinating everyone (multiple times). In other words, once everyone is vaccinated, we will see really good economic times, everything will be amazing, and we won’t have too much to worry about. Extremely irrational and irresponsible statements and claims of all kinds continue to be made in the most dogmatic and frenzied way by the mainstream press at home and abroad in a desperate attempt to divert attention from the deep economic crisis continually unfolding nationally and internationally. Dozens of countries are experiencing profound economic problems.

While billions of vaccination shots have already been administered worldwide, and millions more are administered every day (with and without people’s consent), humanity continues to confront many major intractable economic problems caused by the internal dynamics of an outdated economic system.

A snapshot:

  1. More rapid and intense inflation everywhere
  2. Major supply chain disruptions and distortions everywhere
  3. Shortages of many products
  4. “Shortages” of workers in many sectors worldwide
  5. Shortened and inconsistent hours of operation at thousands of businesses
  6. Falling value of the U.S. dollar and other fiat currencies
  7. Growing stagflation
  8. Millions of businesses permanently disappeared
  9. More income and wealth inequality
  10. High dismal levels of unemployment, under-employment, and worker burnout
  11. Growing health insurance costs
  12. Unending fear, anxiety, and hysteria around endless covid strains
  13. More scattered panic buying
  14. The stock market climbing while the real economy declines (highly inflated asset valuations in the stock market)
  15. Spectacular economic failures like Lehman Brothers (in the U.S. 13 years ago) and Evergrande (in China in 2021)
  16. All kinds of debt increasing at all levels
  17. Central banks around the world printing trillions in fiat currencies non-stop and still lots of bad economic news
  18. And a whole host of other harsh economic realities often invisible to the eye and rarely reported on that tell a much more tragic story of an economy that cannot provide for the needs of the people

The list goes on and on. More nauseating data appears every day. Economic hardship, which takes on many tangible and intangible forms, is wreaking havoc on the majority at home and abroad. There is no real and substantive economic improvement. It is hard to see a bright, stable, prosperous, peaceful future for millions under such conditions, which is why many, if not most, people do not have a good feeling about what lies ahead and have little faith in the rich, their politicians, and “representative democracy.” It is no surprise that President Joe Biden’s approval rating is low and keeps falling.

What will the rich and their political and media representatives say and do when most people are vaccinated, everyone else has natural immunity, and the economy is still failing? What will the rich do when economic failure cannot be blamed on bacteria or viruses? To be sure, the legitimacy crisis will further deepen and outmoded liberal institutions of governance will become even more obsolete and more incapable of sorting out today’s serious problems. “Representative democracy” will become more discredited and more illusions about the “social contract” will be shattered. In this context, talk of “New Deals” for this and “New Deals” for that won’t solve anything in a meaningful way either because these “New Deals” are nothing more than an expansion of state-organized corruption to pay the rich, mainly through “public-private-partnerships.” This is already being spun in a way that will fool the gullible. Many are actively ignoring how such high-sounding “reforms” are actually pay-the-rich schemes that increase inequality and exacerbate a whole host of other problems.

It is not in the interest of the rich to see different covid strains and scares disappear because these strains and scares provide a convenient cover and scapegoat for economic problems rooted in the profound contradictions of an outmoded economic system over-ripe for a new direction, aim, and control. It is easier to claim that the economy is intractably lousy because of covid and covid-related restrictions than to admit that the economy is continually failing due to the intrinsic built-in nature, operation, and logic of capital itself.

There is no way forward while economic and political power remain dominated by the rich. The only way out of the economic crisis is by vesting power in workers, the people who actually produce the wealth that society depends on. The rich and their outmoded system are a drag on everyone and are not needed in any way; they are a major obstacle to the progress of society; they add no value to anything and are unable and unwilling to lead the society out of its deepening all-sided crisis.

There is an alternative to current obsolete arrangements and only the people themselves, armed with a new independent outlook, politics, and thinking can usher it in. Economic problems, health problems, and 50 other lingering problems are not going to be solved so long as the polity remains marginalized and disempowered by the rich and their capital-centered arrangements and institutions. New and fresh thinking and consciousness are needed at this time. A new and more powerful human-centered outlook is needed to guide humanity forward.

Human consciousness and resiliency are being severely tested at this time, and the results have been harsh and tragic in many ways for so many. We are experiencing a major test of the ability of the human species to bring into being what is missing, that is, to overcome the neoliberal destruction of time, space, and the fabric of society so as to unleash the power of human productive forces to usher in a much more advanced society where time-space relations accelerate in favor of the entire polity. There is an alternative to the anachronistic status quo.

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The Branch Covidians are Waging War on Humanity

All embarked, the party launched out on the sea’s foaming lanes while the son of Atreus told his troops to wash, to purify themselves from the filth of the plague. They scoured it off, threw scourings in the surf and sacrificed to Apollo full-grown bulls and goats along the beaten shore of the fallow barren sea and savory smoke went swirling up the skies.

Homer, The Iliad (1.365-370)

The Biden administration’s announcement that Americans employed in companies with over 100 employees would be compelled to take an experimental gene therapy in explicit violation of the Nuremberg Code has opened a new front in the biofascist assault on democracy. Businesses and government agencies that fail to enforce this mandate will potentially face draconian fines. Should the oligarchy succeed in completely weaponizing health care, vaccine passports would undoubtedly become both pervasive and mandatory, but as Tucker Carlson pointed out during one of his recent monologues, it is also likely that dissidents would be handed over to the Cult of Psychiatry. This is not an uncommon practice in police states, and the pathologization of dissent has been ongoing in the West for quite some time now. Only through knowledge, compassion, and camaraderie can the forces of neo-Nazi medicine be outflanked. The days of medical Armageddon are upon us.

As the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and its European counterpart unequivocally demonstrate, the Covid vaccine program is causing tremendous harm and should have been terminated many months ago. Even the efficacy of the vaccines is very much in doubt, as evidenced by soaring Covid case numbers in some of the most vaccinated places on earth, such as the Seychelles (see here and here), Israel (see here, here, here and here), Gibraltar and Iceland. As physician assistant Deborah Conrad pointed out in her interview with The HighWire, VAERS is so dysfunctional that many doctors and nurses are only vaguely aware of its existence.

Addressing the “pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Joseph Mercola, MD, writes on Mercola.com:

In a June 29, 2021, interview, Fauci called the Delta variant ‘a game-changer’ for unvaccinated people, warning it will devastate the unvaccinated population while vaccinated individuals are protected against it. Alas, in the real world, the converse is turning out to be true, as the Delta variant is running wild primarily among those who got the Covid jab.

As Dr. James Lyons-Weiler and other experts without ties to industry have noted, coronavirus vaccines have long had a poor safety record. Indeed, when scientists attempted to create a vaccine for SARS-CoV-1 the laboratory animals all died due to pathogenic priming.

The vaccine mandates are causing middle class professionals to quit their jobs in droves, from highly trained fighter pilots, to large numbers of nurses leading to maternity wards being shuttered. In what is reminiscent of the anthrax vaccine (administered to the military despite the lack of both informed consent and FDA approval), army doctors are now observing serious adverse events in formerly healthy soldiers. The Covid vaccine drive has surpassed even the psychopathy of the Nazi doctors, as it would have been inconceivable to senior physicians in the Third Reich to give all of German society an experimental vaccine.

In an incident that underscores how delusional the mass media has become, WXYZ-TV in Detroit, an ABC affiliate, reached out to people on Facebook for stories of Americans who died of Covid because they delayed getting vaccinated, but were instead inundated with thousands of stories of people who were killed or seriously injured by the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) gene therapies.

Not only has a two-tier society emerged where the unvaccinated are being denied the right to work, attend university, eat out, go to sporting events, and enjoy the performing and visual arts; but another two-tier society has also emerged, one which has been evolving for quite some time now: the mega rich – for whom none of these draconian rules will apply – and everyone else. Video from a Democratic Party fundraiser hosted by Nancy Pelosi in Napa Valley has emerged showing affluent liberals rubbing shoulders unmasked while their brown servants wear masks. Masks and social distancing were apparently not required at the recent Met Gala in New York, where celebrities get to hobnob, have shallow conversations, and show off their outlandish costumes while millions of their countrymen wallow in unemployment, hopelessness, and despair.

And it would seem that New York City mayor Bill de Blasio (whose real name incidentally is Warren Wilhelm Jr.) is not the only one who delights in imposing punitive measures on those who opt for the control group, with museums and concert halls enthusiastically embracing the heinous practice. The Guggenheim has even written on their website in conjunction with their vaccine requirement that “We focus on safety so you can immerse yourself in art.” (Thankfully, I have a lot of art books).

What will transpire if the mandates remain in place? Will our leaders order their minions to shut off the water of the unvaccinated? Will workers and students be compelled to take an experimental AIDS vaccine or submit to weekly testing? These injunctions are unethical, discriminatory, and unconstitutional, as they transform inalienable rights into privileges which must be earned by participating in a dangerous medical experiment. Restaurants in Manhattan, which have some of the highest commercial rents in the world, are naturally reluctant to enforce these regulations, yet run the risk of being snitched on by Branch Covidian undercover operatives.

