Monday, June 28, 2021

Lab Leak?

Nathan Rich has some great videos explaining the Fort Detrick lab leak theory, see here, here, and here.  I want to capture some of the sources for my reference.

In June of 2019 the CDC audited Fort Detrick.  They subsequently issued a report detailing their findings.  The report indicates 2 breaches of toxins occurred.


The below excerpt indicates improper containment in ABSL rooms, the "A" designates it as room where animals are housed and studied.  There was risk that contaminated air from this room could expose people without respiratory protection outside of the room.


This section discusses improper waste disposal coming from the animal test room.  The room includes NHPs, which stands for Non Human Primates.


On June 30, 2019, a respiratory illness led to the death of 3 people and sickness of 63 people including staff at a senior living center located about 60 miles from Ft Detrick.  The cause could not be identified.  Story from ABC News here.

July 2019, a second assisted living facility is reporting 25 cases of a mystery respiratory illness.  This is about 54 miles from Fort Detrick.

On July 18, 2019 Fort Detrick is shut down.

August 1, 2019 marks the start of a surprise outbreak of vaping related illness with symptoms quite similar to covid.  It hits men harder, as does covid.

September 2019, blood samples from Italians are drawn and subsequently test positive for Covid antibodies.  These are the earliest human samples that have tested positive for Covid.

October 18-27, 2019, a multi-sport competitive event called the World Military Games is held in Wuhan, China.  Many US military personnel are reporting that they were sick with Covid like symptoms.  A French athlete has been told by doctors that she likely had Covid.  She reports that many others seemed sick.  They were not tested and many athletes have been directed not to speak to the media.

November 2019, US intelligence warns Trump, NATO, and Israel about the coronavirus outbreak occurring in China.  This is weeks before anyone had presented themselves at a hospital in China for Covid.

December 10, 2019, Wei Guixian, a shrimp vendor in Wuhan, developed what she thought was a cold and went to a clinic for treatment.  The treatment was not effective and she returned to a hospital.  She was informed that others had been to the hospital with similar symptoms.  She is the first identifiable person infected in China as far as I know.

December 13, 2019 through January 17, 2020 blood samples are collected in the US which would later be tested for Covid antibodies.  1.4% would test positive.  Extrapolating this % to the full US population suggests 4.7M people had Covid antibodies at this time.

January 13, 2020, 2 days before China had awareness that Covid was human to human transmissible, the Moderna vaccine is already developed.

Note: May update occasionally as new information comes to light.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

At least victims of US violence aren't Americans

Capitalism in the US produces a lot of corpses, just as British capitalism did before it.  But I've literally encountered this argument myself and also seen it in debates.  Defenders of US capitalism, with it's 800 military bases, funding of death squads that do such things as smash children to death against rocks, torture programs around the world like the Phoenix Program where people are raped using eels, at least we're only killing Vietnamese or Colombians or Syrians.  It's not like Stalin and Mao who had it in for their own people for some reason.

It's a strange argument to my ears and I do wonder if some people just don't feel empathy in an ordinary way, but I want to address it in any case.  For the moment I want to set Stalin and Mao aside, except to say that for me while I accept that there were major problems and millions dead this doesn't mean we should accept the full western characterization of the situation blindly.  But why is it that US violence doesn't target Americans?  Is this due to some sort of benevolence?  Lenin has an excerpt from his work "Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism" that sheds light.  In it he recounts a story from Cecil Rhodes, well known for the Rhodes Scholarship program.  He was a vicious imperialist and mass murderer.  He explained what prompted him to advance imperial adventures.


It's true that US imperialism does not target US citizens.  But this is not due to benevolence.  This is because it is necessary to have stability at home and stave off civil war by placating the population.  Imperialism allows the acquisition of new markets as well as cheap labor and resources.  These can be used to provide an OK life for the home population and therefore the home population will not disrupt the system.  The exploited countries will of course be chaos.  We'll have to have death squads killing children and raping women.  But chaos there is not really a threat to the system at home.

But this is only for capitalism in the imperial stage.  The earlier stages of capitalism could be very violent to natives.  The stage of primitive accumulation, which is the earliest stage, was characterized by extermination of Native Americans and slavery.  That's what was needed to advance the profits at that time.  Today the US is imperialist, but there are signs that this is waning.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Debunking the Pending Anti-China Propaganda Push

The US Senate is advancing a bill to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to try and stop the amazing progress of China, which is developing rapidly under socialism independently of US domination.  We should expect a major propaganda push.  I want to post some links here that can be used to evaluate the assertions that will be coming.

