Three reads on CV-19

21 Oct

Not all CV19 sceptics:

… rush to their FB echo chambers with the latest utterances of cherry picked experts – some of whose opinions I take seriously, though with a modicum of caution – while ignoring all others as government mouthpieces;

… shriek, “we told you so”, on the back of equally cherry picked data;

… deride as morons and suckers those whose beliefs place them elsewhere on a matrix where multiple variables intersect;1

… raced out to endorse, with ill judged enthusiasm given that many were on the Left, the Great Barrington Declaration (of which more in a moment);

… call the pandemic a hoax, cooked up by a global cabal2 to bring about the Great Reset.

Then again, not all who accept CV19 as a real and grave threat dispute that ruling classes across the globe will make hay while the sun shines, seizing this opportunity for further encroachments on hard won liberties, as in the wake of 9/11. And/or living standards, as in the wake of Lehman Brothers. Opportunism is something ruling classes tend to do rather well.

Confused? You should be. Beware the gleam of messianic certainty. All too often it masks an excess of a trait found to some degree in all of us: inability, in the face of things that matter, to live with the excruciations of doubt.

I don’t have the truth on CV19. I lost a very good friend to it in May but otherwise know only a handful who have tested positive. The same goes for everyone I ask, leaving me with a nagging sense, exacerbated by data we’ve long known to be unreliable,3 that maybe this isn’t the Big One; the killer pandemic epidemiologists have been telling us since SARS 2003 is a matter of when not if.

Which is as much as I’m prepared to offer as preface to my three chosen reads. I’ll start with the most controversial.

*

Fabricating a Pandemic – Who Could Organize It and Why

This 5800 worder by Gegory Sinaisky, on OffGuardian in late September, argues that we have indeed been taken for a right royal ride.

I offer it despite not sharing the author’s belief that the pandemic may have been manufactured. And despite finding his arguments in support of that view unconvincing.4 I offer it because while I do not draw the conclusions Mr Sinaisky draws, least of all on CV19, I agree with the thrust of his assessment of the twilight zone in which Western imperialism now stands. Empires rise and empires fall, but in the past they had not the capacity to take out all advanced life with them. As 500 years of Western ascendancy draw to a close, the biggest and scariest uncertainty is that of how Washington and Wall Street mean to respond.

Gregory Sinaisky has his answer to that. I fear something different.

*

The Great Barrington Declaration: Capitalism’s global policy of herd immunity

The declaration advocates an approach to herd immunity called “focused protection,” where the most vulnerable are supposedly provided haven. At the same time, the youngest are encouraged to become infected to establish broad-based immunity in the population.

The AIER, a libertarian think-tank, which posits as their aim “a society based on property rights and open markets,” is engaged in a highly reactionary, anti-working-class and anti-socialist enterprise. The declaration has been partly funded by the right-wing billionaire, Charles Koch, who hosted a private soiree of scientists, economists, and journalists to provide the homicidal declaration a modicum of respectability and formulate herd immunity as a necessary global policy in response to the pandemic.

A week ago WSWS – site of Socialist Equality Party, phoenix from the ashes of Gerry Healy’s WRP sect – ran this 1600 word piece. It sets out a clear view, with which many on the Left – ‘revolutionary’ and ‘democratic’ alike – would concur, of pandemic as real and capitalism’s response as callous beneath a veneer of concern. As such the piece has my agreement, with the important proviso of my being less certain than WSWS of the full extent of CV19’s lethality.

*

No confidence! Keir Starmer’s Address to the Nation

Last but by no means least, some may recall a post from the early days. On April 30 I hosted a piece by two academics: Chik Collins (University of Faroe Islands) and my friend and former colleague Peter Jones (Sheffield Hallam). It set out a manifesto for responding to pandemic as if people mattered more than profits.

This week I was asked to host the duo’s latest piece, an imaginary 1250 word declaration by Sir Keir Starmer – described elsewhere on this site as “beneficiary of the dirtiest war ever waged on a Labour leader” – for Boris to step down, on ground of serial incompetence, revolving door venality and assorted scandals, to make way for a government of national unity.

