Gavin Sealey

Chris Hedges: Coronavirus

I felt my intelligence and moral consciousness increase as I listened to this. Chris Hedges is a man of deep experience and of obvious integrity. These are my notes on this important interview.

Roger Hallam asks him how we should understand the CV crisis.

Chris sees the crisis as the first fatal blow against the structures of industrial neoliberalism and says that the US is going to be hit particularly badly because it, particularly, has destroyed the protections of society. The US doesn’t have an have an NHS and can’t contain the virus. Many people will not go for testing.

Already in the US the capitalist class is calling for a quick return to work to save the economy.

The agreed stimulus package is designed to help the capitalist few. It is designed to help the slum landlords not the tenants.

Unfettered capitalism commodifies everything. It is part of a triad, with imperialism and white supremacism, that is inherently racist; using force to appropriate cheap labour and resources. It is an expression of self interest that, unregulated, is destructive.

As the situation deteriorates Trump will incite violence and racism. The US has already been moving towards a corporate totalitarianism with militarised police and secret trials. The coronavirus crisis will accelerate this.

British society may be different but in America the trend is towards fascism; the Christian Right has given fascism a headstart there.

The coronaviris crisis is a precursor to the climate change crisis. The beginning of the end.

The system is not going to respond.

We have to create power outside of the system.

We need to rebel.

We must use our numbers to oppose corporate power. Through our numbers we have power to cripple the profits and the economy of the ruling elites.

This is our only hope, but we have to face the bleakness of no hope and accept that we may not succeed.

But even if we fail we create a community; we nurture life in a culture of death.

The ethic we return to needs to be an ethic that says ‘everyone eats or no one eats’.

Simha Kriya

This is worth trying. The instructions in the video are clear. I have done a number of yogic breathing exercises in the past but not this one. After listening to the video I would suggest that beginners might want to first try the easier version with fewer rounds of breath and a shorter retention. I may well incorporate this in my own practice at some time. I don’t doubt that it will enhance lung capacity.

Within the System

I have noticed a considerable amount of distress and anger in some ‘Left’ quarters that Kier Starmer has been elected Labour Party leader. Having been expelled from that party for reasons that I have discussed extensively and am willing, if asked, to discuss again I see it for what it is – a part of the establishment. For a brief moment, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn it seemed that it would become something more and aspire to change the system fundamentally rather than simply attempt to ameliorate the most predatory aspects of that system. But the Party’s own ‘immune system’ treated Corbyn and ‘Corbynism’ like a virus and produced antibodies to eradicate it. All of the leader candidates took positions indistinguishable from each other on many positions and in particular all accepted that the charges of widespread antisemitism within the party were justified and they publicly agreed to the propositions that:

1. To describe Israeli policies that have a ‘discriminatory impact’ as ‘racist’ is antisemitic.

and

2. It was a disgrace for Corbyn to suggest that it is not antisemitic to describe discriminatory Israeli policies as racist.

Once these and other propositions that are clearly contrary to both empirical and logical truth have been accepted by particular individuals then nothing of what those individuals say can be trusted. It is not just that they are wrong it is that having abandoned a commonsensical use of language it is no longer possible to engage with them in a discussion regarding whether and why they are wrong or right.

Corbyn’s leadership might be called a ‘system error’. That error has been corrected. The relationship between Power and Truth has returned to that which pertained during Blair’s era and his lead up to the Iraq atrocity.
I feel no personal stake in the outcome of the Labour Partyelections and offer these observations from a perspective of puzzlement that anyone really cares. I may of course be mistaken in my observation and I am happy to be corrected but somehow I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Neighbours

We heard drumming outside and came out to look. Our neighbour was banging a saucepan and chanting thanks for the medics and other essential workers. Other doors opened to the street. We clapped together as she continued chanting. For a short while we were not isolated

Stop

Stop for a moment. Pausing,
Consider the absurdity
Of a reality constructed of
Illusions
Conceived by minds
Separated from Being,
Seeking consolation in Having.

Endlessly consuming bellies, expanded
Leaving little room for heart.
Immensities of love and connection
Shrunk.
The immeasurable lost
In measuring our other’s worth;
Serving our greeds before seeing their needs.

If we can do now, then do good now
If we cannot do, then stay, for now
In the numinous night, offering
None harm
But listening, learning the sacred rhythms
Of hearts beating together
To intend a brighter dawn.

Mask

This is a horrific account about what is going on in US hospitals. It exposes as an illusion the image of hi-tech efficiency that we’ve gotten from a zillion American TV doctor shows while at the same time highlighting the dedication of medical staff who are not only working under extreme pressure but are also putting their own lives at risk.

In a money driven dystopian society where access to medical care is conditional on being personally able to pay, it should not be surprising that decisions to protect workers and decisions to implement adequate safety measures are also based on monetary considerations.

Under the psychopathic logic of neoliberal capitalism the greed of the few outweighs the needs of the many.