First it is important to understand that a common tactic of US regime change agents is to lie about human rights abuses for targets of regime change.  Let's recall that:

  • Vietnam was falsely accused of attacking US troops in the Gulf of Tonkin, justifying escalation of the Vietnam war that killed millions of people
  • Iraqi soldiers were falsely accused of killing babies in incubators in Iraq.  This testimony literally staged by a PR firm was key in getting support for war against Iraq passed in the Senate.
  • Saddam Hussein was falsely accused of throwing critics into wood shredders to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
  • Iraq was falsely accused of having a WMD program to justify the same war.
  • Qaddafi was accused of systematically raping women to justify the NATO bombing of Libya, which is now a failed state.
  • Assad was falsely accused of perpetrating a chemical weapons attack in Syria in 2013 to justify arming terrifying Islamic extremists.
  • The same scenario has played out for an alleged attack in 2018.  This time it is revealed that the Office on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons altered their report under pressure from US officials on the investigative findings so as to implicate Assad.  The initial report was not coming to this conclusion.
  • The Venezuelan government is falsely accused of setting fire to an aid truck when in fact it was the US backed right wing opposition that set the fire.  This is to justify the removal of the elected president, Nicholas Maduro, and install a right wing puppet, Juan Guaido.

The tactic of using human rights abuse allegations against China was laid out in 2017 within Trump's State Department.  We also know from internal US planning documents that our government will make use of psychological operations.  "Psychological operations were primarily media-related activities, including unattributed publications, forgeries, and subsidization of publications; political action involved exploitation of dispossessed persons and defectors, and support to political parties; paramilitary activities included support to guerrillas and sabotage; economic activities consisted of monetary operations." Accusations of abuse within China must be understood within this context.

With that established let's consider what is happening in the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang. As this CGTN documentary covers there was massive terrorist violence in Xinjiang starting in 1990 stemming from separatists, particularly from the Uyghur Muslim minority living there. Uyghurs are a Turkic minority ethnic group in China. In 2002 the UN designated the major separatist party, the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as an Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist group. This was a move supported by the US, and the US State Department would go on to likewise designate them as terrorists. Chinese Uyghur Muslims are currently fighting along side ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria and have in the past been picked up in Afghanistan and sent by the US to Guantanamo Bay.

In 2011 Obama began pushing what came to be known as the pivot to Asia.  I think this move is best understood within the context of Lenin's understanding of the relationship between capitalism and imperialism.  Capitalism is a competitive ideology.  One way to succeed is to make superior products more efficiently.  The other is to suppress rivals so as to stave off competition.  Keeping target countries poor and underdeveloped protects favored local industries and has the added bonus of weakening the bargaining position of rivals, which means the price of resources and labor can be reduced.  This means higher profits for favored corporations.

There was some expectation with the opening up of China's economy that it would ultimately fall within this overall US hegemonic framework, as the Soviet Union did following some of their moves to open up in the 80s.  By 2010 it was becoming apparent that this was not happening.  Profits can be made in China, but profits are not in command, as they are in capitalist countries.  Not only is China developing independently, but they are supporting the independent economic development of neighboring poor countries, particularly with the Belt and Road Initiative, which happens to have a major through fare in Xinjiang.  This is a threat to imperial capitalism.  In this amazing clip from 2015 John Mearsheimer explains that China must be disrupted economically, even if they do everything we asked of them, such as completely adopt a US style governmental system.  Even if this means driving them right back into the extreme poverty that they came out of.  Even if they are 100% capitalist.  Because the US cannot tolerate independent economic development.  This is an explicit agreement with Lenin's theory that imperialism is just capitalism in it's highest stage.

Soon after Obama's pivot China felt compelled to initiate a more aggressive push to address terrorism in Xinjiang.  The approach is rooted in Marxism as distinct from imperial capitalism.  The idea is that terrorism is rooted in poor material conditions.  China had developed the western coastal regions economically, somewhat to the neglect of the interior.  When people are poor and feel disconnected from economic development they turn to terrorism for dignity and meaning.  China began pouring resources into the region.  And they also targeted suspected terrorists and compelled them to enter training camps.  There they would learn Mandarin, which is recognized to be important vocationally.  The effort was a smashing success if the goal is the actual eradication of terrorism.  It brought terrorism to a complete halt and allowed the people to prosper.  At this point there hasn't been a terrorist incident since 2017.

