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Collapse of neoliberal ideology in 2008 will in 40-50 years
probably lead to the collapse of USA-led global neoliberal empire

The deep analogy exists between collapse of neoliberalism and dissolution of the USSR. When ideology became discredited, the social system based on it enters zombie state. Such a state can't last forever and eventually collapses. Neoliberalism which entered zombie state in 2008 now is more cruel and bloodthirsty then before

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism  Recommended Links Brexit Casino Capitalism Secular Stagnation Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult
Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism Gangster Capitalism Anti-globalization movement Psychological Warfare and the New World Order Key Myths of Neoliberalism Globalization of Corporatism Greenwald US
Elite Theory Compradors Fifth column Color revolutions The Great Transformation Right to protect If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths
Super Capitalism as Imperialism Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism America’s Financial Oligarchy Inverted Totalitarism Disaster capitalism Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA Neoliberalism and inequality
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Harvard Mafia Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Republican Economic Policy Monetarism fiasco Small government smoke screen The Decline of the Middle Class
Libertarian Philosophy Media domination strategy Neoliberalism Bookshelf John Kenneth Galbraith Globalization of Financial Flows Humor Etc

Introduction

 As Professor  Ganesh Sitaraman noted (The Collapse of Neoliberalism The New Republic, Dec 23, 2019):

With the 2008 financial crash and the Great Recession, the ideology of neoliberalism lost its force. The approach to politics, global trade, and social philosophy that defined an era led not to never-ending prosperity but utter disaster. “Laissez-faire is finished,” declared French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan admitted in testimony before Congress that his ideology was flawed. In an extraordinary statement, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared that the crash “called into question the prevailing neoliberal economic orthodoxy of the past 30 years—the orthodoxy that has underpinned the national and global regulatory frameworks that have so spectacularly failed to prevent the economic mayhem which has been visited upon us.”


For some, and especially for those in the millennial generation, the Great Recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started a process of reflection on what the neoliberal era had delivered. Disappointment would be an understatement: the complete wreckage of economic, social, and political life would be more accurate. In each of these arenas, looking at the outcomes that neoliberalism delivered increasingly called into question the worldview itself.

Start with the economy. Over the course of the neoliberal era, economies around the world have become more and more unequal. In the United States, the wealthiest 1 percent took home about 8.5 percent of the national income in 1976. After a generation of neoliberal policies, in 2014 they captured more than 20 percent of national income. In Britain, the top 1 percent captured more than 14 percent of national income—more than double the amount they took home in the late 1970s. The story is the same in Australia: The top 1 percent took about 5 percent of national income in the 1970s and doubled that to 10 percent by the late 2000s. As the rich get richer, wages have been stagnant for workers since the late 1970s. Between 1979 and 2008, 100 percent of income growth in the U.S. went to the top 10 percent of Americans. The bottom 90 percent actually saw a decline in their income.
 

Derivatives speculation alone under the deregulated “too big to fail” banking system has resulted in over $1.5 quadrillion in nominal values which have ZERO connection to the real world (GDP globally barely accounts for $80 trillion). Over the past 5 months $415 billion of QE bailouts have been released into the bankrupt banks to prevent a collapse. So, economically it’s foundation of sand.

Militarily, the West in general and the USA specifically has followed the path of Roman empire by overextending itself beyond capacity, relying too much  of (expensive) mercenaries and brute military force which created situations of global turmoil, death and unbounded resentment at the dominant Anglo American powers (including NATO) and the USA Military-industrial complex. 

As the most recent transformation of capitalism, neoliberalism is a broad economic and political project of restoring class power of financial oligarchy it enjoyed in 20th of XX century (financial revanchism). It involved  consolidation, globalization and rapid concentration of financial capital (Giroux 2008; 2014). Both neoliberal  governments and authoritarian societies share one important self-destructive trait: They care only about consolidating power in the hands of the financial elite, common people be damned.  As such it  is not a sustainable social system, although this does not mean that the replacement will be better. It well can be worse.

In any case financial oligarchy proved to be the most criminal and vile part of capitalism class. Probably more vile then limitary industrial complex. The most close to the organized crime. So the fact that they will drive the societies which allowed them to rule of the cliff is govern. Neoliberalism was a toxic ideology designed specifically to restore the power of financial oligarchy and as such it has no staying power.  It is unable to improve the standard of living of the majority of the population as it is oriented on looting of this majority by the financial oligarchy without any interference from the state.  The peak power of neoliberal ideology was the decade of  1990-2000. during this decade the standard of living of working and middle class of the USA was sustained by looting the xUSSR area as well as computer and telecommunication revolution, which partially compensated the deindustrialization trend.

After that neoliberalism experienced series of shocks:

  1. Dot com bubble
  2. Bursting of the subprime mortgage bubble, devaluation of CDOs and the collapse of financial industry. Government bailout at a huge cost instead of deep reforms of financial sector (Obama was really a traitor of his class and his race) . That was a knockdown, but not a knockout. This crisis buried the neoliberal ideology, much like WWII buried Bolsheviks ideology.  At this point neoliberalism entered zombie stage, much like Bolshevism in late forties.
  3. Election of Trump and rejection of candidate of neoliberal elite -- Hillary Clinton by the majority of the US electorate.
  4. Color revolution against Trump by intelligence agencies and Clinton wing of the Democratic Party which further delegitimized neoliberal elite. Epstein scandal.
  5. Unleashing by Trump administration of the trade war with China and end of "classic neoliberalism" globalization period.
  6. Defeat of the USA in Afghanistan  and realization that the dominance of Atlantic nations (G7) is coming to the end (Macron  remarks to European diplomats immediately after the Group of 7 summit in Biarritz  is a nice illustration here)

As an ideology, neoliberalism consider profit-making to be the final arbiter and essence of democracy ("market fundamentalism"). Like Fascism and Bolshevism neoliberalism relies on the power of the state for pushing neoliberal "reforms" and the relentless brainwashing of the population by neoliberal propaganda (including indoctrination of the university students via neoclassical economy courses).   So democracy under neoliberalism is just a fig leaf covering dictatorship of financial oligarchy ("inverted totalitarism'). Despite smoke screen of "free market" rhetoric neoliberal are statists  par excellence. But this is covered by thick smoke screen  of propaganda, which in its intensity, penetration and the level of deception outdo Bolsheviks propaganda by an order of magnitude approaching the level described in Brave New World dystopia. In other words neoliberal population is a thoroughly brainwashed population.

There no surprise that the majority of the USA population hate it which in this USA resulted in the election of Trump and is GB in Brexit. Neoliberalism's sale of state assets, offshored jobs, stripped services, poorly-invested infrastructure and armies of the forcibly unemployed have delivered, not promised "efficiency" and "flexibility" to communities, but discomfort and misery. The wealth of a few has now swelled to a level of conspicuousness that must politely be considered vulgar, yet the neoliberal ideology and perverted neoliberal rationality entrenched itself so deeply in how governments make decisions and allocate resources. To the extent that one of propagandists of neoliberalism once declared its triumph "the end of history".

From the late 1980s to 2016, neoliberal ideas held hegemonic sway among both the Democratic elite and the Republican elite in the USA. But election of Trump was a sign of the  legitimization of the neoliberal elite and a really serious crack in the neoliberal facade. Which neoliberal elite tried to patch with the campaign of virulent Russophobia (aka RussiaGate.)  Moreover intelligence agencies and Clinton wing of Democratic Party tried to reverse the results of the elections by unleashing the color revolution against Trump.

Unlike fascism and bolshevism which both relied on population mobilization, neoliberalism tried to emasculate citizens suppressing political activity by treating them as just a consumers. In other words it promote political passivity and replacement of real political struggle by colorful spectacle like wrestling in WWE. Consumption is the only legitimate form of activity of citizens under neoliberalism and exercising of their choice during this consumption is the only desirable political activity.  With the related religious belief that the market can both solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations (the  idea of "self-regulating market," to use Karl Polanyi's phrase.) The resulting grinding mass unemployment — with only tiny remnants of New Deal protection mechanisms to soften the blow — created political instability that destroyed any chances of Clinton Wing of Dems for reelection in 2016.

As the mode of governance, neoliberalism produces the way of life driven by a survival-of-the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, predatory individual in economic jungles. And it declared the moral the right of ruling groups and institutions to exercise power ignoring issues of ethics and social costs (variant of "might is right" mentality).  Epstein scandal (or more correctly the fact that Epstein was not ostracized after his initial conviction and prison term)  is just extreme demonstration of this mentality. 

In the area of economic policies such mentality tend to produce an economy with highly unequal incomes, prevalence of monopolies and high business concentration, unstable booms, and long, painful busts.

As the political project, it involves the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection of private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, the eradication of government regulation of financial institutions and corporations, the destruction of the welfare state and unions, and the complete "marketization" and "commodification" of social relations.

Neoliberalism has put an enormous effort into creating a commanding cultural apparatus and public pedagogy in which individuals can only view themselves as consumers, embrace freedom as the right to participate in the market, and supplant issues of social responsibility for an unchecked embrace of individualism and the belief that all social relation be judged according to how they further one’s individual needs and self-interests.

Matters of mutual caring, respect, and compassion for the other have given way to the limiting orbits of privatization and unrestrained self-interest, just as it has become increasingly difficult to translate private troubles into larger social, economic, and political considerations. As the democratic public spheres of civil society have atrophied under the onslaught of neoliberal regimes of austerity, the social contract has been either greatly weakened or replaced by savage forms of casino capitalism, a culture of fear, and the increasing use of state violence.

One consequence is that it has become more difficult for people to debate and question neoliberal hegemony and the widespread misery it produces for young people, the poor, middle class, workers, and other segments of society — now considered disposable under neoliberal regimes which are governed by a survival-of-the fittest ethos, largely imposed by the ruling economic and political elite.

That they are unable to make their voices heard and lack any viable representation in the process makes clear the degree to which young people and others are suffering under a democratic deficit, producing what Chantal Mouffe calls “a profound dissatisfaction with a number of existing societies” under the reign of neoliberal capitalism (Mouffe 2013:119). This is one reason why so many youth, along with workers, the unemployed, and students, have been taking to the streets in Greece, Mexico, Egypt, the United States, and England.

Neoliberalism is the second after Marxism social system that was "invented" by a group of intellectuals (although there was not a single dominant individual among them) and implemented via coup d'état. ( Installed from above by a "quite coup") Although is  formally only around 40 years old (if we count the age of neoliberalism from the election of Reagan, which means from 1981) neoliberalism as ideology was born much earlier, around in 1947.  And the first neoliberal US president was not Reagan, but  Jimmy Carter.

In any case in 2008 it already reached the stage of discreditation of its ideology. When ideology became discredited, the social system based on it enters zombie state. That happened with Bolshevism after its victory on the WWII when it became evident that the working class does not represent the new dominant class and communist party is unable to secure neither higher productivity of economics, nor higher standard of living for people then the advanced capitalist societies. Soviet soldiers in 1944-1945 saw the standard of living in Poland (which was Russian province before the revolution, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria and started to suspect the dream of building communist society was just another "opium for the people", the secular religion which hides the rule of "nomenklatura". 

Later the Soviet intelligencia realized that The Iron Law of Oligarchy  in applicable to the USSR no less that to any Western country. We probably can  assume that Soviet ideology entered zombies state in 1945, or may be later in 1963 (with  Khrushchev Thaw) when it became clear that the USSR will never match the standard of living of the USA population and most of Western European countries (which paradoxically was the result of the existence of the USSR and which entered the decline after the USSR dissolution) .  Illusions of the possibility of global Communist hegemony had evaporated with the collapse of Sino-Soviet relations (also the 1960s.) Around 1975, the Soviet Union entered a period of economic stagnation from which it  never emerged.  Due to this the USSR looked to Europe, primarily West Germany, to provide hard currency financing through massive loans, while the US became a major supplier of grain.

All in all the story of the USSR collapse suggests that after the ideology was discredited the society, which was based on it,  can last  several decades, or even half a century (The USSR lasted another 28-46 years (depending on the point at which you assume the ideology was completely discredited).  The sad story of the USSR after 1963 does suggests that if the ideology is "man made" like is both the case with Marxism and neoliberalism, the collapse of ideology is the prolog to the subsequent collapse of the society (even if with a substantial lag). The collapse  of such a society is inevitable. It is just a matter of time.

Neoliberal society probably has at least the same staying power as Bolshevism. Probably more. So we can expect that  after 2008 -- when the ideology was discredited and neoliberalism entered zombie stage it will last around 50 years. If not more. The key fact that might speed up the collapse of neoliberalism is the end of cheap oil. As soon as the price of one barrel of oil exceeds some magic number (different researchers cite figures from $70 to $120; let's assume $100 per barrel) the USA like the USSR will enter the period of stagnation from which it might never emerge without dismantling neoliberalism first.

So the crisis of neoliberalism as ideology doers not signify the death of neoliberal as a social system. It will continue to exist in zombie state for some time. A development that some will indeed see as a curse, others as a blessing. Many people after 2008 declared that neoliberalism is dead or seen to be in its death throes. Many obituaries of finance capitalism and global free trade were written in 2008-2012. Nevertheless, neoliberalism has shown itself to be resilient and remains the dominant social system around the world( this resilience was called by Colin Crouch "the strange non-death of neoliberalism".)

The USSR managed to survive in a very hostile international environment more then 40 years (1945-1991) after Bolshevism was dead as an ideology. Absence of hostile environment, as well as the lack of alternative social system might prolong the life of neoliberalism. Also one advantage neoliberalism enjoyed is that collapse of the USSR was prompted by the ascendance of neoliberalism and betrayal of Soviet nomenklatura (which correctly decided that they will be better off under neoliberalism, then under Brezhnev socialism) is that socialism was discredited.   Also unlike KGB brass, which was instrumental in transition of the xUSSR space from Brezhnev socialism to neoliberalism (with the first stage of gangster capitalism) the USA and GB intelligence agencies (actually all five eyes intelligence agencies) still is ready to defend neoliberalism, as color revolution against Trump had shown.  

However, Brexit (and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as head of Labor) and the movements surrounding Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the United States are each in their own way symptomatic of a turning of the political tide against neoliberalism, especially such features as hyper-globalization and deregulation of financial markets. The benefits of free trade – of goods, services and capital – and outsourcing of labor to low-cost destinations are now being challenged across the political spectrum.

That means that the crisis of neoliberalism turned from the stage of purely intellectual  problems (collapse and discreditation of the ideology) to the stage of rising political challenges. Under Trump the effectiveness of neoliberal propaganda declined and start approaching the effectiveness of Soviet propaganda under Brezhnev. Neoliberal MSM are viewed by the majority of population of "fake news" -- the label in popularization of which Trump played an important role. Even "leading neoliberal economists" like Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs and Thomas Piketty started voicing concerns.  Rising inequality lessen the cohesion of neoliberal societies and  created social tensions within them as we see in Marcon France. Even top economist from the IMF have recently acknowledged that neoliberalism has been “oversold”.

But we still do not see social system that will replace neoliberalism yet.  And that might prolog the life neoliberalism to the upper limit of the suggested range Meantime the crisis of neoliberalism created preconditions for the rise of far right movements and switch to "national neoliberalism" (or neoliberalism without globalization). Much like Stalinism was socialism within one given country with Trotsky idea of permanent world revolution till final victory of socialism sent to the dustbin). It is an interesting theoretical question if "national neoliberalism" promoted by Trump can be viewed as a flavor of neoliberalism or a flavor of neofascism. If the latter then neoliberalism already died around 2016 and existed in its classic form just 30 years or so.   I doubt  that we can do such equivalence.

At the current stage collapse of neoliberalism, if we can use this word, is still very slow and almost invisible.  Brexit and election of Trump in the USA are probably the first two most notable events after 2008 that can be interpreted as such. Both undermined "neoliberal globalization" -- one of the key components of neoliberalism, because like Communism before it is about building a global neoliberal empire (led by the USA financial oligarchy in close cooperation of other western oligarchies), without state borders.

Still "Great recession" which  started in 2008 is the fact of life. Nations took various roads out of the Great Depression and that's probably will be true for the Great Recession.  Some used deficit spending and the abandonment of the gold standard, which had to overcome resistance from business. In Germany, fascism removed "capitalist objections to full employment," wrote economist Michal Kalecki, by routing all deficit spending into rearmament and by keeping labor quiescent with political repression and permanent dictatorship.

We can envision  the same process of  the growing level of repression in the USA due to the growing gap between ideology postulates and the real life conditions, especially falling standard of living for most of the people (let's say, lower 80% in the USA. Top 20% including large part of "professional" class are doing just fine, much like nomenklatura in the USSR).

In the United States, the replacement ideology for unregulated capitalism on the early 20th was the New Deal. After some initial failed experimentation with planning, New Dealers settled on a framework of stimulus, regulation, unionization, progressive taxation, and anti-trust, heavily influenced by Louis Brandeis. To get people back to work and prime the economic pump, vast new public works were built, and millions were directly employed by the state. Business — especially finance — was regulated, above all to prevent concentration. Unions were protected under a new legal regime created by the National Labor Relations Act. Taxes on the rich were sharply increased, both to raise revenue and to deliberately prevent the accumulation of vast fortunes. Finally, world trade was managed under the Bretton-Woods system. New Deal ideology did not win at once and in 1937, FDR reversed the course and went back to austerity, instantly throwing millions out of work, and forcing him to return to deficit spending. It took the WWII war spending in 1941-1945 to entrench the New Deal and to eliminate mass unemployment. War also created the political space for Roosevelt to raise the top tax bracket to 94%. Think about it. Less then a century ago the top tax bracket in the USA was 94%. The erosion of the New Deal started almost immediately. For example, in 1847 trade union power was undercut by Taft–Hartley Act.

The New Deal framework held for about three decades after the end of the war — during which time the country also had the greatest economic boom in American history. Critically, this time the fruits of growth were also broadly shared. For all the many faults in the New Deal, in this period America was reformed from a country which functioned mostly on behalf of a tiny elite into one which functioned on behalf of a sizable chunk of population.

In this sense ascendance of neoliberalism was a counter-revolution against New Deal staged by financial elite:  fundamental economic bedrock is quite similar: deregulation, tax and spending cuts, union busting, and free trade. Its adherents resurrected the idea of the self-regulating market, creating an elaborate mathematic model in which depressions were always the result of structural problems, the economy is always at full employment, and nothing could be changed without making someone else worse off. Once again, the political message was that regulations and taxation should be kept as low as possible.

A generation of economists centered around the Chicago School, including Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Robert Lucas, provided the intellectual backbone, gaining strength in the 1950s and '60s. They argued that New Deal structures were a drag on economic growth, and that taxes, regulation, and social insurance needed to be cut. America simply couldn't afford the strangling red tape and high taxes of the New Deal. And this time, they assured everyone, things would be different — no 1929-style crash would be in the cards. That was all a very clever deception,  propaganda design at restoring the power of financial oligarchy undermined by the New Deal capitalism and increasing the rate of profits via financialization of everything. Plus a dream of world neoliberal revolution  taken directly from Trotskyite books (Neoliberalism can be viewed as a Trotskyism for the rich)

Neoliberals' opportunity came in the 1970s, when the world economy ran into difficulties and at the center of those difficulties was the rising price of oil. War spending, the baby boom coming of age, and the oil shocks created serious inflation and pushed the USA into a trade deficit, which broke the Bretton-Woods system. Profits declined and big business mobilized against labor and trade unions. The first wave of de-industrialization in the USA and offshoring of factories to Asia hit manufacturing.

I wonder if oil can serve as the grave digger of neoliberalism this time.

The limits of analogy between the collapse of neoliberalism and the collapse of the USSR

Like all analogies it far from being perfect.  Here are major objections:

  1. When the USSR collapsed neoliberal ideology was a clear alternative and the collapse of the USSR coincided with "triumphal march" of neoliberalism around the globe.  In a sense the USSR simply fall on the rails of the neoliberal train.
  2. Right now we do not see such a prominent alternative to the dominant neoliberal ideology, although it is clear that it is wrong and that neoliberal promise that high inequality speeds up economic development and "rising tide lifts all bots" proved to be a fake. But right now  neoliberalism  is still social system that is dominant globally (BTW this is true not only for the USA and Western Europe, but also for Russia and China).  Even after 2008 it managed to counterattack in Argentina and Brazil.
  3. Neoliberalism exists without  major geopolitical threat, unlike Soviet Union which existed in the hostile surrounding of major Western powers with their three letter agencies directly targeting this society. The "collective West" used huge money resources of Western financial system against the USSR, limit access to technology and scientific exchange, and created constant threat of the mere survival which justified huge military expenses (which in turn entrenched Soviet military-industrial complex which starved the civil society) and the burning desire (especially by the US neoliberal elite, which came to power in 1980 ) to get rid of competition by any means possible. 
  4. While Trump administration reminds in its incompetence Brezhnev administration, the gap is still tremendous. While Trump is definitely a third  rate politician, Gorbachov as a politician was simply a naive (and probably bought) idiot. In comparison with him Trump looks like a shrewd statesman (or, at least, a staunch nationalist.) Unless we assume that "Gorby" (cultivated by his handler Margaret Thatcher) was a traitor (the version that became increasingly popular in post Soviet space after 1991). But the complete absence of political talent (Gorbachov came to power as a protégé of Andropov)  is still the primary suspect, because you should not assume sinister motives when incompetence is enough for the explanation of the events (  The Soviet collapse Contradictions and neo-modernization ):

    The main charge that may be laid against Gorbachev as leader is that he lacked an effective strategy of statecraft: the mobilization of resources to make a country more self-confident, more powerful, more respected and more prosperous. Instead, Gorbachev frittered away the governmental capital accumulated by the Soviet regime, and in the end was unable to save the country which he had attempted to reform.

  5. Despite all difficulties the USA remains the owner of world reserve currency and the center of technological innovation (although in the later role it somewhat slipped). It military spending (which stimulate fundamental research) remains the largest in the world. The country still remains the magnet for immigration from other countries.
  6. Geographic location of the USA is such that it has no rivals that share common border.

Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich

There one, especially deep analogy between any neoliberal society and the USSR. Neoliberalism borrowed large part of its strategy and tactic of acquiring and maintaining power directly from  Marxism, specifically from the  flavor of Marxism, which partially originated (and remained popular until late 1940th) in the USA, and called Trotskyism (which Trotsky was a Russia émigré, he spend  his formative years in the USA).  Actually analogies with Marxism are to numerous to list.

The first notable analogy is the slogan "Dictatorship of "free markets"" instead of "dictatorship of proletariat."  With the same idea that the driving force of this social transformation is the intellectual "vanguard" recruited mainly from "Intelligentsia" (mainly right wing economists and philosophers of the  Mont Pelerin Society  created in `947 with the explicit goal to oppose socialism and Bolshevism) will drive steeple to the "bright future of all mankind" -- global neoliberal empire led by the USA. And that the end justifies the means.

In short, neoliberalism is a kind of "Trotskyism for rich." And it uses the same subversive tactics to get and stay in power, which were invented by Bolsheviks/Trotskyites. Including full scale use of intelligence agencies (during WWII Soviet intelligence agency -- NKDV -- rivaled the primary intelligence agencies of Nazi Germany -- Abwehr; CIA was by-and-large modeled on Abwehr  with Abwerh specialists directly participating in its creation ).  It also process the ideal of World Revolution -- with the goal of creating the global neoliberal empire. The neoliberal USA elite is hell-bent on this vision.

Like Trotskyism neoliberalism generally needs a scapegoat. Currently this role is served by Islamic fundamentalist movements. But recently Russia emerged like more convenient scapegoat, at least for "CIA democrats" like Obama and  Hillary Clinton.

Also like Bolshevism before, neoliberalism created its own "nomenklatura" -- the privileged class which exists outside the domain of capital owners. Which along with high level management and professionals include neoclassical academic economists. Who guarantee the level of brainwashing at the universities necessary for maintaining the neoliberal system.  This "creator class" fight for its self-preservation and against any challenges. Often quite effectively.

 Deification of markets (free market fundamentalism) like the idea of "dictatorship of proletariat" is "fools gold"

Yet another strong analogy is that the deification of markets much like the idea of "dictatorship of proletariat" is "fools gold". This fact was clearly established after the Great Recession, and one of the most succinct explanation of the stupidity of the idea of self-regulating market remains Karl Polanyi's famous book The Great Transformation.  Polanyi argued that the development of the modern state went hand in hand with the development of modern market economies and that these two changes were inextricably linked in history. And all talk about small state, state as "night watchman" are pure hypocrisy.  Like Marxism, neoliberalism really provides "the great transformation" because it both changes the human institutions and human morality. The latter in a very destructive way.  The book postulated that and "free market society" (where the function of social regulation is outsourced to the market forces)  is unsustainable because it is fatally destructive to human nature and the natural social contexts humans need to survive and prosper. 

Polanyi attempted to turn the tables on the orthodox liberal account of the rise of capitalism by arguing that “laissez-faire was planned”, whereas social protectionism was a spontaneous reaction to the social dislocation imposed by an unrestrained free market. He argues that the construction of a "self-regulating" market necessitates the separation of society into economic and political realms. Polanyi does not deny that the self-regulating market has brought "unheard of material wealth", but he suggests that this is too narrow a focus. The market, once it considers land, labor and money as "fictitious commodities" (fictitious because each possesses qualities that are not expressed in the formal rationality of the market), and including them "means to subordinate the substance of society itself to the laws of the market. This, he argues, results in massive social dislocation, and spontaneous moves by society to protect itself. In effect, Polanyi argues that once the free market attempts to separate itself from the fabric of society, social protectionism is society's natural response, which he calls the "double movement." Polanyi did not see economics as a subject closed off from other fields of enquiry, indeed he saw economic and social problems as inherently linked. He ended his work with a prediction of a socialist society, noting, "after a century of blind 'improvement', man is restoring his 'habitation.

But when 50 years passed and generation changed they manage to shove it down throat. Because the generation which experienced horrors of the Great Depression at this point was gone (and that include cadre of higher level management which still have some level of solidarity with workers against capital owners).

They were replaced with HBS and WBS graduates -- ready made neoliberals. Quit coup (in Simon Johnson terms) naturally  followed ( https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/05/the-quiet-coup/307364/ ) and we have hat we have.  In a sense neoliberalism and Managerialism ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managerialism ) are closely related.  Here is how  he "reinvents" the concept  of "Minsky moment" in the new conditions of neoliberal globalization"

Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.

Neoliberalism in zombie state (which it entered after 2008) remains dangerous and is able to counterattack

Unlike Bolshevism after 1945, neoliberalism in zombie state (which it entered after 2008) remains dangerous and is able to counterattack -- the US sponsored efforts of replacement of left regimes in LA with right wing neoliberal regimes were by-and-large successful. I two key LA countries neoliberalism successfully counterattacked and won political power deposing more left regimes (Brazil and Argentina ). That happened despite that this phase of neoliberal era has been marked by slower growth, greater trade imbalances, and deteriorating social conditions. In Latin America the average growth rate was lower by 3 percent per annum in the 1990s than in the 1970s, while trade deficits as a proportion of GDP are much the same. Contrary to neoliberal propaganda the past 25 years (1980–2005) have also characterized by slower progress on social indicators for the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries [compared with the prior two decades ( https://monthlyreview.org/2006/04/01/neoliberalism-myths-and-reality/ ) :

In an effort to keep growing trade and current account deficits manageable, third world states, often pressured by the IMF and World Bank, used austerity measures (especially draconian cuts in social programs) to slow economic growth (and imports). They also deregulated capital markets, privatized economic activity, and relaxed foreign investment regulatory regimes in an effort to attract the financing needed to offset the existing deficits. While devastating to working people and national development possibilities, these policies were, as intended, responsive to the interests of transnational capital in general and a small but influential sector of third world capital. This is the reality of neoliberalism.

The danger of the end of "cheap oil" for neoliberalism

The Soviet Union collapsed partially due to the fact that collapse of oil prices (which might be engineered event) deprived it of the ability to buy the necessary goods from the West (which at this point included grain, due to inefficiency of Soviet model of  large centralized state owned agricultural complexes).

In case of the USA an opposite situation might also serve as a trigger: as soon as oil cross, say, $80 dollar per barrel mark most Western economies slide in "secular stagnation" and that means growing discontent of lower 80% of population. Also as  globalization is inherently dependent on cheap hydrocarbons and disappearance of cheap oil will male the current international patterns of flow of goods across countries with China as world manufacture  open to review.  

This is the situation when the irresistible force of globalization hits the brick wall of high oil prices. Also high cost of hydrocarbons means "end of growth" (aka permanent stagnation), and neoliberalism financial schemes based on cheap credit automatically implode in the environment of slow of zero growth. So expect that the next financial crisis will shake neoliberalism stronger then the crisis of 2008.

A lot of debt becomes unplayable, if growth stagnates. That makes manipulation of GDP numbers the issue of political and economic survival because this is the method of "inspiring confidence".  And the temptation to inspire confidence is too great to resists. Exactly like it was in the USSR. 

It might well be that the consistent price of oil, say, over $120 is a direct threat to neoliberal project in the USA. Even with prices over $100 the major neoliberal economics  tend to enter the stage of "secular stagnation". It also makes the US military which is a large consumer of oil in the USA much more expensive to run and virtually doubles the costs of  neoliberal "wars for regime change", essentially curtailing neoliberal expansion.

Election of Trump is just testament that some part of the US elite is ready for "Hail Mary" pass just to survive.  The same is true about financiering of color revolutions, which as a new type of neoliberal conquests of other countries, also require a lot of cash, although not at the scale of "boots on the ground".

 More on "zombie stage" of neoliberalism: the consequences of the situation when neoliberal ideology is already discredited

The implosion of the entire global banking/mortgage industry in 2008 has essentially delegitimized neoliberalism as an economic and social model which the U.S. has been pleased to espouse as the royal road to prosperity for decades. It signified the end of Washington Consensus.

At this point ideology of neoliberalism was completely discredited in a sense that promise prosperity for all via "free market" mechanisms. The whole concept of "free markets" is from now on is viewed as fake. Much like happened with bolshevism in the USSR.

It actually was viewed as fake after the Great Depression too, but the generation that remembered that died out and neoliberalism managed to perform its major coup d'état  in the USA in 1981. After trail balls in Chile and GB. 

Also its fake nature became evident to large part of global elite (which probably never have any illusions from the very beginning) as well, which is even more dangerous, a large part of upper middle class in many developing countries, the social strata from which "fifth column of neoliberal globalization" is typically recruited. 

Global neoliberal empire still is supported by pure military and financial power of the USA and its Western (and some Asian, such as Japan) allies as well as technological superiority of the West in general. So right now mainly ideological postulates of neoliberalism, especially as its "free market absolutism", started to be questioned.  And partially revised (the trend which is visible in increase financial regulation in most Western countries). So "self-regulation free market model proved to be neither self-regulating, not really free -- it just transferred the cost of its blunders on the society at large.  This form of neoliberalism with the core ideology intact but with modified one of several postulates can be called post-neoliberalism or zombie neoliberalism. 

Rule of financial oligarchy like the rule of "nomenklatura" in the USSR is under increasing scrutiny

While indoctrination now reached almost all adult population,  there are some instances of resistance, especially among young people, who are insisting that casino capitalism is an act of violence against them and destruction of their future. And if it does not come to an end, what we might experience a mass destruction of human life if not  the planet itself. 

Both Obama and Trump proved to be masters of the "bait and switch" maneuver, but the anger of population did not dissipated and at some point still can explode.

Rule of financial oligarchy also gradually comes under some (although very limited) scrutiny in the USA. Some measures to restrict appetites of financial oligarchy were recently undertaken in Europe (bank bonuses limitations).

HFT and derivatives still remain off-reach for regulators despite JP Morgan fiasco in May 2012 in London branch. Trade loss was around two billions, decline of bank value was around $13bn (The Guardian) At this stage most people around the world realized that as Warren Buffett's right-hand man Charlie Munger quipped in his CNBC interview Trusting banks to self-regulate is like trusting to self-regulate heroin addicts. At the meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) heads of states in the spring of 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the death of “the Washington Consensus” — the famous list of market-liberalizing policy prescriptions that guided the previous 20 or 30 years of neoliberal expansion into third world countries  (Painter 2009).

Prominent economists in the United States and elsewhere pointed out that after decades of reform, market-liberalizing policies had not produced the promised benefits for either economic growth or social welfare of countries were those policies were applied (Stiglitz 2002, 2006; Rodrik 2006). These criticisms further undermined the legitimacy of neoliberal governance, exactly the same way as similar criticism undermined socialist model of the USSR and Eastern Europe. the problem is that while socialist experiment could be compared with the Western countries capitalism achievement, here there is no alternative model with which to compare.

Still a backlash directed at the USA is mounting even from the former loyal vassals. Even the UK elite starts to display the behavior that contradict its role of the US poodle. The atmosphere is which the USA is considered "guilty" of pushing though the throats of other countries a utopia that harmed them is a different atmosphere for the US oligarchy that the role of it accustomed to.

Everybody is now aware of the substantial costs that the modern financial system has imposed on the real economy and no amount of propaganda and brainwashing can hide this simple fact. It is questionable that the "financial innovations" of the last three-four decades can compensate for those huge costs and that they warrants those costs. Shocks generated within the financial system and transformation of economies imposed by international financial oligarchy as the core of neoliberal elite, implies that the rule of financial oligarchy creates negative externalities for societies and that some types of financial activities and some financial structures should be treated like an organized crime (as purely parasitic, extortionist type of players).

Still this stage preserves several attributes of previous stage and first of all push for globalization and aggressive foreign policy. While economic crisis of 2008 destroyed legitimacy of ideology of neoliberalism, neoliberalism as an ideology continue to exists as a cult, much like communism as an ideology continues to exist, despite the failure of the USSR. And being phony ideology from the very beginning, a smokescreen for  the revanchism of financial oligarchy, it still can be promoted by unrelenting propaganda machine of the same forces which put it into mainstream albeit with les efficiency.  

