CV-19: 4 Reads from Info Clearing House

5 Apr

Departing from a recently established tradition I did no March reads post. Here I make early April amends. Unusually, these four reads all come from the one source: Information Clearing House. I start with Paul Craig Roberts.

It’s a sign of our sharply polarised times that many former establishment figures, some of them on the Right, are doing what our ‘liberal’ media have signally failed to do. Gamekeepers turned poacher, they challenge mainstream narratives not on those important but secondary matters where democracy tolerates – needs, for ideological purposes, to tolerate – difference. Rather, they target aspects of class rule not up for negotiation, such as ‘our’ wars on the middle east.

Former Reagan appointee and Wall Street Journal editor Paul Craig Roberts is one such voice. Variously quoted by me over the past few years, I find his piece yesterday especially refreshing for its housing of three syllables (without ifs, buts or howevers) many of us find hard to utter – especially right now, where there seems a surfeit of unwarranted ‘certainty’:

I … Don’t … Know …

My Take on Covid-19 “Conspiracy Theories” (730 words)

Let’s begin by calling [CV-19] conspiracy theories alternative explanations. What they have in common is distrust of the authorities and official explanations.  This is the fault of the authorities and media, not of those with alternative explanations. If the public had confidence in the authorities, there’d be no scope for alternative explanations. By not being up front, by politicizing the virus against Trump and against China, by taking so long to acknowledge the seriousness of the threat while doing nothing to prepare, the authorities have harmed public trust in them.

Trust was already thin.  The lies about Washington’s wars – “WMDs,” “Iranian nukes,” “Assad’s use of chemical weapons” – and the Russiagate hoax, have undermined the credibility of Washington and the US print and TV media …

… Capitalism with an inadequate public sector has exposed us to both health and economic failure. These are all legitimate points to be made. However, the purpose of some alternative explanations seems to be to attract attention to a website or podcast … [while] others produce division [and so] can be just as debilitating and irresponsible as the authorities’ prevarications.

Read full piece …

Speaking of conspiracy theories – some of which, we do well to remember, prove accurate – here’s Pepe Escobar in what is unquestionably the scariest of these four picks.

Cited in several of my posts, this Brazilian journalist is always worth a read. Ever well informed, his bold style, breadth of sweep and excitable tone can raise eyebrows – mine included – but I consider him an important voice on global realpolitik.

Ground Control to Planet Lockdown: This Is Only a Test (2400 words)

… As it stands, the sustainability of the complex Eurasian integration project has not been substantially compromised. As the EU has provided the whole planet with a graphic demonstration of its cluelessness and helplessness, everyday the Russia-China strategic partnership gets stronger – increasingly investing in soft power and advancing a pan-Eurasia dialogue which includes, crucially, medical help.

Facing this, the EU’s top diplomat, Joseph Borrell, sounds helpless:

“There is a global battle of narratives, with timing a crucial factor. […] China has brought down new infections to single figures – and it is now sending equipment and doctors to Europe, as others do as well.1 China is aggressively pushing the message that, unlike the U.S., it is a responsible and reliable partner. In the battle of narratives we have also seen attempts to discredit the EU (…) We must be aware there is a geo-political component including a struggle for influence through spinning and the ‘politics of generosity’. Armed with facts, we need to defend Europe against its detractors.”

That takes us to really explosive territory. A critique of the Planet Lockdown strategy inevitably raises serious questions pointing to a controlled demolition of the global economy. What is already in stark effect are myriad declinations of martial law, severe social media policing in Ministry of Truth mode, and the return of strict border controls.

Read full piece …

Since Pepe has referred us, through the words of a hapless Mr Borell, to China’s aid to EU states abandoned by Brussels, and since I attached a footnote on gallant Cuba, I’ll turn to those two nations by way of a timely tribute from Danny Haiphong

China and Cuba’s Medical Internationalism: a Shining Example … (1650 words)

… Americans are bombarded with anti-communist and racist talking points which depict China and Cuba as “authoritarian” states that kill, torture, and repress their people. Corporate media portray Cuba and China as backward stereotypes worthy only of the imperial targets placed on their backs. Most people residing in the U.S. are either unaware of their government’s imperialist war crimes or find themselves too distracted to fight the U.S. sanctions against Cuba or the dangerous military provocations that successive U.S. presidential administrations have waged against China. The COVID-19 pandemic currently wreaking havoc on the U.S. and the West challenges the very legitimacy of the imperialist narrative against China and Cuba for the sheer fact that these maligned nations have been able to organize a heroic campaign of global solidarity to control the spread of the disease.

