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The World Computer, Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

The World Computer, Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

 

The Message is Murder…

ICA Miami welcomed media theorist and scholar Jonathan Beller to the Knight Foundation Art + Research Center for a free public lecture titled, “From the World Computer to Post-Capitalist Economic Media?” This lecture was presented in conjunction with the Fall 2020 semester, “Recodings and Renewals.”

From Beller: “The colonization of expressivity and semiotics by capital converts nearly everything we can say or do into value for media platforms cybernetically interfaced with our brains. From the art world to social media, qualitative values (even those of protest and dissent) are stripped of their content and converted into capital that is accumulated hierarchically and that reinforces regimes of property founded on dispossession and genocide. Deterritorialized factories (that is media companies) convert the horizontal expression of values into the hierarchical accumulation of value such that, as has been said, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. This talk tries to change that dynamic by proposing that cryptocurrency should be understood as the historical emergence of a new medium. If crypto is like photography in 1845 or cinema in 1898, we need to wonder what can anti-racist, feminist, socialist, and communist movements do with it?”

Jonathan Beller is a Professor of Humanities and Media Studies and co-founder of the Graduate Program in Media Studies at Pratt Institute. His books include The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle (Dartmouth UP, 2006); Acquiring Eyes: Philippine Visuality, Nationalist Struggle, and the World-Media System (Ateneo de Manila UP, 2006); The Message is Murder: Substrates of Computational Capital (Pluto Press, 2017) and The World Computer: Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism (Duke UP, 2021). He is a member of the Social Text editorial collective. [https://icamiami.org/seminar/jonathan-beller/]

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The World Computer

Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

Published: February 2021

“In The World Computer, Jonathan Beller charts the lineage and lineaments of ‘computational racial capital.’ In the code-based mode of capitalist production now consolidating itself with hegemonic reach, the image replaces the commodity as the fundamental value form, and as it does the meaning of labor mutates. Racism, Beller argues, is not just an incidental effect of ambient bias contaminating this new machinery of extraction. It is written into its DNA. The World Computer is a passionate analysis of how the phase-shift of contemporary capitalism we are currently experiencing carries forward from its colonial past a coefficient of exploitation that intensifies apace with capital’s exponentially increasing powers of abstraction. Beller’s provocative genealogy of contemporary capitalism is an essential contribution to understanding the evolving economy as a formation of power, in symbiosis with systemic racism.”

 

— Brian Massumi, author of 99 Theses on the Revaluation of Value: A Postcapitalist Manifesto

Duke University Press: “In The World Computer Jonathan Beller forcefully demonstrates that the history of commodification generates information itself. Out of the omnipresent calculus imposed by commodification, information emerges historically as a new money form. Investigating its subsequent financialization of daily life and colonization of semiotics, Beller situates the development of myriad systems for quantifying the value of people, objects, and affects as endemic to racial capitalism and computation. Built on oppression and genocide, capital and its technical result as computation manifest as racial formations, as do the machines and software of social mediation that feed racial capitalism and run on social difference. Algorithms, derived from for-profit management strategies, conscript all forms of expression—language, image, music, communication—into the calculus of capital such that even protest may turn a profit. Computational media function for the purpose of extraction rather than ameliorating global crises, and financialize every expressive act, converting each utterance into a wager. Repairing this ecology of exploitation, Beller contends, requires decolonizing information and money, and the scripting of futures wagered by the cultural legacies and claims of those in struggle.”

Assetization – Turning Things into Assets in Technoscientific Capitalism

MIT Press

Paperback

ISBN: 9780262539173

“How the asset—anything that can be controlled, traded, and capitalized as a revenue stream—has become the primary basis of technoscientific capitalism”

 

In this book, scholars from a range of disciplines argue that the asset—meaning anything that can be controlled, traded, and capitalized as a revenue stream—has become the primary basis of technoscientific capitalism. An asset can be an object or an experience, a sum of money or a life form, a patent or a bodily function. A process of assetization prevails, imposing investment and return as the key rationale, and overtaking commodification and its speculative logic. Although assets can be bought and sold, the point is to get a durable economic rent from them rather than make a killing on the market. Assetization examines how assets are constructed and how a variety of things can be turned into assets, analyzing the interests, activities, skills, organizations, and relations entangled in this process.

The contributors consider the assetization of knowledge, including patents, personal data, and biomedical innovation; of infrastructure, including railways and energy; of nature, including mineral deposits, agricultural seeds, and “natural capital”; and of publics, including such public goods as higher education and “monetizable social ills.” Taken together, the chapters show the usefulness of assetization as an analytical tool and as an element in the critique of capitalism.

Free download via MIT Press: [“The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.”]

https://direct.mit.edu/books/book/4848/AssetizationTurning-Things-into-Assets-in

 

[Kean Birch is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at York University, Toronto. Fabian Muniesa is Senior Researcher at the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (CSI), a research center of Mines ParisTech]

 

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano [series]: Covid-19: Militarism & Big Money Trampling Humanity [3]

By Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Professor (Ret.)

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila

 

Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

“The Covid-19 spectre, vaccine mania, deceptive remedial schemes and brutal, anti-people pandemic responses created by militarism and big money have shoved by the wayside pro-people, more sensible and a wider range of prevention and treatment strategies to address the pandemic. Bill Gates, Big Pharma and the militarist regimes and agencies, with the complicity of the WHO and others in the status quo successfully convinced practically the entire world that a vaccine and submission to authoritarian measures are the only things that will allow the people to “return to normal”. The clear scientific, empirical and historical evidence that the experimental vaccines being pushed are fraught with dangers of severe adverse reactions have been ignored. The criminal and unethical behaviour history of the major vaccine manufacturing companies, the blatant conflicts of interest of mainstream “experts” pushing for mass vaccination and the clearly ineffective militaristic measures that run roughshod over basic human rights are all swept under the rug. Indeed, with this Covid-19 calamity, militarism and big money has been trampling humanity.”

Download paper:

Covid_19_Militarism_and_Big_Money_Trampl

https://www.academia.edu/46641943/Covid_19_Militarism_and_Big_Money_Trampling_Humanity

 

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

 

 

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano [series]: Should We Take the Vaccine Against Covid-19 [2]

By Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Professor (Ret.)

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila

 

Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

“The credibility of the CDC, WHO, public health authorities and mainstream health professionals have been seriously eroded because of corporatization, conflicts of interests, dishonesty, corruption and misrepresentation.  People have good reasons to be wary of vaccines. Too much reliance on vaccines to address infectious diseases is not congruent with the current body of scientific knowledge about the immune system, microbial ecology and the intimate relationship of humans with the environment.”

Download paper:

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano [series]: Beware the Vaccine for Covid-19 [1]

By Romeo F. Quijano, M.D.

Professor (Ret.)

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila

 

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

 

Albert Einstein

 

TIME double issue, January, 2021

There seems to be a strong presumption that the ultimate answer to the Covid-19 pandemic is a vaccine. People are made to believe that a magical vaccine is in the offing and the world will be saved from the pandemic. Bill Gates and Big Pharma push hard to hasten vaccine development. The WHO and most governments easily agree. Rapid clinical trials  have started and several companies are in the race to put their candidate products on the market. The mainstream media is all hype and bombards the public with glowing pro-vaccine messages, conditioning them to accept vaccination with no questions asked.

Yet, historical and scientific evidence clearly show that vaccines are not the saviours that they are purported to be. Many of the mass vaccination campaigns in the past resulted in disastrous results. For example, in the Philippines, prior to U.S. takeover in 1905, case mortality from smallpox was estimated to be 10%. In 1918-1919 with over 95 percent of the population vaccinated, the worst epidemic in the Philippines’ history occurred resulting in a case mortality of 65 percent.  Dr. V. de Jesus, Director of Health at that time, stated that the smallpox epidemic resulted in 60,855 deaths. In Japan, after compulsory vaccination was mandated, there were 171,611 smallpox cases with 47,919 deaths recorded between 1889 and 1908, a case mortality of 30 percent, exceeding the smallpox death rate of the pre-vaccination period. In England and Wales, between 1934 and 1961, not one death from natural smallpox infection was recorded, and yet during this same period, 115 children under 5 years of age died as a result of the smallpox vaccination. The situation was just as bad in the USA where 300 children died from the complications of smallpox vaccine from 1948 to 1969. Yet during that same period there was not one reported case of smallpox in the country (1).

January 28, 2019, Twitter: Scientists from @imperialcollege presented a session at #Davos on 'developing a #vaccine revolution'

January 28, 2019, Twitter: Scientists from @imperialcollege presented a session at #Davos on ‘developing a #vaccine revolution’

 

Similar disastrous results also happened with the polio vaccine. The majority of polio cases actually do not cause symptoms in those who are infected. Symptoms occur in only approximately 5 percent of infections (2) with a case fatality rate of only about 0.4%. Even during the peak epidemics, poliovirus infection resulting in long-term paralysis, was a low-incidence disease that was falsely represented as a rampant and violent paralytic disease by fund raising advertising campaigns to fast track development and approval and release of the Salk vaccine with Rockefeller as the key supporter (3). The hasty approval led to the infamous “Cutter disaster”, the poliomyelitis epidemic that was initiated by the use of the Salk vaccine produced by Cutter vaccine company. In the end, at least 220,000 people were infected with live polio virus contained in the Cutter vaccine; 70,000 developed muscle weakness, 164 were severely paralyzed, 10 were killed. Seventy five percent of Cutter’s victims were paralyzed for the rest of their lives (4). When national immunization campaigns were initiated in the 1950s, the number of reported cases of polio following mass inoculations with the killed-virus vaccine was significantly greater than before mass inoculations and may have more than doubled in the U.S. as a whole (5).

Over the years, several scientists and concerned medical doctors and professionals have questioned the efficacy of several vaccines and have warned repeatedly on the significant risks associated with vaccination (6,7,8,9). Despite the fact that vaccines do stimulate the production of specific antibodies, vaccines may in fact be destroying the coordinated and total immune system response to an infection, contrary to what has been claimed that vaccines strengthen the immune system. Several studies have shown the adverse effects of various types of vaccines on the immune system of vaccinated individuals and clinical studies have shown an increase in the incidence of serious illnesses following vaccination. Many of these illnesses may manifest only much later and by then, the vaccine may not even be suspected as a causative factor (10,11,12,13,14).

