The virus continues to build force as we brace for the coming weeks. Here in NM, we should feel relieved that our governor has been so proactive, but NM is not an island and the US is reeling. Today, we reflect on what has been & what may be coming.
Our Shock Over the Unfolding Crisis Lays the Groundwork for Profound Change
Time is creeping along. We look back over the past week or two to count the days from when we were last even a bit exposed and feel relief as we reach day 14, but then turn on the news and realize that our world is changing before our eyes and we are interconnected and vulnerable even at home, in isolation.
The coronavirus is a democratizing force, with privilege only offering partial protection. And the virus is unsparing in exposing how our decades-long neo-liberal economic policies have laid to waste our public health system, leaving us naked against a virus that, according to a London study, will kill 2.2 million Americans by the end of the summer if we don’t develop a precisely shaped national strategy. How optimistic can we be with Tweedle Dumb in charge?
Tomorrow, the post will use “How the Pandemic Will End” an Atlantic article by Ed Yong to lay out what the key strategies are that could mitigate the looming disaster and reduce London’s “worst case” outcomes. But I want to use one passage from The Atlantic piece to make today’s point:
When an administration prevaricates on climate change, the effects won’t be felt for years, and even then will be hard to parse. It’s different when a president says that everyone can get a test, and one day later, everyone cannot. Pandemics are democratizing experiences. People whose privilege and power would normally shield them from a crisis are facing quarantines, testing positive, and losing loved ones. Senators are falling sick. The consequences of defunding public-health agencies, losing expertise, and stretching hospitals are no longer manifesting as angry opinion pieces, but as faltering lungs. “The Atlantic: “How the Pandemic Will End”
The pandemic has exposed how the private health system and capitalist economic system have exposed not just the poor, but everyone. People are having one assumption after another pulled from under them and in that context there is the possibility of those people being receptive to a much bolder array of policies. People who viewed pandemics as a distant threat that happens elsewhere may well draw the connection that the climate crisis will inevitably bring similar threats, which like the virus, spares no one. And when reflecting upon how well the current system has served them when facing the pandemic, they may recognize that with this system in place, they will be left defenseless once again. And in that realization lies the possibility of system change.
And so last week’s sequencing of posts and today’s post lay out why our current system has failed us and offers glimpses of what could be.
After summaries of last week’s posts, we offer a series of video. Two from Naomi Klein, laying out her core themes from Shock Doctrine, a book that precisely describes how shock and awe moments can either strengthen tyranny or lead to democratic, grassroots system change.
And below those two videos is a video of Bob Dylan singing his newest 17 minute song: “A Murder Most Foul.” It is a dirge-like tribute to JFK and a reflection on the day that those of us over 60 remember vividly. It is a somber song for a somber time and so captures in tone and emotion how most of us feel today.
A Look Back At a Momentous Week
If you missed any of last week’s posts, do catch up, as a theme is emerging: our systems are clearly broken and our vulnerability is being exposed, and so now is the time to reinvent ourselves and reclaim our future. The virus’ most important gift could be one of awakening and illuminating just how exposed we are, how connected we are, and how in a system that nurtures our inter-connectedness, we will be far better able to address the challenges ahead. Read on.
Do We Protect Public Health Or Private Profit?
Tuesday, March 24. In this post, we examined two key decision points that will illustrate the true values of our national leadership: the relief bill in Congress & the decision to keep people home or send them back to work. Who do our leaders listen to listen to? Who do they protect? How do they decide? We will learn a good deal in the coming days but much is clear already.
Congress Acts, But Is It Enough? And Who Benefits?
Thursday March 26. In this post we offer commentary on the critical role Dr. Anthony Fauci is playing in reining in Donald Trump, followed by analysis of who is most impacted by the coronavirus economically and in terms of exposure risk, and who and how benefits most from the Senate bailout/stimulus/relief bill. At the end of the post, we offer information about a one-hour webinar from Next System Project focused upon how nationalizing critical national functions could foster a more democratic economy. Next System Project does some of the best research on how to re-invent our democracy and our economy of any organization I’ve encountered.
A Vision of a New World Post Virus, NM Virus Spikes & Options For Your Home Sanity
Saturday, March 29. In this post we offer thoughts on Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, her analysis of capitalism and its relationship with natural and economic disasters. We also offer thoughts on how those of you with some means might use at least a chunk of your $1,200 assistance check to help those who may be ineligible or simply need more support than is currently available. Finally, we conclude with four tremendous videos: 1) Coronavirus Capitalism, a nine-minute talk from Naomi Klein that serves as an excellent intro to the second video; 2) How to Beat Coronavirus Capitalism, with Naomi Klein and other progressive pundits; 3) Nationalization Roundtable with researchers from The Next System Project discussing how nationalizing key industries could democratize our economy; and 4) the first Pay It Forward live broadcast, an hour with Dave Matthews performing solo from his home. We hope that this offers you all some enriching diversions during our time isolated.
Naomi Klein: Disaster Capitalism
This will offer those of you who don’t have time, a preview of what is outlined in greater detail in the video that follows. Or perhaps many will watch this as the appetizer before the main dish below. Klein has diagnosed the neo-liberal strategy of taking advantage of the shock felt by populations when hit with a catastrophe to consolidate power and implement economic strategies that ensure obscene profits while economically enslaving populations. Much to be learned and applied to our current crisis.
Shock Doctrine: The Full Documentary
The Shock Doctrine. In this 80-minute documentary Klein goes into detail outlining how one political, environmental or economic disaster after another is used very strategically by the international corporate community to gain advantage over most always low-income, indigenous communities. It is well worth your time.
Bob Dylan: Murder Most Foul
For all of you over 60, this song will bring back memories and more prominently the feeling we had that fateful Dallas afternoon and then the haunting weekend funeral and procession. While there is no effort on Dylan’s part to link that day to today’s crisis, the feelings evoked seem appropriate to our times.
Paul & Roxanne