Incidentally, I was talking a week or two ago to reps of UCU’s Sheffield Hallam branch. Their employer is making the usual protestations that nothing is of higher value in its eyes than the safety of staff. (Is there an employer in the whole wide world that doesn’t make this claim?) At the same time, these reps tell me, it has – Pontius Pilate fashion – kicked responsibility down the food chain, leaving it to the discretion of junior but ambitious managers to order academic staff to come in for repeated contact with returning students.

Classy.

Followers of my legal struggle with Sheffield Hallam know my love for it to be conditional. But other than the fact I’d look kindly on any reasonable request from a man who has publicly backed me on that struggle, Peter Jones’s employer is not a factor here.

Rather than link to a pdf, I replicate the Collins-Jones spoof in full.

Motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson’s government

Keir Starmer’s address to the nation (as imagined by Chik Collins and Peter
Jones) @chikcollinsUFI @PeteJonesSHU

19th October 2020

Good evening everyone

I am telling you tonight of a critical decision that I have come to, as Leader of Her
Majesty’s Opposition. It has been taken after extensive discussions with many of
those across our country who have key responsibilities for both public health and for
our economy, employment and our future prosperity.

It is a decision that will, I hope, have support in the House of Commons from all
opposition parties, but also from a growing number of Conservative MPs who share
our view on the current crisis and are prepared to put the national interest ahead of
narrow party loyalty.

We have concluded that the present Conservative government of Boris Johnson
lacks the competence to continue in office. It simply cannot be trusted any further
with the vital decisions on which so much now depends. I have therefore decided to
call on the government to step down in advance of the motion of no confidence
which we are at this moment preparing to put before the House.

This decision is a last resort. For the last eight months the government has failed to
deal with the pandemic decisively and effectively. We have given our support to the
government when measures were taken, such as the nation-wide lockdown in
March, which we considered to be necessary, even though belated and insufficient.
We have been patient with the government more generally, recognising the difficult
challenges they have been facing. But we believe that the patience of the British
public is now exhausted by the serial incompetence from which we continue to
suffer.

The government has conclusively failed in its primary duty towards the people of this
country – namely to save and protect the lives of its citizens. And it has repeatedly
failed to protect and enhance our public services, to preserve livelihoods and to
develop our capacity to bounce back as an even stronger and more united society
after the pandemic crisis is over.

The government has also failed to articulate an effective strategy to protect society
from the long expected second wave of Covid-19. Some weeks ago, we now know,
they cut entirely loose from their own scientific experts, and over the past week have
imposed on parts of the country panic measures that everyone knows cannot
effectively stem the tide of infection, while they will certainly have devastating
consequences for livelihoods. That is why we have supported the elected authorities
and mayors in those cities and regions in their refusal to accept the government’s
impositions.

This all brings us therefore to an extremely dangerous moment. The previous
substantial consensus on dealing with the virus is seriously broken. People have lost
trust in, and respect for, the government. There is now the frightening possibility of
open conflict between government and sectors of the population – and we only need
to look at the USA to see that we must not go down that path

This is not a decision I have taken lightly.

In March we watched with horror the nightly TV news reports from Italy with dreadful
scenes of hospitals overwhelmed, of people seriously ill and dying from the
coronavirus, of angry and grieving relatives and of desperate and exhausted health
care workers and doctors.

Rather than preparation and response, we witnessed our own government in absurd
denial – as if this couldn’t happen in the UK. But within weeks we experienced the
same awful crisis and quickly attained the unenviable worst record in Europe for our
handling of the pandemic. Reliable estimates put the number of coronavirus deaths
in the UK at between 60,000 and 70,000.

The government failed to prepare our health and other public services, allowed the
virus to spread from hospitals to care homes, failed to provide adequate hospital
resources and PPE, and has failed miserably even now to develop an adequate
system for test and trace – despite eye watering contracts to private firms.

The government failed to work with or even consult the devolved governments of
Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and has made it impossible for us to work as a
genuinely united kingdom.

None of this was ether inevitable or necessary. China, South Korea and New
Zealand and, closer to home, Germany have shown that. Our predicament reflects
the grave incompetence of the government and indeed its indifference to what is
required of responsible leadership in a time of crisis – as its response to the Dominic
Cummings affair clearly demonstrated.

Some may suggest the step we are taking is undemocratic. I have weighed that
argument carefully. But no actually democratic government has an unconditional
right to continue in office, regardless of how recent the General Election or however
big its Commons majority. Victory in a General Election does not give a government
the right to expose its citizens to either deadly harm or economic ruin – and certainly
not to both at the same time.

