The international ruling class is having a brawl over masks. In the US media I’ve been both left-wingers (Krystal Ball) and right-wingers (Tucker Carlson) attacking 3M for diverting masks from the US, with Trump threatening to use the Defense Production Act against 3M. Now, Germany is attacking the US for stealing masks made by 3M that were originally intended for Germany.
The US has been accused of “modern piracy” after reportedly diverting a shipment of masks intended for the German police, and outbidding other countries in the increasingly fraught global market for coronavirus protective equipment.
About 200,000 N95 masks were diverted to the US as they were being transferred between planes in Thailand, according to the Berlin authorities who said they had ordered the masks for the police force.
Andreas Geisel, the interior minister for Berlin state, described the diversion as “an act of modern piracy” and appealed to the German government to demand Washington conform to international trading rules. “This is no way to treat trans-Atlantic partners,” Geisel said. “Even in times of global crisis there should be no wild west methods.”
The German reports said the masks had been made by a Chinese producer for the US company 3M, but the firm issued a statement on Friday night saying: “3M has no evidence to suggest 3M products have been seized. 3M has no record of any order of respirators from China for the Berlin police. We cannot speculate where this report originated.”
The German allegations added to a chorus of complaints about the Trump administration’s practice as the US wields its clout in a marketplace for scarce medical supplies that is becoming a free-for-all, with nation competing against nation.
Valérie Pécresse, the influential president of the Île-de-France region, which includes Paris, described the race to get masks as a “treasure hunt”.
“I found a stock of masks that was available and Americans – I’m not talking about the American government – but Americans, outbid us,” Pécresse said. “They offered three times the price and they proposed to pay upfront. I can’t do that. I’m spending taxpayers’ money and I can only pay on delivery having checked the quality,” she told BFMTV. “So we were caught out.”
Historically, totalitarian revolutions have been driven by the left-wing of the middle class during times when the middle-class (or at least segments of the middle class) is rising on a socioeconomic level but has its political ambitions frustrated by deeply entrench elites. I believe this theory explains the French Revolution as well as the Marxist revolutions from the 20th century as well as any.
Today, in the West, we see that the primary constituency for “totalitarian humanism,” is among the upwardly mobile strata of the middle class, which tends to be highly educated, urban-centered, and with highly cosmopolitan cultural values. The actual proletariat (or today’s “post-bourgeois-proletariat,” i.e. the sinking “working to middle-class” in countries like the US) and the peasanty (or rural, agricultural populations generally) tend to be reactionary.
Within the context of today’s US politics, the “Center” (establishment) is comprised of the neoliberal managerial elites (represented in politics by Democrats like Pelosi and Schumer and Republicans like Romney and McConnell). The right-wing of the Republican Party (both “ultra-conservatives” and Trumpian populists) and others further to the right (white nationalists, Alt-Right, fascists, etc.) represent a coalition or agglomeration of forces that were once dominant but have been losing power for generations (the old-bourgeoisie, the post-bourgeois proletariat, WASP culture, rural culture, traditional religion, etc). While the “turn-back-the-clock” politics of these sectors may be retrograde and self-defeating, many people from these sectors can be very insightful in their critiques of what I call “totalitarian humanism” because they see its growing influence and correctly view it as a threat to their own interests.
The left-wing of the Democratic Party represents a wide range of sectors that collectively comprise the constituency of “totalitarian humanism” including:
-The left-wing of the middle class (predominantly, the urban, professional class)
-The lower strata of the managerial elites (what the neocons’ have called the “new class”)
-Elite and upwardly mobile sectors of traditional minority groups: the civil rights bureaucracy/industry (typically led by the bourgeois sectors within minority groups), “Women’s March” types(Big Pink), the gay rights establishment (Big Lavender), what Norman Finkelstein calls the “Holocaust industry”, the organized atheist movement (secular fundamentalism), rising religious minorities (e.g. bourgeois sectors among Muslim-Americans, Linda Sarsour, CAIR types, or New Age clerics like Marianne Williamson)
-Rising business interests challenging dominant business interests (the green energy industry’s challenge to the fossil fuel industry-Big Green vs. Big Oil- is an obvious example, Big Tech vs. traditional Chamber of Commerce types is another)
-What the Maoists/Third Worldists call the “labor aristocracy” (upper strata working class and the business union bureaucracy)
-Moral entrepreneurs and secular priests responsible for disseminating the ideological values of totalitarian humanism (the SPLC or Tim Wise-types, for example)
There is also the question of where those to the left of the Democratic Party stand in this paradigm. Clearly, groups like the Green Party or DSA share the same basic values as the left-wing of the Democratic Party while rejecting the Democratic Party as an organizational vehicle with which to achieve their goals. The hyper-SJW types found primarily in the academic world and the activist left might be considered ultra-fundamentalist versions of totalitarian, with the Antifa sectors simply representing “totalitarian humanism for sociopaths.” Much of the Anarchist left has been regrettably co-opted and subsumed by these sectors. Historically, the Anarchist left has had a very unfortunate tendency to attach itself to left-wing totalitarian tendencies, only to be subsequently backstabbed and purged.
