Saturday, June 6, 2020

"If There Are No Structural Alterations In The Economy, Politics, and Society, Nothing Will Change"

There is a new context where a mass of white people is also participating in these protests

Interview with James Petras

June 1, 2020

(Translation from Spanish by Michael K. Smith)

Hermán Salina: Profesor, what is different about these protests set off by a single case of police brutality? What differentiates this episode from all the previous ones?

Petras: Well, it has a lot of similarity with the 1960s and 1970s because of the act of violence against African Americans, Latin Americans, but what one has to analyze is the new context where a large mass of whites is participating also in these protests. And second, that the police can't eliminate them, can't diminish the protest, it has no capacity to control them. Notice that there are 40 cities under curfew, the National Guard is active in 15 cities, it's a militarization of the important city centers.

And the other thing we should take into account, at this moment there are more than 25% unemployed, (so) this protest is not occurring just because of racism and the killing of African American George Floyd. That was the detonator, but the important thing is that we have more than 30 million Americans unemployed, they have no economic future, there are millions of young people that have finished high school and university and they can't find work. These economic and social factors together with the problem of racism, is a detonator that didn't exist before with other demonstrations.

I think that the hot summer in the next span of time - June, July, August, is going to have enormous consequences for the country. In addition, we have a very reactionary president who has said that vicious dogs should attack protesters. They had to hide President Trump in a bunker beneath the White House because protesters from the demonstrations occurring across the street tried to enter in order to make demands of Trump. They had to call special security forces to hide and protect him.

So now we have a super-reactionary president, a shattered economy, a widening pandemic, assassination of African Americans, and police out of control of civil authorities. Now there are many voices that are going to try to make the police more palatable, but the police here have an independent power from the (judicial) authorities. Only when there is a case like in Minneapolis where on video a police officer has his knee on the neck of an African American do they have to face a judicial process.

HS:  Can a change in the law be expected? That there be heavier sanctions or controls on the police, or is it the case that the only thing the protests do is accelerate the legal process a little bit against this particular officer?

Petras: I think we are in a phase where with so many demonstrations, protests,  and outbreaks of violence, that it's difficult to go back to normal and continue without holding the police responsible for the killing of civilians.

I think we're going to pass through a phase now of self-accusation by the police, by government officials. They're going to condemn the abuses that occur and now they are going to call for an investigation committee. They're going to discover that the police need more supervision and control, that a new code of conduct needs to be put forth.

All that is going to happen now in the face of a great confrontation with more than 100 cities in protest, that's a very unusual thing. We could say that this context is going to demand that government take some action.

Besides the extreme right of Trump, who demands more repression, more dogs to attack demonstrators, I think that in this context we are going to have a prolonged process of meetings, of discussions, of forming a commission that can prepare a document of 100 or 1000 pages about what is happening and what has happened in this conflict.

They are going to recruit some African Americans in order to improve the government's image, recruit more black police, plan a form of conduct more in accord with the law, but over time it's going to come to nothing just like in the past. But before, if we study the history, in other years of protest against racism, the same police repression took place, the same commissions were formed, but nothing changed because the structure of power is against African Americans, Latin Americans and others.

So, I think that if there aren't alterations in the economy, politics, and society, nothing will change, we're only going to have a bit of turbulence, but no answer to our needs will be given.

Right now nearly 50% of African Americans under 35 have no work. So first, we have to confront the problem of coronavirus, where African Americans and Latinos are suffering more cases. Next we have the problem of unemployment, which is extremely high among those same groups. There are structural problems, housing, health, education, employment, all that together creates situations of extraordinary urgency.

HS: Are there other items you would like to touch on at the end of the column for this week, (Mr.) Petras?

Petras: Yes, we could go down to Latin America, to Argentina, supposedly it's near an agreement with its creditors, but they still haven't signed. And if they sign an agreement, President Fernandez is apparently going to capitulate on some important points for the Argentinians. That means that they have to transfer millions of dollars to bankers and creditors. 