But what we're seeing from the US side is an effort to undermine this success.  The National Endowment for Democracy is an organization that was formerly part of the CIA.  They have openly funded Uyghur separatist groups.  Former deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Wilkerson explains that the CIA is exploiting the situation in Xinjiang to disrupt China and it's Belt and Road Initiative.  Former FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds has claimed that Uyghur separatists are being trained in Afghanistan, which shares a border with China, and returned to China to engage in terrorism.

At the same time a new allegation has gained traction in the last few years that rather than addressing terrorism in Xinjiang, China's vocational training centers amount to genocide.  This view is heavily reliant on claims from Adrian Zenz, a NED funded evangelical extremist who believes he is on a mission from God to destroy China.  This is a person that does not speak Mandarin or Uyghur and has never been to China, let alone Xinjiang.  Flagrant abuse of data has been exposed on his part. We also see many assertions based on reports from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a right wing think tank funded by a variety of defense companies.

Below are a few sources that suggest these accusations are false:

Finally I want to include a link to a twitter thread that covers a few additional reasons for doubting the claims of the US and its proxies on this issue.

The abuse we see of Muslims in Palestine right now (also Christians in Palestine), the abuse of Muslims going on in India, in Yemen, this is stuff we can all see on video.  If the west had real concerns for Muslims they'd address the proven abuses.  Instead the focus is on China where we have no videos, no pictures, no refugees, minority population growth and income growth.  Claims about human rights is simply a tool in the tool kit to advance US imperialism, whether the claims are true or not, and in this case in my judgment it is obvious that the claims are not true.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Chomsky Is a Dead End

I'll have to always be grateful to Chomsky and his deconstruction of capitalism.  But when it comes to the natural question "OK, what should we do about it?" Chomsky offers the wrong answer.  It's something about forming unions, organizing the work place, from there workers councils and worker federations.  No hierarchies.  It sounds great to not have bossses, but it was hard to wrap my head around how this was really going to stop this freight train of capitalism, with all the weaponry of the US government.  I just can't imagine a capitalist system would feel threatened by this.

There was an alternate model in places like the Soviet Union and China and these were perceived as a threat by the CIA and the US military.  But those, according to Chomsky, are not REAL socialism.  Those were horrible dungeons.  Let's wait around for a more PURE socialism to emerge, with no coercion, no force, no hierarchies.  Anarchism baby!!  And if you look at our communities, we punch Nazis, we break windows, we have drugs, heavy metal, green hair, torn pants, ACAB, etc.

Is this message going to sound compelling to the bulk of the US population that we need to persuade?  Are they going to be impressed with this model?  Are they going to think it's reasonable that the Soviet Union really wasn't socialist and that real socialism is this idea that exists in Chomsky's head?

And what does this model have to show for it's accomplishments?  That's the question I would be asked.  Well there was free Spain for a few months, even though that was made up of a lot of different organizations, not just anarchists.  There was some island in the North Atlantic that was anarchist.  The Amish are kind of anarchist.  This is seriously how I would respond.

Let's compare to that other style of socialism that Chomsky says is not REAL socialism.  The Soviet Union was the poorest part of Europe in 1917, and then they got invaded by 15 different countries, including the US, which tried to kill socialism in its cradle.  They beat back the invaders and then they industrialized faster than ever before, electrified the whole country, built the world's largest hydro-electric dam, became the leading producer of steel, of tractors, higher caloric consumption than Americans, and the food was more nutritious according to the CIA.  They more than doubled life expectancy.  They did most of the heavy lifting beating the Nazis, and yet after being totally destroyed by that war somehow they managed to end homelessness, end poverty, invent space travel, and all this despite a harsh embargo and needing to spend like crazy on defense to counter hostile outsiders.  They also supported successful revolutionary movements outside of their borders, some of which saw death on a genocidal scale after the SU fell, just like death descended on Russia and other former Soviet states in the 90s.

