Labour Party: your silence is deafening!

21 Mar

Labour is “alarmed at Covid-19 laws being passed without vote”. And so they bloody well should be – the potential for abusing the draconian powers now passed into law is immense.

There are those who say covid-19 is overegged. Some left libertarians call it a fat lie, aimed at (a) further inroads into civil liberties, (b) shifting further the balance of class forces in capital’s favour, and/or (c) shifting blame for a new financial crisis that was coming anyway.

I disagree. I deem the threat real and potentially terrible. But as I argued in my post of three days ago – Covid-19: Capitalism on trial – it also shows up, as never before in my sixty-seven years on earth, the madness of capitalism. To all who love life in its vast and ineffable beauty, capitalism is the dark star, antithesis of everything we hold dear.

I sketched out my reasoning in that post so won’t repeat it here. This post is about the pathetic response so far of a British Labour Party which, like its social democrat counterparts across the Western World, lives and breathes the air of amelioration and appeasement.

The problem – and this has nothing to do with the fat cats in top hats of socialist caricature but the scientifically observable nature of capitalism – is that its own laws of motion do not allow for amelioration or appeasement. Not on any lasting basis.

To think otherwise is to misread the nature of the beast. Hence Labour’s continuing to fail and betray, as it has for a century failed and betrayed. In the game of damage limitation, and in many cases personal advancement too, it long ago fled the arena of ideas. Now its challenge is confined to a dispute over who can claim superior stewardship of  ‘the economy’.

But unless you’re new here, you’ve heard me say all this before, whether in this frightening new context or in respect of other aspects – war, peace and the environment, say – of capitalism’s life-negating insanity. You’ve also seen me urge a vote for Corbyn last year, even as I also noted the inadequacy – a necessary but insufficient condition, as scientists would say – of so doing.

If you were on a think tank tasked with dreaming up the most toxic way of organising social relations to create wealth, you couldn’t do better than the one we have: a system premised on a tiny few owning the means of production, in a context where said production cannot – I repeat, cannot – take place unless that tiny few will profit. This is off-the-wall crazy but we’re now so used to it that it seems a law of physics; that we may as well seek to reverse the pull of gravity, or issue a directive that as of tomorrow the sun is to rise in the west.

This failure of imagination has Labour immobilised, a rabbit frozen in the headlights. At a time when it should be shouting from the rooftops about the global inadequacy of capitalism to deal with the multi-dimensional threat of covid-19, it bleats about BoJo’s railroading. Well of course he’ll railroad! Of course he’ll play fast and loose with hard won liberties. That’s his job: to fight with every fibre of his being, under a veneer of democracy and in the name of “The Will of The Country”, the class he truly represents. Duh!

So what would Labour do now, if it were truly for the many rather than the few? Yes, it would fight tooth and nail over the balance of freedom and expedience – if you like over “me versus we” – but in a context of explicit recognition that “we” are not “in this together”. Rather, “we” are the British wing of a world divided by class: by whether our material needs are met by returns on capital invested, or by selling the only thing we have to sell. Our labour power.

But that’s not all. This imaginary Labour would also extract concession after concession from our rulers, not haggle over details of the ‘temporary socialism’ even BoJo will now offer. Rather, it – backed by the unions and using all available media – would go on the offensive: presenting demands unthinkable at any other time.

For starters it should demand the following, lifted from a recent post by Richard Murphy – up there with Bill Mitchell as a guru of modern monetary theory (MMT). I don’t know that I’m a MMT man. I’ve had a Mitchell book on my kindle for a year but never got round to reading it.