So, seeing that in Argentina problems are multiplying with the coronavirus, with unemployment, and now with the agreement with the creditors, that could also provoke uprisings in that country like those currently in the United States, or like those in 2001 (in Argentina).

And finally we have Hong Kong, where Washington wanted to exaggerate the importance of those opposed to China. And those opponents are losing influence when the bankers and the businessmen, the multinational companies, have to choose between (investment) opportunities with China and Trump's rhetoric:  they are going massively in favor of China. In a little while Hong Kong is going to be a Chinese city integral to Beijing's policy.

HS:  And what can we say about Brazil, where the political crisis continues and everything points to ever greater isolation of President Bolsonaro? Can this be accelerating the end of his administration, (Mr.) Petras?

Well, the number of deaths is accelerating, yes, the numbers affected by the coronavirus are accelerating, discontent is growing. I think Bolsonaro will stay in the government only until the end of this year, he can't maintain himself, he can't endure longer.

In summary, we could say that this summer is going to be very hot politically in the United States. These days are only the opening towards a year of great violence, many conflicts, and great polarization between Trump and the neo-fascists against a mass of African Americans, unemployed whites, Hispanics and others

Friday, June 5, 2020

An Attack Against Iranian Oil Would Have Had Multiple Repercussions

The U.S. Blockade Has Robbed A Lot of Money From Venezuela

Memorial Day Interview with Sociologist James Petras

Centennial Radio Uruguay

(Translation from Spanish by Michael K. Smith)

Hernán Salina: Memorial Day, (Mr.) Petras?

Petras: Well, it's a day that has various dimensions. For the majority of people it's a day to visit the cemetery and put flowers on the graves of family members who died.

For others, which is more and more the direction the media takes, it's a day to celebrate war veterans. That means that all the news are about the soldiers who fought in Vietnam, Korea, WWII, and other related matters. So it's a day of militarism, a day in which the soldiers of the past (are celebrated), whatever their views may be, because many who served in Vietnam were anti-war. It's a mix of veterans who died without a (military) cause and veterans who died fighting in imperialist wars.

So there's a lot of (national) chauvinism today, normally there are ceremonies, but since coronavirus is now here, they can't gather in big marches through the streets. It's one of the consequences of the contradictions of capitalism that the very diseases generated are the product of political-military policy. . . . It's a reactionary day, validating imperialist wars from the Conquest of Mexico to today.

HS: Speaking of war-mongering in the U.S., what can be expected from the U.S. government against Venezuela with the arrival of Iranian oil tankers? What is being said in the United States, (Mr.) Petras?

Petras: Well, in the first place Trump threatened to attack the ships, blocking the entrance to Venezuela. But once Venezuela showed determination, that it was going to resist militarily if they blocked the ships, Washington backed down.

So, for now, the fact that the ships have entered Venezuelan territory and the U.S. hasn't attacked is good, but it's an extremely tense and threatening situation. One never knows from one minute to the next what Trump is going to do, threats on one hand, and then retreats.

HS: Venezuela, a country so rich in petroleum that it has had to receive help from Iran no less.  How far has the attack on its primary industry gone, the primary wealth that Venezuela has?

Petras: Yes, it's become difficult because the American blockade has robbed Venezuela of a lot of income, the blockades, the intervention, the Venezuelan bank accounts in British banks, they lost $200 million in gold reserves that were in Britain. Citgo, a Venezuelan company in the United States, has been taken by the U.S.

So all the American piracy has caused a lot of damage to the oil industry and Venezuela's capacity to convert petroleum into gasoline that can be used in cars.

HS: It's also a very important signal from Iran, the gamble it's taking on sending ships from there and the warning it has made that it would consider any interference on the part of the United States an act of war.

Petras: Yes, it's one of the repercussions that we must take into account. Venezuela has allies, principally Iran, and to a lesser extent China and Russia, but in any case, Iran has said that if they start to attack its ships or destroy them, they would be able to take reprisals against the U.S. in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Persian Gulf.

