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The Left has failed during the pandemic but not because they supported restrictions

I usually use Wednesday to write less here. But because sometimes a data release is on Wednesday, Thursday then becomes my lighter day. And I also have to travel a lot today. But there is a relatively important issue to address. I have been receiving a lot of E-mails over the last several months that question me about my position on government restrictions with respect to the Covid pandemic. Apparently, it has seeped into the debate that the mainstream Left have been silent while governments around the world have imposed draconian social control on their citizens, which have been targeted against the workers. The questions all seems to suggest that I have been silent on that issue, which is indicative that I have adopted the ‘woke’ Left position. I beg to differ.

Before I start I decided to check my – Political Compass score – one of those things that one should periodically do to make sure they haven’t turned into a rabid Right lunatic.

Things are stable.

You can check my history – HERE.

As of December 2, 2021, this was my outcome:

Some questions and answers

Now, let’s ask some questions first and I will provide the answers:

1. Is the pandemic real or is it a construct of our governments designed to do something about social control or something?

Answer: I accept the epidemiological evidence that Covid is not the Flu, it is real and deadly for many segments of the population.

I do not consider the science to be fake or part of a conspiracy controlled by corporations or financial markets.

Conspiracies are difficult to maintain when there are tens of thousands of people involved in the ‘secret’. I also know people in science, obviously, and they would never sign up to a conspiracy about state control etc and are smart and know how to interpret data and research findings.

I also don’t subscribe to the view that data from national statistical agencies and health departments are forged. I also know a lot of statisticians in different countries and they would blow the whistle if the governments started dictating what data is published.

It would get out, that is!

I realise that corporations have vested interests in controlling information and pushing their products.

But I don’t see that being the dominant theme in this pandemic.

2. Are vaccines sensible?

Answer: Eminently so.

I was a child when the polio epidemic raged in Australia.

We were saved from debilitating illness by the vaccines, first the Salk injection and then the oral Sabin dose, which, effectively eliminated the disease from our shores.

Was that beneficial? Very beneficial.

The current vaccines for Covid seem to reduce the severity of the disease which is about all we know at this stage. Balancing risk.

3. Do restrictions on human mobility help contain the spread of the virus and reduce the death rates?

Definitely.

The evidence is overwhelming across the globe.

4. Were governments using restrictions like lockdowns for some ulterior purpose not linked to reducing the spread of the infection?

Hard to fathom.

Most citizens embraced the restrictions because they feared the spread of the virus and the consequences of that.

5. Do the anti-vaxxers have a point about freedom?

It is a strange (neoliberal) version of freedom that they preach.

I haven’t seen widespread violation of red stop lights at intersections up until now.

We accept restrictions for the greater good.

They also rail against rules that stop them entering buildings etc. But then they claim they should have freedom to choose. Well the person who is responsible for the building is choosing. Double standards. What they really want is their right to do what they like irrespective of the rest of us.

I am a collectivist – which is a good Left position to hold. Which means the ‘greater good’ is important.

6. Has the Left let the workers down while the ‘woke’ professional class, who comprise the intellectual Left, were protected by Zoom?

This is an interesting question and relates to the accusation that the progressive Left has been mute during the pandemic because those among this group that have political voice (the educated Left) have been protected by technology and have been able to continue working while the less well-off workers have been exposed to income loss, high infection rates and death.

First, when we talk about the ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ we need to understand the evolution of the nomenclature.

The terms did not enter the lexicon with the introduction of Marxist thought.

Where did the terminology Left and Right come from?

We learn that the – Left–right political spectrum – terminology emerged in the Northern Summer of 1789, when the Bastille was stormed and the National Assembly became the revolutionary government of France with the aim of writing a new constitution.

The burning question was the power of the monarchy in the new constitution.

Those who supported the king having absolute veto over legislation and maintained religous loyalties in the new legislative assembly consorted with each other and sat on the right of the chair.

The republicans congregated on the left.

While these differences were only expressed in terms of attitudes to religion and the monarchy, it eventually emerged that the terms Left and Right indicated ideological differences with the Left taking up the socialist cause and the then reflected different things in different countries.

