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Peter Franklin’s article caught my eye.   Franklin describes a divide, of sorts, within the libertarian movement in the UK regarding response to the pandemic.  Between those who respect science, and others who think, somehow, their rights are more important that infecting and killing others in society.

I realize my framing isn’t particularly hospitable toward libertarianism, but for the most part I have little time for a philosophy/ideology that boils down to ‘fuck you, I’ve got mine’ as its central tenet.

 

“We think of ourselves as a liberty-loving nation, but seven weeks in and we’re still extraordinarily compliant. The protests we’ve seen in America have not been echoed here. Strangest of all, we’ve had remarkably little dissent from the UK’s small, but normally energetic, band of libertarian wonks.

With the economy crushed beneath state controls like we’ve never seen, where are the howls of rage from the free marketeers? The more thoughtful libertarians realised early on that Covid-19 was to be taken seriously. “This time the warnings are not overdone” warned Matt Ridley back in March. Sam Bowman, senior fellow at Adam Smith Institute, was an early advocate of massive state intervention to prop-up the economy during lockdown.”

 

“However, there’s a very different kind of libertarian, one whose reaction to all of this is more visceral than rational — driven by outrage that law-abiding citizens should find themselves under effective house arrest.Some of these individuals wouldn’t call themselves libertarians at all — and would see the “ancient liberties” they defend as being rooted in tradition not modernity. Others are more orthodox in their ideology, but still populist in style.In any case, it is from these types that we see most of the outspoken opposition to lockdown. Examples include Toby Young, Peter Hitchens and Laura Perrins.”

My question to these ‘visceral libertarians’ and their ancient liberties is this – Do you actually believe, in ancient times, that any real sort of individual liberties existed?  The only way this point of view stays consistent is if we define ‘ancient liberties’ as toiling to death in squalor of  the local Lord’s fields.

Our common ‘rights’ in society are born in communal struggle and the concomitant militant threat to the elite classes of society.  Thus ‘ancient liberties’ were an inherently collective endeavor aka the antithesis of libertarian ideology.

 

“An anti-lockdown march in downtown Vancouver nearly spiralled out of control when dozens of protesters surrounded a hospital entrance and began berating frontline healthcare workers.

Vancouver’s anti-lockdown protests are mainly organized by anti-vaccine activists, along with a flat earth conspiracy group and individuals linked to far-right politics who promote the events through a web of private Facebook groups.

Multiple videos live streamed by participants show the crowd marching down the middle of Burrard Street on Sunday afternoon, before coming to a stop in front of the ambulance bay at St. Paul’s Hospital.

One protester shouted into a megaphone that they wanted to “talk to the doctors.”

Protesters can be heard directing chants of “no vaccines” and “let us in” at several healthcare workers who wandered outside the emergency room in their protective masks and medical scrubs.

“The hospitals are empty,” yelled one protester, along with others who are heard shouting “tell the truth” and demanding to know: “What are you hiding?”

“You’re all corrupt,” shouted another.

Protesters displayed signs referencing several conspiracies related to vaccines and 5G technology, including various messages blaming the government, Bill Gates and Satan for the lockdown.”

Nothing good has come from the Anti-Vax movement.  Prove me wrong.  jfc.

Andrew Bacevich writes in Tom’s Dispatch about how the Boomer Generation mythos has affected US policy making for much of recent history.

 

“In Washington, policymakers have shown little inclination to consider the possibility that the United States itself might be guilty of doing evil. In effect, the virtuous intentions implicit in “Never Again” inoculated the United States against the virus to which ordinary nations were susceptible. V-E Day seemingly affirmed that America was anything but ordinary.

Here, then, we arrive at one explanation for the predicament in which the United States now finds itself. In a recent article in the New York Times, journalist Katrin Bennhold wondered how it could be that, when it came to dealing with Covid-19, “the country that defeated fascism in Europe 75 years ago” now finds itself “doing a worse job protecting its citizens than many autocracies and democracies” globally.