Today the world's fastest growing economy is in China.  In the last 40 years they have ended extreme poverty within their country.  That's 800M people.  Capitalist apologists like Steven Pinker and Bill Gates like to pretend capitalism is making life better because worldwide poverty is falling.  Excluding China the number of people in poverty in the world is rising (though the rate is falling).  In the midst of all of our technological advancements.  Today it is China that has the world's largest hydro-electric dam.  China managed covid better than any other country when you consider the difficult conditions in which they started.  China does far and away the most to help other countries battling covid.  The US hoards vaccines, China exports them (for which they are condemned in the US for their use of "soft power").  China would attempt to provide equipment for battling covid to other countries, the US would intercept them.  China is leading the world in renewable energy, infrastructure development.

To top it off the Soviet people were happy with their governments.  Chinese people are happy with their government.  If the people were happy, if development was the best and fastest the world has ever seen you can see why this would be perceived as a threat to the US capitalist system.

So why is Chomsky such a prominent leftist if he has this bad take?  The reason is because the CIA has sponsored him.  Not the he knew that, but the CIA had a program called the Congress for Cultural Freedom.  They knew that some people were going to figure out that capitalism sucked and socialism was the answer.  How to sheep herd people like this into ineffective resistance to capitalism?  Promote people that have the right criticisms of capitalism but the wrong solutions.  And so they sponsored Chomsky.  That's why we've heard of books like "Manufacturing Consent" but not "Inventing Reality" by Michael Parenti that apparently covers the same ground, some say does a better job, and he wrote this before Chomsky and Herman's book.  Why have we not heard of Michael Parenti?  Because he didn't pretend the Soviet Union wasn't socialist.  He didn't like an idiot just fall for every lie told about the Soviet Union, lies that our own government tells us they propagate.

We have to be gracious to Chomsky though because in the 50s and 60s it was probably frightening to support the Soviet Union.  But today it's really not so scary.  We need to be better.  And yet it seems Chomsky continues to side with the imperialists when it comes to actually existing socialist societies that are striving and usually succeeding at making the lives of their people better.  In the case of Libya (maybe not socialist, but certainly anti-imperialist) while he did not think the west should intervene militarily he was generally supportive of the rebels and wanted to see Qaddafi out.  This is the same pattern as the effect of the fall of the Soviet Union, which Chomsky called a "small victory for socialism."  Libya boasted the highest life expectancy on the African continent, all kinds of programs that made life better for the people.  People flocked to get in.  Today they drown in the Mediterranean trying to get out, just as people fled the Soviet Union when it fell while also dying en masse, turning to the sex industry, drugs, alcohol, and crime.  In Libya they are sold as slaves in open markets.  I recall Chomsky expressing support for US troops in Syria.  He's constantly attacking anti-imperialist states like Syria, Nicaragua, Russia, China, Venezuela.  He's always been extremely hostile to supporters of BDS.  Here's an interview where he gets very testy with a BDS supporter.  At every turn where there's a real anti-imperialist movement he's crapping on it, it's not pure enough, it's not perfect enough.  Nothing that could actually emerge in the real world that would resist capitalism is ever acceptable.  Despite his deconstruction of capitalism, which is spot on, I'm sad to say I'm realizing Chomsky has been a great ally to capitalism by diverting anti-capitalist energy away from real solutions.  Learn from his analysis, but look elsewhere for strategies to deal with the crisis we are in.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Just Give People Money

I think it's helpful when thinking about economic matters to simplify and imagine a smaller group of people on a deserted island.

Let's imagine 100 families find themselves stranded on a large deserted island.  A cruise ship has sunk and nothing could be salvaged.  A tough situation, but they find that if the heads of household work on the necessities of life and a caretaker at home manages the kids they are able to provide just enough to meet everyone's needs.

The 10% of the smartest workers create some inventions that make work easier.  Now only 60% of the workers are needed to address just the critical needs.  The 10% that created the initial inventions get a privileged status.  They get to be called the "owners" of the machines.  Let's suppose also the 10% invent a system of money that is robust.  They create a sufficient quantity of money and set its value so that the remainder of non-owners are paid a wage.  The 60% address critical needs and the 30% start to focus more on luxuries.  Making spices to make food yummy, creating recipes.  Working on more inventions like stoves and washing machines or ways to make the work of the 60% more efficient.  Everyone is happy because there is more than enough for all, plus some additional wants are being thrown in.  The 10% get the extra awesome life though because they don't work any more.