More distressing is the fact that authorities often knew about the significant adverse effects of vaccines but instead of correcting their flawed assessment of vaccine safety, they manipulate results to conform to their predetermined conclusion of safety. An illustrative example is what happened at the US CDC (US Center for Disease Control) Simpsonwood Conference, where a study by Verstraeten and colleagues that looked at the potential associations between neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) and thimerosal among children born from 1992 to 1999 was discussed. Thimerosal appeared to be responsible for a dramatic increase in neurological disorders among children, such as speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity and autism. But instead of taking immediate steps to alert the public and rid the vaccine supply of thimerosal, the CDC opted to cover up the damaging data.(15)

A congressional committee hearing later concluded, among others, that:

1.”Manufacturers of vaccines and thimerosal, have never conducted adequate testing on the safety of thimerosal. The FDA has never required manufacturers to conduct adequate safety testing on thimerosal and ethylmercury compounds.”

2.“A growing number of scientists and researchers believe that a relationship between the increase in neurodevelopmental disorders of autism, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, and speech or language delay, and the increased use of thimerosal in vaccines is plausible and deserves more scrutiny.”

3.”The FDA and the CDC failed in their duty to be vigilant as new vaccines containing thimerosal were approved and added to the immunization schedule.(16)

The Dengvaxia vaccine fiasco in the Philippines also illustrates the danger of rushing a vaccine and allowing corporate interests driven by market forces to address people’s health needs. Despite the obvious lack of scientific and commonsensical justification and despite the warnings of potential adverse effects articulated by many independent scientists, the manufacturer pushed hard for the approval and use of their product. Together with their cohorts in government, medical associations and the WHO, they promoted the vaccine based on premature claims of efficacy and safety from their own flawed studies. As a result, many of the vaccinated suffered or died after a botched mass vaccination program.(17)  The vaccine was eventually withdrawn but the damage have already been done. According to the Chief Pathologist of the Public Attorney’s Office, 153 of those vaccinated with Dengvaxia had died as of February 18, 2020 (18).

Another example of corporate misconduct in vaccine clinical trial is that involving vaccine manufacturers who used phony placebos to conceal a wide range of health risks associated with HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccines. A peer-reviewed report in 2017 unveiled evidence of numerous adverse events, including life-threatening injuries, permanent disabilities, hospitalizations and deaths, reported after vaccination with bivalent, quadrivalent or nine-valent HPV vaccines. Instead of using genuine inert placebos and comparing health impacts over observation periods required for most new drug approvals, two of the biggest vaccine manufacturers spiked their placebos with a neurotoxic aluminum adjuvant and cut observation periods. The company scientists routinely dismissed, minimized or concealed those injuries using statistical gimmicks and invalid comparisons designed to diminish their relative significance. Equally disturbing is that some regulatory agencies are complicit in covering up increased incidence of adverse effects in post-marketing surveillance studies.(19, 20)

Safety have never been satisfactorily demonstrated for practically all vaccines routinely given today using the gold standard research methodology, a double-blind,  randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial study. Current safety assessments under the corporate dominated status quo are grossly inadequate and oftentimes erroneous. In fact, it can be argued that most clinical trials undertaken in support of approved vaccines are violative of the ethical principles  for medical research involving human subjects as stipulated in the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki(21).  In the United States, there is not a single vaccine routinely injected into American babies between 6 months and 18 months of life that was licensed based on a clinical trial which included a placebo-control group (22).The same situation is most likely true for the Philippines and many other countries who follow the vaccination schedule recommended by the US CDC and WHO.

The truth about the hazards of vaccination seem to have been buried  in the past. The bitter lessons of history fall by the wayside in the mad rush to develop a new vaccine, this time for the Covid-19 virus. Barely a few months after the presumed discovery of the new virus, clinical trials have already started (23), too fast for comfort.  Vaccine development normally takes about 2 years before the vaccine can be ready for testing in humans and another 8 years before clinical trials can be completed. Despite the rigorous requirements, numerous problems still arise regarding safety and efficacy.  During the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, it took about 20 months before a vaccine was made ready for human testing in clinical trials. Some researchers, including many of the experts who gathered at a WHO meeting to review testing procedures at that time said it was too fast. Still in question was the best animal to use to test the safety and efficacy of a SARS vaccine since without a good animal test, human trials could be dangerous. In particular, some vaccine developers were worried that the vaccine might actually “enhance” the pathogenicity of the virus, or make it more aggressive possibly due to antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE), as what happened with previous studies on test vaccines in animals. If that should happen in a major human trial, these scientists warned, the outcome could be disastrous. (24,25,26,27) There are many plausible biological mechanisms for potential adverse effects due to vaccination. Triggering an  antibody dependent enhancement or similar mechanism is just one. Synergistic harmful effects, especially to the immune system, due to concomitant exposure to other vaccines is another. Exposure to other environmental hazards (pesticides, air pollutants, 5G radiation, ionizing radiation, etc.) resulting to synergistic adverse effects is also another plausible mechanism that may result in acute or long-term injury, including death.  Another concern is that vaccine production methods involving genetic engineering technology and cell cultures that are often contaminated carry uncertain but potentially serious hazards. The inherent danger of injecting microbial protein fragments, contaminants, DNA and other foreign materials into the human body is well documented in the scientific literature.  All vaccines contain such hazardous foreign fragments and materials. Quite recently, a team of scientists found significant amounts of organic and inorganic contaminants debris in 44 types of vaccines, including micro- and nano-sized particulate matter composed of inorganic chemicals, metals and combination elements not previously known and which are neither biocompatible nor biodegradable (28).  More importantly, social determinants resulting to poor nutrition, overcrowding, poor sanitation and hygiene, unsafe working conditions, emotional stress, among others, can make vaccines more hazardous than they already are. All these hazards surrounding vaccination should not be ignored. All the potential adverse effects of a Covid-19 vaccine cannot possibly be detected adequately by limited clinical trials.

The reductionist thinking behind the vaccination dogma is woefully outmoded. It is more than a century old, coincident with the equally outmoded reductionist germ theory of disease. At that time, there was barely an understanding of the infinitely complex nature and behaviour of the immune system, interrelationships of humans, microbes and environment, social determinants and other factors that are too numerous to mention. There was no realization that viruses and other microbes are largely friends and have been playing a significant role in the evolution and survival of all life forms in our entire ecosystem (29,30).  Microbes and their elements are in fact essential components of the human biological entity and perform critical physiologic functions that maintain homeostasis and a robust immune system (31,32). Rather than cultivating harmony and co-existence, the power elite institutions and their agents have declared these microbes as mortal enemies that deserve to be eliminated. The prevailing medical paradigm failed to recognize that illness is in fact a disruption of the harmony between humans and their physical, chemical, biological, spiritual and social environment (33). Thus, the distorted, corporate-controlled medical science have pushed for mass vaccinations with the aim of total elimination of target microbes.

Authorities have consistently covered-up the truth about the adverse effects of vaccination and have greatly exagerrated potential benefits. Independent scientists and physicians who question the official narrative about vaccines are immediately vilified and persecuted. Victims of vaccination are denied recognition and  justice. Pharmaceutical companies and their cohorts are made unaccountable and continue to profit from the sales of harmful vaccines. The industry dominated research agenda deliberately avoids looking at the true picture of vaccine efficacy and safety by avoiding studies of such nature that would really test the safety and efficacy of the entire immunization schedule. This glaring gap in the body of scientific  research on vaccines also underscores the importance of truly independent research which has long been neglected by governments and international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO). The question of safety, however, should be foremost in the minds of program implementors, policy makers and those who influence them, including international organizations. It is unacceptable on both ethical and scientific grounds to rush a potentially dangerous invasive intervention on the population no matter how good the intentions are.

We must take a more rational, holistic and participatory approach in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. A knee-jerk, reductionist, autocratic  and vested-interest laden solution does not serve people’s health and only aggravate the dire situation. It is essential that the true origin and characteristics of the Covid-19 virus be studied well. Official explanations of the origin of Covid-19 and existing modalities on how to manage it are fundamentally flawed. Preventive measures to forestall future pandemics are based largely on flawed assumptions. Benefits are magnified while risks are trivialized. In the assessment of risks, the precautionary principle should be the norm. Resources spent on community-based, public health participatory approaches in pandemic control are more rational and much less dangerous than haphazard lockdowns and expensive vaccination programs. Comprehensive measures to effectively address social inequity, poverty and poor diet, the main factors that compromise the immune system and make people susceptible to severe Covid-19 disease must be earnestly pursued. Environmental toxins, pharmaceuticals and other factors that also compromise the immune system and the capacity of the people to withstand the infection must also be addressed. Alternative medicine approaches, including expanded research in the management of cases must also be seriously considered.

The real cause of the Covid-19 pandemic is human folly. This is the inevitable consequence of the dominance of a neoliberal, national security state doctrine with a military-industrial complex pushing for perpetual war and corporate globalization that has devastated entire ecosystems, distorted medical science and disempowered communities. What is called for is discernment, rationality, courage and empowerment. The real solution is for the people to unite and muster the courage to confront cognitive dissonance and attain emancipative consonance. For health professionals, acclaimed heroes as they are in valiantly trying to save people drowning down the pandemic river, they must start looking upriver and find out who is throwing those unfortunate people into the pandemic river in the first place.

“If a problem we encounter today already happened in the past, we must think carefully about what really happened in the past and go beyond what we were made to believe. Only when we truly understand the problem can we come up with the correct solution to the problem at hand.”

RFQ

References:

(1). Sinclair, I. Smallpox True History.

http://www.cidpusa.org/true_history_of_smallpox.htm

(2). Hecht, A., Ed. (2009) Deadly Diseases and Epidemics: Polio 2nd Edition, p. 19. Infobase Publishing.

(3). Humphries, S. & Bystrianyk, R.. (2014). Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten

History. CreateSpace Independent Publishing.

(4). Offit, P. (2006, March). The Cutter Incident: How America’s First PolioVaccine Led to a Growing Vaccine Crisis.

           Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine, Volume 99.

(5). Miller, N.Z, (2004). The polio vaccine: a critical assessment. Medical Veritas 1:239–251.

(6). Committee on the Effects of Multiple Immunizations, National Research Council. (1980, January). Effects of

           Long-term Immunization with Multiple Antigens: Final Report. U.S.Army Medical Research

and Development Command. Fort Detrick, Frederick, Maryland 21701.

(7). Institute of Medicine, (2012). Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality. Washington,

DC: The National Academies Press.

https://doi.org/10.17226/13164

(8). Conte, L. & Lyons, T. (2014). Vaccine Injuries: Documented Adverse Reactions to Vaccines.

Skyhorse Publishing.

(9). Palmer, A. (2019, August 15). Truth Will Prevail, 1200 Vaccine Studies, Version 2.4

(10). Stratton K, Wilson CB and McCormick MC, Editors.(2002). Immunization Safety Review: Multiple

Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction. Immunization Safety Review Committee, Board on

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine. National Academy Press.

Washington, D.C.2002.