Rise of nationalism as the reaction on neoliberal globalization
much like it was a reaction on Brezhnev's stagnation in the USSR

While no viable alternatives emerged, and inertia is still strong, and G7 block with the USA as the head is still the dominant world power, the crash are now visible in the global neoliberalism façade.  Like in 20th failure the globalization and unrestrained financial markets (which produced the Great Depression)  the financial crisis of 2008 led to the dramatic rise of nationalism, especially in Europe (France, Hungary, Ukraine). In some countries, such as Ukraine, the net result of neoliberal revolution was establishing  far right regime which has uncanny similarities to the régimes which came to power in 30th such as Franco regime in Spain.  The global neoliberal dominance as a social system still continues, it is just the central idea of neoliberalism, the fake idea of self-regulating market that was completely discredited by the crisis (it was discredited before during Great Depression, but the generation the remembered the lesson is now extinct (it looks like it takes approximately 50 years for humanity to completely forget the lessons of history ;-).

This rise of nationalism was also a feature of the USSR political space in 80th. Formally it was nationalist sentiments that buried the USSR.

Around the world, economists and policymakers now come to consensus that excessive reliance on unregulated financial markets and the unrestrained rule of financial oligarchy was the root cause of the current worldwide financial crisis. That created a more difficult atmosphere for the USA financial institutions to operate abroad. Several countries are now trying to limit role of dollar as the world currency (one of the sins Saddam Hussein paid the price).

Also internal contradictions became much deeper and the neoliberal regime became increasingly unstable even in the citadel of neoliberalism -- the USA. Like any overstretched empire it became hollow within with stretches on potholes ridden roads and decaying infrastructure visible to everyone. Politically, the Republican Party became a roadblock for any meaningful reform (and its radical wing -- the tea party even sending its representatives to Congress), the Party that is determined to rather take the USA the road of the USSR, then change its ideology. All this points to the fact that neoliberalism as an socio-economic doctrine is following the path of Bolshevism.

Neoliberal propaganda gradually lost effectiveness,
 and now  invokes internal protest and rejection much like Marxist propaganda in the USSR

Neoliberalism failed to fulfill its promises for the bottom 80% of population. They became more poorer, job security deteriorated, good jobs disappear, and even McJobs are scare judging from the fact that Wall Mart and McDonalds are able to fully staff their outlets.  McJobs are jobs that does not provide a living wages.  Opiod epidemics reminds me epidemics of alcoholism in the USSR during Brezhnev period.  Cannabis legalization belong to the same trend.

But its media dominance of neoliberalism paradoxically continues unabated. And this is despite the fact that after the crisis of 2008, the notion that finance mobilizes and allocates resources efficiently, drastically reduces systemic risks and brings significant productivity gains for the economy as a whole became untenable. We can expect that like was the case with Catholicism in middle ages and Bolshevism in the USSR, zombie phase of neoliberalism can last many decades (in the USSR, "zombie" state lasted two decades, say from 1970 to 1991, and neoliberalism with its emphasis on low human traits such as greed and supported by military and economic power of the USA, is considerably more resilient then Bolshevism). As of 2013 it is still supported by elites of several major western states (such as the USA, GB, Germany, France), transnational capital (and financial capital in particular) and respective elites out of the sense of self-preservation. That means that is it reasonable to expect that its rule in G7 will continue (like Bolshevism rule in the USSR in 70th-80th) despite probably interrupted by bursts of social violence (Muslim immigrants in Europe are once such force).

In the US, for example, income and wealth inequality continue to increase, with stagnating middle-class earnings, reduced social mobility, and an allegedly meritocratic higher education system, generously supported by tax exemptions, has been turned into the system whose main beneficiaries are the children of the rich and successful. Superimposed on this class divide is an increasingly serious intergenerational divide, and increases level of unemployment of young people, which make social atmosphere somewhat similar to the one in Egypt, although the pressure from Muslim fundamentalists is absent.

More and more neoliberalism came to be perceived as a ruse intended to safeguard the interests of a malignantly narcissistic empire (the USA) and of rapacious multinationals. It is now more and more linked with low-brow cultural homogeneity, social Darwinism, encroachment on privacy, mass production of junk, and suppression of national sentiments and aspiration in favor of transnational monopolies. It even came to be associated with a bewildering variety of social ills: rising crime rates, unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, organ trafficking, and other antisocial forms of conduct.

While ideology of neoliberalism is by-and-large discredited, the global economic institutions associated with its rise are not all equally moribund. For example, the global economic crisis of 2008 has unexpectedly improved the fortunes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization long famous for the neoliberal policy conditions attached to its loans that served to incorporate countries into a global neoliberal economic system. In 2008, a cascade of financial crises in Eastern Europe and Iceland fattened the IMF’s dwindling loan portfolio.

World Trade Organization (WTO), the key US-used and abused universal opener of markets to US corporations and investments is in worse shape then IMF, but still is able to enforce Washington consensus rules. The Doha round of negotiations is stalled, mostly due to irresolvable disputes between developed and developing countries. Consequently, the current crisis of neoliberalism raises many important questions about the future path of the current international institutions promoting the neoliberal order. But still Russia joined WTO in 2012 which means that this organization got a new lease of life.

The slide to "Neoliberalism in name only" under Trump

When ideology collapses the elite often resorts to corporatism (and in extreme case to neo-fascism) That happened briefly in the USSR under Andropov, but he did not last long enough to establish a trend.

Trumps "national neoliberalism" (neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization) mixed with economic nationalism can be called "neoliberalism in name only". Trump foreign economic policies look more and more like an economic aggression, economic racket, then a neoliberal economic policy (which presuppose treating financial oligarchy of other countries as equals). Looks like Trump's "national neoliberalism" became "Hail Mary pass" with which the US financial oligarchy seeks to maintain at all costs it global dominance (The Great Crash, 2008: A Geopolitical Setback for the West , Foreign Affairs)

The financial and economic crash of 2008, the worst in over 75 years, is a major geopolitical setback for the United States and Europe. Over the medium term, Washington and European governments will have neither the resources nor the economic credibility to play the role in global affairs that they otherwise would have played. These weaknesses will eventually be repaired, but in the interim, they will accelerate trends that are shifting the world's center of gravity away from the United States.

A brutal recession is unfolding in the United States, Europe, and probably Japan -- a recession likely to be more harmful than the slump of 1981-82. The current financial crisis has deeply frightened consumers and businesses, and in response they have sharply retrenched. In addition, the usual recovery tools used by governments -- monetary and fiscal stimuli -- will be relatively ineffective under the circumstances.

This damage has put the American model of free-market capitalism under a cloud. The financial system is seen as having collapsed; and the regulatory framework, as having spectacularly failed to curb widespread abuses and corruption. Now, searching for stability, the U.S. government and some European governments have nationalized their financial sectors to a degree that contradicts the tenets of modern capitalism.

Much of the world is turning a historic corner and heading into a period in which the role of the state will be larger and that of the private sector will be smaller. As it does, the United States' global power, as well as the appeal of U.S.-style democracy, is eroding.

The USSR war in Afghanistan and the rampant militarism of the US neoliberal empire:
you can do anything with bayonets, but you can't sit on them

The USSR occupation of Afghanistan was actually a trap created by Carter administration in order to weaken and possibly destroy  the USSR. They wanted that the USSR experienced its own Vietnam-style defeat.  As a side effect they created political Islam and Islam fundamentalist movement (exemplified by former CIA asset Osama bin Laden) that later bite them in the back.

The US elite got into this trap voluntarily after 9/11: first via occupations of  Afghanistan (the war continues to this day), then occupation of Iraq, Libya and initiating "color revolution" (and train and supply Sunni Islam fundamentalists, along with KSA and Turkey) to depose Assad government in Syria.

The USA still remains the most powerful country in the world with formidable military, and still can dictate it will military for small countries in a classic sense --  in a sense that "might makes right". It still can afford to behave as a word hegemon and the only source of justice ignoring the UN and other International organization, unless it is convenient to them.

But there are costs attacked and in case of Iraq war they are already substantial (to the tune of several trillion dollars). While effects on the USA economy of those set of wars of managing and expanding its neoliberal empire (and repartitioning ME, securing oil access and repartitioning the region in favor of Israel regional interests)  are still in the future, military adventurism was a gravestone on many previous empires, which tend to overstretch themselves and this fasten their final day. 

As Napoleon noted "You can do anything with bayonets, but you can't sit on them". having first class military weakens is not everything when you face guerilla resistance in occupied country. Running aggressive foreign policy on a discredited ideology and relying on blunt propaganda and false flag operations is a difficult undertaking as resistance mounts and bubble out in un-anticipated areas.

Ukraine is one recent example, when neoliberal color revolution, which was performed by few thousands trained by the West far right militants, including openly neo-fascist squads, led to civil war in the country. Syria is another case of unanticipated effects, as Russia did not want to repeat experience of Libya and intervened, interfering with the USA goal of establishing Sunni-based Islamist regime, subservant to KSA and Turkey, and/or dismembering the country and creating   several weak Sunny dominated statelets with jihadists in power, the situation which greatly  benefit Turkey and Israel.  Israel correctly consider secular Assad régime as a greater threat and major obstacle in annexation of Golan Heights and eliminating Hezbollah in Lebanon.  It would prefer weak islamist regimes, hopefully engaged in protracted civil war to Assad regime any time.

Unfortunately, the recent troika of "neoliberalized" countries -- Libya, Syria  and Ukraine --  were not probably a swan song of muscular enforcement of neoliberal model on other countries. While sponsored by the USA and allies anti-Putin putsch in Russia (aka "white revolution") failed, events in Libya and, especially,  Ukraine prove the neoliberalism still can launch and win offensives at relatively low, acceptable cost (via color revolutions mechanism ). The main cost carry the population of the target country which is plunged  into economic and political chaos, in most cases including the civil war.  

But in the USA those wars also somewhat backfire with broken domestic infrastructure, decaying bridges and angered, restless, and partially drugged by opioids  population.  As well as thousands of crippled young men healthcare for whom till end of their lives will cost large amount of money.

In such circumstances chances of raising to power of an openly nationalistic leader substantially increase. Which was already demonstrated quite convincingly by the election of Trump.

Conclusions

Analogy of current crisis of neoliberalism in the USA and the USSR collapse is demonstrably far from perfect. The USSR was always in far less favorable conditions  than the USA, operating is a hostile environment encircled by Western powers interested in its demise; also the collapse of the USSR happened during "triumphal march of neoliberalism" which provided ready-made alternative to Brezhnev's socialism and stimulated the betrayal of Soviet nomenklatura of their old ideology and "switching ideological camps").  But the key to collapse of the USSR was the collapse of Bolshevik's ideology, which has happened some time from 1945 to 1963. And this is a common element with the situation of the USA now.

Which does not bode well for the USA future, if the hypothesis that the same fundamental forces are in play in both cases. In this sense the collapse of neoliberal ideology ("free market fundamentalism"), which happened in  2008 is a bad omen indeed.

There is still a chance that the US elite proves to be flexible again  and manage to escape this "ideological mousetrap" by switching to some new ideology, but they are pretty weak, if we look at the quality of Trump administration and the personalities in the USA Congress. The latter clearly resembles the level of degeneration of Soviet Politburo.

Some members of Congress and key figured in Trump administration way  too closely correspond to the depiction of sociopaths to stay comfortable.  Some are perverts. The same was true about certain parts of Soviet "nomenklatura", especially leaders of Komsomol (All-Union Leninist Young Communist League ), from which such questionable post-communist figures such a Khodorkovsky, in Russia (of "pipes and corpses" film fame), and Turchinov in Ukraine  later emerged.

The recent humiliation of the US representative in the UN Nikki Haley by Bolivian representative also suggest that neoliberal propaganda lost large part of its effectiveness and unilateral military actions by the USA are now questioned more effectively: Bolivian UN Rep Sacha Llorenti Blasts U.S. for Attacking Syria, Educates Nikki Haley on Iraq, UN & U.S. History

Llorenti’s fourteen minute address to the UNSC was a tour de force – a critique of unilateral military action by the U.S. (it violates the UN charter), an analysis of previous emotional appeals for urgent action (think Colin Powell in 2003), as well as a reminder of the United States’ long history of interventionism in Latin America. Llorenti also called the UNSC to task for its internal structure, which grants considerably more power upon its five permanent members than it does its ten non-permanent members.

It was a remarkable anti-imperialist display. Read a partial transcript and/or watch the full video below.

That closely corresponds to what had happened with Bolshevism ideology around 1980 -- when it became the source of jokes both inside the USSR and abroad.  Or a little bit later, if we remember "Tear down this wall!" -- a line from a speech made by US President Ronald Reagan in West Berlin on June 12, 1987. When  Paul Craig Roberts  claims that It Has Become Embarrassing To Be An American  that is a symptom of a problem, yet another symptom of the demise of neoliberal propaganda,  despite obvious exaggeration.

It would be  too much stretch to state that neoliberal and especially globalist propaganda is now rejected both by population within the USA (which resulted in defeat of Hillary Clinton -- an establishment candidates and election of the  "wild card" candidate  -- Donald Trump -- with clearly nationalistic impulses) and outside the USA. 


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[May 24, 2020] The world is entering the period of instability and turbulence

May 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 24 2020 20:52 utc | 29

...China's Foreign Minister Yang Yi held a lengthy presser providing detailed answers to many differing questions. The topic of "Wolf Diplomacy" is in the news today and was asked about by CNN:

" Cable News Network : We've seen an increasingly heated 'war of words' between China and the US. Is 'wolf warrior' diplomacy the new norm of China's diplomacy?

Wang Yi : I respect your right to ask the question, but I'm afraid you're not framing the question in the right way. One has to have a sense of right and wrong. Without it, a person cannot be trusted, and a country cannot hold its own in the family of nations .

... ... ...

"The world is undergoing changes of a kind unseen in a century and full of instability and turbulence. Confronted by a growing set of global challenges, we hope all countries will realize that humanity is a community with a shared future. We must render each other more support and cooperation, and there should be less finger-pointing and confrontation. We call on all nations to come together and build a better world for all." [My Emphasis]

... ... ...

[May 24, 2020] The Black Death Killed Feudalism. What Does COVID-19 Mean for Capitalism - FPIF by John Feffer

Notable quotes:
"... The coronavirus crisis has thrown the global economy into cardiac arrest, and now you are acutely aware of the very markets that you had previously just assumed would function as normal. The first indication was the precipitous drop in the stock market that took place in late February. Then, as the United States began to enter quarantine, the labor market collapsed and hundreds of millions of people were suddenly out of work. Shortages in a few key commodities -- masks, ventilators, toilet paper -- began to appear. ..."
Apr 29, 2020 | fpif.org

How will the coronavirus transform the relationship between state and market? A look at oil, food, and finance.


You pay little attention to the systems of your body -- circulatory, digestive, pulmonary -- unless something goes wrong.

These automatic systems ordinarily go about their business, like unseen clockwork, while you think about a vexing problem at work, drink your morning cup of coffee, walk up and down stairs, and head out to your car to begin your morning commute. If you had to focus your attention on breathing, pushing blood through your veins, and metabolizing food, you'd have no time or energy to do anything else. The body abhors the micromanaging of the mind.

The same applies to the world's markets. They whir away in the background of your life, providing loans to your business, coffee beans to your nearby supermarket, labor to build your house, gas to fill your car. You take all of these markets for granted. All you have to concern yourself with is earning enough money to gain access to these goods and services. That's what it means to live in a modern economy. The days of hunting and gathering, of complete self-sufficiency, are long past.

And then, in a series of sickening shifts, the markets go haywire. As with a heart attack, you no longer can take the optimal performance of these systems for granted.

The coronavirus crisis has thrown the global economy into cardiac arrest, and now you are acutely aware of the very markets that you had previously just assumed would function as normal. The first indication was the precipitous drop in the stock market that took place in late February. Then, as the United States began to enter quarantine, the labor market collapsed and hundreds of millions of people were suddenly out of work. Shortages in a few key commodities -- masks, ventilators, toilet paper -- began to appear.

It is one of the central tenets of laissez-faire capitalism that markets behave like automatic systems, that an "invisible hand" regulates supply and demand. Market fundamentalists believe that the less the government interferes with these automatic systems, the better. They argue, to the contrary, that markets should increasingly take over government functions: a privatized post office, for instance, or Social Security accounts subjected to the stock market.

Market fundamentalists are like Christian Scientists. They refuse government intervention just as the faithful reject medical intervention. Much like God's grace, the invisible hand operates independent of human plan.

Then something happens, like a pandemic, which tests this faith. States around the world are now spending trillions of dollars to intervene in the economy: to bail out banks, save businesses, help out the unemployed. Countries are imposing export controls on key commodities. As in wartime, governments are directing manufacturers to produce critical goods to fill an unexpected demand for greater supply.

These are emergency interventions. The market fundamentalist looks forward to the day when stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, people go back to work, the stock market barrels back into bull mode, and the invisible hand, with perhaps a few Band-aids across the knuckles, returns to its job.

But some pandemics fundamentally alter the economy. In such emergencies, people realize that an economy is constructed and thus can be reconstructed. Are we now at just such a moment in world history? Will the coronavirus permanently transform the relationship between the state and the market?

Let's take a look at three key markets -- oil, food, and finance -- to measure the impact of the pandemic and the prospects for transformation.

Oil

Shutterstock

In 2007, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa offered to forgo digging for oil beneath the Yasuni national park in exchange for $3.6 billion from the international community. No one took him up on the offer.

When the U.S. price of oil went below zero last week, I immediately thought of Correa's offer. The mainstream scoffed at the Ecuadorian leader back in 2007. How on earth could you possibly propose to keep oil under the earth? The world economy runs on fossil fuels. You might as well ask your kid to keep her Halloween candy uneaten in the back of the cupboard.

Today, however, the world is glutted with oil. The global recession has radically reduced the need for oil and gas.

In the United States, transportation absorbs nearly 70 percent of oil consumption. With airplanes grounded, fewer trains and busses in operation, and highways uncongested, the demand for oil has dropped precipitously. Businesses, too, are using less energy. It's not just oil. Companies devoted to pumping natural gas out of shale deposits are filing for bankruptcy as their market value drops precipitously: the price of a share of fracking giant Whiting Petroleum fell from $150 a couple years ago to 67 cents on March 31.

It's gotten to the point that you almost can't give away the stuff.

After all, if you somehow found yourself with a bunch of barrels of oil, where would you store it? Oil-storage tanks in the United State are near capacity. "Oil supertankers are looking like petroleum paparazzi, crowding the Los Angeles shoreline, either as floating storage or waiting on some kind of turn in sentiment," Brian Sullivan writes at CNBC . "With prices higher in coming months, for now it pays to sit on oil and hope to sell it for more money down the pipeline."

Oil-producing nations, after years of boosting their supplies, finally agreed in mid-April to cut production by 10 percent -- about 10 million gallons a day. In other words, they are deciding to leave oil in the ground. Now, however, it doesn't even qualify as a half-measure, since demand has dropped by 35 percent. The oil producers are awaiting the end of recession, when the quarantined go back to work, and everyone jumps on their transport of choice to make up for lost travel. They are awaiting a return to normal.

But the market for fossil fuels is not normal. The notion that the invisible hand will steer economies in a sustainable direction is hogwash. We are long past the moment when we should have paid Correa and everyone else to leave the oil and gas in the ground and move toward a world powered entirely by clean energy. The market treats the environment either as a commodity like any other or as an "externality" that doesn't factor into the final price of goods and services. That is so nineteenth century.

Climate change demands an intervention into the energy markets with restrictions on production, subsidies for clean energies like solar, and government purchases of electric cars. Returning to "normal" after the pandemic is not a viable option.

Food

Shutterstock

Like the oil exporters, food producers in the United States are restricting production as well.

In Delaware and Maryland, chicken producers are euthanizing two million chickens because the processing plants don't have enough workers. Sickness and death in these facilities, which has caused closures that are disrupting the supply chain, has prompted Trump to classify such plants as "critical infrastructure" that needs to remain open. Meanwhile, thousands of acres of fruits and vegetables are rotting in the fields in Florida because of the suspension of bulk food sales to schools, theme parks, and restaurants. The shortage of pickers -- often migrant laborers whose mobility has been restricted -- is complicating harvests.

Unlike oil, however, the overall demand for food remains high. The grocery business is booming . Food banks are overwhelmed by a surge unlike any in recent decades. The U.S. Department of Agriculture ordinarily could swoop in and buy up surplus production -- as it did for soybean growers during the trade war with China -- for use in food banks and other distribution programs. But as with so many other government agencies in the Trump era, the USDA has been slow to act , despite repeated pleas from growers and governors.

The pandemic is highlighting all the problems that have long plagued the food supply. First, there is the mismatch between supply and demand. Around 820 million people globally didn't have enough to eat in 2018, a figure that had been rising for three years in a row, and contrasts with another rising number: the 672 million obese people in the world. In the United States, fully 40 percent of food goes to waste every year. So, obviously the invisible hand does a pretty poor job of achieving market equilibrium.

Second, despite a growing movement to eat locally and seasonally, the food system still eats up a huge amount of energy. The problem lies not so much with bananas arriving by cargo ship, which is relatively efficient, but with perishable items delivered by plane . And it's what we eat, rather than where the products come from, that matters most. "Regardless of whether you compare the footprint of foods in terms of their weight (e.g. one kilogram of cheese versus one kilogram of peas); protein content; or calories, the overall conclusion is the same," writes Hannah Ritchie. "Plant-based foods tend to have a lower carbon footprint than meat and dairy. In many cases a much smaller footprint."

Third, because of economies of scale and abysmal labor practices, food in the industrialized world is too often grown by agribusiness, processed by transnational corporations, and picked or handled by workers who don't even make close to a living wage.

Returning to this kind of food system after the pandemic fades would be truly unappetizing. The livable wage campaign must spread to the countryside, meat substitutes must get an additional lift through government and institutional purchases, and innovative programs like the Too Good to Go app in Europe -- which sells extra restaurant and supermarket food at a discount -- must be brought to the United States to cut down on food waste and get meals to those in need.

Finance global-financial-crisis-capitalism-globalization-finance

Shutterstock

The financial crisis of 2008-2009 exposed the fragility and fundamental inequality of the global financial system. But all along the invisible hand has been pickpocketing poor Peter to pay prosperous Paul. Bankers, stockbrokers, and financial gurus have constructed a casino-like system that occasionally doles out a few pennies to the people playing the slots even as it enriches the house -- the top 1-2 percent -- at every turn.

The most outrageous part of this scheme is that the financial crisis demonstrated just how bad the financiers were at their own game. Not only did they not go to prison for illegal activities, they were with a few exceptions not even punished economically for their market failures. They were either too big, too rich, or too powerful for the government to allow them to fail.

In The New Yorker , Nick Paumgarten quotes a prominent investment banker at a bond fund:

"In the financial crisis, we won the war but lost the peace." Instead of investing in infrastructure, education, and job retraining, we emphasized, via a central-bank policy of quantitative easing (what some people call printing money), the value of risk assets, like stocks. "We collectively fell in love with finance," he said.

After the last financial crisis, the wealthy, who are heavily invested in the stock market, did quite well, while everyone else took a hit. Explains Colin Schultz in Smithsonian magazine: "While families hovering around the average net worth lost 36 percent over the past decade -- dropping from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013 -- people in the top 95th percentile actually gained 14 percent in the same tumultuous period -- going from $740,700 in 2003 to $834,100 in 2013."

The Trump administration is clearly in love with finance. Even before the pandemic hit, Trump's tax reform provided the top six U.S. banks with $32 billion in savings . That's more than what the 2008 bank bailout provided (and remember, banks mostly paid back those earlier loans). The stock market also benefited from an unprecedented upswing in stock buybacks -- $2 trillion combined in 2018 and 2019 -- that enriched shareholders at the expense of workers.

The $2 trillion in initial stimulus funds that the U.S. government is providing this time around has gone to individuals (those Trump-signed checks in the mail), small businesses (except when it went to big businesses), hospitals, and unemployed workers. There's also money for farmers, schools, food stamps, and (alas) the Pentagon. Future rounds of stimulus spending might include infrastructure, more aid to states and localities, and funds for smaller banks.

There's not much enthusiasm, at least publicly, to bail out Wall Street. Stock buybacks were explicitly excluded from the stimulus package. Meanwhile, the stock market has begun to climb out of the basement in the last couple weeks, largely on the strength of the news of all this new money being pumped into the economy.

But just as the tax bill was a covert giveaway to financial institutions, so have been several of the administration's pandemic responses. Quantitative easing, by which the Federal Reserve buys bonds and mortgage-backed securities, has increased the amount of liquidity available to financial institutions.

In the latest effort, the Fed announced that it will buy $500 billion in corporate bonds, but without any of the strings attached to other assistance such as limits on stock buybacks or executive compensation. The banks are even nickel and diming people by seizing stimulus check deposits to cover overdrawn accounts.

Out of a total pie of around $6 trillion in potential stimulus spending, banks and major corporations are well-placed to grab the lion's share. Writes Nomi Prins at TomDispatch:

In the end, according to the president, that could mean $4.5 trillion in support for big banks and corporate entities versus something like $1.4 trillion for regular Americans, small businesses, hospitals, and local and state governments. That 3.5 to 1 ratio signals that, as in 2008, the Treasury and the Fed are focused on big banks and large corporations, not everyday Americans.

Invisible hand? Hardly. That's the very visible hand of government tilting the financial markets even more in favor of the rich. As for the invisible enrichment that goes on beneath the surface, otherwise known as corruption, the Trump administration has gutted the oversight mechanisms that could bring those abuses to light.

It's time to end America's love affair with finance. That means, in the short term, higher taxes on the very rich, limitations on CEO pay built into all bailouts, and reviving all the reasonable proposals for reforming the financial sector that were either left out of or didn't get full implemented in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed in the wake of the last financial crisis.

Post-Pandemic Economics

Shutterstock

The Black Death depopulated Europe, killing as much as 60 percent of the population in the middle of the fourteenth century. Feudalism depended on lots of peasants working the land to support the one percent of that era. By carrying off so many of these workers, the Black Death made a major contribution to eroding the foundations of the dominant economic system of the time.

The coronavirus will not kill anywhere near as many people as the Black Death did. But it may well contribute to exposing the failures of "free markets" and the scandal of governments intervening in the economy on behalf of this era's one percent. The pandemic is already, thanks to huge stimulus packages, undermining the "small government" canard. A state apparatus deliberately hobbled by the Trump administration -- after earlier "reforms" by both parties -- did a piss-poor job of dealing with this crisis. That doesn't bode well for dealing with the even larger challenge of climate change.

The short-term fixes described above in the oil, food, and finance sectors are necessary but insufficient. They shift the balance more toward the government and away from the "free" market. They're not unlike the New Deal: reforming capitalism to save capitalism. But this pandemic is pointing to an even more fundamental transformation, to a new definition of economics.

The tweaking of markets to achieve optimal performance is much like the rejiggering of earth-centric models of the universe that took place in the Middle Ages. These models became more and more complex to account for new astronomical discoveries. Then along came Copernicus with a heliocentric model that accounted for all the new data. It took some time, however, for the old model to lose favor, despite its obvious failures.

The global economy remains market-centered, even though the evidence has been mounting that these markets are failing us and the planet. Tweaking this model isn't good enough. We need a new Copernicus who will provide a new theory that fits our unfolding reality, a new environment-centered economics that can maximize not profit but the well-being of living things. John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus.

[May 24, 2020] Trump's 'Uncreative Destruction' of the U.S.-China Relationship - FPIF by John Feffer

May 20, 2020 | fpif.org

Trump's economic war on China comes in the shadow of an even deadlier military escalation. And it may not stop after November, no matter who wins the election.

Economists like to think of the wreckage caused by stock market downturns, widespread bankruptcies, and corporate downsizing as "creative destruction." As it destroys the old and the dysfunctional, the capitalist system continually spurs innovation, much as a forest fire prepares the ground for new growth.

Or so the representatives of the dismal science argue.

Donald Trump, who is neither economist nor scientist, has his own version of creative destruction. He is determined to destroy the Affordable Care Act and replace it with his own health insurance alternative. He has torn up the Iran nuclear deal in favor of negotiating something brand new with Tehran. He has withdrawn from the Paris climate accord and argues that the United States is reducing carbon emissions in its own superior manner.

The problem, of course, is that Trump is very good at destruction but, despite his previous job as a real estate mogul, exceedingly bad at construction. Indeed, there's abundant evidence that he never intended to replace what he is destroying with anything at all. Trump has never offered any viable alternative to Obamacare or any new negotiating framework with Iran. And prior to the recent economic downturn, U.S. carbon emissions were increasing after several years of decline.

Perhaps the most dangerous example of Trump's uncreative destruction is his approach to China.

Previously, Trump said that he simply wanted to level the playing field by placing trade with China on a fairer and more reciprocal basis, strengthening the regime of intellectual property rights, and stopping Beijing from manipulating its currency.

He was willing to go to great lengths to accomplish this goal. The tariffs that Trump imposed on Chinese products precipitated a trade war that jeopardized the livelihoods of millions of American farmers and workers. The initial trade deal that the United States and China signed in January, even though many of the U.S. tariffs remain in place, was supposed to be the grand alternative to the old and dysfunctional trade relationship.

But here again, Trump is not telling the truth. He and his team have a very different set of objectives. As with so many other elements of his domestic and foreign policy, Trump wants to tear apart the current system -- in this case, the network of economic ties between the United States and China -- and replace it with absolutely nothing at all.

Oh sure, Trump believes that U.S. manufacturers can step up to take the place of Chinese suppliers. More recently, as the administration "turbocharges" its efforts to isolate China in response to its purported pandemic mistakes , it has talked of creating an Economic Prosperity Network of trusted allies like South Korea, Australia, India, and Vietnam. But this is all whistling in the dark, because the administration doesn't really understand the consequences -- for the world economy, for the U.S. economy -- of tearing apart the global supply chain in this way.

Just how poorly Trump understands all this is reflected in his statement last week that "we could cut off the whole relationship" with China and "save $500 billion." This from the president who erroneously believes that China is paying the United States "billions and billions of dollars of tariffs a month." What else do you expect from a man who received a BS in economics from Wharton?

Unlike many of the administration's other policies, however, its hardline approach to China has some bipartisan support. Engagement with China has virtually disappeared as a policy option in the Democratic Party. Joe Biden, the Democrats' presumptive presidential candidate, has attempted to present himself as the tougher alternative when it comes to China, a misguided effort to fend off charges of his bedding down with Beijing.

Finger to the wind, Biden is crafting policies in response not just to Trump but to public opinion. In 2017, 44 percent of Americans had a favorable view of China, compared to 47 percent who held an unfavorable opinion of the country, according to Pew. In this year's survey , only 26 percent looked at China positively versus 66 percent who viewed it negatively. The latter category includes 62 percent of Democrats.

Writing for the Atlantic Council, Michael Greenwald sums up the new conventional wisdom of the centrists:

The United States can no longer remain content with the notion of a Chinese economic threat arising in the distant future. The advent of COVID-19 has made it more apparent than any other time including the US-China trade war that now is the moment for the United States, European Union, and other like-minded countries to diversify supply chains away from China.

That's what makes Trump's uncreative destruction vis a vis China so dangerous. It may not stop after November, no matter who wins the election.

The Great Disentanglement

China's economic shutdown at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic disrupted many global supply chains, prompting a number of countries and corporations to accelerate their strategy of reducing their dependency on China for components.

Rising labor costs in China, concerns over human rights abuses there, but especially the trade war between Washington and Beijing had contributed to the U.S. fashion industry and tech firms like Apple rethinking their own supply chains. Japan, heavily dependent on Chinese trade, is using $2 billion in economic stimulus funds to subsidize the move of Japanese firms out of China.

The Trump administration is thus swimming with the current in its effort to isolate China. It has imposed sanctions because of China's violations of Uyghur human rights. It has levied penalties against China for its cooperation with Iranian firms. And it has threatened to add another set of tariffs on top of the existing ones for China's handling of the coronavirus.

Its latest initiative has been to tighten the screws on the Chinese technology firm, Huawei. Last week, the administration announced sanctions against any firms using U.S.-made equipment that supply the Chinese tech giant. The chief victim of these new restrictions will be the Taiwanese firm TSMC, which supplies 90 percent of Huawei's smartphone chips.

In other words, the Trump administration is committed not only to severing U.S. economic connections with China. It wants to put as much pressure on other countries as well to disentangle themselves from Chinese manufacturing. Taiwan, of course, has no particular love for Mainland China. It battles Beijing on a daily basis to get international recognition -- from other countries and from global organizations like the World Health Organization.

But the Taiwanese economy is also heavily dependent on its cross-strait neighbor. As Eleanor Albert points out :

China is Taiwa n's largest trading partner, accounting for nearly 30 percent of the island's total trade, and trade between the two reached $150.5 billion in 2018 (up from $35 billion in 1999). China and Taiwan have also agreed to allow banks, insurers, and other financial service providers to work in both market s.

And it probably won't be Huawei but Taiwan that suffers from the U.S. move. As Michael Reilly notes , "Huawei's size in the global market means its Taiwanese suppliers cannot easily find an alternative customer of comparable standing to replace it." China, meanwhile, will either find another source of chips outside the U.S. sphere, or it will do what the United States has been threatening to do: bring production of critical components back closer to home.

Another key player in the containment of China is India. Trump's friendship with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a right-wing Hindu nationalist, is more than simply an ideological affection. Trump sealed a $3 billion in military sales deal with India in February, with a trade deal still on the horizon.

Modi, in turn, is hoping to be the biggest beneficiary of the falling out between Washington and Beijing. "The government in April reached out to more than 1,000 companies in the U.S. and through overseas missions to offer incentives for manufacturers seeking to move out of China," reports Bloomberg . "India is prioritizing medical equipment suppliers, food processing units, textiles, leather, and auto part makers among more than 550 products covered in the discussions."

Vietnam is another regional competitor that the United States is supporting in its containment strategy. With only a couple hundred reported coronavirus cases and zero deaths, Vietnam is poised to emerge from the current crisis virtually unscathed. With low labor costs and an authoritarian government that can enforce deals, it is already a favored alternative for corporations looking for alternatives to China. But wildcat strikes have been happening in greater numbers in the country, and the Vietnamese government recently approved the country's first independent trade union.

Yet with a more technologically sophisticated infrastructure, China will continue to look more attractive to investors than India or Vietnam.

Don't Count Out China

If your image of the Chinese economy is stuck in the 1980s -- cheap toys and mass-produced baubles -- then you probably think that severing economic ties with the country is no big deal. America can produce its own plastic junk, right?