Such an incestuous relationship has formed between the FDA, CDC, NIH, NIAID and the pharmaceutical industry, that going to the websites for these agencies invariably yields information that mirrors what is posted on the drug company websites. There is robust science indicating that natural immunity is stronger than vaccine-induced immunity. There is likewise compelling evidence that face masks do more harm than good, yet these facts continue to be ignored by the presstitutes – a gaggle of clowns also on industry payroll.

When reporter Emerald Robinson asked White House principal deputy secretary Karine Jean-Pierre how doctors were testing for the Delta variant, Jean-Pierre became defensive, demanding that we stop asking questions and follow “the experts.” They know best after all, who when not registering vaccinated deaths as unvaccinated and artificially inflating the Covid death toll, are busy turning the country into a nation of opioid, heroin (the two are inextricably linked), fentanyl, barbiturate, benzodiazepine, and psychotropic drug addicts. (American doctors even once prescribed cocaine and heroin). Speaking at the Washington National Cathedral, our imaginary president, Dr. Fauci, said that he was sympathetic to Brits and Americans who are accustomed to certain post-Medieval rights and freedoms, “but now is the time to do what you’re told.”

The FDA “approval” for the Pfizer Covid vaccine attempts to conflate EUA investigational agents with FDA-approved drugs, as FDA has not approved the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, which is still in use, but the Pfizer Comirnaty Covid vaccine, which isn’t even available. The FDA has argued that the two vaccines are indistinguishable from one another and that they can be used interchangeably, which is absurd. Any drug under the auspices of an EUA is by law experimental and cannot be mandated. Senator Ron Johnson wrote a letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Woodcock requesting clarification on this preposterous state of affairs.

It is curious that Hydroxychloroquine is somehow safe as a maintenance drug for lupus, yet suddenly becomes dangerous when used to treat SARS-CoV-2, even if only taken for a very short period of time. Here is the website lupus.org:

Given the drug’s many and varied beneficial effects and its excellent long-standing safety profile, most rheumatologists believe that Hydroxychloroquine should be taken by people with lupus throughout their lifetime. [Italics added]

The FDA temporarily authorized the use of Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 in March of 2020, but only with hospitalized patients. The FDA notice read as follows:

Hydroxychloroquine sulfate may only be used to treat adult and adolescent patients who weigh 50 kg or more and are hospitalized with COVID-19, for whom a clinical trial is not available, or participation is not feasible.

As Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, Dr. Peter McCullough, and others have noted, Covid protocols using Hydroxychloroquine and other zinc ionophores are most efficacious early in the disease process. In other words, the FDA denied permission for doctors to use a medication for outpatient care where it has been shown to significantly reduce hospitalization and death, but allowed the drug to be used for hospitalized patients where the disease has often spiraled out of control, thereby setting the drug up to fail. Dr. Simone Gold has argued that the prevalence of Hydroxychloroquine in Africa, where it is frequently obtainable as an over-the-counter drug for malaria treatment and prophylaxis, has played a significant role in protecting the continent from Covid.

So eager were the Branch Covidians to torpedo Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for SARS-CoV-2 that they conducted dangerous and unethical trials where patients were deliberately overdosed and given toxic quantities of the drug, likely causing some of the trial participants to die, and causing even far more deaths when public health agencies around the world advised (or in some instances, ordered) doctors to stop using a life-saving medication as a treatment for COVID-19.

Writing for The Defender, the newsletter for Children’s Health Defense, Jeremy Loffredo points out that in addition to threatening the profits of the mRNA vaccines, Hydroxychloroquine posed a threat to the profits of Gilead, the manufacturer of Remdesivir:

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, dozens of new studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of Hydroxychloroquine and its first cousin, Chloroquine, against Covid. These studies occurred in China, France, Saudi Arabia, Italy, India, New York and Michigan. However, such proof of Hydroxychloroquine’s benefit to patients with Covid has posed an existential threat to Gilead sales throughout the Covid outbreak.

Remdesivir costs over $3,000 per treatment and has been linked to serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. Nevertheless, if a drug is profitable safety, necessity, and efficacy are disregarded. It becomes “the standard of care.”

Having had their fill of demonizing Hydroxychloroquine, the presstitutes and pharmaceutical sock puppets turned their vitriol on another unpatentable drug, Ivermectin. Described as “a multifaceted drug of Nobel prize-honoured distinction” by the journal New Microbes and New Infections, Ivermectin has played a critical role in combating onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness. Writing for The Lancet, Michel Boussinesq, MD, PhD, points out that “Ivermectin has been widely used for 30 years to combat onchocerciasis and is rightly considered a wonder drug.” In African countries where Ivermectin is regularly taken as an anti-parasitic Covid deaths have been negligible. Elaborating on this point, Kenyan doctors Stephen Karanga and Wahome Ngare pointed out in a Klartext podcast that due to Ivermectin’s effectiveness in treating Covid they weren’t worried about SARS-CoV-2; their real concerns lay with car accidents, HIV, and malaria.

Meanwhile, the FDA refuses to even acknowledge that Ivermectin can be used in humans, tweeting “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.” (Yes, those are some of the smartest people in the world). This villainy is not without precedent, as millions of Americans were prescribed highly addictive opioids as opposed to safer and more inexpensive over-the-counter pain medications. The sacking of Canadian emergency physician Dr. Daniel Nagase, who was found guilty of saving the lives of his Covid patients with Ivermectin, underscores the fact that the elites will stop at nothing to prolong the pandemic.

In addition to fomenting the cult-like notion that a vaccine is a magical elixir for which no risk-benefit analysis is needed, the media has played a critical role in deceiving hundreds of millions of people around the world into believing that Covid is equally dangerous to all patients irregardless of age and preexisting conditions. This, in turn, has led to Black Death levels of hysteria, as evidenced by unvaccinated locals in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh being forced to wear placards displaying the skull and crossbones.

Physicians who attempt to treat Covid early using Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC) and Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) protocols are being vilified as quacks and snake oil salesmen, while doctors who are killing staggering numbers of people through a combination of nontreatment and dangerous experimental drugs are hailed as heroes. In many ways, this is the essence of biofascism: care patients desperately need is denied them, while dangerous care is imposed through coercion – both monstrous violations of the oath to do no harm.

It is not uncommon for physicians to prescribe FDA-approved drugs to treat conditions that are different from what the drug was initially intended for. This is referred to as “off-label use” or “off-label prescribing.” How will a high-risk patient who contracts Covid benefit from masks, social distancing, lockdowns and vaccines (even if they were safe and effective)? They need something that will ward off the inflammatory phase of the disease and keep the ventilator at bay. This suppression of early treatment options has failed to escape the attention of the Indian Bar Association, which has sought criminal charges against WHO Chief Scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan for making fallacious claims about Ivermectin to protect the Church of Vaccinology.

A passage from the Rome Declaration, established at the Rome Covid Summit, and signed by over 10,000 doctors and scientists, states the following:

WHEREAS, thousands of physicians are being prevented from providing treatment to their patients, as a result of barriers put up by pharmacies, hospitals, and public health agencies, rendering the vast majority of healthcare providers helpless to protect their patients in the face of disease. Physicians are now advising their patients to simply go home (allowing the virus to replicate) and return when their disease worsens, resulting in hundreds of thousands of unnecessary patient deaths, due to failure-to-treat;

WHEREAS, this is not medicine. This is not care. These policies may actually constitute crimes against humanity.

In the Age of Faucism, everyone who arrives at an American emergency room is being given a PCR test, and if it indicates that they have the virus (not unlikely considering the prevalence of false positives), their loved ones are summarily kicked out of the hospital, they are put into isolation, given drugs of dubious safety and efficacy, and even intubated. Dr. Jane Ruby has referred to these Covid obsessed hospitals as “the new ovens.” Furthermore, physicians are being threatened with revocation of their licenses should they be found guilty of “spreading misinformation” – a practice also commonly referred to as informed consent.

Hitler’s physicians were fond of euthanizing the mentally ill, and it would appear that their heirs are equally enamored with the practice, as the mentally handicapped have been vaccinated by force and with armed police present in Los Angeles. Children in Toronto have been given the experimental jab, without parental permission, and in exchange for free ice cream, while irate parents were prevented from entering the grounds. Not to be outdone, whistleblowers from Aegis Living, an assisted living facility for the aged, have reported that residents have been “chemically restrained” and injected with the investigational mRNA biologicals without their knowledge. As Dr. Lee Merritt said in a talk with Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, “We have a whole society doing what we tried the Nazi doctors for.”

As evidenced by the CDC vaccine schedule (a growing list of mandates coupled with liability protection for the manufacturer), and the fact that parents can be charged with “medical neglect” should they object to their children being placed on psychotropic drugs, the American public school system has long been in the grip of late-stage biofascism. To add insult to injury, toddlers are now being forced to wear masks and the mRNA biologicals are being injected into minors. Children’s Health Defense has reported that “Pfizer’s Covid vaccine could be rolled out to babies as young as 6 months in the U.S. this winter — under plans being drawn up by the pharmaceutical giant.”