(11). Kemp, T., Pearce, N., Fitzharris, P., et al. (1997). Results of the Christchurch Health and

              Development Study. Epidemiology, 8:678.

(12). Sutter, R.W., Patriarca, P.A., Suleiman, A.J.M. et al. (1992). Attributable risk of DTP (diphtheria and

              tetanus toxoids and pertussis vaccine) injection in provoking paralytic poliomyelitis during a

              large outbreak in Oman. Journal of Infectious Disease, 165:444-449.

(13). Nakayama, T., Urano, T., Osano, M., et al. (1988). Long-term regulation of interferon production by

             lymphocytes from children inoculated with live measles virus vaccine. Journal of Infectious

Diseases, 158:1386-1390.

(14). Shoenfeld, Y., Agmon?Levin, Tomljenovic, N-L. Eds.(2015)

Vaccines and Autoimmunity. Wiley Blackwell.

(15). Kennedy, R-Jr. Global Research (2015, February 14). Vaccinations: Deadly Immunity.

             Government Cover-up of a Mercury/Autism Scandal.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/vaccinations-deadly-immunity/14510

(16). Burton, D., (2003, May 21).  Mercury in Medicine Report.Subcommittee on Human Rights and Wellness,

Committee on Government Reform.

https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CREC-2003-05-21/html/CREC-2003-05-21-pt1-

PgE1011-3.htm

(17). Quijano, R.F., Altermidya (2018, January 10). The Dengvaxia Fiasco: Symptom of a Deeper

             Malady.

The Dengvaxia Fiasco: Symptom of a Deeper Malady

(18). Erfe, E., Facebook post (2020, February 18). Dengvaxia victim No. 153.

httphttps://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CREC-2003-05-21/html/CREC-2003-05-21-pt1-

s://www.facebook.com/attyerwinerfe/

(19). Kennedy, R-Jr., Childrens Health Defense (2017, August 11). New study: Vaccine

             Manufacturers and FDA Regulators Used Statistical Gimmicks to Hide Risks of HPV Vaccines.

https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/new-study-vaccine-manufacturers-fda-regulators-used-

statistical-gimmicks-hide-risks-hpv-vaccines/

(20). Martínez-Lavín, M., Amezcua-Guerra, L.(2017). Serious adverse events after HPV vaccination: a

           critical review of randomized trials and post-marketing case series. Clin Rheumatol.

36(10):2169-2178.  doi: 10.1007/s10067-017-3768-5.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28730271

(21). WMA Declaration of Helsinki(2013) Ethical principles for medical research involving human

subjects.

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research-involving-human-subjects/

(22). Informed Consent Action Network  (ICAN) (2018, December 31) Reply Re: HHS Vaccine Safety

Responsibilities and Notice Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-31

https://childrenshealthdefense.org/wp-content/uploads/ican-reply-december-31-2018.pdf

(23). Terry, M. (2020, April 07). The hopes and challenges of a COVID-19 vaccine. Biospace.

https://www.biospace.com/article/the-covid-19-vaccine-challenge-timelines-and-innovation/

(24). Tseng, C-T., Sbrana, E., Iwata-Yoshikawa, N., Newman, P.C., Garron, T., et al. (2012)

Immunization with SARS coronavirus vaccines leads to pulmonary immunopathology on

            challenge with the SARS virus. PLoS ONE 7(4): e35421. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035421.

(25). Bolles, M.,Deming, D.,Long,K., Agnihothram,S., Whitmore,A. Ferris,M.,Gralinski,L., Totura,A.,

Heise,M., Ralph S. Baric, R.S., (2011, December). A double-inactivated Severe Acute

            Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus vaccine provides incomplete protection in mice and induces

            increased eosinophilic proinflammatory pulmonary response upon challenge.  J Virol.

            85(23):12201-12215.  doi:10.1128/JVI.06048-11

(26). Weingartl, H., Czub, M., Czub, S., Neufeld, J., Marszal, P., Gren, J., et al. (2004). Immunization

             with modified vaccinia virus Ankara-based recombinant vaccine against severe acute

             respiratory syndrome is associated with enhanced hepatitis in ferrets. J Virol. 78:12672–6.

(27). Marshall, E., Enserink, M. (2004,February 13). Caution urged on SARS vaccines. Science

303(5660):944-946.  DOI: 10.1126/science.303.5660.944

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/303/5660/944

(28). Gatti, A.M., Montanari, S., (2016) New Quality-Control Investigations on Vaccines:

            Micro- and Nanocontamination. Int J Vaccines Vaccin 4(1):0072

(29). Durzy?ska, J. & Go?dzicka-Józefiak, A. (2015). Viruses and cells intertwined since the dawn of evolution. Durzy?ska

           and Go?dzicka-Józefiak Virology Journal. 12:169 DOI 10.1186/s12985-015-0400-7

(30). Arnold, C. (2016, September 29).  The Viruses That Made Us Human. NOVA Next.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/endogenous-retroviruses/

(31). Broeker, F. & Moelling, K. (2019) Evolution of Immune Systems From Viruses and Transposable

           Elements. Front. Microbiol. 10:51. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.00051.

(32). Villarreal, P. (2009, October 15) Genetic Parasites and the Origin of Adaptive Immunity. Annals of

the New York Academy of Sciences.

(33). Quijano, R. Health and Environment: The Intimate Connection.

https://www.academia.edu/4516041/HEALTH_environment_Intimate_Connection_with_Diagram_Rev

 

—000—

 

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

 

Fighting Lockdown in California: A US Teacher Speaks

Left Lockdown Skeptics

March 18, 2021

Left Lockdown Sceptics interviews Andy Libson, an American anti-lockdown high school teacher and revolutionary socialist

 

“The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

— World Economic Forum, January 2020

 

“Hastily made agreements and deals made by schools with Google and Microsoft, either for free or heavily subsidized, will be extremely hard to undo. These companies are in competition for structural dominance over the digital infrastructure of schooling for the very long term. They will be integral to new modes of ‘hybrid’ schooling promoted by the tech sector and influential organizations such as the OECD, UNESCO and the World Bank. Their systems are practical instantiations of an imagined future of education in which public-private partnerships play a key role, and private infrastructures undergird increasing aspects of teaching, learning and school management.”

 

The Edtech Pandemic Shock, October 3, 2020

 

 

 

Excerpts:

1. Could you tell us what your background is and your experience in the working class movement and where you are active?

I am a high school physics and chemistry teacher at Mission High School in San Francisco, California. I have been teaching for 21 years at Mission High, a public school serving a population of largely poor students of color. As a member of the United Educators of San Francisco, I have been active in the union my entire career as the equivalent of a shop steward, and even spent a few years on the union’s executive board. Currently, I am not the shop steward, but was elected to the Union Building Committee that helps organize our work site.

Politically, I am a communist. I joined the International Socialist Organization (ISO) [twinned with the Socialist Workers Party in the UK – Ed] around 2000. In 2010 I left the ISO because I felt it was an organization entirely run from the top and that it was moving in a troubling reformist direction. Afterwards I was part of a group called La Voz, but was kicked out a few years later for publishing articles La Voz felt I should not put out publicly (here and here).

…I believe the only way out of the mess we are in today is another working class revolution for the establishment of socialism. But that will not take place through the ballot box. It will require mass strikes and an armed insurrection to establish it. Also, it cannot be called socialism unless working class democracy is at its center and is preserved and expanded through the course of the revolution and beyond. Overall, while I firmly believe capitalism must be dismantled, I have more questions than answers about the state of our political tradition and the process by which this mass socialist uprising will take place. Part of the reason I started “What’s Left?”, a podcast/channel I host with two friends, was to give myself an open space to investigate political questions that I am still working through.

The last year has made the prospects for revolutionary change (which were exceedingly dim before the mania around COVID started) seem even more unlikely. I have witnessed the revolutionary Left collapse behind the capitalist state and institutions through the course of the pandemic. I am exceedingly grateful for the existence of Left Lockdown Sceptics and their attempt to fashion a Left response and oppositions to the authoritarian maneuvers of the capitalist classes across the globe. This blog has been a glimmer of hope for me in what has felt like an ocean of despair.

2. What has been your experience of the lockdown policy in the USA?

Lockdown in the United States has been miserable on several levels. First, it has led to our physical schools being shuttered for a full year. We have been forced to teach entirely remotely. This has been terrible for the students and downright awful for me. Education under capitalism is an exercise in indoctrination and preparing future workers for accepting their continual exploitation at their work, but the one element of my job I actually believed in was the relationships I formed with students and their families. Also, working and talking with my colleagues in person made the job less soul-crushing.

…the most troubling element for me politically has been that opposition to the political developments around COVID have largely come from the political Right and not at all from the Left. Opposition to lockdown, to mask mandates, to mandated PCR testing, to vaccination mandates, to remote learning and to even the notion that we should question the narrative around COVID being spread by the capitalist state, none of that has come from the reformist or revolutionary Left here in the United States. The most meaningful critiques and actions in response to these mandates are all found on the Right or among libertarians.

Two outliers to that have been the work of Alison McDowell and Cory Morningstar on exposing the connection between these mandates and the political and economic initiatives pushed by what is globally being described as the Fourth Industrial revolution. Their work has been fundamental in helping me understand what is going on right now. I would also recommend the work of Jake Klyceck in exposing how these initiatives intersect specifically with changes taking place in education.

3. When did you begin to question the lockdown policy?

"Preparing tomorrow's workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution" - "Deloitte is a long-standing strategic partner of the World Economic Forum"

“Preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution” – “Deloitte is a long-standing strategic partner of the World Economic Forum”

 

Pretty much from the beginning in February and March 2020 when all the fear of Sars-Cov-2 was really picking up in the United States, the level of alarm being rung never made sense to me. Both then and now, I consider the scale of danger of Sars-Cov-2 and the COVID-19 associated with it, as not too different from the flu. When all the mandates for shutting things down were happening last March, I suspected there was another interest in play. I largely believed we were seeing a ‘controlled demolition’ of the economy as capitalism was entering another period of global crisis (or business cycle). I felt the mandates were economically driven and conveniently provided political cover of blaming the economic destruction on a virus rather than the normal boom bust cycles of Capitalism.

It was not until I read an article by Whitney Webb describing the connection between these events and the plans to develop artificial intelligence (AI), as well as the notion of seeing data as most important commodity to control and accumulate within the inter-imperialist rivalries of global capitalism (particularly in the competition between the US and China). This is where my exploration changed from seeing this as just another moment of capitalist sleight of hand to seeing that the world was in fact being changed not as a ‘cover’ for a weak global economy but out of the rapacious competition for profits by the largest global capitalist centers who were about to hurl us into a world of even greater ‘productivity’ by using our data and the data we generate from our daily work and lives to replace both our manual and mental labor with machines.