The government has lost the confidence of the British people at the very time when
confidence is most essential. Given the situation we are now in, the government
itself is now the main threat to both public health and economic security for many
millions of ordinary people. It can no longer perform the most basic and essential
duties required of any government.

Of course, the government may well not give way. It may even be that our motion of
no confidence in the government will not succeed. But it is the basic duty of the
Opposition now to state very clearly and without any political point scoring: The
government has fundamentally and decisively failed. It is now standing in the way of
dealing adequately with the most serious crisis we have faced as a people since the
Second World War.

While a new General Election is prepared, we propose to establish an interim
government of national unity with representatives from all parties in the House, with
myself as Prime Minister. This government will work closely with the governments of
the devolved nations and with elected authorities and mayors in the regions to
develop and implement a National Plan for Public Health and Economic Security,
based on the following principles:

  1. Work for Covid-Zero, that is, complete suppression of the virus: this will involve
    setting up as quickly as we can an actually effective test and trace system,
    based on proper investment in local public services, along with adequate social
    distancing and lockdown measures where necessary;
  2. Incomes, livelihoods and jobs must be fully protected and preserved, especially
    where heightened social distancing or lockdown measures are in place;
  3. The NHS and all public sector infrastructure must be protected and enhanced.
    This will mean cancelling failing private contracts for PPE and other services
    which have been awarded by the government in favour of appropriate public,
    locally based resourcing and control.

In developing our National Plan we will consult closely with the Independent Sage
Group on the scientific basis of our public health measures and we will also ask for
help from the scientific advisors of those countries who have successfully dealt with
the virus competently.

I know that this drastic decision may come as a surprise and shock to many of you.
But I would ask for your understanding and support. We must work together as a
united people to defeat the virus, protect our livelihoods and preserve our future.
This has become impossible under the present government.

* * *

  1. We could design a matrix of two axes. On the x-axis we’d have CV19 is real at one pole, imaginary at the other, with real but overstated at the midpoint. On the y-axis we’d have governments are doing well at one pole, dire at the other. Even on so simple a matrix we could plot many positions. And that’s before we add a third and more provocative variable: is CV19 a conspiracy?
  2. The word ‘cabal’ derives from Kabbalah and a common thread in many if not most overarching conspiracy theories is antisemitism. I stress, overarching. More specific conspiracy theories may be true or false. I doubt official accounts of Dallas ’63 and, while I don’t claim to know what did happen on 9/11, had to be dragged kicking and screaming to acceptance that its fullest and most coherent official explanation, the NIST Report of 2005, is riddled with holes.
  3. Unsurprisingly, those who believe CV19 a hoax or overstated say governments seek to inflate CV19 mortality stats. Those who see CV19 as deadly and government response, in USA and UK especially, as criminally inept claim the opposite. Similar biases inform arguments as to whether testing produces false positives or false negatives.
  4. Mr Sinaisky is fond, I say inexcusably given the breadth of his canvas, of unsupported generalisations. Some are flat out wrong, as when he says “media never compare the number of deaths caused by flu in recent years with Covid-19 deaths”. Even the most cursory search online shows that they do. Often. And his answer to the argument that those who cry global conspiracy must account for Beijing, Havana, London, Moscow, Tehran and (Trump or no) Washington being in on it? Not at all, he retorts. Few states have the resources to ignore WHO advice, and WHO is US dominated. That last is true. WHO, like OPCW, IMF and other “independent” bodies is indeed US dominated. But parties capable of an independent line include Beijing, Moscow and Havana.

25 Replies to “Three reads on CV-19

  1. The notion that Trilateral Commission member, Knight of the Realm, Sir Keir Starmer – he who didn’t have the bottle to publicly admit to putting a three line whip on the PLP to abstain in a Bill giving carte blanche to a plethora of State Agencies to commit criminal acts up to and including kidnap, torture and murder – would ever conceive of, never mind put into affect, any kind of motion of no confidence in the Government of the establishment elite to whom he owes subservience is certainly an intriguing one.