But China is no longer hurrying to catch up to the West. In some ways, the West is already in China's rearview mirror.

Huawei is well-known for the part it's playing in the rollout of 5G networks worldwide. China is not only ahead of the curve in upgrading to 5G domestically, it is busy manufacturing all the new tech that will run on these high-speed networks, like virtual reality and augmented reality and AI-driven devices.

Perhaps more to the point, China is not simply part of the global supply chain. It is using these new technologies to revolutionize the global supply chain.

For instance, it's using 3-D modeling to shorten product development. It has long integrated drones into its distribution networks. "Chinese supply chain companies are incorporating groundbreaking technologies like cloud-based systems, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) and using them to redesign supply chain operations," writes Adina-Laura Achim.

And don't discount the role of a well-financed, centralized, authoritarian government. The Trump administration is, frankly, at a huge disadvantage when it tries to pressure companies to relocate their operations. Writes Manisha Mirchandani:

The global technology and consumer electronics sectors are especially reliant on China's infrastructure and specialized labor pool, neither of which will be easy to replicate. The Chinese government is already mobilizing resources to convince producers of China's unique merits as a manufacturing location. Zhengzhou, within Henan Province, has appointed officials to support Apple's partner Foxconn in mitigating the disruptions caused by the coronavirus, while the Ministry of Finance is increasing credit support to the manufacturing sector. Further, the Chinese government is likely to channel stimulus efforts to develop the country's high-tech manufacturing infrastructure, moving away from its low-value manufacturing base and accelerating its vision for a technology-driven services economy.

The Trump administration is playing the short game, trying to use tariffs and anti-Chinese sentiment to hobble a rising power. China, on the other hand, is playing the long game, translating its trade surpluses into structural advantages in a fast-evolving global economy.

Will the Conflict Turn Hot?

Despite the economic ravages of the pandemic, the Pentagon continues to demand the lion's share of the U.S. budget. It wants another $705 billion for 2021, after increasing its budget by 20 percent between 2016 and 2020.

This appalling waste of government resources has already caused long-term damage to the economic competitiveness of the United States. But it's all the money the Pentagon is spending on "deterring China" that might prove more devastating in the short term.

The U.S. Navy announced this month that it was sending its entire forward-deployed sub fleet on "contingency response operations" as a warning to China. Last month, the U.S. Navy Expeditionary Strike Group sailed into the South China Sea to support Malaysia's oil exploration in an area that China claims. Aside from the reality that oil exploration makes no economic sense at a time of record low oil prices, the United States should be helping the countries bordering the South China Sea come to a fair resolution of their disputes, not throwing more armaments at the problem.

There's also heightened risk of confrontation in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, and even in outer space . A huge portion of the Pentagon's budget goes toward preparing for war with China -- and, frankly, provoking war as well.

What does this all have to do with the Great Disentanglement?

The close economic ties between the United States and China have always represented a significant constraint on military confrontation. Surely the two countries would not risk grievous economic harm by coming to blows. Economic cooperation also provides multiple channels for resolving conflicts and communicating discontent. The United States and Soviet Union never had that kind of buffer.

If the Great Disentanglement goes forward, however, then the two countries have less to lose economically in a military confrontation. Trading partners, of course, sometimes go to war with one another. But as the data demonstrates , more trade generally translates into less war.

There are lots and lots of problems in the U.S.-China economic relationship. But they pale in comparison to World War III. Share this:

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus.

Issues: Labor, Trade, & Finance , War & Peace

Regions: Asia & Pacific , China , India , North America , United States , Vietnam

Tags: 5G , Donald Trump , global supply chain , globalization , great disentanglement , huawei , Joe Biden , tariffs , trade war , U.S. military spending

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[May 24, 2020] A lockdown in rgw USA seems to be justified on the basis of the fact that even if you are middle aged, the chances of hospitalization are still around 5 percent, and in the US going to the hospital for a several weeks can leave you bankrupt.

May 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

128 , says: Show Comment May 21, 2020 at 12:53 pm GMT

A lockdown in a lot of places seems to be justified on the basis of the fact that even if you are middle aged, the chances of hospitalization are still around 5 percent, and in the US going to the hospital for a week or weeks can leave you bankrupt.
A123 , says: Show Comment May 21, 2020 at 1:36 pm GMT
@AP The interesting & important thing to note is that fatalities are heavily tied to the related factors of pre-existing conditions and advanced age. For example:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1107913/number-of-coronavirus-deaths-in-sweden-by-age-groups/

With CQ/AZ/ZN available everywhere, the bulk of the economy could reopen immediately with or without masks. Given that psychology is important, odds are mask wearing will make the restart more effective. However, masks provide partial protection at most.

PEACE

Bert , says: Show Comment May 21, 2020 at 5:34 pm GMT
@utu Epidemiology uses R0 for an initial reproductive rate when a pathogen first invades a naive host population. Re is the designation for later when immunity begins to exist and, for human beings in the current pandemic, host behavior changes.

https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/when-will-it-be-over-an-introduction-to-viral-reproduction-numbers-r0-and-re/

[May 24, 2020] US anti-china crusade started

May 24, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

After the Soviet collapse thirty years ago, that order expanded its jurisdiction. Proponents sought to subsume the old Eastern Bloc, including perhaps Russia itself, into the American sphere. And they wanted to do so firmly on Washington's terms. Even as the country began to deindustrialize and growth slowed, American leadership developed a taste for fresh crusades in the Middle East; exotic savagery, went the subtext, had to be brought finally to heel. China was a rising force, but its regime would inevitably crater or democratize. Besides, Beijing was a peaceful trading partner of the United States.

2008, 2016 and 2020 -- the financial crisis, Trump's election and now the Coronavirus and its reaction -- have been successive gut punches to this project, a hat trick which may seal its demise. Ask anyone attempting to board an international flight, or open a new factory in China, or get anything done at the United Nations: the world is de-globalizing at a speed almost as astonishing as it integrated. Post-Covid, U.S.-China confrontation is not a choice. It's a reality. The liberal international order is not lamentable. It's already dead.

This was the argument made by Bannon. It had other backers, of course, within both the academy and an emerging foreign policy counter-establishment loathe to repeat the mistakes of the past thirty years. But coming from the former top political advisor to the sitting president of the United States, it was provocative stuff. Bannon articulated a perspective which seemed to be on the tip of the foreign policy world's tongue. And it riled people up. The most fulsome rebuttal to the zeitgeist was perhaps The Jungle Grows Back , tellingly written by Robert Kagan, an Iraq War architect. The peripheral world was dangerous brush; the United States was the machete.

Trumpian nationalism has chugged along for nearly three years since -- stripped, some might say, of its Bannonite flair and intelligence. The most hysterical prophecies of what the president might do -- that he might withdraw from the geriatric North Atlantic Treaty Organization, for instance -- have not come to pass. Trump has howled and roared, true: but so far, his most disruptive foreign policy maneuver has been escalation against Iran.


MPC 3 days ago

It's very good to hear the right getting a little humility in them now and talking less empire, more multilateralism. Trump has been way too concerned with his MAGA personality cult to understand the value of humility.

The world's a big place. The reality is, America first will more and more mean working together with other nations for mutual benefit, and often their gain will indirectly be to our own also.

kouroi MPC 3 days ago
Working more and more, yes. This is why US is undercutting Germany's competitiveness, by blocking a cheap source of energy via NS2...

As Bush said, you are either with us or against us. Nothing has changed and nothing will change, but it will become uglier. If it were to desire multi-polarity, the US would tolerate not only states, like KSA, where the Royals own everything, but also states, like Iran, or Cuba, where the people (through the government/state) owns assets (land and productive facilities). But the US does not tolerate such type of multi-polarity, not open to US "investment" and ownership (bought with fiat money).

Cold War II started in 2007, with Putin. Popcorn & beer lads!

MPC kouroi 3 days ago
It does seem like there's a creeping idea, not just on dissident internet sites now like before, that the Russian rivalry is a luxury of the past. Even the liberals are going to have to reconcile with liberal hegemony not being workable and settle for something less. Owing to distance and mutual interest (common rivals Britain and Germany) Russia and America had a long history of friendship before the Cold war.

I sadly agree about the predatory nature of much of America does. I think it really is a reflection of partially, imperial arrogance, but even moreso a matter of who runs the country. Oligarchy is poorly checked in modern America. Maybe we can hope for a humbled oligarchy, at least.

DUNK Buhari2 2 days ago
Trump is indeed an empty suit and a demagogue, but he ran on a decent nationalist platform (probably thanks to Bannon, who is almost certainly a closeted gay. No joke... a deep-in-the-closet, self-hating gay. The navy can change a man, and he's a fraud in other ways: see Eric Striker's article "International Finance's Anti-China Crusade"). Trump does have an absurd ego, and he probably figured becoming president would impress Ivanka too.

Also, the Uyghurs are not totally innocent victims... Some of them are US-financed revolutionaries and some of them have committed terrorism: see Godfree Roberts at Unz Review: "China and the Uyghurs" (January 10, 2019) and Ajit Singh at The Grayzone: "Inside the World Uyghur Congress: The US-backed right-wing regime change network seeking the 'fall of China'" (March 5, 2020). Some of our pathetic propagandists make it seem like they're in concentration camps, but there is objective reporting that suggests it's more like job training programs and anti-jihad classes. Absurd lies have certainly been told about North Korea and many other countries, so be skeptical.

kirthigdon 3 days ago
Yeah, let's get that hate on for China - why they're as bad as Russia, Iran and Venezuela put together and there are so many more of them. Especially a lot are available right here in the US and have lots of restaurants that can be boycotted. Not that many Venezuelan restaurants around. Seriously, can Americans get over this childishness? When the US closes down its 800+ overseas bases and withdraws its fleet to its own shores instead of Iran's and China's, then maybe Americans will be entitled to complain about someone else's imperialism.
Collin Reid 3 days ago
Most of anti-China stuff Hawley, much like Trump, claims always feels empty populism for WWC voters.

1) It is reasonable to be against our Middle East endeavors and not be so anti-China.
2) I still don't understand how it is China fault for stealing manufacturing jobs when it is the US private sector that does it. (And Vietnam exist, etc.) So without Charles Koch and Tim Cook behind this trade stuff, it feels like empty populism.
3) The most obvious point on China to me is how little they do use military measures for their 'imperialism.'

One problem with all this populism emptiness, is there is a lot issues with China to work on:
1) This virus could have impact economies in Africa and South America a lot where the nations have to renegotiate their loans to China. I have no idea how this goes but there will be tensions here. Imperialism is tough in the long run.
2) There are nations banding together on China's reaction to the virus and it seems reasonable that US joining them would be more effective than Trump's taunting.
3) To prove Trump administration incompetence, I have no idea how he is not turning this crisis into more medical equipment and drugs manufacturing. (My guess is this both takes a lot of work and frankly a lot of manufacturing plants have risks of spreads so noone wants to invest.)

Feral Finster Collin Reid 3 days ago
Apparently it is now a form of aggression, imperialism, even, to work for lower wages than a comparable American worker.

I can understand some protectionist measures. But acting as if these measures were a response to an unprovoked attack is hyperventilating.

DUNK Collin Reid 2 days ago
Hawley is a "fake populist" according to Eric Striker's article "International Finance's Anti-China Crusade" and I just saw fake-patriot airhead Pete Hegseth claim China wants to destroy our civilization, on fake populist Tucker Carlson's show. It's well-established that Fox News and the GOP are still neocons and fake patriots... after all, the Trump administration is run by Jared Kushner, a protégé of Rupert Murdoch and Bibi Netanyahu.
dbjm 3 days ago
Hawley's speech on the Senate floor yesterday deserves much more criticism than it gets here. This article from Reason does a good job breaking down the speech and pointing out what's right AND wrong about it:

https://reason.com/2020/05/...

Collin Reid Kessler 2 days ago
What if there is reduced wars and civil wars n the world today than ever. (So say anytime before 1991?) I get all the Middle East & African Wars but look at the rest of the world. When in history have the major West Europe powers not had a major war in 75 years. After issues of post Cold War East Europe is probably more peaceful than ever. Look at South America. In the 1970s the Civil Wars raged in all those nations. Or the Pacific Rim? Japan, China, and other nations are fighting with Military right now.

This is certainly less than perfect but the number of people (per million) dieing in wars and civil wars are at historic lows.

kouroi Collin Reid 2 days ago
The fall of Soviet Union and weakening of Russia allowed US and Western Europe to attack Serbia in 1990s. A stronger Russia wouldn't have allowed that to happen (who's trying to get Crimea from Russia's control now?). But with US aggressiveness and bellicosity (including nuclear posture) at Russia's borders do not bode well.

But it is true, less important people are dying now...

chris chuba 3 days ago
Chinese imperialism? Uh ... other than shaking trees and drumming up fear can I get like one example of that.

Taiwan, part of China since the 1500's and they are have not issued any new threats since 1949.

Hong Kong - stolen from China and now reluctantly given back with lots of conditions. If they deserve the right of independence through referendum I'm all for it as long as we apply this standard uniformly including parts of Texas, San Diego, New Mexico, Arizona, any place that has a large foreign population will do.

DUNK chris chuba 2 days ago
Yeah, "Chinese imperialism" is complete nonsense, just like the claim that they definitely originated the coronavirus, caused Americans to be under house arrest, and caused a depression. In fact, the origin of the virus is far from clear, and it wasn't China who hyped up and exaggerated the danger and wrecked the economy. It was our superficial corporate media and government that did that (perhaps deliberately)... the same people who are desperately trying to deflect blame onto the CCP. The same people who have been mismanaging and ruining America for decades in order to enrich themselves.
Gregtown 3 days ago
Should we all start reading Chomsky books again?

"Neoliberal democracy. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless."

Sidney Caesar Gregtown 3 days ago • edited
Most people would be well served to read Chomsky a first time.
However, it should be noted, Chomsky's critiques of neoliberalism aren't grounded in nationalism, xenophobia, and racism. So a lot of TAC readers (and especially writers) may be disappointed.
Gregtown Sidney Caesar 3 days ago
Ha...sadly true.

I just pulled On Anarchism off my bookshelf. Time to revisit my early 20's.

Tradcon 3 days ago
Hawley seems like the natural choice for the potential future of the GOP, that is a post-fusionist or post-liberal GOP. However the one thing that worries me is his foreign policy. He talks the talk, but I'm having trouble to see if he walks the walk. As Mills noted he didn't vote to end support for the genocidal war in Yemen, a war that serves purely the interests of Saudi Arabia and not our own. He has criticized David Petraeus before, but its important not to be fooled by just rhetoric. While accepting he'll be better than any Tom Cotton or (god forbid) Nikki Haley in 2024, his foreign policy needs to be examined more until then.
stevek9 3 days ago
Our response to the epidemic was 100% 'made in China'. The entire 'Western World' decided to copy Beijing. If that doesn't establish a new level of leadership for China, I don't know what would. I'm surprised this is not more widely recognized. You can run down the many parallels, including the pathetic photo-op attempt by the West to build those emergency hospitals (Nightingale in the UK, Javits Center, etc. all across the US), which were just to show 'hey we can build hospitals in a few weeks also' ... never mind they could never, and were never used for anything at all.
Kiyoshi01 3 days ago
At this point, Hawley is all talk. Further, much of his talking amounts to little more than expressing resentment. I agree that the US needs to follow a more nationalist pathway, which involved making itself less dependent on its chief geopolitical rival. But accomplishing this is going to require more than bashing China and asserting that cosmopolitan Americans are traitors. At this point, Hawley has no positive program to offer. Giving paid speeches that vilify coastal elites and China is not a political plan.

Further, I agree that we're probably moving away from the universalist order that's guided much of our thinking since the 1990s. But isolationism is not the answer. We need to begin building a multilateral order that takes full account of China's rise as a worthy rival. This means that we need to develop a series of smaller-scale agreements with strategic partners. The TPP is a good example of such an agreement. But where is the call to revive it?

Lastly, I find the article's reference to China's treatment of gays and lesbians to be curious. I'd first note that using the term "homosexual" in reference to people is generally viewed as an offensive slur. Further, China's treatment of gay people isn't so bad, and tends to be better than what Hawley's evangelical supporters would afford. Moreover, China is a multi-ethnic country. It's program in Xinjiang has more to do with maintaining political order than a desire to repress non-Han people.

MPC Kiyoshi01 2 days ago
The general chest puffing nature of the American right makes it hard for them to understand that America might need to work with other countries at a deep level, and not as vassals either.
DUNK MPC 2 days ago
It doesn't seem like they're able to understand anything, or learn anything.
Barry_II Kiyoshi01 11 hours ago
". We need to begin building a multilateral order that takes full account
of China's rise as a worthy rival. This means that we need to develop a
series of smaller-scale agreements with strategic partners. The TPP is a
good example of such an agreement. But where is the call to revive it?"

The thing is that the post-WWII liberal international order was good for things like that.
Trump and the GOP quite deliberately destroyed it. Before that, the US would have the trust of many other governments; now they don't trust the US - even if Biden is elected, the next Trump is on the way.

KevinS 3 days ago • edited
"We benefit if countries that share our opposition to Chinese imperialism -- countries like India and Japan, Vietnam, Australia and Taiwan -- are economically independent of China, and standing shoulder to shoulder with us,"

OK....then can someone explain why Hawley opposed the TPP, which was designed to accomplish just this. The TPP was supposed to create trading relationships between these countries and the United States in the context of an agreement that excluded China. In this instance people like Hawley were advancing China's position and interests (I suspect simply because it was a treaty negotiated under Obama, which apparently was enough to make it bad).

Kiyoshi01 KevinS 3 days ago
Probably because Hawley seems more interested in demagoguery than accomplishing anything productive. Never mind that 95% of the people who voted for him probably couldn't find Japan or Vietnam on a map.
kouroi KevinS 2 days ago
TPP was not geared against China as a blanket thing, as an entire exclusion of China. The perfidy of TPP was that it was against any economic interactions with State Owned Enterprises (didn't mention the origin, didn't have to). The ultimate goal wasn't to isolate China but to force privatization of said SOEs, preferably run from Wall Street.

Private property good and = Democracy; State property bad = Authoritarianism, dictatorship, etc. It is a fallacy here somewhere, cannot really put my finger on it...

calidus 3 days ago
Except this is all lies. On each chance to actually do something Hawley has sided with international corporations, as a good conservative will always do. Fixing globalism will never come form the right, this is all smoke and mirrors for the religious right, aka the rubes. And they are perpetual suckers and will keep buying into this crap as our nation is hollowed out and raided by the rich. And that, is TRUE conservatism.
TheSnark 3 days ago
"Now we must recognize that the economic system designed by Western policy makers at the end of the Cold War does not serve our purposes in this new era," proclaimed Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri. "And it does not meet our needs for this new day." He continued, perhaps too politely: "And we should admit that multiple of its founding premises were in error."

The "error" in the founding premises of the post-WWII economic system was that it assumed that the US would act in a responsible manner. Instead we have run huge budget deficits and borrowed the difference from foreigners, randomly invading other countries, undermined the institutions we set up, bullied smaller countries rather than working with them, and abused our control of the financial system.

No, that old economic system served our interests very well, as long as we respected the institutions we set up and kept our own house in order. We haven't been doing any of that for at least 20 years.

Kiyoshi01 Amicus Brevis 2 days ago
Let's bear in mind that the Republican leader of the Senate married into a wealthy Chinese family that makes its money from hauling Chinese exports to our shores and the shores of other developed nations.

This is all just hollow bravado meant to appeal to the right's nativist base.

Amicus Brevis Kiyoshi01 2 days ago • edited
I am not into the thinking that everyone whose politics I don't support is acting in bad faith. We are talking about the actions of literally millions of people. Accusing this or that person of acting in bad faith because of personal interest is just dirty politics dressed up as perceptiveness. I am not accusing any specific person of acting in bad faith, although some of the people who pushed opening up to China because more business in China would create a class of people who would eventually push for Democracy there, were indeed acting in bad faith. They wanted access to cheap labor with no rights.

Yet, no doubt many of them actually believed the propaganda, because it supposedly happened in South Korea, Taiwan and other places. And especially the ones who switched the line to "globalism" when it was clear that the supposed indigenous pressures for Democracy did not materialize also acted in bad faith. I only assume that some of were because once I understood the rationale of the CCCP it was clear to me that China was radically different, and there is no way that so many of those guys who are smarter and more knowledgeable about political systems than me, did not figure it out. But I am not going to behave as if it the Republicans alone who were pushing either of these two false messages.

phreethink 2 days ago
Criticizing China for "imperialism" is the height of hypocrisy on multiple levels. First, the United States has engaged in economic imperialism, sometimes enforced with military intervention, for a hundred years. Read Smedley Butler's "War is a Racket" if you doubt that. Second, this is the same guy who voted against our proxy war in Yemen. Third, one could very reasonably argue that China is simply applying the lessons it learned at the hands of Western imperialists since 1800s..

It's good that SOME Republicans are at least giving lip service to the idea of bringing back manufacturing in this country. But you have to thank Trump for that, not the GOP establishment. The offshoring of American manufacturing as part of "free trade" was strongly supported (if not led) by the GOP going back to the 1980s.

DUNK phreethink 2 days ago
And check out John Perkins's books ("Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", etc.) for up-to-date information. It's obviously true that criticizing China for "imperialism" is ridiculously hypocritical but people like Senator Hawley know they can get away with it because they understand how propaganda works on the dumbed-down masses.

They understand doublethink, repetition, appeal to patriotism, appeal to racism, appeal to fear, etc. People like Rupert Murdoch do this every day... poorly, but well enough to be effective on a lot of people.

Incidentally, the Republicans may talk about bringing manufacturing back to the US but they're actually planning on shifting it to India (see Eric Striker's article "International Finance's Anti-China Crusade").

[May 23, 2020] China is still in great danger: it is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 27

China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48). It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

So, yes, the West still has a realistic chance of destroying China and inaugurating a new cycle of capitalist prosperity.

What happens with the "decoupling"/"Pivot to Asia" is that, in the West, there's a scatological theory [go to 10th paragraph] - of Keynesian origin - that socialism can only play "catch up" with capitalism, but never surpass it when a "toyotist phase" of technological innovation comes (this is obviously based on the USSR's case). This theory states that, if there's innovation in socialism, it is residual and by accident, and that only in capitalism is significant technological advancement possible. From this, they posit that, if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level.

If China will be able to get out of the "Toyotist Trap" that destroyed the USSR, only time will tell. Regardless, decoupling is clearly not working, and China is not showing any signs so far of slowing down. Hence Trump is now embracing a more direct approach.

As for the USA, I've put my big picture opinion about it some days ago, so I won't repeat myself. Here, it suffices to say that, yes, I believe the USA can continue to survive as an empire - even if, worst case scenario, in a "byzantine" form. To its favor, it has: 1) the third largest world population 2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely (for comparison, the USSR only had 10% of arable land, and of worse quality) 3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic), plus a direct exit to the Arctic (Alaska and, de facto, Greenland and Canada) 4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea), bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks to 4) still the financial superpower 5) still a robust "real" economy - specially if compared to the micro-nations of Western Europe and East-Asia 6) a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power.

I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else. The Star-and-Stripes is still a very strong ideal to the average American, and nobody takes the idea of territory loss for real. If that happens, though, it would change my equation on the survival of the American Empire completely.

As for Hong Kong. I watched a video by the chief of the PLA last year (unfortunately, I watched it on Twitter and don't have the link with me anymore). He was very clear: Hong Kong does not present an existential threat to China. The greatest existential threat to China are, by far, Xinjiang and Tibet, followed by Taiwan and the South China Sea. Hong Kong is a distant fourth place.

Those liberal clowns were never close.


Jen , May 22 2020 21:55 utc | 32

VK @ 28:

One problem with your scenario is that the US navy may be over-extended in parts of the world where all the enemy has to do is to cut off supply lines to battleship groups and then those ships would be completely helpless. US warships in the Persian Gulf with the Strait of Hormuz sealed off by Iran come to mind.

Incidents involving US naval ship collisions with slow-moving oil tankers in SE Asian waters and some other parts of of the the world, resulting in the loss of sailors, hardly instill the notion that the US is a mighty thalassocratic force.

It's my understanding also that Russia, China and maybe some other countries have invested hugely in long-range missiles capable of hitting US coastal cities and areas where the bulk of the US population lives.

And if long-range missiles don't put paid to the notion that projecting power through sending naval warships all over the planet works, maybe the fact that many of these ships are sitting ducks for COVID-19 infection clusters might, where the US public is concerned.

vk , May 22 2020 22:16 utc | 33
@ Posted by: Jen | May 22 2020 21:55 utc | 33

I agree the new anti-ship missile technology may have changed the rules of naval warfare.

However, it's important to highlight that, contrary to the US Army, the USN has a stellar record. It fought wonderfully against the Japanese Empire in 1941-1945, and successfully converted both the Pacific and the Atlantic into "American lakes" for the next 75 years. All the Americans have nowadays it owes its Navy.

But you may be right. Maybe the USN is also susceptible to degeneration.

Richard Steven Hack , May 22 2020 23:51 utc | 38
Posted by: vk | May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 28

Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48). It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

Based on what I've read, China is on a fast track to develop technology on their own. In addition, technology development is world-wide these days. What China can not develop itself - quickly enough, time is the only real problem - it can buy with its economic power.

"if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level."

Ah, but that's where hackers come in. China can *not* be blocked out of Western IP. First, as I said, China can *buy* it. Unless there is a general prohibition across the entire Western world, and by extension sanctions against any other nation from selling to China - which is an unenforceable policy, as Iran has shown - China can buy what it doesn't have and then reverse-engineer it. Russia will sell it if no one else will.

Second, China can continue to simply acquire technology through industrial espionage. Every country and every industry engages in this sort of thing. Ever watch the movie "Duplicity"? That shit actually happens. I read about industrial espionage years ago and it's only gotten fancier since the old days of paper files. I would be happy to breach any US or EU industrial sector and sell what I find to the Chinese, the Malaysians or anyone else interested. It's called "leveling the playing field" and that is advantageous for everyone. If the US industrial sector employees can't keep up, that's their problem. No one is guaranteed a job for life - and shouldn't be.

"1) the third largest world population"

Which is mostly engaged in unproductive activities like finance, law, etc. I've read that if you visit the main US universities teaching science and technology, who are the students? Chinese. Indians. Not Americans. Americans only want to "make money" in law and finance, not "make things."

"2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely"

In military terms, given current military technology, territory doesn't matter. China has enough nuclear missiles to destroy the 50 Major Metropolitan Areas in this country. Losing 100-200 millions citizens kinda puts a damper on US productivity. Losing the same number in China merely means more for the rest.

"3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic)"

Which submarines can make irrelevant. Good for economic matters - *if* your economy can continue competing. China has one coast - but its Belt and Road Initiative gives it economic clout on the back-end and the front-end. I don't see the US successfully countering that Initiative.

"4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea)"

Which only means the US can't be "invaded". That's WWI and WWII thinking the US is mired in. Today, you destroy an opponent's military and, if necessary, his civilian population, or at least its ability to "project" force against you. You don't "invade" unless it's some weak Third World country. And if the US can't "project" its power via its navy or air force, having a lot of territory doesn't mean much. This is where Russia is right now. Very defensible but limited in force projection (but getting better fast.) The problem for the US is China and Russia are developing military technology that can prevent US force projection around *their* borders.

"bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks"

LOL I can just see the US "absorbing" Mexico. Canada, maybe - they're allies anyway. Mexico, not so much. You want a "quagmire", send the US troops to take on the Mexican drug gangs. They aren't Pancho Villa.

"4) still the financial superpower"

Uhm, what part of "Depression" did you miss? And even if that doesn't happen now, continued financial success is unlikely. Like pandemics, shit happens in economics and monetary policy.

"a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power."

That can be sunk in a heartbeat and is virtually a colossal money pit with limited strategic value given current military technology which both China and Russia are as advanced as the US is, if not more so. Plus China is developing its own navy quickly. I read somewhere a description of one Chinese naval shipyard. There were several advanced destroyers being developed. Then the article noted that China has several more large shipyards. That Chinese long coast comes in handy for that sort of thing.

China Now Has More Warships Than the U.S.
But sometimes quantity doesn't trump quality. [My note: But sometimes it does.]
https://tinyurl.com/y7numhef

That's just the first article I found, from a crappy source. There are better analyses, of course.

"I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else."

I'd agree with that. I hear this "California secession" crap periodically and never believe it. However, for state politicians, the notion of being "President" of your own country versus a "Governor" probably is tempting to these morons. State populations are frequently idiots as well, as the current lockdown response is demonstrating. All in all, though, if there are perceived external military threats, that is likely to make the states prefer to remain under US central control.

[May 23, 2020] Underscoring 'Grotesque Nature of Unequal Sacrifice,' Richest Americans Have Added $434 Billion in Wealth Since Pandemic Hit

May 23, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

America's billionaires saw their combined net worth soar by $434 billion between March 18 and May 19 while the coronavirus pandemic killed tens of thousands of people and ravaged the U.S. economy, forcing more than 30 million out of work.

That's according to a new analysis released Thursday by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) titled " Tale of Two Crises: Billionaires Gain as Workers Feel Pandemic Pain ."

The report shows that the five wealthiest billionaires in the U.S. -- Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, and Larry Ellison of Oracle -- saw their collective wealth grow by a total of $75.5 billion between March 18 and May 19, a 19% jump.

Bezos -- the world's richest man -- saw his wealth jump by nearly $35 billion in the two-month period. Yet even as Bezos' fortune continues to grow, Amazon announced last week that it will not extend $2-an-hour hazard pay for warehouse workers beyond the end of May.

[May 23, 2020] HK is protected against US tarrifs imposed on China goods. China exports a good chunk of goods through HK. If Trump were really serious he would remove HK's protected status.

May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kay Fabe , May 23 2020 0:09 utc | 42

"Britain had to agree to the pact because it had lost the capability to defend the colony.".."

That was the excuse. I believe HK was offered to China in return for Deng to open up and turn China capitalist. Deng was not the one who
demanded HK return. Britain initiated the discussions. Deng gladly accepted although he insisted on maintaining their authoritarian form of undemocratic government and left HK's fate ambiguous so Britain could get support from their people and the HK elite. The party elites were happy to be able to join the Western Elites in accumulating an unequal share of the wealth. The Soviet elites led by the US Globalist puppet Gorbachev chose the same path although they chose Fake Democracy and rule of the oligarchs as in the US rather than party control of China

HK is protected against US tarrifs imposed on China goods. China exports a good chunk of goods through HK. If Trump were really serious he would remove HK's protected status.

vk , May 23 2020 0:30 utc | 47

@ Posted by: Kay Fabe | May 23 2020 0:09 utc | 42

The timing doesn't add up. China opened up in 1972 (the famous Nixon-Mao handshake), while the UK's agreement to give HK back was from 1984 - well into the Thatcher Era.

The most likely reason for the UK to decide to obey the lease deal was of military nature: the valuable land necessary to defend HK was the flatland adjacent to the city proper, where potable water comes from. It already part of the Mainland, thus rendering the defense of HK virtually impossible without an outright invasion of the Mainland itself.

Margaret Thatcher probably didn't want to obey the treaty (99-year lease), as a good neoliberal she was, but her military advisors probably warned her of the practical difficulties, and, since it was a 99-year lease anyway, she must've agreed to simply allow the treaty to be followed.

It is important to highlight that, in 1984, there were a lot of reasons the capitalist world should be optimist about China becoming capitalist. After all, it really got off the Soviet sphere after 1972, and Deng's reforms were - from the point of view of a vulgar (bourgeois) economist - indeed a clear path to a capitalist restoration. It didn't cross Thatcher's mind that China could stand its ground and remain socialist - at least not in 1984. If you read the sources of the time, you will easily see the Western elites treated China's return to capitalism as a given.

[May 23, 2020] China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3

Highly recommended!
May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 28

China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48).

It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

So, yes, the West still has a realistic chance of destroying China and inaugurating a new cycle of capitalist prosperity.

What happens with the "decoupling"/"Pivot to Asia" is that, in the West, there's a scatological theory [go to 10th paragraph] - of Keynesian origin - that socialism can only play "catch up" with capitalism, but never surpass it when a "toyotist phase" of technological innovation comes (this is obviously based on the USSR's case). This theory states that, if there's innovation in socialism, it is residual and by accident, and that only in capitalism is significant technological advancement possible. From this, they posit that, if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level.

If China will be able to get out of the "Toyotist Trap" that destroyed the USSR, only time will tell. Regardless, decoupling is clearly not working, and China is not showing any signs so far of slowing down. Hence Trump is now embracing a more direct approach.

As for the USA, I've put my big picture opinion about it some days ago, so I won't repeat myself. Here, it suffices to say that, yes, I believe the USA can continue to survive as an empire - even if, worst case scenario, in a "byzantine" form. To its favor, it has: 1) the third largest world population 2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely (for comparison, the USSR only had 10% of arable land, and of worse quality) 3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic), plus a direct exit to the Arctic (Alaska and, de facto, Greenland and Canada) 4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea), bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks to 4) still the financial superpower 5) still a robust "real" economy - specially if compared to the micro-nations of Western Europe and East-Asia 6) a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power.

I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else. The Star-and-Stripes is still a very strong ideal to the average American, and nobody takes the idea of territory loss for real. If that happens, though, it would change my equation on the survival of the American Empire completely.

As for Hong Kong. I watched a video by the chief of the PLA last year (unfortunately, I watched it on Twitter and don't have the link with me anymore). He was very clear: Hong Kong does not present an existential threat to China. The greatest existential threat to China are, by far, Xinjiang and Tibet, followed by Taiwan and the South China Sea. Hong Kong is a distant fourth place.

Those liberal clowns were never close.

[May 22, 2020] Battle Covid-19, Not Medicare for All: Doctors Demand Hospital Industry Stop Funding Dark Money Lobby Group

May 22, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

A progressive organization of 23,000 physicians from across the U.S. demanded Thursday that the American Hospital Association (AHA) divest completely from a dark-money lobbying group that has spent millions combating Medicare for All and instead devote those financial resources to the fight against Covid-19 and to better support for patients and healthcare workers.

Dr. Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), said in a statement that "the Covid-19 pandemic has stretched hospitals' resources to the limit, and the AHA should not waste precious member hospitals' funds lobbying against universal health coverage" as a member of the Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PFAHCF).

