Home Forum Political Economy The Pandemic Keeps Getting Worse

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  • #247331

    The COVID-19 pandemic keeps getting worse. The capitalist system and its ideological superstructure has completely misjudged this pandemic and the capacities of natural evolution of the virus in question. Like medieval priests administering the sacraments, the priests of the rituals of capital preach that maintaining the rituals of capital, and only the rituals of capital, will maintain our world. The analogy is apt enough. In an infectious, air-borne and contact-borne epidemic, attending worship and sacraments is one of the most effective ways of spreading the disease. “Keeping open for business” (which means “keep the circuits of capital running as usual”) means the people attending modern, secular “worships and sacraments” like mass sporting and entertainment events and large gatherings for the over-consumption of food and drinks. These rituals and sacraments of consumer capitalism are perfect for spreading the virus.

    The system continues to run using myths, minimisation and counter-logical reasoning. We will achieve “herd immunity” for a virus of the genus coronavirus; a genus where lasting immunity has never been demonstrated previously and reinfection annually, at least, has been the norm. Omicron is now reinfecting people who have had 2 vaccinations and even a booster and/or previous infection(s). Covid-19, we are told, is only a little cold or a mild flu but its mortality rate is higher than any flu in the most dangerous flu seasons in living memory. It is far more infectious than flu as well. As for the counter-logical reasoning, apparently if the US and Europe are anything to go by, the way to protect your population from a serious disease is to infect them all with it. Then, a belated vaccine program with “leaky” vaccines, permitting re-infections, is supposed to supress the epidemic without any other disease control measures. To be fair, the mRNA vaccines are an amazing and rapid scientific advance. However, the nature of the pathogen in question (capable of quickly mutating for vaccine evasion and immune evasion) has meant that the vaccines were and are never going to be a silver bullet on their own.

    Instead of noting these very real emerging problems, the priests of capitalism are doubling down on opening up, or keeping open, the economy and spreading the latest super-variant, Omicron, to everyone. Omicron is hands down the most dangerous variant yet. I am not going very far out on a limb in making that statement. Some preliminary data is already in.  A UK study has been published in preprint. This study, “Effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron B.1.1.529 variant of concern” is by UK ’s leading UKHSA agency as well as input from leading universities in the UK. It has been endorsed by the UK government.

    “UK scientists are extremely worried and concerned about Omicron given the low efficacy of 2 shots of especially the AstraZeneca shot, but also relatively low Pfizer 2 shot Vaccine Efficacy. Thankfully booster VE is moderately okay at 71-75%… UK data says 2 doses isn’t strong—Pfizer 2 dose VE for 15+ weeks is 34-36%; AstraZeneca 2 doses VE after 25 weeks is just 5.9%.” – Eric Feigl-Ding.

    Note this is VE against symptomatic infection. One of the things this means is that vaccines scarcely impede transmission. Without other measures, we can expect the more infectious Omicron to spread rapidly through entire populations. The claim that Omicron “is mild” appears to be just  another capitalism-serving myth as well.

    “A “mild but faster” virus will often kill & harm more people than a virus that is slower & more severe. Even if just 2x more transmissible & 1/10 less deadly!” – Eric Feigl-Ding.

    https://twitter.com/DrEricDing/status/1469723185084084225/photo/1

    And there is no firm evidence yet that Omicron is milder.  Pundits appear to be misled by the fact that it is hitting a much more immunised population where in addition the very elderly and vulnerable have in many cases already died from earlier waves.

    What does all this tell us? It tells us that capitalism and its high priests are completely unwilling to face the known scientific facts about this virus and unwilling to await emerging evidence about each new development before making pronouncements. They would rather rush ahead, ignoring past evidence and not waiting for new evidence. Why wait for new evidence only to ignore it anyway? After all, they are consistently “dogma-logical” in this way. The high priests of capitalism live in an evidence-free world, referring only to dogma and performing only their prescribe rituals which are to remain unchanged by real events. Capitalism is showing more clearly than ever that the people, the masses, the peasants, the workers, the great unwashed, the hoi polloi, the stubbornly resisting sludge (call them what you will) are to be sacrificed to keep the circuits of capital flowing. In earlier times, workers were expendable in dangerous occupations. Now, since workers are thoroughly disciplined and have few rights left, it is the turn of the consumers to die for capitalism. There’s always been a bit of that of course. Witness the car industry and Ralph Nadar’s critique. Matters were even worse with adulterants in the food industry in the 19th C. However, since those loopholes have been closed somewhat by consumer legislation, the new tricks are overpriced medicine (as an industry) and the requirement to keep working and consuming without NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) or public health procedures, despite the existence of a dangerous global pandemic.

    Where is this leading us? Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future, as “Yogi” Berra said. The clearest likelihood at this stage is an ever-worsening global pandemic. The virus’s evolution rate is at least matching technological progress and rendering it at least partly obsolete in short order. There is no guarantee technology will win this genetic arms race under open conditions of rampant spread. There are 8 billion SARS-Cov_2 virus mutation vessels (us, all of us) on the planet, after all. The evolutionary landscape for the mutation (as rapid, punctuated equilibrium evolution) of a genuinely novel virus is vast. Capitalism (the masters of capital) will not (yet) countenance a shut-down of non-essential business. So all the activities and excess consumptions which are spreading the virus and destroying the climate must continue under business as usual. The sole real question is where is the end point to this process? It’s either a real collapse or a real political revolt. What will the people choose or is the state of the system such that real choice is no longer possible? Once large, real systems get into runaway mode, they are humanly unstoppable.  Then it’s too late for choices.

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
    • This topic was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
    • This topic was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
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    • #247339

      I spent all day today typing up a response to this post, gathering information from various sources, and fleshing out my ideas… and when I went to submit… everything just disappeared.

      Will try again I suppose

      Basically my comment came down to this though.

      The Covid Crisis analysis should be broken up into 5 Facets (while keeping in mind that all the facets have strong interlinks and overlaps)

      1. The Science
      2. Dominant Pharmaceutical Capital and their differential accumulation throughout the pandemic
      3. The Rest of the Dominant Capital Market and their differential accumulation throughout the pandemic
      4. The State of Capital and its Support Structures for the a) Accumulation of Capital and b) creating a Global Inequitable Vaccine Divide
      5. The Role of Misinformation and Disinformation in Expanding the Pandemic Problem

       

      • #247366

        Ok, So, Attempt number 2, should go better this time as I am saving as I go

        1. The Science

        The Vaccine
        So while it is important to try and separate the science of Covid-19 Vaccines from the business of Covid-19 Vaccines, this is no simple task, since the science is bought and paid for by both Public and Private Sector money. mRNA vaccines spent about 5 decades in development hell. I mean this quite literally, since there were lots of fights over patenting issues, companies set up to try and profit from research, companies failing, companies being bought, a kind of musical chairs of company founders/scientists/researchers jumping ship to larger firms. Accusations of misconduct, both scientifically and socially… It’s an entire story all of it’s own.

