Pandemics should drive the search for social alternatives
Updated: Jun 6
by Jeremy Horne, Ph.D., the Ax
Pandemics should drive the search for social alternatives
Our current situation
It is decision time, a time for putting theory into practice, for we are at a crossroads of social development. Part of a political science curriculum is systems analysis, and the student learns that a system stressed beyond its capability to survive either adapts or collapses. A paradox emerges here. By adapting to changing conditions by adopting different assumptions, it may no longer be the same system. The assumptions may be about objectives or ways of achieving them. More radically, they may be about the whole purpose of the system. It took the 1929 Depression to alter capitalism from a laissez-faire policy towards employment and social services described by Keynesian economics. A quick view of the current situation (May 2020) reflects the true character of capitalism.
First, watching how the stock market is going up, contrary to the worsening capitalist economy is about how parasites go into a feeding frenzy before the death of the host. Yet, in the background, clearly structural dislocation has occurred, many experts saying the results could rival the 1930s Great Depression.
Second, I see the emerging battle over lockdowns, social distancing, and the wearing of masks, the U.S White House, according to its 7 May 2020 front web page, being the focus of debate. Mr. Trump won't even follow the recommendation of epidemiologists in wearing one.
Both observations are connected because they are anti-social behavior. It is becoming clearer that capitalism, with its inherent assumption of predation, is not capable of ameliorating, let alone solving the pandemic problem. Instead, we read of the US regime with it laissez-faire politicians not taking a competent lead and allowing predatory private companies to develop vaccines and manufacture medical equipment, though those efforts have been insufficient, with an increasing reliance on countries like China to fill the gaps. All of this is against the background of major epidemiologists warning about COVID-19 lasting at least another 18-24 months. We also should read articles like "Spike mutation pipeline reveals the emergence of a more transmissible form of SARS-CoV-2" (searchable online) to remind us of the emerging complexity of this disease and that it probably will have no "silver bullet" responses.
Describing the crossroads
The United States is at a crossroads in more ways than one. Of course, there is the COVID-19 pandemic, with no let-up in sight. There even may be a second and worse wave, forcing more lockdowns, increasing stress on an already overstressed population. It should be clear to persons up to this point that liberal democracies are woefully inadequate to deal with crises like these, as a quick look at the widespread anarchy should confirm. Other problems lurk in the background, such as the mounting debt, 25.2 trillion dollars, as of 14 May 2020. At some point, mathematically it will be impossible to pay it down, leaving devaluation, inflation, and economic implosion in its wake. US belligerency in support of banksters and Wall Street is being heralded by increased war budgets and refusing to honor or renew arms reduction treaties. This says nothing about global warming, which the Trump regime has refused to address.
Instead of confronting the problems with well-organized thinking, we see, instead, typical examples of capitalist predation – the lowest of the low of "investor" parasites buying nursing homes and failing to maintain them, leaving the most vulnerable – aged persons to die. Patent law allows the selfish claiming of an exclusive right granted to anyone to produce and distribute a product, and the real possibility exists that a COVID-19 vaccine developer will be able to hold the world hostage in charging "what the market will bear" (price gouging) in distributing this life-saving medicine. The same applies to treatments and equipment.
In the 13 May 2020 edition of the New York Times, we read, "Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, delivered a stark warning on Wednesday that the United States is facing an economic hit “without modern precedent”, and even more stark, "...a Fed survey set for release on Thursday will show that almost 40 percent of people who were working in February and were members of households making less than $40,000 a year had lost their jobs in March.", one that could permanently damage the economy if Congress does not act sufficient to prevent a wave of bankruptcies and prolonged joblessness. There seems to be little, if any, realization that throwing money at the defunct predatory structure of capitalism will solve the problem. A bit of research shows that the predators lurking in the shadows are all too eager to devour those resources.
We also see the tug-of-war between the scientists and predators (politely labeled "conservatives" but also many liberal democrats) who place their holy "economy" (with its profits-before-people axiom), evidencing the anti-social character of the latter, Bolsonaro of Brazil and Trump of the US obvious examples. Here, one must be mindful of the mask worn by these predators – "freedom", in reality, meaning a non-regulatory environment in which workers can be exploited as before. Despite the dire warning of experts against returning to work and having people come into close contact with each other before the pandemic is over, these capitalist predators value only their already obscenely acquired wealth over human lives.
On the election front, it seems likely that there will be two septuagenarians running for the presidency, one, ultra-reactionary, incompetent, and mentally unstable, and the other, like his competitor, bankrupt of ideas, a liar to boot, and often fumbling his words (symptomatic of organic brain failure), as a search for "Biden's gaffes" and similar phrases will show. Who the vice-president will be to replace either in case of death or removal seems to be the current Pence for Trump or with increasing probability, a Democrat has-been presidential candidate for Biden, who fares no better in any of these cases. It is safe to argue that neither will have what it takes to lead the US people towards a more humane and stable society.
At present (May 2020), there appear to be no third-party alternatives, and the mounting severity of the problems does not mean any meaningful change will occur. In light of this, a realistic possibility exists of paralysis, more anarchy, and slow but steady unraveling of the social web. While history may not repeat itself in a mechanical fashion, it does display tendencies in human behavior, given social conditions and modes of thinking in addressing them. For example, lacking education, science, and ethics, we have Medieval plagues, economic depressions, and wars. A modern version of this has been the rise in calls to the US CDC's Poison Control Center (already high) by persons trying to carry out Mr. Trump's suggestion to inject chlorine bleach to counter COVID-19. A humane response to catastrophe minimally requires a) a coherent philosophy; 2) high ethos; 3) planning and organization; 4) will to carry out the plan.