China was the first country to report an outbreak of COVID-19 in late December and the city of Wuhan has been under near total lockdown since January 23rd. After two months of aggressive measures to contain the virus, Wuhan and the rest of China are now reporting zero new domestic cases for consecutive days. This has allowed China to send its expertise and resources all over the world to fight the spread of the virus …

… Cuba is no stranger to the concept of medical internationalism. Nearly thirty thousand Cuban doctors are deployed all over the world  to provide healthcare free of cost to the most oppressed nations across the planet. Cuba also trains a staggering number of doctors from abroad  free of cost at its Latin American School of Medicine. Cuba offered medical and humanitarian assistance to the United States during Hurricane Katrina  despite being crippled by a U.S.-imposed embargo that only worsened over the course of successive U.S. administrations. Now Cuba is at the forefront of assisting the nations most imperiled by COVID-19. Cuba has sent fifty-two doctors to Italy. Similar contingents have also been sent to Suriname, Grenada, Jamaica and thirty three other nations.

U.S. imperialism is the structural antithesis of social solidarity. While Cuba and China are demonized as pariah states, the U.S.’ actual pariah state continues its policy of endless war amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Venezuela, Iran, and over thirty other nations risk massive economic and social catastrophe from the pandemic as a result of US commitment to isolating their economies. Many countries around the world were already living through an imperial nightmare prior to the emergence of COVID-19. Over 70 percent of people in Yemen  lack access to clean water, food, and adequate healthcare as a result of the ongoing US-Saudi war on their country. Palestinians in Gaza find themselves in a very similar situation as they continue to suffer from the impact of Israel’s colonial siege.

Read full piece …

The Bigger Picture is Hiding Behind a Virus (1500 words)

My fourth piece, from a Jonathan Cook up there with Caitlin Johnstone as one of my favourite bloggers, effects a shift in tone and focus. In a reminder that our perceptions of the world are not our own, that “our attention rarely belongs to us; it is the plaything of others”,2 he begins with this …

Things often look the way they do because someone claiming authority tells us they look that way. If that sounds too cynical, pause for a moment and reflect on what seemed most important to you just a year ago, or even a few weeks ago.

Then, you may have been thinking that Russian interference in western politics was a vitally important issue and something that we needed to invest much of our emotional and political energy in countering. Or maybe a few weeks ago you felt that everything would be fine if we could just get Donald Trump out of the White House.

Or maybe you imagined that Brexit was the panacea to Britain’s problems – or, conversely, that it would bring about the UK’s downfall.

Still feel that way?

After all, much as we might want to (and doubtless some will try), we can’t really blame Vladimir Putin, or Russian troll farms spending a few thousand dollars on Facebook advertising, for the coronavirus pandemic.

Much as we might want to, we can’t really blame Trump for the catastrophic condition of the privatized American health care system, totally ill-equipped and unprepared for a nationwide health emergency …

… and ends with this:

The virus is one small warning – one among many – that we have been living out of sync with the natural world we share with other life. Our need to control and dominate, our need to acquire, our need for security, our need to conquer death – they have crowded out all else. We have followed those who promised quick, easy solutions, those who refused to compromise, those who conveyed authority, those who spread fear, those who hated.

If only we could redirect our gaze, if we could seize back control of our attention for a moment, we might understand that we are being plagued not just by a virus but by our fear, our hate, our hunger, our selfishness.

The evidence is there in the fires, the floods and the disease, in the insects that have disappeared, in the polluted seas, in the stripping of the planet’s ancient lungs, its forests, in the melting ice-caps.

The big picture is hiding in plain sight, no longer obscured by issues like Russia and Brexit but now only by the most microscopic germ, marking the thin boundary between life and death.

