I do not doubt the reality of the Covid-19 virus and I do not doubt the severity of the disease in many patients. What I question is some of the information that we have been given about the disease and the way that the virus is being handled. I suggest that there might be large amounts of misinformation being disseminated by govenrment and that there is considerable mishandling of the crisis by government.
For example it has not been proven that asymptomatic transmission is real. As this is the basis of masks and lockdowns, transmissibility is of the first importance. Here is Dr Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO in June, few months ago:
..there was the predictably pro-lockdown mainstream media which decried her [Van Kerkhove’s] heresy. The cry was so loud that the WHO immediately started walking back the claim, mostly with hints and suggestions that didn’t say untrue things but did not repudiate the initial claim either: “There is much to be answered on this. There is much that is unknown. It’s clear that both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals are part of the transmission cycle. The question is what is the relative contribution of each group to the overall number of cases.”
Dr Van Kerkhove apparently does not continue to pursue the line that Covid-19 is not or is only rarely transmitted by the asymptomatic. In the next video I see of her, she is talking about vaccinating Santa Claus.
Then there is this video where she talks about mutations in viruses generally, mutations in the Covid-19 virus generally and then specifically about the new variant in the UK. She says that this new variant does not behave any differently from the the older virus.
This is apparently the line that the UK government was taking until the last few days. On 15th December Van Kerkove is reported as saying
“So far we don’t have any evidence that this variant behaves differently. But we will continue to evaluate and inform you of any changes.”
Dr Gillian Richardson, the co-chair of the Covid-19 vaccine programme board in Wales, said
“At the moment, this variation is not thought to affect the behaviour of the virus at all and it is not thought to affect the effectiveness of the vaccine. Obviously, we will be looking very closely at that to make absolutely sure.”
Within ten days the situation has changed. We are told that the new variant makes the coronavirus more contagious and the UK government puts London and a large part of South East England under strict ‘Tier 4″ lockdown.
In the fourth video I see of Van Kerkhove she is talking about social distancing, masking and vaccines. What is missing is any reference to the lack of evidence regarding asymptomatic transmission or discussion about the mechanism of transmission.
The UK is country with the seventh worst figures in deaths per million attributed to Covid-19. As of 18th December the number is 66,541 which is 978 per million of the country’s population. The UK has done slightly worse than the US, which has reported 320,182 Covid-19 deaths or 965 deaths per million. This is particularly remarkable as all Covid-19 deaths in the US are routinely blamed on Donald Trump.
But it is not the comparison with the US or France, Italy or Belgium, all in the top 10 of countries worse afflicted with the virus, that is most interesting it is the comparison with countries like Ethiopia which, with a population of over 116 million has reported a total of only 1,843 Covid-19 deaths, 16 per million of population. It would not be unfair to say that Ethiopia seems not to have experienced a ‘pandemic’ at all.
If Ethiopia were a solitary outlier it would make sense to look at Ethiopia and ask what factors caused it to be so little affected by Covid-19. But Ethiopia is of course not the only country to be much less affected than the UK. There is a huge difference between Finland’s reported 88 deaths per million and the UK’s 978 deaths per million.
A lot of energy and of course money has gone into creating vaccines to protect people against the virus but very little effort seems to have been put into examining factors that might account to huge disparities between nations in the impacts on them of the coronavirus.
Why does China with a population of over 1 billion people, and where the Covid-19 infection reportedly originated, record only 4364 deaths or 3 per million of population? Why does Congo, one of the poorest nations on the planet report only 100 deaths, 18 per million?
What about Madagascar, Malawi and Malaysia with 9, 10 and 13 deaths per million?
The success of New Zealand in keeping numbers very low has been celebrated. Less so (well not at all) the successes of Nicaragua, Niger and Nigeria. Why? Is it supposed that nothing can be learned from these countries?
Here are a few more countries. The figures show that Tanzania and Thailand, with populations numerically similiar to the UK’s, have hardly been touched by the pandemic.
A world map showing the occurence of Covid-19 cases lines up somewhat with the map of temperature zones.
Countries in the tropical zones have much fewer recorded cases of Covid-19 in some cases the figures can be called negligible.
However Brazil with high Covid mortality in a tropical zone and China with low Covid mortality in a temperate zone are very big exceptions to this observation.
What can we make of these observations? I’m not qualified to make much of them but I think it would be useful for people who are qualified to look at the differences between countries. I think that if it is the case that tropical zone countries are vastly less vulnerable to Covid-19 infection and mortality they should not model their responses to Covid-19 on the responses of temperate zone countries; they do not need to trash their economies and should perhaps seek to benefit economically from their lesser vulnerability. Also, if there are factors apart from climate that contribute to the lesser vulnerability of Madagascar, Malawi and Malaysia then though factorts should surely be identified in only to increase our understanding of the virus and to better inform our dialogue.