Yet it might just be that events that occurred 75 years ago in Europe no longer have much bearing on the present. The country that defeated Hitler’s version of fascism (albeit with considerable help from others) has since allowed its preoccupation with fascists, quasi-fascists, and other ne’er-do-wells to serve as an excuse for letting other things slip, particularly here in the homeland.

The United States is fully capable of protecting its citizens. Yet what the present pandemic drives home is this: doing so, while also creating an environment in which all citizens can flourish, is going to require a radical revision of what we still, however inaccurately, call “national security” priorities. This does not mean turning a blind eye to mass murder. Yet the militarization of U.S. policy that occurred in the wake of V-E Day has for too long distracted attention from more pressing matters, not least among them creating a way of life that is equitable and sustainable. This perversion of priorities must now cease.

So, yes, let’s mark this V-E Day anniversary with all due solemnity. Yet 75 years after the collapse of the Third Reich, the challenge facing the United States is not “Never Again.” It’s “What Now?”

For the moment at least, Tom and I are still around. Yet “our times” — the period that began when World War II ended — have run their course. The “new times” upon which the nation has now embarked will pose their own distinctive challenges, as the Covid-19 pandemic makes unmistakably clear. Addressing those challenges will require leaders able to free themselves from a past that has become increasingly irrelevant.”

 

Will this latest pandemic foster a new set of priorities across the globe?  Many people would like to think so, but I think they underestimate the potency of the current establishment and how entrenched they are in the societal disequilibrium they have created.  I most certainly do hope for a new normal, but I’m not optimistic about it actually coming to fruition.

Micheal Klare examines the effect of the changing environment on potential pandemic breeding grounds.  His essay is about not strictly about the current pandemic, but rather humanity’s affect on the limited resources and carrying capacity of our world.

“Climate Change and Pandemics

Back in 2014, the IPCC did not identify human pandemics among potential climate-induced tipping points, but it did provide plenty of evidence that climate change would increase the risk of such catastrophes. This is true for several reasons. First, warmer temperatures and more moisture are conducive to the accelerated reproduction of mosquitoes, including those carrying malaria, the zika virus, and other highly infectious diseases. Such conditions were once largely confined to the tropics, but as a result of global warming, formerly temperate areas are now experiencing more tropical conditions, resulting in the territorial expansion of mosquito breeding grounds. Accordingly, malaria and zika are on the rise in areas that never previously experienced such diseases. Similarly, dengue fever, a mosquito-borne viral disease that infects millions of people every year, is spreading especially quickly due to rising world temperatures.

Combined with mechanized agriculture and deforestation, climate change is also undermining subsistence farming and indigenous lifestyles in many parts of the world, driving millions of impoverished people to already crowded urban centers, where health facilities are often overburdened and the risk of contagion ever greater. “Virtually all the projected growth in populations will occur in urban agglomerations,” the IPCC noted then. Adequate sanitation is lacking in many of these cities, particularly in the densely populated shantytowns that often surround them. “About 150 million people currently live in cities affected by chronic water shortages, and by 2050, unless there are rapid improvements in urban environments, the number will rise to almost a billion.”

Such newly settled urban dwellers often retain strong ties to family members still in the countryside who, in turn, may come in contact with wild animals carrying deadly viruses. This appears to have been the origin of the West African Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016, which affected tens of thousands of people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Scientists believe that the Ebola virus (like the coronavirus) originated in bats and was then transmitted to gorillas and other wild animals that coexist with people living on the fringes of tropical forests. Somehow, a human or humans contracted the disease from exposure to such creatures and then transmitted it to visitors from the city who, upon their return, infected many others.

The coronavirus appears to have had somewhat similar origins. In recent years, hundreds of millions of once impoverished rural families moved to burgeoning industrial cities in central and coastal China, including places like Wuhan. Although modern in so many respects, with its subways, skyscrapers, and superhighways, Wuhan also retained vestiges of the countryside, including markets selling wild animals still considered by some inhabitants to be normal parts of their diet. Many of those animals were trucked in from semi-rural areas hosting large numbers of bats, the apparent source of both the coronavirus and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, outbreak of 2013, which also arose in China. Scientific research suggests that breeding grounds for bats, like mosquitoes, are expanding significantly as a result of rising world temperatures.