    Collins and Jones are indeed fortunate in these times of widespread austerity in foodbank Britain to be able to afford the quality of wacky baccy required to imagine such an eventualty. It is difficult to imagine even the most ardent adherent to the theory of multi dimensional universes ever being able to accept the possibility of the existence of a universe in which such an occurrence were possible.

    On Covid the figures from various self interested and self promoting sources which are allowed to be released into the public sphere are now so corrupted, partial and contradictory as to be worthless. The only voices worth listening to are, as is always the case, those at the sharp end on the coal face who are doing the donkey work. And no one who wants to be anyone, even for the now seemingly obligatory 15 minutes of fame, ever listens to them anyway.

    Being of an awkward and foot blisterish disposition I would take their version over any self appointed armchair keyboard warrior.

    The idea that there is some kind of correlation in terms of a panic reaction to a non event across a range of State actors who would in every other eventuality never be able to agree on the colour of an orange – from Russia, China, Cuba, and Iran through to the USA, UK, India, Western Europe and Australia, the middle East and every other country in between – apart from being more far fetched (a singular and impressive feat in its own right) than the Keir Starmer scenario is a dangerous distraction.

    Simply because it buries so many pertinent questions. Taking the figures at face value, literally, that there is nothing out of the ordinary begs many questions. Such as why is it that the Capitalist system cannot cope with even the mildest of shocks to the system? A nothing to worry about bit of flu is filling up critical care beds up to 95% capacity. Overwhelming systems from health and social care through to testing and tracing and every JIT system up to and including funeral arrangements.

    If the system cannot cope with that the standard, normal, rational approach is to ask why not? Why is health provision so run down with so few beds, insufficient professional staff, inadequate resources?

    Similarly, why is the financial system falling apart over a short term shock? Surely it could not be something to do with systemic failure and the resultant poor quality decisions inherent in the model? Where inconsistent decisions are made, necessary ones not carried out, sub-amateur level application of basic functional requirements such as subbing out vital process’s out to mates and diners with no experience or expertise in delivery and so on.

    Those asking these kind of questions, like Cook, are getting drowned out because the dominant narrative is all about the easiest possible option requiring the least effort in the application of the little grey cells.

    Instead of asking these kinds of pertinent and important questions, joining these dots, making these connections the narrative is dominated by student level political analysis about who is “letfer” than who. Letting those running this sorry excuse for a shite show off the hook. What is clear is a pronounced inability to recognise who is and is not (quote) the “Chicken Littles” (unquote) in the farmyard.

    As bevin observed BTL on another forum, I hope those doing the heavy lifting on this on behalf of the numpties running this farce are at least getting paid for the services they are rendering?

    • I hope you aren’t suggesting – on no firmer basis than that he digs Hendrix, wears loon pants and can always be relied on for Rizlas and narrow strips of cardboard – that my good and learned friend, Peter Jones, smokes consciousness enhancing chemicals.

      And inhales.

      • Thought never occurred.

        The many unfortunate victims of passive smoking are not limited to accidental exposure to legal cancer inducing tobacco products alone.

        In my, albeit limited, experience of such health and safety at work hazards by far the worst was second hand inhalation of a concoction of Black Luxury pipe tobacco (obtained in those days from an establishment in Barnsley) mixed with a potent whiskey whilst at the same time drinking another equally lethal concoction of milky coffee containing a further generous measure of the same whisky in the back of the works van on a bitterly cold November mid morning break.

        As I recollect, on the strength of these potent health and safety hazards and despite the sub-zero temperature I worked outside through to the the midday lunch break with no clothing above the waist.

        Even in those days a number of horses were traumatised – not to mention the ground workers and the brickies on the building site we were cabling and jointing up.

        The guilty party has long since passed away. His funeral, equally legendary, is a story for another time.

        • Dad smoked Condor, a noxious pipe tobacco not to be confused with CIA ops in Latin America, but it only bothered me once. This was after reading in the local rag that a man described as an “unemployed gas fitter” from Greasborough, Sheffield – a Joe Cocker as yet unknown beyond the city limits, though that was about to change with a little help from his friends – had been busted for the nth time for possession of cannabis.

          “I’ve tried everything”, said Joe, throwing himself on the magistrates’ mercy with the I-can’t-help-myself card. “Even dried banana skins”.