Because Medicare for All would provide a lifeline to hospitals in underserved areas that have been hit hard by Covid-19, Gaffney argued, the AHA "cannot claim to represent hospitals while also opposing a single-payer system that would keep struggling hospitals open." The AHA represents around 5,000 hospitals and other healthcare providers in the U.S.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, public health officials are accusing the Trump administration of directing billions of dollars in Covid-19 hospital bailout funds to high-revenue providers while restricting money to hospitals that serve low-income areas.

Tenet Healthcare, an investor-owned hospital company that has donated hundreds of thousands to PFAHCF, has received $345 million in Covid-19 bailout funds, Axios reported last month.

"The AHA should immediately leave the PFAHCF," Gaffney said, "and redirect that money to supporting patients and frontline healthcare workers."

"As physicians, we can no longer tolerate a health system that puts profits ahead of patients and public health," Gaffney added. "It's time for health professionals to hold accountable the organizations that claim to represent us."

Formed in the summer of 2018 by an alliance of pharmaceutical, insurance, and hospital lobbyists with the goal of countering the push for universal healthcare, PFAHCF's anti-Medicare for All " army " has grown rapidly since its founding, with the AHA joining the fray in 2019.

As The Intercept reported last October, the for-profit hospital industry has played an "integral role" in the corporate fight against single-payer.

[May 22, 2020] They Saw This Day Coming - Huawei Forges Alliances With Rival Chipmakers As Washington's Crackdown Intensifies

May 22, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

"They Saw This Day Coming" - Huawei Forges Alliances With Rival Chipmakers As Washington's Crackdown Intensifies by Tyler Durden Fri, 05/22/2020 - 18:05 The US Commerce Department's latest move to block companies from selling products to Huawei that were created with American technology, equipment or software has undoubtedly hurt the Chinese telecoms giant. But it won't be nearly enough to take it down.

Since Washington launched its campaign against Huawei two years ago (when the trade tensions between the US and China started to heat up, as President Trump started slapping more tariffs on foreign goods) the company has been strengthening ties with contract chipmakers in Taiwan and elsewhere, while ramping up its own microchip-technology arm, known as HiSilicon Technologies.

On Friday, Nikkei reported that Huawei had initiated conversations with other mobile chipmakers to try and figure out where it might source certain essential components for its handsets (remember, Huawei is the second-largest cellphone maker by sales volume) and other products.

Of course, the crackdown cuts both ways, as several American companies relied heavily on Huawei's business (they can still apply for licenses to continue selling to Huawei...so long as Commerce approves).

As we reported earlier this week , it's not just American chipmakers that are distancing themselves from Huawei: some Taiwan-based chipmakers are also dropping the telecoms giant for fear of being targeted by Treasury sanctions, including TSMC, the world's largest contract chipmaker.

Now, Huawei is reportedly in talks with MediaTek, the world's second-largest contract chip producer.

Huawei Technologies is seeking help from rival mobile-chip makers to withstand a U.S. clampdown aimed at crippling the Chinese company, sources familiar with the matter told the Nikkei Asian Review.

Huawei is in talks with MediaTek, the world's second-largest mobile chip developer after Qualcomm of the U.S., and UNISOC, China's second-largest mobile chip designer after Huawei's HiSilicon Technologies unit, to buy more chips as alternatives to keep its consumer electronics business afloat, the sources said.

To work with a contract chipmaker, Huawei would still need to design its own chips. Over the past two years, Huawei has expanded its team of engineers working on chip design to more than 10,000, Nikkei said.

To be sure, MediaTek already makes low- and medium-end chips for Huawei, evidence that the company, which was founded by a veteran of China's PLA, and purportedly maintains strong links to the Chinese military, has been bracing for the other shoe to drop. MediaTek, meanwhile, is still trying to figure out if it can meet Huawei's latest bid.

"Huawei has foreseen this day coming. It started to allocate more mid- to low-end mobile chip projects to MediaTek last year amid its de-Americanization efforts," one of the sources said. "Huawei has also become one of the key clients for the Taiwanese mobile chip developer's mid-end 5G mobile chip for this year."

MediaTek is evaluating whether it has sufficient human resources to fully support Huawei's aggressive bid, as the Chinese company is asking for volume 300% above its usual procurement in the past few years, another source familiar with the talks said.

The situation has also created an opportunity for small Chinese chipmakers (working, we imagine, mostly with technology stolen from American and Taiwanese companies) to expand.

Huawei also seeks to deepen its collaboration with UNISOC, a Beijing-backed mobile chip developer that relies mostly on smaller device makers as customers and mainly supports entry-level products and devices for emerging markets. Previously, Huawei used only very few UNISOC chips for its low-end smartphone and tablet offerings, sources said.

"The new procurement deals would be a great boost to help UNISOC further upgrade its chip design capability," said a chip industry executive. "In the past, UNISOC was struggling quite a bit, because it could not really secure big contracts with global leading smartphone makers as these top smartphone makers could find better offerings elsewhere. This time could be an opportunity that it could really seek to match the international standard."

UNISOC last year accelerated its 5G chip development to catch up with Qualcomm and MediaTek, Nikkei has reported. More recently, the company received 4.5 billion yuan ($630 million) from China's national integrated circuit fund, the so-called Big Fund.

UNISOC is preparing to list on the Shanghai STAR tech board, the Chinese version of Nasdaq, later this year. Qualcomm has needed a license from the U.S. Department of Commerce to supply Huawei since mid-May of 2019.

Huawei has already expanded production of in-house mobile processors for its smartphone business to 75%, up from 69% in 2018 and 45% in 2016, according to to data from GF Securities cited by Nikkei. Huawei shipped 240 million smartphones in 2019. And with China now throwing caution to the wind and cracking down on Hong Kong, we wouldn't be surprised to see more Huawei drama in the headlines next week, with serious market repercussions for the US semiconductor industry.

[May 22, 2020] Dear Corporate America Take Your Job Shove It by Charles Hugh Smith

May 22, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Dear Corporate America: maybe you remember the old Johnny Paycheck tune? Let me refresh your memory: take this job and shove it.

Put yourself in the shoes of a single parent waiting tables in a working-class cafe with lousy tips, a worker stuck with high rent and a soul-deadening commute --one of the tens of millions of America's working poor who have seen their wages stagnate and their income becoming increasingly precarious / uncertain while the cost of living has soared.

Unemployment and the federal stimulus bonus of $600 a week are far more than your regular wages, including tips. Exactly why do you want to go back to your miserable job and low pay? Why wouldn't you take time off and enjoy life a little, which is what you've been wanting to do for years?

Indeed--why not? The pandemic is giving many permission to get what they always wanted. Consider these examples:

1. The Federal Reserve has always pined for the power to bail out the top .01% / the New Nobility the way they deserve, with unlimited money-printing and the Fed being able to buy every rigged, fraudulent asset spewed by the New Nobility's financial and corporate predators and parasites.

Yee-haw, the pandemic genie granted your wish: there's no limits on how many trillions you can shove into the greedy maw of the top .01%, and bail out every single one of their predatory, exploitive, legalized looting bets that went south.

2. Local officials always wanted to commandeer some motels and shove the homeless into them, to clear the sidewalks and parks and then claim "homeless problem solved." Presto, your wish has been granted.

3. Central government authorities have always resented all those pesky civil liberties restraints on their unquenchable desires to control every tiny aspect of life, public and private, and now--voila, the doors to Petty Authoritarian Heaven have opened. Question our authority? A tenner in the gulag for you, Doubter of All That Is Great and Good.

4. Restaurant owners who on camera always have to say how much they love their customers and business, never mind the money, who secretly have come to loathe their over-entitled, self-absorbed, dilettante customers and are sick and tired of the soaring rent, business licenses, insurance, payroll taxes and costs of ingredients.

You know what, pal? Here's the keys, you can re-open whatever the heck you want, I'm outta here. I've been secretly wishing I could get out from underneath this crushing burden and get my life back. Yes, it was exciting way back when, but now it's nothing but an endless grind that wasn't making money even before the pandemic.

5. Since the financiers, Big Tech mini-gods and stock buyback crowd have looted and pillaged their way to immense fortunes by lying, cheating, conniving and gaming, why not follow the money just like the predators and parasites at the top of the heap?

Indeed, why not fudge the application for a federal small business loan and use the "free money" to lease that shiny new Rolls Royce you always desired? Well, haven't the authorities been begging us to borrow and spend like there's no tomorrow?

6. Dear Corporate America: maybe you remember the old Johnny Paycheck tune? Let me refresh your memory: take this job and shove it, I ain't working here no more. If there's a will, there's a way, and I'm stepping off the rat race merry-go-round, thank you very much. You can find some other sucker to do your dirty work and BS work, all for the greater glory and wealth of your New Nobility shareholders. I'm outta here. So I won't get rich, that dream died a long time ago. What I'm interested in now is getting my life back.

The pandemic might not follow the Central Casting script of a V-shaped return to debt-serf, BS-work wonderfulness. Everyone who was sick and tired of their pre-pandemic life and the endless exploitation has had time to think things over, and some consequential percentage of them will welcome "good-bye to all that" and others will decide not to go back, even if that is still an option.

It's called opting out, and it has always characterized the end of imperial pretensions, pillaging, propaganda and predation. Financial parasites, beware the second-order effects of your overweening dominance and limitless greed.

My recent books:

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[May 22, 2020] With 36 Million Newly Out of Work, Trump Says He s Willing to Let Boosted Unemployment Benefits Expire

Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
May 22, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

President Donald Trump told Republican senators during a private lunch Tuesday that he is willing to let expanded unemployment benefits expire at the end of July, a decision that would massively slash the incomes of tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the president "privately expressed opposition to extending a weekly $600 boost in unemployment insurance for laid-off workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to three officials familiar with his remarks."

House Democrats passed legislation last week that would extend the beefed-up unemployment benefits through January of 2021 as experts and government officials -- including Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell -- warn the U.S. unemployment rate could soon reach 25%. The unemployment insurance boost under the CARES Act is set to expire on July 31, even as many people have yet to receive their first check.

"With nearly 1 in 5 Americans out of work, Donald Trump's plan is to cut off the boost to unemployment benefits and shower his wealthy buddies with more tax cuts," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), one of the architects of the unemployment insurance expansion, told HuffPost . "This is the worst economic crisis in 100 years and Donald Trump is doubling down on Herbert Hoover's economic playbook and pushing workers to risk their health for his political benefit."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) -- who declared earlier this month that Congress will only extend the boosted unemployment insurance "over our dead bodies" -- said after the private lunch that Trump believes the benefits are "hurting the economic recovery." Graham was one of several Republican senators who opposed the initial expansion of unemployment benefits as too generous.

An analysis released last week by the Hamilton Project, an initiative of the Brookings Institution, found that expanded unemployment benefits offset "roughly half of lost wages and salaries in April." Unemployment insurance has "been essential to families, and is vital for keeping the economy from cratering further," the authors of the analysis noted.

Ernie Tedeschi, a former Treasury Department economist, estimated that "come July 31, if the emergency UI top-up isn't extended, unemployed workers will effectively get a pay cut of 50-75% overnight."

"It's increasingly looking like there won't be enough labor demand to hire them all back at that point," Tedeschi tweeted.

The latest Labor Department statistics showed that more than 36 million people in the U.S. have filed jobless claims since mid-March as mass layoffs continue in the absence of government action to keep workers on company payrolls. Despite the grim numbers, the Post 's Jeff Stein reported Tuesday that the White House is " predicting a swift economic recovery " as it resists additional efforts to provide relief to frontline workers and the unemployed.

On top of rejecting an extension of enhanced unemployment insurance, Trump last month publicly voiced opposition to another round of direct stimulus payments, instead advocating a cut to the tax that funds Social Security and Medicare.

[May 22, 2020] McDonald's Workers Strike Across US to Demand Better Protections From Covid-19

May 22, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

Demanding McDonald's prioritize public health and worker safety over profits, hundreds of employees at the fast food chain went on strike Wednesday, a day before the company was set to hold its annual shareholders' meeting.

Instead of distributing dividends to its shareholders, the striking employees are calling for the company to use its massive profits to pay for safety and financial protections for workers, scores of whom have contracted Covid-19 in at least 16 states so far.

Employees and strike organizers at the fair wage advocacy group Fight for $15 are demanding hazard pay during the pandemic of "$15X2," paid sick leave, sufficient protective gear for workers, and company-wide policy of closing a restaurant for two weeks when an employee becomes infected, with workers being fully paid.

The strike is taking place at stores in at least 20 cities. Fight for $15 and the SEIU, which is also supporting the action, say it's the first nationwide coordinated effort targeting the company since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.

[May 21, 2020] The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion of labour in which Western societies could prosper from the ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks

Notable quotes:
"... In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron. ..."
"... What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once. ..."
"... The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed. ..."
"... In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use. ..."
"... The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature. ..."
"... Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay. ..."
"... The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro. ..."
"... The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly. ..."
"... A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions. ..."
"... Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided. ..."
"... But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone. ..."
"... The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe. ..."
"... I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented. ..."
"... "Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic." ..."
"... Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders. ..."
"... " French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world " ..."
"... From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill. ..."
"... The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens. ..."
"... Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons. ..."
"... After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters". ..."
"... Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest. ..."
May 21, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron.

Macron and his government are criticized for hesitating too long to confine the population, for vacillating about the need for masks and tests, or about when or how much to end the confinement. Their confusion and indecision at least defend them from the wild accusation of having staged the whole thing in order to lock up the population.

What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once.

The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed.

Meanwhile, in early April, Vietnam donated hundreds of thousands of antimicrobial face masks to European countries and is producing them by the million. Employing tests and selective isolation, Vietnam has fought off the epidemic with only a few hundred cases and no deaths.

You must have thoughts as to the question of Western unity in response to Covid–19.

In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use.

The absence of European solidarity has been shockingly clear. Better-equipped Germany banned exports of masks to Italy. In the depth of its crisis, Italy found that the German and Dutch governments were mainly concerned with making sure Italy pays its debts. Meanwhile, a team of Chinese experts arrived in Rome to help Italy with its Covid–19 crisis, displaying a banner reading "We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden." The European institutions lack such humanistic poetry. Their founding value is not solidarity but the neoliberal principle of "free unimpeded competition."

How do you think this reflects on the European Union?

The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature.

Globalization has hastened the spread of the pandemic, but it has not strengthened internationalist solidarity. Initial gratitude for Chinese aid is being brutally opposed by European Atlanticists. In early May, Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Springer publishing giant, bluntly called on Germany to ally with the U.S. -- against China. Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay.

Meanwhile, relations between EU member states have never been worse. In Italy and to a greater extent in France, the coronavirus crisis has enforced growing disillusion with the European Union and an ill-defined desire to restore national sovereignty.

Corollary question: What are the prospects that Europe will produce leaders capable of seizing that right moment, that assertion of independence? What do you reckon such leaders would be like?

The EU is likely to be a central issue in the near future, but this issue can be exploited in very different ways, depending on which leaders get hold of it. The coronavirus crisis has intensified the centrifugal forces already undermining the European Union. The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro.

What does the crisis mean for the euro? I confess I've lost faith in this project, given how disadvantaged it leaves the nations on the Continent's southern rim.

The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly.

The German constitutional court in Karlsruhe recently issued a long judgment making it clear who is boss. It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states. If these rules were not followed, the Bundesbank, the German central bank, would be obliged to pull out of the ECB. And since the Bundesbank is the ECB's main creditor, that is that. There can be no generous financial help to troubled governments within the eurozone. Period.

Is there a possibility of disintegration here?

The idea of leaving the EU is most developed in France. The Union Populaire Républicaine, founded in 2007 by former senior functionary François Asselineau, calls for France to leave the euro, the European Union, and NATO.

The party has been a didactic success, spreading its ideas and attracting around 20,000 active militants without scoring any electoral success. A main argument for leaving the EU is to escape from the constraints of EU competition rules in order to protect its vital industry, agriculture, and above all its public services.

A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions.

" Europe" as an idea or an ideal, you mean.

Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic.

Two and a half months of coronavirus crisis have brought to light a factor that makes any predictions about future leaders even more problematic. That factor is a widespread distrust and rejection of all established authority. This makes rational political programs extremely difficult, because rejection of one authority implies acceptance of another. For instance, the way to liberate public services and pharmaceuticals from the distortions of the profit motive is nationalization. If you distrust the power of one as much as the other, there is nowhere to go.

Such radical distrust can be explained by two main factors -- the inevitable feeling of helplessness in our technologically advanced world, combined with the deliberate and even transparent lies on the part of mainstream politicians and media. But it sets the stage for the emergence of manipulated saviors or opportunistic charlatans every bit as deceptive as the leaders we already have, or even more so. I hope these irrational tendencies are less pronounced in France than in some other countries.

I'm eager to talk about Russia. There are signs that relations with Russia are another source of European dissatisfaction as "junior partners" within the U.S.–led Atlantic alliance. Macron is outspoken on this point, "junior partners" being his phrase. The Germans -- business people, some senior officials in government -- are quite plainly restive.

Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided.

But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone.

I hadn't put our current circumstance in this context. US-backed, violent coup in Ukraine, 2014.

The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe.

U.S. sanctions are particularly contrary to German business interests, and NATO's aggressive gestures put Germany on the front lines of an eventual war.

But Germany has been an occupied country -- militarily and politically -- for 75 years, and I suspect that many German political leaders (usually vetted by Washington) have learned to fit their projects into U.S. policies. I think that under the cover of Atlantic loyalty, there are some frustrated imperialists lurking in the German establishment, who think they can use Washington's Russophobia as an instrument to make a comeback as a world military power.

But I also think that the political debate in Germany is overwhelmingly hypocritical, with concrete aims veiled by fake issues such as human rights and, of course, devotion to Israel.

We should remember that the U.S. does not merely use its allies -- its allies, or rather their leaders, figure they are using the U.S. for some purposes of their own.

What about what the French have been saying since the G–7 session in Biarritz two years ago, that Europe should forge its own relations with Russia according to Europe's interests, not America's?

At G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 26, 2019. (White House)

I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented.

Stepping back for a broader look, do you think Europe's position on the western flank of the Eurasian landmass will inevitably shape its position with regard not only to Russia but also China? To put this another way, is Europe destined to become an independent pole of power in the course of this century, standing between West and East?

At present, what we have standing between West and East is not Europe but Russia, and what matters is which way Russia leans. Including Russia, Europe might become an independent pole of power. The U.S. is currently doing everything to prevent this. But there is a school of strategic thought in Washington which considers this a mistake, because it pushes Russia into the arms of China. This school is in the ascendant with the campaign to denounce China as responsible for the pandemic. As mentioned, the Atlanticists in Europe are leaping into the anti–China propaganda battle. But they are not displaying any particular affection for Russia, which shows no sign of sacrificing its partnership with China for the unreliable Europeans.

If Russia were allowed to become a friendly bridge between China and Europe, the U.S. would be obliged to abandon its pretensions of world hegemony. But we are far from that peaceful prospect.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune , is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century" (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist . His web site is Patrick Lawrence . Support his work via his Patreon site .


Josep , May 19, 2020 at 02:04

It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states.

I once read a comment elsewhere saying that, back in 1989, both Britain (under Margaret Thatcher) and the US objected to German reunification. Since they could not stop the reunification, they insisted that Germany accept the incoming euro. A heap of German university professors jumped up and protested, knowing fully well what the game was: namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers.

Thorben Sunkimat , May 20, 2020 at 13:45

France and Britain rejected the german reunification. The americans were supportive, even though they had their demands. Mainly privatisation of german public utilities. After agreeing to those demands the americans persuaded the british and pressured the french who agreed to german reunification after germany agreed to the euro.

So why did france want the euro?

The German central bank crashed the European economy after reunification with high interest rates. This was because of above average growth rates mainly in Eastern Germany. Main function of the Bundesbank is to keep inflation low, which is more important to them than anything else. Since Germany's D Mark was the leading currency in Europe the rest of Europe had to heighten their interest rates too, witch lead to great economic problems within Europe. Including France.

OlyaPola , May 21, 2020 at 05:30

"namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers."

Resort to binaries (controlled/not controlled) is a practice of self-imposed blindness. In any interactive system no absolutes exist only analogues of varying assays since "control" is limited and variable. In respect of what became the German Empire this relationship predated and facilitated the German Empire through financing the war with Denmark in 1864 courtesy of the arrangements between Mr. von Bismark and Mr. Bleichroder. The assay of "control of bankers" has varied/increased subsequently but never attained the absolute.

It is true that finance capital perceived and continues to perceive the European Union as an opportunity to increase their assay of "control" – the Austrian banks in conjunction with German bank assigning a level of priority to resurrecting spheres of influence existing prior to 1918 and until 1945.

One of the joint projects at a level of planning in the early 1990's was development of the Danube and its hinterland from Regensburg to Cerna Voda/Constanta in Romania but this was delayed in the hope of curtailment by some when NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 (Serbia not being the only target – so much for honesty-amongst-theives.)

This project was resurrected in a limited form primarily downstream from Vidin/Calafat from 2015 onwards given that some states of the former Yugoslavia were not members of the European Union and some were within spheres of influence of "The United States of America".

As to France, "Vichy" and Europa also facilitated the resurrection of finance capital and increase in its assay of control after the 1930's, some of the practices of the 1940's still being subject to dispute in France.

mkb29 , May 18, 2020 at 16:33

I've always admired Diana Johnstone's clear headed analyses of world/European/U.S./ China/Israel-Palestine/Russia/ interactions and the motivation of its "players". She has given some credence to what as been known as French rationalism and enlightenment. (Albeit as an American expat) Think Descartes, Diderot, Sartre , and She loves France in her own rationalist-humanist way.

Linda J , May 18, 2020 at 13:21

I have admired Ms. Johnstone's work for quite awhile. This enlightening interview spurs me to get a copy of the book and to contribute to Consortium News.

Others may be interested in the two-part video discovered yesterday featuring Douglas Valentine's analysis of the CIA's corporate backers and their global choke-hold on governments and their influencers in every region of the world.

Part 1
see:youtu(dot)be/cP15Ehx1yvI

Part 2
see:youtu(dot)be/IYvvEn_N1sE

worldblee , May 18, 2020 at 12:26

Not many have the long distance perspective on the world, let alone Europe, that Diana Johnstone has. Great interview!

Drew Hunkins , May 18, 2020 at 11:03

"Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic."

Bingo! A marvelous point indeed! Quick little example -- Bernard Sanders should have worn an American flag pin on his suit during the 2020 Dem primary campaign.

chris , May 18, 2020 at 04:46

A very good analysis. As an American who has relocated to Spain several years ago, I am always disappointed that discussions of European politics always assume that Europe ends at the Pyrenees. Admittedly, Spanish politics is very complicated and confusing. Forty years of an unreconstructed dictatorship have left their mark, but the country´s socialist, communist and anarchic currents never went away. I like to say that the country is very conservative, but at least the population is aware of what is going on.

Perhaps what Ms. Johnston says about the French being just worn out, with no stomach for more violent conflict also applies to the Spanish since their great ideological struggle is more recent. The American influence during the Transition (which changed little – as the expression goes: The same dog but with a different collar) was very strong, and remains so. Even so, there is popular support for foreign and domestic policies independent of American and neoliberal control, but by and large the political and economic powers are not on board. I do not think Spain is willing to make a break alone, but would align itself with an European shift away from American control.

As Ms. Johnston says, Europe currently lacks leaders willing to take the plunge, but we will see what the coming year brings.

Sam F , May 17, 2020 at 17:45

Thank you Diana, these are valuable insights. Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders.

1. Waving the flag and praising the lord on mass media, claiming concern with human rights and "Israel"; while
2. Subverting the Constitution with large scale bribery, surveillance, and genocides, all business as usual nowadays.
In the US, the form of government has become bribery and marketing lies; it truly knows no other way.

It may be better that Russia and China keep their distance from the US and maybe even the EU:
1. The US and EU would have to produce what they consume, eventually empowering workers;
2. Neither the US nor EU are a political or economic model for anyone, and should be ignored;
3. Neither the US nor EU produces much that Russia and China cannot, by investing more in cars and soybeans.

It will be best for the EU if it also rejects the US and its "neolib" economic and political tyranny mechanisms:
1. Alliance with Russia and China will cause substantial gains in stability and economic strength;
2. Forcing the US to abandon its "pretensions of world hegemony" will soon yield more peaceful prospects; and
3. Isolating the US will force it to improve its utterly corrupt government and society, maybe 40 to 60 years hence.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:40

" French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world "

Brilliant. Exactly right. This was the progenitor to our contemporary I.D. politics which seems to be solely obsessed with vocabulary, semantics and non-economic cultural issues while rarely having a critique of corporate capitalism, militarism, massive inequality and Zionism. And it almost never advocates for robust economic populist proposals like Med4All, U.B.I., debt jubilee, and the fight for $15.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:10

The book is phenomenal. I posted a customer review over on Amazon for this stupendous work. Below is a copy of my review:

(5 stars) One of the most important intellects pens her magisterial lasting legacy
Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2020

Johnstone's been an idol of mine ever since I started reading her in the 1990s. She's clearly proved her worthiness over the decades by bucking the mainstream trend of apologetics for corporate capitalism, neoliberalism, globalism and imperialistic militarism her entire career and this astonishing memoir details it all in what will likely be the finest book of 2020 and perhaps the entire decade.

Her writing style is beyond superb, her grasp of the overarching politico-socio-economic issues that have rocked the world over the past 60 years is as astute and spot-on as you will find from any global thinker. She's right up there with Michael Parenti, James Petras, John Pilger and Noam Chomsky as seminal figures who have documented and brought light to tens of thousands (millions?) of people across the globe via their writings, interviews and speaking engagements.

Johnstone has never been one to shy away from controversial topics and issues. Why? Simple, she has the facts and truth on her side, she always has. Circle in the Darkness proves all this and more, she marshals the documentation and lays it out as an exquisite gift for struggling working people around the world.

From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill.

Whenever she comes out with a new article or essay I immediately drop everything and devour it, often reading it twice to let her wisdom really soak in. So too Circle of Darkness is an extremely well written beautiful work that will scream out to be re-read every few years by those with a hunger to know exactly what was going on since the Korean War era through today regarding liberal thought, neocon and neoliberal dominance with its capitalist global hegemony and the take over of Western governments by the parasitic financial elite.

There will never be another Diana Johnstone. Circle in the Darkness will stand as her lasting legacy to all of us.

Bob Van Noy , May 17, 2020 at 14:43

"As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it" ~Albert Einstein

Many Thanks CN, Patrick Lawrence, and Joe Lauria. Once again I must commend CN for picking just the appropriate response to our contemporary dilemma.

The quote above leads Diana Johnstone's new book and succinctly describes both the universe and our contemporary experience with our digital age. President Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle of France would agree that colonialism was past and that a new world (geopolitical) approach would become necessary, but that philosophy would put them against some great local and world powers. Each of them necessarily had different approaches as to how this might be accomplished. They were never allowed to present their specific proposals on a world stage. Let's hope a wiser population will once again "see" this possibility and find a way to resolve it

Aaron , May 17, 2020 at 14:18

Well over the span of all of those decades, the consistent, inexorable theme seems to be a trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, a small number of individuals, not really states, gaining wealth and power, so everybody else fights over the crumbs, blaming this or that party, alliance, event or whatever, but behind it all there are two flower gardens, indeed the rich are all flowers of their golden garden, and the poor are all flowers of their garden.

It's like the Europeans and the 99 percent in America have all fallen for the myth of the American dream, that if we are just allowed more free, unfettered economic opportunity, it's just up to us to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and become a billionaire.

The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens.

AnneR , May 17, 2020 at 13:42

Regarding French colonialism – as I recall the French were especially brutal in their forced withdrawal from Algeria, both toward Algerians in their homeland and to Algerians within France itself.

And the French were hardly willing, non-violent colonialists when being fought by the Vietnamese who wanted to be free of them (quite rightly so).

As for the French in Sub-Saharan Africa – they have yet to truly give up on their presumed right to have troops within these countries. They did not depart any of their colonies happily, willingly – like every other colonial power, including the UK.

And, as for WWII – she seems, in her reminiscences, to have mislaid Vichy France, the Velodrome roundups of French Jews, and so on ..

Ms Johnstone clearly has been looking backwards with rose-tinted specs on when it comes to France.

Randal Marlin , May 18, 2020 at 13:00

There may be some truth to AnneR's claim that Ms Johnstone has been looking with rose-tinted specs when it comes to France, but it is highly misleading for her to talk about "the French" regarding Algeria. I spent 1963-64 in Aix-en-Provence teaching at the Institute for American Universities and talked with some of the "pieds-noirs," (French born in Algeria).

After French President Charles de Gaulle decided to relinquish French control over Algeria, having previously reassured the colonial population that "Je vous ai compris" ("I have understood you"), there followed death threats to many French colonizers who had to flee Algeria immediately within 24 hours or get their throats slit – "La valise ou le cercueil" (the suitcase or the coffin).

In the fall of 1961, I saw Parisian police stations with machine-gun armed men behind concrete barriers, as an invasion by the colonial French paratroopers against mainland France was expected. The "Organisation Armée Secrète," OAS, (Secret Armed Organization) of the colonial powers, threatened at the time to invade Paris.

As an aside, giving a sense of the anger and passion involved, when the death of John F.Kennedy in November 1963 was announced in the historic, right-wing café in Aix, Les Deux Garçons, a huge cheer went up when the media announcer proclaimed "Le Président est assassinée. Only, that was because they thought de Gaulle was the president in question. A huge disappointment when they heard it was President Kennedy. To get a sense of the whole situation regarding France and Algeria I recommend Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace."

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:23

"They did not depart any of their colonies happily"

Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons.

Despite the "best" efforts of the opponents and partly in consequence of the opponents' complicity, the PRC and the Russian Federation like "The United States of America" are not synonymous with the political geographical areas designated as "The People's Republic of China and The Russian Federation", are in lateral process of transcending linear systems of coercive relations and hence pose existential threats to "The United States of America".

The opponents are not complete fools but the drowning tend to act precipitously including flailing out whilst drowning; encouraging some to dispense with rose- tinted glasses, despite such accessories being quite fashionable and fetching.

OlyaPola , May 20, 2020 at 04:32

" .. their colonies "

Perception of and practice of social relations are not wholly synonymous. A construct whose founding myths included liberty, egality and fraternity – property being discarded at the last moment since it was judged too provocative – experienced/experiences ideological/perceptual oxymorons in regard to its colonial relations, which were addressed in part by rendering their "colonies" department of France thereby facilitating increased perceptual dissonance.

Like many, Randal Marlin draws attention below to the perceptions and practices of the pied-noir, but omits to address the perceptions and practices of the harkis whom were also immersed in the proselytised notion of departmental France, and to some degree continue to be.

This understanding continues to inform the practices and problems of the French state.

Lolita , May 17, 2020 at 12:05

The analysis is very much inspired from "Comprendre l'Empire" by Alain Soral.

Dave , May 17, 2020 at 11:27

Do not fail to read this interview in its entirety. Ms Johnstone analyzes and describes many issues of national and global importance from the perspective of an USA expat who has spent most of her career in the pursuit of what may be termed disinterested journalism. Whether one agrees or disagrees in whole or in part the perspectives she presents, particularly those which pertain to the demise (hopefully) of the American Empire are worthy of perusal.

Remember that this is not a polemic; it's a memoir of a lifetime devoted to reporting and analyzing and discussion of most of the significant issues confronting global and national politics and their social ramifications. And a big thanks to Patrick Lawrence and Consortium News for posting the interview.

PEG , May 17, 2020 at 09:11

Diana Johnstone is one of the most intelligent, clear-minded and honest observers of international politics today, and her book "Circle in the Darkness" – which expands on the topics and insights touched on in this interview – is certainly among the best and most compelling books I have ever read, putting the events of the last 75 years into objective context and focus (normally something which only historians can do, if at all, generations after the fact).

After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters".

Herman , May 17, 2020 at 09:00

Interesting comparison between the aspirations of De Gaulle and Putin.

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. His policy was to foster friendly relations on equal terms with all parts of the world, regardless of ideological differences. I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar. It is clearly a concept that horrifies the exceptionalists."

Agree with Johnstone.

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:55

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. "

Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest.

The exceptions to such strategies lay within constructs of settler colonialism which were addressed primarily through warfare – "The United States of America", Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Kenya, Rhodesia, Mozambique, Angola refer – to facilitate such future strategies.

"I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar."

As outlined elsewhere the concept of a multi-polar world is not synonymous with the concept of colonialism except for the colonialists who consistently seek to encourage such conflation through myths of we-are-all-in-this-togetherness.

[May 21, 2020] Pompeo Lays Out the Case For Cold War II With China by Matthew Petti

That will be an interesting chess party. The USA moved way to many plants to Chine to get out of this conflict without major losses
Notable quotes:
"... Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China as “hostile to free nations,” portraying Beijing as fundamentally opposed to the United States, on Wednesday. ..."
"... But the Secretary of State pointed to deeper issues in the relationship, claiming that “the nature of the regime is not new.” “For several decades, we thought the regime would become more like us through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the [World Trade Organization] as a developing nation,” he said. “That didn’t happen.” ..."
May 20, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

'The regime is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations.'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed China as “hostile to free nations,” portraying Beijing as fundamentally opposed to the United States, on Wednesday.

Tensions between the United States and China have reached a fever pitch during the coronavirus pandemic. Pompeo’s speech at a Wednesday morning press conference laid out a vision of a global clash between two fundamentally different societies.

“China’s been ruled by a brutal, authoritarian regime, a communist regime since 1949,” he said. “We greatly underestimated the degree to which Beijing is ideologically and politically hostile to free nations. The whole world is waking up to that fact.”

He added that a focus on the coronavirus pandemic “risks missing the bigger picture of the challenge that’s presented by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The pandemic has accelerated U.S.-China tensions.

Last week, a Chinese Communist Party news threatened sanctions against U.S. lawmakers for attempting to sue the Chinese government for the pandemic, and U.S. law enforcement accused Chinese hackers of cyberattacks against U.S. researchers.