For example, the terminology became common in Britain in the 1930s as a means of distinguishing attitudes to the Spanish Civil War.

My interpretation of the distinction starts with a recognition of the role of class – which I take to be a Marxist category rather than a sociological classification along the lines espoused by – Max Weber – or – C Wright Mills.

The term ‘middle class’ is a sociological reference and has no place in a Marxist discourse.

We think of the ‘woke’ Left as being the middle class and in this era of identity politics that post modernism spawned the middle class gets chopped up into a minutiae of other groups based on gender, sexuality, colour etc.

And loses meaning as a consequence.

By then we are so far away from understanding ‘class’ in the economic sense – in the sense that a worker is a person who does not own the material means of production and has to sell their labour power in order to eat.

The ‘woke’ Left are members of the working class typically.

I am a professional person on a relatively high income given the way in which the academic hierarchy is organised and paid.

But I am as much a member of the working class as the carpenter who saws the wood or a cleaner who keeps us safe from infection.

Sure enough, the capitalist system rewards different members of the working class differentially and that is a scandal.

Sure enough, the working conditions for some are much better than for others. That is a scandal.

Dangerous, dirty jobs should be rewarded much more than clean, safe jobs.

Those on the front-line protecting us from disease should be at the top of the pay scale if a pay scale is in place – and I support flattening it anyway.

So, sure enough, Zoom has allowed a significant segment of the working class to continue working during the pandemic and has also significantly changed the relationship between workers and bosses – to the extent that we now have more scope to work from home and network outside of the built environment of the bosses’ offices.

There has been good and bad in all that.

And, I am ‘Zoomed out’.

But small mercies.

And the lockdowns have been devastating for those workers that could not enjoy this technological income protection. Of course.

Workers in essential industries who have to do face-to-face to earn their incomes have been significantly disadvantaged and exposed.

Workers in industries where the lockdowns forced them into unemployment – whether formally or via the numerous furlough, JobKeeper etc schemes that were introduced – or without adequate income support – were devastated by the lockdowns.

Performing artists, musicians, etc were unable to work. Some innovated using technology, but many couldn’t. Shocking.

Small businesses (cafes, etc) were devastated particularly those who could not avail themselves of government support.

Income and wealth inequalities have risen during the pandemic as a consequence of these differential impacts of the restrictions and the technological inequalities that the information age has created.

We now have an additional driver of poverty – a lack of information and IT access.

All of that is true but does it mean the lockdowns and restrictions were wrong and that the ‘Left’ should have opposed them?

I supported the lockdowns.

I support mask wearing and sanitary practices.

I understood that the death rate among workers would have been much higher without those restrictions. That is what a virus does – spreads through human contact.

I don’t believe the governments used lockdowns in some sort of selective way to punish a segment of the working class and bring them into line.

I believe they used them to confront a very uncertain environment where the downside risks were massive loss of life and illness.

It is possible that the professional segments of the workforce would not have gone along with the restrictions had the technology not been available to protect their incomes.

But that is a separate point and doesn’t open that segment to criticism that they have been complicit in the attacks on the workers. They are workers!

I have long been critical of the traditional Left for abandoning their class origins, and, instead, becoming engines for neoliberalism.

That is what the book – Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, September 2017) – which is co-authored by Thomas Fazi was about.

Which really is what this is all about.

Where the Left has really let us down

It is not the lockdowns that the organised and ‘woke’ Left should have been attacking as part of their working class solidarity.

Where the Left has let us down is their embrace of mainstream macroeconomics as a sort of uncontested truth which then leaves identity and other policy issues as the terrain they will contest with the conservative (Right) parties.

The fact that many Left governments were the first to adopt Monetarism and its subsequent variants marked a turning point in their legitimacy.

Where the Left has let us down is in failing to use their political voice to insist that governments accompany the lockdowns with (among other things):

1. Full income support for workers unable to ‘work from home’.

Rather than the piecemeal and inadequate support that was provided in various ways to people, the governments should have guaranteed all incomes for all workers.

They should not have given the employers the handouts (wage subsidies, etc) but just paid the workers directly.

2. Any worker who was forced to isolate, quarantine etc should have been received full income support so that there was no incentive to evade the restrictions and keep the testing rates high.