The global coronavirus pandemic is the product of a staggering multitude of factors, including the air links connecting every corner of the planet so intimately and the failure of government officials to move swiftly enough to sever those links. But underlying all of that is the virus itself. Are we, in fact, facilitating the emergence and spread of deadly pathogens like the Ebola virus, SARS, and the coronavirus through deforestation, haphazard urbanization, and the ongoing warming of the planet? It may be too early to answer such a question unequivocally, but the evidence is growing that this is the case. If so, we had better take heed.”

This is one of the “i told you so’s” that I hope does not come fruition.

As the curve of the current pandemic increases world wide, we need to heed the lessons of the past and not let the less scrupulous among us advance their agendas using the pandemic as cover.

 “The New York Times called the vigilantism “the most diabolical and savage procedure that has ever been perpetrated in any community professing to be governed by Christian influences.” Those arrested for leading the action were found not guilty in a trial. But authorities got the message: quarantine facilities were moved off-shore to a boat named after Florence Nightingale, then two islands off Staten Island, and finally, in 1920, to Ellis Island.

Stephenson argues that the well-prepared arsonists were led by men of property who wanted to “remove an obstacle to development and investment.” The xenophobia of the islanders was also a factor, echoing racist voices today who claim foreigners bring in crime and disease. For all their stated fear of disease, however, locals happily paraded through the smoking ruins and the displaced patients, seemingly unworried about infection. Stephenson writes: “The destruction of the Quarantine was less an irrational act of hysteria than a planned effort to allay community anxieties.[…] These actions suggest a crowd that was more intolerant and cruel than freedom-loving, and more vengeful than afraid.”

 

The population of the US is now shown exactly the parameters of the class war being waged.  Will they realize the stakes and take action against their class antagonists? Paul Street writes in Counterpunch about the divide in the US and how radically different ‘solutions’ are being proposed – hint – the work and die option is for the poor people…

 

“The priority of the people (for the most part),” Rivers-Pitt, “is to stay safe, to get well if they fall ill, and to do what must be done to eventually return to some semblance of a normal life. The priority of the capitalists is to get the money machine going again, to take full advantage of the crisis, …and to defend their well-staked financial turf from any reforms that may be proposed in the aftermath….U.S.-style capitalism is also a virus, and it has infected every aspect of this situation. Worker safety, insurance coverage and costs, medical preparedness, and vital supplies — even the bill intended to rescue the country from some final financial calamity: All have been perverted and disrupted by the profit motive that never, ever, ever sleeps.”

True dat but how is any of this remotely new or surprising? This is savage class-rule capitalism. Let’s leave national variations out for now. As two young materialist and economically inclined German philosophers and radicals noted in 1848:

“The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors,’ and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment.’ It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”

The young radicals added something else worth noting at the outset of their historic manifesto: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles… oppressor and oppressed, …a fight that …end[s] either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”

1918-fluThe last major flu epidemic killed 20 -40 million people.  It was the so called Spanish Flu Epidemic.  It spread rapidly throughout the population, we really did not know what hit us.

The Swine Flu has given us a many warning signs and clues to how it is going to run its course through our populations.

Children will be effected as well as adults.  As always children are a particularly good transmitting and amplifying a virus as their general standards of hygiene are lower.  Children are also packed together in schools and day-care facilities aiding in ease of transmission.

We have to start the planning now, as many governments have done including the Canadian government.  Unfortunately this planning has revealed how critically understaffed and underfunded our system healthcare system is.  The logistical requirements of merely giving a flu shot to millions of people will seriously tax our system’s resources.  It must be done though as caring for all the cases of influenza will be worse if we do not vaccinate.

The CBC has an updated story on progress of the swine flu, find it here.

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