For this reason the consequences of a military attack against Iranian oil has multiple repercussions, as much in the Caribbean as in the Gulf.  Trump has to have calculated extensively in order to launch an attack with so many repercussions at a time of economic depression. It could be very costly.

HS: And about the ex-Marine mercenaries detained in Venezuela, U.S. spokespersons came out saying they demanded they be returned. Is something being said about this in the U.S. or will this be a quieter negotiation that can be done with Venezuela?

Petras: I don't know, there is no indication right now, but it could be that something may be happening behind the scenes. For the moment Washington is simply demanding, not offering anything by negotiation. In order to negotiate Washington has to make concessions and right now Trump doesn't want to make any concession, he simply wants to dictate policy that Venezuela and Iran submit to, but this is not going to happen.

HS: With respect to Covid-19, what's the latest, (Mr.) Petras?

Petras: They've opened a lot of avenues for people to leave the house, go walking, but it's a disaster because people go out without taking precautions to maintain social distance, nor are they wearing masks when they go out to enjoy themselves or take a walk.

The beaches are full in New Jersey, in Florida, in Miami, almost everywhere. In California many people walk without consideration for taking precautions, they go together to taverns, bars, downing drinks, and everyone goes together contaminating one another.

The beauty salons, for example, in some cases that we know of, there are hundreds of people infected because the worker or the employee of the salon has been infected with the virus. So the opening up could be a disaster.

HS: The other day we were saying that a good portion of the affected are immigrants, Latinos, poor whites. Is there an organized reaction to this scene, (Mr.) Petras?

Petras: There are, there are local protests, there are protests at the national level, but apparently the investigations and denunciations of the inequalities in treatment haven't had much effect. An increase in neighborhood testing, but there is no strategy that could improve the vulnerable position of minorities, who are actually the majority in many places like Texas, California and New York. That seems to me a form of genocide against minorities.

HS: President Trump continues with accusatory rhetoric against China: now in an interview he has said that, whether it be due to incompetence or refusal, China didn't prevent that the coronavirus spread throughout the world, and he has been pressuring so that the origin of the virus be investigated inside China.

Petras: There is an economic-political war against China, and now it has increased with Washington's failures; today (virus) deaths have surpassed 100,000. Trump confronts a political-electoral threat, for that reason he's beginning to make declarations blaming China, Russia, anyone except himself. And he uses thugs in Hong Kong to attack China, he uses the virus to blame China. China is recovering frm the virus, peple are beginning to go out in the streets with safeguards and controls.

And since Washington has failed in its fight against the virus, blaming China is part of aggression against it, because China has recovered sufficiently to re-launch its manufacturing industry and technology.

HS: How does life go on in the United States? I was reading a report about the situation in Detroit, for example, that once had great industrial activity but which has now been badly battered, an emblematic city in that sense.

Petras: Yes, they're beginning to increase production at Ford for a week and suddenly there's another coronavirus case and they have to back off. The American economy is in full depression, unemployment has risen to more than 40 million people. It's a very grave situation, the unemployment, the hunger, the lack of resources, the loss of homes, the crisis is growing and one can't avoid it. Trump says they're going to continue with everything opened up, cost what it may, however many deaths it costs doesn't matter. Trump says that never again will we shut the economy in order to save lives.

HS: Is there something else you want to mention as we wrap up, (Mr.) Petras?

Petras: Well, what we have more information about is Israel, where President Netanyahu confronts a political judgement for bribery, fraud, and corruption. Finally, after so many years of robbing the Palestinians and Jews themselves, now Netanyahu faces a judgement and we hope they finally put him in jail. But I have doubts that he will be punished, especially with the corruption that exists in Israeli courts and also in general.

In the United States there is little information about the crimes of Netanyahu because of the influence of the Israel lobby, they can influence what the media are going to publish and not publish. A Netanyahu crime that goes beyond bribery and fraud are the crimes against the Palestinians, but about that the judges have nothing to say.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Why Police Torture and Kill

"What I have said about Harlem is true of Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco - is true of every Northern city with a large Negro population. And the police are simply the hired enemies of this population. They are present to keep the Negro in his place and to protect white business interests and they have no other function. They are, moreover - even in a country which makes the very grave error of equating ignorance with simplicity - quite stunningly ignorant; and, since they know that they are hated, they are always afraid. One cannot possibly arrive at a more surefire formula for cruelty." 