Australia offers another window into our future should we fail to save humanity from the hordes of Faucism. Indeed, this has become a country where farmers’ markets are shut down by riot police, senior health officials tell their countrymen not to talk to one another so as to prevent transmission of a virus, pregnant women are arrested in their pajamas for attempting to organize anti-lockdown rallies on the Internet, women are violently choked by sadistic goons for leaving their homes unmasked, young children are pepper sprayed and brutalized for committing the aforementioned sin, citizens are committed (or “sectioned” as they say in Britain) for questioning the official Covid narrative, rubber bullets are fired into crowds of informed consenters, and extreme forms of violence are unleashed against elderly protesters – acts of barbarity that have enraged the citizenry. Melbourne in particular has lost all semblance of checks and balances, with storm troopers being unleashed on the population, in harrowing scenes reminiscent of the Wehrmacht’s storming of Prague. (Granted, without the live rounds).

Convinced that anyone who questions the veracity of the liberal media and the public health agencies is a “conspiracy theorist” (really a euphemism for “mentally ill”), neoliberals have already crossed the Rubicon and taken up the truncheon of authoritarianism. Undoubtedly, the official Covid narrative is deranged. Yet is it any more inane than “Trump’s white supremacist insurrection,” “Russia invaded Ukraine,” “the Russians hacked the election,” “Trump is Putin’s puppet,” and NATO was compelled to bomb Libya to smithereens “to save Benghazi?”

Trapped in a vortex of amnesia and unreason, the neoliberal has been hoodwinked into believing that whatever the medical mullahs say is “the science;” and whatever the liberal media says is incontrovertible, irrefutable, and infallible; i.e., “reality.” Fauci’s contradictory statements, particularly with regard to the virulence of COVID-19 and his stance on masks, fail to diminish their fervor as they cannot even remember what they had for breakfast, let alone the tens of thousands of Americans killed by Vioxx or the over 400,000 Americans that lost their lives to the opioid epidemic.

The liberals of the 1960s, who genuinely believed in the Nuremberg Code, would have regarded the Branch Covidians with contempt. What a pity that the ranks of these medical brownshirts are dominated largely by those who once idolized the likes of Bobby Kennedy and John F. Kennedy, yet now wallow in a pitiable state of moral and intellectual bankruptcy. It is true that conservative publications, such as The Washington Post, The Economist, and The Wall Street Journal are parroting similar propaganda with regard to Covid. However, as evidenced by Tucker Carlson’s show, the conservative media no longer speaks with one voice. Moreover, millions of conservatives no longer believe in the infallibility of the conservative media as liberals continue to believe in the infallibility of the liberal media.

Ultimately, the Branch Covidians are the offspring of a union between a corporatized health care system that has grown increasingly hostile to informed consent, and a liberal class that stopped thinking when Bill Clinton was inaugurated and has come to regard senior officials in the liberal media and the public health agencies as gods. The mass psychosis of the Branch Covidians is inextricably linked with the mass psychosis of neoliberalism. Without the latter the former would have about as much societal impact as the Hare Krishnas.

The Nazis divided humanity into the subhumans (Jews, Roma, political prisoners, and Slavs); the humans (allied European fascists and the Japanese); and the supermen (the Germans, or Aryans). For quite some time now, the American health care system has been mired in a multi-tier system which divides patients up into similar categories. In light of this boorishness, teaching hospitals have long been instructing trainees that care is to be doled out depending on what kind of insurance plan patients have. Privileged patients are granted the right to choose their own doctor while the less fortunate are confined to narrow networks. Humans are permitted to meet with an attending physician while the Untermenschen are sent to resident clinics. Unbeknownst to Nazi doctors, both past and present, there is no bioethics on-off switch. In what was foundational to the Blitzkrieg but could also explain their increasingly deranged decision making, much of the German military during World War II was regularly taking Pervitin, the predecessor to crystal meth, and doing so with the support of their own doctors.

As the forces of darkness become increasingly desperate, liberals drown in an ocean of madness and sociopathy. Hypnotized by an oligarchy they have deified, while believing that they are still marching with Martin Luther King singing “Kumbaya My Lord” and “We Shall Overcome,” this faux-left movement bears a closer resemblance to the Democratic Party of the 1860s than the Democratic Party of the 1960s. Indeed, if the Branch Covidians succeed in destroying the citadel of informed consent, only one form of government will reign in the United States: slavery.

The post The Branch Covidians are Waging War on Humanity first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Fear Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism

In October 2019, in a speech at an International Monetary Fund conference, former Bank of England governor Mervyn King warned that the world was sleepwalking towards a fresh economic and financial crisis that would have devastating consequences for what he called the “democratic market system”.

According to King, the global economy was stuck in a low growth trap and recovery from the crisis of 2008 was weaker than that after the Great Depression. He concluded that it was time for the Federal Reserve and other central banks to begin talks behind closed doors with politicians.

In the repurchase agreement (repo) market, interest rates soared on 16 September. The Federal Reserve stepped in by intervening to the tune of $75 billion per day over four days, a sum not seen since the 2008 crisis.

At that time, according to Fabio Vighi, professor of critical theory at Cardiff University, the Fed began an emergency monetary programme that saw hundreds of billions of dollars per week pumped into Wall Street.

Over the last 18 months or so, under the guise of a ‘pandemic’, we have seen economies closed down, small businesses being crushed, workers being made unemployed and people’s rights being destroyed. Lockdowns and restrictions have facilitated this process. The purpose of these so-called ‘public health measures’ has little to do with public health and much to do with managing a crisis of capitalism and ultimately the restructuring of the economy.

Neoliberalism has squeezed workers income and benefits, offshored key sectors of economies and has used every tool at its disposal to maintain demand and create financial Ponzi schemes in which the rich can still invest in and profit from. The bailouts to the banking sector following the 2008 crash provided only temporary respite. The crash returned with a much bigger bang pre-Covid along with multi-billion-dollar bailouts.

The dystopian ‘great reset’ that we are currently witnessing is a response to this crisis. This reset envisages a transformation of capitalism.

Fabio Vighi sheds light on the role of the ‘pandemic’ in all of this:

… some may have started wondering why the usually unscrupulous ruling elites decided to freeze the global profit-making machine in the face of a pathogen that targets almost exclusively the unproductive (over 80s).

Vighi describes how, in pre-Covid times, the world economy was on the verge of another colossal meltdown and chronicles how the Swiss Bank of International Settlements, BlackRock (the world’s most powerful investment fund), G7 central bankers and others worked to avert a massive impending financial meltdown.

The world economy was suffocating under an unsustainable mountain of debt. Many companies could not generate enough profit to cover interest payments on their own debts and were staying afloat only by taking on new loans. Falling turnover, squeezed margins, limited cash flows and highly leveraged balance sheets were rising everywhere.

Lockdowns and the global suspension of economic transactions were intended to allow the Fed to flood the ailing financial markets (under the guise of COVID) with freshly printed money while shutting down the real economy to avoid hyperinflation.

Vighi says:

… the stock market did not collapse (in March 2020) because lockdowns had to be imposed; rather, lockdowns had to be imposed because financial markets were collapsing. With lockdowns came the suspension of business transactions, which drained the demand for credit and stopped the contagion. In other words, restructuring the financial architecture through extraordinary monetary policy was contingent on the economy’s engine being turned off.

It all amounted to a multi-trillion bailout for Wall Street under the guise of COVID ‘relief’ followed by an ongoing plan to fundamentally restructure capitalism that involves smaller enterprises being driven to bankruptcy or bought up by monopolies and global chains, thereby ensuring continued viable profits for these predatory corporations, and the eradication of millions of jobs resulting from lockdowns and accelerated automation.

Author and journalist Matt Taibbi noted in 2020:

It retains all the cruelties of the free market for those who live and work in the real world, but turns the paper economy into a state protectorate, surrounded by a kind of Trumpian Money Wall that is designed to keep the investor class safe from fear of loss. This financial economy is a fantasy casino, where the winnings are real but free chips cover the losses. For a rarefied segment of society, failure is being written out of the capitalist bargain.

The World Economic Forum says that by 2030 the public will ‘rent’ everything they require. This means undermining the right of ownership (or possibly seizing personal assets) and restricting consumer choice underpinned by the rhetoric of reducing public debt or ‘sustainable consumption’, which will be used to legitimise impending austerity as a result of the economic meltdown. Ordinary people will foot the bill for the ‘COVID relief’ packages.

If the financial bailouts do not go according to plan, we could see further lockdowns imposed, perhaps justified under the pretext of  ‘the virus’ but also ‘climate emergency’.

It is not only Big Finance that has been saved. A previously ailing pharmaceuticals industry has also received a massive bailout (public funds to develop and purchase the vaccines) and lifeline thanks to the money-making COVID jabs.

The lockdowns and restrictions we have seen since March 2020 have helped boost the bottom line of global chains and the e-commerce giants as well and have cemented their dominance. At the same time, fundamental rights have been eradicated under COVID government measures.