MMT or not though, Murphy’s demands as set out yesterday are to my liking. On which note I’ll hand over to him. Don’t be put off by the seemingly tame early demands. They get better  …

1) Cancel all tax payments to government. There is no time for finessing who should, and should not, have a tax payment holiday;

2) Cancel all mandatory payments to pension funds: right now they are low priority;

3) Freeze required repayment of bank loans, mortgages, leases, credit card charges and similar. Guarantee funding to banks to ensure their survival, but on condition they are nationalised immediately without compensation. Every bank is now, in any case, effectively insolvent;

4) Cancel all rent obligations for the foreseeable future and let landlords claim benefits of the same type as the self-employed;

5) Nationalise all utilities (electricity, gas, water) and cancel all charges for now. In this one case the government should make good the lost revenues, but they will now be under state ownership;

6) Introduce food rationing, first by limiting the amount any consumer can buy, and thereafter in an organised fashion through store loyalty cards, extending these to locations that do not use them at present;

7) Guarantee payment of 50% of regular net wages to all employees of a company (since rents, mortgages and utility charges are no longer due), and authorise all companies to make these payments and make a claim from the government for the cost. If settling the obligation threatens financial liquidity (with significant penalties  for false claims) grant funding should be created to keep basic systems going;

8) Set up a universal basic income equivalent to the national minimum wage for all self-employed people and landlords, with severe penalties for false or multiple claims;

9) Guarantee payment of all pensions whatever the liquidity of their funds;

10) Put price controls in place to prevent racketeering: I explained how here;

11) Create a programme of quantitative easing to create the money required to deliver this programme. There is no limit to the amount of money the government can create in this way and it will not cause any economic harm to do so when the alternative is catastrophe. I explain this here.

* * *


37 Replies to “Labour Party: your silence is deafening!

  1. ‘I deem the threat real and potentially terrible.’
    It would be interesting to know what you base that view on Phil.

    • A good start would be the Imperial College Report of March 16, modelling – on the basis of many assumptions unavoidable given current deficits in our understanding of how covid-19 spreads – of the impact of two alternative approaches to containing its threat.

      But that’s just the clinical and epidemiological impact. Other aspects being the rule of law, a ravaged economy and those inroads into civil liberties and what few labour gains remain. All interacting with potentially vast multiplier effect.

      What’s your take on all this?

  2. I agree on the ‘cure’, much to be afraid of there.
    On the disease, I have read, heard and seen a lot from diverse sources, but have yet to find anything that should persuade us that C19 exists as a new and novel form of the coronavirus, can be definitively identified by any test, or is as deadly as is claimed.
    Have you come across anything that proves – or at least tends towards proving – we should believe all this?

    • No, no definitive proof Mark. In this as with other things we have to live with a huge slice of uncertainty. And I’m aware that people I respect are at odds with me on this: like you, sceptical of official reports of covid-19’s danger, or even its existence.

      My thinking is that:

      – if this is a conspiracy it appears to be global: with China and the USA, Russia, Cuba and the EU, in on it.

      – on any number of levels, some sketched out on this site, it shows capitalism in a terrible light in ways – I can but hope! – more visible to those who’d otherwise dismiss such as me (and you) as crankish at best.

      – given that none of us can be sure, I see greater danger in wrongly supposing the threat a hoax (or greatly exaggerated) than in wrongly supposing it real. That said, I do see that the ‘remedies’ our rulers will want to institute may prove worse than the ‘disease’.

      Maybe things will be clearer in the coming days and weeks, and it will be obvious that I am right or wrong. I’ve a track record of both! Meanwhile, I press with renewed urgency my insistence that capitalism has to go, the only other scenario being our rapidly accelerating descent into one form or other of barbarism.

  3. Unnecessary loss of life, whilst being one key aspect of the “real threat”, is exacerbated by the inability of hollowed out systems (not just health) to actually cope with any real world event outside of the narrow simplistic tick in a box bottom line thinking which dominates Western (neo-liberal) orthodoxy.

    Slack/some spare capacity was once built into systems for a reason.

    Unfortunately, we have no slack or spare capacity in any system you can name. It’s all been cut to the bone after four decades of simplistic voodoo economic dogma in which everyday systems we take for granted have been hollowed out. Leaving no robustness, no versatility, no capacity not even any recognition of a coherent feasible organising principle within the dominant cultural narrative.