        But around the turn of the decade (2010), 2 important things happened
        1) UPenn sold exclusive patent rights for an mRNA process that resulted in Pseudodrine (which prevented the host body from seeing the foreign mRNA as an antagonist), for $300,000 to a small Lab-Reagent company now called CellScript, who have since made millions in sublicensing this patent to companies like Moderna, and
        2) from the early 1980’s until 2012 Canadian Pieter Cullis and his team of researchers at University of British Colombia, developed Lipid Nano Particle tech, which forms the basis of the delivery platform for mRNA vaccines. By 2012, they had managed to develop the technology enough that mass production was possible. And this is when big money investors became interested. Cullis has started several small companies, and one of these is now privately valued at around $13mil, thanks to investment rounds based on ongoing research into his LNP tech.

        All of this meant that the day after the SARS-COV-2 Virus Genome was made publicly available, companies like Moderna and BionTech were immediately ready with their vaccines to begin testing. They did not want to waste any time in profiting from the global pandemic, and whoever made it to market first with a proven Vaccine, was going to rake in Billions in international purchasing contracts.

        Preparation and forewarning
        Virtually every science writer and journalist, at some point, had written a piece like “It’s not if, but when” with regards to a pandemic being an existential threat to humanity. I had read so many of these by 2018, that I included it in a podcast episode I did with a friend about existential risks. And yet, studies have found that not a single country, rich or poor, was prepared when the pandemic hit.

        Areas of research that were identified at the start of the pandemic as vital were impacts of quarantine, case and contact isolation, hand hygiene, face masks, public education about personal protection, therapeutics (antivirals and antibodies), and future vaccines. And these studies were rapidly conducted, and the findings were rapidly processed and collated and disseminated.

        The first 6 months of the pandemic saw 100,000 research papers published in relation to Covid-19. (although estimates of the first 10,000 showed that only about 40% were original research, and the other 60% were mostly opinion pieces) It was seriously an unprecedented achievement for science.

        But the result was a policy rollout of mismatched and counterproductive government and business policies that got so bad, that eventually, the only solution was lockdowns. This is the surface reading of lockdowns, but a long-view of the lockdowns shows that lockdowns led to stimulus spending, which predominantly benefitted a very small portion of the private sector, very disproportionately (1% of businesses reaped 25% of the $700bn reward) and the stimulus spending that went to households, triggered a spending frenzy that massively boosted the Consumer Discretionary sector, and the IT and Communications Sectors. So while it would unwise to attribute the lockdowns to a deliberate decision to assist Dominant Capital, it is not far fetched to say that poor governance, poor planning, and poor readiness, allowed for the optimal conditions for Capitalists to pounce on a crisis, as the have often done in the past.

         2. Dominant Pharmaceutical Capital and their differential accumulation throughout the pandemic

        Looking at the Pharmaceutical Industry through the CasP framework, we can see a number of very telling indicators showing how its Dominant players Accumulated Differentially.

        1st, Mergers and Acquisitions increased 17% in the first half of 2020, which is a massive increase in breadth given the downturn taken by much of the rest of the economy.

        2nd, Strategic Sabotage in the form of Patenting saw a 6.3% rise in BioTech and a 10.2% rise in Pharmaceuticals. So not only were they consolidating like crazy, they were also enclosing the access rights to a life-saving technology.

        3rd,  Depth of Capital Accumulation was also increased during this time, as Market Dominance and desperation by those with less power allowed the Pharma giants to vary their prices by region, and gouge the international market to extract as much profit from the situation as they could get away with

        4th, The Direction and Pace of Industry was decidedly skewed toward broadening and deepening power. Vaccine Production facilities were largely outside of the regions where they were most needed, and this did not change, and has not changed, because to do so would reduce the power now held by the producer to get away with the 3rd point made above. From 2022, plans are being made to begin production in India and South Africa of mRNA vaccines, but this process has taken 2 years to come to fruition, and developing the production facilities up to par is going to take an additional several months. These delays, again served to strengthen the power-base of Dominant Capital.

        5th, Weeding out Competition was very subversive throughout the pandemic, very specifically in the form of Media bias being propagated toward the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. By painting China as the cause of the pandemic, and the source of the virus, western media was able to influence the majority of nations into rejecting the Sinopharm Vaccine in favour of Western Vaccines. With the result being that of all the big vaccine producers, Sinopharm was the only one that failed to accumulate capital at a net positive rate throughout the pandemic.

        3. The Rest of the Dominant Capital Market and their differential accumulation throughout the pandemic

        2020 was a banger year for Dominant Capital. the Financial Times did a breakdown list of “the top 100 winners of the pandemic“, and USA Today did a roundup showing that Billionaires added almost a trillion dollars to their combined income in 2020. Below, you can see the infographic of the big winners, dominated by Big Tech, Communications, Healthcare, and Consumer Discretionary.

        It is important to note here that the same tactics employed by Pharma’s Dominant Capital, was also employed by the rest of the Dominant Capital playing field.

        Mergers and acquisitions were down globally, but kicked back up in North America in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2020, and as lockdowns were ended and economies reopened, a global supply chain crisis gave dominant capital all the excuse they needed to begin inflating their prices as the swung into a depth phase.
        To what extent their actions can be attributed to an aversion to lockdowns, I feel is probably up for debate, given that there were a great many that benefitted from the lockdowns then, and will likely benefit again. The Industry that is most deeply hit by lockdowns, is Oil and Gas. 2020 was a terrible year for them, while 2021 was a fantastic year. So they will likely be the ones least eager to see and kind of lockdown be re-enacted. I don’t know how to check for lobbying activity in this regard, but it would be invaluable to know where the oil industry is spending their lobbying dollars.

        4. The State of Capital and its Support Structures for a) Accumulation of Capital and b) creating a Global Inequitable Vaccine Divide

        As illustrated above, the state’s lockdown procedures were not running counter to Dominant Capital in all cases, and in many cases acted as a support structure for Dominant Capital’s accumulation practices. In addition to acting as a support structure via stimulus spending, eliminating competition that was not “too big to fail”, the state also enabled Dominant Capital accumulation by means of trade influence to ensure wealthy countries benefited more from changes in trade flows than did poorer countries.