I also began to see a future where the working class was being physically separated and atomized in a process that looked to me like ‘reverse enclosure’. I worry that this physical separation, where all our work is eventually done remotely (which I believe is where this is headed), may actually turn the working class effectively into a peasant class (or gig workers). We will still be exploited, but no longer a class that understands itself or experiences itself as a collective class. To me, this takes the Marxist notion of working class revolution off the table, making me wonder if this is part of what is in operation right now. Nevertheless, I know the capitalists are wanting to separate us, and I know that is part of their plan for accumulating profits and competing even more aggressively with each other for a share of those profits in the coming decade. All of this, by definition, comes at the expense of the working class unless we oppose all aspects of the changes being implemented today.

4. As a socialist teacher you have been campaigning to re-open schools. How has that campaign been going?

I think we need to get back to our source of power – our workplace and centers where we congregate to do work – immediately and begin figuring out how we can stop what is coming. The remote learning experience we are going through right now is not a momentary mirage of a world trying to escape COVID. What we are witnessing and participating in (as either educator or student) is the future of education that is preparing future workers for what work will be like in the coming years: remote, on a screen, mediated through data flow and transmission, overseen, monitored and directed by AI. Students are experiencing education (separated, individualized, isolated, controlled and obscure) as they will experience their future work.

Participating in remote learning today isn’t ‘safer’, it’s actually far more dangerous to all our futures. It means our lives will be more separated, more surveilled, more scrutinized and more controlled than ever before. Physical schools will be replaced with laptops and drop-in centers. Teachers will be replaced with screens and AI. Education itself will be a lifelong chase, not of learning, but of job skills so each worker can compete in a global labor market where ever-centralized capitalist centers get their pick of the litter to screen for and exploit workers not as a class but as an isolated worker connected via a screen.

This is not how my colleagues see things. They believe the danger is COVID and have accepted the capitalist narrative that the greatest danger we now face is a virus and society must be restructured to face that danger. My desire to get back immediately, with full in-person contact—no masks or 6 feet of separation, no mandated tests or vaccinations—is largely seen as dangerously conspiratorial or even as right-wing demagoguery. Virtually everyone around me has accepted the narrative that what must animate our actions are safety precautions related to COVID rather than the need to immediately reassemble our forces at work so we can figure out how to oppose the Fourth Industrial project that is being put in place without our knowledge, but with our implicit agreement and participation.

I have worked with a small group of educators to discuss reopening schools but we have been largely ineffective at reaching our fellow workers. Our union leadership and the vast majority of our membership has been focused on COVID and safety rather than the more immediate and dangerous threat of the dismantling of in-person education, the mass datamining of students and educators that will result from it, and the deskilling of education through our work evermore being replaced by AI. The position of ‘keeping ourselves and our students safe’ has actually hidden the real threat we are facing and has led teachers to be seen by many parents as animated only by the interests of saving our own skins (rightfully so in my opinion). But this story of safety is not true—we are actually hurting ourselves by agreeing to ANY remote learning at this point. The capitalists are now exploiting this schism between educators and parents.

Now the initiative has been pretty much taken by the capitalist class as lockdown fanatics like CA Governor Gavin Newsom or SF Mayor London Breed suddenly become champions of ‘opening schools’ when they have spent the last year cynically being merchants of the fear used to shut them. We educators, slow to recognize this shift in the narrative from the top, are now going to be blamed for some of the worst aspects of the lockdown imposed by the capitalist state. Now the workers (who were indoctrinated in fear by the capitalists) can be scapegoated as the barrier to ‘returning to normal’.

At the same time, capitalists are using all the fear they have whipped up to push for a return to school experience that will emphasize masks, social distancing, mass vaccinations and PCR testing, and of course, hybrid learning. Many people will mistake hybrid learning as a ‘transition’ back to full in-person learning at a future date (2023, 2024). That is false. Hybrid learning is the transition state to full online learning which is not yet workable for the capitalists but COVID made possible to begin the shift to the ‘experiment’ in education we’ve gone through this last year.

In a nutshell, education and educational workers have been smashed this last year, and we don’t even know it happened. Our situation, in my opinion, is dreadful.

5. What has been the attitude from other socialists when you raised criticisms?

"The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education."

“The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

Socialists in the United States have completely accepted the ‘virus as the greatest danger’ narrative even if their own politics are centered on understanding that the capitalist class and Capitalism represents an existential threat to all workers. They have accepted the need for lockdown and, in fact, have been critical that the lockdown has not been more severe.

They have accepted mask mandates. They have accepted the need for continued remote learning. They have accepted mass vaccination, critical only of the social justice issues of its implementation. They have accepted contact tracing largely without a peep of opposition nor even wondering who will benefit from our DNA being collected and mined as a result. They have accepted the narrative that the threat COVID represents justifies all these changes. They have also accepted and promoted the notion that any opposition to these measures is right-wing and anti-worker.

To the extent there has been a critique, it has been calling for a stimulus package that offers economic relief and more money in workers’ pockets from the government in the form of a universal basic income (UBI). This is also playing into the hands of the capitalists who will be delivering us a UBI as they move to a digital currency where they can use cash distributions to more directly control a working class population that’s increasingly desperate as more and more jobs are automated.

Basically, the revolutionary Left here has not only made a complete capitulation to the capitalist project but has joined in by pushing virtually every one of these anti-worker initiatives in the name of fighting for workers’ rights. It is really enough to make a revolutionary crazy in a world where ‘up’ means ‘down’, ‘freedom’ means ‘bondage’, ‘safety’ means ‘danger’, and ‘opposition’ means ‘surrender’.

6. Why do you think there has been so little pushback from the Left against lockdowns?

"Industry Agenda", 2015: "Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization."

“Industry Agenda”, 2015: “Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization.”

 

…things like the Transition Program as a guide to getting our bearings in the absence of struggle and in our relative isolation has led revolutionaries to become reformists as they come up with schemes of proposing specific reforms that will lead workers to revolution. Tracing out a bread-crumb trail of reforms has had the effect not of radicalizing workers but of transforming generations of revolutionaries to think like reformists. Last, I think the low level of struggle, the atrophy of our organizations and complete isolation from the class has largely caused us to give up on the idea of working class revolution in anything but name. We are no longer animated by that singular goal because we see it as so far off. That’s my best guess.

Since Marxist class politics are largely absent and separated from the U.S. working class, the revolutionary Left has both been weakened and even politically influenced by the rise and dominance of identity politics within the U.S. Left as a response to the attacks by the capitalist class. While wrapped in radical, anti-racist rhetoric, identity politics has had the net effect of both dividing the working class along identity lines and politically feeding workers into the Democratic Party who are the main ruling class advocates of both identity politics and of lockdowns, biomedical mandates and Covid fear-mongering.

Overall, A revolutionary Left that has given up on revolution can only work within the capitalist framework of reforms as it makes its way through the system. I think that is what we have been doing, coming up with capitalist solutions to problems that have no fundamental answer save through international working class socialist revolution. But if you have given up on that possibility because it seems so far off, then you are stuck talking about capitalism in capitalist terms.

7. Have you any ideas on how the Left can fight back and build a resistance movement against the bio-security state?

You can’t fight these things if you are not actually against them. So the first thing the Left in the United States needs to do is get its head on straight and realize it must oppose all contact tracing initiatives, any mandated testing, mandated vaccinations and any ID system that will be used to force workers and students to participate in these programs. We also have to expose and oppose the DNA mining endemic in the testing regime we are being put through and the data mining in all this remote work, remote learning, remote purchasing and remote living we are being put through.

Fundamentally, we have to remind ourselves that our project is a collective one and that any attempt to separate workers instituted by the capitalist class must be seen as an attack on our class and resisted as such. We will not be able to wage ANY sort of resistance to what is being instituted through the Fourth Industrial revolution behind our laptops. No matter how big our virtual meetings, we have to understand those meetings are in a controlled, corporate space that can be shut down by them any time. No fundamental change will come through participation in those spaces. So our starting point must be to challenge the mainstream narrative that is being used to terrify us of each other and then actually reassemble at work or other physical spaces to figure out what we do to try and turn the tide.

At schools, I think that means ripping up the Silicon Valley software and hardware infrastructure that is being used to dismantle in-person learning and prepare future workers for an all-remote experience and to use the work of current educators to lay the groundwork for replacing us with AI. In my opinion, that means uprooting the entire digital apparatus that’s in place and returning education to a physical, sensory experience of the world and in relationship with each other. How deep does the uprooting have to go? I am not sure, but I would say that the fight is not just about ‘returning’ to our pre-COVID educational system (that system has always been about exploitation), but seeing our schools as a center of struggle against the machinations of the Capitalists trying to reorganize all of society to maximize profits by maximizing their data collection on us.

8. Would you like to send out a message to other socialists internationally who are fighting the lockdown?

All I can say is thank you to socialists, anarchists and revolutionaries of any stripe across the water who have been responsible for reminding us that revolutionary work requires complete opposition to the capitalist project. We have fallen down badly here in the United States and I think it will be your efforts abroad that may shine a light to help orient and re-orient revolutionaries here.

I guess I would ask that we remember that the fight isn’t against Lockdown but against the capitalist class that is using lockdown to control and frighten us. Lockdowns will pass, but unless we remember that our goal is to take down the entire system, and that that project, as far away as it may seem, is an immediate and an urgent one, then we are much less likely to get fooled again. We still have nothing to lose but our chains. That is worth remembering in this time of drought and difficulty.

Full article:

https://leftlockdownsceptics.com/2021/03/fighting-lockdown-in-california-a-us-teacher-speaks/

 

[Andy Libson has taught science at Mission High School in San Francisco for over 20 years.  He received his PhD in biophysics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine prior to his decision to become a teacher. He is a longtime Marxist and a socialist. In 2018 Andy and Eduardo Abarca started the “What’s Left?” podcast series in order to explore the left narratives dominating political discussions.]

[Left Lockdown Sceptics: “We are a group of socialists in the UK who oppose lockdown policy on the basis that it doesn’t work, is based on bad science and causes unnecessary harm and deaths to society. The impact of lockdown is most severe on the working class and vulnerable people, including children.” Full statement]

 

 

 

The Shapers of Slavery – A Global Project of the World Economic Forum [Winter Oak Series]

Winter Oak

January, 2021

 

“The Shapers of Slavery”. A 5-part investigation of the World Economic Forum’s “Global Shapers” initiative – by Winter Oak.