Capitalism and labour

Essential to this ‘new normal’ is the compulsion to remove individual liberties and personal freedoms. A significant part of the working class has long been deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ – such people were sacrificed on the altar of neo-liberalism. They lost their jobs due to automation and offshoring. Since then, this section of the population has had to rely on meagre state welfare and run-down public services or, if ‘lucky’, insecure low-paid service sector jobs.

What we saw following the 2008 crash was ordinary people being pushed further to the edge. After a decade of ‘austerity’ in the UK – a neoliberal assault on the living conditions of ordinary people carried out under the guise of reining in public debt following the bank bail outs – a leading UN poverty expert compared Conservative welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses and warned that, unless austerity is ended, the UK’s poorest people face lives that are “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.

Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty, accused ministers of being in a state of denial about the impact of policies. He accused them of the “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population”.

In another 2019 report, the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank laid the blame for more than 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012 at the door of government policies. It claimed that these deaths could have been prevented if improvements in public health policy had not stalled as a direct result of austerity cuts.

Over the past 10 years in the UK, according to the Trussell Group, there has been rising food poverty and increasing reliance on food banks.

And in a damning report on poverty in the UK by Professor David Gordon of the University of Bristol, it was found that almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing conditions, 12 million are too poor to engage in common social activities, one in three cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in winter and four million children and adults are not properly fed (Britain’s population is estimated at around 66 million).

Moreover, a 2015 report by the New Policy Institute noted that the total number of people in poverty in the UK had increased by 800,000, from 13.2 to 14.0 million in just two to three years.

Meanwhile, The Equality Trust in 2018 reported that the ‘austerity’ years were anything but austere for the richest 1,000 people in the UK. They had increased their wealth by £66 billion in one year alone (2017-2018), by £274 billion in five years (2013-2018) and had increased their total wealth to £724 billion – significantly more than the poorest 40% of households combined (£567 billion).

Just some of the cruelties of the ‘free market’ for those who live and work in the real world. And all of this hardship prior to lockdowns that have subsequently devastated lives, livelihoods and health, with cancer diagnoses and treatments and other conditions having been neglected due to the shutdown of health services.

During the current economic crisis, what we are seeing is many millions around the world being robbed of their livelihoods. With AI and advanced automation of production, distribution and service provision on the immediate horizon, a mass labour force will no longer be required.

It raises fundamental questions about the need for and the future of mass education, welfare and healthcare provision and systems that have traditionally served to reproduce and maintain labour that capitalist economic activity has required.

As the economy is restructured, labour’s relationship to capital is being transformed. If work is a condition of the existence of the labouring classes, then, in the eyes of capitalists, why maintain a pool of (surplus) labour that is no longer needed?

A concentration of wealth power and ownership is taking place as a result of COVID-related policies: according to research by Oxfam, the world’s billionaires gained $3.9 trillion while working people lost $3.7 trillion in 2020. At the same time, as large sections of the population head into a state of permanent unemployment, the rulers are weary of mass dissent and resistance. We are witnessing an emerging biosecurity surveillance state designed to curtail liberties ranging from freedom of movement and assembly to political protest and free speech.

The global implications are immense too. Barely a month into the COVID agenda, the IMF and World Bank were already facing a deluge of aid requests from developing countries that were asking for bailouts and loans. Ideal cover for rebooting the global economy via a massive debt crisis and the subsequent privatisation of national assets.

In 2020, World Bank Group President David Malpass stated that poorer countries will be ‘helped’ to get back on their feet after the various lockdowns but such ‘help’ would be on condition that neoliberal reforms become further embedded. In other words, the de facto privatisation of states (affecting all nations, rich and poor alike), the (complete) erosion of national sovereignty and dollar-denominated debt leading to a further strengthening of US leverage and power.

In a system of top-down surveillance capitalism with an increasing section of the population deemed ‘unproductive’ and ‘useless eaters’, notions of individualism, liberal democracy and the ideology of free choice and consumerism are regarded by the elite as ‘unnecessary luxuries’ along with political and civil rights and freedoms.

We need only look at the ongoing tyranny in Australia to see where other countries could be heading. How quickly Australia was transformed from a ‘liberal democracy’ to a brutal totalitarian police state of endless lockdowns where gathering and protests are not to be tolerated.

Being beaten and thrown to the ground and fired at with rubber bullets in the name of protecting health makes as much sense as devastating entire societies through socially and economically destructive lockdowns to ‘save lives’.

It makes as much sense as mask-wearing and social-distancing mandates unsupported by science, misused and flawed PCR tests, perfectly healthy people being labelled as ‘cases’, deliberately inflated COVID death figures, pushing dangerous experimental vaccines in the name of health, ramping up fear, relying on Neil Ferguson’s bogus modelling, censoring debate about any of this and the WHO declaring a worldwide ‘pandemic’ based on a very low number of global ‘cases’ back in early 2020 (44,279 ‘cases’ and 1,440 supposed COVID deaths outside China out of a population of 6.4 billion).

There is little if any logic to this. But of course, If we view what is happening in terms of a crisis of capitalism, it might begin to make a lot more sense.

The austerity measures that followed the 2008 crash were bad enough for ordinary people who were still reeling from the impacts when the first lockdown was imposed.

The authorities are aware that deeper, harsher impacts as well as much more wide-ranging changes will be experienced this time around and seem adamant that the masses must become more tightly controlled and conditioned to their coming servitude.

The post The Fear Pandemic and the Crisis of Capitalism first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Is the US Global Empire Actually in Decline?

It is almost taken for granted, if not an article of faith, in the progressive milieu (e.g., here) that the US empire is declining. Does this hold up, or is it comfort food for the frustrated hoping for the revolution?

First, it is essential not to confuse the ongoing decline of the living conditions of US working people with a decline in the power of the US corporate empire. The decline of one often means the strengthening of the other.

In the aftermath of World War II, the US was the world manufacturing center, with the middle class rapidly expanding, and this era did end in the 1970s. It is also true the heyday of uncontested US world and corporate neoliberal supremacy is over, its zenith being the decade of the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its allies. Now, looming on the horizon is China, with the US empire and its subordinate imperial allies (Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Australia, Italy) unable to thwart its rise this century, even more than when China stood up in 1949.

Yet the US imperial system still maintains decisive economic and political dominance, cultural and ideological hegemony, backed by tremendous military muscle. If US ruling class power were in decline, why have there been no socialist revolutions ­­­− the overturning of capitalist rule ­­­− in almost half a century? What would the world look like if the US lacked the muscle to be world cop?

Imperialism continually faces crises; this is inherent to their system. The question is: which class takes advantage of these crises to advance their interests, the corporate capitalist class or the working class and its allies at home and abroad. In the recent decades, capitalist crises have resulted in setbacks for our class, and a steady worsening of our conditions of life.

Previous proponents of US empire decline have predicted its demise with an expanding Communist bloc, then Germany and Japan with their supposedly more efficient capitalist production methods, then the European Union encompassing most of Western Europe into a supra-national entity, then the Asian Tigers, and then BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). All challenges turned out to be wishful thinking. Now the proponents of decline expect China itself will soon supplant US dominion.  We explore a number of the economic, political, and military difficulties the US empire confronts in its role as world cop.

Imperial Decline or Adjustments in Methods of Rule?

A common misconception among believers of US ruling class demise holds that imperial failure to succeed in some particular aim signifies imperial weakening. Examples of setbacks include Afghanistan, the failure to block North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, catastrophic mishandling of the COVID pandemic, and seeming inability to reign in the mammoth US national debt. However, throughout history, successful maintenance of imperial hegemony has never precluded absence of terrible setbacks and defeats. Most importantly, the fundamental question arising from a setback is which class learns to advance its interests more effectively, the imperial overlords or the oppressed.

The US rulers, as with other imperial nations, have proven adept at engineering more effective methods of control from crises, as Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine illustrates. For instance, in the mid-20th century the imperial powers were forced to relinquish direct political governance of their colonial empires, often due to costly wars. Until after World War II, the Western nations owned outright most of Africa and much of Asia. Yet this new Third World political independence did not herald the end of imperial rule over their former colonies. The imperialists simply readjusted their domination through a neocolonial setup and continued to loot these countries, such as siphoning off over $1 trillion  every year since 2005 just through tax havens.

Likewise, for seven decades the imperial ruling classes endured repeated defeats attempting to overturn the seemingly invincible Russian revolution. But they only needed to succeed one time, using a new strategy, to emerge victorious.

A third example, the growing US national deficit due to the cost of the war on Vietnam forced Nixon to no longer peg the value of the dollar to gold at $35 an ounce. After World War II, the US had imposed the dollar as the international reserve currency, fixed at this exchange rate.  Today gold is $1806 an ounce, yet the dollar continues as the world reserve currency. The US rulers resolved their crisis by readjusting the manner their dollar reigned in international markets.

A fourth example is the world historic defeat dealt the empire at the hands of the Vietnamese. Yet Vietnam today poses no challenge to US supremacy, in sharp contrast to 50 years ago.