        In addition to support for differential accumulation, Wealthy nations created, in conjunction with Dominant Capital, a despicably large gap in vaccine equity. While rich and middle income nations are now at an average of 70% vaccinated, poor nations are still struggling at around 7%. and it is not just internationally that this wealth/vaccine inequity was perpetuated. Poor and marginalized communities in wealthy nations have also been disproportionately undervaccinated. The vast response to much of the criticism surrounding this point has been that poor and marginalized communities have shown a large Hesitancy to take the vaccines. But putting aside the fact that many of these communities have ample reason to distrust Pharmaceutical companies and Governments that have a long history of using and abusing them by dumping faulty or expired medications on them and using them as involuntary experiments, there is the question of the deliberate spread of counterfactual information that has resulted in the majority of the hesitancy. Which brings us to point number 5.

        5. The Role of Misinformation and Disinformation in Expanding the Pandemic Problem

        Many believe that the anti-vaccine community is a decentralized community largely spearheaded by concerned soccer moms that are terrified their children will develop Autism from the harmful chemical cocktails the state wants to force onto them. To some extent, there is some truth to this belief, because a large and vocal portion of the the anti-vaccine community is exactly this type of demographic.

        But what is largely ignored is that these entities tend to act as boosters for the disinformation rather than the original source. Research done by the Center for Countering Digital Hate has found that the vast majority (over 70%) of all Vaccine Disinformation and Covid-19 Disinformation, originates from just 12 influential social media accounts. Now dubbed the Disinformation Dozen, and that within this group, the most prevalent voice is that of  Joseph Mercola, an osteopath with an “alternative health” Empire he runs jointly with his wife, to the value of over $100million.

        *************************************************************

        So what we see is almost a perfect storm of conditions for the Power of Capital. Science enclosed by property rights, generating Differential Accumulation in the health industry, and sustaining the condition for the State of Capital to ensure further differential Accumulation by sectors outside of health, while simultaneous reinforcing global divides, deepening and broadening power bases, while the little emperors of pseudoscience re-enforce foundations for the global divides.

    • #247340
      jmc

        I spent all day today typing up a response to this post, gathering information from various sources, and fleshing out my ideas… and when I went to submit… everything just disappeared.

        Apologies for the frustrating bug. A lot of work was done to get the forum working the way it does. A future step will include improving the user experience of drafting posts. As you found out, the text box will not remember what you wrote, so any small error will erase hard work.

        • #247353

          It happens, and has happened to me before on other forums.

          I should have saved the work in a word processor before posting, as I should have learned this lesson a long time ago.

          C’est La Vie

      • #247345

        Pieter de Beer,

        I am really sorry your full reply was lost. I would have read it with great interest. I WILL read it with great interest when it is recovered/redone. The listed points (facets) look very much to the point about what is happening. I will start with the text/data loss issue and then talk about some of your points briefly.

        I have had similar text/data losses while blogging –  lots of data, lots of links, lots of exposition. I understand the frustration. There’s something about being hot on the trail of an important topic that makes us forget to do back ups. I have learned to stop when I feel I have already written quite a lot in a blog window. I go back, highlight and copy it, so at least it is on the “clipboard” in memory. Then I open my word processor and a document I keep for such purposes, paste it in there and save. It’s just a few window flips. Also, in some blogs, the lost text can be recovered by just using the browser back arrow to go back from the attempted post to the draft window. Often, the text is still there in the draft window. Even if you closed the window tab you can get the window tab back on many browsers with the correct command. I’ve even had crashes due to power outages, lost huge screeds of text and later when rebooting and re-opening windows for the word processor and the blog site, found that recovered windows come up with all my text. Some modern proprietary operating systems (naming no names) are now automatically backing up in background, all the time seemingly. That can mean the full text is still somewhere on the hard drive, in temp files I guess. One just has to find them, maybe. Best to go looking early, not late of course.

        Re your five points, I will start by talking about points 1 and 5. Of course, I don’t know what you were looking at in those points but they are my first interest along with the interplay between them.

        We notice the general disinterest, even the strong opposition, of capitalists to public preventative measures, especially NPIs (non-pharmaceutical interventions) and lock-downs. Their interest is only in pharmaceutical prevention or amelioration. There is relatively little money to be made in many forms of NPI and physical distance prevention. Masks are low tech (read low profits) and people staying distanced spend no money at all doing that and may even spend less money overall. Indeed, there are often money losses in prevention. People isolate, businesses lose workers,  draw less customers and even shut down.

        The cordon sanitaire, once a staple of epidemic control, and still used sensibly for a while by some capitalist countries like Australia, has been declared (essentially) inconsistent with capitalism. The cordon sanitaire (isolation, lock-downs) has been cast, in populist terms, as something other than the population willingly protecting itself, complying with democratic directives for public safety from its elected government and doing so out of  both enlightened self-interest and community concern. Instead such measures are cast as anti-freedom interventions by “socialists” or suchlike. It turns out that one should not interfere with important capitalist and consumer freedoms, like the freedom to make money while people die preventable deaths or the freedom of the robust to behave and consume in ways which spread the epidemic to the more vulnerable. “My freedoms don’t end where your feelings begin,” is the standard saw of the libertarian right. Never mind that any idiosyncratic construction of personal freedom (a form of solipsistic selfishness and license) is itself entirely based on feelings of self-righteousness and self-entitlement.

        Essentially, public health measures which do not permit corporations to make huge profits are declared out of bounds, precisely because they are inconsistent with dominant capital interests. The trouble with cordons, aside from obstructing the profits of dominant capital, is that they can be implemented directly by the people, not just by government edicts and security forces. They can be a people power phenomenon. In formal politics, a cordon sanitaire is the refusal to cooperate with certain political parties. But a union picket line is a direct action cordon. A rent strike is also a kind of cordon (between poor people’s money for necessities and the slumlord’s claim for rents). Overall , the people must be kept atomistically selfish, mutually antagonistic in detail. Coalescence around cooperative goals is anathema to capital.

        The strategy to stay completely open (for the circuits of money, capital and manipulated workers and consumers) and to rely almost entirely on vaccination is a strategy which takes no cognizance of the powers and subtleties of the phenomenon of evolution. SARS_Cov_2 as an RNA virus can mutate relatively rapidly compared to many other pathogens (but not compared to some other RNA viruses as coronaviruses actually have a proofing capacity to reduce mistakes or mutations). SARS_Cov_2 as seen in Omicron also appears to have to have devloped a splicing capacity to splice sections of at least two variants infecting the one person. Overall, as a zoonotic virus newly infecting humans, SARS_Cov_2 now represents an instance of punctuated equilibrium evolution where evolution of the new pathogen (in this case) is extraordinarily rapid.

        The continued assumption of the public and the élites is that the virus is a (nearly) stationary target. It’s actually a rapidly evolving and moving target. To rely only on or mainly on vaccination is to condemn ourselves to always ceding the initiative to the virus. It makes the move each time (evolution to a new, confoundingly dangerous variant) and then we play catch-up trying to make a variant specific booster, taking at least four months to get that variant booster into public arms. Only prevention, suppression and eradication can wrest the initiative back from the virus, reducing and then preventing mutation by reducing and then preventing replication.