 

“Over 900 Global Shapers joined World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab for talks on the Great Reset initiative. Putting the world back on a path towards inclusive and sustainable development will require more than a global recovery. It will require a Great Reset that places all citizens, especially young people, at the heart of social and economic systems.” — Global Shapers Community Annual Report 2019–2020

 

Source: http://killercoke.org/

 

Part I, January 9, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the plan

Excerpt:

“But, in fact, Schwab’s Great Reset is not just rhetoric: he and his corporate accomplices have been busy, for many years, building up a massive networks of collaborators to spring their heist.

 

One of these is the Global Shapers Community, set up by Schwab in 2011, registered in Geneva, Switzerland, and based at the World Economic Forum offices.”

Global Shapers - The Foundation Board

Global Shapers – The Foundation Board

 

Part II, January 10, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the leadership

Excerpt:

“A democratic society shapes itself – by means of the participation of its citizens in discussing and deciding how things should be organised and to what ends.

But, as even their name reveals, the Global Shapers want to “shape” society from above and in their own interests.”

Part III, January 11, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the empire

Excerpt:

“This is a world of “social impact investing”, of lucrative human and natural “capital”, a world of blockchain, robotics and AI, of equity funds and pharmaceutical businesses, a world of exponential profit and exploitation hidden behind a rhetoric of “inclusivity”, “sustainability” and “systemic change”.

World Economic Forum Electoral Candidates, British Columbia, Canada, 2020

World Economic Forum Electoral Candidates, British Columbia, Canada, 2020

 

What Will the World Look Like When the New Generation Leads? | Time.com

Part IV, January 12, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the virus

Excerpt:

“As the pandemic awakened the collective to long-standing system gaps, we mobilized a global community to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.”

March 19, 2020, Twitter: Global Shapers Response to COVID-19

March 19, 2020, Twitter: Global Shapers Response to COVID-19

 

" As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization, is mobilizing all stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods."

“As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization, is mobilizing all stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods.”

 

Part V, January 13, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the awakening

Excerpt:

“We would encourage everyone to explore and expose the identity and activities of hubs in their own area, starting with the information the Global Shapers have so helpfully provided for us.

 

We would also encourage you to seek out your local Global Shapers and confront them with questions, whether via social media or in the real world.”

#WeSeeEqual - a Procter & Gamble's (P&G's) Gender-Equality Corporate Branding Campaign

#WeSeeEqual – a Procter & Gamble’s (P&G’s) Gender-Equality Corporate Branding Campaign

ABB on Twitter: "We are very proud to have our collaborative #YuMiRobot on the cover of @TIME magazine's special #WEF19 edition demonstrating how humans and robots work side-by-side without barriers. Special print

The Mechanism of Invisible Hand, Invisible Cage, and Invisible Empire over Humanity and Nature

Dissident Voice

February 9, 2021

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

 

When the whole society becomes a theater of absurdity, the puppeteers become kings and queens of insanity. The society loses its logic, history, facts, honesty, sincerity, creativity and imagination, as  the monstrous imaginations of the deranged ruling class devour humanity and nature.

The invisible cage of authoritarianism comes in the shape of a bottomless pyramid.  Fear and hopelessness fill the dimly lit bottom layers. Layers and layers separate us, alienate us and dehumanize us. The? pain of “others” becomes your gain.  The power of oppressors becomes your safety: The safety of living in the dangerous imaginations of the kings and queens.

But? such a thought vanishes as quickly as our minds get flooded back with the numbing noises of the insane theater, while our remaining logic, seriousness and honesty are ridiculed and attacked by fearful fellow humans with cynicism, hopelessness and cowardliness.

The world doesn’t look like that at all for those who belong to the club of kings and queens. The unruly mass with no understanding of the righteous path of “humanity” has been inherently expendable for them. This has been shown over and over: colonization of natives by Europeans, enslavement of African people, genocides of many sorts.

But one also sees the same blunt inhumanity embedded among us today:  homelessness, deaths by treatable diseases, hunger, deaths by substance abuse, suicide, poverty, refugees, mass incarceration, state violence, the psychological torture of alienation.  The kings and queens don’t recognize those as issues to be solved with their resources.  Instead those issues represent forms of punishment for those who fail to secure viable positions within the capitalist hierarchy.  The fear of the punishment and the fear of the authority work together to lock us in positions in the hierarchy, forcing us to protect our positions which systemically and structurally threaten our well-being 24/7; we live in a system of structural extortion.

As we have become free-range people in the “divine farm” of modern-day kings and queens, we have lost our access to the fundamental material reality. A sterile cage with screens, mandatory injections, electronic tracking within the invisible fence; human mice for profits, feed for data harvesting, an ever greater degree of spiritual death. It is not hard to start connecting the dots to see how things can lead into a grim future.

But what does such a fear do to the population, which has tolerated an assortment of abuses as their “punishment”? To those who manage to ignore their fellow humans living on the streets as invisible beings or fail to feel the pain of those being cornered into substance use and desperate acts of self-destruction?

Would they believe the words of those who question, or the words of the ruling class promising a glorious future of AI, green capitalism, genetic engineering, digitization and financialization?

And before we ask such a question, one must wonder if such a question is even allowed when the socioeconomic/political trajectory of the empire has been firmly within the imperial framework of the two capitalist political parties.

The capitalist hierarchy absorbs what it needs by allocating special positions within it:  Natural resources, narratives, facts, history, people, political ideologies or anything that sits in time and space.  The kings and queens monopolize them— material resources as well as people with skills and knowledge are captured to serve.  Once monopolized, the valued items are commodified, to be distributed in ways that benefit those same kings and queens.

Meanwhile such a process occurs in layers and layers, projecting myths, exploitative narratives, false history and erroneous facts onto our collective consciousness—a fake reality which covers our eyes while we push our mortal bodies around in the real world.

The images projected onto our psyche vary according to our positions in the hierarchy.  Each narrative validates and justifies our positions in the hierarchy. Kings and queens find themselves to be worthy rulers of the universe, while the masses see themselves as freedom loving people who do their best in a world of opportunities.

In such an equation authoritarianism presents itself as a swinging pendulum between fascism and social democracy as it moves forward on the capitalist path in space and time.  The carrot and stick carefully manage projected images to stay within the capitalist framework of acceptable ideas. Corporate politics and corporate activism play crucial roles in making the pendulum swing, therefore ensuring that the capitalist interests always go forward while appearing to be “democratic”.

Those who rely on terrorist tactics of various sorts attempt to resist the system by attacking the valuable, captured elements that work for the system.  The damage compromises social dynamics in ways that deprive those who are already deprived, while dividing the population that should be uniting to dismantle the oppressive system.

Guided by agent provocateurs and corporate NGOs, righteous anger against oppressors turns into a justification for draconian measures, destruction of communities for urban renewal, and a catalyst for new projects of exploitation.

As a set of capitalist imperatives pushes the capitalist contradiction to the limit, completely depriving people’s ability to reconcile the false perceptions and the material reality, it is time for an urgent mobilization to change the trajectory of exploitation into a new field with a new set of rules.  We are told that enemies are coming, a natural disaster is coming or a disease is coming, forcing us to mobilize ourselves to adjust to a new path of plundering for the kings and queens.

Any crisis, real or not, against the backdrop of a hierarchical structure imposes two sets of momentum that keep us within the capitalist farm.   The first set has to do with fear of the authority, which keeps our frustration directed against ourselves, each other and oppressed “others”, while firmly gripping the destabilized psyche of the population—creating an ironic psychology of supporting oppressive authority against our own interests.   The second set has to do with the material constraints imposed by the particular crisis—we become enemies to each other fighting amongst ourselves to survive.   We are put in the capitalist cage.   And we are forced to protect our cage, which is constructed with vertical strength to withstand fear of the authority, horizontal strength to withstand   attacks by competitors, and a solid floor to prevent one from falling down from the position in the hierarchy. The whole structure is held together with violent force of exploitation and subjugation.

“The Great Reset”

“The Great Reset” is packaged as a “great solution”.  Just like how the ruling class has marketed “green capitalism”—carbon trading, carbon capture, reforestation, and other resource exhausting green schemes and technologies for profit, it’s designed to prop up capitalism but it is also intended to transform capitalism to have more effective control of social relations while keeping the capitalist hierarchy intact.  Capitalism is getting a new OS, and it needs to be restarted.  Just as “green capitalism” has destroyed real environmentalism in the name of saving the planet, it is designed to destroy anti-capitalist activism in the name of “revolution”.

One of the prominent leftist tools under a capitalist framework has been grass roots activism to affect state regulations and state guidelines to contain momentums of exploitation and subjugation created by Wall Street as well as capitalist social institutions.  The stock market guided economy (falsely advertised as the only system that works) allows the ruling class to dominate social policies according to their interests; it prioritizes ruling class wealth accumulation while sacrificing social relations among the general population; it is extremely inefficient, unstable and economically unjust. The capitalist state has been a great tool in ensuring the interests of the ruling class to be a priority. The socialist revolution takes over the capitalist state, it nationalizes corporate entities and sets up the economy, education and the rest of social institutions and social relations to be guided by people’s interests.  Various incarnations of the above strategies to counter capitalist exploitation and encroaching imperial hegemony have attempted to do two major things. First, they have prioritized people’s interests by emphasizing projects that benefit the general population while providing social safety nets, infrastructure for the people, environmental regulations and so on. Second, they have allowed economic activities based on people’s needs which can grow organic community dynamics based on humanity and nature.

“The Great Reset,” on the other hand, is a project of the ruling class meant to take away those measures from the people and utilize them to further solidify their dominance over the people.  Since the owners of the farm are plenty rich already, they won’t need a big farm. Their social engineering skills as well as the greater control over the economy will be put to a test in building a sustainable farming business with a smaller herd.

This is why it seems that all activism has turned into enforcing or defying the various virus lockdown measures which have been instrumental in enforcing the trajectory of “The Great Reset.” Remember how all environmental activism was swallowed by the single idea of reducing carbon emission? Fearmongering slogans of apocalyptic narratives involving climate change, strong NGO guided activism, and corporate science emphasizing the topic of global warming have created the huge snowballing momentum to fight climate change at all costs, sidelining and co-opting all other important environmental activism. This has also contributed to the idea that it is no longer relevant to insist on being a part of systematic efforts in dismantling the capitalist system and building an alternate system which allows humanity and nature to prevail in harmony;  we are told that we don’t have time to build socialism anymore. We are encouraged to be a part of green solutions by the capitalists as a result.