The US ruling class is well versed in the lessons gained from centuries of Western imperial supremacy. They have repeatedly demonstrated that the no longer effective methods of world control can be updated.  Bankruptcy in methods of rule may not signify a decline, but only the need for a reset, allowing the domination to continue.

Part 1:  US Economic and Financial Strength

Decline in US Share of World Production

A central element of the waning US empire argument comes from the unparalleled economic rise of China. As a productive powerhouse, the US has been losing ground. As of 2019, before the COVID year reduced it further, the US share of world manufacturing amounted to 16.8%, while China was number one, at 28.7%.

Similarly, the US Gross Domestic Product itself (GDP) slipped from 40% of the world economy in 1960 to 24% in 2019. GDP is the total market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country.

When GDP is measured by the world reserve currency, the dollar, the US ranks first, at $21 trillion, with China number two at $14.7 trillion. Using the Purchasing Power Parity measure of GDP,  which measures economic output in terms of a nation’s own prices, China’s GDP surpasses the US at $24.16 trillion. By either measure, a steady US erosion over time is evident, particularly in relation to China, and a major concern for the US bosses.

Worsening US balance of trade reflects this decline. In 1971 the US had a negative balance of trade (the value of imports greater than the value of exports) for the first time in 78 years. Since then, the value of exports has exceeded that of imports only two times, in 1973 and 1975. From 2003 on, the US has been running an annual trade deficit of $500 billion or more. To date the US rulers “pay” for this by creating dollars out of thin air.

Ballooning US National Debt

The ballooning US national debt is considered another indicator of US imperial demise. The US debt clock puts the national debt at $28.5 trillion, up from $5.7 trillion in 2000. According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) numbers, the US debt is 118% of the GDP, near a historic high point, up from 79.2% at the end of 2019.

The international reserves of the imperialist nations do not even cover 2% of their foreign debt. In contrast, China tops the list with the largest international reserves, which covers 153% of its foreign debt.

However, today US debt as a percent of GDP is lower than in World War II, at the height of US economic supremacy. Germany’s debt to GDP ratio is 72%. Japan’s is 264%, making its debt over two and a half times the size of the country’s GDP. China’s is 66%.

Yet a key concern with the ballooning national debt − inflation caused by creating money backed with no corresponding increase in production − hasn’t been a problem in any of these countries, not even Japan. The immediate issue with debt is not its size in trillions of dollars, but the degree annual economic growth exceeds the annual interest payment on the debt.

In the US, this payout costs almost $400 billion a year, 1.9% of GDP. Federal Reserve Board president Powell stated: “Given the low level of interest rates, there’s no issue about the United States being able to service its debt at this time or in the foreseeable future.” Former IMF chief economist and president of the American Economic Association, Olivier Blanchard likewise declared: “Put bluntly, public debt may have no fiscal cost” given that “the current US situation in which safe interest rates are expected to remain below growth rates for a long time, is more the historical norm than the exception.” According to these ruling class economists, the huge size of the US national debt presents no economic difficulty for their bosses.

Technological Patents

Patents are an indicator of a country’s technological progress because they reflect the creation and dissemination of knowledge in productive activities. Today China is on the technological cutting edge in wind power, solar power, online payments, digital currencies, artificial intelligence (such as facial recognition), quantum computing, satellites and space exploration, 5G and 6G, drones, and ultra-high voltage power transmission. In 2019, China ended the US reign as the leading filer of international patents, a position previously held by the US every year since the UN World Intellectual Property Organization’s Patent Cooperation Treaty System began in 1978.

The failure of the US rulers to thwart China’s scientific and technological advances threatens the preeminence the US holds on technological innovation. Rents from the US corner on intellectual property is a major contributor to the US economy. The drastic measures the US has taken against Huawei exemplify the anxiety of the empire’s rulers.

US technological superiority is now being challenged. Yet, as John Ross points out, “Even using PPP measures, the US possesses overall technological superiority compared to China…. the level of productivity of the US economy is more than three times that of China.”1

The US Still Controls the Global Financial Network

While the world share of US manufacturing and exports has shrunk, the US overlords still reign over the world financial order. A pillar of their world primacy lies in the dollar as the world’s “reserve currency,” an innocuous term referring to US sway over the global financial and trade structure, including international banking networks, such as the World Bank and the IMF.

Following the 1971 end of the dollar’s $35 an ounce peg to gold, Nixon engineered deals with the Middle East oil exporting regimes, guaranteeing them military support on condition they sell their oil exclusively in dollars. This gave a compelling new reason for foreign governments and banks to hold dollars. The US could now flood international markets with dollars regardless of the amount of gold it held. Today, most of the world’s currencies remain pegged directly or indirectly to the dollar.

To facilitate growing international trade, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) was created in 1973. SWIFT is a payment and transaction network used by international banks to monitor and process purchases and payments by individuals, companies, banks, and governments. Dominated by the US, it grants the country even greater mastery over world trade and financial markets. Here, China poses no challenge to US supremacy.

After the euro became established, the percent of world reserves held in US dollars diminished from the 71% share it held in 2001. Since 2003, the dollar has kept the principal share, fluctuating in the 60-65% range. Today, the percent of world nations’ currency reserves held in US dollars amounts to $7 trillion, 59.5% of international currency reserves.

In 2021 the dollar’s share of total foreign currency reserves is actually greater than in the 1980s and 1990s.

Because only a few reserve currencies are accepted in international trade, countries are not free to trade their goods in their own money. Rather, over 90% of nations’ imports and exports requires use of the dollar, the euro, or the currencies of other imperial states. The Chinese RMB, in contrast, constitutes merely 2.4% of international reserves, ranking China on the level of Canada. The US continues as the superpower in world currency reserves, while China is a marginal player.

The US Dollar as the World Reserve Currency

The US maintains preeminence because banks, governments and working peoples around the world regards US dollar as the safest, most reliable, and accepted currency to hold their savings.

A capitalist economic crisis, even when caused by the US itself, as in 2008, actually increases demand for the dollar, since the dollar is still viewed as the safe haven. People expect the dollar to be the currency most likely to retain its value in periods of uncertainty. Ironically, an economic crisis precipitated by the US results in money flooding into dollar assets, keeping world demand for dollars high. The 2008-09 crisis enabled the ruling class to advance their domination over working people, fleecing us of hundreds of billions of dollars.

SWIFT data show that China’s RMB plays a minor role in world trade transactions.  While China has become the world exporter, its currency was used in merely 1.9% of  international payments, versus 38% for the US dollar, with 77% of transactions in the dollar or euro. This means almost all China’s own imports and exports are not traded in Chinese currency, but in that of the US and its subordinates.

Being the leading force in SWIFT gives the US a powerful weapon. The US rulers can target countries it seeks to overthrow (such as Venezuela, North Korea, Syria, Cuba, and Iran) with sanctions declared illegal by the United Nations. SWIFT enables the US rulers to prevent those countries’ access to their overseas bank accounts, blocks their access to international trade as well as loans from the World Bank, the IMF and most international banks. The US uses its authority in the World Trade Organization to prevent countries like Venezuela from demanding the WTO punish the US for disrupting Venezuela’s legitimate trade by means of these sanctions.

Arguments that China and Russia are abandoning the dollar point out that, while in 2015 approximately 90% of trade between the two countries was conducted in dollars, by spring 2020 the figure had dropped to 46%, with 24% of the trade in their own currencies. This shows some increasing independence, yet almost twice as much China-Russia trade still takes place in the dollar rather than in their own money. Further, their moves from the dollar have been in reaction to US imposed sanctions and tariffs, forcing them off the dollar, not from their own choice to cast aside the dollar as the international currency.

If China and Russia had the means to create a new world economic order they could withdraw their over $1.1 trillion and $123 billion invested in US Treasury bonds and use the funds to start their own international financial structure.

That China pegs the RMB to the dollar, rather than the dollar pegged to the RMB, also indicates the economic power relations between China and the US. China has expressed unease about the US potential to cut China off from the SWIFT network. Zhou Li, a spokesperson for China’s Communist Party, urged his party’s leaders to prepare for decoupling from the dollar, because the US dollar “has us by the throat… By taking advantage of the dollar’s global monopoly position in the financial sector, the US will pose an increasingly severe threat to China’s further development.”

While China has displaced the US as the primary productive workhouse of the world, it remains far from displacing the US as the world financial center. The size of China’s economy has not translated into a matching economic power.

Part 2: Military and Ideological Forms of Domination

The US regards as its Manifest Destiny to rule the world. The US bosses equate their national security interests with global security interests; no place or issue is insignificant. The US sees its role as defending the world capitalist order even if narrow US interests are not immediately and practically involved.

The Question of a US Military Decline

The second central element of the waning US empire argument is based on the US armed forces failures in the Middle East wars. However, they overlook that the US rulers suffered more stinging defeats in Korea 70 years ago and Vietnam 50 years ago, when the US was considered at the height of its supremacy. While over 7000 US soldiers and 8000 “contractors,” a code word for mercenaries, have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, this is much smaller than the 41,300 troops killed in Korea, or the 58,000 in Vietnam. Although in wars against Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan, the US ruling class could not achieve its aims, these peoples’ anti-imperial struggles were derailed, a US key objective. To the extent the peoples of these countries “won,” they inherited a country in ruins.