    See here for example.

    We are in the early stages of the exponential growth of a virus at loose in society in which only 4.7% of cases require critical care beds. Yet already this week a London hospital is declaring a major incident as its cut to the bone critical care bed capacity is overwhelmed.

    Meanwhile, West Yorkshire look set to declare a County wide emergency if they have not already done so at the time of writing.

    And we have not even considered the fact we do not have a sufficient stock of ventilators to cope.

    At best we are perhaps 3 weeks behind Italy, whose crematoriums are unable to adequately manage the mortality rate. Bearing in mind the point, already made, that despite a growing number of cases a month ago what passes for Government in the UK misirably failed to implement even the most basic common sense containment protocols at ports of entry. Allowing passengers in transit from all over the world to intermingle in confined areas before onward dispersal throughout the land.

    The just-in-time distribution system cannot cope with the levels of panic buying, leaving supermarket shelves devoid of essential items, like Calpol and soap, never mind food.

    System after system which has no built in capacity beyond the level of bottom line efficiency is going to be put under strain. A lot of those will collapse.

    And this is down to four decades of brutal dogma which has hollowed out not just Western society but also Western culture.

    • Unnecessary loss of life, whilst being one key aspect of the “real threat”, is exacerbated by the inability of hollowed out systems (not just health) to actually cope with any real world event outside of the narrow simplistic tick in a box bottom line thinking which dominates Western (neo-liberal) orthodoxy.

      You nailed it!

  4. It is no mystery why Labour is so slow to tell the truth about the situation. The Blair/Brown government was at least as instrumental as the preceding Thatcherite regimes in privatisation of the Health Service and, indeed the Schools.
    The PLP and the party leadership are so desperate to recreate New Labour that, even in a time of crisis in which the rotten fruit of privatisation and commodification are evident for all to see, they refuse to pursue the case against neo-liberalism because they were accessories in it. Private Public Partnerships, for example, which have crippled the Health Service’s finances were almost a signature policy of the Blairites.
    There is every indication that this is the end of the road for the Labour Party, which, after all, has long outlived the Trade Union movement from which it sprang.

    • My thoughts too. And every one of the leadership candidates has signed up for the ‘pledges’ and IHRA. Easy to fall into the grip of despair but we don’t, do we? Not for long. Despair is not an option.

  5. Some observations on pertinent questions.

    Starting from a position of this is a hoax some of the questions which need to be chased up:

    Firstly; a comparison of mortality rates and hospital admissions – including requirements for critical care beds and ventilator equipment – arising from symptoms claimed to be associated with what is being referred to as ‘Covid-19 during the same daily time periods in previous years in those Countries said to be affected.

    For example November or December through to say end of February in China; January through to end of March or beyond in Italy etc.

    Secondly; a similar comparison for those daily rates in previous years for mortuary services, burial plots, cremation facilities etc. Particularly for those States/Countries or areas of States/Countries currently claiming they are operating beyond normal capacity for this time of year as a result of higher mortality rates arising from a SINGLE cause.

    Secondary questions might well be along the lines of number of days in various health authority sub- areas and below in which critical care need, from a SINGLE source exceeded capacity and by how much. Ditto for mortuary services etc.

    If there is no significant differences a further question would probably arise as to why it was the media did not do its job by alerting the public to the fact that capacity of various systems was inadequate.

    Moving on……..

    A third line of questioning might well consider the economic impact of cancelling major economically lucrative sporting events from international and national league soccer tournaments; Olympics; Tennis; Horse Racing; Hockey; and so on – which has a negative financial ripple right through to company sponsorship deals.

    Ditto for the economic impact of cancelling cultural events – rock concerts, opera, ballet exhibitions etc.

    Ditto for the tourism industry. Airlines, ferries, cruise ships, hotel chains and so on.