Too many low-wage workers were forced to continue working in high risk situations because otherwise they lost income and could no longer subsist.

3. Much higher pay for workers on the front-line.

4. Introduction of a Job Guarantee where the job would be to stay at home and isolate if that was the preferred health option. That is, the governments should have eliminated mass unemployment during the pandemic.

Then the restrictions, while onerous would not have had the devastating economic impacts on the low-wage segments of the workforce, that has transpired due to policy failure.

5. Coordinated pressure to force the authorities to overturn the patents etc protecting the profits of the vaccine makers. They should be produced under state contracts and no profit made.

6. Advanced nations produce as much vaccine as is necessary to protect everyone. The idea that the advanced nations have grabbed stacks of the vaccine while other nations have little is a disgrace.

7. Providing low-income families with high-speed free Internet and equipping their children with the necessary IT equipment and other study aids for free so they are not at a disadvantage when their schools are closed.

Ensuring there are safe spaces for children to study in if their homes are too small to facilitate effective study environments.

8. Providing state-of-art ventilation in schools and public buildings to reduce the spread of the virus.

These are just some of the things that the Left should have been pushing the governments to do while we were being protected by the restrictions.

That is, instead of devising ‘tax the rich’ schemes to pay for hospitals or attacking governments for running large deficits with lame comments about the need for fiscal repair or ‘what have we got for all this debt’ jibes.

That is the failing of the Left.

Not the fact that most of us have supported restrictions because we understand what a pandemic actually is.

I have to run today so that will be it.

Music – Some protest music

This is what I have been listening to while working this morning.

This is the fabulous song – Compared to What – which was written by – Gene McDaniels – as a protest against the Vietnam War anad LBJ.

It was made famous in 1969 by – Roberta Flack – which marked her early days as a protest singer rather than the slicker singer she became as her days with Atlantic records unfolded.

But when pianist (and singer) – Les McCann and tenor player – Eddie Harris – played it at the 1969 Montreaux Jazz Festival it became widely understood as a brilliant song.

Their playing at the festival was sensational.

They released it on their 1969 album – Swiss Movement – which was the live recording from their festival show.

Essential listening regularly.

That is enough for today!

(c) Copyright 2021 William Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

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    This Post Has 38 Comments
    1. ” Coordinated pressure to force the authorities to overturn the patents etc protecting the profits of the vaccine makers. They should be produced under state contracts and no profit made.”

      How many vaccines would have been developed had these private companies believed they would be deprived of their profits?

    2. I don’t usually post more than one link but I will make an exception for this important issue with 2 links. Yes, the centrist, petty bourgeois “left” like the ALP has failed and betrayed the people. But first, consider these documents.

      The zero covid strategy protects people, economics and freedoms better:
      https://www.institutmolinari.org/2021/09/21/the-zero-covid-strategy-continues-to-protect-people-economies-and-freedoms-more-effectively/

      Our global goal should still be the eradication of COVID-19 and all other serious human diseases:
      “We should not dismiss the possibility of eradicating COVID-19: comparisons with smallpox and polio.” – Nick Wilson, Osman D Mansoor, Matthew J Boyd3 Amanda Kvalsvig, Michael G Baker.
      https://gh.bmj.com/content/6/8/e006810

      Neoliberalism has really unmasked itself during this pandemic. Rather than protecting the people, the broad economy and proper freedoms like the freedom to cooperate and help each other, they instead have simply protected the incomes of the super rich against all other considerations. It’s a disgrace. It is also very dangerous. If the neoliberals were trying to collapse global civilization and unleash climate change with very ill-advised social and economic policies they could scarcely do worse than they are doing now. I fear for the very future of homo sapiens.

    3. Dear Henry Rech (at 2021/12/02 at 12:37 pm)

      The British government provided most of the investment for AZ for example. The Australian government used to own CSL.

      There is no chance that the technology could not have been developed on a cost-recovery, not-for-profit basis.