Likewise, the rising British empire suffered defeats at the hands of the US in 1783 and 1814, but this had little impact on 19th century British global ascendancy.

Save Iraq in 1991, the US has not won a war since World War II. Yet even in its heyday, the US military did not take on and defeat another major power without considerable outside aid. Spain was mostly defeated in Cuba and the Philippines before the US attacked. The US entered World War I after the other fighting forces were reaching exhaustion. In World War II, the Soviet Red Army broke the back of the German Wehrmacht, not the US. Only against Japan did the US military play a key role in crushing an imperial rival, though even here, the bulk of Japanese troops were tied down fighting the Chinese.

While today, the US military is reluctant about engaging in a full-scale land war, this has been mostly the case for the whole 20th century before any alleged imperial deterioration. Previously, the US rulers proved adept at not entering a war until it could emerge on top once the wars ended.

The “Vietnam syndrome,” code word for the US people’s opposition to fighting wars to defend the corporate world order, continues to haunt and impede the US rulers when they consider new military aggressions. This “syndrome,” which Bush Sr boasted had been overcome, has only deepened as result of the Afghanistan and Iraq debacles. Yet the corporate class took advantage of these wars to loot trillions from public funds, with working people to pay the bill.

The US is spending over a trillion dollars to “upgrade” a nuclear capacity which could wipe out life on the planet.  Even if US military capacity were diminishing in some areas, this is immaterial so long as the US still can, with a push of the button, annihilate all it considers opponents, even if this means a likely mutually assured destruction. The US also possesses similarly dangerous arsenals of biological and chemical weapons. It is not rational to think the US rulers spend mind-boggling sums of money on this weaponry but will not use them again when considered necessary to preserve their supremacy.

The US empire’s military dominion remains firmly in place around the world. Peoples’ struggles to close US military bases have met with little success. US ruling class de facto military occupations overseas continue through its over 800 bases in over 160 countries. These constitute 95% of the world’s total foreign military bases.

To date, if there has been any lessening of US military destructive capacity, no new armed forces or uprisings have dared to take advantage of this. If some national force considered it possible to break out of the US world jailhouse, we would be seeing that.

Hybrid Warfare: US Regime-Change Tools Besides Military Intervention

Military victory is not necessary for the US rulers to keep “insubordinate” countries in line. It suffices for the US to leave in ruins their attempts to build political and economic systems that prioritize national sovereignty over US dictates.

When incapable of overturning a potential “threat of a good example” through military invasion, the US may engineer palace coups. Since 2000, it has succeeded in engineering coups in Honduras, Bolivia, Georgia, and Haiti, to name a few.

Alternatives to fomenting a military coup include the US conducting lawfare to overturn governments, as seen in Paraguay and Brazil. The US ruling class also skillfully co-opts “color revolutions,” as seen in the Arab Spring and in the implosion of the Soviet bloc. Worldwide, the US regularly violates the sovereignty of nations through its regime-change agencies such as the CIA, USAID, and NED.

Besides invasions, coups, lawfare, election interference, and color revolutions, the US relies on its command over the global financial system and the subservience of other imperialist nations. This enables the US overlords to impose crippling sanctions and blockades on countries that assert their national sovereignty. The blockades on Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, and Syria constitute a boot on their neck, which have only become more severe the more these peoples valiantly defend their independence.

Condemnation of these blockades by working people and nations worldwide has yet to have material effect in constraining this imperial cruelty against whole peoples. Rather than a decline of the US empire’s ability to thwart another country’s right to determine their own future, there have been changes in method, from overtly militaristic to more covert hybrid warfare. Both are brutal and effective means of regime change.

US-First World Ideological Hegemony

The corporate leaders of the West wield world dominion over the international media, including news services, social media, and advertising. Their Coke and Disney characters, for instance, have penetrated even the remotest corners of the world. Today most of the world’s viewers of the news are fed a version of the news through media stage-managed by the US and its subordinate allies. In addition, there are almost 4 billion social media users in the world, with six social media companies having more than one billion users. China owns just one of these. Only the US and its subordinates have world reach in their control of news and social media, while China does not.

Ramon Labanino, one of the Cuban 5, illustrated how the US rulers use their media to foment the July 12 regime change operation in Cuba:

We are in the presence of an international media dictatorship, the big media are in the hands of imperialism and now the social networks and the alternative media also use them in a masterful way. They have the capacity, through data engineering, bots, to replicate a tweet millions of times, which is what they have done against Cuba. A ruthless attack on social networks and in the media to show a Cuba that is not real. On the other hand, we have an invasion in our networks to disarticulate our computer systems so that even we cannot respond to the lies. The interesting thing is the double purpose, not only that they attack us, but then we cannot defend ourselves because the media belong to them… Within the CIA, for example, they have a special operations group that is in charge of cyber attacks of this type and there is a group called the Political Action Group that organizes, structures and directs this type of attack.

Worldwide use of media disinformation and news spin plays a central role in preserving US primacy and acceptance of its propaganda. As Covert Action Magazine reported:

United States warmakers have become so skilled at propaganda that not only can they wage a war of aggression without arousing protest; they can also compel liberals to denounce peace activists using language reminiscent of the McCarthy era. Take the case of Syria. The people and groups one would normally count on to oppose wars have been the ones largely defending it. They have also often been the ones to label war opponents as “Assad apologists” or “genocide deniers”—causing them to be blacklisted.

The ruling class media’s effective massaging of what is called “news” has penetrated and disoriented many anti-war forces. This illustrates the appalling collapse of a world anti-war opposition that almost 20 years ago had been called “the new superpower,” not some decline of the US as world cop. Corporate media operations play a role comparable to military might in perpetuating US global control.

Part 3: The Threat US Rulers Perceive in China

Secretary of State Blinken spelled it out:

China is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system, all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to, because it ultimately serves the interests and reflects the values of the American people.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin responded to Washington’s view that the international system operates primarily to advance US corporate interests:

The ‘rules-based order’ claimed by the US…refers to rules set by the US alone, then it cannot be called international rules, but rather ‘hegemonic rules,’ which will only be rejected by the whole world.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov recently said:

The United States has declared limiting the advance of technology in Russia and China as its goal…They are promoting their ideology-driven agenda aimed at preserving their dominance by holding back progress in other countries.

The Challenge China Presents to US Rulers Differs from that of the Soviet Union

China’s development poses a threat to imperialist hegemony different from the former Soviet bloc. China competes in the world markets run by the Western nations, slowly supplanting their control. China’s economic performance, 70 years after its revolution, has been unprecedented in world history, even compared to the First World countries. In contrast, the Soviet economy after 70 years was faltering.

China does not provide the economic and military protection for nations striving to build a new society the way the Soviet Union had. The importance of the Communist bloc as a force constraining the US was immense and is underappreciated. The Communist bloc generally allied itself with anti-imperialist forces, encouraging Third World national liberation struggles as well as the Non-Aligned Movement. The Communist bloc’s exemplary social programs also prompted the rise of social-democratic welfare state regimes (e.g., Sweden) in the capitalist West to circumvent possible socialist revolution.

Now, with no Soviet Union and its allies to extend international solidarity assistance to oppressed peoples and nations, countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea are much more on their own to defend themselves against US military maneuvers and blockades.

As John Ross points out, China is capable of slowly supplanting US-First World power over a long period of time, but in no position to replace these imperial states as world hegemon, nor does it desire to do so. US products are being driven out by China’s cheaper high-quality products and China’s more equitable “win-win” business arrangements with other countries, offering the opportunity for Third World countries to develop. However, China cannot displace the US in the world financial system, where the US and its allies retain overwhelming control.

The US has proven incapable of impeding China from becoming an independent world force. No matter the tariffs and sanctions placed on China, they have had little impact. Yet, the US has caused China to digress from its socialist planned economy, through US corporations and consumerist values penetrating the Chinese system.

Part 4:  The World if the US were in Decline

Revolutions on the International Stage

A weakened US imperialism would encourage peoples and nations to “seize the time” and score significant gains against this overlord’s hold on their countries. Yet since shortly after 1975, with the victories in Vietnam and Laos, a drought in socialist revolutions has persisted for almost half a century. If the US empire were in decline, we would find it handicapped in countering victorious socialist revolutions. However, the opposite has been the case, with the US rulers consolidating their hegemony over the world.

This contrasts with the 40-year period between 1917 and 1959, when socialist revolutions occurred in Russia, China, Korea, Vietnam, eleven countries across eastern Europe, and Cuba. These took place in the era of US rise, not decline. During this period, the US empire had to confront even greater challenges to its dictates than presented by today’s China and Russia in the form of the world Communist bloc, associated parties in capitalist countries, and the national liberation movements.