        The public and the elites (not the virologists and epidemiologists) have profoundly misunderstood the nature of coronaviruses in general and SARS_Cov_2 in particular. Lasting and complete immunity was never going to occur due to the nature of the virus. It’s a characteristic of the genus that immunity wanes relatively rapidly in the face of viral mutation and the the loss of “immune memory”. Vaccinations were never going to be anything but “leaky”, permitting reinfection albeit usually with lessened symptoms and danger. Why were these realities denied from the outset and the public fed with a set of myths about these issues? Your five facets certainly can support an analysis going to the heart of those issues. I will write more shortly when I get time.

        • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
        • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
        • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
        • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
      • #247349

        I spent all day today typing up a response to this post, gathering information from various sources, and fleshing out my ideas… and when I went to submit… everything just disappeared. Will try again I suppose Basically my comment came down to this though. The Covid Crisis analysis should be broken up into 5 Facets (while keeping in mind that all the facets have strong interlinks and overlaps)

        1. The Science
        2. Dominant Pharmaceutical Capital and their differential accumulation throughout the pandemic
        3. The Rest of the Dominant Capital Market and their differential accumulation throughout the pandemic
        4. The State of Capital and its Support Structures for the a) Accumulation of Capital and b) creating a Global Inequitable Vaccine Divide
        5. The Role of Misinformation and Disinformation in Expanding the Pandemic Problem

        Regarding the fifth factor, you might find this book (and other similar work by its authors) of interest: Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance.  The book includes a version of this 2005 article, which is directly on point.  I suspect all of the articles in the book can be found for free in some form.

         

      • #247385

        To my mind, the behaviour of dominant capital, during the ongoing and escalating COVID-19 crisis, as during the ongoing and escalating climate crisis, illustrates the entirely and profoundly maladaptive nature of capitalism in all its forms. The only permitted approach to the pandemic (an approach prescribed by dominant capital, especially dominant pharmaceutical capital and their captured governments) has been to spread the pandemic as far as possible and then battle it, after the fact of spread, by expensive pharmaceuticals only supplied to first world countries.

        A Machiavellian theory, which perhaps ascribes more foresight to the neoliberal capitalists than they have, suggests that the course of the pandemic to date is entirely desired. What better way to entrench the power of dominant pharmaceutical capital than to have an endless pandemic which requires the population to have endless vaccinations and boosters? An elite which holds the vaccine phial and has placed their population in a position of “get vaccinated or die” has a complete hold over the population. It sounds like a dystopian scenario worthy of a Cory Doctorow novel. Is it almost coming true now? I would suggest it is.

        The latest research from Imperial College London shows;

        1. Omicron largely evades immunity from past infection or two vaccine doses. “This level of immune evasion means that Omicron poses a major, imminent threat to public health.” – Prof Neil Ferguson.

        2. The proportion of Omicron among all COVID cases (in Britain) was doubling every 2 days up to December 11th. Based on these results… estimate that the reproduction number (R) of Omicron was above 3 over the period studied.

        3. The study finds no evidence of Omicron having lower severity than Delta.

        Omicron is evading immunity and vaccines with startling capability. Of course, this can be put down to the powers of evolution of this novel coronavirus and the vast and wide open evolutionary landscape available to it. There can be no suggestion that this precisely was planned or predicted by the “Machiavellians”.  But it might be a case of a plan working too well. Some mutation and vaccine escape was predicted. The rapidity and severity of the vaccine escape is startling and is now suggesting an open-ended situation where up to four boosters a year will be required for everyone and that this will be required indefinitely. One wonders how long this scenario will be sustainable technically, logistically and socially.

        With regards to “a plan working too well”, the basic plan of capital and its obedient, lap-dog governments was to “stay open’ for business, keep all corporate revenue streams running and/or start them up again and also run a vast vaccination program which added new revenue streams for capital. A virus which “behaved itself” would mutate at a moderate rate, not beyond the capacity of Big Pharma to make vaccines for the first world, and not beyond the capacity of the population to immunologically tolerate the continued insult of ongoing boosters without developing various syndromes. However, the virus is not playing ball. It is mutating far too fast and effectively for the high-tech plan.

        The high-tech / hi-consumption plan, the plan for capitalist hi-tech solutions for everything without making any concomitant voluntary reductions in excess production and consumption of non-essential goods and services, will be found to be wholly inadequate to combat this crisis. The correct, and coincidentally more socialist path, is a great reduction in an all non-essential and frivolous economic activity and the resort to human-scale, yet mass human solutions, the central of which would be self-imposed and community imposed semi-isolation, restraint and consumer boycotts of non-essential goods and services processes which are spreading the virus. This action almost certainly won’t happen of course. Neither the system nor the population (propagandized as it is into a false consciousness about the necessity  for endless self-indulgent excess consumption) are likely to behave in this self-disciplining way.

        Instead, we will continue down this failed path where in an escalation of the technology – evolution arms race, evolution (of virions in this case) will easily win the race. Evolution is a superior technology, precisely because it operates in the real space and not in a virtual or mathematical space. It runs through possibilities in real space and in real parameters with real fundamental laws governing outcomes. This real space is almost infinitely more complex (and capable of emergent phenomena) than our virtual and mathematical modelling space. No amount of conscious intelligent modelling and mathematical-algorithmic modelling can match the full complexity of reality. Reality is a much bigger finite (or possibly even infinite) state machine than our sets of models.

        We can “look forward” to this crisis becoming ever worse while the pandemic is permitted to rip and we use mere technology in an attempt to avoid the reality that changes in human behaviour and political economy prescriptions are required to get off this self-destructive path. We cannot continue to behave the same way, destroying the natural world and humans and then expect machines and technology to make good the damage. It’s like smashing your arm with a hammer because doctors can set broken bones.

        • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
        • #247392

          Hi Rowan,

          First I want to confirm that you did see my full response to your post, and then I was hoping if you could clarify something. Are you suggesting that Dominant Pharmaceuticals, or any other powerful entities deliberately planned the Covid-19 Pandemic?

          Don’t get me wrong, I have deep-seated dislike and enmity for those at the top of the power structures, but I think that planning of the Pandemic goes against the rituals of Dominant Capital. It is one thing to opportunistically prey upon crisis. It is an entirely different matter to create a crisis that can easily spiral out of control and result in the total destruction of power bases. I don’t think the Powerful, who are demonstrably risk-averse, would hazard such a risk, even for massive short term gains in wealth or social control.

      • #247393

        Pieter de Beer (and other readers of this thread),

        Yes, I have read Pieter’s comments and perhaps inadvertently gave the impression I had totally ignored them. I have a propensity to hare off on my theories.