But the Secretary of State pointed to deeper issues in the relationship, claiming that “the nature of the regime is not new.” “For several decades, we thought the regime would become more like us through trade, scientific exchanges, diplomatic outreach, letting them in the [World Trade Organization] as a developing nation,” he said. “That didn’t happen.”

Pompeo accused the World Health Organization’s director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of “unusually close ties to Beijing” that “started long before this current pandemic.”

The Trump administration has accused China of covering up information about the novel coronavirus—even implying that the virus emerged from a lab accident in Wuhan, China—and pointed the finger at the World Health Organization for aiding China’s coverup.

The Secretary of State slammed the public health group for excluding Taiwan in his Wednesday speech, touching on a sensitive topic for Beijing.

Taiwan, an island that was once ruled by China, has ruled itself since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1950. Beijing considers the island a breakaway Chinese province that must be reunited with the mainland, while Taiwan’s ruling Pan-Green Alliance leans towards independence.

“The democratic process in Taiwan has matured into a model for the world,” Pompeo said, congratulating President Tsai Ing-wen on her re-election. “Despite great pressure from the outside, Taiwan has demonstrated the wisdom of giving people a voice and a choice.”

But he shied away from changing U..S. policy towards Taiwan..

Pompeo said that work that “comports with the history of the agreements between the United States and China is the right solution to maximize the stability there in the straits.”

The United States acknowledged the Chinese position that “there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China” as part of a 1979 joint communique with Beijing, and does not officially recognize Taiwan as a state, but maintains close informal ties with the Taiwanese government and opposes attempts to change the island’s government by force.

“The President talked about how we’re going to respond [to China], how he’s beginning to think about responding to the calamity that has befallen the world as a result of the actions of the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said. “I don’t want to get ahead of him in terms of talking about how the administration will respond to that, but you can already begin to see the outlines of it.”

Matthew Petti is a national security reporter at the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter: @matthew_petti. This article initially stated that the United States “recognized that ‘there is but one China and Taiwan is a part of China’ in a 1979 joint communique.” The communique actually states that the United States “acknowledges” this as the Chinese position. The article has been updated to more correctly reflect the communique. Image: Reuters.

[May 20, 2020] This Is Despotism, Plain Simple - Of Power-Drunk Politicians Sociopathic Oligarchs

Notable quotes:
"... Yes it took parasites, sociopathic oligarchs and a power drunk national security state to bring us to our current state of affairs, but it also took the rest of us. For far too long we as a people have been apathetic, hoodwinked spectators to the life unfolding around us. Voting for "the lesser of two evils" for decade upon decade thinking it might be different this time. Putting up with the economic game that's been put in front of us, despite the fact that it demonstrably and systematically rewards and incentivizes predatory and destructive behavior. As a people, we have been superficial, indifferent and gleefully ignorant of reality. It's time to change all that. ..."
"... I think one reason mass media puts so much emphasis on voting at the national level is the owners of these propaganda channels know voting will change absolutely nothing. The oligarchy and national security state are fully in charge, and they're not going to allow the pesky rabble to get in the way of such a lucrative racket by voting. Getting those who are politically inclined to spend all their time and energy on a rigged and completely corrupt phantom democracy in D.C. is a great way to keep them busy with nonsense. It's also a perfect way to demoralize that portion of the population which understands it's just theater. If you can be convinced that voting at the national level is the only way to change things, you're much more likely to recede into apathy and become intentionally disengaged. This happens to a lot of people, but it's a big mistake. ..."
May 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog, It's Time To Step Into The Arena

There's a passage in Teddy Roosevelt's famous 1910 "Citizenship in a Republic" speech I want to share with you today:

If a man's efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man's own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships those qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown. It makes no difference whether such a man's force and ability betray themselves in a career of money-maker or politician, soldier or orator, journalist or popular leader. If the man works for evil, then the more successful he is the more he should be despised and condemned by all upright and far-seeing men. To judge a man merely by success is an abhorrent wrong; and if the people at large habitually so judge men, if they grow to condone wickedness because the wicked man triumphs, they show their inability to understand that in the last analysis free institutions rest upon the character of citizenship, and that by such admiration of evil they prove themselves unfit for liberty.

The above words strike me as a perfect description of the deep hole we find ourselves in presently throughout these United States of America. It takes a whole nation to screw things up as badly as we have, and boy have we ever.

Yes it took parasites, sociopathic oligarchs and a power drunk national security state to bring us to our current state of affairs, but it also took the rest of us. For far too long we as a people have been apathetic, hoodwinked spectators to the life unfolding around us. Voting for "the lesser of two evils" for decade upon decade thinking it might be different this time. Putting up with the economic game that's been put in front of us, despite the fact that it demonstrably and systematically rewards and incentivizes predatory and destructive behavior. As a people, we have been superficial, indifferent and gleefully ignorant of reality. It's time to change all that.

You can consider today's post a rallying cry to step into the arena. Stepping into the arena is often portrayed as becoming involved in national politics or some other large platform action, but I see it differently. If you think the only way to have a real impact is by voting or running for Congress, you're likely to give up and remain passive. The truth is your entire life can be repurposed to be an expression of increased kindness, wisdom and strength. It's the most impactful long-term action most of us can have on this earth, and anyone can do it.

Change yourself before trying to change the world. If enough people did this the world would change without you even trying.

-- Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) May 15, 2020

I think what keeps a lot of people on the sidelines of a conscious life is an inability to intimately process the above. Many people discount the little things, the countless actions of daily existence that impact those around you and cumulatively make you who you are.

I think one reason mass media puts so much emphasis on voting at the national level is the owners of these propaganda channels know voting will change absolutely nothing. The oligarchy and national security state are fully in charge, and they're not going to allow the pesky rabble to get in the way of such a lucrative racket by voting. Getting those who are politically inclined to spend all their time and energy on a rigged and completely corrupt phantom democracy in D.C. is a great way to keep them busy with nonsense. It's also a perfect way to demoralize that portion of the population which understands it's just theater. If you can be convinced that voting at the national level is the only way to change things, you're much more likely to recede into apathy and become intentionally disengaged. This happens to a lot of people, but it's a big mistake.

When I look back at my life thus far, it was during my decade on Wall Street when I was the most ignorant and superficial . So focused on stroking my ego, making a bunch of money and career advancement, I lost a lot of who I am at my core during that time. I often wonder if that's the case for a lot of people who achieve conventional success within the current paradigm. It's fortunate I removed myself from that situation and began thinking more deeply about who I am and what really matters.

Stepping up and getting into the arena will mean something different for each of us, but the one word that keeps popping into my head is resilience. There are several clear ways to become more resilient. There's mental and emotional resiliency, there's financial resiliency and there's physical resiliency (where and how you live). I see all three as fundamentally important and functioning best when working together. Resiliency starts at the most basic level because if you and your family aren't resilient, then you won't be much use to anyone else. If the people of a community or nation lack resiliency it provides the perfect space for authoritarianism and evil to manifest and flourish.

Case in point, see the following comments by Alan Dershowitz during a recent interview.

"You have no right not to be vaccinated, you have no right not to wear a mask... If you refuse to be vaccinated the state has the right to take you to a dr's office & plunge a needle in your arm." @AlanDersh take on vaccines & masks is vile & un-American. pic.twitter.com/j2C1Rk3d7h

-- Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) May 18, 2020

This is despotism plain and simple, and it's being expressed by a guy who still has considerable influence despite his many Jeffrey Epstein related controversies. It's going to take a resilient, courageous and ethical public to stand up to scoundrels like this and just say NO. No, you will not grab me, drag me off somewhere and inject something into my body without my consent. We've been passive spectators in the destruction of our society for far too long. It's time to both say no and to create something better.

When I walked away from New York City and Wall Street ten years ago it was clear what sort of trajectory the country was on, and it's only gotten worse since. We're now in the crucial period spanning 2020-2025 that will decide what the next several decades look like. The big battle for the future is here. Right now. If there's ever been a time in your life to step up, this is it.

* * *

Liberty Blitzkrieg is an ad-free website. If you enjoyed this post and my work in general, visit the Support Page where you can donate and contribute to my efforts.

[May 20, 2020] Washington wants to prevent Russia and China supplanting US interests but The China-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world and involves huge interests of the two countries, as well as the rest of the world. Therefore, it is not something Trump can cut off emotionally

Notable quotes:
"... The Chinese will not start a shooting war and the US has no guts for one. Its industry has been hollowed out not just by outsourcing but by corruption as well. The campaign of demonization against China is very obvious, how far it is working I have no way of telling. Among the 5-eyes probably quite well, in the rest of the World rather less well, I would imagine. Notably, the British economy has been hollowed out in exactly the same manner as the US's. Canada's, Australia's, NewZealand's? Could they, would they support a war? ..."
"... Right now, China is leading the vaccine race and has developed an antibody treatment for Covid-19 that should be ready this year. ..."
"... Interesting article by Escobar. If one cares to notice, this anti-China cold war is a neocon based aggression. The primary movers of it are mostly neocons or the sorts who follow the neocon lead. ..."
"... "Again! Trump is talking nonsense." Trump seems to be losing his mind right now. Even he has such crazy ideas of cutting ties with China, US politicians, businessmen and Americans would not allow him to do so, Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times. ..."
"... Jin Canrong, the associate dean of Renmin University of China's School of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that Trump made very irresponsible and emotional remarks in the interview. ..."
"... "For Trump, fantasy is power; bluffing is power, so he might use the future of his country to gamble with China. Although China always believes cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries to solve the problems together, if the US unilaterally and irrationally chooses all-out confrontation, China also needs to be prepared." ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

peter mcloughlin , says: Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 6:02 pm GMT

Washington wants to prevent Russia and China supplanting US interests. Moscow and Beijing pursue what they see as their own legitimate interests. What we face is not a "hybrid" war or "New Cold War" but a world war.
https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/
foolisholdman , says: Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 8:09 pm GMT
@peter mcloughlin

What we face is not a "hybrid" war or "New Cold War" but a world war.

Honestly, I don't see it. My reasoning is simple, maybe too simple. The Chinese will not start a shooting war and the US has no guts for one. Its industry has been hollowed out not just by outsourcing but by corruption as well. The campaign of demonization against China is very obvious, how far it is working I have no way of telling. Among the 5-eyes probably quite well, in the rest of the World rather less well, I would imagine. Notably, the British economy has been hollowed out in exactly the same manner as the US's. Canada's, Australia's, NewZealand's? Could they, would they support a war?

The other reason I think a shooting war is less likely than might appear, is that the the MIC is doing so well with the current cold war; that it would seem stupid to allow the massive disruption and uncertainty that a shooting war would cause to interrupt the torrent of cash being shoveled its way at the moment.

d dan , says: Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 8:34 pm GMT
"Hard landing" vs "Well and alive". Who wins?

source: comment #313 by Godfree Roberts
https://www.unz.com/article/objections-to-an-independent-investigation-of-china/

[Hide MORE]
1990. China's economy has come to a halt. The Economist
1996. China's economy will face a hard landing. The Economist
1998. China's economy's dangerous period of sluggish growth. The Economist
1999. Likelihood of a hard landing for the Chinese economy. Bank of Canada
2000. China currency move nails hard landing risk coffin. Chicago Tribune
2001. A hard landing in China. Wilbanks, Smith & Thomas
2002. China Seeks a Soft Economic Landing. Westchester University
2003. Banking crisis imperils China. New York Times
2004. The great fall of China? The Economist
2005. The Risk of a Hard Landing in China. Nouriel Roubini
2006. Can China Achieve a Soft Landing? International Economy
2007. Can China avoid a hard landing? TIME
2008. Hard Landing In China? Forbes
2009. China's hard landing. China must find a way to recover. Fortune
2010: Hard landing coming in China. Nouriel Roubini
2011: Chinese Hard Landing Closer Than You Think. Business Insider
2012: Economic News from China: Hard Landing. American Interest
2013: A Hard Landing In China. Zero Hedge
2014. A hard landing in China. CNBC
2015. Congratulations, You Got Yourself A Chinese Hard Landing. Forbes
2016. Hard landing looms for China. The Economist
2017. Is China's Economy Going To Crash? National Interest
2018. China's Coming Financial Meltdown. The Daily Reckoning.
2019 China's Economic Slowdown: How worried should we be? BBC
2020. Coronavirus Could End China's Decades-Long Economic Growth Streak. NY Times

=========

source: b
https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/05/this-illusion-is-alive-and-well.html#more

Godfree Roberts , says: Website Show Comment May 19, 2020 at 11:26 pm GMT
Chinese strategists like Liu He publicly acknowledge that epidemics can catalyze geopolitical changes.

Right now, China is leading the vaccine race and has developed an antibody treatment for Covid-19 that should be ready this year.

If development is successful and if it donates the cure to the world as Xi promised and if WHO's investigation shows China is not the source of the virus, and if China's economy is firing on all cylinders in November, it's game over: 3-0 China.

I put the odds of that conjunction at 2:1.

FB , says: Website Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 4:28 am GMT
@d dan LOLOLOL

You gotta love these headline fails I mean how is it even possible to be so spectacularly WRONG about everything time after time after time ?

Folks if you want to know why the US is screwed, it's because the same kind of geniuses that write these headlines are in charge of EVERYTHING

One day these people will be studied by psychologists dealing with MASSIVE DELUSION

anon [161] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 4:39 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts Do you have any odds on Trump v. Biden?
vot tak , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 4:54 am GMT
Interesting article by Escobar. If one cares to notice, this anti-China cold war is a neocon based aggression. The primary movers of it are mostly neocons or the sorts who follow the neocon lead. China is one country the zionazi-gays have not been able to dominate. Coupled with China's economic rise and appeal to developing countries, these zionazi oligarchs are going apeshit trying to bring China down. In addition to other articles referenced in the article, see also this Global Time report:

Chinese ridicule Trump's China 'cut-off' threat

https://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1188437.shtml

"Americans will suffer

[MORE]
"Again! Trump is talking nonsense." Trump seems to be losing his mind right now. Even he has such crazy ideas of cutting ties with China, US politicians, businessmen and Americans would not allow him to do so, Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for US Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times.

He noted that Trump is bluffing and acting tough toward China to win more support. Fox News, which has been regarded as Trump's defender and is notorious for a lack of professionalism, is also making eye-catching news to draw attention.

Jin Canrong, the associate dean of Renmin University of China's School of International Studies in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday that Trump made very irresponsible and emotional remarks in the interview.

"The China-US relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world and involves huge interests of the two countries, as well as the rest of the world. Therefore, it is not something he can cut off emotionally," Jin said.

"If the US unilaterally cuts off ties, the American people will pay a heavier price than us, because China's domestic market is huge and 75-80 percent of Chinese manufacturers are supplying China's market, and the 2 to 5 percent that supply the US can also be absorbed by the domestic market," he noted.

China has nothing to be afraid of as "in the past, we didn't solve the Taiwan question because we wanted to maintain the China-US relationship, and if the US unilaterally cuts it off, we can just reunify Taiwan immediately since the Chinese mainland has an overwhelming advantage to solve this long-standing problem."

"Trump is like a giant baby on the brink of a meltdown as he faces tremendous pressure due to massive failures that caused such a high death toll," Shen Yi, an expert from Fudan University, told the Global Times. "It's like someone who wants to show his guts when he passes by a cemetery in midnight. He needs to shout to give himself the courage," he said.

Shen also noted that the American companies and industries would suffer the most severe consequences, because the supply chain has been integrated with China.

"The Chinese public would only take such bluffing as a joke," Shen said, adding that there has been no US president in the history who has made such a ridiculous statement against China, not even during the Cold War.

Yuan Zheng, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said he could not even remember any US leader who took a similar action. "His flip-flop rhetoric is unprecedented, but we need to take a look at whether Trump will take real action," he said, noting that there is no need to pay attention to claims that are unrealistic and meaningless.

"For Trump, fantasy is power; bluffing is power, so he might use the future of his country to gamble with China. Although China always believes cooperation is the only right choice for the two countries to solve the problems together, if the US unilaterally and irrationally chooses all-out confrontation, China also needs to be prepared."

Change that Matters , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:11 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts China's economy won't be firing on all cylinders by November, but the important parts of it will be. The manufacturers I talk to have weathered the worst of it, and their order books for Q4 are more or less back to what they were in January (or at least healthy enough to prevent soft skill losses). Many are upbeat about the future. (Not all of them will survive, and the ones that die probably should have done so years ago.)

Compare this to the rest of Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Cambodia, Myanmar, and others): they are a mess. Bangladesh put all its eggs in the huge volume low quality basket and will now pay a fatal price. Pakistan was dead before corona, and is now in a manufacturing death spiral. India has the capacity to succeed, but is hamstrung by a caste-based barbarism that has jettisoned all pretense of decency by throwing migrant workers in the informal economy to their deaths. This will not be forgotten and I predict years of trouble. The others only have a manufacturing sector because the Chinese moved their factories there. Vietnam has some chance, and should be a big winner as China moves out of low- to middle-end manufacturing.

Countries in South America have lost their opportunity. China passed them by years ago. It's a tragedy, but they really have themselves to blame for it. And Africa, the last frontier, is already dominated by China (15 years ago I'd bump into Chinese businessmen who'd ship a 40-foot container of – 'insert any product you can think of' – to some back of beyond place in Africa and refuse to come home until everything was sold). They've moved up the ladder since then. Ethiopia, the fastest-growing economy on the continent, is essentially an industrial zone for Chinese manufacturing.

Australia has become a mine/farm for China. New Zealand and Canada likewise, and a nice place to send your teenagers to get educated and perhaps for retirement.

The EU, led by Germany, will be back on track soon. The winners here should be the former USSR countries, with low labor costs and strong soft skills. With EU companies wanting to bring the supply chain closer to home, this is their moment. If they screw it up, they will spend another 30 years wondering what went wrong. I hope they won't, but if you spend any time working with these people you know they often fail at the final hurdle (as though on purpose – the psychology of self-destruction is their Achilles heel).

It's China's game to lose. And quite frankly, at this point, I don't see how. This has been in the making since the late 70s. Perhaps earlier. I admire them for their intelligence, their work ethic, their organizational capacity, their can-do spirit, and – yes – their creativity (if you think China is Japan in the 60s, you need to spend some serious time with younger Chinese in China).

The Chinese problem is, of course, its culture of responsibility avoidance. But even with this issue, they are on track for a knockout victory. Most people in the West have no idea what going on, which is exactly how You Know Who likes it.

I have no intention of letting my tribe be overrun by Chinese. But I have enough experience to know they're smarter than my tribe, and it would be a wise thing to start thinking more strategically and tactically about how to carve out a space in a new world most people are unable to imagine (which is less than 10 years away).

Weston Waroda , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:19 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts

The center of gravity of global economic power keeps moving, inexorably, toward Asia.

it's game over

While the U.S. spent recent decades policing the world in pointless wars, China was about the business of building an infrastructure in which all roads lead to Beijing, railroad cars and boatloads of wealth. Just keep it coming, folks. Those roads and railroads and shipping are linking nothing less than Eurasia, Sir Halford's World Island. It took this coronavirus to show the imperial subjects that the Empire is naked and that China had already surpassed it economically several years ago. It seems like it really is game over. I'm sad in a way, but I would rather have a normal country than a hegemon; that is, if normalcy is still a possibility.

Bronze Age Persecutor , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 5:35 am GMT
What about the biggest hybrid war going on since centuries ago: jews (including crypto-jews, hybrids and minions) versus everybody else?
The chinese had the full cooperation of diaspora jews (and their sayanim network) and israelis. Specially the Chabad Lubavich.
Miro23 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 6:09 am GMT
From the referenced Global Times article, the US attack on Huawei (with its 5G leadership + NSA proof encryption ) is at the heart of the story:

Based on Global Times sources, if the US further pinches Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei by blocking companies such as TSMC from providing chips to the company, China will carry out countermeasures, such as including certain US companies into its list of "unreliable entities," imposing restrictions on or investigating US companies such as Qualcomm, Cisco and Apple, and suspending purchases of Boeing aircraft.

The US would lose this fight. Apple for example manufactures in China with only a small percentage of the sales price staying in China. If Apple manufacturing is shut down then Apple is the big loser. They're already trying to move manufacturing to India but that's not going to work.

We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China's national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China's international frontlines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation.

China has plenty of alternative markets. US corporations mostly only sell to the US using (now very sophisticated) Chinese manufacturing. Take this away, and Apple for example, have no alternative supplier for the volumes, quality, sub-contractor network and export infrastructure required.

General Qiao dismisses the possibility that Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other Asian nations may replace China's cheap workforce: "Think about which of these countries has more skilled workers than China. What quantity of medium and high level human resources was produced in China in these past 30 years? Which country is educating over 100 million students at secondary and university levels? The energy of all these people is still far from being liberated for China's economic development."

True.

This will imply a concerted offensive, trying to enforce embargoes and trying to block regional markets to Chinese companies. Lawfare will be the norm. Even freezing Chinese assets in the US is not a far-fetched proposition anymore.

If the US steals the $ trillions China has invested in US treasuries, then the US dollar also forfeits its claim to be the world reserve currency (safe place to hold international trade balances).

Still, scores of nations are being asked, bluntly, by the hegemon to position themselves once again in a "you're with us or against us" global war on terror imperative.

9/11 was fakery pumped up by the MSM to target Iraq/Iran and Covid-19 is more of the same – this time targeting China. European states are getting tired of this game. For example they were all dragged into supporting the Venezuela CIA coup that fizzled, and are now trying to disentangle from it.

General Qiao counsels, "Don't think that only territorial sovereignty is linked to the fundamental interests of a nation. Other kinds of sovereignty – economic, financial, defense, food, resources, biological and cultural sovereignty – are all linked to the interests and survival of nations and are components of national sovereignty."

If the US public look carefully at General Qiao's list they will realize that they have already lost more than 50% of these sovereignties.

Anon [392] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 6:10 am GMT
" General Qiao dismisses the possibility .. India and other Asian nations may replace China's c: "Think about which of these countries has more skilled "

Everyday US. news are amplifying the bipartisan chorus against China . India is begging for favors from USA while serenading USA with reinforcing American position.

India is stealing land from Nepal and Indian media thinks that ultranationalist of Nepal are to blame for questioning Indian stance .

China is under a real threat of concerted attacks by the US 's opportunistic vassals. There will be a seismic change affecting the alliances and the future .
Can China persuade Nepal Bangladesh Pakistan Sri Lanka Afghanistan Iran and Myanmar to work together and persuade them move out of India's hegemony ?.

Natt , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 6:42 am GMT
Nice fluff piece. China is fucked. Demographically, economically and militarily.
Carlos22 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 7:06 am GMT
They are probably looking past Trump as they think he may not get back in.

Nov is just a few months away.

The question is what will the democrats do?

Not that I particularly want that of course.

carlusjr , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 7:48 am GMT
It's always astounding to read a geopolitical analysis by a journalist who completely ignores the climate pollution crisis with it's impending effects overhanging every strategy any state may envision to dominate the planet. It's as if the writer lives in an imaginary world devoid of nature, along with his supposed expert sources and well placed powerful state movers and shakers. This is delusional. China's cheap forced labor, making more crap for the planet's shrinking population of affluent consumers, competing with other countries with equally desperate workers. Countries competing to build the most dangerous bio-weapons in their unsafe, leaky level 4 labs. All the while the atmosphere is being polluted to the point of melting all the ice on the planet, the air is being degraded to the point of being disgusting to see and carcinogenic to breath, the fresh water supply is being depleted and polluted, the oceans degraded into radioactive chemical cesspools (soon to be a brown sludge inhabited by only bacteria, viruses and fungus), the land ceded with thousands of chemicals that have no purpose other than to kill. The existential threshold is within a few years. The geopolitical strategy of the US and China can be summarized as a strategy to kill all sentient life on the planet in order to have a some sort of imaginary strategic dominance. It is mass psychosis.
Biff , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 7:58 am GMT
@anon

Do you have any odds on Trump v. Biden?

I've got 2 to 1 odds the voting machines will be electing Biden. They got this far didn't they?

paranoid goy , says: Website Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 8:13 am GMT
@foolisholdman Old man, don't be foolish, they all hate us human scum, and will gladly go to war, are at war. Remember how, in Catch 22, the opposing sides eventually saved a crap load of money by geting Milo de Milo to bomb their own airfields using his supply planes? Its already happening, us plebs are just in the way. In the end, the Protocols calls for one government ruling what's left of mankind "with an iron staff." I cannot tell you (yet) what Zion's hold on Beijing is, but be assured, "bring on the war" is the swill of Zion being lapped up by little globalist piggies trying to get to the trough.
People think 'hybrid warfare" is some kind of technological term. Zion chooses its words very carefully, and your first defence is your dictionary. The USAGE of words change with time, the MEANING is constant. Now let's go find them hybrids, before Bill Gates can create enough microcephalics to man his man/machine interfaced battle 'droids armed with depleted uranium bullets and virally-delivered vaccines.
paranoid goy , says: Website Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 8:28 am GMT
@carlusjr Pollution sure is an important issue, one of the most important of our time, yes. The subject matter at hand though, is mostly military, with economics as a condiment to explain the sour taste. China might be the one manufacturing plastic turds, but it is the so-called western media that is teaching your children the dire need to own the latest version of plastic poop. China would not bother with plastic poop, but you voted for people who decided China makes the best poo at the lowest cost and highest profit. Don't blame China for taking advantage of YOUR leadership's desire to disown YOU and hand your habitat over to those who "know how to make a profit" from your suffering, while dangling a piece of plastic poop in front of you, calling it ambition, and deplatforming you if you refuse their offer of improved turdiness.
But yah, now we know you hate pollution. Soon we will close down all the factories, and ban all cars, and only those on "official business" will be alowed on aeroplanes, and then you can breathe freely, as you stand in line, so the Special Agents can see if you have the Bill Gates vaccine licence to visit the plastic poop and soylent green depository that we used to call a supermarket.
Buzz Mohawk , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:04 am GMT

A toxic racism-meets-anti-communism matrix is responsible for the predominant anti-Chinese sentiment across the US, encompassing at least 66% of the whole population.

No it isn't.

A hint of what is responsible is this from the same article:

"They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production."

Our jobs, our industry, our hard-earned intellectual property, and our money have all gone to China. Our own leaders of industry and government are to blame for our predicament, but our anger at China is the result.

Funny this from the Chinese General Qiao:

"as a producing country, we still cannot satisfy our manufacturing industry with our own resources and rely on our own markets to consume our products."

No kidding, General. Your country built itself up by selling to us! We made you into our own rival. Thanks are in order, but instead you plot to weaken us.

Tor597 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:10 am GMT
Just wanted to point out the excellent concept of cultural sovereignty as something that is akin to territorial sovereignty.

Both are needed, but cultural sovereignty is ever more important to inoculate your citizens against globe homo.

Half-Jap , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:14 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts Sounds like a man who has no understanding of the science regarding the matter, but so doesn't most of the world. Vaccine? Anti-body treatment? Does anybody know what they are and how they work (or doesn't) or mean? From those tests to those invasive ventilators, it shows me how people can easily be herded towards slaughter, for their safety, ofc, because "science." And just over a mild cold no less.
So much for China's brilliance; they are as dumb or brainwashed by 'accepted science' as the next moronic authority figure.
But exploiting the situation, that's something else that should be appreciated.
anon [232] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:17 am GMT
@Godfree Roberts

China is leading

Godfree, we will bury you and your beloved CCP.

Wood Stove , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:42 am GMT
@carlusjr Ok Karen
Adûnâi , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:45 am GMT

This will be China's contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries." The Global South is paying attention.

Do the underdeveloped (hate the PC term "developing") countries even want a vaccine? They have too many people anyway, any moderate dying will be an advantage to their societies. And another point is that the anti-vaxxer movement there might be on the rise, just as it is in America – remember how the Philippines government was watching a conspiracy video about evil Bill Gates? I have talked to anti-vaxxer people in my Ukrainian university!

"Containment" will go into overdrive. A neat example is Admiral Philip Davidson – head of the Indo-Pacific Command – asking for $20 billion for a "robust military cordon" from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim, complete with "highly survivable, precision-strike networks" along the Pacific Rim and "forward-based, rotational joint forces" to counteract the "renewed threat we face from great power competition."

My prediction is the US goes into a civil war > the liberals start losing > the liberals invite the Chinese into California > the Chinese exterminate all Americans and get a large Lebensraum in the East.

Anon [397] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 9:50 am GMT
a Korea War pictorial. Nice.
It's long long ago since China made the last movie about Korea War. Too long ago that they are in black and white.
Recently someone is preparing for a new movie: The Chosin Lake.
I really hope it will be well made. I love war movies, especially the ones on historical big wars.
Just Passing Through , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 10:13 am GMT
@Natt I think you are mistaken and are describing America.
Just Passing Through , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 10:28 am GMT
@Buzz Mohawk I think the Western globalists though that China would be subservient to them and not get any funny ideas, this virus is just a cover for antipathy that was building up for years, similar to how the poor Jews being persecuted in Germany was used by propagandists to whip up Germany sentiment, because of German economic prowess.

Western thinking is dominated by this balance of power mentality, the same mentality such caused it to enter into two fratricidal wars not too long ago.

One can only hope this is good news for us, but I fear the globalists will just use this time to move manufacturing to other Third World countries instead of bringing it back home.

I agree that it was a huge mistake transferring our IP to China, they would simply have not got to this point if we hadn't. This is also why the Chinese are not taking any chances in their BRI, and are using Chinese labour instead of doing the more sustainable thing and training up local workers, that would mean a destruction of their market! Sadly this will continue, on top of the terrible policy of mass Third World immigration, we let Chinese into out top companies and research facilities, some of whom no doubt pass this information back home.

https://time.com/5596066/emory-fires-chinese-researchers/

In terms of realpolitik, I think it is very smart that China is using its diaspora as a fifth column.

padre , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 10:36 am GMT
@Natt Do you know, how many times in their short history of about roughly 5000 years were Chinese doomed ?
Really No Shit , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 10:50 am GMT
So the Global South is going to be "grateful" to China for coming up with vaccination after innudating it with the Chinese virus in the first place Pepe, lay of the Mezcal because is clouding your opaque thinking!
John Hagan , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:07 am GMT
Let me make this clear. America is self-destructing. A malignant narcissist in charge and a man who cannot construct a sentence is an alternative. A stock market devoid of reality and a 1 percent devoid of conscience. Any remote consideration of the other 99 percent is soley based on profit. Any civilization that cannot reverse itself is doomed. China maybe a shortterm factor yet not a factor in the longer considerations.
Avery , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:10 am GMT
@foolisholdman {Honestly, I don't see it.}

Agree.

{ .. and the US has no guts for one. Its industry has been hollowed out not just by outsourcing but by corruption as well.}

Even in the 50s when US industry was not hollowed out ( ran supreme) and China had no nukes, US was unable to defeat China in a ground war in Korea. Of course there was talk in US of using nukes against China (Gen. MacArthur), but cooler heads prevailed, arguing that, that would trigger USSR to use nukes too, resulting in world wide nuclear conflagration.

Now China has nukes, and delivery systems, and US cannot possible defeat China conventionally, so US will huff-and-puff, try to damage China financially, or steal its holdings in US*, but nothing will come out of it.

Sad that US screwed itself over the years so badly that it is in this predicament now.

_____________________________
* There has been semi-serious talk in US of just taking $ hundreds of billions of Chinese holdings in US as payment for ' damages' China has supposedly caused US by Covid-19.

Big Daddy , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:28 am GMT
All this big nation state fluff stinks today as it did when the first two Western ones, England and France had a 100 Years War and it has stunk throughout history.

We humans are born naked, helpless, and totally ignorant. We also have an evil streak in us; vide Adam and Eve. And as Shakespeare stated we must consign ourselves to a willing death each eve or we die. We are so haughty yet the first thing we must do upon wakening from our nightly death is evacuate waste.

We have never respected Nature. Now we spray aluminum and plastic microns in the upper atmosphere which we all breathe as they fall and have virtually destroyed the ozone layer and the biosphere. We live in 1984 right now!

True libertarianism which is no aggression against person or property and backed up by cheap, Natural Law arbitration courts works. It is that or sayonara humans.

Realist , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:42 am GMT
@Natt

Nice fluff piece. China is fucked. Demographically, economically and militarily.

Is that you Trump?

You're new around these here parts aren't you boy?

Parfois1 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:45 am GMT
@foolisholdman

My reasoning is simple, maybe too simple. The Chinese will not start a shooting war and the US has no guts for one.

You may be right about the Chinese (their government looks after 1,3 billion people) and that the US has no guts. But what is the "US"? If you mean the (mostly Jewish) ruling cabal and their goyim political clowns and puppets, you have no reason to be so sanguine about the "no guts". It's not their guts that will be on the line, for they will be quite happy so sacrifice millions of the plebes for the greater good of Israel and rebooting the "economy". War devastations (and pandemics) are the greatest source for immiserating and culling the masses and channeling wealth to the banksters.

Facing the demise of the Jewish-led hegemony through its PNAC's "full-spectrum dominance" – and what that could do to the SHITIS (shit-state of Israel) – it is reasonable (in their twisted minds) to step to the brink and beyond. Besides, the most recent great wars (the greatest carnages in the world's history) were not intended to end the way the warhawks wanted (neither Hitler not Chamberlain wished the destruction of country or empire) but the power dynamics unleashed by geopolitical gamesmanship suppresses reason.

JohnPlywood , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:49 am GMT
@paranoid goy Non-CO2 pollution is a non-issue. It was far worse in the USA and China 50 years ago (air and water), and in Europe/East coast USA over 200 years ago. Wildlife populations are also rebounding. Every time I hear some retard complaining about pollution on the internet, I want to reach through the monitor and pepper spray them.
bigduke6 , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 11:52 am GMT

A toxic racism

You're a "toxic racist" cries the yellow supremacist as he shills for Beijing

GeeBee , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 12:05 pm GMT
@Natt In other news, the USA's Ministry of Plenty has announced that the weekly chocolate ration is to be increased from 70 gms to 40 gms
ld , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 12:19 pm GMT
@d dan The American Dream is Live and well.

If they keep saying it like a mantra maybe it will come true.

Trust the media.

ld , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 12:25 pm GMT
@anon They say that Biden is Israel's pick so it will likey be Biden.
His senility will make him easier to control than Trump.
Desert Fox , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 12:37 pm GMT
The zionists are in control of China and the ZUS and Russia and Europe and India and everywhere in central and South America, and the fact is the zionist control was proven by every country that forced their people into the forced lockdown, using this scam of a coronavirus as an excuse.