“So, instead of admonishing our children at school and employees in organizations to “Stop talking and get to work,” we might be better served to encourage them to “Start talking and create together!”” Juanita Brown and Tom Hurley.
All of these site are worth more than looking at, they are worth working with. I will certainly be looking at and working with these sites in more depth because they resonate with my own values and I think can support the actualisation of these values within me as the individual and within the communities in which I exist.
The values that I’m talking about, and which I’m sure that most people bothering to read this share, are based on the two axiomatic premises of the unity of consciousness and the intrinsic worth of all conscious beings. These are nowhere better articulated that by Jesus in Matthew 22:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God [the essential Unity of Consciousness] with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself [recognise yourself in the other]. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
These are to be considered absolute moral principles that Jesus clearly distinguished from relative and situational observances that might be derived from them. The difference is most epigrammatically expressed in the famous:
“The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”
Kant arrived at a similar articulation of absolute moral law by asking what law of action would a rational being construct if it did not know what situation it would be subject to when it was thrown into the actual world. His answer was that:
‘a) A person should act that the principle of one’s act could become a universal law of human action in a world in a world in which one would hope to live. b) A person should treat other people as having intrinsic value, and not mearely as a means to achieve one’s end.’
The moral law whether understood as justice or as love is foundational to our existence as human/rational/social/spiritual beings because it is through our apprehension of this law that we also apprehend our intrinsic unity with all being and the intrinsic worth of each person including ourselves.
Jesus’s warmly intuited Love is a higher realisation of the moral law than Kant’s coldly calculated Justice which resonates with the laws of the Old Testament and the Law of Karma.
Jesus understand that forgiveness is the fulfilment of the moral law while Kant sees forgiveness of the murderer as contradicting that law. Nevertheless for both Jesus and Kant a life without connection to the core moral intuition is hardly a life at all. This should be self-evident.
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? “
It is dialogue/conversation that explicates the moral law because it is in conversation that we recognise our intrinsic unity with all and the intrinsic worth of each person including ourselves.
“If it is in speaking their word that people, by naming the world, transform it, dialogue imposes itself as the way by which they achieve significance as human beings.” — Paulo Freire
Acting from dialogue is very different from acting from the imposed authority of a ruler or even a majority. The concept of Ubuntu is not uniquely African though expressions may be particularly African.
“Ubuntu is rooted in what I call a relational form of personhood, basically meaning that you are because of the others,..in other words, as a human being, you—your humanity, your personhood—you are fostered in relation to other people… It is about coming together and building a consensus around what affects the community. And once you have debated, then it is understood what is best for the community, and then you have to buy into that.” -James Ogude
In Ubuntu is the same truth that Kalhil Gibran express in ‘The Prophet’
“Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self. You are the way and the wayfarers. And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him, a caution against the stumbling stone. Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.”
We are a procession. Humanity is a procession, we recognise this in conversation athe kind of conversation that reaches into our authenticity. Revolutionary and transformative and inclusive conversation:
“it is necessary to trust in the oppressed and in their ability to reason. Whoever lacks this trust will fail to initiate (or will abandon) dialogue, reflection, and communication, and will fall into using slogans, communiques, monologues, and instructions. Superficial conversions to the cause of liberation carry this danger” Paulo Freire
Freire’s ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ was published in 1968. I first read it sometime in the 1980’s and it speaks the same ‘root truth’ that Ubuntu, Freire, Gibran, Jesus and Kant express. We need to reach into these roots and pull inspiration from them. Personally I feel that I have to travel back forty or fifty years to re-ignite something that stalled that many years ago. A movement that perhaps arrived half a century before its time but that perhaps has laid the groundwork for the future if we recognise its prophetic significance. In 1980 Marilyn Ferguson wrote about ‘networks as a tool of transformation’ in the ‘Aquarian Conspiracy’:
NETWORKS—A TOOL OF TRANSFORMATION
“A revolution means that power changes hands, of course, but it does not necessarily mean open struggle, a coup, victor andvanquished. Power can be dispersed through the social fabric.
While most of our institutions are faltering, a twentiethcentury version of the ancient tribe or kinship has appeared: the network, a tool for the next step in human evolution.
Amplified by electronic communications, freed from the old restraints of family and culture, the network is the antidote to alienation. It generates power enough to remake society. It offers the individual emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and economic support. It is an invisible home, a powerful means of altering the course of institutions, especially government.
Anyone who discovers the rapid proliferation of networks and understands their strength can see the impetus for worldwide transformation. The network is the institution of our time: an open system, a dissipative structure so richly coherent that it is in constant flux, poised for reordering, capable of endless transformation. This organic mode of social organization is more biologically adaptive, more efficient, and more “conscious” than the hierarchical structures of modern civilization. The network is plastic, flexible. In effect, each member is the center of the network.