    Then we have secondary impacts with major financial costs for the insurance industry, financial markets, energy being only one – this could not occur at a worse time when a glut exists from over production of oil which has driven down prices and looks set to finish off the US Shale industry – and so on.

    Without under playing the impact on SME’s and the increasing precariat that the self employed sector has become the key point is that a lot of very, very large big players and corporations are taking a massive financial hit from this.

    Which poses a problem because what is required for this position and narrative to have some legs is an upside for those very big players and conglomerates.

    In systems which have been deliberately designed (and lobbied for over decades) which have been streamlined to the bottom line with no carrying capacity,which any event like this knocks over like skittles, and which the Corporate State spends huge amounts of time, energy, effort, and political and financial capital desperately trying to keep on the rails/afloat – if only to justify the ideological neo- liberal and neo- conservative narrative which provides the psychological rationale enabling the 1% to enforce their control freakary – there is nothing in it for them to deliberately engineer such a scam.

    A third line of questioning would focus on behaviour.

    Taking Pueyo’s epidemiology analysis and advice on Medium as a start point:

    Section three contains some stark and drastic advice for politicians and business leaders etc to follow.

    The kind of advice which generates questions about an overbearing State which involves words/terms/labels like Martial Law, Police State, Fascism, Tyranny etc.

    This advice urges measures which generate the above to be implemented immediately, if not six weeks ago.

    Consequently, the question needs to be asked as to just how enthusiastic politicians and/or the Corporate State – at least in the West – have been in taking advantage of the situation which this advice has afforded them in his way?

    I have not bothered to tune in to today’s 2pm Press Conference, consequently I may be a little behind the curve in terms of being up to date with events. However, the record on enthusiasm for taking advantage in this way might best be described as dilotory and more accurately described as unenthusiastic and even hostile.

    Take it from me that on March 2nd – with a growing number of cases over the previous week – there were no containment or testing protocols in place at Europe’s bussiest air port, Heathrow. It unlikely that Heathrow was unique and therefore reasonable to conclude that no such protocols existed at any UK ports of entry.

    The period which followed this saw the Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival go ahead – amongst other large sporting and cultural events – in a context in which the mouthpieces of the Corporate State who would be the only people capable of pulling off such a scam totally reject this policy line in favour of what can only fairly and reasonably described as a Eugenics approach with gems such as:

    “Take in the chin.” – Johnson.

    “Herd immunity” – Johnson again.

    “A cull being good for the economy.” – Attributed a self identified and self labelled ‘journalist’ from the Daily Telegraph.

    The idea we should impose any restrictions was not just rejected with decision but actively resisted.

    Those supposedly at the centre of imposing a Police State etc – including the EU who for several weeks rejected the very notion of closing borders – had to be dragged kicking and screaming to follow the epidemiological advice.

    Even after the (almost) 180 turn around last Monday pet journalists and think tanks were putting out bullshit pseudo science about herd immunity and blowing smoke up this Governments back passage praising them for behaviours and attitudes which show reluctance and resistance to these courses of action.

    Now I say almost 180 degrees because, at least up until last night, the Corporate States mouthpiece was still stalling. Taking a voluntarist approach, blowing his own smoke up the “Great British Public’s” backsides about how pragmatic and sensible we are as a people who will heed sensible rational advice without the need for coercion whilst a large proportion of the same populace were busy congregating cheek by jowl, trollys firmly gripped, competing and fighting with each other to empty supermarkets faster than the supply chain lorries could restock them like a herd of locusts.

    So far as I can see the evidence does not yet stack up to support what might be called the ‘counter narrative.’

    Of course, it may be that having found the earlier questions posed above not to have any comparison with previous years data – ie a greater incidence this year in mortality rates and critical cared bed requirements etc than previous years for a SINGLE cause – that consideration can be given over to some other pertinent questions.