Interestingly, at least some actual Marxist-Leninist tendencies (predominantly, those with Eurasianist or Third Worldist inclinations) seem to be functioning outside the paradigm of totalitarian humanism and have even embraced some criticisms of the managerial elites which overlap those voiced by the right.
Do we already live in the world he predicted?
By Sean Gabb
Whether the Coronavirus is the Spanish Flu come again I cannot say, and will not try. We shall have some grounds for knowing by Easter, and may have confirmation next year, when the annual mortality figures are published. Something I can say, however, is that the response to the Virus will have large and continuing effects. Many things will return to normal after the lockdown. Much else will not. As ever with those things that change, there will be a new set of winners and losers. And, where education is concerned, I can hope that I shall stand in the queue of the winners – not, I suppose, anywhere near the front, but somewhere in it, modestly and gratefully picking up such additional crumbs as may fall to me in the market where I earn much of my regular income.
As a private tutor, I have been teaching on-line since 2008. I discovered, when I was made redundant from my university, that Deal was a nice place for living and for spending money, but that almost no one in East Kent wanted to learn Greek or Latin. I therefore went on-line. At first, I saw this as an inferior substitute for the “real thing.” Then, as I made the necessary adjustments, and as the technology steadily improved, I realised that it was a liberation from the chore of travelling from home to do what I could do just as easily from home – and that I could often do better from home.
But allow me to set out in a more formal manner some of the benefits of on-line tuition:
A reader highly recommends this episode of Useful Idiots:
“Although the title implies a discussion of depression and anxiety in relation to being in coronavirus quarantine, what followed was in my opinion a more substantial discussion of longstanding issues of psychological ill-health living under neoliberalism (and neoliberalism’s interest in de-politicizing mental illness in order to deflect attention from its own systemic failings). Consumerism is discussed but also the mental exhaustion exerted on the lower classes through the everyday drudgery of over-work to just scrape by, with many of course living constantly on the precipice. Hari also relates a story of a rent strike that took place in a Berlin neighborhood among punks, gay men, and conservative Muslim immigrants that seemed particularly relevant to the ATS paradigm.”
By Jp Cortez
Two weeks ago, during a March 17 address to the nation in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, President Donald Trump asked that Americans work from home, postpone unnecessary travel, and limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people.
And last week, on March 27, Trump signed a stimulus package of over $2 trillion dollars to provide relief to an economy on the precipice of collapse.
The aid package includes handouts and loans to individuals, small businesses, and other distressed industries.
Despite Trump’s “having created the greatest Economy in the history of our Country,” when the markets tanked, massive and immediate government intervention was the only thing left to forestall a total collapse.
So why can’t greatest economy in the world can’t handle a temporary shock without needing trillions of dollars injected to stay afloat?
The Federal Reserve and its vicious and ongoing war on savers are to blame.
There are folks on the US right-wing who actually think Nancy is a commie. In reality, as I have said before, the neoliberals like Nancy have moved to the right of the Republicans on economics, with Charles Grassley, of all people, blasting her for it.
Using the pandemic as a cover to ramp up imperialist aggression against Latin American countries. The Big Oil interests in Trump’s administration apparently wants Venezuela’s petroleum very badly.
“The capitalists have no country!”
Oops. It’s interesting how the USA made a sudden reversion to 1918 overnight in terms of both class relations and public health.
Bernie-idolator Michael Brooks takes on the IDW.
For the record, I frequently agree with much of Brooks’ criticisms of capitalism and imperialism (though not his solution of socialist-statism) and I frequently agree with the IDW’s critique of the cultural left (though not their solution of turn-back-the-clock reaction).
States, ruling classes, and power elites already practice anarchy. The state is only for us peasants.