        1(a). mRNA Vaccine research languished for about 5 decades on Pieter’s telling. I had not been aware of that. I was aware that coronavirus research (into a common cold coronavirus) had languished after being begun and then abandoned about 5 decades ago. This is part of a common picture concerning R&D under capitalism. Noam Chomsky referred to this issue in a short video interview long available on Youtube. Chomsky has possibly referred to this in his written work too. The gist of what Chomsky said was that (military and other, including academic) R&D built certain key modern technologies from the transistor chip to the early internet. All of this R&D was government funded. Various capitalist enterprises then obtained the copyright or IP and proceeded to make products and profits on it. The story is the same with the mRNA vaccines of course. Government money paid for the fundamental research, early and recent. Then the capitalist corporations get the rights and billions are made by a select few while Africa (for example) faces the pandemic largely without vaccines.

        1(b) Yes warnings of pandemic disease outbreak have been made for decades. This includes warnings about zoonotic disease outbreaks: outbreaks of new pathogens which jump from wild animal reservoirs to humans. I read. in about 1995, “The Coming Plague” by Laurie Garret, published in 1994. I don’t recall, off the top of my head, if it had a section on coronaviruses. But the basic thesis was clear: overpopulation, poor spending on preventative medicine and on medical research and vaccination programs plus the continued incursions of man into the wilds and the use of bush meat and wet markets leads to great dangers of these spillovers of zoonotic diseases. Writers over at the Monthly Review (Marxian) have written several excellent articles on how the capitalist food system and the ever-expansion of that system (and other systems of capitalism) into wilderness excpose humans to these continuous spill-overs of novel zoonoses into humans.

        Capitalism, as a system, is completely impervious to warnings that it is unsustainable on a number of fronts. Climate change is the “poster child” of this unsustainable reality (and rightly so in a lot of ways) but the novel zoonosis threats are also very significant. They will play a role in the degrading or attrition of the capitalist system. In a way we can say capitalism is programmed to overshoot and collapse. Now that is not the express intention. It is programmed to grow indefinitely. This is so because capitalists believe in magic, specifically alchemy I would say. Everything in the world can be transformed into wealth in an endless growth process and yet the world at the same time can persist intact or intact enough to support us forever in forever increasing numbers. But to program endless growth is to program collapse. Wilful ignorance of that clear fact, when the science is conclusive, is no defence.

        1(c) The policy rollout was mismatched and counterproductive because it was designed by neoliberal, market fundamentalist capitalists. That is the short, glib and yet correct answer. Their goals are endless growth (as alluded to above) and the endless transfer of wealth to the tiny, super-rich class; some new members of this class being made in the process. Throughout the crisis capitalism has done what it is programmed to do. I don’t know if CasP theorists talk about programming much but the basic theory of a strand of CasP is one pointing out the pseudo-rational programmed nature of capitalism and its endless replication of modules of itself. This is the “Autocatalytic Sprawl of Pseudo-Rational Mastery” alluded to by Ulf Martin.

        “The world is increasingly governed by the SIS of rational mastery, the autocatalytic sprawl of bureaucracy. To the latter we can add the equally autocatalytic growth of capitalization.  But there is a problem for the process of ever-increasing rational mastery. Throughout its history, rational mastery has always been challenged by the autonomy project,” – Ulf Martin.

        Now, I could write several philosophical chapters unpacking the concept of “the autonomy project” and its various historical guises, including a critique of humanity’s assumption of autonomy against its own biological nature (another kind of false consciousness) but this is not the place and I am in sympathy with the feelings and actions for autonomy against the inhuman programming of capitalism.

        What I am more interested in at this point, is the notion of programming itself. A program is nothing more than a set of prescribed actions to execute a task. We can contrast blind programming and feedback-guided programming. Blind programming says to execute certain tasks without deviation, no matter what. Feedback programming takes notice of the environment in which the agent (human or machine) is acting and it takes note of larger concerns and even the telos. Look for obstacles and circumnavigate or circumvent them. Don’t proceed with current instructions and directions if you will destroy what you are trying to preserve or achieve. And so on. But capitalism doesn’t have these levels to its programming. It’s a blind program which takes no notice of environment or the good of the mass of its micro-agents (the masses, the public, the workers). A program which takes notice of the environment would not be destroying the climate and other earth systems. A program which took notice of its “micro-agents” would not be sacrificing them to a virus for upper percentile incomes. The empirical evidence of capitalism to date permits us to say this; that capitalism takes no or greatly inadequate notice of the environment and its “micro-agents” who are micro-agents to capitalism but persons to themselves and indeed persons in social and community matrices.

        I am struggling to voice my profound unease and indeed existential terror at the machinations of late stage capitalism in a time of pandemic without sounding like a conspiracy theorist. I follow Gore Vidal in this. If you think everything is a conspiracy you are crazy. If you think nothing is a conspiracy you are naïve. The imposition of capitalism is a conspiracy. As Adam Smith reputedly said, every profession is a conspiracy against the public. In late stage capitalism two “professions”, namely rich persons and politicians, are very much in a closed door conspiracy against the public and masses. Just as there are competing capitals there are competing conspiracists and “Robespierres” can end up guillotined by their own party.

        This is to say that conspiracies are not neat and they have shifting and permeable boundaries; players can move from “out” to “in” and vice versa. The conspiracy “amoeba” blobs and grows and shrinks by absorption and expulsion but always its pseudopods reach out for victims. The sign of my struggle is that I create a metonymy of mixed metaphors. We can also regard capitalism as a virus. Does it not inject its code into cells (humans) which congregate in and as organs (communities in a nation or super-community) and the capitalist code then hijacks the activities of the humans and gets them to make what it (capitalism) wants them to make, not necessarily what the people themselves want to make.

        The capitalist conspiracy has a look-ahead routine just like a chess program. It can plan moves only so far ahead. It does not plan a pandemic by creating the virus, it does not generate the whole game. The virus has moves too like an opponent. The virus has its mutational autonomy. But capitalism plans certain moves. It is clear that the long term goal (since the start of the pandemic) of the Australian Federal government, acting at the behest of big business and using small business proprietors as “useful fools” and “stalking horses” and consumers as consumption addicts has been to re-open the economy by infecting the entire population with a dangerous disease whose mutations mean we don’t know where the pandemic will end up. Each new mutation of this extremely mutable and subtle virus has surpassed expectations, in a bad way, and has taken even most experienced virologists and epidemiologists by surprise.

        In the face of that emerging environmental feedback (the virus as part of our environment) the response of capitalism, via its bought and suborned governments, has been to change nothing, to change no plans. The plan is to open up in a scarcely disguised social Darwinist, ageist and ableist manner. The aged, the sick, the halt and lame may die. The provision of an ultimately highly “leaky” vaccine is a new fact (the leakiness of the vaccine in relation to Omicron that is) that has been swept under the carpet. To a denizen of Australia it has been obvious that the Federal Government’s plan has always been to completely open up, relying only on vaccines. The Federal Government steadfastly refused, and still does, to implement a proper quarantine system and stick with suppression of the virus (to eradication).