    Like the criminal negligence of not having any containment protocols in place to prevent the spread of, let’s call it a bout of ‘winter flu’, which is already exceeding the capacity of various systems – not least of which is health – to deal with which has resulted in a requirement for drastic action likely to tank the economy, never mind the everyday systems we rely on.

    Ditto for the incompetence of totally inadequate contingency planning which has resulted in a shortage of masks, ventilators etc required to deal with actual real life cases of whatever it is people are arguing the toss about in regards whether it bleedin’ exists or not.

    Granted, some of these practicalities are not limited to the UK. I understand French policing Unions are concerned about their personnel spreading contagion to the public arising from a shortage of such equipment.

    We could then move on to drawing urgent attention to the clear policy of eugenics entertained by a Corporate State – in the US* as much as the UK – in which any attempt to prevent a contagion is treated as an opportunity to get rid of the poor and the weak who only recently were designated as “economically inactive.”

    *Apart from preferring to use its own testing kits which did not work at all rather than those offered by the WHO and wasting 12 weeks with no or inadequate containment and prevention plans and protocols (a line which the compliant corporate media** enthusiasticly endorsed and which have and will result in more extreme measures and greater economic damage), the USA have also attempted to comendeer both protective equipment and a vaccine for its own exclusive use whilst at the same time exacerbating the problem in places like Iran, Venezuela etc through sanctions.

    ** Unfortunately, the corporate media are not alone. Sections of the self labelled “alternative” media are doing the same thing.

    That “same thing”, by the way, is letting people like Johnson and Trump etc, along with the interests they represent, get away scott free and off the hook with a range of pertinent, relevant and salient issues from the eugenics attitude through to criminal negligence; the murderous sanctions on other States which are suffering from this alleged non existent virus cum “hoax” through to the inadequate systems and infrastructure to cope arising from their economic dogma; amongst a range of other issues.

    To conclude: I have done my best to address a particular question. I now have three of my own. All are quite simple:

    1. “Why is it that these people are being let off the hook on the issues and matters described above in favour of a line of questioning to which the evidence is at best inconclusive and at worst the opposite of the available evidence?”

    2. “Is there some agenda operating here?”

    3. “Just when are these issues going to be pursued, if at all?”

    Answers on the back of a bog roll, if anyone can find one on the shelves any more.

  6. Addendum:

    One of the lines of, apparently serious, arguments encountered in the counter narrative is that of “I don’t know anyone who has contracted or died of this alleged virus. Do you?”

    And I have to concede I do not.

    I also have to concede I do not know anyone who who has contracted or died of Malaria, Yellow Fever, Rabies, Aids/HIV, Ebola, Syphilis, or Hepatitis.

    Neither do I know of anyone who has won any of the plethora of lotteries or the football pools.

    Given that I also do not know of anyone who has died falling off a building it seems reasonable under the circumstances to question the official line on the existence of gravity?

    Perhaps my very existence is a fake/hoax?

    Or possibly even a conspiracy?

    • Phew! A lot of words there Dave and I agree with many of your points, but there are a couple of things I would like to throw into the mix:
      1. Many of us are not offering a ‘counter narrative’, merely asking some simple and fundamental questions of the ‘narrative’. For me the questions have yet to be convincingly answered.
      2. All the measures taken and being planned, political, economic and social (erosion of rights, denial of freedoms, further shrinkage of the public sector, possibly negative interest rates and raids on personal bank accounts etc. etc.), both in the UK and elsewhere, rely on the reality of the C 19 narrative for their justification.

    • Dave,

      I can’t help noticing how you move effortlessly from the stuff you haven’t experienced to the stuff you have. This is a straw man argument.

      • Indeed – the fact that you are now conflating the existence of coronavirus with the existence of your very own self would seem to suggest we are now talking about a new religion.

        • No George. It’s called extracting the urine (something we tend to specialise in on these islands), which is what I suspect you are doing here.

          • No Dave I am not “extracting the urine”. I am taking your statements at face value. And when I do so, I come to the conclusions I already expressed.