-----James Baldwin, A Report From Occupied Territory

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Democrats Finally Do Self-Critique! Oh, Wait, It's Someone Else

"Crazy Bernie Sanders is not a fighter. He gives up too easy! The Dem establishment gets Alfred E. Newman (Mayor Pete) and Amy Klobuchar to quit and endorse Sleepy Joe BEFORE Super Tuesday, and gets Pocahontas to stay in the race, taking thousands of votes from Bernie. He would have beaten Sleepy Joe in a LANDSLIDE, every State, if these events didn't happen. Even if Warren just dropped out, he would easily have won. Dems did it to him with Crooked Hillary, and now, even more so. . . and Bernie doesn't even complain."

-------------Donald Trump May 20, 2020

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Covid 19 in the U.S. - Latinos, African Americans, and Poor Whites the Most Affected

Interview with Sociologist James Petras
Centennial Radio Uruguay
May 11, 2020

(translation from Spanish by Michael K. Smith)

Hernan Salina: There is no way to escape each week the internal reality of the United States with respect to the consequences of Covid-19. What is happening these days?

Petras: Yes, the first interesting thing here is that the Trump White House is infected by the coronavirus, three advisers of the president are already in quarantine, they're shut up in their homes and undergoing treatment. Another important person is vice-president Pence, who is shut away and they're examining him hourly to see if he's infected. This is the government that didn't accept the necessity of using masks, maintaining social distance and other things. Now these measures have collided with the President himself in office. Many times a day Trump has to be examined for the virus. Beyond that we also have the Treasury Secretary saying that unemployment is possibly going to exceed 25% in the coming months or even weeks. And in spite of that we have the fact that the government has said it's going to inject 9 billion dollars in hopes of stimulating the economy because it's collapsing. In spite of everything reassuring Trump tries to say about the economy, it doesn't work.

Now almost all 50 states have relaxed the quarantine and made other openings for the economy, but at the same time there are protests going on. The unemployed are protesting, renters are protesting in New York and other places, small business owners are marching on City Hall in every city. So there's a great social mobilization that is growing like a wave, but we don't have any political direction. Senator Bernie Sanders hasn't headed up these movements, he has lent support to Biden, who is a conservative Democrat.

HS:  A video has circulated of a young nurse in New York crying on camera, denouncing the fact that since they're overflowing with (corona) patients they are letting African Americans and poor Latinos die, when they can't cope, can't keep up with demand, and besides they're being attended at times by people who don't have sufficient training and so patients die.

Petras: Yes, we have data from Johns Hopkins Hospital that a (disproportionate) percentage of patients that die are of Latin American or African American descendance. These ethnic groups are more affected than whites.

But whites are differentiated between those of lesser and greater income. There are more cases of infection among whites with lower incomes than among richer whites who can access medical treatment and support themselves working from home while the badly paid have to go to work in dangerous conditions.

These workers complain that their employers haven't provided enough safety regulations and protective equipment, that they've had to work in meat packing plants, for example, with workers right next to people without adequate protections.

HS: In an interview on Fox News on Friday, president Trump tried to distance himself from responsibility for these mercenary actions in Venezuela. He said that if he'd wanted to take military action, he would have invaded directly, that is to say, he would have attacked with full U.S. military force. What repercussions or consequences has this event had, which Venezuela is denouncing to all the world?

Petras: It's all true, even the New York Times and the Washington Post have published information revealing that the directors of the coup were members of a mercenary outfit headquartered in Miami, and that those mercenaries were Green Beret and worked with the CIA and had confessed that they had ties with the U.S. government.

Nobody believes it when Trump says the United States isn't involved, everyone understands that the reverse is true, that the U.S. government fomented the coup. Juan Guaido, the U.S. puppet, was implicated with the terrorists, and the Green Berets have confessed that they have ties with groups in the U.S. that hire mercenaries.