These wars are a deversion, as the zionist install their global prison.

AWM , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:16 pm GMT
"When will the Communist "clenched fist" attack America?"

Stanislav Lunev: "As soon as they can't steal from you anymore."

Guess what folks, the "Combloc Flu" was the first strike.

450.org , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:31 pm GMT

General Qiao dismisses the possibility that Vietnam, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India and other Asian nations may replace China's cheap workforce: "Think about which of these countries has more skilled workers than China. What quantity of medium and high level human resources was produced in China in these past 30 years? Which country is educating over 100 million students at secondary and university levels? The energy of all these people is still far from being liberated for China's economic development."

Once again, I must caveat this with the proclamation I was not and I am not an advocate for Obama's TPP. The reason I'm not an advocate is for environmental purposes. I believe growth is killing the living planet and soon enough will extinct humans as well as many, most even, other species on the planet. The TPP did nothing to address growth and instead enabled it further by enhancing global trade versus diminishing it.

That being said, the TPP was a strategy to contain China's growing influence. It was intended to put global trade eggs in many baskets and not just in the basket labeled China. What does Trump do? He puts all the trade eggs in China's basket under the aegis/rubric of repatriating manufacturing to America. He put a knife in TPP and killed it but he never brought manufacturing back to America. Now America is truly good and fucked. Over a barrel. No options. Can you believe this moron and the cabal that's using him as a foil? Like I said before, if Trump didn't exist, the CCP would have to invent him because more than any other power player, be it Russia or Saudi Arabia or Israel, Trump has been extremely beneficial to China. Under Trump's watch, China is now the most powerful country in the world. Because of Trump, China is now the leader of the world. America, finally, has been knocked from its perch just as England was over 100 years prior. Once knocked from the perch, there is no regaining the status you once enjoyed. I suspect that within five years the dollar will no longer be the world's currency. When that happens, it's lights out for America FOR REAL. All this banter is whistling past the graveyard. What's done is done.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/06/21/commentary/japan-commentary/chinas-the-reason-why-u-s-needs-the-tpp/#.XsUuMS-z17M

House Democrats who've been interfering with President Barack Obama's ability to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership are missing something very important: The trade deal isn't primarily significant because of the economy. It matters because it's part of the broader American geostrategic goal of containing China -- which pointedly hasn't been invited to join the TPP.

In the new cool war, China's rising economic influence is giving it greater geopolitical power in Asia. The TPP is, above all, an effort to push back on China's powerful trade relationships to reduce its political clout. By weakening Obama's ability to pursue it, congressional Democrats had been unintentionally weakening the U.S. side in the cool war.

In all this, China is using its close economic relationship with its neighbors as leverage to build its geopolitical position. Its ultimate goal is to displace the U.S. as the regional hegemon. President Xi Jinping's slogan of the "Chinese dream" requires nothing less.

The TPP aims to reduce some of China's geopolitical resurgence by damping down the extent of China's regional trade dominance. China itself has a proposed regional trade alliance, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, that would include 16 members and exclude the U.S. Australia, Japan and South Korea are all involved in negotiations to become members. The TPP is a direct, competitive counterpart to the RCEP.

Fyi, the following cartoon is per China Daily , a publication owned and run by the CCP. It's favorable to Trump. It's clear by virtue of Trump's cozy relationship with Putin and Xi that Trump is a communist in capitalist clothing. He is a communist trojan horse in the oval office. But he's even more than that. He has many hats. He's a tool, a self-promoting front man, for any tyrant or tyranny that expands his brand masquerading as a man of the people. As if. He's a man, albeit an insane moron, of the extractive elite and the extractive elite are transnational and transcultural. The extractive elite are a nation and culture unto themselves and the rest of us are their slaves on this global plantation.

Astuteobservor II , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:34 pm GMT
@Weston Waroda Once reserved currency status of dollar is over n done with, there would be zero need for the huge military budget. That is the silver lining of this whole thing. The wars might finally stop. But living standards will take a hit from the devaluation of the dollar. But but, Jobs would return through that weakened dollar as off shoring jobs would no longer make sense. And just maybe, our political class might finally focus on domestic issues and improve the country after 4 decades of stagnation.
Astuteobservor II , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:38 pm GMT
@Miro23 Apple follows every single law in China. Apple makes a lot of money in China, but also pays alot of taxes. I highly doubt it would be a target of retaliation. But other companies are fair game. Just something I noticed.
450.org , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:47 pm GMT
@carlusjr Spot on. Humans are drowning in their own filth. There's an adage, "don't shit where you eat." Humans invented the saying but apparently don't abide by it and in fact zealously defy it. Here we are. It will be one pandemic after another from now until human is no more. Rapid pace, like automatic weapon fire. The center cannot hold and is not holding. Civilization is going down. Will the Samson Option be utilized? Man's last act? Destroy the planet entirely if he can't have it entirely? My bet is this is how it will go down. All you have to do is extrapolate the curve.
Sick of Orcs , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:51 pm GMT
As long as America's Most Important Ally™ is safe
Cowboy , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:54 pm GMT
Another bubblegum pop song from Lil Peepee and the chinks
Just Passing Through , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 1:59 pm GMT
@bigduke6 It is quite obvious why they are doing, they are using Europeans' own liberal ideology against them. In today's Western world, nothing is worse than being a "racist" (except maybe, just maybe a paedophile necrophiliac, but even that is a close one) as such they will use these terms to beat down Europeans. Erdogan recently likened Greece to "Nazis", due to their brave defiance to Third World invaders.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/erdogan-compares-greek-border-crackdown-to-nazi-atrocities

As if they genuinely give a shit about Nazis, a particularly European obsession due to decades of brainwashing by the Jewish media elite. Even if one believes the textbooks in relation to Nazi atrocities, the fact is that such things are normal for history. No other people's beat themselves down over bad stuff they've done, hell, the Mongolians have erected a big statue of Genghis Khan, one of the greatest mass murderers in history!

Hegar , says: Show Comment May 20, 2020 at 2:07 pm GMT
Extremely misleading headline. Since the Asia Times story is actually about economic and political sovereignity – always a big issue for China ever since the Eight Powers carved up the nation in the past: Germany, Japan, Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Austria-Hungary, and the U.S.

It doesn't speak about warfare against the U.S. It speaks about meeting a threat from the U.S. It does speak of taking Taiwan, though by avoiding outright warfare. This is not something we should desire, but it is not war against the U.S., as the misleading headline is intended to make people believe.

As usual most of the rubes will only read the headline and look at the pictures, maybe skim through the text a bit, before typing out an angry post based on whether they like or dislike whatever nation is mentioned. Much like cruzbots and Bush lovers use Breitbart comments to screech against Iran and praise Israel. No facts needed.

[May 20, 2020] China Updates its 'Art of (Hybrid) War'

Notable quotes:
"... An example, referring to Covid-19, is the capacity to produce ventilators: "Out of over 1,400 pieces necessary for a ventilator, over 1,100 must be produced in China, including final assembly. That's the US problem today. They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production." ..."
"... The gold standard expression has come in a no-holds barred Global Times editorial : "We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China's national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China's international front lines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation." ..."
"... An inevitable corollary is that the all-out offensive to cripple Huawei will be counterpunched in kind, targeting Apple, Qualcom, Cisco and Boeing, even including "investigations or suspensions of their right to do business in China." ..."
"... So, for all practical purposes, Beijing has now publicly unveiled its strategy to counteract U.S. President Donald Trump's "We could cut off the whole relationship" kind of assertions. ..."
"... The politicians controlling US foreign policy are leading us straight into the 19th century, with their updated gunboat diplomacy ..."
May 20, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

Dancing with Wolves

The bulk of his argument concentrates on the shortcomings of U.S. manufacturing: "How can the US today want to wage war against the biggest manufacturing power in the world while its own industry is hollowed out?"

An example, referring to Covid-19, is the capacity to produce ventilators: "Out of over 1,400 pieces necessary for a ventilator, over 1,100 must be produced in China, including final assembly. That's the US problem today. They have state of the art technology, but not the methods and production capacity. So they have to rely on Chinese production."

... ... ...

Gloves Are Off

Now compare General Qiao's analysis with the by-now-obvious geopolitical and geo-economic fact that Beijing will respond tit for tat to any hybrid war tactics deployed by the United States government. The gloves are definitely off.

The gold standard expression has come in a no-holds barred Global Times editorial : "We must be clear that coping with US suppression will be the key focus of China's national strategy. We should enhance cooperation with most countries. The US is expected to contain China's international front lines, and we must knock out this US plot and make China-US rivalry a process of US self-isolation."

An inevitable corollary is that the all-out offensive to cripple Huawei will be counterpunched in kind, targeting Apple, Qualcom, Cisco and Boeing, even including "investigations or suspensions of their right to do business in China."

So, for all practical purposes, Beijing has now publicly unveiled its strategy to counteract U.S. President Donald Trump's "We could cut off the whole relationship" kind of assertions.

A toxic racism-meets-anti-communism matrix is responsible for the predominant anti-Chinese sentiment across the U.S., encompassing at least 66 percent of the whole population. Trump instinctively seized it – and repackaged it as his re-election campaign theme, fully approved by Steve Bannon.

The strategic objective is to go after China across the full spectrum. The tactical objective is to forge an anti-China front across the West: another instance of encirclement, hybrid war-style, focused on economic war.

This will imply a concerted offensive, trying to enforce embargoes and trying to block regional markets to Chinese companies. Lawfare will be the norm. Even freezing Chinese assets in the U.S. is not a far-fetched proposition anymore.

Every possible Silk Road branch-out – on the energy front, ports, the Health Silk Road, digital interconnection – will be strategically targeted. Those who were dreaming that Covid-19 could be the ideal pretext for a new Yalta – uniting Trump, Xi and Putin – may rest in peace.

"Containment" will go into overdrive. A neat example is Admiral Philip Davidson – head of the Indo-Pacific Command – asking for $20 billion for a "robust military cordon" from California to Japan and down the Pacific Rim, complete with "highly survivable, precision-strike networks" along the Pacific Rim and "forward-based, rotational joint forces" to counteract the "renewed threat we face from great power competition."

Davidson argues that, "without a valid and convincing conventional deterrent, China and Russia will be emboldened to take action in the region to supplant U.S. interests."

... ... ...

From the point of view of large swathes of the Global South, the current, extremely dangerous incandescence, or New Cold War, is mostly interpreted as the progressive ending of the Western coalition's hegemony over the whole planet.

Still, scores of nations are being asked, bluntly, by the hegemon to position themselves once again in a "you're with us or against us" global war on terror imperative.

... ... ...

For the first time in 35 years, Beijing will be forced to relinquish its economic growth targets. This also means that the objective of doubling GDP and per capita income by 2020 compared with 2010 will also be postponed.

What we should expect is absolute emphasis on domestic spending – and social stability – over a struggle to become a global leader, even if that's not totally overlooked.

... ... ...

Internally, Beijing will boost support for state-owned enterprises that are strong in innovation and risk-taking. China always defies predictions by Western "experts." For instance, exports rose 3.5 percent in April, when the experts were forecasting a decline of 15.7 percent. The trade surplus was $45.3 billion, when experts were forecasting only $6.3 billion.

Beijing seems to identify clearly the extending gap between a West, especially the U.S., that's plunging into de facto New Great Depression territory with a China that's about to rekindle economic growth


Zhu , May 20, 2020 at 00:34

"A toxic mixture of racism and anti-communism" sounds about right. The Chinese government is not submissive and the "Chinks" are getting too prosperous. That's bound to infuriate both elite and grass-roots Americans.

Drew Hunkins , May 20, 2020 at 00:34

"For the first time in 35 years, Beijing will be forced to relinquish its economic growth targets. This also means that the objective of doubling GDP and per capita income by 2020 compared with 2010 will also be postponed. "

Good, good, just wonderful. This will really endear the United States to the Chinese people.

All that the Chinese govt did for its people over the last 30 years is totally eliminate poverty, that's all. Gotta love how our Western mass media won't shut their mouths about this small achievement.

Drew Hunkins , May 20, 2020 at 00:15

"Those who were dreaming that Covid-19 could be the ideal pretext for a new Yalta – uniting Trump, Xi and Putin – may rest in peace."

Rest in peace, no doubt. Washington is all about unilateralism, period. This is the crux of the issue, the rapacious capitalist-imperialists who infest Wall St, the military contractors and corporate mass media want nothing to do with a multi-polar world. This could lead to putting the far east on a dangerous path with U.S. warships provocatively traversing the area.

gcw , May 19, 2020 at 21:08

The politicians controlling US foreign policy are leading us straight into the 19th century, with their updated gunboat diplomacy . Never a thought to the impending disaster of climate change and unparalleled social and environmental chaos, they dream instead of yet another Cold War (Yellow-Peril 2.0), all the time sustaining a gargantuan military establishment which is draining the life-blood from American society. The Covid-19 virus is just a warning to us: we have about 5% of the world's population, yet lead the pack in deaths from the virus. If this monumental display of incompetence doesn't wake us up, what will?

[May 20, 2020] Our government and much of our industry, especially defense and fintec, appear to be incapable of maneuver. They're justself-seeking individuals with no loyalty to each other, their clients, citizenry, or their country.

May 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

Godfree Roberts , says: Show Comment May 8, 2020 at 12:43 am GMT

@Harold Smith There is an innocuous military term, incapable of maneuver , to describe an army which is nothing more than a group of people in uniforms. They look like an army but, when things go bad, they prove incapable of responding in a disciplined, purposive manner. Arab armies come to mind.

Our government and much of our industry, especially defense and fintec, appear to be incapable of maneuver. They're justself-seeking individuals with no loyalty to each other, their clients, citizenry, or their country.

If we don't want to suffer an interim dystopia, we need to start work on a new constitution because the old one is worn out and we're going over a cliff.

I keep harping on China because they read our Constitution and foundation documents and, in 1950, drafted a 20th century constitution which is well worth reading. They've convened every 10 years since then and amended it to keep it current. For them, the constitution is a living document, not a totem, and they take it very seriously.

[May 20, 2020] The best argument I have read from the anti China camp has been that if China succeeds, US dollar will be kaput, living standard in the USA will tanked

May 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

,

Ann Nonny Mouse , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 9:33 pm GMT
@utu ... He produces evidence, evidence in response to highly-coordinated anti-China propaganda, the mountains of belligerent lies that are all that remain today of the failed state the USA. Those lies plus its military killing millions all over the world, incessantly destroying or attempting to destroy states simply for being independent.

Enormous thanks to Godfree Roberts.

Realist , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 10:49 pm GMT
@Astuteobservor II

The best argument I have read from the anti China camp has been that if China succeeds, US dollar will be kaput, living standard in the USA will tanked to shit levels compare to right now.

Why would China succeeding reduce our living standard?

Realist , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 11:07 pm GMT
@Ron Unz

Well, American propaganda is certainly vastly superior to the Chinese variety

American propaganda is certainly more effective but that is because of the stupidity of most Americans.

Yes the video is accurate and that means the Chinese know us well much better than we know them.

Astuteobservor II , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 11:13 pm GMT
@Realist If China succeeds, that means dollar as reserve currency is kaput. Without the reserved currency status, dollar will devalue by 50% or more. Living standard auto lowers by 50% or more.

[May 19, 2020] White House Vaccine Czar Sells $12 Million Slug Of Moderna Options For Massive Profit

May 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Last night, as dozens of biotech companies rushed to issue stock following the massive spike in Moderna shares on some extremely preliminary trial results inspired the biggest short-squeeze in US equities since the beginning of May, we warned that Moderna shareholders might be in for a bruising "bait-and-switch" as reports about insider share sales emerged, and Moderna, along with dozens of other biotech companies the company, seized on the demand to issue more shares.

But it's not only Moderna's billionaire founder/CEO Stephane Bancel - once compared to a post-scandal Elizabeth Holmes - who stands to profit from the action: the White House's new vaccine czar also holds - or rather, held - more than 150,000 options contracts on Moderna shares worht more than $12 million, and had resisted pressure to divest them despite the blatant conflict of interest. We were joking yesterday when we speculated that he would probably be glad to exercise these options at current prices. But just as every joke contains a nugget of truth, that one turned out to be prophetic, too.

[May 19, 2020] The pretence that US and Europe have competent and resilient neoliberal political and economic structures is fake

May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 18 2020 17:14 utc | 36

Alastair Crooke's in fine form today bringing Jung, Euripides, the Outlaw US Empire's Culture Wars, and Zionist Imperialism together to illustrate "Our Civilisational Quagmire" and the imperative of "Looking Truth in the Eye." But all that's initially hidden as he begins by intoning:

"First, the bottom line: If you don't solve the biology, the economy won't recover."

A Truth far too many mostly in the West don't seem capable of grasping:

"But the biology is not solved, and the tension of trying to point in opposite directions simultaneously is igniting a separate, raging political brushfire....

"The pretence that the U.S. and the global economy is about to snap back, as soon as virus mitigation is lifted; the pretence that Covid-19 is either a fake (just another 'flu); or, is 'over'; the pretence that U.S. and Europe have competent and resilient political and economic structures – and the pretence that once Covid is over, we will all return to a world, just as it was?"

I wrote awhile ago that the pandemic provided an opportunity to use an analytical tool known as the Franklin Reality Model to see the values and beliefs held by differing nations and their cultures and ideologies as it exposes them so graphically they cannot be hidden by any amount of spin or propaganda. The revelations provided my empirical basis for judging Trump's response specifically and the West's generally to be one of complete Moral Failure. And not just Trump, but Pelosi, Biden and the vast majority of Democrats, too--their shared Neoliberal ideology's Immoral basis and Parasitic nature being one of the main roots of the problem.


karlof1 , May 18 2020 17:29 utc | 39

Thomas Briggs @35--

I suggest you read this Atlantic article , "We Are Living in a Failed State: The coronavirus didn't break America. It revealed what was already broken." And either before or during, take a gander at this Real GDP graph that still understates the genuine amount of GDP shrinkage since parasitic financial "gains" are added to GDP instead of subtracted as a cost to the real economy. Essentially since GHW Bush's recession, the real economy of the Outlaw US Empire's shrunk about 1.5% annually or @45% overall with the vast majority of economic gains accruing to the top 10%. That grim reality is the #1 reason why Trump won in 2016, and why he stands a very good chance of losing in 2020--"It's the economy, stupid."

Nancy E. Sutton , May 18 2020 17:42 utc | 40
Re: Karl, did the 'West' (Anglo-Zionist world) buy (or actually promote) the 80's 'Greed is Good' line, and ignore what Greenspan supposedly learned..."I have found a flaw...I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organisations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."

Even the average American might be able to see that 'socialism' (i.e., Social Security, et al) is better than 'trickle down'... to put it in simple terms. Neo-liberalism appears to be killing many of us right now. The problem, seems to me, is how to turn the light bulb on for Amerian non-voters... obviously Bernie would have 'had a heart attack' if he'd gotten the nomination.

[May 19, 2020] Will coronavirus fasten the end of "shareholde vlue" mantra?

May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Nancy E. Sutton , May 18 2020 17:42 utc | 40

Re: Karl, did the 'West' (Anglo-Zionist world) buy (or actually promote) the 80's 'Greed is Good' line, and ignore what Greenspan supposedly learned..."I have found a flaw...I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organisations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."

Even the average American might be able to see that 'socialism' (i.e., Social Security, et al) is better than 'trickle down'... to put it in simple terms. Neo-liberalism appears to be killing many of us right now. The problem, seems to me, is how to turn the light bulb on for Amerian non-voters... obviously Bernie would have 'had a heart attack' if he'd gotten the nomination.

karlof1 , May 18 2020 18:38 utc | 54

Nancy E. Sutton @40--

Greenspan issued his belated and stupendously weak mea culpa long after the horse left the corral and had galloped several time around the planet. One vital component was already deeply emplaced prior to his tenure that allowed those entities to "protect" themselves--Regulatory Capture. Recall "Banking Crises" began to become regular occurrences during Reagan/Bush. One of Hudson's great contributions is looking into how political-economic theory was captured and transformed into just economic theory, which he castigates as "Junk Economics" in his book of that title. At his website, there're numerous essays that deal with that topic; out of the several dozen I might link to is this one from 2011 . Discovering how we were manipulated into the Neoliberal religion must be understood if we are to get out from under its boot, which is a tall task since millions must become informed, and the Neoliberals control the media. You asked How. My answer is for us to become informed such that we can inform others, which is why Hudson's written an excellent series of books that make it all easy to comprehend and transmit--I taught introductory college economics and know Hudson's works are vastly superior to the texts we used. The two pertinent books for debunking Neoliberalism are Killing the Host and J is for Junk Economics . For the overall historical perspective, his trilogy that begins with and forgive them their debts will be a must, the second book he says will be ready for publication by New Years.

[May 18, 2020] Farkas is definitely one of the fraudulent supporters of the Obama Russiagate witch hunt, but generally he is clueless pawn in a big and dirty gate played by Obama-Brennan tandem

May 18, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Atlantic Council senior fellow, Congressional candidate, and Russia conspiracy theorist Evelyn Farkas is desperately trying to salvage her reputation after recently released transcripts from her closed-door 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed she totally lied on national TV .

In March of 2017, Farkas confidently told MSNBC 's Mika Brzezinski: " The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff dealing with Russians , that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would not longer have access to that intelligence ."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/dCMF94FX530?start=25

Except, during testimony to the House, Farkas admitted she lied . When pressed by former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on why she said 'we' - referring to the US government, Farkas said she "didn't know anything."

In short, she was either illegally discussing US intelligence matters with her "former colleagues," or she made the whole thing up.

Now, Farkas is in damage control mode - writing in the Washington Post that her testimony demonstrated "that I had not leaked intelligence and that my early intuition about Trump-Kremlin cooperation was valid.' She also claims that her comments to MSNBC were based on "media reports and statements by Obama administration officials and the intelligence community," which had "began unearthing connections between Trump's campaign and Russia."

Farkas is now blaming a 'disconcerting nexus between Russia and the reactionary right,' for making her look bad (apparently Trey Gowdy is part of the "reactionary right" for asking her who she meant by "we").

Attacks against me came first on Twitter and other social media platforms, from far-right sources. Forensics data I was shown suggested at least one entity had Russian ties . The attacks increased in quantity and ferocity until Fox News and Trump-allied Republicans -- higher-profile, and more mainstream, sources -- also criticized me .

...

Trump surrogates, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski , Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News hosts such as Tucker Carlson have essentially accused me of treason for being one of the "fraudulent originators" of the "Russia hoax." -Evelyn Farkas

She then parrots the Democratic talking point that the attacks she's received are part of Trump's larger "Obamagate" allegations - " a narrative that distracts attention from his administration's disastrous pandemic response and attempts to defect blame for Russian interference onto the Obama administration" (Obama told Putin to ' cut it out ' after all).

Meanwhile, Poor Evelyn's campaign staff has become " emotionally exhausted " after her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts have been "overwhelmed with a stream of vile, vulgar and sometimes violent messages" in response to the plethora of conservative outlets which have called her out for Russia malarkey.

There is evidence that Russian actors are contributing to these attacks. The same day that right-wing pundits began pumping accusations, newly created Russian Twitter accounts picked them up. Within a day, Russian " disinformation clearinghouses " posted versions of the story . Many of the Twitter accounts boosting attacks have posted in unison, a sign of inauthentic social media behavior.

We assume Zero Hedge is included in said ' disinformation clearinghouses ' Farkas fails to expound on.

She closes by defiantly claiming "I wasn't silenced in 2017, and I won't be silenced now."

No Evelyn, nobody is silencing you. You're being called out for your role in the perhaps the largest, most divisive hoax in US history - which was based on faulty intelligence that includes crowdstrike admitting they had no proof of that Russia exfiltrated DNC emails, and Christopher Steele's absurd dossier based on his 'Russian sources.'


MrBoompi, 18 minutes ago

Lying is a common occurrence on MSNBC. Farkas was just showing her party she is qualified for a more senior position.

chubbar, 23 minutes ago

My opinion, based on zero facts, is that the lie she told was to Gowdy. She had to say she lied about having intelligence data or she'd be looking at a felony along with whomever she was talking to in the US gov't. You just know these cocksuckers in the resistance don't give a **** about laws or fairness, it's all about getting Trump. So they set up an informal network to get classified intelligence from the Obama holdovers out into the wild where these assholes could use it against Trump and the gov't operations. Treason. She needs to be executed for her efforts!

LetThemEatRand, 59 minutes ago

This whole thing reminds me of a fan watching their team play a championship game. If the ref makes a bad call and their team wins, they don't care. And if the ref makes a good call and their team loses, they blame the ref. No one cares about the truth or the facts. That in a nutshell is politics in the US. If you believe that anyone will "switch sides" or admit the ref made a bad call or a good call, you're smoking the funny stuff.

mtumba, 50 minutes ago

It's a natural response to a corrupt system.

When the system is wholly corrupt so that truth doesn't matter, what else is there to care about other than your side winning?

It's a travesty.

[May 18, 2020] A new way to make America great

May 18, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

JC , May 17 2020 20:31 utc | 28

Just a thought: what if people like Gordon Guthrie Chang, Jennifer Zeng, Peter Navarro or even Maria Bartiromo suggest to the two dude Trump and Pompeo sending FBI, CIA agents or even national guard to American's rural areas, small isolate farming communities in Pennsylvania, Oregon ripping off every Huawei and ZTE hardwares 2G, 3G, 4G and maybe 5G if any, cell towers and replaced it with Ericsson and Nokia. Would it make America great again ?

[May 17, 2020] TSMC a Taiwan chip's foundry not permitted to sell any chips to Huawei

May 17, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

JC , May 17 2020 18:03 utc | 16

Almost every freaking day Trump and Pompeo bashing China including Huawei.. Not a day of peace without china bashing.

Days earlier ZeroHedge, SCMP and other media reported freaking Trump and Pompeo... no companies inside or outside USA can sell American software or technology items or chips made with USA properties or machines to Huawei.

Meaning TSMC a Taiwan chip's foundry not permitted to sell any chips to Huawei, TSMC has been the world's dedicated semiconductor foundry. "curtailing its chip supply, an escalation of its campaign against the Chinese company that may also hurt Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co."

"China has the most fab projects in the world.... 30 facilities planned, including 10/7nm processes, but trade war and economic factors could slow progress...... SMIC 's move would put it on par with some of its foreign rivals. In addition, SMIC has obtained $10 billion in funding to develop 10nm and 7nm. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) is a publicly held semiconductor foundry company, and the largest in China.

"Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing (HSMC), a logic IC foundry founded in late 2017, is gearing up for 14nm and 7nm process manufacturing eyeing to be China's most advanced contract chipmaker.....Shang-yi Chiang, the former executive VP and co-chief operating officer overseeing R&D for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), will join a Wuhan-headquartered foundry in China. "<

[May 17, 2020] The dark side of Obama's 'Rising Star' exposed

May 17, 2020 | www.youtube.com

God's Warrior , 3 weeks ago

44, the biggest fraudulent, groomed 'president' in USA history. Imagine if legal citizens knew the TRUTH about corruption within the political arena? Thank you, @TuckerCarlson

[May 17, 2020] The World is Round Shifting Supply Chains and a Fragmented World Order

May 17, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

... ... ...

Coronavirus has already begun to undermine the legitimacy of the European project in a greater manner that nationalist movements had hoped to achieve. European finance ministers have clashed over all EU nations sharing "corona bonds" debt, while France and Germany responded to Italy's request for ventilators with a refusal accompanied by closing their borders with Italy. At around the same time, the United States imposed a unilateral ban on commercial flights with the EU.

China's economic growth strategy and foreign policy aspirations are being frustrated in the wake of Coronavirus, as developing countries are likely to scrutinize China's Belt Road Initiative. Among Western policymakers anti-China sentiment is increasing. In the UK, there is mounting opposition to Huawei building its fifth-generation mobile networks. In late March, the United States abandoned its long-standing policy of maintaining a status quo vis a vis Taiwan. President Donald Trump signed into law The Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, which increases U.S. support for Taiwan and "alters" engagement with nations that undermine Taiwan's security or prosperity. Beijing responded that it would respond forcefully if the law was implemented, all the while China increases its military drills around Taiwan. This is increasingly likely to occur while the United States increasingly supports Hong Kong's independence movement and demonstrates willingness to confront China in the South China Seas. Similarly, Washington is likely to be drawn into a confrontation with North Korea as the collapse of North Korea's health system may threaten Kim Jong-un's regime leading him to militarily lash out.

The latest phase of globalization spearheaded by the West entailed that service economies were not responsible for the manufacture of the products they consumed. Instead, they depended upon outsourcing production of cheap goods in distant shores creating unprecedented levels of economic prosperity, which at its root was artificial. Liberal democracies did not reach "the end of history," where conflict was to be consigned to the dustbin of history, but could easily be unraveled by a virus emanating from a society it was reliant upon that did not share its norms. In a similar vein, the Roman Empire's apex contained the seeds of its decay as it had become overstretched and difficult to manage. The historian Edward Gibbon, in his 1776 book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , notes that Romans had become weak and responded to the challenges of hyperinflation, civil wars and revolts by outsourcing their duties to defend their empire in far flung regions to "barbarian" mercenaries such as the Visigoths. Blowback occurred as these barbarians' increased economic production and their ability to conduct warfare, which led them, ultimately, to turn against their benefactors and sack the Roman Empire. Similarly, the West increased the prosperity of faraway nations and ironically, as a result their military assertiveness by being beholden to extended global supply chains. This along with the risk of globalization unravelling increases the prospects of inter-state and great power conflict. All it took was a virus to detonate the fuse that was shorter than anyone expected.

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at  @BarakSeener .

[May 17, 2020] India can serve as the USA ally in US-china trade war

May 17, 2020 | astutenews.com

BRICS Is Broken

Gone are the "good 'ole days" of BRICS bonhomie when the Alt-Media Community used to sing the praises of this nascent trade bloc and portray it as a game-changing development in International Relations. Although promising on paper, BRICS was always destined to be disappointing due to the irreparable differences between India and China that were either downplayed or outright ignored by this organization's loudest advocates. The author has been consistently warning for over the past four years that " India Is Now An American Ally " after it clinched the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Of Agreement (LEMOA) with the US to allow the latter to use its military infrastructure on a case-by-case "logistical" bases. Since then, India has fully submitted to the Pentagon's "Indo-Pacific" strategy of empowering the South Asian state as a "counterweight" China, with even Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov loudly warning his country's strategic partner of the pitfalls of this scenario as recently as early January of this year while speaking at a conference in their country.

Modi's Military Madness

Alas, whether due to long-lasting ignorance of the situation, unchecked professional incompetence, and/or shadowy motives that can only be speculated upon, the majority of the Alt-Media Community still refuses to recognize these facts, though the latest developments pertaining to Indian-Chinese relations might finally cause them to reconsider their inexplicable stance of always "covering up" for New Delhi. India has recently clashed with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Indian-Occupied Kashmir 's Ladakh region and close to the Donglang Plateau (described as "Doklam" by India and thus widely reported upon with this name in the Western Mainstream Media and among the members of the Alt-Media Community sympathetic to New Delhi) near Sikkim where they had their infamous three-month-long standoff in summer 2017 (which threatened to repeat itself in 2018). So tense has the situation become in Ladakh that China reportedly flew several helicopters near the scene while India flew a few fighter jets, significantly upping the ante.

India's Attempt To "Poach" Chinese-Based Companies

The backdrop against which these clashes are transpiring is India's aggressive attempt to "poach" foreign companies from the People's Republic, which the author analyzed last month in his piece about how " India's Selective Embrace Of Economic Nationalism Has Anti-Chinese Motivations ". Of relevance, India has also set aside land twice the size of Luxembourg for such companies to exploit in the event that they decide to re-offshore from the East Asian state to the South Asian one.

This perfectly dovetails with Trump's " trade war " plans to encourage foreign companies to leave his country's rival and either return home or set up shop in a friendly pro-American country instead. Of note, India is also vehemently opposed to China's Belt & Road Initiative ( BRI ) behind the US on the basis that its flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ( CPEC ) traverses through territory that New Delhi claims as its own per its maximalist approach to the Kashmir Conflict . Obviously, the US couldn't have found a better ally than India to thwart China's economic plans.

The US Might Rule The WHO Via Its Indian Proxy

On the soft power front, India is slated to assume leadership of the World Health Assembly (WHA, the governing body of the World Health Organization, WHO) from Japan later this month, and it's already being widely speculated in Indian media that the country might be seriously considering taking the US' side in respect to investigating the WHO for its alleged pro-Chinese bias . Not only that, but India might even be receptive towards Taiwan's request to participate in the organization's meetings, the scenario of which has already concerned China so much that its embassy in New Delhi felt compelled to remind the Indian leadership that doing so would violate the One China principle. From the American perspective, this is an unprecedented opportunity for Washington to exercise proxy leadership of the WHO through its "junior partner" of India, which could add a speciously convincing degree of credibility to its anti-Chinese claims in an attempt to win back the many hearts and minds that it's lost to its rival throughout the course of World War C .

The Indo-American Hybrid War On China

Taken together, India is indisputably intensifying its American-backed Hybrid War against China as a sign of fealty to its new ally, especially considering that it's only officially been the US' " comprehensive global strategic partner " since Trump's landmark visit to the country a few months back in February and thus feels like it has something to prove. Both countries share the grand strategic goal of "containing" China, to which end they're working hand-in-glove with one another to carry out this concerted campaign against the People's Republic.

Building off of the idiom, the American hand is unquestionably controlling the Indian glove after Trump cracked the whip on Modi by forcing him to export hydroxychloroquine to the US last month, which asserted his country's dominance as India's neo-imperial master. Whether across the military, economic, or soft power domains, the US-Indian alliance is doing its utmost to create serious difficulties for China. With India now suspecting China of building an island off of its coast, ties will likely continue to worsen to the US' benefit.