We are being told that casino capitalism for profits must end to introduce “stakeholder capitalism”.  But of course, since the notion is coming from the profiteers who have colonized, corporatized, militarized and financialized, we can presume that they are talking about ensuring their own interests by directly guiding the economic decisions instead of continuing the show called the economy by the “invisible hand.” We are told that we should be provided with universal basic income, free housing and other social services as long as we follow the regulations and policies of public-private partnership.  What sort of conditioning will we be subjected to after being deprived of our inherent relationships to ourselves, to each other, to our communities and to nature, forced to be a part of destructive industrial farming, digitalization of everything with massive resource extraction, colonization of our communities with multinational franchises and enslavement of our souls in the invisible cage of indoctrination and propaganda?  We already have such a system in the US—it’s called mass incarceration in the private prison system.  We are being told that the economy must not be merely guided by growth and it must be replaced by a sustainable one.  However, coming from those who have greatly restricted meaningful economic growth among the general population in order to subject livelihoods to the brutal capitalist framework, what they really mean is to restrict productive social relations among the people so that they must subsist with bare minimum requirements, eventually cornered to be a smaller herd, more manageable with less resources—an economic solution which can only be conceived by criminal minds. Who knows what role vaccines will play in it.  Who knows what sort of living hell people will be subjected to as our lives are treated like numbers in high frequency trading, or our entire lives are put on hold by AI customer representatives.

Note how the policies will be designed to be achieved by co-opting leftist agendas.  The invisible hand has been busy building a brand new invisible cage to perpetuate the violent reign of kings and queens in the name of “revolution”—a fascist revolution that is.

Now, I would like to emphasize that these trajectories are not set in stone. The problem is that those possibilities are highly unlikely to be examined by concerned people within the capitalist framework. There is a structural problem in the system. Let me go back to the pendulum.  Just like any other capitalist social institution, the capitalist political institution serves the ruling class;  it can serve as a crime laundering devise. As soon as a topic involving criminal activities is destined to be “political”—it dissociates itself from criminal elements and becomes “legitimate”. Various social institutions kick in to support such a view since they are all funded by the ruling class—media presents it as such, legislature codifies it as such, executive branch executes it as such, judicial branch judges it as such, academics support it as such, educational institution cements it as such and so on. It becomes normalized to be a part of social policies. Once the topic is on the political table embellished with a glorious history and myths of the nationhood of the United States of America, the topic becomes officially “political”, not criminal, and it is now safely and generously handled by the corporate entities.

The rendered topic floats in an artificial realm of political myths, tradition, and the gladiator battle culture of political authorities as a commodified symbol representing a fictitious version of the actual topic. Ordinary people can’t approach it coherently for what it is anymore unless they are rich and influential enough to access all moneyed social institutions.  Moreover, all the criminal records of officials are discarded, forgiven and forgotten as a new regime comes in every four years.

This is how destructive foreign policies of colonialism, corporatism and militarism, and exploitative predatory domestic policies of all sorts have been implemented against people in the name of freedom, justice and humanity.  This is how environmental concerns have turned into “green capitalism”.  This is how we are being mobilized today under the guise of virus lockdowns.

People watch and cheer the pendulum swing between political extremes within the capitalist framework.  Bits and pieces of awareness beyond the imperial framework can only be perceived with tools approved by the framework, effectively keeping those with the awareness within the ideas of the ruling class.  If you hold a world view that does not fit in it, you end up being categorized as a supporter of a political villain or simply labeled as “fascist”, “communist” and so on.  Needless to say those terms are solely defined by acceptable ideas, acceptable history and acceptable myths of the capitalist hegemony.  The fact that the US government has supported fascist regimes across the globe while brutally intervening against socialist countries across the globe won’t be admitted for instance.

How Capitalist Hierarchy Shapes Ideas

If one holds a view that defies the prevalent narrative, the individual can become a target of the authority as well as a target of multiple political extremes within the capitalist hegemony.  For instance, if you oppose Israeli war crimes from an anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist position, you can be persecuted as a dissident by the establishment, while being labeled as anti-Semitic by supporters of Israeli policies. (You may also be labeled a Zionist shill by those who believe that Jews are taking over the world and so on).  The position that points out that Israel is a crucial part of the imperial structure, serving the imperial hierarchy while benefiting from its generous support, cannot be fully discussed due to how narratives are formed by the network of the imperial institutions.

The political pendulum doesn’t only create an illusion of “democracy”, it also defines what is acceptable while tearing communities apart. It utilizes its violence as a springboard to perpetuate and strengthen its grip on the exploited. That’s why the living hell for Palestinian people keeps functioning as a devise for imperialism—the more Palestinians suffer, the more anti-Semitic sentiment emerges, which in turn justifies Israeli violence, which in turn serves the imperial agendas. That’s why victims of Katarina had to be victimized by “urban renewal” after going through the gravely tragic event. Capitalist hegemony does not allow an honest discussion because imperialism is kept invisible by default, the capitalist cage is invisible and the guiding hand of capitalists is invisible. The capitalist framework simply corners people into having dead-end arguments. Period.

With the virus situation, we are told that there are good people who wear masks and stay home and bad people who selfishly defy the rules and spread “conspiracy theories”.  The dynamics among acceptable narratives within the capitalist framework create the circular arguments of a screaming match. These dynamics exclude and belittle any understanding which goes beyond the artificial range of ideas created by the capitalist institutions:  you are fake news, you are a denier, you are a conspiracy theorist, you are a grandma killer, communists are taking over and so on. Without recognizing this mechanism, any attempt to unify the momentums will result in a populism which emulates the existing social structure—another reactionary revolution at best, but more likely it will create more divisions and destabilization among the people, resulting in perpetuation of the capitalist hierarchy. This is why there is no discussion of accountability for the death and suffering created by lockdown measures and there is no discussion about the meaning of why we are going through a structural shift.  And when the deaths and sufferings will be put on the political table, financial vultures will devour them in the emerging social impact bond markets (see studies by Wrench in the Gears).

The invisible hand that is supposed to guide us to freedom, justice and humanity has created an empire ruled by the unprecedented accumulation of power for the few.  The invisible hand has created an invisible cage over us, and it has been blinding us and dividing us, allowing the ruling class to exploit us and subjugate us.

Now, it must be clearly stated that what we perceive as the dystopian future of The Fourth Industrial Revolution—AI, blockchain, digitalization, financialization, green capitalism and so on—can’t be separated from the invisible hand and the invisible cage. It cannot be allowed to be defined by capitalist institutions as a “legitimate political topic” instead of what it really is. The newly built cage hasn’t been built, but if we fail to see it for what it is in its context, we will simply be forced to embrace some version of it as one of the “legitimate” capitalist trajectories. That’s how it works when our society is a theater of absurdity.

I want to live a life that breaks open the invisible cage and firmly shake hands with nature and humanity.  If you have stuck around this far with me, I trust that you feel the same…or not. Either way, we must start our conversations.

Further Readings

Wrong Kind of Green Website

John Steppling Website

Winter Oak Website

Wrench in the Gear Website

 

[Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.]

Naomi Klein, Conspiracy Theorist

OpEd News

March 9, 2021

By Lorenzo Raymond

 

Author Naomi Klein, and Klaus Shwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, endorse “The Future We Choose”, authored by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. [Source: Amazon]

When it comes to the “Great Reset,” Naomi Klein is offended. Her intelligence is insulted. Her legacy is tarnished. And she is here to correct the record.

As the sun set on 2020, Professor Klein stood up as the only adult in the room among those who research the machinations of multi-national corporations. The celebrated author excoriated all those sounding an alarm about The Great Reset program advanced by the World Economic Forum, the hypercapitalist organization notorious for its annual meetings in Davos, Switzerland. There was no evidence, she wrote in December, that the Great Reset promised to “turn the world into a high-tech dictatorship that will take away your freedom” through “a Big Pharma/GMO/biometric implants/5G/robot dog/forced-vaccine” agenda, as some on the “far left” claimed. Anybody who entertained the idea was just a useful idiot of Steven Bannon, serving up “an information-sh*t sandwich.” It all adds up to a yucky “conspiracy smoothie” because the Great Reset is merely a linear progression from inconsequential WEF programs of the past, and the Forum itself is relatively insignificant.

Why such brusque dismissal and puerile invective from the public intellectual? Klein insists that the Reset is a desperate “lunge for organizational relevance,” because the World Economic Forum is lacking in that apparently. This assertion is odd because the WEF counts among its partners Microsoft, BP, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the United NationsRepeat visitors to Davos over the past three years include the world’s most celebrated activist, Greta Thunberg, and its most prominent state leaders, including Donald Trump and President Xi of China. If this indicates a lack of relevance, what would being impactful look like?

Beyond “exaggerating” the significance of WEF, Great Reset analysis vexes Klein because it’s “a bastardization of a concept” that she’d discovered, the “shock doctrine.” She describes the shock doctrine as encompassing “the many ways that elites try to harness deep disasters to push through policies that further enrich the already wealthy and restrict democratic liberties.” But as many critics of the theory have pointed out, the shock doctrine doesn’t just portray establishment actors as harnessing catastrophe ex post facto, it chronicles them causing it to advance monopoly disaster capitalism. Klein has repeatedly applied it this way herself.

Klein’s 2009 book on the subject includes the following examples of conspiracy: Jeffrey Sachs and the IMF deliberately forcing poor governments around the world to collapse their countries’ social institutions through austerity so that the infrastructure could then be “rescued” (that is, bought up or infiltrated) by private investors; Margaret Thatcher instigating the Falklands War as a way to undercut labor unrest in the UK; and George W. Bush contriving the Iraq War as a pretext for imposing a pliant neoliberal economy and winning profits in military spending and oil concessions for his cronies. The extended metaphor she chose for the shock doctrine involves MK-Ultra, a Central Intelligence Agency program that secretly hired distinguished doctors and nurses to conduct torturous brainwashing experiments on unsuspecting mental patients; the healthcare workers actively destroyed the victims’ psyches so that they could be built back better in a more malleable form.

Critics of the book pointed out that the shock doctrine sounded like a conspiracy theory. Klein was livid, and wrote a blog post debunking some of their lesser examples as straw men. But despite the 5000-word length of her piece, the author never rebutted the observation that her IMF, Falklands War, and Iraq scenarios were conspiratorial. Instead, she simply ignored them. This was an understandable strategy, as Klein’s status as a pillar of the progressive establishment would be over if she explicitly stated that the actions of the elite not only have vicious consequences, but often malicious premeditated intent. Even fellow progressive Joseph Stiglitz called her “overdramatic and unconvincing” and “not an academic” in her analysis, while ex-UN official Shashi Tharoor wrote that Klein “is too ready to see conspiracies where others might discern little more than the all-too-human pattern of chaos and confusion…” “Conspiracism” won’t just get you sneered at, but potentially labeled an anti-intellectual, an anti-Semite, a psychotic, and a fascist.