During the period of alleged US imperial demise, it has been socialist revolution that experienced catastrophic defeats. In the last 30 years, the struggle for socialist revolution has gone sharply in reverse, with the US and its subordinates not only blocking successful revolutions but overturning socialism in most of the former Communist sphere. The last three decades has witnessed greater consolidation of imperial supremacy over the world, not a deterioration.

The socialist revolutions that continue − North Korea, China, Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba − have all had to backtrack and reintroduce private enterprise and capitalist relations of production.  North Korea has allowed the growth of private markets; Cuba relies heavily on the Western tourist market. They have this forced upon them to survive more effectively in the present world neoliberal climate.

A victorious socialist revolution, even a much more limited anti-neoliberal revolution2 , requires a nation to stand up to the imperial vengeance that enforces neo-colonial subjugation. Small countries, such as Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela, have established political and some economic independence, but they have been unable to significantly advance against crushing blockades and US-backed coups in order to create developed economies. Historically, the only countries that have effectively broken with dependency and developed independently based on their own resources have been the Soviet Union and China.

Raul Castro made clear this world primacy of the US neoliberal empire:

In many cases, governments [including the subsidiary imperial ones] do not even have the capacity to enforce their sovereign prerogatives over the actions of national entities based in their own territories, as these are often docilely subordinated to Washington, as if we were living in a world subjugated by the unipolar power of the United States. This is a phenomenon that is expressed with particular impact in the financial sector, with national banks of several countries giving a US administration’s stipulations priority over the political decisions of their own governments.

A test of the US overlords’ decline can be measured in the struggle against US economic warfare in the form of sanctions. To date, the US can arm twist most countries besides China and Russia into abiding by its unilateral sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, and Iran. The US rulers still possess the power and self-assurance to ignore United Nations resolutions against economic warfare, including the UN General Assembly’s annual condemnation of the US blockade on Cuba. The peoples and nations of the world cannot make the US rulers pay a price for this warfare.

Domestic Struggles by the Working Class and its Allies that Shake the System

If the US empire were weakened, our working class could be winning strikes and union organizing drives against a capitalist class on the defensive. But the working class remains either quiescent, its struggles derailed, or most strikes settled by limiting the degree of boss takebacks. The 1997 UPS and 2016 Verizon strike were two that heralded important gains for workers. So far, however, the weakening class at home is not the corporate bosses, but the working class and its allies.

The workers movement has not even succeeded in gaining a national $15 minimum wage. The US rulers can spend over $900 billion a year on its war machine even during a pandemic that has killed almost 700,000, amid deteriorating standard of living  − no national health care, no quality free education, no raising of the minimum wage − without angry mass protests. This money could be spent on actual national security at home: housing for the homeless, eliminating poverty, countering global warming, jobs programs, and effectively handling the pandemic as China has (with only two deaths since May 2020). Instead, just in the Pentagon budget, nearly a trillion dollars a year of our money is a welfare handout to corporations to maintain their rule over the world. This overwhelming imperial reign over our workers’ movement signifies a degeneration in our working class organizations, not in the corporate overlords.

A weakened empire would provide opportunities for working class victories, re-allocating national wealth in their favor. Instead, we live in a new Gilded Age, with growing impoverishment of our class as the corporate heads keep grabbing greater shares of our national wealth. Americans for Tax Fairness points out:

America’s 719 billionaires held over four times more wealth ($4.56 trillion) than all the roughly 165 million Americans in society’s bottom half ($1.01 trillion), according to Federal Reserve Board data. In 1990, the situation was reversed — billionaires were worth $240 billion and the bottom 50% had $380 billion in collective wealth.

US billionaire wealth increased 19-fold over the last 31 years, with the combined wealth of 713 billionaires surging by $1.8 trillion during the pandemic, one-third of their wealth gains since 1990.

This scandalous appropriation of working people’s wealth by less than one thousand bosses at the top without causing mass indignation and working class fightback, encapsules the present power relations between the two contending classes.

With a weakened empire, we would expect a rise of a militant mass current in the trade unions and the working class committed to the struggle to reverse this trend. Instead, trade unions support corporate governance and their political candidates for office, not even making noise about a labor party.

With a weakened empire, we would expect the US working people to be turning away from the two corporate parties and building our own labor party as an alternative. In 2016 the US electorate backed two “outsiders,” Bernie Sanders and Trump, in the primaries against the traditional Democratic and Republican candidates, but this movement was co-opted with little difficulty. That the two corporate-owned parties still wield the power to co-opt, if not extinguish, our working class movements, as with the mass anti-Iraq war movement, the Occupy movement, the Madison trade union protests, the pro-Bernie groundswells in 2016 and 2020, shows the empire’s continued vitality, not deterioration.

In 2020 most all liberals and lefts capitulated to the Democrats’ anti-Trumpism, under the guise of “fighting fascism.” The “resistance” became the “assistance.” The promising Black Lives Matter movement of summer 2020 became largely absorbed into the Biden campaign a few months later. If the corporate empire were declining, progressive forces and leftist groups would not have bowed to neoliberal politicians and the national security state by climbing on the elect-Biden bandwagon. The 2020 election brought out the highest percent of voters in over a century to vote for one or the other of two neoliberal politicians. This stunning victory for the US ruling class resulted from a stunning surrender by progressive forces. To speak of declining corporate US supremacy in this context is nonsense.

Likely Indicators of a Demise of US Supremacy

For all our political lives we have been reading reports of the impending decline of US global supremacy. If just a fraction of these reports were accurate, then surely the presidential executive orders that Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran, and Cuba are “unusual and extraordinary threats to the national security of the United States” would have some basis in reality.

If US corporate dominion were declining, we might see:

  • The long called for democratization of the United Nations and other international bodies with one nation, one vote
  • Social democratic welfare governments would again be supplanting neoliberal regimes
  • Replacement of World Bank, WTO, and IMF with international financial institutions independent of US control
  • Curtailing NATO and other imperialist military alliances
  • End of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency
  • Dismantling of US overseas military bases
  • Emergence of regional blocs independent of the US, replacing the current vassal organizations (e.g., European Union, OAS, Arab League, Organization of African Unity)
  • Nuclear disarmament rather than nuclear escalation
  • Working peoples of the world enforcing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
  • A decline of the allure of US controlled world media culture (e.g., Disney, Hollywood)

Part 5: Conclusion:  US Decline looks like a Mirage

Proponents of US decline point to two key indicators: its diminished role in global production and ineffectiveness of the US ruler’s military as world cop. Yet, the US rulers, with the aid of those in the European Union and Japan, maintain world financial control and continue to keep both our country and the world under lock and key.

The US overlords represent the spokesperson and enforcer of the First World imperial system of looting, while compelling subservience from the other imperial nations. None dare pose as potential imperial rivals to the US, nor challenge it in any substantial manner.

It is misleading to compare China’s rise to the US alone, since the US represents a bloc of imperial states. To supplant US economic preeminence, China would have to supplant the economic power of this entire bloc. These countries still generate most world production with little prospect this will change. A China-Russia alliance scarcely equals this US controlled First World club.

To date, each capitalist crisis has only reinforced the US rulers’ dominion as the world financial hub. Just the first half of this year, world investors have poured $900 billion into the safe haven US assets, more than they put into funds in the rest of the world combined. So long as the US capitalists can export their economic downturns to other countries and onto the backs of its own working people, so long as the world turns to the US dollar as the safe haven, decline of US ruling class preeminence is not on the table.

The last period of imperial weakening occurred from the time of US defeat in Vietnam up to the reimposition of imperial diktat under Reagan and his sidekick, Margaret Thatcher. During this time, working peoples’ victories were achieved across the international stage: Afghanistan, Iran, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Grenada; Cuban military solidarity in Angola, Vietnam’s equivalent in Cambodia; revolution in Portugal and in its African colonies, in Zimbabwe, and seeming imminent victories in El Salvador and Guatemala. At home, a rising class struggle current arose in the working class, as in the Sadlowski Steelworkers Fight Back movement and the militant 110-day coal miners strike, which forced President Carter to back down. This worldwide upsurge against corporate rule ended about 40 years ago, as yet unmatched by new ones.

Proclamations of a waning US empire portray a wishful thinking bordering on empty bravado. Moreover, a crumbling empire will not lead to its final exit without a massive working peoples’ movement at home to overthrow it. Glen Ford observed that capitalism has lost its legitimacy, especially among the young: “But that doesn’t by itself bring down a system. It is simply a sign that people are not happy. Mass unhappiness may bring down an administration. But it doesn’t necessarily change a system one bit.”

Capitalism is wracked by crisis – inherent to the system, Marx explained. Yet, as the catastrophe of World War I and its aftermath showed, as the Great Depression showed, as Europe in chaos after World War II showed, capitalist crises are no harbinger of its collapse. The question is not how severe the crisis, but which class, capitalist or working class, takes advantage of it to advance their own interests.

A ruling class crisis allows us to seize the opportunity if our forces are willing to fight, are organized, and are well-led. As Lenin emphasized, “The proletariat has no other weapon in the fight for power except organization.” In regards to organization, we are unprepared. Contributing to our lack of effective anti-imperialist organization is our profound disbelief that a serious challenge at home to US ruling class control is even possible.