            • That’s always the problem when attempting that particular art through the written media. It’s too deadpan and it all gets taken at face value.

              Nevertheless, the serious point remains that just because someone has not experienced something does not mean it doesn’t exist.

              We certainly live in interesting times when that observation risks being categorised as a potential straw man argument.

            • Well I assume you were going off on a facetious dithyramb there Dave. Your point (just because someone has not experienced something does not mean it doesn’t exist) is somewhat obscured by the fact that you then link the non-experienced things with things inarguably experienced.

              Incidentally – what do you think of this (and check the entry under “March 19, 2020 (I)”?:


            • Interesting that the comment responded to was interpreted as factitious but the factitious observation about gravity in the previous post was ‘missed’ in order to pursue a particular line of argument.

              Hey ho!

              At least the link to the Swiss doctor, like this link:*


              * More comment on that shortly.

              provides some, albeit limited, progress as we now appear to have moved on from the number of angels one can get on the end of a pin level of debate based on whether something exists or not to considering how lethal it is.

              ie accepting that this is real not made up, fake, or a hoax.

              A couple of observations seem pertinent.

              Firstly, in terms of age demographic impact, including prior health condition, the data provided merely confirms the already available data we have from China. Some of which has already been provided by this blog’s host as well as some BTL comments. See also Chart 7 in the epidemiological Medium article quoted in previous threads on this site.

              Sarcasm alert!! That’s a long winded way of observing ‘no shit, Sherlock!’ ( Before anyone else says it)

              It also confirms, albeit implicitly, earlier reports from the Western media which criticised the Chinese Government for its initial response, of some kind of disciplinary measures and keeping it quiet, to being advised by its own medical experts of something outside the ordinary in late December.

              If, as detailed in this link cases already existed of pollution induced chest problems from the summer of 2019 it does not seem unreasonable to ask for an explanation as to why it was that the Chinese did a rapid about face and not only committed scarce resources (in a context of sanctions and a trade war) to not only building extra hospital facilities in double quick time but actually managed to fill them with infected cases?

              (Sarcasm alert) Perhaps they press ganged healthy people into occupying them?

              It also confirms what some of us have been trying to get across for some time. This is a resource issue: ie having sufficient resources to cope with a sudden spike in demand.

              It is interesting that Italy is singled out for comparisons when attempting to justify the pollution angle rather than say France , Spain or Germany. Germany seems to be coping a lot better with high levels of identified cases which could indicate something about their health system capacity? Presumably France Germany have air pollution too and if not as bad as Italy the question needs to be asked how come they have a lot of cases? Maybe they’ve all been taking a winter holiday in Lombardy who knows?

              It also misses out other factors in Italy which may be, let’s say, ‘inconvenient’ to that line of argument. Chinese teams sent into Italy to assist have been reported as criticising the Italian Government advice for people – in a society with extended families living together – to self isolate as whole families rather than as individuals. Increasing the number of cases particularly amongst the most at risk demographic.

              There have also been criticisms of the policy of fining individuasl found to be outdoors in places like Italy. Confirming one of the arguments that this cannot be transmitted through the air long distances. It seems another source of spread is people congregating at work rather than lone joggers/walkers. A situation which I understand is now being addressed by the Italian Government.

              Oh, and apparently there are reports a medic in Italy has died of this condition. Unfortunately, this does not give us sufficient useful information to reach any meaningful conclusion. We do not know the age of the medic nor their previous medical condition, if any, or if this is a misdiagnosis.

              There are also criticisms which can be levelled at some of the arguments and sloppy conclusions in the zero hedge article. Which does itself no favours by stating for example that only 1% of cases will be severe immediately over a graph showing that 14% of cases will be severe.

              Or undermining its own argument this is no worse than flu and then producing a comparison chart between seasonal flu and Covid-19 which contradicts that argument.