Time passes and work becomes more efficient, especially with further inventions of the 30%.  The owners realize they could lay off another 10 families and maintain output.  If they lay people off then that's less they need to pay in wages, they can store more money.  So they go for it.  Now they find that their store of money is enlarging.  And also the laid off people are not consuming as much.  So there's a glut of stuff building up.  Which means every now and then the workers can be idled.  But when they are idled they consume less, which creates more idle time because less is produced when there is less demand.  And you end up with a larger and larger amount of people with free time and no job, but with a lot of unmet needs and wants because they are no longer collecting a wage.

One thing that you will see is that the laid off people just try to think of other things that could be created and sold in the market.  And they might achieve a successful product eventually and put themselves back to work.  But it does take time.  The stall is not good, the suffering they and their families endure is a grind, and as this process continues with more and more efficiency gains it does get progressively harder to do this as there is really only so much consumption the employed families and ownership families are going to want to engage in.

What's to stop the owners right after the layoff from just minting some more money and handing it to the unemployed people?  The only concern is inflation.  But inflation happens because there is more money in circulation than there are goods that people want to buy.  The inventors have created a system that allows you to create a book with the press of a button (like Amazon does now, it used to take a whole army of people to create a book).  The inventors have created 3D printers.  With so much efficiency in creating things and so many goods available the truth is the price associated with things is coming down, so if you just hand the unemployed person newly minted coins such that the total money matches what was being spent earlier on wages, I don't think there should have to be inflation.

This is kind of the system we are in.  We're just getting too good at creating things.  So a glut of things builds up, and this causes people to lose their job.  This causes suffering and intermittent contractions in the total amount of goods being produced.

It seems to me that the lack of money should not be an issue.  Money is literally created from nothing.  Money is just a tool that facilitates the activity (work and consumption) of people.  Money can be used to take all those idle people and put them to work doing things that are beneficial, even if they are not being demanded in a market driven by profit.  The money supply needs to increase commensurate with the increase in the number of goods being produced.  It seems to me that if it doesn't then problems are created.

How does China manage to have such high sustained economic growth?  They didn't even slow down in 2008.  The Soviet Union had continuous unbroken economic growth.  In the depths of the Great Depression in the US the Soviet Union was charging ahead and by 1936 they had gone from being the poorest country in Europe to a world super power.  I think they were able to do this because they understand this issue I'm describing.  As things get more efficient and a glut emerges they don't just have homeless people sitting around doing nothing.  They say "Hey, you know that money you used to make growing crops?  Now that we have machines we don't need that same work, but here's the same money as a salary, it's money we just created.  Start helping to build roads, bridges, apartment buildings.  Help build facilities where research can be done.  We'll put even more people out of work due to the gain in efficiency and they can then join you building all these things, and we'll see everyone's life get better really fast."  It's Ok to have more money flowing in the system anyway because more goods are being produced with less every year.  Since there are more goods available for purchase more money in the system chasing those goods does not necessarily cause inflation.  To avoid inflation we just have to ensure that economy continues to get more and more efficient, more and more productive, so that there is an expanding quantity of goods that the money is chasing.  So why not use the creation of additional money as an opportunity to put idle hands to work creating things that the world needs and wants?  Putting the idle hands to work is exactly how you ensure gains in productivity.  The idle hands can work on the things that will make the economy more productive, instead of sitting around in misery and hunger, being homeless.

What this entails is setting aside the system that prioritizes profits and free markets.  That creates giant swaths of able bodied people willing and able to work, but unable to make it happen, or at least stalled in their ability to make that happen.  Plan the economy.  There are plenty of things that need to get done.  People need to get educated.  They need good roads, nice cars, health care.  We need renewable energy, or a carbon free source of energy (fusion).  Put people to work doing things regardless of what the market and what Wall St profiteers think.  The system we have is creating large numbers of people willing and able to do things that would make all of our lives better, but we're acting like the money supply can't be enlarged.  It can be and it must be.  More money is needed to reflect the additional things that humans are creating more efficiently every day.  Just mint more money and put people to work.  There is so much to do, we shouldn't let the fiction that money is limited prevent us from doing it.