          Cue for fifteen year old me to wolf down a banana, toast the skin under the grill and crumble the crisp-blackened results into the bowl of dad’s pipe. I never got anywhere you could remotely describe as ‘high’. But layer on historic layer of hard baked Condor tar had me retching.

          I blame the parents.

    • “If the system cannot cope with that the standard, normal, rational approach is to ask why not? Why is health provision so run down with so few beds, insufficient professional staff, inadequate resources?”

      Well, rhetorical question, hmm?

      “‘We don’t want to spend the money.” “It’s not a priority.” “We don’t care who dies as long as they are not relations, or at the very least, convinced tory voters”.” There’s no profit in it”. Etc.

      • Keep it down.

        Otherwise you’ll have the (off) guardians of the ‘correct’ narrative piling in trying to cancel youse for answering the “wrong” question according to doctrine and feeding the heretic.

    • Hi Dave.

      You say this:

      “On Covid the figures from various self interested and self promoting sources which are allowed to be released into the public sphere are now so corrupted, partial and contradictory as to be worthless. The only voices worth listening to are, as is always the case, those at the sharp end on the coal face who are doing the donkey work. And no one who wants to be anyone, even for the now seemingly obligatory 15 minutes of fame, ever listens to them anyway.”

      If I take this at face value, then you are saying you reject all the COVID figures and are relying on reports from those “on the coal face”. I which case, where do you get the figure of critical care beds being filled “up to 95% capacity.”

      • Ah! Now you want the long detailed version.

        And there was I thinking keep it short and simple so as not to upset anyone.

        Though it would seem reasonable to surmise that the inclusion of the proviso “various self interested and self promoting sources” would be both self evident and preclude the concept of “all.”

        Still, its always welcome to see that imagination has not entirely disappeared and is indeed flourishing.

        • Actually Dave I was just looking for the intelligible version. Which you have yet to deliver. Every post I read from you reminds me of Schopenhauer’s description of Hegel as “a cuttlefish creating a cloud of obscurity around itself so no one sees what it is.”

          • Well it’s not exactly quantum mechanics is it. And I stopped doing Janet and John explanations a long time ago.

            To reiterate from previous existing observation: The official case numbers in the UK are dependent upon the efficacy (that means usefulness) of testing and tracing systems.

            If you are not identifying the spread of any virus with effective testing, tracking and tracing systems (even Vietnam are running rings around the UK in terms of good practice) every statistic which is derived from the number of cases is unreliable.

            Which in the UK are a shambles for a variety of easily observable as well as previously observed reasons: Contracts given to Tory Party donors and mates with no experience; available lab facilities not used; incompatibility of track and trace systems with NHS App; lost spreadsheet/figures; it’s all there in plain site.

            A blind man on a galloping horse could join those dots and easily see why the official figures are unreliable.

            Ditto for all the selective figures used to forward the self interested arguments of those with vested private interests – from big pharma through to those seeking research grants. Which, as a general rule of thumb observation should not require spelling out chapter and verse with copious footnotes.

            All problematic systemic issues which are an integral feature of the Western neo- liberal model. Which is why those States who have not been absorbed into what Caitlin Johnson refers to as the “blob” (A US Empire based not on allies but hostages) are way ahead of us on dealing with this (even Venezuela have apparently developed an effective vaccine whilst our private profit based trials have people dying of side effects and won’t likely be available this side of Christmas – though I notice Hancock did not appear to specify conclusively that he was talking about this Christmas).

            But hey! Why spend time talking about these systemic failures of Western neo-liberal Capitalism when it’s far easier to obscure the real issues with a narrative which is little different than arguing how many angles can be fitted on the end of a pin?

            • This is amusing Dave and you make good points. Vital not to get carried away though. George is an intelligent man who does not need telling what ‘efficacy’ means.

              Remember too that he and you would agree on much of what you say here. George, like one or two others who have my respect, has a different take to mine on CV-19 but is not blind to the issues you flag. Nor is he peddling arcanity.

  2. I have posted this comment onto a new paragraph since it’s a long one and I didn’t want it to end up getting squished away to the side:

    Thank you Dave for actually taking the trouble to be intelligible. Please refrain from remarks such “Janet and John explanations”. It’s called communication and, as I have said to Philip, bad Marxist writers are legion. I daresay your mind may be operating on a rarefied level but you still need to talk to people – and some of them are not necessarily stupid. They just may not agree with you. And, by the way, there are indeed very intelligent writers who have not only queried the deadly pandemic but are quite sure it’s being hyped up for political/economic purposes.