I truly hope that it is nothing like this in the UK. I truly hope that it never comes to that here.

Those who disparage concerned with politics; who disparage those who scrutinise and call to account the psychopaths and psychopathic systems that govern our nations should now reflect on the consequences of our collective neglects.

Noam Chomsky: Coronavirus

There is plenty in this video to think about so I made some non verbatim notes as I was watching. There is some very interesting stuff here and Chomsky’s advice at the end is just what we need to be thinking about and acting on.

“The Coronavirus is serious enough but there is a much greater horror approaching approaching; we are racing to the edge of disaster far worse than anything that’s happened in human history” begins Chomsky.

There are two worse threats, nuclear war and global warming. These have to be dealt with. We will recover from Coronavirus but if we don’t deal with these other threats we’re done. The scientists running the ‘Doomsday Clock’ puts us at 100 seconds to midnight. This is the closest that its ever been. [See https://thebulletin.org/doomsday-clock/current-time/]

We’re finished if we leave our fate to bufoons like Trump. Trump is particularly dangerous because he leads the US and the US leads the world. Europe chooses to follow the US, many other countries don’t have a choice. The US imposes sanctions against Iran that are designed to impose suffering. Europe may not like this but they follow. It is a shocking irony that it is [sanctioned] Cuba that is helping European countries fight the Coronavirus, not the US and not Germany.

Srecko Horvat notes that there are almost 2 billion people confined to their homes if they have a home. Borders are being closed in Europe and the army is on the streets. The language is that of a war aginst the virus. Horvat asks if this language and response is appropriate.

Chomsky says the language in this case has significance, that we have to move to something like wartime mobilisation. Mobilisation for World War Two greated great national debt [for the US] but greatly increased the country’s productive capacity. Coronavirus is not on that scale but it needs a similar response. A rich country can deal with this and other threats, but what about a poor country like India? In a civilised world rich countries would be helping poorer countries instead of trying to strange them. Coronavirus is serious but there are much bigger crises that endanger the [human] species. Global warming will make South Asian countries uninhabitable in a few decades.

The Coronavirus may be helpful if it makes people think about the world we have.

CV represents a colossal market failure. It’s been known for a long time that that pandemics were likely and the likely agent would be a coronavirus. Labs could have been working on developing vaccines but they didn’t because the ‘market signals’ were wrong. It was more profitable for big pharma to make body creams than to work on finding a vaccine. Neoliberal ideology blocked direct government intervention.

Chomsky references a simulation carried out in October 2019 in the US that warned of the consequences of a CV pandemic. He notes that the polital systems did not take any notice. [See https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/02/a-simulated-coronavirus-pandemic-in-2019-killed-65-million.html]

On December 31st China informed the WHO of the virus. China, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore acted quickly and with some success to contain the virus. Germany acted a little later but had the spare capacity, intensive care beds, to protect their population. The capacity of other nations to meet the challenge had been devastated by years of neoliberal policy. The UK response was among the worse the US response was the worst of the worse.

People now have to ask what knd of world they want to live in. The crisis may result in a more authoritarian neoliberal world or to radical reconstruction, a world that is green equal and just. It is possible that people will organise and become engaged, that they will confront the problems of nuclear war and environmental catastrophy. CV should bring us to awareness of the dysfunction of the neoliberal system.

Srecko Horvat asks Chomsky’s advice on social resistance in a time of social distance.

Chomsky say that people, especially young people glued to their cellphones, were already self isolating before the crisis. Misuse of social media has been isolating people from each other. We need to recreate social bonds, contacting people, developing organisations, deliberating and bringing people together. We have to put face to face contact on hold but can use social media to deepen bonds.

Risky Behaviour?

Since there are young people involved this might be considered youth work. The spirit is fantastic but would this be considered ‘risky behaviour’?

An Infrastructure of Resistance

There are people in various forums who persist in their hope that Jeremy Corbyn will remain as Labour Party leader for a while longer. This is a forlorn hope and, though I understand it, one that I understand it should be dropped.

I heard a story about a place, I can’t remember the place, where they catch monkeys by putting fruit into bottles with narrow necks. The monkeys can reach into the bottles but when they grasp the fruit their hand forms a fist that they are unable to withdraw from the bottle. So they are trapped and captured because of their refusal to let go.

We have to let go of the illusion that the powers that conspired against JC will permit him to remain leader. Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, and the Labour Party itself are means to an end and not ends in themselves. We must understand what our true ends are and work to achieve those ends by other means. When armies are defeated on the battlefields by vastly superior forces they never win by trying again to meet the ememy head on, they win by turning to guerrilla tactics; by building an infrastructure of resistance.

This is what we need to do if our fight is truly about principles rather than positions in a party and a political structure that are past their ‘use by’ date. We have to stop holding on to the past and start building an infrastructure of resistance and freedom.