That's the way it seems to me.  What am I missing?  Didn't our government just create something like $10T from nothing as stimulus?  And what did they do with it?  Most of it went to the rich.  It has gone to back corporate debt and to fund military adventures, things that don't directly benefit the population.  A bit went to the poor.  So the money supply needs to be expanded and we have a choice about how we stimulate the economy as we do this.  The choice in America is to give it to the rich, who won't spend much more, keep the idle hands idle and give just enough to the poor so they don't go crazy.  This is a recipe for slow economic growth.  It seems to me there is no good reason for it to be like this.

These thoughts were partly inspired by this discussion of Modern Monetary Theory.  Also this one.

Friday, January 1, 2021

What Is Socialism

Recently I've been watching commentary from Caleb Maupin that has me questioning some of my assumptions about what socialism means or what it should strive to be.  I got interested in Maupin after discovering that he's saying some things that I've come to realize over the last couple of years.  The first is that socialism works.  Really well.  It's absolutely bizarre that libertarians and others say things like "Socialism never works."  It flies in the face of reality, almost like you couldn't be more wrong.  Here's a commentary from Maupin discussing some of this.  If you are one of those people that says socialism never works, watch from the time stamp until about 32 minutes and see if you can avoid slipping into a state of cognitive dissonance.  Because if you can you might just be cured of this lie.

In any case Maupin has also shared some texts from Marx and Engels that suggest they do not have the same vision for the path forward that those who call themselves socialists in America have, and I just want to share those texts here.  Below is an excerpt from the Communist Manifesto.  The caps are mine for emphasis.  It's a statement about how we transition from a capitalist world to the world that Marx envisions, one of complete abundance and freedom.

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, BY DEGREE, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to CENTRALISE all instruments of production in the hands OF THE STATE, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces AS RAPIDLY AS POSSIBLE.

Now, who in the world does this sound like today?  Which nation has SOME power in the hands of the state, a centralized plan, and rapid increase in productive capacity?  That's China.  China, who pays massive homage to Marx all the time, who is lead by the Chinese Communist Party, who has 5 year economic plans and what it considers a dictatorship of the proletariat.  And yet on the left so many act like China isn't socialist, or act like the Soviet Union wasn't socialist.

Let's go further, here's some discussion from Engels.  First I'll set a little context. He is talking about how in former times there were no classes of people because the productive forces were primitive. All people must work to provide the minimum requirements for survival. Imagine a hunter gatherer society barely scraping by.  With time there are advances in efficiency so that it is not necessary to require all people to work in order to meet essential needs.  This leads to the emergence of classes. Some must continue to perform the work functions and stay as working class and some enter the bourgeoisie class that manages the affairs of society, direction of labor, state, law, science. As the efficiency of production advances further we reach the critical point where class divisions are actually a hindrance to continued growth.

This point is now reached. Their political and intellectual bankruptcy is scarcely any longer a secret to the bourgeoisie themselves. Their economic bankruptcy recurs regularly every 10 years. In every crisis, society is suffocated beneath the weight of its own productive forces and products, which it cannot use, and stands helpless, face-to-face with the absurd contradiction that the producers have nothing to consume, because consumers are wanting. The expansive force of the means of production bursts the bonds that the capitalist mode of production had imposed upon them. Their deliverance from these bonds is the one precondition for an UNBROKEN, CONSTANTLY-ACCELERATED DEVELOPMENT OF THE PRODUCTIVE FORCES, and therewith for a practically UNLIMITED INCREASE OF PRODUCTION ITSELF. Nor is this all. The socialized appropriation of the means of production does away, not only with the present artificial restrictions upon production, but also with the positive waste and devastation of productive forces and products that are at the present time the inevitable concomitants of production, and that reach their height in the crises. Further, it sets free for the community at large a mass of means of production and of products, by doing away with the senseless extravagance of the ruling classes of today, and their political representatives. The possibility of securing for every member of society, by means of socialized production, an existence not only fully sufficient materially, AND BECOMING DAY-BY-DAY MORE FULL, but an existence guaranteeing to all the free development and exercise of their physical and mental faculties — this possibility is now, for the first time, here, but it is here.

So we get this contradiction in capitalism of what might be called the glut. The absurd state where there is no consumption because there is too much stuff. Society is suffering under the weight of it's own productive forces. Like during the housing crash. People lose jobs because there are too many homes. And for this reason they can't afford a home. It would be like if I lost my job because there are too many cars produced.  We have such an abundance of cars that I lose my job, which is in automotive design. Now I can't buy a car because there are too many cars.  It's an insane contradiction, and when you burst the bonds of a system for profit that creates conditions where people can't buy cars because there are too many cars, now you can REALLY accelerate the productive forces.  Why should we let the need for a profit hold us back from making more and more things that could be beneficial to humanity? Breaking these bonds creates a constant acceleration of productive forces, leading to a life that materially is more full each day, ushers in that final stage of human development, a state of complete freedom for all, where now you only work because you feel like it, but the productive forces are so efficient you don't even need to work at all if you don't want to.