By Andrew Korybko

Source: One World

[May 16, 2020] In a Pandemic, Military Spending Is an Extravagant Waste by Conn Hallinan

Notable quotes:
"... The US has spent over $200 billion on antimissile systems, and once they come off the drawing boards, none of them work very well, if at all. ..."
May 16, 2020 | original.antiwar.com

In the very near future, countries are going to have to choose whether they make guns or vaccines

"There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet plagues and wars take people equally by surprise."
~ Albert Camus, "The Plague"

Camus' novel of a lethal contagion in the North African city of Oran is filled with characters all too recognizable today: indifferent or incompetent officials, short sighted and selfish citizens, and lots of great courage. What not even Camus could imagine, however, is a society in the midst of a deadly epidemic pouring vast amounts of wealth into instruments of death.

Welcome to the world of the hypersonic weapons, devices that are not only superfluous, but which will almost certainly not work. They will, however, cost enormous amounts of money. At a time when countries across the globe are facing economic chaos, financial deficits, and unemployment at Great Depression levels, arms manufacturers are set to cash in big.

A Hypersonic Arms Race

Hypersonic weapons are missiles that go five times faster than sound – 3,800 mph – although some reportedly can reach speeds of Mach 20, 15,000 mph. They come in two basic varieties. One is powered by a high-speed scramjet. The other, launched from a plane or missile, glides to its target. The idea behind the weapons is that their speed and maneuverability will make them virtually invulnerable to anti-missile systems.

Currently there is a hypersonic arms race going on among China, Russia, and the U.S., and, according to the Pentagon, the Americans are desperately trying to catch up with its two adversaries.

Truth is the first casualty in an arms race.

In the 1950s, it was the "bomber gap" between the Americans and the Soviets. In the 1960s, it was the "missile gap" between the two powers. Neither gap existed, but vast amounts of national treasure were nonetheless poured into long-range aircraft and thousands of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The enormous expenditures on those weapons, in turn, heightened tensions between the major powers and on at least three occasions came very close to touching off a nuclear war.

In the current hypersonic arms race, "hype" is the operational word. "The development of hypersonic weapons in the United States," says physicist James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "has been largely motivated by technology, not by strategy. In other words, technologists have decided to try and develop hypersonic weapons because it seems like they should be useful for something, not because there is a clearly defined mission need for them to fulfill."

They have certainly been "useful" to Lockheed Martin , the largest arms manufacturer in the world. The company has already received $3.5 billion to develop the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (Arrow) glide missile, and the scramjet-driven Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (Hacksaw) missile.

The Russians also have several hypersonic missiles, including the Avangard glide vehicle, a missile said to be capable of Mach 20. China is developing several hypersonic missiles, including the DF-ZF, supposedly capable of taking out aircraft carriers.

"No Advantage Whatsoever"

In theory hypersonic missiles are unstoppable. In real life, not so much.

The first problem is basic physics: speed in the atmosphere produces heat. High speed generates lots of it. ICBMs avoid this problem with a blunt nose cone that deflects the enormous heat of re-entering the atmosphere as the missile approaches its target. But it only has to endure heat for a short time because much of its flight is in frictionless low earth orbit.

Hypersonic missiles, however, stay in the atmosphere their entire flight. That is the whole idea. An ICBM follows a predictable ballistic curve, much like an inverted U and, in theory, can be intercepted. A missile traveling as fast as an ICBM but at low altitude, however, is much more difficult to spot or engage.

But that's when physics shows up and does a Las Vegas: what happens on the drawing board stays on the drawing board.

Without a heat deflecting nose cone, high-speed missiles are built like big needles, since they need to decrease the area exposed to the atmosphere. Even so, they are going to run very hot. And if they try to maneuver, that heat will increase. Since they can't carry a large payload, they will have to be very accurate – but as a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, that is "problematic."

According to the Union, an object traveling Mach 5 for a period of time "slowly tears itself apart during the flight." The heat is so great it creates a "plasma" around the craft that makes it difficult "to reference GPS or receive outside course correction commands."

If the target is moving, as with an aircraft carrier or a mobile missile, it will be almost impossible to alter the weapon's flight path to intercept it. And any external radar array would never survive the heat or else be so small that it would have very limited range. In short, you can't get from here to there.

Lockheed Martin says the tests are going just fine, but then Lockheed Martin is the company that builds the F-35, a fifth generation stealth fighter that simply doesn't work. It does, however, cost $1.5 trillion, the most expensive weapons system in US history. The company has apparently dropped the scramjet engine because it tears itself apart, hardly a surprise.

The Russians and Chinese claim success with their hypersonic weapons and have even begun deploying them. But Pierre Sprey, a Pentagon designer associated with the two very successful aircraft – the F-16 and the A-10 – told defense analyst Andrew Cockburn that he is suspicious of the tests.

"I very much doubt those test birds would have reached the advertised range had they maneuvered unpredictably," he told Cockburn. "More likely they were forced to fly a straight, predictable path. In which case hypersonics offer no advantage whatsoever over traditional ballistic missiles."

Guns or Vaccines

While Russia, China, and the US lead the field in the development of hypersonics, Britain, France, India, and Japan have joined the race too.

Why is everyone building them?

At least the Russians and the Chinese have a rationale. The Russians fear the US antimissile system might cancel out their ICBMs, so they want a missile that can maneuver. The Chinese would like to keep US aircraft carriers away from their shores.

But antimissile systems can be easily fooled by the use of cheap decoys, and the carriers are vulnerable to much more cost effective conventional weapons. In any case hypersonic missiles can't do what they are advertised to do.

For the Americans, hypersonics are little more than a very expensive subsidy for the arms corporations. Making and deploying weapons that don't work is nothing new. The F-35 is a case in point, but nevertheless, there have been many systems produced over the years that were deeply flawed.

The US has spent over $200 billion on antimissile systems, and once they come off the drawing boards, none of them work very well, if at all.

Probably the one that takes the prize is the Mark-28 tactical nuke, nicknamed the "Davy Crockett," and its M-388 warhead. Because the M-388 was too delicate to be used in conventional artillery, it was fired from a recoil-less rife with a range of 2.5 miles. Problem: if the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, the Crockett cooked its three-man crew. It was only tested once and found to be "totally inaccurate."

So, end of story? Not exactly. A total of 2,100 were produced and deployed, mostly in Europe.

While the official military budget is $738 billion, if one pulls all US defense related spending together, the actual cost for taxpayers is $1.25 trillion a year, according to William Hartung of the Center for International Policy. Half that amount would go a long way toward providing not only adequate medical support during the Covid-19 crisis – it would also pay jobless Americans a salary.

Given that there are more than 31 million Americans now unemployed and the possibility that numerous small businesses – restaurants in particular – will never reopen, building and deploying a new generation of weapons is a luxury the US and other countries cannot afford.

In the very near future, countries are going to have to choose whether they make guns or vaccines.

Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Conn Hallinan can be read at www.dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and www.middleempireseries.wordpress.com .

[May 16, 2020] The next step from neoliberalisn can be neofeudalism

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 15 2020 19:04 utc | 9

And just in time, we have this essay, "How Biosecurity Is Enabling Digital Neo-Feudalism" by Pepe Escobar. Seven years ago, this prediction was made:

"In the worst-case scenario projected for a pandemic, Zylberman predicted that 'sanitary terror' would be used as an instrument of governance....

"Agamben did square the circle: it's not that citizens across the West have the right to health safety; now they are juridically forced (italics [Pepe's]) to be healthy. That, in a nutshell, is what biosecurity is all about.

"So no wonder biosecurity is an ultra-efficient governance paradigm. Citizens had it administered down their throats with no political debate whatsoever. And the enforcement, writes Agamben, kills 'any political activity and any social relation as the maximum example of civic participation.'"

Escobar's topic's been the subject of heated discussion here. How much of "reopening" in meant to combat the implied totalitarian potential? Perhaps an entire thread ought to be devoted? That such was a planned additional benefit of the COVID-19 attack seems very reasonable. Since it was thought of, discussed and had books published about it seems to indicate it ought to become a central topic at MoA.

[May 16, 2020] Putin's Call For A New System and the 1944 Battle Of Bretton Woods

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Our Job in the Pacific ..."
"... "supposed the President was more literate, economically speaking." ..."
"... General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money ..."
"... "contemplates the dismantling of the British and Dutch empires." ..."
May 16, 2020 | off-guardian.org

On the one side, figures allied to American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's vision for an anti-Imperial world order lined up behind FDR's champion Harry Dexter White while those powerful forces committed to maintaining the structures of a bankers' dictatorship (Britain was always primarily a banker's empire) lined up behind the figure of John Maynard Keynes[ 1 ].

John Maynard Keynes was a leading Fabian Society controller and treasurer of the British Eugenics Association (which served as a model for Hitler's Eugenics protocols before and during the war). During the Bretton Woods Conference, Keynes pushed hard for the new system to be premised upon a one world currency controlled entirely by the Bank of England known as the Bancor. He proposed a global bank called the Clearing Union to be controlled by the Bank of England which would use the Bancor (exchangeable with national currencies) and serve as unit of account to measure trade surpluses or deficits under the mathematical mandate of maintaining "equilibrium" of the system.

Harry Dexter White, on the other hand, fought relentlessly to keep the City of London out of the drivers' seat of global finance and instead defended the institution of national sovereignty and sovereign currencies based on long term scientific and technological growth.

Although White and FDR demanded that US dollars become the reserve currency in the new world system of fixed exchange rates, it was not done to create a "new American Empire" as most modern analysts have assumed, but rather was designed to use America's status as the strongest productive global power to ensure an anti-speculative stability among international currencies which entirely lacked stability in the wake of WWII.

Their fight for fixed exchange rates and principles of "parity pricing" were designed by FDR and White strictly around the need to abolish the forms of chaotic flux of the un-regulated markets which made speculation rampant under British Free Trade and destroyed the capacity to think and plan for the sort of long term development needed to modernize nation states. Theirs was not a drive for "mathematical equilibrium" but rather a drive to "end poverty" through REAL physical economic growth of colonies who would thereby win real economic independence.

As figures like Henry Wallace (FDR's loyal Vice President and 1948 3rd party candidate), Representative Wendell Wilkie (FDR's republican lieutenant and New Dealer), and Dexter White all advocated repeatedly, the mechanisms of the World Bank, IMF, and United Nations were meant to become drivers of an internationalization of the New Deal which transformed America from a backwater cesspool in 1932 to becoming a modern advanced manufacturing powerhouse 12 years later. All of these Interntional New Dealers were loud advocates of US-Russia –China leadership in the post war world which is a forgotten fact of paramount importance.

In his 1944 book Our Job in the Pacific , Wallace said:

It is vital to the United States, it is vital to China and it is vital to Russia that there be peaceful and friendly relations between China and Russia, China and America and Russia and America. China and Russia Complement and supplement each other on the continent of Asia and the two together complement and supplement America's position in the Pacific.

Contradicting the mythos that FDR was a Keynesian, FDR's assistant Francis Perkins recorded the 1934 interaction between the two men when Roosevelt told her:

"I saw your friend Keynes. He left a whole rigmarole of figures. He must be a mathematician rather than a political economist."

In response Keynes, who was then trying to coopt the intellectual narrative of the New Deal stated he had "supposed the President was more literate, economically speaking."

In his 1936 German edition of his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money , Keynes wrote:

For I confess that much of the following book is illustrated and expounded mainly with reference to the conditions existing in the Anglo Saxon countries. Nevertheless, the theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state.

While Keynes represented the "soft imperialism" for the "left" of Britain's intelligentsia, Churchill represented the hard unapologetic imperialism of the Old, less sophisticated empire that preferred the heavy fisted use of brute force to subdue the savages. Both however were unapologetic racists and fascists (Churchill even wrote admiringly of Mussolini's black shirts) and both represented the most vile practices of British Imperialism.

FDR's Forgotten Anti-Colonial Vision Revited

FDR's battle with Churchill on the matter of empire is better known than his differences with Keynes whom he only met on a few occasions. This well documented clash was best illustrated in his son/assistant Elliot Roosevelt's book As He Saw It (1946) who quoted his father:

I've tried to make it clear that while we're [Britain's] allies and in it to victory by their side, they must never get the idea that we're in it just to help them hang on to their archaic, medieval empire ideas I hope they realize they're not senior partner; that we are not going to sit by and watch their system stultify the growth of every country in Asia and half the countries in Europe to boot.

[ ]

The colonial system means war. Exploit the resources of an India, a Burma, a Java; take all the wealth out of these countries, but never put anything back into them, things like education, decent standards of living, minimum health requirements – all you're doing is storing up the kind of trouble that leads to war. All you're doing is negating the value of any kind of organizational structure for peace before it begins.

Writing from Washington in a hysteria to Churchill, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden said that Roosevelt "contemplates the dismantling of the British and Dutch empires."

Unfortunately for the world, FDR died on April 12, 1945. A coup within the Democratic establishment, then replete with Fabians and Rhodes Scholars, had already ensured that Henry Wallace would lose the 1944 Vice Presidency in favor of Anglophile Wall Street Stooge Harry Truman.

Truman was quick to reverse all of FDR's intentions, cleansing American intelligence of all remaining patriots with the shutdown of the OSS and creation of the CIA, the launching of un-necessary nuclear bombs on Japan and establishment of the Anglo-American special relationship.

Truman's embrace of Churchill's New World Order destroyed the positive relationship with Russia and China which FDR, White and Wallace sought and soon America had become Britain's dumb giant.

The Post 1945 Takeover of the Modern Deep State

FDR warned his son before his death of his understanding of the British takeover of American foreign policy, but still could not reverse this agenda. His son recounted his father's ominous insight:

You know, any number of times the men in the State Department have tried to conceal messages to me, delay them, hold them up somehow, just because some of those career diplomats over there aren't in accord with what they know I think. They should be working for Winston.

As a matter of fact, a lot of the time, they are [working for Churchill]. Stop to think of 'em: any number of 'em are convinced that the way for America to conduct its foreign policy is to find out what the British are doing and then copy that!" I was told six years ago, to clean out that State Department. It's like the British Foreign Office

Before being fired from Truman's cabinet for his advocacy of US-Russia friendship during the Cold War, Wallace stated:

American fascism" which has come to be known in recent years as the Deep State [ ] Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.

In his 1946 Soviet Asia Mission, Wallace said:

Before the blood of our boys is scarcely dry on the field of battle, these enemies of peace try to lay the foundation for World War III. These people must not succeed in their foul enterprise. We must offset their poison by following the policies of Roosevelt in cultivating the friendship of Russia in peace as well as in war.

Indeed this is exactly what occurred. Dexter White's three year run as head of the International Monetary Fund was clouded by his constant attacks as being a Soviet stooge which haunted him until the day he died in 1948 after a grueling inquisition session at the House of Un-American Activities.

White had previously been supporting the election of his friend Wallace for the presidency alongside fellow patriots Paul Robeson and Albert Einstein.

Today the world has captured a second chance to revive the FDR's dream of an anti-colonial world . In the 21st century, this great dream has taken the form of the New Silk Road, led by Russia and China (and joined by a growing chorus of nations yearning to exit the invisible cage of colonialism).

If western nations wish to survive the oncoming collapse, then they would do well to heed Putin's call for a New International system, join the BRI, and reject the Keynesian technocrats advocating a false "New Bretton Woods" and "Green New Deal" .

Originally published on The Saker

[1] You may be thinking "wait! Wasn't FDR and his New Deal premised on Keynes' theories??" How could Keynes have represented an opposing force to FDR's system if this is the case? This paradox only exists in the minds of many people today due to the success of the Fabian Society's and Round Table Movement's armada of revisionist historians who have consistently created a lying narrative of history to make it appear to future generations trying to learn from past mistakes that those figures like FDR who opposed empire were themselves following imperial principles.

Another example of this sleight of hand can be seen by the sheer number of people who sincerely think themselves informed and yet believe that America's 1776 revolution was driven by British Imperial philosophical thought stemming from Adam Smith, Bentham and John Locke.

Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , a BRI Expert on Tactical talk , regular author with Strategic Culture, the Duran and Fort Russ and has authored 3 volumes of 'Untold History of Canada' book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation and can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

[May 16, 2020] America's Chilling Experiment in Human Sacrifice

Neoliberalism is a dangerous, evil secular religion.
May 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Since the days of Adam Smith, free market capitalists have held that human beings are rational actors who pursue economic gain for self-interested motives. But here is Patrick, a free marketer if there ever was one, talking about a gift-sacrifice economy model in which people – some people, at least – lay down their lives to keep the economic engines revved.

Patrick's words reveal an unspoken truth about capitalism. For the system to work smoothly, there have always been requirements of human sacrifice -- a certain portion of the population was expected to act not as self-serving homo economicus, but self-sacrificing homo communis , focused upon what benefits the collective at their own expense. If these people can't social distance at the workplace, they are expected to show up anyway. If there isn't enough safety equipment, they are declared essential workers who must put their lives and that of their families at risk for the greater good.

But for whom and for what is this sacrifice intended? How much dying will be figured into state budgets and gross domestic product (GDP)? When ranked by GDP, the U.S. is the wealthiest economy in the world, but is a country's wealth something totally separate from, or even contrary to, the health and life the majority of its citizens?

Wealth v. "illth"

To help us navigate these questions, it is useful turn to someone who offered potent challenges to the economic calculus of his day: John Ruskin , the 19 th -century art critic-turned-political economist. He was one of the most outspoken critics of capitalism and prevailing economic ideas of the Victorian era , and his work presciently points to shortcomings that have followed us into the present day.

Ruskin questions the premises on which free market capitalism is based, returning to first principles: what is wealth? What do we value? How should we understand the relationship between people, the economy, and the state?

In his view, economies are, above all, social systems whose true end is to benefit the people, and not, as the Texan politician would have it, the other way around. Anticipating the behavioral economics of our own day, Ruskin rejected the idea advocated by such economists as John Stuart Mill that there could be a deductive science of economics based on the assumption that the human being is "a covetous machine" that when applied to actual situations could take "the social affections," the non-rational aspects of human behavior, into account. Ruskin recognized that such a system implicitly removed the marketplace from the constraints of religion and morality that are supposed to apply to all human behavior. He compared it to an assumption that humans are essentially a skeleton with flesh, blood and consciousness as add-ons founding "an ossifiant theory of progress on this negation of a soul."

Ruskin defined wealth quite differently from many of his contemporaries, and ours. For him, wealth is anything that supports life and health, from the supplies in your storeroom to the song in your heart: "There is no wealth but life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others." ( Unto this Last ).

By that definition, America is looking increasingly impoverished. And it is not a virus which is stealing our wealth away.

Playing on the root of the word "wealth" from the Old English word "weal," signifying health, Ruskin proposed that while wealth was anything life-supporting that could be used and enjoyed, it had a dark counterpart that he called "illth" from the Old Norse word for bad – the things that make people ill, their lives stunted and despairing, their environment polluted. Wealth cannot be produced without illth, but great fortunes have been made by extracting the means of wealth without paying the cost of illth. To take a Ruskinian example, a factory that pollutes the water it uses, fouls the air and pays its workers below what a healthy life requires will be more profitable than a business that cleans up after itself and pays a living wage, but its illth becomes a form of national debt expressed in damage to the health of others and the environment. Think of something like a toxic Superfund site.

Economists have a term for Ruskin's concept of illth, referring to it as "negative externalities," even though they are not external to the capitalist economic system, but intrinsic to it. The most daunting problems of the current age, environmental disaster and inequality, are fueled by illth.

The Covid-19 crisis has merely amplified trends of rising illth, of despair, sickness, and alienation, which have been on the rise for decades as globalization, money-driven politics, decimated workers' rights, and privatization have tipped the economic balance far in favor of the very few. If we are to judge a country's health not by GDP, which rises in the face of a massive oil spill , but according to the criteria of the World Happiness Report (WHR), which measures things like social trust and faith in institutions, America is in bad shape when it comes to the ratio of wealth to illth. Scandinavian countries top the WHR, while the U.S. ranks a dismal 19 th .

According to the Columbia University study of the 2020 WHR report , the key factors that account for the relative happiness of Scandinavian countries -- what makes them wealthy in Ruskin's terms -- are precisely those that have been under pressure or cut back in the U.S. since the rise of neoliberalism: "emancipation from market dependency in terms of pensions, income maintenance for the ill or disabled, and unemployment benefits" together with labor market regulation such as a high minimum wage. Of course, no one likes to pay taxes, but Scandinavian "citizens' satisfaction with public and common goods such as health care, education, and public transportation that progressive taxation helps to fund," meets with approval at all income levels.

Pandemics are exacerbated by illth. We can see it in communities of color where the coronavirus strikes down those whose resources and access to health care have been limited by discriminatory policies and high contact employment. We can see it in factory farms where broken supply chains have caused farmers to euthanize livestock and plow under crops while people across the country go hungry. Airlines got immediate stimulus aid in the U.S., but there has been no subsidy for the restaurant supply chain that could be diverted for distribution by food banks and favorably located restaurants thus sustaining at least some of our much-vaunted small businesses. No one has to fly, but everyone must eat.

We sense illth accumulating in the comments of Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman, who, in her eagerness to get the casinos back in business, told an astonished Anderson Cooper on CNN that she would offer up the city's workers as a " control group " in a reopening experiment. If they weren't able to social distance, Goodman was unconcerned: "In my opinion, you have to go ahead," she said . "Every day you get up, it's a gamble."

Ruskin saw the capitalists of his day as gamblers heedless of the costs they foisted onto ordinary people: "But they neither know who keeps the bank of the gambling-house, nor what other games may be played with the same cards, nor what other losses and gains, far away among the dark streets, are essentially, though invisibly, dependent upon theirs in lighted rooms." ( Unto This Last ).

In other words, not only do capitalists gamble with other peoples' lives; they are oblivious to the fact that there are other ways to arrange society, to deal the cards differently, more fairly.

Witness the post-Covid reality imagined by Governor Cuomo. Instead of focusing on what changes could better support the health and lives of ordinary people, he has called in Google CEO Eric Schmidt to head a commission to reimagine New York state with more technology permanently inserted into every dimension of civic life. A better deal for Silicon Valley, to be sure. But what is in the cards for everyone else? When educational platforms and health protocols are mapped by gigantic and unaccountable corporations, who gets lost? Surely the answer is those who can least afford it.

President Trump says that it is time to move on from the coronavirus and get on with economy. Ruskin would have recognized the deity worshipped by country's leader, which he called the "Goddess of getting on." Only Ruskin recognized that she tended to favor "not of everybody's getting on – but only of somebody's getting on," -- what he called a "vital, or rather deathful, distinction." For capitalists, getting on post-Covid means executives working remotely while the rank and file return to the factory floor without adequate face masks, and large corporations, not public input, determines the blueprints for our lives.

The issue of worker safety does matter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but not because he fears that some will get sick or die, but for a potential " epidemic of litigation ." In the next pandemic relief legislation, McConnell is looking to solve the problem of worker safety by shielding corporations from lawsuits rather than supporting Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mandated regulations that would both promote safety and sort out what is and is not actionable.

The Visible Hand

Instead of Adam Smith's Invisible Hand, Ruskin advocated a Visible Hand of reasoned management, a government which could allocate resources effectively and create stores of what citizens most needed in a crisis. In our day this need not be a literal storehouse but surge capacity. The Obama administration, for example, contracted with Halyard Health to design a machine that could turn out 1.5 million N95 masks per day. They were ready to build the machine in 2018 when the Trump administration cancelled the program .

In Ruskin's view, the Visible Hand was the guardian of the lives of the citizens, especially the poor, whose health and lives were their essential property. Ruskin actually defined an economy as the wise management of labor, applying labor, carefully preserving what it produces, and wisely distributing those products. A country's wealth is in the people's strength and health, not their illness and death.

Ruskin's concepts of wealth and illth help us understand the centrality of ethics and responsibility to economic activity, and how economies are not an assemblage of atomistic human units but whole systems of people interacting, where the activities of some impact the lives of all. His work indicates the need for a whole systems approach to a crisis in which what happens on the beaches of Georgia impacts a nursing home in North Carolina, and visitors to New York City or New Orleans can carry the infection home. The decisions of one business in a complex international supply chain can impact the fate of millions.

In unregulated capitalism, Ruskin sussed out what Sigmund Freud might have recognized as the death drive. Decisions about the economy, he held, must be informed by the essential biologic basis of life itself: "The real science of political economy, which has yet to be distinguished from the bastard science, as medicine from witchcraft, and astronomy from astrology, is that which teaches nations to desire and labour for the things that lead to life; and which teaches them to scorn and destroy the things that lead to destruction" ( Unto This Last ).

The Covid crisis has exposed contradictions in market and America First ideology. Without federal aid to state and local governments, essential personnel are being laid off even as we declare them heroes. Employer based insurance is failing, but few American politicians are willing to fully embrace single payer insurance. Meat plant workers are declared essential, but still subject to deportation, as if famed Revolutionary patriot Nathan Hale had said, "I only regret that you have but one life to give for my country."

Ultimately, the most dangerous pestilence that threatens the country is not a packet of RNA called Covid-19 but an economic and political system that does not value true wealth, and promotes the life of the few while condemning the many to literal sickness unto death.


Henry Moon Pie , May 15, 2020 at 5:38 am

Excellent piece by Parramore. Ruskin is an interesting thinker whose ideas have direct application to our situation. This was central:

President Trump says that it is time to move on from the coronavirus and get on with economy. Ruskin would have recognized the deity worshipped by country's leader, which he called the "Goddess of getting on." Only Ruskin recognized that she tended to favor "not of everybody's getting on – but only of somebody's getting on," -- what he called a "vital, or rather deathful, distinction." For capitalists, getting on post-Covid means executives working remotely while the rank and file return to the factory floor without adequate face masks, and large corporations, not public input, determines the blueprints for our lives.

There's one thing I hope the Left learns before too long. Human beings have a religious impulse. It's not as powerful or as central to our existence as the sexual impulse, but it's there in all of us, even Richard Dawkins. Like the sexual impulse, the real question is where will this religious impulse lead us. For the Right, their twisted unChristian conception of Christianity is a powerful force within their political movement. In fact, it might be said to be what holds it together and provides the energy for their unfortunate efforts.

Meanwhile, the Left, considering itself too firmly ensconced in modernity to recognize the reality of the religious impulse despite modern science's identification of it, denies the existence of this basic and potentially powerful human trait. We saw some of the activists and organizers in Bernie's campaign employ deep organizing techniques which are basically spiritual exercises. We know Thomas Berry's calls for a new religion focused on humanity's relationship to the Earth and its creatures. The Left needs to acknowledge our spiritual aspects and work to turn our religious impulse away from patriarchalism, misogyny and homophobia of the Right and toward love for the Earth, our fellow humans and our fellow creatures. That's where reside the power and persistence necessary to overcome our religiously misinspired opponents.

Bsoder , May 15, 2020 at 9:34 am

There is a gene that creates within the brain a structure that either perceives 'god' (my view), or generates a sense of spirituality in [sic] reality. The university of Waterloo has been doing studies on this for at least thirty years. Anything we have evolved has a calorie cost to maintain, so it must serve purpose in furthering life. There have been many debates about this gene but no one can argue it's not about spirituality, and/or god, and/or what the Druids what call magic. To me there's always been, that question, we can go back and have data to 1/billion of 1/billion to 1/billion⁶⁶⁷(minus) of a second before the inflation singularity that created this universe. But then, why? As the said in the 'Little Prince', 'it's only with the heart one sees rightly'.

Susan the other , May 15, 2020 at 10:07 am

The little prince is right. What we call spirituality is intelligence above what is necessary our daily existence. Our "daily bread". Our sixth sense is probably more accurate and reliable than all our rationalizations combined. But it is a thing that can't be orchestrated by religion or politics. What happens between people in groups when fear is eliminated is a sudden change toward choices that are the most sensible. As long as the process isn't interfered with. That's the difficulty. It's like leaving nature alone long enough for it to recover from human devastation.

Clive , May 15, 2020 at 10:28 am

What we call spirituality is intelligence above what is necessary our daily existence.

(although if I was trying to do your comment complete justice, I would have to simply re-quote the whole thing, it was that good)

Sometimes Susan the other, you're so profound, it almost hurts!

Certainly for me, I've got very little, comparatively, in my life right. I've passed on opportunities which would made me rich beyond the dreams of avarice. And much else besides. Mostly because I've overanalysed and rationalised things away. What I've got right has been, conversely, down to following my intuition. If humanity could unlock that potential within us, just think what we could do.

Susan the other , May 15, 2020 at 1:21 pm

If I'm profound Clive it's because I look to you and a handful of other VSP for inspiration.

RBHoughton , May 15, 2020 at 8:48 pm

That's what makes NC unique – the sense of honor and respect amongst supporters.

SAKMAN , May 15, 2020 at 10:29 am

If we are talking about VMAT2 here, then its also been implicated in opiod dependence. . . just another example of god I guess? To some for sure.

Susan the other , May 15, 2020 at 9:58 am

Neo-transcendentalism please.

ChiGal in Carolina , May 15, 2020 at 10:41 am

The Sun
mary oliver

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed–
or have you too
turned from this world–

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

Henry Moon Pie , May 15, 2020 at 11:01 am

A response to Oliver's powerful poem from Thomas Berry:

The continuity between the human and the cosmic was experienced with special sensitivity in the Chinese world [A] sense of the sacred dimension of the Earth is involved, a type of awareness less available from our traditional Western religions. This lack of intimacy with the natural was further extended when Descartes proposed that the living world was best described as a mechanism, because there was no vital principle integrating, guiding, and sustaining the activities of what we generally refer to as the living world.

Yet, strangely enough, a new sense of the sacred dimension of the universe and the planet Earth is becoming available from our more recent scientific endeavors. The observational sciences, principally through the theories of relativity, quantum physics, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, the sense of a self-organizing universe, and the more recent chaos theories have taken us beyond a mechanistic understanding of an objective world. We know there is a subjectivity in all our knowledge and that we ourselves, precisely as intelligent beings, activate one of the deepest dimensions of the universe. Once again, we realize that knowledge is less a subject-object relationship than it is a communion of subjects, .

Thomas Berry, "The Gaia Hypothesis: Its Religious Implications" in The Sacred Universe

Susan the other , May 15, 2020 at 1:26 pm

I'm reading Rovelli's The Order of Time right now and every few pages I just stop, my jaw drops and I get lost in the realization.

Rod , May 15, 2020 at 9:59 am

I'm glad you are making this point to acknowledge:

Human beings have a religious impulse.

From my direct experience, Native Americans seem to center their activism in a Spiritual Context. Prayer for Guidance–for courage–for wisdom–for compassion–before starting up on anything. imo, it keeps the priorities in focus.

Petter , May 15, 2020 at 3:12 pm

I'm posting in this thread even though I'm not sure it fits. The religious or spiritual impulse appears to be universal, there doesn't seem any doubt about that. Here's an interesting article on Big Gods, or moralizing Gods.
Big data analyses suggest that moralizing gods are rather the product than the drivers of social complexity:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190320141116.htm
-- -- -- -- --
One prominent theory, the big or moralizing gods hypothesis, assumes that religious beliefs were key. According to this theory people are more likely to cooperate fairly if they believe in gods who will punish them if they don't. "To our surprise, our data strongly contradict this hypothesis," says lead author Harvey Whitehouse. "In almost every world region for which we have data, moralizing gods tended to follow, not precede, increases in social complexity." Even more so, standardized rituals tended on average to appear hundreds of years before gods who cared about human morality.

Such rituals create a collective identity and feelings of belonging that act as social glue, making people to behave more cooperatively. "Our results suggest that collective identities are more important to facilitate cooperation in societies than religious beliefs," says Harvey Whitehouse.
-- -- -- -

Amfortas the hippie , May 15, 2020 at 6:14 am

I can definitely recommend Ruskin's "Unto This Last". I obtained it(among several others that had been on my list(from NC) for a while) just before Covid.
short book wonderfully written.
and kicks you in the gut like some new revelation.
turns out that divorcing "Economics" from "Political Economy" was a mistake.
treating the former as if it were a natural science, like Physics or Chemistry let alone Pure Mathematics is deleterious.
It ignores and neglects all the amorphous and ephemeral things that make this Life worth living .how can you quantify a sunset or a moonrise or the smell of your newborn's hair or a first kiss?
the Economists have taken reductive essentialism to absurd extremes .and somehow convinced a great many of us to go along to our ultimate destruction.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHOhD0RT9NU

Marx called this sort of thing Reification .giving something a Quality it doesn't truly possess. Money as the Holy Cracker in the Temple of Moloch.
or, the morality of a Serpent: I shall Devour.(see: Joseph Campbell:"a serpent is a "motile alimentary canal")
we're expected to feed ourselves and our children into the flaming bronze maw of their idol( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch )
as if "The Economy" is some thunderstorm or Holy Mountain, instead of a Human Creation.
"There is no such thing as Society" .and "TINA" .and these moronic "protesters" holding signs that say "Arbiet macht frie" apparently unaware of the provenance of that phrase .after all , we stopped really teaching the Humanities like History quite a while ago.
we forget that "They" require our assent and consent to this "sacrifice"(L:"to make holy") that without that consent, they have nothing not even their precious wealth(which is what, these days? electrons moving in a database, somewhere?).

now, "They" have as much as admitted that things like the Stock Market are disconnected from Reality that the Casino doesn't need Main Street and Human Beings to function.
This, after decades of training us to believe just the opposite. Why else put a stock market ticker at the bottom of every cable news channel as if all that mattered to us'n's?
One of my favorite words is Eudaimonia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eudaimonia ) but you only learn about that from the Humanities.
another of my favorite words is Thaumazein "Wonder", or "Awe" also from ancient Greek Philosophy
we've allowed the most withered souls to define the Good for us
Now, when all their works lie in ruins around us .and their narrow and anti-humanist, mechanistic absurdity and cruelty are on full display has there ever been a better time to turn away? To sit and think about what matters?
Withdraw your Consent.