We cannot be tricked into the Marxist determinism of immiseration necessarily bringing on revolutions but, instead, think like the scientist in assessing probabilities, based on history. On the other hand, socially conscious persons with the will to act not only require preparation but be actively engaged in the initial stages of carrying out a long-term strategy for social change. Here, it is not mass discontent that will bring on change, as the proverbial masses are disorganized, ill-equipped, lacking a coherent a unified philosophy.
A model for change method
Too often, social protests wind up being only just that, protests, the infamous "Occupy Wall Street" being a paradigm case. Logicians know that false premises usually lead to false conclusions. The essential reasons for failure are 1) lack of coherent philosophy alternative to the prevailing capitalist one, a philosophy that people, in general, can see clearly not only intellectually but practically as beneficial to them; 2) no organized social structure to carry out the philosophy; 3) no plan or organizational structure to carry out the previous; 4) failure to assess the strength of the regime against which protests are lodged; 5) insufficient ongoing will to make results happen. Over and again through history, especially in modern times, well-document capitalist exploitation and oppression have been met by anarchy, unorganized masses engaging in actions ranging from peaceful civil disobedience through riots. Each time these outbursts have been met successfully by co-opting the protesters (successfully in the 1970s) through outright suppression by force.
At present, civilized peoples are faced with a predatory capitalist behemoth that has honed its resources and skills to meet just about any eventuality. Immediately coming to mind is the technology, and if the opposition fails to appreciate this and meet and exceed a regime's capabilities, inevitable failure will result. This does not mean that a proverbial "monkey wrench" cannot be thrown into the elaborate machinery, but, nevertheless, the knowledge is required to identify the weaknesses. Cyber hacking comes to mind.
Barring the strength the regime may have, this COVID-19 pandemic has compromised its integrity both by it obvious incapabilities to protect the people (as profits come before people), as well as assaults on its very structure (as in closing down production and distribution, the very engines of profit generation). Here, scientists are warning that not only is the worst not over, but the fall of 2020 promises to bring a recurrence of this year's events.
This truly is a predatory society, but it does not mean we cannot learn lessons from the "state of nature". Crippled animals are prime targets for predators, and predator it must be for the one seeking a just society, only – as the soldier knows – it is not the method that is the end, but the end, itself. "What is to be done?", Lenin's famous phrase (title of his 1901 book)? We can learn a lot here, first and foremost that a political party is essential to lead any movement for social change. Second, though, the National Reformation Party departs at this juncture with ultimate goals and philosophy, eschewing the materialism, championing the love of truth, and realizing the organic nature of society, of which the State is the structure.
The National Reformation Party (NRP) has already achieved the response to the first and most critical reason for failing to brings about change: a coherent philosophy. It now converts the reasons to steps by organization, planning, and action. Start with National Reformation Party Decalogue on which to build the rest. So goes for the second reason, now a step, a coherent social structure of the Corporations embodied within the State. The most difficult now challenges us - the third step – a plan or organizational structure to carry out the previous. Analogously, we may look to a group of explorers wanting to traverse the landscape with their huge volume of supplies and equipment. That which is in the environment usually is the key, in the explorer's case the river in front of them, in our case the current dynamics of COVID-19 and its projected sequelae, literally and socially. For the fourth step, while the NRPS does not have a military or access to the hardware to engage in combat, such a route would be infeasible anyway. Assuming one had these abilities, s/he, in the ultimate analysis, would be like any superpower, realizing sensibly that challenging another superpower would lead to a conflagration destroying the whole planet. In front of us lies the technology capable of bringing civilized people together, communicating to the world the vision of a better society, how to achieve it, and, most important, activating those means. Call it a "catalyst of change". One "silver lining" of COVID-19 is requiring us to focus on those communications technologies to compensate for the lockdowns and social distancing. Here is where the National Reformation Party can start channeling its will.
Our focus may begin on the structure of the corporations, as outlined by Durkheim in his The Division of Labor in Society, as well as the Italian experience from 1922, onward. Change, itself, is the substance of organicity, such applying especially to societies. Hence, it would be folly to willy-nilly adopt specific models but use them only as models to build according to contemporary circumstances. Such does not mean we should not outline proposed working structures but absent them, the social audience will be asking "how do you propose carrying out your philosophy?"
Theory, of course, is not enough. Actually doing something is where the rubber meets the road. Organizing corporations nigh is very difficult if not impossible locally, but, given our communications is very much doable nationally, even regionally. Locating NRP members with businesses or the ability to influence them successfully is one key to nascent organizational efforts. That is, both the plan (step 2) and action (step 3) are fulfilled. That the technology is being used automatically starts us on the way to realizing step 4. Doing so meets the step 5 requirement.
In particular, an initial working document, perhaps auspiciously entitled "The National Reformation State" could be initiated, describing in detail the philosophy and structure of our State and its organs, the Corporations to carry out the philosophy. Here, people asking "what can I do" now have something into which they can integrate. The Corporations, themselves actively carry out what those coming to the NRP hope to see as a brighter future, albeit in a microcosm. Each National NRP convention then builds on this working document, so that theory becomes praxis. Now, we have a working plan around which everyone can rally to work for a better society.
These specific measures all can be integrated into a larger framework of a shadow society. That is, the NRP, itself becomes the shadow State. It does as it thinks, National Conventions offering an ideal opportunity to coordinate these actions. As the prevailing society breaks down with its inability to respond to the mounting problems, the NRP State responds with its successes.
Now, more than ever is the time to set ourselves in motion. A bright future awaits us … if we act.