        Some socialist countries (China being the exemplar) did not and still have not given up on suppression. Of course, when the USA and Europe refuse to suppress and permit wholesale spread to Africa, South America etc. and deny patent-free vaccines then virus suppression in one country becomes even harder than socialism in one country. When tubes of infection are permitted to criss-cross the skies (passenger airplanes of course) what hope is there of contagion repression? The capitulation to allow the full spread of the virus spreads as nations and peoples simply give up. You can’t fight capitalism’s prescriptions easily. It’s hard work and involves sacrifices. Easier to give up and eat a packet of crisps. It’s significant that only leftist and socialist thinkers and outlets still decry this public health capitulation and this social Darwinism of capitalism which is in stark contrast to its claims to care about diversity, minorities and identity politics. Too bad if you are part of the genetic diversity or one of the excluded minorities which handles COVID-19 infection badly, even after (leaky) vaccination. You have permission to crawl away and die. We are too busy “getting and spending” to give a rat’s a*** about you.

        Often it seems that people envisage conspiracies as requiring full foreknowledge and power in the form of omniscient planning and omnipotent execution. Conspiracies do not require these absolutes. Conspiracies require only an adequate knowledge differential and power differential. As Casp-ian thinkers (if we may partially call ourselves that) this ought perhaps to be clear to us. Conspiracies excel in opportunism not in absolute knowledge and omniscient planning. Being a few moves ahead in planning and being able to execute is like being a few percentage points ahead in differential accumulation. In game of the exponentializing accumulation of advantages, the conspirators (whose central power actually lies in making and gaming the rules of the game they play and make us play) rapidly draw ahead and trounce their opponents (workers and the masses) just as Magnus Carlson would trounce a social chess player.

        So yes, I do think there is a conspiracy but it is an on-going opportunistic conspiracy with differential “look-ahead” and execution capabilities. The Australian Government (I am most familiar with this example) played a long game to defeat doctors, virologists, epidemiologists, state governments and that portion of the public with “commonwealth” meaning “common weal” meaning “common good” ideals and goals even if held within a mixed economy setting with elements of democratic socialism or welfarism and not in a pure socialist setting. The Federal Government  played wedge politics by wedging off small business owners and “red-necks” and giving them subsidies in the first instance and nod-and-wink encouragement in the second instance. The red-necks are the white “lumpenproletariat” of modern times with their strong tendencies to neo-fascism and white supremacy.

        The Federal Government (of Australia) made cause with their corporate donors and always intended to open up the entire economy: open up in the capitalist sense. The main donors to and sources of the corruption of the Australian parliamentary political system are resource companies (fossil fuels and minerals), the tourism “industry”, the airlines duopoly and the gaming and entertainment “industries”. How consumption activities like tourism, racing, gambling and entertainment get called “industries” is a little beyond me. It’s a trick of the discourse I guess. I thought industries made stuff, especially long-lasting, perennially useful (and now sustainable) stuff. Australia rips raw stuff out of the ground, drinks, gambles, tours and generally indulges itself. But nations too need to mature, especially in an over-populated and resource constrained world.

        The corporates always wanted Australia to “open up”. A leaky quarantine system (pretty much intended to be leaky at least by the federal govt who refused to take on its constitutional responsibility for quarantine and shovelled that off on the states) and then a vaccine that wasn’t intended to be leaky but turned out (rather predictably) to be leaky, have both contributed to an Australia that opens up at the worst possible time: at the outset of the Omicron pandemic. We are not even waiting for the full data on Omicron. They want to push through the opening up and make it a fait accompli before the full and now almost completely predictable terrible data on Omicron are known. Our PM, Scott Morrison is making a mistake at this point that makes Boris Johnson look a paragon of care, concern and calculative foresight. This will be a medical and social disaster of course for a significant minority if not he majority of Australians. But of course minorities don’t count and this is what the capitalists want:  not the coming medical and social disaster for the middle class and the poor but the continuation of the circuits of capital which make them rich. The victims of this strategy are collateral damage, sacrificial peons and chattering class bleeding-hearts who matter nothing to the masters of capital.

        I haven’t even touched on your other points. I will try to get there. Does anyone read my walls of text though? I do wonder. I don’t feel that political economy can be a mere academic exercise. Without outrage where are we? Sometimes it may be a mistake to remain continually cool and analytic. The walls of ivory towers are cold to the touch are they not?

        • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
        • #247395

          Hi Rowan.

          I read your walls of text. Which is how I am able to formulate my questions. There’s a lot to unpack in this one, but before I do, I just wanted to say that I do think outrage has it’s place. Anger, releases cortisol in the brain, which cements memories. It’s a signal to the brain that this moment, is something to pay attention to. It is something that should be remembered and learned from. But then we have to move on. Long term cortisol levels in the brain have detrimental effects, like emotional dysfunction, and reduced ability to reason clearly. So while Anger and outrage have their uses, we should stay angry, lest we become outrageous.

          “We cannot have a meaningful revolution without humor.”
          —Bell Hooks

          Being cool and analytic gives the opposition (Authoritarians and Capitalists, and the stooges of bureaucratic middle-management, and Neoclassical economists) less ammunition with which to assail you when you make your points.

          It is possible to be impassioned without forsaking logic and reason, and empirical analysis. Just like it is possible to remain cool and calm and still make intuitive leaps of abductive logic.

      • #247420

        A former Australian politician, Gough Whitlam once said “maintain the rage”. This was in relation to “The Dismissal” also known as the 1975 Australian Constitutional Crisis. A decent summary is available on Wikipedia. Admittedly, in context, he said “Maintain your rage and enthusiasm for the campaign for the election now to be held and until polling day.” There is a fairly plausible theory of CIA interference in Australia’s politics at that time. I would say that while the outrage persists the rage against it must persist. I say this today in relation to COVID-19.

        The capitalist countries have deliberately ignored and indeed spread COVID-19 in their own countries and around the world everywhere their influences reaches, which apparently is everywhere except China. This needs some clarifications They ignored it initially, permitting free passenger airline movements around the world until the virus was seeded everywhere. Then there were some belated, inadequate and unmaintained restrictions. When it could no longer be ignored, it was minimised. “It’s only a flu.” It became non-permissible, as it were, to implement cordons sanitaire or any other measures which restricted the ability of capitalists and small proprietors to continue trade and make money. The distinction between essential goods and services and non-essential, discretionary consumer activity was lost. Basic foods are essential to life. The services offered by pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, sports, gambling and tourism are not. But Western capitalism, now basing most of its economy on service industries for frivolous, non-essential and climate-wrecking consumption, found itself both unable to close the non-essential activities spreading contagion and to fund the newly essential activities, as in greater quarantine, medical services and so on. The entire strategy was based on vaccination which is now progressively failing as the virus effects vaccine escape. Relying on vaccinations alone, during an RNA virus pandemic, simply encourages the mutation and evolution of vaccine escape: supercharges it in fact. Israel is up to its 4th round of vaccinations against COVID-19.