HS: Do you believe that the Trump administration is going to strongly pressure Venezuela to return these captured mercenaries?

Petras: Obviously, yes, obviously what they're going to try to do is capture some Venezuelans linked to the Maduro government and then offer an exchange. That is, we have Venezuelans, you have Americans, we should have an exchange.

I don't know if they'll be successful, I don't know if they're going to be able to get Venezuelans for this trade, but in any case at the moment the Americans implicated in the coup with the mercenaries are in jail and they're going to stay there until there is a change in the political tone between the two countries.

HS: And can this have a political consequence for Trump? There were some voices raised in the Democratic Party saying that the person in charge of the security contracting firm must have violated U.S. law by taking arms out of the United States, and by the action carried out by this firm. 

Petras: I don't think so. Judicial authority is part of the American government, so I don't think they're going to punish the mercenaries. It's possible that they'll launch an investigation, but one without consequences. The fact is that this is a political act, and it can only be resolved by political means, which would mean the United States recognizing the Maduro government and sitting down to negotiate an arrangement that would end the sanctions and repression against the Venezuelan government. In contrast, what we can expect is that the United States is going to continue and even increase its terrorist attacks, which is a tragedy for the Venezuelan people.

HS: Israel has postponed the swearing in of its new government because U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Israel. What's being said officially is that they're going to talk about the coronavirus, Iranian influence, and of course the Palestine conflict. What new developments might emerge?

Petras: It's a long term partnership, one in which Israel dictates the policies, Israel pressures the United States to increase its attacks on Iran. And I think that in this situation, Israel dictates the policy and not vice versa. I don't think there is any possibility of a rethinking of American policy. The power of the Zionists in the United States is too great to change the strategy.

HS: Very well. Are there other things you'd like to mention in the final section of the column this week, James?

Petras: There are two things, one is that there is an enormous scandal in the state of Georgia in the United States, where the police are implicated in assassinating an African American that was walking, exercising in the street. This ended in a preliminary investigation that concluded that the police weren't responsible for the killing. But with enormous protest in the African American community, some videos and other evidence, they've proved that the police in fact killed an innocent man.

Thanks to the protest, the mobilization, and the evidence, they will open an investigation into the killing in two months. And now there is the possibility of a conviction, they could take the two killers to court, who were friends and accomplices of the police, who didn't investigate them. This is evidence that the police in the U.S. don't function with impartiality but are always linked with racism.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Joe Biden Suffers Massive Stroke!

Will Not Affect Job Performance, Aides Say

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden suffered a massive brain hemorrhage today as he practiced reciting the days of the week for upcoming debates with President Trump. Campaign staff members say it will not affect his work, and insist he has no plans to withdraw from the presidential contest, unless “something serious happens.”

“We’ve been through this before,” explained senior advisor Symone Slanders. “Joe will have a stroke or two before breakfast, but by mid-morning he’s his old self again, sniffing our hair and fondling the volunteers. It’s nothing to get upset about, and we frankly resent attempts by Donald Trump to politicize it.”

Reached for comment at Bethesda Naval Hospital where he was having a brain installed, Biden said, “old people are just as sharp as senile people,” and expressed gratitude for get-well calls from Dwight Eisenhower and Harry Truman.

Although his campaign has come under fire in recent weeks for lacking energy, Biden now claims that he “has the momentum” against Donald Trump, because of a surge in the ranks of the “enthusiastic Biden voter.” To date, reporters have been unable to speak to such voters, because of strict visitation restrictions at state mental hospitals. Luckily, a Legalienate reporter working undercover has smuggled out recorded interviews with ardent Biden supporters, who give a whole new meaning to the term, “committed” voter.

“Sure, I’m enthused about him. Why not? I like the way he curses out voters who have issue questions and tells them to vote for Trump. It’s refreshing,” said one masochist.

“I like his random babbling,” said another. “I haven’t seen anything like that since Reagan, although GW had his moments, of course. But Bush was merely catatonic. With Biden, you’ve got the verbal diarrhea and the mangled syntax all in one package. He’s the best!”