    From looking over your comments you make points about the unreliability of statistics. All very well but it is surely just a tautology to say that the amorphousness of the information cannot tell us if the virus is being over or underrated.

    Now I have noticed that even those sites who are adamant about the deadliness of the pandemic, have noted the astonishing convenience it serves to the ruling class. From the WSWS:

    “In 1914, the rolling out of the guns of August at the outbreak of World War I marked the start of a process that saw arms manufacturers rake in millions in profits amid death and destruction, the like of which had never been seen. Likewise, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought devastation to the working masses in the US and around the world, has served as the occasion for all arms of the capitalist state to be mobilised to organise the greatest-ever redistribution of wealth to the heights of society.”

    But I am aware that this cui bono argument cuts no ice with most of what has been decreed as the proper Marxist methodology. My own point of view has nothing to do with statistical claims. It is a basic logical problem:

    Marx once said that the ruling ideas of an age were always the ideas of the ruling class – because those who own the physical means of production also own the mental means. The latter refers to the production of ideas – which in turn refers to the relaying of ideas. In our time, the most significant transmitter of ideas is the mainstream media (MSM) by which I am referring, more than anything else, to television.

    (The internet cannot really be counted since it is like a vast sea of conflicting views which quite possibly adds up to complete nullity. Nevertheless, the net threw a significant enough scare into the ruling class to drive them into a froth about “fake news” and the setting up of multiple “watch dog” sites with the intention of directing all information management back to that centralised and easily controlled area. The WSWS has also noted this – so it’s hardly a controversial issue.)

    The MSM are the central relayer of ideas. And the MSM relay the ideas of the ruling class. This has been acknowledged by the Left all down the line. Most egregious example: the scarcely believable smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn culminating in a scarifying (and content free) character assault from the BBC 6 O’clock news on the day Rabbi Mirvis attacked him. Corbyn was the first Labour leader in four decades to believe what Labour are supposed to believe – as opposed to Blair’s Labour (Thatcher’s finest achievement by her own admission). Corbyn was a threat to that economic model known as neoliberalism.

    And that underlines a relevant point: the past four decades have seen a relentless promotion of “fatalistic” neo-liberalism where we were incessantly assured that “there was no alternative”. Of course there have been any number of protests and concerned discussions about how awful it all was – and all these came to nought.

    But now – with the advent of Covid, it seems there is indeed an alternative or, to be more precise, a new fatalism. We are assured that there is no alternative to the lockdowns. And neoliberalism is getting a damn good trashing. But where is all this coming from ? That very same MSM (i.e. that same ruling class) that for so long has been selling us the neoliberalism now assigned to that fabled dustbin of history. It seems this MSM has had a kind of Dickensian change of heart brought on by pressure from all those protest groups (Occupy, MeToo, Extinction Rebellion) Quite a heart-warming scenario. And frankly incredible.

    But then, the Left groups will tell us about how the pandemic is being UNDERplayed by the media. This is such a clear contradiction to what I see every day – and indeed every minute – from the MSM.

    Conclusion: the pandemic is no threat to the ruling class. And I can’t help but laugh when I read this kind of thing from Jonathan Cook:

    “You can almost smell the fear-laden sweat oozing from the pores of television broadcasts and social media posts as it finally dawns on our political and media establishments what the coronavirus actually means.”

    I think we have yet to find out “what the coronavirus actually means”. But I don’t think it means what most of the Left urgently want it to mean.

    • Thanks for this George. Jonathan Cook, for whom I have considerable respect not least because he writes simply and calmly about truths meriting wider airing, would have done better to write that pandemic exposes capitalism’s glaring deficiencies. Whether or not this is the Big One, the way our lives now work thanks to forty years of neoliberalism – which is to say, capitalism with the brakes off – exposes us to killer pandemic, and epidemiologists have been saying so for close to twenty years.