" O happiness! O happiness! Wilt thou perhaps sing, O my soul? Thou liest in the grass. But this is the secret, solemn hour, when no shepherd playeth his pipe.
Take care! Hot noontide sleepeth on the fields. Do not sing! Hush! The world is perfect.
Do not sing, thou prairie-bird, my soul! Do not even whisper! Lo- hush! The old noontide sleepeth, it moveth its mouth: doth it not just now drink a drop of happiness --
-- An old brown drop of golden happiness, golden wine? Something whisketh over it, its happiness laugheth. Thus -- laugheth a God. Hush! --
-- 'For happiness, how little sufficeth for happiness!' Thus spake I once and thought myself wise. But it was a blasphemy: that have I now learned. Wise fools speak better.
The least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard's rustling, a breath, a whisk, an eye-glance -- little maketh up the best happiness. Hush!
-- What hath befallen me: Hark! Hath time flown away? Do I not fall? Have I not fallen -- hark! into the well of eternity?
-- What happeneth to me? Hush! It stingeth me -- alas -- to the heart? To the heart! Oh, break up, break up, my heart, after such happiness, after such a sting!
-- What? Hath not the world just now become perfect? Round and ripe? Oh, for the golden round ring -- whither doth it fly? Let me run after it! Quick!"
( http://4umi.com/nietzsche/zarathustra/70 )

Bsoder , May 15, 2020 at 9:43 am

Good day it you sir, you are in rare and most excellent form, Amfortas. Amen.

McKillop , May 15, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Hey Amphortas the Hippie!
I enjoy reading your comments and the slices of your life served up to us – you are an interesting guy and a good antidote to me whenever I am disheartened by the stuff I am bombarded with by the exceptional Americans foisted upon the world as typical.
Who would believe that I read Thus spake Zarathustra 'cause of your comments? I sent the link on to my son who is 16 and has been physically separated from us for months caught in this vortex. We'll see how it is taken compared to Mnm.
Thanks

Amfortas the hippie , May 15, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Aww. Thanks, dude/dudette.
zarathustra is very accessible.
i've noticed that lots of people(like my wife) have been taught somehow that they can't read stuff like that, so don't even try.
just another crime against us all.
aristotle can be pretty dense as can a lot of the more familiar philosophers(hegel=ugh–) but Nietszche is pretty easy to get into, due to his style .although some translations are better than others(I like the translation linked above for Zarathustra the KJV Tone works for me.)
One shouldn't be intimidated by Marcus Aurelius, Herodotus or Boethius, either.

rob , May 15, 2020 at 7:42 am

Isn't it ironic, that ruskin was able to see our issues and spoke to people with such force as to effect our lives and in a sense is partly responsible for the world we have today.
When he spoke at oxford in 1870 cecil rhodes was so impressed he supposedly carried a copy of it with him in the future.
The ideas expressed by ruskin convinced rhodes that he needed to save "good english society" from "the masses"(the poor english and all the rest of the savages who wouldn't understand how to be proper."
Rhodes and his cohorts,in the british upper crust and media establishment created "the british rountable" in 1891. These roundtablers did lots of things..Both through official channels and by ways of running the largest newspapers who really perfected propaganda, decades before goebbels. Eventually they formed in 1919, "the royal institute of international relations" in britian. and "the council on foreign relations" in new york"
Generations of these members have really "made" the world that exists today. Which is why the "conspiracy theories" exist . when people look at the lists of who
Personally, I think there ought to be study in the relationships these people had with each other and with history. As with any family, they may be related, but not always on the same page but still have the power of the family name and the prestige.
The council on foreign relations is the wellspring of "neoliberalism" neo consevatism too , for that matter. Their place in history is central. This is the axis of the "anglo-american establishment"

rob , May 15, 2020 at 9:02 am

oops, that is "royal institute of international affairs" or as people refer to it "chatham house"

Off The Street , May 15, 2020 at 9:21 am

Upon first reading the headline about America's Chilling Experiment in Human Sacrifice , I wondered: Which one?

Now back to Ruskin.

shinola , May 15, 2020 at 10:02 am

Dan Patrick's attitude is a prime example of a principle that regular NC readers may have seen a time or two:

Because Markets / Go Die

anon2 , May 15, 2020 at 11:26 am

Hence the folly of an economy based on debt rather than equity: it must continue to run or risk cascading defaults.

Then why do we have government privileges for private debt creation in the first place? Because subtle theft is easier and more "efficient" than honest sharing?

Alex Cox , May 15, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Perhaps science is the religion of the PMC. An unquestioning belief in anything scientists/big pharma/tech wizzards throw on the table, whether it's GMOs, vaccines containing mercury, thalidomide, social media, driverless cars or trips to Mars.

JBird4049 , May 15, 2020 at 2:14 pm

I use to go to Nevada regularly and mostly via the Donner Pass. Just a roundabout way of suggesting that some might consider the Donner Party as the right way to have a society. They almost made it over the pass, missing it by a couple of days, despite taking a shortcut that was actually a longcut using bad information from a book, IIRC. They were told repeatedly by those who had gone West before not to do so, but

They remind me of today's times.

Dwight , May 15, 2020 at 2:32 pm

In Nashville, TN last month, a masked protester at the state capitol carried a sign "Sacrifice the Weak." I was shocked when a local news show reported on protesters and filmed this sign along with other signs and protesters, and the reporter did not comment on this horrible, Nazi-like statement.

p fitzsimon , May 15, 2020 at 4:32 pm

Have there been any prominent religious leaders who have given counsel on the sacrificial nature of a return to work to save the economy. At what point is the risk to human life and health compensated by an economic return?

Hepativore , May 15, 2020 at 11:00 pm

Come to think of it, does it not seem odd that with many prominent religious figures, none of them seem to be willing to speak up on how greed is destroying the world and all of the wealthy owners of capital that are its promoters? Greed is a major sin in almost every religion, yet you hardly ever see any religious clergy give sermons on how widespread and dangerous greed is or publicly admonish Wall Street if they hold themselves up to be the moral leaders of society.

Henry Moon Pie , May 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm

The great way is low and plain,
but people like shortcuts over the mountains.

From Ursula K. Le Guin's translation of the Tao te Ching #53

It's an old problem.

Chris , May 15, 2020 at 10:01 pm

The fundamental problem we have with all the "very smart people" who think economics is a science is that I can't write an equation that will convince these masters of the universe that they shouldn't be @$$holes.

I can't tell anyone that even if it doesn't profit you there's a reason to choose to help your fellow humans.

I also can't define a relationship that explains why even if you can figure out how to stay within the letter of the law and exploit a loop hole to make more money but only in way that hurts other people, you shouldn't do it. Or why you shouldn't write a law or lobby for a law that exists only so it can be abused.

These guys will never accept the concept of illth because it challenges their concept of wealth. And so it goes

eg , May 16, 2020 at 4:59 am

One of the best educated persons I know shared this with me: the most valuable thing is a hierarchy of values.

rob , May 16, 2020 at 8:15 am

I thought it was a trust fund in a tax haven.
Silly me.

DHG , May 16, 2020 at 4:25 pm

I dont gamble with my life. The shrewd will take the necessary precautions and keep themselves concealed as much as possible. The stupid will not take these precautions, likely get sick and some will perish .

Karen , May 16, 2020 at 5:46 pm

It amazes me that protesters and policymakers are still treating this as an impossible tradeoff -- a false dichotomy -- between life and money, when it's clear that success lies with practical solutions, of which there are many, to achieve both. Starting with masks!

I love the idea of billionaires leading the way, demonstrating the efficacy of their reopening plans through personal example.

[May 16, 2020] In the "brutal economics" of capitalism, the lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic are simply the cost of doing business. While trillions of dollars have been spent propping up financial markets, no serious efforts have been made to contain the pandemic

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , May 16 2020 15:31 utc | 104

An excellent article on the WSWS:
"...In the "brutal economics" of capitalism, the lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic are simply the cost of doing business. While trillions of dollars have been spent propping up financial markets, no serious efforts have been made to contain the pandemic, and whatever mitigation measures have been put in place, including the closure of businesses, are being rapidly abandoned.

"The efforts by the ruling class to counterpose workers' lives to livelihoods is an entirely false choice. Both can be defended with the necessary allocation of social resources to stop and eradicate COVID-19 and all other communicable diseases. Non-essential workplaces must remain closed for as long as it takes for these measures to be put in place.

"But containing the pandemic requires an investment in social infrastructure that the capitalist class is not willing to make. The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the utter incompatibility of the capitalist system with the preservation of the most basic social right: the right to life."
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/16/pers-m16.html


"I also don't know why you would quote a Wapo article, uncritically, in response to fairleft. Why would I care what they say about anything? They represent power. I consider them no more reliable on pharma imperialism as they are on military imperialism."
oglalla@102
You answer the question yourself. Nobody is suggesting that anyone read the Washington Post uncritically. I am surprised that you should accuse b of having done so. The evidence is that he has read the Post critically-as we all have to do in a culture in which the major source of news, for everyone, is a media compromised enormously by its allegiances, particularly its allegiance to capitalism.
Read the Wapo critically and you will be left with a residue of information which can be cross checked by various means, once you have done that you can evaluate the importance of its conclusions. It is what we all have to do.

[May 16, 2020] "Three of the largest for-profit nursing home operators in Ontario, which have had disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, have together paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends to shareholders over the last decade, the Star has found.

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , May 16 2020 13:39 utc | 87

Maybe this story from the Toronto Star will help explain why so many people are dying:

"Three of the largest for-profit nursing home operators in Ontario, which have had disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, have together paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends to shareholders over the last decade, the Star has found.

"This massive sum does not include $138 million paid in executive compensation and $20 million in stock buybacks (a technique that can boost share prices), according to the financial reports of the province's three biggest publicly traded long-term-care home companies, Extendicare, Sienna Senior Living and Chartwell Retirement Residences.

"That's a total of more than $1.7 billion taken out of their businesses."

Beneath all the uninformed, pretentious anecdote swapping about stats and panaceas, the drivelling over whether or not there is a pandemic or whether Bill Gates, Soros or the KKK planned and executed it on behalf of haute finance, something very simple is taking place.
Capitalism, which devours people and turns lives into capital, having made a pandemic disease of the sort now surrounding us inevitable, is protecting itself. Its major fear is that if there are too many victims-cf The Black Death- the price of labour may rise to the extent that it impinges on the rate of profit. It dare not consider the possibility that the working class will organise itself to put an end to the system, as an alternative to doing what men have done throughout the history of epidemics- blaming everything on an angry deity or an elite such as the Illuminati, the Council for Foreign Affairs or bloggers corrupted by money.

[May 16, 2020] Tucker Susan Rice and the origins of the Russia investigation

May 16, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Ed , 4 days ago (edited)

Farkas; "I'll come on the show any time and explain what you're missing."

Tucker: "You're invited on tonight."

Farkas: "Tonight? Oh, I can't make it tonight. Got a million other things to do. I'd come on any other time... But tonight?"

[May 16, 2020] Tucker Adam Schiff should resign

Highly recommended!
This act of sedition goes as high as (or as low as) Obama himself.
Notable quotes:
"... He should do more than resign. He should be prosecuted for his role in an attempted coup. Schiff for prisoner 2020. ..."
"... There's no willpower in the house to take action against him. ..."
May 16, 2020 | www.youtube.com

warchant59 , 1 week ago

He should do more than resign. He should be prosecuted for his role in an attempted coup. Schiff for prisoner 2020.

Shannon Moore , 2 days ago

Schiff probably practice his lies in his mirror every morning so he can convince himself of Russian interference. Biggest liar in America Adam Schifty schiff. Needs to be arrested immediately for treason and lying under oath. But as usual nothing will happen. These people are above the law. And are untouchable. Its enough to frustrate the hell out of normal sain Americans. 4 more years of Donald Trump

D LE , 3 days ago

Every person that went on television and knowingly lied should be tried for treason , sedition and attempted over throw of Trumps presidency.

TheFoolinthe rainn , 3 days ago

Folks need to take a much closer look at your own state legislature, district attorney, prosecutors, public defenders, social workers... especially your own town councils and school boards. They're stealing your lives and children at the Grassroots local level.

Norita Sanders , 5 days ago

Bill and Hillary Clinton sold the U.S. out years ago with the North American free trade agreement. And obama finished us off during g his last term.

CAPT. RICK ALLEN , 2 days ago

They should throw Schiff in jail and then give everything he owns to his victims who lost everything.

Joe Merkel , 1 day ago

Schiff absolutely SHOULD resign but he won't. Not only will he not but he'll cheat and win re-election along with his mom, Nancy Pelosi.

Tim Coleman , 3 days ago

Adam Schiff is not resigning. He's doubling down yet again! If you "want" him to resign, you need to understand he's staying in office until voted out. There's no willpower in the house to take action against him.

[May 15, 2020] China Ready To Target Apple, Qualcomm, Cisco and Boeing in Retaliation Against US' Huawei Ban - Slashdot

May 15, 2020 | apple.slashdot.org

An anonymous reader shares a report: China is ready to take a series of countermeasures against a US plan to block shipments of semiconductors to Chinese telecom firm Huawei , including putting US companies on an "unreliable entity list," launching investigations and imposing restrictions on US companies such as Apple and suspending the purchase of Boeing airplanes, a source close to the Chinese government told the Global Times. The Trump administration on Friday moved to block shipments of semiconductors to Huawei from global chipmakers. The US Commerce Department said it was amending an export rule and the Entity List to "strategically target Huawei's acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain US software and technology," according to a statement on its website. "China will take forceful countermeasures to protect its own legitimate rights," if the US moves forward with the plan to bar essential suppliers of chips, including Taiwan-based TSMC, from selling chips to the Chinese tech giant, the source told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.


Brain-Fu ( 1274756 ) , Friday May 15, 2020 @02:58PM ( #60064610 ) Homepage Journal

All chips have backdoors. ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

Every hardware vendor has clear and strong incentives to bake backdoors into their hardware. The only difference is to whom they are loyal.

sehlat ( 180760 ) , Friday May 15, 2020 @02:20PM ( #60064454 )
Universal Rule of Economic Warfare ( Score: 1 )

Both sides lose ... BIG.

bodog ( 231448 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 1 )

BIGLY. tftfy.

UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) , Friday May 15, 2020 @02:45PM ( #60064558 )
Re:Universal Rule of Economic Warfare ( Score: 3 )

Well people on both sides lose. The leaders on both sides do not lose as much. Concisely Put.

Alain Williams ( 2972 ) writes: < addw@phcomp.co.uk > on Friday May 15, 2020 @02:31PM ( #60064502 ) Homepage
Is anyone surprised ? ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

China will also put a lot of money into making things that it has, up to now, obtained from the USA. It might take a few years, but China's government set up (ie one party always in power) means that it does not have to do things to an electoral cycle.

[May 14, 2020] Tucker on Obamagate

May 14, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Patient Observer May 11, 2020 at 8:50 am

Don't fuck with the Tuck:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/fHh19Baj_pM?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

The guy is on fire. Per Carlson, Obama orchestrated the Russian collusion propaganda. I suspect that the lovely Ms. Hilary was a conspirator as well.

Carlson has the number 1 television news show with 4.56 million viewers on average.

https://www.nytimes.com/svc/oembed/html/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2020%2F04%2F28%2Fbusiness%2Fmedia%2Fvirus-tucker-carlson-sean-hannity-fox-ratings.html

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Mark Chapman May 11, 2020 at 9:54 am
Absolutely remarkable; in fact, 'stunning', as he uses it, is not too much of a stretch. The 'liberal elites' just go right on lying even though the sworn testimony of FBI interviewers is available for anyone to read, as well as the chilling manipulations of Strozk and Page, both of whom should be in prison and perhaps will be. And that fucker Schiff should swing. I can't believe the transformation of Carlson from Bush shill to the reincarnation of Edward R. Murrow. He makes this case so compellingly that nobody could watch that clip and not believe that Flynn was railroaded from the outset. And what were they allegedly going to jail Flynn's son for? Does anyone know? Were they just going to make something up? That is terrifying, and almost argues for the disbanding of the FBI, although it demonstrably still contains honest agents – as Carlson asks rhetorically, how many times have they done this already, and gotten away with it?

It's hard to imagine anyone would vote Democrat now.

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Cortes May 11, 2020 at 10:10 am
The son was being lined up for prosecution for alleged FARA violations regarding work on Turkey, I think. The son was working with the General.

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Mark Chapman May 11, 2020 at 11:45 am
Couldn't have been too much of a crime, if they offered to let him go in exchange for Flynn pleading guilty to lying. Actually, you'd kind of think their business was prosecuting crimes whoever committed them, and that offering to excuse a crime in exchange for a guilty plea is .kind of a crime.

Man, they have to clean house at the FBI. And there probably are several other organizations that need it, too. Not the political culling based on ideology that was a feature of the Bush White House, but the crowd that's in now just cannot be allowed to get off with nothing.

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uncle tungsten May 12, 2020 at 2:55 am
Greetings Mark and all, I am a new arrival as Jen suggested the company is fine here for barflies to ponder the world. Can I surmise that if Flynn and son were the FBI targets for nefarious business dealings then surely Biden and son fall in to that same category. After all Biden and son filched millions after arranging a USA loan of $1Billion to Ukraine and then did it again after the IMF loaned a few million more. Carpetbagging and its modern day practice is a crime in the USA last I looked.

If that conspicuous bias isn't enough cause to dismember the FBI then consider the Uranium One deal that Hillary Clinton and family set up or perhaps the Debbie Wasserman Shultz fostering the Awan family spy and blackmail ring.

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Mark Chapman May 12, 2020 at 9:37 am
Good day, Uncle, and welcome! For some reason I can't fathom, the Democrats seem to own or control all the 'respectable' media in the USA. FOX News is an exception, and has been a mouthpiece for the Republicans since its inception. But the Democrats control the New York Times and the Washington Post, which together represent the bulk of American public feeling to foreigners, and probably to the domestic audience as well. They are extremely active on conflicts between the two parties, ensuring the Democratic perspective gets put forward in calm, reasonable why-wouldn't-a-sensible-person-think-this-way manner. At the same time they cast horrific aspersions at the Republicans. Not that either are much good; but the news coverage is very one-sided – the position of the Democrats on the sexual-assault furor over the Kavanaugh appointment compared with their wait-and-see attitude to very similar accusations against Biden is a classic example.

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rkka May 13, 2020 at 9:33 am
Mark,

I don't think its the Democrats that control the NYT &WP, so much as plutocrats. They're also the ones who fund both the Democrats & the Republicans. The only significant difference between the parties is largely in the arena of the social "culture war" issues. But on the issues plutocrats care about, like economic policy & foreign policy, the differences are shades of grey, rather than actual distinctions.

Just remember the coverage of both papers in the run up to George W Shrub's catastrophic Iraq war. They're stenographers, not journalists.

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Mark Chapman May 13, 2020 at 11:12 am
That may well be true, but the NYT and WP historically champion the Democrats, endorse the Democratic candidate for president, and pander to Democratic issues and projects. The Wall Street Journal is the traditional Republican print outlet, and there might be others but I don't know them. CNN is overwhelmingly and weepily Democratic in its content – Wolf Blitzer's eyes nearly roll back in his head with ecstasy whenever he mentions Saint Hillary – while FOX News is Repubican to the bone and openly contemptuous of liberals. It could certainly be, on reflection probably is, that the same cabal of corporatists control them all, and a fine joke they must think it. And I certainly and emphatically agree there is almost no difference between the parties in execution of external policy.

[May 14, 2020] The USA fake democracy vs inverted totalitarism with Chinese characteristics

Notable quotes:
"... Sad but true. We are all given our illusions. In US its the illusion of democracy which is a fake democracy cloaking our totalitarian reality. In China they give the people the illusion of moving towards socialism, a fake socialism to be sure, never mind all the billionaire party members (and they don't have universal health care either, its insurance based) .The people have long accepted the reality of totalitarianism so they are one step ahead. ..."
May 14, 2020 | www.unz.com

Pft , says: Show Comment May 14, 2020 at 6:41 am GMT

Sad but true. We are all given our illusions. In US its the illusion of democracy which is a fake democracy cloaking our totalitarian reality. In China they give the people the illusion of moving towards socialism, a fake socialism to be sure, never mind all the billionaire party members (and they don't have universal health care either, its insurance based) .The people have long accepted the reality of totalitarianism so they are one step ahead.

Since China doesn't have another party to blame they must blame external enemies like the US and we happily play along with tarrifs paid for by us dumb sheep who cry out in satisfaction "take that". Lol

A fake Cold War works for us too. Trump says we are in a race for 5G and AI/Robotics with China. We must win or all is lost to China. Social credit scores, digital ID and digital currency along with Total Information Awareness and Full Spectrum Dominance over the herd.

Health effects of 5G will be blamed on CoVID. Fake Science is a great tool. Scientists never lie, they can be trusted, just like Priests . They are the Priests of the New Technocratic World Order. Global Warming and COVID- We must believe. They say Vaccines and 5G are good for you, just like DDT and Tobacco were said to be Good by Scientists of another time. We must believe. Have Faith and you will earn social credit bonus points.

Reality is Fake Wrestling. Kayfabe all the way baby. Who is the face and who is the heel? We are free to choose. So who says we don't have freedom?

[May 14, 2020] If we discard xenophobia, China is not natural ally of the USA

But it was natural target of offshoring manufacturing during neoliberal globalization frenzy. Now the USA needs to pay the price for the betryal of its elite.
Notable quotes:
"... China is not a natural ally of the US. It was helped for decades as a counterweight to the USSR and that policy continued after the Cold War ended because the Western elite reaped vast profits from the entry of a billion Chinese into the world labour markets. We have created a monster of arrogance and economic dynamism that refuses to take measures against novel coronaviruses springing out of their peculiar eating and aphrodisiac medicine habits. ..."
May 14, 2020 | www.unz.com

Sean , says: Show Comment May 14, 2020 at 6:22 am GMT

The USA is under no obligation whatsoever to be friendly to Russia, and especially not to China which rather owes America for everything and has repaid it in death. Capital and technology has flowed to China from America for decades. In return they sent profit to Wall St, Wuhan made Fentanyl the death of choice for whites desperate as a result of the policies that made China did so well out of, and now they send us a deadly epidemic.

RussiaGateRussiaGateRussiaGateChinaDidItChinaDidItChinaDidItIranIsEvilIranIsEvil

China is not a natural ally of the US. It was helped for decades as a counterweight to the USSR and that policy continued after the Cold War ended because the Western elite reaped vast profits from the entry of a billion Chinese into the world labour markets. We have created a monster of arrogance and economic dynamism that refuses to take measures against novel coronaviruses springing out of their peculiar eating and aphrodisiac medicine habits.

It was coffee made from beans taken from civet faeces that led to the SARS-CoV bat/ civet recombination virus and the 2002 Sars outbreak, during which China lied about what was happening as they subsequently admitted. The SARS-CoV 2 receptor-binding domain from pangolins ( world's most trafficked animal, is in demand by Chinese as a male enhancer) and it recombined with a bat virus was hundreds of times more effective a pathogen in humans than the one from bat–civet recombination of eighteen years ago.

But that is not what the Chinese said. Researchers in Wuhan on December 31st told the world about the Wuhan disease having been identifies as a coronavirus but said, 'It's not highly transmissible'. As late as the the 24th of January, Doctor Fauci w gave a briefing for senators in which he said there was very little danger to the US from the Wuhan disease. Later that day he repeated that opinion at a press conference.

So China said it was not infectious between people and there was nothing much to worry about. When Trump began to restrict travel into the US from China on the 31st January there was uproar about this supposed further evidence of his xenophobia,.

[May 14, 2020] How Beijing will respond to the anti-China fervor sweeping the US by Sam Bresnick & Lucas Tcheyan

May 13, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

President Trump has used his executive power to take a hatchet to 40 years of America's China policy. His administration has called for a "whole-of-government" approach to counter Beijing's unfair economic practices, initiated a damaging trade war, banned Chinese telecommunication equipment from domestic networks, and implemented stringent regulations to vet Chinese investments in sensitive industries.

In a novel development, the administration has begun coaxing individual states to aid the federal government in its anti-China fervor. Speaking to the National Governors Association in early February, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that "competition with China is not just a federal issue It's happening in your states with consequences for our foreign policy, for the citizens that reside in your states, and indeed, for each of you."

The administration's enlisting of states in the broader U.S.-China competition has significant economic implications for subnational actors. Increasingly hawkish incumbents, as well as congressional candidates, could provoke economic pushback from Beijing. Many of these officials have bought into the Republican Party's strategy of carrying out an " anti-China assault " on the campaign trail, scapegoating Beijing for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States instead of acknowledging the Trump administration's central role in the country's failure to prepare itself properly.

While Washington is correct to scrutinize Chinese investments in sensitive technologies and pursue reciprocal trade and economic relations, politically motivated, opportunistic anti-China rhetoric could threaten individual states' cooperation with China, one of the few remaining productive aspects of the bilateral relationship. Indeed, as Hu Xijin, editor of Chinese tabloid Global Times, tweeted , "Beijing is already preparing to take necessary punishment measures against some members of the US Congress, the state of Missouri, and relevant individuals and entities."

China-skeptic sentiment in the U.S. government and on the campaign trail is not a new phenomenon , but the coronavirus pandemic and resultant economic crisis have afforded many politicians the cover to push hawkish policies. Some of their proposals would benefit the United States, including reducing U.S. reliance on Chinese-made pharmaceutical products , a motion broadly backed by both Republicans and Democrats. But many of their arguments are politically motivated and risk further inflaming U.S.-China tensions and painting Beijing as an enemy, à la the Soviet Union during the Cold War, rather than a competitor.

Senator Tom Cotton made waves last month by arguing that U.S. universities should not accept Chinese STEM students given the chance they might return home and use their training to drive China's scientific advances. Senators Josh Hawley and Marco Rubio have also joined the fray, advocating that the United States reduce its reliance on China and punish the country for failing to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The attorneys general of Missouri and Mississippi have filed lawsuits seeking damages from Beijing for the coronavirus.

Incumbents, however, are not the only ones wagering their political futures on China. Senate candidates in Tennessee , Arizona , and Alabama , among other states, have adopted overtly hawkish stances toward Beijing, blaming China for the pandemic, painting their opponents as soft on the country, and using the China threat to push anti-immigration policies .

Amid Washington's anti-China turn, preserving cooperation at the state level will be critical to maintaining any semblance of productive bilateral ties going forward. As Los Angeles Deputy Mayor of International Affairs Nina Hachigian said at a Brookings panel last year, "cities and states can take advantage of the trade, investment, students, climate change cooperation, culture, and tourism China offers without really having to balance the broader national security, geopolitical, and human rights questions."

It is no coincidence that three of the past four U.S. Ambassadors to Beijing previously served as governors of states with deep links to China: Terry Branstad (Iowa), Gary Locke (Washington), and John Huntsman (Utah).

The aforementioned politicians may be fighting to relocate supply chains outside of mainland China and decouple vast sections of the two countries' economies, but their rhetoric may also lead Beijing to move Chinese-owned businesses out of the United States or cut imports from the country. Despite bilateral tensions, there is clear evidence that Chinese investments in the United States can be beneficial. In the midst of the trade war, a Chinese takeover of a failing paper mill in Maine helped revitalize a local community. In Tennessee, Chinese investments in automotive parts , mattresses , and porcelain manufacturing have benefited the state's economy. There is a real risk that Chinese companies, seeing both politicians' and the American public's growing distaste for China, could simply up and leave.

A more likely outcome of the growing antagonism, however, is for Beijing to engage in economic coercion , which it uses to try to force nations, companies, and officials into doing its bidding and punish those who do not. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has developed a wide-ranging and flexible toolkit of coercive measures that it has used strategically throughout the world.

When South Korea agreed to host the United States' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system, Beijing did not impose tariffs on Seoul despite its displeasure. China instead restricted flights to South Korea, drummed up nationalist sentiment among the Chinese public to boycott South Korean goods, and even shut down China-based outlets of Lotte Group, the Korean company on whose land THAAD was installed.

China took a similar approach with the Philippines following a 2012 dispute over claims in the South China Sea. In order to cause significant economic pain, Beijing tightened quality controls on agriculture exports from Manila while stemming the flow of Chinese tourists to the Philippines. And most recently, Beijing threatened and then followed through on a boycott of Australian beef after Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

Beijing coerces not only countries but also private companies for perceived transgressions. Marriott, Delta Airlines, and Zara all faced the prospect of losing business in China after listing Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Tibet as sovereign nations. Last fall, Beijing suspended broadcasts of NBA games after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong.

If public sentiment across the United States continues to turn against China, Beijing may begin adapting its methods of economic coercion to retaliate against states and politicians it perceives as hostile to its interests.

Indeed, China is clearly paying attention to U.S. domestic politics and state officials' views of China. A think tank in Beijing recently ranked all 50 governors on their attitudes toward China, information the CCP values as it attempts to mold the views of officials outside of Washington. As Dan Blumenthal has noted , Beijing "split[s] Americans into 'friends of China' who might lobby on their behalf and others who refuse to do so [and] will not be granted access to China's massive market."

In recent years, Beijing has provided glimpses of what economic coercion in the United States might look like. During the initial stages of the trade war, China's retaliatory tariffs disproportionally targeted Red states critical to Trump's 2016 election victory. Furthermore, China identified key officials able to influence U.S. policy, such as then-Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and levied tariffs that threatened jobs in and exports from their states in a bid to pressure the politicians to split with Trump.

These actions are possible harbingers of economic pressures to come. Beijing may be tempted to pressure local officials to influence policy from the bottom up. As the aforementioned think tank report explicitly notes , Beijing believes that "State-level officials 'enjoy a certain degree of diplomatic independence,'" and that "Governors can ignore orders from the White House."

Recent downturns in public opinion in both countries, the result of several years of increasing competition, and an emerging view that the other views the pandemic as a strategic opportunity, could even see Beijing move beyond tariffs and drum up anti-U.S. sentiment. It could even encourage citizens to boycott American products, the political and economic effects of which could be devastating.

While the United States imports more from China than it exports, China-bound exports supported around one million U.S. jobs in 2018. According to the U.S.-China Business Council, 42 states counted China among their top five export destinations in 2019. Chinese FDI, which peaked at $46.5 billion in 2016, dropped to just over $3 billion in 2019 -- a decline of over 90 percent. Industries ranging from energy, agriculture, and manufacturing could be negatively affected by an exodus of Chinese investment, a freeze on new Chinese FDI into the United States, or increased tariffs on or bans of imports.

Given the astronomically high unemployment rate and ballooning federal and state debt levels, U.S. states are in no position to lose more investments or export-supporting jobs. Senator McConnell's recent call for states to file bankruptcy highlights their increasingly gloomy economic prospects, and already over 25 percent of state revenues have disappeared due to the coronavirus.

The United States certainly needs to diversify its supply chains so as not to depend so much on China. Washington has already rolled out several measures to better screen Chinese investments in the country and limit sensitive technology exports. The increasingly prevalent and politically expedient one-size-fits-all anti-China position espoused by many state-level politicians, however, could endanger China-state ties, the locus of the two countries' economic relationship, and threaten China-owned U.S.-based companies that pose no national security threats and provide hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Written by
Sam Bresnick
Lucas Tcheyan

[May 14, 2020] 'I Didn't Know Anything': Former Obama Official Criticized After Classified Testimony Contradicts Her Public Statements by Jonathan Turley

Notable quotes:
"... One of the most embarrassing is the testimony of Evelyn Farkas, a former Obama Administration official who was widely quoted in her plea to Congress to gather the evidence that she knew was found in by the Obama Administration. In her testimony under oath Farkas repeatedly stated that she knew of no such evidence of collusion. ..."
"... Farkas, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia, was widely quoted when she said on MSNBC in 2017 that she feared that evidence she knew about would be destroyed by the Trump Administration. She stated: ..."
"... ...was urging my former colleagues, and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill Get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration, because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people that left. So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy . . . the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their, the staff, the Trump staff's dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more. ..."
"... 'You also didn't know whether or not anybody in the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, did you?' Gowdy later asked, getting to the point. ..."
"... "I didn't," Farkas responded. ..."
May 11, 2020 | ronpaulinstitute.org

The long-delayed release of testimony from the House Intelligence Committee has proved embarrassing for a variety of former Obama officials who have been extensively quoted on the allegedly strong evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign and the Russians. Figures like James Clapper, who is a CNN expert, long indicated hat the evidence from the Obama Administration was strong and alarming. However, in testimony, Clapper denied seeing any such evidence .

One of the most embarrassing is the testimony of Evelyn Farkas, a former Obama Administration official who was widely quoted in her plea to Congress to gather the evidence that she knew was found in by the Obama Administration. In her testimony under oath Farkas repeatedly stated that she knew of no such evidence of collusion.

Farkas, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia, was widely quoted when she said on MSNBC in 2017 that she feared that evidence she knew about would be destroyed by the Trump Administration. She stated:

...was urging my former colleagues, and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill Get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration, because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people that left. So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy . . . the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their, the staff, the Trump staff's dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more.
MSNBC never seriously questioned the statements despite the fact that Farkas left the Obama Administration in 2015 before any such investigation could have occurred. As we have seen before, the factual and legal basis for such statements are largely immaterial in the age of echo journalism. The statement fit the narrative even if it lacked any plausible basis.

Not surprisingly, the House Intelligence Committee was eager to have Farkas share all that she stated she "knew about ["the Trump folks"], their staff, the Trump's staff's dealing with Russian" and wanted to get "into the open." After all, she told MSNBC that "I knew that there was more."

She was finally put under oath in the closed classified sessions and there was nothing but classified crickets. Farkas was repeatedly asked to share that information that electrified the MSNBC hosts and audience. She repeatedly denied any such knowledge, telling then Rep. Trey Gowdy (R, S.C.), "I didn't know anything."

Gowdy noted that Farkas left the Obama administration in 2015 and asked "Then how did you know?" She repeated again "I didn't know anything."

Gowdy then asked "Well, then why would you say, we knew?"

He also asked:

'You also didn't know whether or not anybody in the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, did you?' Gowdy later asked, getting to the point.
"I didn't," Farkas responded.

MSNBC has said nothing about its prior headline story being untrue. Indeed, the media has barely acknowledged that the new documents reinforce that there was never any evidence of collusion and ultimately the allegations were rejected by the Special Counsel, Congress, and inspectors general.

For her part, Farkas has moved on. She is running for Congress . She is still citing her role in raising "the alarm" about Russian collusion:

'fter I left the Obama administration, I campaigned to help elect Secretary Clinton as our next President. When Russians interfered in that election, I was among the first to sound the alarm and urge Congress to take action. And I haven't let up since then.
She was indeed one of the first but it proved to be a false alarm based on nonexistent knowledge. Does that matter anymore?

Reprinted with permission from JonathanTurley.org .


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