Networks are cooperative, not competitive. They are true grass roots: self-generating, self-organizing, sometimes even self-destructing. They represent a process, a journey, not a frozen structure.
As Theodore Roszak said, the old revolutionary mass movements offered no more refuge to the person than did capitalist societies. “We need a class smaller than a proletariat…. The new politics will speak for the millions—one by one.”
‘The Aquarian Conspiracy’, the websites about the principles and practices of conversation together with the technologies that support conversational communities and networks. I need to revisit lessons from the past and learn fresh things about their application in the present. Different people will have different resources to draw upon but we all need to draw on whatever our root values are because we and our world need those values, of conscious solidarity, more than ever.
I have completed the ‘first chapter’ of an Interactive Fiction (IF) story called ‘Prisonship‘. I wrote it using Twine 1.3.4. It is in the style of a webcomic using Comic Life software from Plasq. Most images were taken from Pixabay and manipulated and captioned in Comic Life. I’m enchanted by the simplicity of Twine 1.3.2 and the ease with which the story can be viewed on both PC and smartphone screens. I’d previously written a previous short IF story called Lucid Dreaming using Squiffy , another interesting tool.
I’m thinking seriously about using the webcomic, interactive fiction format as a way of expressing what I want to express. Learning to draw is probably a better way to go for me than learning new digital design skills. I’ll probably be posting some of my efforts over the next few week and months ..
I don’t do political theory a lot and I don’t like doctrine at all but there are certain important concepts, ideas and models for moving forward together that seem to me to be simple, obvious and necessary. These ideas are not ‘mine’ but they resonate with my way of thinking. I understand the following articulations so I’m sharing them I may have changed the wording slightly in some cases but I’ve noted all the sources:
Dialogue To enter into dialogue presupposes equality amongst participants. Each must trust the others; there must be mutual respect and love (care and commitment). Each one must question what he or she knows and realize that through dialogue existing thoughts will change and new knowledge will be created.
Praxis (Action/Reflection) It is not enough for people to come together in dialogue in order to gain knowledge of their social reality. They must act together upon their environment in order critically to reflect upon their reality and so transform it through further action and critical reflection.
Conscientization The process of developing a critical awareness of one’s social reality through reflection and action. Action is fundamental because it is the process of changing the reality.
Conversational Leadership Conversational Leadership is about appreciating the extraordinary but underutilized power of conversation, recognizing that we can all practice leadership and adopt a conversational approach to the way in which we live and work together in an increasingly complex world.
Distributed Leadership The rise of the distributed leadership movement comes in response to the problems that arise when we rely on ‘Hero Leaders’. Many community institutions/initiatives have leaders who do everything, so much so that when they leave, vast amounts of knowledge and skill upon which the initiative departs with them. The void that they leave behind is difficult to fill and the community struggles to maintain any legacy from the departed Hero Leader and the period of transition with new leadership can be very turbulent indeed. Distributed leadership, therefore, was born out of the idea that if leadership of an institution/initiative and its activities are distributed across many leaders, both formal and informal, it can continue to grow and flourish as leaders come and go. The focus is shifted from organisational structures and hierarchies being key to the initiative’s long-term success more towards an investment in community capital that is able to successfully renew itself, as skills and knowledge are retained in the community.
Horizontalism Over the past ten years, the world has been witnessing an upsurge in prefigurative revolutionary movements; movements, that create the future in the present. These new movements are not creating party platforms or programs. They do not look to one leader, but make space for all to be leaders. They place more importance on asking the right questions than on providing the correct answers . They do not adhere to dogma and hierarchy, instead they build direct democracy and consensus. They are movements based in trust and love.
Anarcho-syndicalism Anarchism is a revolutionary political tradition that declares “freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice and socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.” Syndicalism is the workers’ movement. Deriving from the French word for trade unionism (syndicalisme), it seeks to unite workers to fight for their interests at work. Anarcho-syndicalism is anarchism applied to the workers’ movement. From small educational groups to mass revolutionary unions, libertarian organisation grows and is controlled from the bottom up. The role of anarcho-syndicalist networks is to advocate and organise mass meetings of all workers or community members involved in each struggle so that the workers or community members involved retain control. Within these mass meetings anarcho-syndicalists argue for the principles of solidarity, direct action and self-organisation. In this way anarcho-syndicalism is completely different to trade unionism, which seeks to represent our economic interests, and the so-called ‘workers parties’ which seek to represent our political interests. Instead, anarcho-syndicalism unites the political and the economic and opposes representation in favour of self-organisation.
Learning and Making Culture Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things.These things are like little pieces of us and seem to embody portions of our souls. To feel whole as a community there must be a sense of us being makers and learners, of being productive as collectives and as members of collectives. Making things in the community roots learning in the community and creates value for the community. It can include everyone from the youngest to the eldest.