“For me, it’s all about the issues,” said a thoughtful schizophrenic. “Biden’s not above hallucinating, like with the whole WMD business in Iraq. Lots of people in here see things, too, but Biden actually made a career of it. He’s living proof that no one is too deluded to make a difference. It’s so validating!”

Meanwhile, more pragmatic Biden voters are taking a page from Trump’s rhetorical playbook, chanting, “Lock him up!” every time their candidate delivers another gaffe. This has given rise to the “basement strategy,” i.e., keeping the doddering Biden entombed in a dimly lit basement, while a nation without national health insurance recoils in shocked horror watching the Trump administration implode under its innovative “let ‘em drink bleach” approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s a clash of the titans,” says media consultant Harry Scene, “the village idiot against the demented degenerate. May the best fraud win!”

Michael K. Smith

Sunday, May 10, 2020

From Global Farm To Global Table: The Capitalist Pandemic

From Global Farm To Global Table: The Capitalist Pandemic

Whether believed the subject of hysterical conjecture or conspiratorial creation, the fact is that we face a new and different virus that may threaten life more than previous forms. It is also true that up to the moment that includes more than a quarter million victims, most who suffer the illness survive and they represent the overwhelming majority. Nevertheless, the threat is to all humanity and must be treated as such and that will call for transformative changes of a nature previously unimagined by most though strongly suggested by many going back to the beginning of the present problem. That problem is not the current pandemic but its origin in the form of a political economic system which began in its industrial form in the late eighteenth century and was presently tending toward one of its regular crises called a recession. That was before this viral attack provoked a greater crisis dubbed by many a return to conditions of what was called a “Great Depression”, and this not referring to presently profitable forms of individual therapy but to the breakdown of an entire global system.

America survived that past collapse by instituting a social democratic form of capitalism at odds with the fascist form which at the same time “saved” Germany, both forms later getting into a war that saw tens of millions killed and the victory, for a while, of the social democratic, liberal welfare style of capital. That prevented blatant starvation and mass death in the streets by instituting social policies to help much but not all of the local working class while ultimately slaughtering that same class in Korea, Vietnam and other places representing conflict with the market system of private profit for some, only available at deadly loss to many.

America and the West’s return to the more blatant fundamentalist worship of the deity of unimpeded market forces which hold society in total contempt began back in the 1970s but it should be understood that the system did not change at all, in its essence. Whether run by fascists or social democrats only the way it manifested its profits and its manner of forcing the loss were different in style. If some populations were rewarded with steady diets, decent jobs and comfortable housing, others suffered malnutrition, wretched poverty, and mass murder under military assaults that went beyond the incredible slaughters of world war two, at least in per capita numbers. While some 60 million are said to have perished in that war, mostly among victorious Russians and the losers, Germany and Japan, the death tolls and wreckage later inflicted on Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were much greater and might have approached 100 million if the population base had been the same.

Under the market forces of private profit and public loss, the good life for some necessitates absolute misery for others. The problem is not simply reducible to greedy or murderous people but the organizational components of society which reduce them to support of a greedy murderous system that can have no other outcome, no matter how much rhetoric is expanded nor however sincerely about striving for democracy and a better life for all. Continuing to organize society on the basis of capitalist market forces rewarding private profits to investors by robbing the workers who create its largesse and then consume it, mostly by becoming debtors, will not only prolong but greatly increase the scandalous evidence of human and environmental destruction all around us, including the present virus.

While ideas run rampant, many thoughtful, many more bordering on insanity, of a plague created and arranged by a criminal lab in China, but somehow run by Americans, the same lab but this time run by the Chinese, somehow ignorant that it would kill their own people, or simply a plot by evil mysterians setting about to destroy civilization in favor of the Elders of Gay Latino Mormons of Color, reality is as usual far more complex and much less subject to fantasy. The international system that industrial capitalism brought into being and that was wisely criticized at its inception by Marx and Engels has become more globally dominant and in its modern form features a relatively tiny group of fantastically rich and powerful individuals and their corporate entities which dominate the production and procurement of food, clothing, shelter and everything else almost everywhere on earth, and this only by treating them as commodities for purchase at a market and unavailable to any without the money or credit line enabling them to make those purchases.