        In Queensland, Australia, Qld. Chief Health Officer John Gerrard’s plan for COVID-19 Omicron sounds like a prescription for a state-wide Pox Party. Pox parties are a really bad idea even for measles. Times that by a hundred for COVID-19.

        “Not only is the spread of this virus inevitable, it is necessary. In order for us to go from the pandemic phase to an endemic phase, the virus has to be widespread. We all have to have immunity, you will all have to develop immunity and there’s two ways you can do that: by being vaccinated or getting infected.” – Qld. Chief Health Officer John Gerrard quoted by the ABC.

        These statements are astonishing and a complete abrogation of the responsibilities of a medical professional and Chief Health Officer. Let us unpack these statements.

        1. The spread of the virus has been made inevitable by deliberate acts (and refusals to act) of public policy. There was nothing intrinsically inevitable about it. China has contained until now. The spread of the virus in Australia now is the result of a set of policy choices by Australia’s governments and officials and the foolish actions and lobbying of two indulged sections of the population, the rednecks and the rich. The rich demanded opening-up (they donate to both major political parties just as in the USA) and the rednecks obligingly demonstrated for that and refused to wear masks etc.

        2. To claim that it is necessary to spread a dangerous disease to go from pandemic to endemic is to turn upside down all the precepts of public and preventative medicine developed from about 1800 onwards. What next? Are we going to apply these principles to malaria, TB, cholera and so on? Should we in the past have applied those principles to smallpox and polio or was it in fact the right call to supress and eradicate them? (Earlier, smallpox was deliberately spread to the native populations of the Americas and Australia and accurate, non-revisionist, history has recorded the results of that.)

        3. We all do have to acquire some immunity (realistically it will only be partial and waning immunity), if we can, and preferably by vaccination, not by infection. Omicron evades natural immunity even better than it evades vaccination immunity. The complete or near complete acquisition of immunity, by all, is impossible with this type of RNA coronavirus. There are many immune-compromised people in our Australian community as in any nation. Co-morbidities which increase the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 number in the millions, from a population of 25 million. Here are few examples: 1.2 million people with diabetes in Australia, an estimated 600,000 people with coronary heart diseases and 1.7 million with biomedical signs of chronic kidney disease. Then there is the immuno-senescence afflicting the elderly. Also, here are the people who can’t be vaccinated at all for medical reasons or who develop no immunity from vaccination. The spread of the infection is NOT necessary. The suppression and eradication of COVID019 was and still is necessary. The new variant(s) are making natural immunity and vaccination immunity seriously leaky. Indeed, it is looking like COVID-19 might acquire extensive immunity evasion capabilities unless there are further vaccine and medicine developments. This is a watershed moment. Late-stage capitalism has given up on public and preventative medicine. It leaves vulnerable people to die.

        Referencing the Chief Health Officer’s specific statement “Not only is the spread of this virus inevitable, it is necessary.” This is pure neoliberalism. Canadian social and political economy philosopher, John Ralston Saul, commented on the TINA (There Is No Alternative) mantra at the base of  neoliberalism, globalism and managerialism. Policy choices which create (usually) disasters for the poor, minorities and increasingly now for the middle class are deemed to be inevitable and necessary. This is pure neoliberal method. As JRS joked years ago when addressing the issue of globalism, “If everything is inevitable and there is no alternative, why bother with democracy? Let’s just go to the beach.” He was giving a talk in Australia at the time. JRS’s prescient joke is becoming true before our eyes, Trump attempted a self coup or auto coup in the USA and plans Auto Coup 2.0 in the next incumbency cycle.

        This is a watershed moment where we see plutocratic capitalism moving on to the cannibalization and catabolization of its own workforce and people. But people now have neither the scientific nor the historical literacy with which to confront this real world and its realpolitik, but as it were they have a post Christmas dinner sleep, dreaming of I know not what, binge-series superheroes probably. False consciousness has made its masterpiece in this pandemic.

        • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Rowan Pryor.
      • #247586

        I’m going to have to respond to this. No, it’s not getting worse. When covid first showed up it was an entirely new disease. That’s a problem. We had a serious problem. In the US the crude death rate (by my own calculation–my wife and I are old and you can bet your ass we have been following it closely and doing calculations) was 1.5%. The R0 for the original strain was 2.5. Herd immunity is given by 1 – 1/R0, which was 0.6 for the original strain. So, 330 million pop x 0.6 x 0.015 = 3 million dead. This is a “back of the envelop calc, the real value would probably be lower. The number being floated then was 2 million (that was a *conservative* estimate). To avoid this, authorities decided to take century-old public health measures to slow the spread to give time for a vaccine to be developed. In May 2020 on a facebook group people asked me when I asserted we would have a vaccine by the end of the year why I was so sure this would happen. And I explained how this would happen (I retired in Feb 2021 from Pfizer after a 33 year career and knew folks who worked on the vaccine, which was produced in the town in which I live, so I know this).

        By fall 2020 I was hoping for a “victory over Covid celebration to be held around Halloween time in 2021. This was based on my projection of a mass vaccination campaign to achieve a 60% vaccination level by the end of 3Q 2021. Then came Delta. The R0 for Delta is 6, for which herd immunity is >85%. That isn’t possible, so Covid in going to become endemic. We had already had 630K deaths. Mortality was still 1.5%. 15% of 330 million is 50 million. There were still about 140 million unvaccinated folks left of whom 90 million would get infected by Delta and 1.4 million would die, bringing total dead up to 2 million, one-third less than what we faced at the beginning. Added to these are those vaccinated who became infected by Covid.

        Then came Omnicron. Here R0 is 10 and herd immunity 90%, suggesting 30 million will avoid infection. 37% of the population is unvaccinated, or 120 million. This means 90 million to get infected by ominicron. If omnicron is as deadly as delta then that means the same 1.4 million of extra deaths. But omnicron is *very* infectious and my wife and I (both in our sixties and with multiple risk factors) got it and it was like a cold. We know lots of young people who got the earlier versions of covid who did fine (and several older folks who did not, one of whom died). We were very scared of the earlier strains (I think justifiably so) but omnicron is different. I think it is milder and it has been reported as such. I will not have confirmatory data on that for another two weeks, based on my tracking, but I am optimistic.