For Marx the goal is to increase the productive capacity of humanity so much that ultimately you exit socialism and enter communism (I'm using modern terminology here, not necessarily Marx's terminology, but this is the idea he is describing), which is a stage of maximum freedom. Do whatever you want, all your needs and wants are provided, you can work if you want, or not, and in the end there is no need for a state or for money even because there is no reason for fighting since everyone has everything they would need and more. China's goal is to increase the productive capacity of humanity so much, including neighboring countries, that conflict between them becomes less likely, and ultimately we reach a stage of hyper-abundance where class status and coercion are no longer a thing. Socialism is that transitional stage from capitalism/feudalism to communism where you might have some profits, you might have some billionaires, you will have some inequality for a period, but then ultimately that goes away and everyone has everything they want.

But as I say, many on the left don't see it that way, especially the left in the US.  They talk shit about places like China or the Soviet Union.  And this annoys the hell out of leftists in other countries.  Here's a great commentary from a Vietnamese woman.  You know what Americans?  You haven't achieved shit.  We can't even get a floor vote on Medicare for All, and even if we did and won Biden would veto it.  We can't even bring health care to our country in the middle of a pandemic.  We are living in a country that is rampaging to maintain imperialism throughout the world.  We can't even contain Covid.  Where China is bringing critical medical equipment to poor parts of the world we are bombing and starving them.  Where China sends it's military out to plant trees to address the climate crisis and has planted tens of billions, the US is tearing up climate agreements.  China is leading the world in solar, wind, and hydraulic energy development.  China is working on carbon free fusion energy.  China has just completed the most dramatic poverty reduction campaign in world history.

I've come to believe I have been misled by American leftists to think that socialism is about living in a shack, wearing rags, walking everywhere, maybe riding a bike.  Historically it appears it has more been about hyper-abundance, the exact opposite of what so many of the American left preach.  In fact it is capitalism that is holding back the advancements in economic growth, it is socialism that will set them free and cause the rapid growth, like we saw in the Soviet Union, like we see in China today.  Here's how Lenin put it.

This expropriation will make it possible for the productive forces to develop to a tremendous extent. And when we see how incredibly capitalism is already retarding this development, when we see how much progress could be achieved on the basis of the level of technique already attained, we are entitled to say with the fullest confidence that the expropriation of the capitalists will inevitably result in an enormous development of the productive forces of human society. But how rapidly this development will proceed, how soon it will reach the point of breaking away from the division of labor, of doing away with the antithesis between mental and physical labor, of transforming labor into "life's prime want"--we do not and cannot know.

This is the historical understanding of the transitional period after capitalism but preceding the period of the stateless, moneyless, classless society that Marx and Engels envision.  It's not running around in the woods in a loin cloth.  It's more like space ships and robots.  This vision of socialism is what drives places like China, Vietnam, Libya (before Qaddafi was murdered), Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela.  These are poor countries that have had stunning success making the lives of their people better, and they are driving to make them better still.  This is a more hopeful and optimistic view of the world that I think western leftists need to consider.  The fact that we have achieved so little for such a long period of time in comparison should give us pause.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What I've Learned from COVID and Our Election

Some truths that I believe have been exposed over the past few months:

1-We do not have democracy in the US.

We have a system that is more like what exists in Iran.  The Ayatollah selects candidates that are acceptable to him that have slight differences.  The people are then permitted to make a selection among them.

Bernie Sanders was not acceptable to the Ayatollah.  The appearance of democracy is there to convince people they believe they can choose him.  But Shadow Incorporated is tallying the votes in Iowa and you never really get to be sure what happened.  Bernie may have gotten more votes, but Pete won.  The establishment ultimately will converge on a narrative that prevents a Sanders victory (he can't win, Biden can) and that will have a big impact.

If Bernie had been able to overcome this and win more delegates this wasn't going to matter.  The establishment was clear that they would have disregarded the will of the voters.