      No, this is not my revisiting the “is it real?” debate. (I’ll get briefly to that in response to your reply to your own comment.) Rather to plug a read for you and Dave both. The US election next week foregrounds a serious power struggle, decades in the making, between neoliberals (Biden, Obama, Clintons, Blair, Macron et al in party politics, Soros and Gates in their spheres) and neocons (Trump, Pompeo, Netanyahu in party politics, Thiel and Bilderberg outside). Both sides are concerned with fighting the rise of Eurasia to preserve Western – or when push comes to shove, US – hegemony but are sharply at odds over means.

      I can’t help but think of Trotsky’s analogy:

      Suppose two men are trying to kill me. One has a revolver, the other drips small amounts of arsenic, day in day out, into my morning coffee. How I respond is not a question of greater or lesser evil, but of priority. The correct thing to do is to disarm the gunman and with his weapon shoot both of my would-be assassins.

      Trotsky had other analogies in the same vein, one from music, but this will do. Not, I hasten to add, that I’d see this as an argument for voting Biden! But the question leads naturally to a piece I highly recommend: this 8,000 worder by former Syriza leading light Dimitrius Konstantakopoulos.

      PS I’ve ‘tweaked’ the time stamping so that this comment precedes your subsequent one. It makes it easier for readers to follow, I think

      • Your timely citing of WSWS echoes my point about ruling classes ‘making hay while the sun shines’. I find it frustrating that the shortcomings of capitalism are being sidelined by this religious debate over whether or to what extent CV19 is real. Why is it so hard to enter into alliance with people on this basis:

        “You think CV19 a scam or overstated. I don’t but let’s set that fact aside and work together on fighting our rulers when they move – as they are doing and as we knew they always would – to make us pay for their mess.”

    • Further thought:

      If I am correct and the virus us being used as a tool for a ruling class reset then it means that the debate over tests to determine the true case figures is irrelevant – or rather that it just serves as a delay tactic whilst the reset goes ahead. Similarly the lockdown extensions will also continue under increasingly exotic names (“Circuit breaker”, “3 tier system”, “5 tier system” etc.)

      • I’ve tried all along to be open to most points of view on this matter – which is to say, open to the possibility of being wrong. The stance has won me few friends on any side but I’ll keep going till one faction or other convinces me they are right and everyone else wrong.

        Specifically here, too many of those advancing the Great Reset thesis have to my mind seemed tribalist and at times semi hysterical. Gregory Sinaisky strikes me as neither but I’m unconvinced by his arguments. Since the GR thing has traction in some quarters, I’d welcome its laying out in a calm and coherent manner. I’d be very receptive should you be up for the job – a guest post, say?

        To be clear, this is not a “put up or shut up”. (I will resort to that from time to time with certain types of commenter, but you are emphatically not one of them.) I really am striving to remain open to all cogent arguments and lines of thinking, is all.

        • Thank you for your most civilised comments Philip. It has become such a concerning matter that the internet, more than any other medium, seems to provoke such furious acrimony. I may be able to offer a bit of insight. Whenever I post a comment where I feel I am “going against the grain” of a website, I always end up with a sense of apprehension. Right away I am thinking of possible retorts to my comment – and then I am already planning my own retorts to those imaginary retorts! The net has – ironically – presented everyone with an opportunity to indulge in their own little paranoid theatre of the mind.

          I haven’t yet got round to reading your link but I promise to shortly. I just wanted to react to the rest of your comments. As usual, I included a great deal of stuff which I cut, realising it was unhelpful because I feel we are talking from “incompatible paradigms”. You have mentioned that no-one has proved that the virus isn’t, as you say, “The Big One”. I come at it from the opposite angle i.e. no-one has proved that it IS “The Big One” or even that there has to be a “Big One”. (I don’t think the argument based on “inevitability” is a strong one.) Please understand I am not saying the virus ISN’T deadly. I am just not convinced that it is as deadly as presented.

          Yes I have noticed the “Great Reset” epithet gaining traction. I suppose you have heard of the book of that name by one Karl Schwab? The following link gives more info – although you may think it sensationalist. I added my own admittedly crude comment at the end of it. But I was reacting to what appears as the Dr Strangelovian feel of it all:

          https://winteroak.org.uk/2020/10/05/klaus-schwab-and-his-great-fascist-reset/

          But I think what really matters now is the, as I see it, potentially explosive situation re: the public. I have never before felt such a vast contradiction between what I see on the media and what I feel must be happening out there. And I am not even talking about the virus now. I am discussing the devastating effect that the lockdown is having – not merely on everyday employment but on the entire social field. I have already heard tragic medical lockdown tales (a taxi driver who died from a misdiagnosed gall bladder stone. Four now departed new-borns in Adelaide denied surgery.)