              However, at least, unlike some other sources, it is asking some of the right questions and making the right connections. Observing for example the issue is not the per capita number of cases but the capacity to deal with he number of cases which not only overwhelm health systems cut to the bone but also produce secondary deaths as a result of those facilities being overloaded to be detriment of other medical cases.

              Making the argument, if not yet the case, that it is far better to spend money on improving system capacity rather than cutting it to the bone requiring any occurrence of a pandemic to introduce drastic measures to slow it down to prevent system collapse.

              Now why aren’t those who should be asking those questions and making those points not doing so and following lines of arguments which let the powers that be off the hook?

              There seems to be plenty of requests to respond to various points but complete silence and an absence of reciprocation in the opposite direction.

              Something which I trust is going to be adequately addressed?

              Meanwhile, on that note, I’m off to search the web for a recording of the old ditty ‘As pigs fly overhead.’

            • Dave, I have major difficulty trying to understand what you are saying. “Hey ho” is at least clear. Your odd attempt to exalt the existence of coronavirus to the level of something as indisputably true as the existence of your own self is a matter of awe. The rest of your missive seems monstrously verbose and irrelevant. The Italian case – which the media are “selling” as some kind of new Auschwitz – adds up to this: 90% were over 70 and 99.2% had other conditions. Furthermore:

              “The National Health Institute hasn’t yet determined what the patients examined ultimately died of and refers to them in general terms as Covid19-positive deaths.”

              If you are going to answer me, please try and use plain English and try to avoid the sarcasm ABOUT sarcasm.

            • George,

              There is limit to how many ways it’s possible to say or get across that that comment was a piss take.

              Ditto that the data from everywhere, never mind Italy, about the age demographics of deaths from whatever it is matches the data we already have from China. We knew that already anyway.

              And there is a sense operating generally, rather than specifically, of wanting cake and eating it.

              Evidence is, let’s say, requested to substantiate a line of argument and enquiry. Yet when it is supplied It’s rejected not for any substantive reason but for some spurious reason that it’s too much or whatever. Part of a one way street which would probably result in even Ghandi and Mother Theresa resorting to extracting the urine.

              There is also a limit to how many ways it’s possible to say this is ultimately a resource issue not a per capita issue. Capacity is at serious risk of being exceeded in many countries. And, whether I like it or not is irrelevant, there is little, if any evidence, this state of affairs on this scale existed in previous years in countries across the globe.

              It doesn’t matter what anyone chooses to call or label something, or not. No one, not even front line medics, works their bollocks off and start pressing the panic button just to over hype a situation in which measures may be required affecting and impacting on their civil rights and trashing the economic system of entire continents.

              Speaking as an engineer: If there exists, let’s say, a situation in which for whatever reason a, let’s say, reluctance to accept or acknowledge that and the practical realities arising from that it is not one I’ve not encountered before.

              In such eventualities, like the time we were instructed by a very senior manager to remove with a pick axe a newly laid gas main which had damaged our communications cable and duct, the standard procedure is to move to a safe distance, pull up a deckchair, put the kettle on, and watch to see just how serious such a position is when push comes to shove.

              And that would seem to be as succinct a description of where we are now for most reasonable an even unreasonable people.

            • ” the data from everywhere, never mind Italy, about the age demographics of deaths from whatever it is matches the data we already have from China. We knew that already anyway.”

              We knew already that the vast majority of deaths were of the old? And that almost ALL deaths were of people also having other conditions? And that we haven’t yet determined what the patients examined ultimately died of but refer to them in general terms as Covid19-positive deaths?

          • Whatever it was or was not it has overwhelmed the health systems of a large number of countries across the globe and exposed the dire condition of a number of health systems.

            On yesterday’s figures, around a quarter of those of Germany, the UK mortality rate is just over 5%. In Germany, with far larger numbers being dealt with by their health system, in a colder climate than Italy, their mortality rate is around 0.4%. Now there exist a actual relevant, pertinent and salient set of questions to get ones teeth into.