In 2021, concern about conspiracy theories has grown into a full-fledged moral panic fed both by the neoliberal establishment and by the respectable left. Social media companies now have a policy of censoring any post regarding the Great Reset; YouTube banned a Zero Books video that merely mentioned Reset theories to criticize them in terms similar to Klein’s. Then there are the jibes made by Adam Curtis in his new documentary Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Alongside a sensible warning about crediting the elite with omnipotence, Curtis oversells his opposition to unofficial narratives to the point of telling us not to do our own reasoning. “Pattern recognition” he tells us, is faulty thinking that leads to paranoia. The proof? Jim Garrison, the New Orleans District Attorney who prosecuted a JFK assassination-conspiracy trial, wrote a memo entitled “Time and Propinquity: Investigation in Phase One,” where he told his staff to look for patterns of relationships among suspects. D.A. Garrison’s project had many problems, but this wasn’t one of them–pattern recognition is a standard part of forming hypotheses, and generating a hypothesis is the first step of the scientific method. (Curtis also chides that pattern recognition is the basis of artificial intelligence, forgetting he once made a documentary that discussed how the Aladdin AI system conquered the stock market for BlackRock through its 95% predictive accuracy.)

The real question is if it’s possible to be a deep critic of power and not be a conspiracy theorist of some kind. Indeed, Klein’s opponents could go much further with their accusations of conspiracism if they look at her more recent writing. Miriam-Webster defines conspiracy theory as a that which “explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.” Stated positions of Naomi Klein that meet this criteria include:

– That the Democratic Party secretly influenced “the media and culture industries” to downplay the dangers of climate change during the Obama era (On Fire, pg. 76).

– That Barack Obama and the Filipino government conspired to remove anti-business climate negotiators from the Paris summit to deliver a plan so conservative it was basically “everything the Bush administration wanted.”

– That the 1989 Montreal spree-shooting was not just conceived by a lone madman, as many experts have said, but was generated by a discreet cultural network of homicidal misogynists.

– That “an elite minority has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.”

An elite minority has a stranglehold” over most of our major media outlets? I won’t claim that Klein, Jewish herself, is being antisemitic here. I prefer not to jump to conclusions. But it is one of the oldest dog whistles in the book. One that led to the Holocaust.

That last observation has a powerful emotional effect that makes us recoil from Klein’s claim. The reflex, ironically, is based on pattern recognition: The Nazis said X to falsely implicate the Jews; therefore anyone who says X is also implicating the Jews. It’s a decent first hypothesis–“phase one” as Jim Garrison would say–because a segment of conspiracy theorists really are antisemitic. There are good reasons to dismiss it as a paradigm though. One is that this would also disqualify discussion of Israeli war crimes and cover-ups in Palestine, as many Zionists insist.

So Klein isn’t opposed in principle to theorizing elite conspiracy. What then is her problem with investigating the Great Reset? Supposedly it’s a “distraction” from the real Covid shock doctrine embodied by Andrew Cuomo’s alliance with Silicon Valley oligarchs to “Reimagine Education” in New York. But looking at Klein’s May 2020 discussion of Reimagine Education, we find facts that are fully complementary to treating the Great Reset as an exceptional threat. The present Bill Gates-Eric Schmidt takeover, she writes, is “Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters,” as it “treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent–and highly profitable–no-touch future.” She quotes the CEO of a rising AI corporation: “There has been a distinct warming up to human-less, contactless technology,” under the New Normal. “Humans are biohazards, machines are not.” Klein continued:

It’s a future in which our homes are never again exclusively personal spaces but are also, via high-speed digital connectivity, our schools, our doctor’s offices, our gyms, and, if determined by the state, our jails. Of course, for many of us, those same homes were already turning into our never-off workplaces and our primary entertainment venues before the pandemic, and surveillance incarceration “in the community” was already booming. But in the future under hasty construction, all of these trends are poised for a warp-speed acceleration–a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.

This is more truth than we generally get from the progressive establishment in the US. But if it is possible to “damn with faint praise,” then it’s also possible to support with moderate criticism. The fact that this is all that Klein wrote about digital re-education through three entire seasons of lockdowns is an indictment. One would think from this report that Gates and Google have to be invited publicly by state officials in order to manipulate schools and profit off of remote learning. In fact, Reimagine Education has been discretely infiltrating schools across the country since 2015 with the collusion of two national teacher unions, the AFT and NEA. Labor leaders Randi Weingarten and Becky Pringle joined with Microsoft in promoting “disruptive technology,” “out-of-school learning,” and “blended learning.” These are all codewords for digital-dominated education, which would enable automated “experiential learning” to downsize the very school staff that the union bosses nominally represent. Klein’s remark that this technocratic power grab is “under hasty construction” is misinformation–the public-private, corporate-labor scheme has been at least five years in the making.

What else did Klein fail to mention? The plans for harvested data to be placed on digital blockchain and packaged into “social-impact bonds” (SIBs). SIBs are basically a “social-service” update on the derivatives that inflated the market in the days of the housing bubble. Since Wall Street supports continuing austerity, corporate monopolies, and precarious (at best) employment, this bubble of “social impact” is bound to collapse. The big investors will likely profit once again from shorting the market, leaving the general public in worse shape than ever. This appears to be the actual path to the “You will own nothing, and you will be happy” future that the World Economic Forum notoriously predicted. If nothing else it means what social scientists call “the financialization of urban policy.” Meanwhile, digital blockchain keeps a permanent record of intimate data, right down to DNA, on each “at risk” youth–disproportionately black and brown youth–who’ve received the social services. That certified data, officially collected for benign schemes like universal basic income and test-and-trace, can be used for whatever purposes the public-private partners in government and corporate America choose. For this reason, the NAACP passed a resolution two years ago denouncing blockchain social services:

Hundreds of billions of dollars have already been directed into social impact investments by the world’s most powerful individuals and financial institutions…in effect amplifying the investment wealth of elite investors on the backs of vulnerable communities.

You wouldn’t learn any of this from reading the author of The Shock Doctrine–nor from major progressive media outlets like Democracy Now!. I learned it from Alison Hawter McDowell and Cory Morningstar, two of the astute “far-left” researchers that Klein seems to be throwing shade at. They are also among the few on the left who are warning us about emerging schemes promoted by the WEF like militarized nanotechnology, “the Internet of Bodies,” “digital humans,” and the wrap-around concept of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” These recipes for disaster capitalism have been documented in the business press for a decade, but Klein, despite her past specialization in corporatist conspiracies (and despite McDowell presenting them to her directly) has said nothing about them.

Professor Klein pillories Great Reset researchers like McDowell and Morningstar because some of their observations are echoed in conservative sources, and because they have an incisive critique of the corporatism of the progressive establishment. But this is a position that Klein herself championed in the past; her reputation as a radical is effectively built on it. In 2013, she told Salon that

there is a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme… Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right. The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it’s going to bankrupt us, it’s handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it’s not going to work. And they were right on all counts.

What explains Naomi Klein’s current silence on, and even deflection from, crucial issues? Once perceived as the spokesperson for street activists of the anti-corporate globalization movement, Klein now works as the Facebook and Ford Foundation-sponsored Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies at “Public Ivy” Rutgers University. She promotes a version of the Green New Deal that’s guided by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation through her organization 350.org. Klein’s devotion to this “sustainable” program (which relies on neocolonial technologies like carbon-capture storagelithium strip-mining, and even nuclear power) recently led her to coordinate a censorship campaign against the documentary Planet of the Humans–an investigative film covering corporate influence on the Green New Deal. But it gets spicier: Klein’s own environmental film The Message (This Changes Everything) was funded largely by Eric Schmidt (“The Schmidt Family Foundation“)–the very Google executive whom she purports to have exposed as a Covid corporatist.

Photo: Susan Rockefeller, home, NYC Klein’s 2015 book and film “This Changes Everything”, was initially launched as project “The Message” [Source]

Emulating Klein’s own past technique of connecting the dots, we can see there’s substantial ties between her Green New Deal and the WEF’s “stakeholder capitalism,” an overlap that Rockefeller Brothers Fund President Stephen Heintz made clear when he sat down for a public discussion with her two years ago. As reported on the RBF website, Heintz, following the lead of “the talk at Davos this year”, feels strongly that we need to “move to a new economy–from obsolete capitalism to a wellbeing economy, a wellbeing society that’s organized around equity and inclusion.” But, he said, social impact and profiteering “don’t need to be mutually exclusive”; “We can be both good stewards of capital and also of what the dollars are doing.” “Klein concurred,” states the Rockefeller report.

In the ninth chapter of The Shock Doctrine, Klein wrote about the sad fate of the once-revolutionary labor leader Lech Walesa. Walesa told the truth to the Polish working-class about the Stalinist technocracy that stifled them in the late 1970s, advocating for a populist socialism instead. As he rose to prominence in the Gorbachev years, however, Walesa became more pragmatic and mature. He joined the establishment and formed a new technocracy with “revolutionary” capitalists from the global institutions. Rather than reveal the danger that this great reset posed to Polish society, Walesa downplayed it and promoted the “bold vision” of economic reform that elite comrades like Jeffrey Sachs whispered in his ear about. The result was a bonanza for Western billionaires and catastrophic peonage for the most vulnerable in society. It’s bitterly ironic that Naomi Klein seems to be following a similar journey of betrayal.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City. He has contributed to The New Inquiry, Black Agenda Report, Commune magazine, and Counterpunch. He blogs at DiversityOfTactics.org]

The Virtual Education Shock Doctrine

The Virtual Education Shock Doctrine

California’s online-schooling model is a glimpse into the future of digital austerity.

The Bellows

October 4, 2020

By Alex Gutentag

 

Long-distance learning

(Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters)

In California, the nation’s most populous state, 90% of students started the school year entirely online. When schools closed in March, 50% of low-income California students lacked the necessary technology to access distance learning. Broader tech distribution was available for the 2020-21 school year thanks to donations from companies like HP, Lenovo, Amazon, Apple, T-Mobile, Microsoft, and Google. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even personally donated $10 million to the city of Oakland’s tech initiative. With chromebooks and wifi hotspots now available for every student, California legislators and corporations congratulated themselves on closing the “digital divide.”

Despite their improved tech access, many students have more pressing material needs. Over 260,000 California students experience homelessness every year, and over 20% of California children live below the poverty line. The tech industry has not made massive donations to medical and therapy services, which low-income students often receive through community schools. Likewise, there is no private backing for the state’s free grab-and-go meals program.

Distance learning is a sleight of hand. Framed as a panacea, online education is actually the vehicle for a long-desired economic restructuring.

Online schooling will generate a treasure trove of data tech firms can buy and sell. Free meals will not. Silicon Valley boasts a yearly output of $275 billion and has a GDP similar to that of Qatar. Yet California, the world’s fifth largest economy, is currently withholding $11 billion from schools. Districts have been given IOUs for state funding and will not be reimbursed until next year. In contrast, California billionaires increased their net worth by over 25.5% ($175 billion) in the first three months of the pandemic.