          And here is another issue which may seem relatively facetious but is actually of huge importance. I have viewed a BBC piece on a blind woman who is scared to come out of her house. (And before we go any further, I fully sympathise. She is one of the millions of vulnerable people who are scared out of their mind. But that only prompts us to query the source of the fear.)

          She spoke of passing some people who were joking about Covid. The story tended to give the impression that she was being deliberately targeted by taunting sadists. A second viewing showed me that she may simply have overheard some sarcastic humour that just happened to be going on anyway. The BBC were showing us this to warn about offending others – but I couldn’t help thinking they were slapping a ban on certain modes of thought. Humour can be a very subversive thing. And what the ruling class cannot tolerate is the unavoidable “chaos effect” of public discourse. Perhaps that is where the hope lies?

          And on viewing what I have written I realise again that I am taking from MY paradigm and not yours. You will probably have a different view of the above. But I still stand by my point about uncontrollable public mutations of the information being a cause for hope.

  3. Actually I may owe you an apology about that bit about proving whether we have the “Big One” or not. I don’t think you said that. Which just goes to show another problem with internet posting. It’s so easy to assume your “opponent” is making a case which he isn’t making. And to rush on ahead on the incorrect assumption.

    • Sorry – that last reply was meant to be my reply to my previous reply i.e. not a new paragraph. Another internet gremlin thing.

      • No apology needed. And I’ll refrain from yet again tweaking time stamps in the interests of a more orderly sequence. Anyone still following this thread can sort out that for themselves.

        Agree with all your comments on internet ‘debate’. In fact I’d meant to say so in my very first response – “Thanks for this …” – today.

  4. That article you linked to was so rich in thought provoking points that I went into almost stream-of-consciousness mode and produced a mammoth splurge. I can see it’s going to take ages to assimilate it all – but in the meantime, I was intrigued by this bit:

    “Only now, a few decades later, we see the first emergence of forces beginning to advance the idea of the replacement of capitalism as a strategic goal. In one way or another, it has happened with Chavez in Venezuela, with Corbyn in Britain (in spite of his compromises contributing to his defeat), and with of the Yellow Vests movement in France. It is also happening among US youth, a large part of which has supported Sanders.”

    Only tonight I saw – with some confusion – yet another outing for Margaret Hodge, one of the most prominent attackers of the Corbyn Labour Party. She was giving us stuff about “putting this shameful episode behind us” referring of course to the relentlessly trumpeted alleged anti-Semitism of the Corbyn party. Since Corbyn had been defeated, I wondered why we had to endure yet another round of this. That “first emergence of forces beginning to advance the idea of the replacement of capitalism as a strategic goal” gives the clue. It is not – and never was – Corbyn himself who was a threat to the neoliberal order. It is the fact of his popularity and, more to the point, the popularity of what he represented, that threw a scare into the ruling class – and continues to do so!

    • Yes, there’s a great deal to assimilate – for ease of reference, here’s the link again – though it’s good to keep in the foreground the author’s central thesis of a split within Western imperialism over how to respond to Eurasia rising: a split between neolibs and neocons, one of whose theatres (in more senses than one) will culminate next week.

      But other aspects interest me. Like Konstantakopoulos’s – My God, Greek surnames can rival Sri Lanka’s in polysillabicity! – talk of LOGOS. I welcome a growing tendency among some radical pundits to combine materialist assessment with acknowledgment of life’s ‘spiritual’ – I hate the term for its connotations, but it’ll do for now – dimension.

      I’ve long thought the latter an underrated driver of Marx’s thinking. The most obvious reason being two very different meanings of ‘materialist’. In ‘spiritual’ circles, and in wider usage, it has thoroughly negative connotations. (When hippies called someone “a bread head” it was akin to striking miners’ use of “scab”, or criminals of “grass”.) These connotations inform crass but widespread understandings of Marx as concerned only with “sharing out the wealth” when in truth he saw the reduction of human relations to those between things as enslaving and diminishing us all, ruling classes not excepted.

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