While individual possession of wealth and power has advanced far beyond any ancient imperial kingdom governed by alleged earthly gods and now allows staggering riches to be held by a nearly microscopic in size “identity group”, it keeps hundreds of millions sinking into debt, poverty and wars. We of the majority are being kept divided into other “identity groups” in battle with one another for a small part of what we greatly produce while minority rulers enjoy a form of perverted socialism in which the many support the few in ways that would have made past bloody emperors envious.

That global rule now means that Chinese capital owns land and manufacturing facilities in the USA while American capital does the same in China. National competition still seems the order of the day but its form is not what it was in past ages, since financial wars now loom as large though not quite as obviously deadly as the military form. If Chinese investments are taken out of America, or vice versa, each nation would suffer greatly, until and unless its people democratically took over the economies and saw to it that the wealth of the nation went to the people of the nation, the actual creators of that wealth, and not a bunch of investors most of whom whose only job was to be born to rich parents. For every tale of a poor person from the ghetto becoming rich, the Horatio Alger fictions that work as a drug for so many, there are a hundred thousand realities of trust fund babies, infants born with tens of thousands when not millions of dollars already waiting for their signature upon achieving legal age. And even if and when they turn out to be decent, loving, caring human beings, the system guarantees that their efforts to make life better will only work for some and never for all. The present pandemic is only the latest evidence of what we need to confront and change, radically, not just for a pandemic of the moment but the disease humanity has suffered for much too long.

The wet markets in China, said to be the possible source of the virus, are in essence no different than the dry markets in China or anywhere else. They exist to return private profit to investors, and those may well be Americans in the global economic environment. It is a fact that Wall Street and its Beijing equivalent are partners in that marketplace, no matter the radical difference in their governments, and American financial firms, Goldman Sachs for one, own farmland in the very vicinity of whatever bat cave or wet market where this virus may have started. But rather than the virus being dealt with locally by Darwinian natural selection and with modern technology’s help, where possible, it took on the global status of capitalism’s unnatural selection. Under those market rules, forests do not create trees but produce profitable lumber and farms do not create crops but profitable food, and whether wet, dry, cooked or raw, kale, bacon, dog food or organic soup, the product is a commodity to be consumed at the market and turn a profit in the process or it will not originate in the first place.

21st century globalized capital has assumed a pace that involves finance, profits, losses, war, peace and tourism to advance at electronic speeds previously unimagined and turn up all over the world in a matter of not just days but often seconds. It can no longer be dealt with only by national organizations but must finally be confronted by international action which may originate nationally but will have no meaning unless democratically undertaken internationally. And this will mean the direct opposite of imperial national powers of the past, like the old British and the more recent USA, and even the newly emerging China-Russia more humane based market ideologies; they cannot be allowed to dominate the global population.

 It may be necessary to radically change not only commercial but individual travel habits but if these help achieve a cleaner air quality while allowing people to remain closer to home even while doing their jobs, this is only one of the many possible positive outcomes of this crisis. The fact that a new generation of social critics has formed and is unhesitant to challenge the system of capital is another hopeful sign that unity among generations may bring about more substantial change than ever achievable before. We may not have to return to family farming exclusively but larger entities that grow our food need to be, like larger entities that manufacture our products, owned and run by their workers, in true democratic form, to benefit all the people, and this crisis is also making that fact far more clear to far more people.

Democracy is hardly what will be achieved this November in the American election when the usual minority will select a president in the lesser evil billion-dollar sham that passes for electoral freedom, but it must and will be achieved in the immediate future for all humanity or there will be further pandemic hell to pay for civilization. Capitalism, like slavery and feudalism before, has outlived whatever benefits it brought to some. Its individual benefits have gone far beyond humanity’s ability to bear the costs and we, the majority, must see to its end before it brings about ours.