The big assist is the establishment media.  Imagine if Bernie had spent a whole month falsely claiming he had been arrested with Nelson Mandela?  Imagine if there was a credible accusation of rape against him?  What if Bernie was as confused as Biden?  What if Bernie was on video awkwardly sniffing the hair of little girls and women?  They attack Bernie because anonymous twitter fans are mean.  We're supposed to just trust Chuck Todd and Rachel Maddow when they say Bernie's followers are much worse.  It won't matter that after the fact this will be disproven.  You can try to resist this.  It can be overcome in theory.  In practice though all the money you donate, the canvassing you do, the time you spend on the phone calling supporters, I'm coming to the point where I feel it is wasted.  We must fight with one hand tied behind our back.  I don't see that we can win.

2-Even I'm surprised at how inept the US response is.

We're the richest most powerful country in the world.  We were given plenty of advanced warning about this epidemic.  Frankly China's response was astonishingly swift (see this discussion of their overall timeline.)  The virus was spreading there for 2 months before they even knew it was human to human transmissible (January 15).

And yet China with a GDP/capita about 1/3 of ours was able to get in front of the epidemic and in about 2 months was able to bring their economy back online.  With their extremely dense population centers and massive public transportation.  In the middle of the biggest travel period of the year, in a time of year that is cold with higher transmittance rates for airborne illnesses.



Frankly I'm embarrassed.  But smart people saw it coming.  They knew we're going to have people that just won't go to the doctor for fear of the bills.  Like this.  We have a garbage system, and if this doesn't get people to ask some questions and demand some change I'm not sure what will.

3-Establishment Democrats do not care about anything but their own power.

What's great about Trump is like Homer Simpson he says out loud what he a smart person would keep to himself.  We know he's narcissistic and he's not good at hiding it.  For instance I watched this interview with Hannity.  He's concerned about letting the Covid patients that had been out of country into our country because it will make our numbers look bad.  A smarter politician would think that but keep it to himself.  You're supposed to appear to be more concerned about people's safety then any potential negative perception that comes from a meaningless scorecard, the number of people in America with corona virus.  But it's kind of nice that he tells us what he's thinking.  The truth is laid bare.

But it's sad to say Democrats think similarly.  This amazing report details how Democrats pushed for elections in the middle of this pandemic knowing that it would kill.  They did it because Biden is currently up in the polls and they want to close out the primary to ensure Sanders is blocked.  They go so far as threatening states with a reduced allotment of delegates if they delay their primary out of concern for the health of their citizens.

What about women's rights?  Democrats were very concerned about the rape allegation against Brett Kavanaugh.  What about Joe Biden?  Nah.  It's not even worth talking about.  In fact Biden surrogates are going back in time and deleting their past Kavanaugh tweets.  They have never cared about women's rights, they have never cared about gay rights, they don't care about environmental matters.  They adopt positions that are useful for obtaining votes and will abandon them as needed in service to power.

They are not different from Trump, they are just better at hiding it.  Malcolm X nailed this many years ago, I think he captures it perfectly.


4-Capitalism is savage.

In the city of Las Vegas, currently filled with empty hotel rooms, the homeless sleep in the parking lot.  An empty hospital sits unused because the owner and city can't come to terms.  The maker of an $11K ventilator threatens to sue because volunteers spent $1 on 3D printing materials to create a valve that saved lives.  Reports are that Trump is trying to gain exclusive access to a corona virus vaccine being developed in Germany.  They assure us it would be "affordable."

This type of capitalism is being forced on others.  Iran's health service has been devastated by sanctions and they are struggling with the corona virus.  But the US has tightened sanctions in the midst of this.  Sanctions in Venezuela are very deadly and dangerous during this pandemic.  Recent action by the US is to put out a mafia style indictment, offering to pay people up to $15M to provide information that can help lead to his arrest.  Bombing runs are ordered on Iraq.

In contrast China is sending plane loads of medical help to nations around the world.  In the US media China sending help is proof that they are evil.  Cuba is sending doctors and even taking in foreign sick people.  No apparent concern for how this will make them look statistically.

I understand how the owner of a building needs to make money, that hotels have constraints.  I'm not viewing this as proving that Americans are evil people.  We have a system that leads to action though that produces an evil outcome.  China has a system that is producing a positive outcome, whatever motives people want to attribute to them.  We have to be willing to think about that.