Students throughout California are now stuck at home in hot, crowded rooms that occasionally fill with wildfire smoke. 19% of these students are English language learners and almost 13% of them have disabilities. Every day on Zoom they fall more and more behind both academically and socially. In Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, students are receiving 90-170 minutes of daily live instruction (depending on their age), after which they are expected to do independent work. Compared to the traditional six- or seven-hour school day, online education is laughably inadequate.

In real time, teachers and families are watching important developmental windows close for vulnerable children. Meanwhile the California Democratic Party and its affiliates tout virtual schooling as a solution for mitigating COVID-19 transmission. This policy is the result of an alignment between the Democratic Party, corporate power, and a bureaucratic teachers’ union. The purpose of their alignment is to rationalize austerity and boost commercial profits. Distance learning is a sleight of hand. Framed as a panacea, online education is actually the vehicle for a long-desired economic restructuring.

School Closures: An Unscientific and Regressive Policy

The Dreambox mathematics application: "Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization." [page 9]

The Dreambox mathematics application: “Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization.” [page 9]

California’s introduction of online schooling was driven by financial concerns, not medical or moral ones. Reopening safely would have required physical distancing plans, distribution of face shields or masks, sanitizing supplies, systems for daily health screenings, regular testing, widespread use of outdoor spaces, alternative schedules, smaller class sizes, and a massive hiring initiative. The primary reason these proposals were shot down was not rising COVID-19 cases as the governor, Gavin Newsom, asserted. California cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have been declining since August 1, but since then Newsom has only made reopening guidelines stricter.

The full prohibition on in-person learning directly contradicts the advice of medical and scientific experts. In June the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued recommendations for school re-openings, stating, “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued similar guidance. Schools, the authors argue, provide essential services to students and families.

Only after large school districts decided to stay closed did the AAP revise its original guidance to fit a perceived political consensus. Many clinical studies and reviews supported their original conclusion, demonstrating that children are less likely to transmit COVID-19 than adults, and school closures are an ineffective method of disease control. Not only will these irrational closures deepen class disparities, the policy has also overruled some children’s civil right to public education—a right that became universal in federal law less than 50 years ago.

It was not until 1975 that people with disabilities won a “Free and Appropriate Public Education” through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Before IDEA people with intellectual disabilities were often put in underfunded and abusive state schools, such as the infamous Willowbrook state school in Staten Island. Similarly, discrimination against English language learners was allowed until the 1974 passage of the Equal Education Opportunity Act.

Dismantling these gains is apparently of no concern to the California Democrats and the California Teachers Association (CTA), the state teachers union. Virtual learning effectively limits educational access for high-need populations. Yet as public resources are funneled into online learning platforms, the CTA regularly claims to be fighting back against billionaires and politicians. In reality, the teachers union is acting as an astroturfing and financing arm of the tech industry and the Democratic Party. There is no real conflict between these entities because their interests are identical.

The Teachers Union as Controlled Opposition

The Global Education Coalition was launched on March 25, 2020, by UNESCO. Founding partners include the World Bank, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the BBC, and the Global Business Coalition for Education.

The Global Education Coalition was launched on March 25, 2020, by UNESCO. Founding partners include the World Bank, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the BBC, and the Global Business Coalition for Education.

 

The median teacher salary in California is $65,252. On average, California teachers pay $1,072 in dues, and the majority of dues do not go to local organizations—they go to the CTA. In 2018 at least twelve CTA officers and directors made six-figure salaries. The CTA president took home about $340,000, and the union’s Associate Executive Director over $1 million. It is extremely difficult for teachers to find out how much of their dues money goes to political activities, let alone which of these activities actually help secure better working conditions and wages for teachers.

However, some information is available. California teachers’ dues directly contribute to the CTA’s PAC. Although teachers can opt out from donating to the PAC, this option is only given when they sign the form to join the union. While there are limits to the CTA’s donations to individual candidates through its PAC, the CTA can donate greater amounts through independent expenditure committees. For example, the CTA’s PAC donated only $29,000 to Newsom’s election campaign in 2018, but its independent expenditure committee gave $1 million to “Education Organizations for Gavin Newsom for Governor 2018.”

The National Education Association, which the CTA is a part of, is likewise opaque about how much dues money is used for political activities and what those activities are. In 2018 the NEA contributed about $5.4 million to candidates and political campaigns and spent close to $2.9 million on lobbying. After endorsing Joe Biden in March, the NEA now invites teachers to become “Educators for Joe” through its website.

The relationship between the union and the California Democratic Party extends to the CTA’s organizing work for ballot initiatives. Most recently, local California unions have asked their members to collect signatures and join rallies for Prop 15, the Students and Communities First Initiative. The slogan for Prop 15 is “Tax the Rich,” but the tax will not be on wealthy individuals, or directly on the revenue of California’s largest industries (tech, agriculture, tourism, and entertainment). The tax will instead be on business properties exceeding $3 million in value. The initiative is backed by national politicians like Elizabeth WarrenBernie SandersPete Buttigieg, and Michael Bloomberg. The Chan Zuckerberg Foundation has contributed over $6.3 million to support Prop 15.

Union members should be concerned about the fact that, according to the CTA’s own Prop 15 calculator, the plan will fund privately-operated charter schools in addition to public schools. Charter schools are property leasing schemes that exploit low-income communities for the benefit of investors. In using public school teachers to organize for this funding, the CTA has promoted an initiative that will allow investment capital to benefit from industrial property taxes, an expense that some worry will fall on small businesses in the form of increased rents. Given the level of mismanagement, cronyism, and anti-teacher animus plaguing the administrations of many California school districts, it is also worth wondering if Prop 15 money will go where it is truly needed (staffing), or whether it will be wasted on more tech products.

Ultimately, there is no real tension between the political project of the teachers union and that of the Democratic Party. Both are working toward the same outcomes. In the case of COVID-19, the desired outcome is the purchase of hardware, software, and online learning subscriptions on an enormous scale. This ploy relies on a politics of anti-solidarity in which teachers stay home on computers while risk is pushed onto lower-paid staff or contractors who lack union protection.

Woke Justifications for Academic Decline

January 2020, World Economic Forum: "The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education."

January 2020, World Economic Forum: “The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

While low-income students and families struggle to adapt, many educators are willing to push rhetoric that presents virtual learning as liberation. In some cities, local union leaders, district administrators, and other organizations have entered into an endless competition to prove who is more woke and more pro-lockdown. Racialized social justice politics have created distractions that serve to rationalize and excuse the absence of public health infrastructure and other services.

In Oakland, for example, ongoing conflicts between professionals have done little to help communities in need, and disguise a de facto consensus around school closures. California’s online learning mandate was largely decided at the state level by the governor’s office. This did not stop the Oakland teachers’ union from holding a pro-closure demonstration in front of the Oakland schools superintendent’s home. The Oakland NAACP wrote a letter condemning the action for targeting the superintendent, who is a Black woman. The East Bay DSA responded in support of the union, citing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities.

Virtual learning is training affluent students for a life of self-directed work at home. It is training low-income students for a life of no work at all.

Around the same time, elementary school principals in Oakland wrote a letter asking middle class parents to refrain from forming independently organized educational “pandemic pods,” arguing that this would be “exacerbating educational inequities.” Meanwhile, the Oakland teachers’ union was spending valuable time in reopening negotiations demanding a Black Reparations Fund. The union proposed that Local Control Funding Formula money for foster youth, English language learners, and low-income students be redirected to new “Black Sanctuary District” programs.

The woke posturing in Oakland demonstrates a pattern of California educators and other professionals wielding their cultural power to uphold tech profits while taking for granted the profound economic inequalities caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. The major stakeholders, while supposedly at odds, all supported government frugality as a science-based safety measure. With online learning now fully in place, social justice narratives contend that staring at screens is emancipation.

Various tech initiatives like the Modern Classrooms Project allege that online learning is progressive because it allows for self-pacing. The concept of virtual self-pacing is tied to declarations that some students are “thriving” through online education. School, proponents of distance learning claim, is perhaps too long, too demanding; the standards and expectations may be too high. Distance learning, they argue, allows kids to organize their own time, regardless of whether it is developmentally appropriate or not.

Similarly, education theories such as “Abolitionist Teaching” posit that white supremacy creates trauma for Black students at school. Therefore, the fundamental structures of school must be rethought. Intellectuals and writers who characterize school as inherently racist are assisting in a union-busting project. Abolitionist theorists even call on teachers’ unions themselves to demand curriculum and personnel changes, and scheduling that adheres to anti-racist thought.

The digitization of schools is an initial step toward digitization of society as a whole. Just as the school bell schedule was designed around the factory model, so the current model of virtual learning is training affluent students for a life of self-directed work at home. It is training low-income students for a life of no work at all.

Rejecting a Lockdown Future

“The long-term effects of school closures will define a generation. Children are facing increased rates of severe abuse and a mental health catastrophe. We’ve told children that their existence is harmful and their lives are unimportant. We abandoned them and they won’t forget it.”

"Greater income inequality, increased unemployment, growing dependence on government, and more mass migrations are a few of the most pressing problems that failing to train the next generation of workers for the digitally driven economy will bring." [page 3]

“Greater income inequality, increased unemployment, growing dependence on government, and more mass migrations are a few of the most pressing problems that failing to train the next generation of workers for the digitally driven economy will bring.” [page 3]


Given this threat to the teaching profession, the CTA and local unions must divest from corporate interests that aim to dismantle labor. Bribing politicians can only get educators so far. Teachers can no longer give in to the mafia-style antics of the Democratic Party if they want to survive. Union dues should not be spent on Newsom’s reelection campaign, but on a state-wide strike fund. Charter school champions benefit when public schools lose enrollment because of systematic mismanagement. They will also benefit when the union starts hemorrhaging membership due to its corruption and negligence.Since March the American left has framed neoliberal lockdown policies as the only morally viable option for dealing with COVID-19. In doing so, they have fetishized teachers’ unions and used their labor negotiations as the prime example of worker support for lockdown. Now that the damage has been done and soaring unemployment has disempowered all workers, the left may begin to roll back its discredited justifications for lockdown. No matter what challenges arise, social services and public institutions should be non-negotiable for any socialist, populist, or pro-worker politics.

Schools are necessary for communal and individual well-being—they are just as essential as health care. In their education children do not only learn content; they also learn by example and through experience. It is our collective task to consider what message continued policies of school closure and austerity send to the younger generation. They will not forget it if we fail to develop alternatives.

[Alex Gutentag is a public school teacher in California and a former union representative. You can follow her on Twitter at @galexybrane]