Read full piece …

* * *

  1. Cuba deserves a mention in this context.
  2. That our attention is not our own was the subject of my post in December, where I moved from the marketing of alcoholic drinks to the UK general election.

5 Replies to “CV-19: 4 Reads from Info Clearing House

  1. From the Pepe Escobar piece:

    “In parallel, a total corporate media takeover is implying that if the numbers do not substantially go down, Planet Lockdown – an euphemism for house arrest – remains, indefinitely.”

    Now that is something I cannot see happening without the most brutal force. And the moment this force is applied, that will clearly change the entire dynamic of the situation. The absurdity of killing people in order to “save them” will become clear.

    Also, no matter what people think of the virus, it will become increasingly clear to them as the lockdown continues that they have no economic future i.e. no future. They will start to realise that, in that case, it will amount to a choice between dying from the virus or dying form poverty.

    • no matter what people think of the virus, it will become increasingly clear to them as the lockdown continues that they have no economic future i.e. no future.

      A crisis in every sense of the word.

  2. Thanks. I also read all of these via ICH (perhaps even within a single email from them – i can’t quite remember!) and found them each to be fascinating in their own way. Keep up the great detective work and let’s have a pint in The Victoria when this is all (if this is ever all) over… Steve

  3. “Not to mention the masses of elderly, especially in the U.S., that will be issued an unspoken “drop dead” notice.”

    A situation already taking place in the UK, albeit in written rather than unspoken form, as letters are sent out by GP surgeries asking people to sign DNR forms whilst concerns are being expressed not just over the elderly in this regard but also the disabled and those with learning difficulties.

    Which poses other immediate questions for which we have no reliable data to make the necessary informed decisions on.

    Right now the official Government figures are all we have to go on and by any standard, even Critical/Serious care requirements, appear easily manageable.

    What we do know is that compared to most anywhere else our testing capacity is low and with the number of known cases being a fraction of the tested cases the daily case and mortality figures issued by the Government will be lower than actual existing cases which show no sign of being being matched by known cases over time as has occurred elsewhere. Added to that is the fact of all UK mortality figures are limited to those of hospital cases.

    With reports of elderly patients with whatever health issues being sent back to care homes with minimal protective masks it does not seem unreasonable to anticipate the first and second order mortality rates – along with critical care hospital usage – are under-recorded and therefore under-reported.

    Particularly when with reported discovered cases rising daily the number of critical care cases was stuck at 163 for over a week before rising to over 1500 on a Sunday (today) when a lot of people will not be looking. This Government cannot even manage its statistical bullshit properly.

    Of perhaps more concern is the the UK survival rate of closed cases. With the number of recovered cases stuck at 135 for the last eight days whilst mortality rises leaving the UK with a 3% recovery rate which only Holland (currently 12%) and Ireland (15%) anywhere near as bad over the same period.

    For comparison; Recovery rates in Italy (58%); Spain (75%); USA (64%) and France (67%) are far higher. Even Iraq (82%); Iran (85%); India (70%) and Indonesia (45%) suggest some serious issue with UK systems even with already under reported cases.

    With Universities complaining the Government have ignored for a fortnight offers of Lab usage currently standing unused it seems over optimistic in the light of too many similar examples to view the Government attitude and approach as not remaining one of “culling the economically inactive” despite the under resourced, half hearted lip service given to the advice from Imperial college nearly three weeks ago.

    The practical realities, as opposed to the theory, are that the kind of “lockdowns” being suggested are impossible to enforce with the kind of draconian methods being luridly portrayed. In those terms they represent another version of fear porn just as much as the media hype of the virus.

    We do not have the trained and experienced personnel numbers (experience, along with knowledge and expertise, being another casualty of four decades of voodoo economic dogma). You could fit the entire British Army in Wembly Stadium and still have spare tickets for the touts.

    Corporate Governments committed to Business As usual will be wanting to get things back on track as quickly as feasible. Whether that’s possible or feasible is another question. Having lost control through their arrogant negligence and incompetence figures are being managed with a view to minimising the headline figures whilst hiding the underlying realities with attention diverted elsewhere towards other fears and concerns – like the PTB know what they are doing.

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