        Even so, worst case, the total death count we will see from this epidemic in the US will be significantly worse than what I projected at the beginning of the epidemic. It is not getting worse. It remains a very serious problem, but it has ALWAYS been a very serious problem for those who have been paying attention from the beginning.

      • #248069

        It might be time to revive this thread if possible. I wonder how Michael Alexander’s optimism is proceeding now? In this thread I will mostly make assertions with only some references. If I pique any interest or opposition, I will provide more “analysis” (if I can call what I do analysis) and references. I recently deleted the text of another new thread of mine. I decided I had gone a little too conspiracy-theoretic. This post, believe it or not, is toned down.

         

        The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to spiral out of control. Our current measures function as if they were designed to make the pandemic as bad as possible and perhaps interminable. What I am saying is that we could scarcely design a worse policy if our intention had been to harm ourselves and humanity as much as possible.

        Our policy is the deliberate spread of COVID-19 as widely as possible while relying only on an incomplete vaccination program to arrest its spread. It gets worse. The virus, with the assistance of wide spread, indeed near-ubiquitous spread except in mainland China, is rapidly evolving to immune escape and vaccine escape. Unchecked spread met by a leaky vaccine, with no updates for variants as yet, is the perfect recipe to assist the virus to evolve to vaccine escape and greater lethality. The correct strategy would have been:

        1. To make vaccination near universal by mandates and assist the 2nd and 3rd world fully.

        2. To use other strong control measures to precede and then supplement what is an imperfect vaccine. It is probably an unavoidably imperfect vaccine given the empirical facts still emerging about the virus, the vaccine and the human immune systems’ (plural for many humans) as they encounter this pathogen.

        Since we have not followed that path, we are in a dilemma which could lead the human race into a situation resembling Marek’s disease in chickens. The salient points about Marek’s disease and its COVID-19 parallels are as follows (while remembering the two viruses are quite different from each other in classification terms, transmission and hosts):

        (1) Marek’s disease is a disease of chickens jammed together in the massed conditions of industrial farming. Modern human cities mean humans are jammed together in the industrially massed conditions of modern mass housing and mass transit. COVID-19 thrives in these conditions without  adequate controls.

        (2) Vaccination does not prevent infection of chickens with the Marek’s virus. Marek’s disease is still transmissible from vaccinated birds to other birds. This is exactly the position for humans with COVID-19 vaccination as it does not prevent continued infections and transmission.

        (3) Early strains of Marek’s were genuinely mild. The first Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2 by comparison was not mild nor was it low on the contagion scale. Marek’s evolved to greater and greater lethality under the evolutionary pressure of an infection-leaking vaccine. SARS-CoV-2 has evolved to greater contagiousness under an incompletely administered and infection-leaking vaccine. It has also evolved to a greater product of lethality times contagiousness. Its intrinsic lethality is increasing too: meaning without vaccination the latest strains are more dangerous. The claimed intrinsic mildness of Omicron’s variants has now been demonstrated to be a myth: one of the many deliberate lies and myths pushed during this pandemic.

        What this means for humans is illustrated by the following, written about Marek’s disease:

        “Under normal (natural) conditions, highly virulent strains of the virus are not selected for by evolution. This is because such a severe strain would kill the host before the virus would have an opportunity to transmit to other potential hosts and replicate. Thus, less virulent strains are selected. These strains are virulent enough to induce symptoms but not enough to kill the host, allowing further transmission. However, the leaky vaccine changes this evolutionary pressure and permits the evolution of highly virulent strains. The vaccine’s inability to prevent infection and transmission allows the spread of highly virulent strains among vaccinated chickens. The fitness of the more virulent strains is increased by the vaccine.” – Wikipedia.

        We are now in this Marek’s disease position with COVID-19 disease. SARS-CoV-2’s ability to spread asymptomatically and well before the host faces any possible lethal danger, PLUS the vaccine’s inability to prevent infection / transmission, allows the spread of highly virulent strains among vaccinated and unvaccinated humans. New immune-escape and vaccine-escape variants are arising faster than any production of variant-targeted vaccines. In fact, we have not yet seen a single variant-targeted vaccine in the face of at least a dozen serious variants and serious sub-variants.

        Boosting by third and fourth vaccines is destined to progressively fail in the medium run (not even in the long run) on current trends. There is no official mention of a fifth vaccine and no serious mention or appearance of any further vaccine breakthrough. This looks like a chess end-game where the opponent has King and pawn vs. King and also has “the opposition” (of kings) as it is called. In such a situation, a win is guaranteed by following the correct heuristics and look-ahead algorithms of play. We are in this situation, in the clearly losing position and destined to axiomatically lose against the virus unless we bring new pieces onto the board as it were. Playing the game only with a failing vaccine will axiomatically lead to massive losses in human and economic terms. The virus will “brute force” a win against us by naturally exploring myriad mutational lines and finding the winning, or thriving, lines (for the virus). If we keep “playing” in this way we lose for certain.

        Basically, we refuse to change for four reasons:

        (A) The economic reason is related to the “algorithms of capital” which can also be called “the rituals of capital”. These rules can be regarded as rituals because they are prescriptively specified, in neoliberal economics, as exclusively teleologically necessary (involving even the ignoring of empirical outcomes) for progress to prosperity measured in the numeraire. Under neoliberalism, the application of these prescriptions as algorithms has in fact lead to higher and higher inequality and to two now near-runaway disasters: climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. These rules are ritually maintained and instantiated as algorithms by the pseudo-rational application of the process of capitalization. That is my interpretation based on the highly original insights and discoveries of Capital as Power theory.

        These inflexible algorithms continue to be applied in the same manner no matter what the real systems (the biosphere and human populations) are doing or are having done to them. Feed-backs from real systems are ignored or fallaciously valued in the numeraire (a social fictive dimension) rather than being quantified in real scientific dimensions and then used for scientific and ethical decision making. Almost all decisions under neoliberal capitalism are money calculated and mediated and are not real dimension, scientifically, calculated and mediated. Following Blair Fix  in “The Aggregation Problem”.

        (B) The “Manufactured Consensus” problem. See Noam Chomsky’s work. Essentially outright lies, anti-science, anti-logic and other extensive FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) propaganda is utilized to propagandize and mislead the population.

        (C) The “Governance Capture” and “Regulatory Capture” problems which mean our nominal democracies are not democracies at all. The tiny majority of the super rich get most of the governance decisions they want. See “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” – Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page.

        (D) The “dopamine reward system” problem posed by rampant consumerism. It is clear people have become so addicted to consumer rewards that they cannot and/or will not abstain from them even when their immediate satiation is contra-indicated by serious emerging real system dangers including continuous climate change and continuous pandemic spread.

        The final question is will we change in time? There is probably a point at which even the biggest (non-suicidal) idiot will stop accelerating straight towards the edge of a high precipice. The issue then is whether the momentum can be arrested in the space and time left for action.

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