Whatever the indications of US deterioration as world superpower, recall that the Roman empire’s decay began around 177 AD. But it did not collapse in the West until 300 years later, in 476, and the eastern half did not collapse for 1000 years after that. Informing a Roman slave or plebe in 200 AD that the boot on their necks was faltering would fall on deaf ears. We are now in a similar situation. The empire will never collapse by itself, even with the engulfing climate catastrophe. Wishful thinking presents a dysfunctional substitute for actual organizing, for preparing people to seize the time when the opening arises.

  1. John Ross, “China and South-South Cooperation in the present global situation,” in China’s Great Road, p. 203.
  2. There is a continuous class struggle between popular forces demanding increased government resources and programs to serve their needs, against corporate power seeking to privatize in corporate hands all such government spending and authority. This unchecked corporate centralization of wealth and power is euphemistically called “neoliberalism.”  An anti-neoliberal revolution places popular forces in political control while economic power remains in the hands of the capitalist class.
The post Is the US Global Empire Actually in Decline? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Freedom from Fear: Stop Playing the Government’s Mind Games

No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.

— Edward R. Murrow, broadcast journalist

America is in the midst of an epidemic of historic proportions.

The contagion being spread like wildfire is turning communities into battlegrounds and setting Americans one against the other.

Normally mild-mannered individuals caught up in the throes of this disease have been transformed into belligerent zealots, while others inclined to pacifism have taken to stockpiling weapons and practicing defensive drills.

This plague on our nation—one that has been spreading like wildfire—is a potent mix of fear coupled with unhealthy doses of paranoia and intolerance, tragic hallmarks of the post-9/11 America in which we live and the constantly shifting crises that keep the populace in a state of high alert.

Everywhere you turn, those on both the left- and right-wing are fomenting distrust and division. You can’t escape it.

We’re being fed a constant diet of fear: fear of a virus, fear of the unmasked, fear of terrorists, fear of illegal immigrants, fear of people who are too religious, fear of people who are not religious enough, fear of extremists, fear of the government, fear of those who fear the government. The list goes on and on.

The strategy is simple yet effective: the best way to control a populace is through fear and discord.

Fear makes people stupid.

Confound them, distract them with mindless news chatter and entertainment, pit them against one another by turning minor disagreements into major skirmishes, and tie them up in knots over matters lacking in national significance.

Most importantly, divide the people into factions, persuade them to see each other as the enemy and keep them screaming at each other so that they drown out all other sounds. In this way, they will never reach consensus about anything and will be too distracted to notice the police state closing in on them until the final crushing curtain falls.

This is how free people enslave themselves and allow tyrants to prevail.

This Machiavellian scheme has so ensnared the nation that few Americans even realize they are being manipulated into adopting an “us” against “them” mindset. Instead, fueled with fear and loathing for phantom opponents, they agree to pour millions of dollars and resources into political elections, militarized police, spy technology, endless wars, COVID-19 mandates, etc., hoping for a guarantee of safety that never comes.

All the while, those in power—bought and paid for by lobbyists and corporations—move their costly agendas forward, and “we the suckers” get saddled with the tax bills and subjected to pat downs, police raids and round-the-clock surveillance.

Turn on the TV or flip open the newspaper on any given day, and you will find yourself accosted by reports of government corruption, corporate malfeasance, militarized police, marauding SWAT teams, and egregious assaults on the rights of the citizenry.

America has already entered a new phase, one in which communities are locked down, employees are forced to choose between keeping their jobs or exercising their freedoms, children are arrested in schools, military veterans are forcibly detained by government agents, and law-abiding Americans are finding their movements tracked, their financial transactions documented and their communications monitored.

These threats are not to be underestimated.

Yet even more dangerous than these violations of our basic rights is the language in which they are couched: the language of fear. It is a language spoken effectively by politicians on both sides of the aisle, shouted by media pundits from their cable TV pulpits, marketed by corporations, and codified into bureaucratic laws that do little to make our lives safer or more secure.

Fear, as history shows, is the method most often used by politicians to increase the power of government.

So far, these tactics are working.

An atmosphere of fear permeates modern America.

Each successive crisis in recent years (a COVID-19 pandemic, terrorism, etc.)—manufactured or legitimate—has succeeded in reducing the American people to what commentator Dan Sanchez refers to as “herd-minded hundreds of millions [who] will stampede to the State for security, bleating to please, please be shorn of their remaining liberties.”

Sanchez continues:

I am not terrified of the terrorists; i.e., I am not, myself, terrorized. Rather, I am terrified of the terrorized; terrified of the bovine masses who are so easily manipulated by terrorists, governments, and the terror-amplifying media into allowing our country to slip toward totalitarianism and total war…

I do not irrationally and disproportionately fear Muslim bomb-wielding jihadists or white, gun-toting nutcases. But I rationally and proportionately fear those who do, and the regimes such terror empowers. History demonstrates that governments are capable of mass murder and enslavement far beyond what rogue militants can muster. Industrial-scale terrorists are the ones who wear ties, chevrons, and badges. But such terrorists are a powerless few without the supine acquiescence of the terrorized many. There is nothing to fear but the fearful themselves…

Stop swallowing the overblown scaremongering of the government and its corporate media cronies. Stop letting them use hysteria over small menaces to drive you into the arms of tyranny, which is the greatest menace of all.

As history makes clear, fear leads to fascistic, totalitarian regimes.

It’s a simple enough formula. National crises, global pandemics, reported terrorist attacks, and sporadic shootings leave us in a constant state of fear. Fear prevents us from thinking. The emotional panic that accompanies fear actually shuts down the prefrontal cortex or the rational thinking part of our brains. In other words, when we are consumed by fear, we stop thinking.

A populace that stops thinking for themselves is a populace that is easily led, easily manipulated and easily controlled.

The following are a few of the necessary ingredients for a fascist state:

·       The government is managed by a powerful leader (even if he or she assumes office by way of the electoral process). This is the fascistic leadership principle (or father figure).

·       The government assumes it is not restrained in its power. This is authoritarianism, which eventually evolves into totalitarianism.

·       The government ostensibly operates under a capitalist system while being undergirded by an immense bureaucracy.

·       The government through its politicians emits powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.

·       The government has an obsession with national security while constantly invoking terrifying internal and external enemies.

·       The government establishes a domestic and invasive surveillance system and develops a paramilitary force that is not answerable to the citizenry.

·       The government and its various agencies (federal, state, and local) develop an obsession with crime and punishment. This is overcriminalization.

·       The government becomes increasingly centralized while aligning closely with corporate powers to control all aspects of the country’s social, economic, military, and governmental structures.

·       The government uses militarism as a center point of its economic and taxing structure.

·       The government is increasingly imperialistic in order to maintain the military-industrial corporate forces.

The parallels to modern America are impossible to ignore.

“Every industry is regulated. Every profession is classified and organized,” writes Jeffrey Tucker. “Every good or service is taxed. Endless debt accumulation is preserved. Immense doesn’t begin to describe the bureaucracy. Military preparedness never stops, and war with some evil foreign foe, remains a daily prospect.”

For the final hammer of fascism to fall, it will require the most crucial ingredient: the majority of the people will have to agree that it’s not only expedient but necessary. In times of “crisis,” expediency is upheld as the central principle—that is, in order to keep us safe and secure, the government must militarize the police, strip us of basic constitutional rights and criminalize virtually every form of behavior.

Not only does fear grease the wheels of the transition to fascism by cultivating fearful, controlled, pacified, cowed citizens, but it also embeds itself in our very DNA so that we pass on our fear and compliance to our offspring.

It’s called epigenetic inheritance, the transmission through DNA of traumatic experiences.

For example, neuroscientists have observed how quickly fear can travel through generations of mice DNA. As The Washington Post reports:

In the experiment, researchers taught male mice to fear the smell of cherry blossoms by associating the scent with mild foot shocks. Two weeks later, they bred with females. The resulting pups were raised to adulthood having never been exposed to the smell. Yet when the critters caught a whiff of it for the first time, they suddenly became anxious and fearful. They were even born with more cherry-blossom-detecting neurons in their noses and more brain space devoted to cherry-blossom-smelling.

The conclusion? “A newborn mouse pup, seemingly innocent to the workings of the world, may actually harbor generations’ worth of information passed down by its ancestors.”

Now consider the ramifications of inherited generations of fears and experiences on human beings. As the Post reports, “Studies on humans suggest that children and grandchildren may have felt the epigenetic impact of such traumatic events such as famine, the Holocaust and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, fear, trauma and compliance can be passed down through the generations.

Fear has been a critical tool in past fascistic regimes, and it now operates in our contemporary world—all of which raises fundamental questions about us as human beings and what we will give up in order to perpetuate the illusions of safety and security.

In the words of psychologist Erich Fromm:

[C]an human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love—that is to say, can man forget he is human? Or does human nature have a dynamism which will react to the violation of these basic human needs by attempting to change an inhuman society into a human one?

The post Freedom from Fear: Stop Playing the Government’s Mind Games first appeared on Dissident Voice.