            It really does not matter what anyone wants to call it or not. Something is putting a strain on health systems in real time. That’s real. Perhaps a discussion with a few front line medics might offer some, let’s say, vigorous perspective.

            And the age of those affected should make no difference. Let’s not forget that whilst the mortality rates of older, and fellow, human beings are relatively higher a 3.6% mortality rate for, say, the 60-70 age group also represents a 96.4 survival rate.

            And just because you’ve survived being put on a ventilator with whatever form of flu/pneumonia/virus represents the acceptable ideological description for any one person or group of people does not mean unscathed.

            It takes time to recover for a given value of recover in such contexts.

            Dismissing older people as some kind of debating point with the underlying implication of culling the herd, reminiscent of Johnson, Cummings and others who, whether anyone lies it or not/accepts it or not, did motivate their decision making (which some people seem prepared to let them off the hook for because it does not fit their opinion) is becoming a little tiresome.

            Whatever hat we wear we are human beings first and anything else second.

  7. “There are those who say covid-19 is overegged. Some left libertarians call it a fat lie…”

    Only “left libertarians”? And only “SOME left libertarians”? Just a minority of “wackos”?

    “I see greater danger in wrongly supposing the threat a hoax (or greatly exaggerated) than in wrongly supposing it real.”

    Well I suppose it comes down to what side you have “bought into”. Currently I have only seen the devastating effects of this “cosmic lockdown”. Services and businesses shattered and possibly gone. Lives ruined and waiting to be ruined. But if I mention this, I will be assured that we may have mounds of bodies gathering in the street. The irony is that we may have such mounds anyway i.e. virus or no virus.

    • I’ve made clear my respect for people who differ fròm me in this George. And I left room, as I think we all must, for the possibility I’m wrong. I see no cause for the sardonic tone. I said nothing of ‘wackos’ and your words disappoint me.

      • I apologise if I came across aggressively but I felt that the “left libertarians” reference was a smear. I have always been suspicious of the term “libertarian”. For me it conveys the impression of a false dissent i.e. one that makes a big show of being “against the grain” but is superficial. And I felt you were demeaning the idea of this virus as hoax or exaggeration by making that link.

        There is a huge gap here between those on the left who take the media coverage of this virus at face value and those who don’t. Off-G definitely takes the hoax/exaggeration path. One Admin went so far as to describe the “mainstream left” position as “hopelessly clueless”. I have not paid much attention to the statistics since they seem to me to be malleable – or at least controversial. I have been more impressed by the argument about aim. The argument that the hoax theory doesn’t make sense because the govt would be cutting their own throats by destroying the business sector is more convincing. Unless they have resigned themselves to the fact that capitalism is now veering towards such a crisis that there is some much more radical solution in sight – though I don’t know what that might be.

        The side you take here has an enormous effect on your entire outlook. The “face value” approach has definite psychological advantages. There are two: first you can assume that there will definitely be an end in sight. We will come out the other side, so to speak. Second, there can be a certain revolutionary optimism at the thought that this is a potentially fatal moment for capitalism. The “hoax” side is complete doom i.e. this “virus” situation will not end at all because it isn’t really here in the first place. The ruling class is finally closing down the public sector. I would say that this is the general mood amongst many that I speak to – although others are vehement in their denunciation of “conspiracy theorists”.

        Once again I apologise for any aggression I appear to project but I have never know a week that has been so – well frankly terrifying as the one I just went through. There is massive fear and anger spreading – and what I can say for sure is that everyone has these aggressive feelings towards the seemingly manufactured panic and not the disease. The panic seems far more lethal in terms of destroying the social structure.

      • My mistake Phil, apologies, I’ve found them under another post. Must have got confused. Didn’t think for one minute you were the censoring type!

        • By SSS standards these last few posts have drawn extensive comment, albeit from few people. Easy to lose track of what was said under which post. I was about to come back and suggest precisely what you did.

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