      Best wishes
      Bill

    4. Dammit- another post I completely agree with. This is making me think I am disagreeable by nature or something- this difficulty in expressing agreement in a comment. Well, I agree with you Bill, even if it goes against my nature to say so.
      Maybe whoever did that political compass thing knows what they are doing. Redid it myself and now I am only two squares away from your score. Way down in that left hand corner at this point. Which means you may be one of those ‘social influencers’ they talk about in the media…

    5. “Where the Left has let us down is their embrace of mainstream macroeconomics as a sort of uncontested truth which then leaves identity and other policy issues as the terrain they will contest with the conservative (Right) parties.The fact that many Left governments were the first to adopt Monetarism and its subsequent variants marked a turning point in their legitimacy.”

      Which is all down to geopolitics and foreign policy. The – What can the fall of the Berlin wall do for the top 1% in the West economic policy. That each and every one of them are signed up to and have been for decades.

      Why it is pointless to expect any change by any of them. Why Corbyn and Bernie were eradicated and why we were given Obama, Hillary, Biden and Starmer to choose from.

      This is all they are bothered about the upcoming Summit for Democracy on December 9th.

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/22/biden-wants-to-convene-an-international-summit-for-democracy-he-shouldnt

      A war council.

      I’m pretty sure if you check the history books the rootin tootin gun slingers of the American ruling class would have created a summit for democracy before they wiped out the native Indians and put them in chains on reservations in Cuba, sorry a slip of the tounge there , in Montana, Oklahoma and Arizona.

      Summit for democracy whilst they have Julian Assange in chains but we all know The press stopped holding them to account a long time ago. The book 1984 was supposed to be a warning not a blue print of what to do next. As they build up 100,000 troops in Ukraine and the corporate neoliberal media machine call Russia and China the aggressors. As they encircle both China and Russia like they did with the native Indians using all the same propaganda techniques. Like the British Empire everywhere they have been in the World.

      They are wanting Russia to react in Ukraine and China to react in Taiwan as they poke them in the ribs with big sticks . Just so they can say we told you so. We told you they were the aggressors.

      You’ve got to love Russian Foreign Ministry Statement response to the war council summit for democracy. Russia and China are the adults in the room the West is being run by George Armstrong Custer.

      https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4976488

    6. We desperately need a solution to the IP problem. I can see a policy which would work in an individual state (have a body to determine a fixed reward for creators after which it would be free for all to use), but it needs to be a global fix.
      We need to eliminate all appropriation of surplus labour, which could be mostly achieved through taxation in individual state.

    7. With regard to the Patents Act there are crown user provisions. The steps to invoke those provisions can be short-circuited in the case of a national emergency, such as a public health crisis.

      Our neoliberal government resists invoking these available provisions and cite such nonsense as sovereign risk, blah, blah, blah. So much easier for neoliberals to throw public money at big Pharma. In Australia we have a lobby group, AFTINET, that has been campaigning for fairer trade with a human rights agenda. They have been involved in advocating for removal of IP protection for lifesaving vaccines during the pandemic. As an observer, it seems that our government dances to the tune of Big Pharma under the direction of the USA.

      Exploitation under crown user would require more than removal of patent protection as there will be such as know how involved as well. In any case, there would likely be a way via specific legislation to be able to acquire the necessary knowledge to exploit a patented vaccine during a national emergency.

      Government always has the power and what gets done is its choice.

    8. Bill,

      “The British government provided most of the investment for AZ for example. ”

      Who funded Pfizer and Moderna vaccines? Weren’t they privately funded?

      “There is no chance that the technology could not have been developed on a cost-recovery, not-for-profit basis.”

      Perhaps. But the point is Pfizer and Moderna were privately funded (I believe, but will accept correction). So having been privately funded should their patents have been overturned? What chance future commercial vaccines would be developed? Would it not be better to have every kind of funded development to ensure that effective vaccines could be delivered in good time? As it turned out AZ had its issues for a certain age group. What vaccine would have been provided for those age groups for whom AZ was not suitable? We were lucky that Pfizer and Moderna were available.

      Ideological prescriptions can kill.

    9. Derak,

      “They are wanting Russia to react in Ukraine and China to react in Taiwan as they poke them in the ribs with big sticks . Just so they can say we told you so. We told you they were the aggressors.”

      This is a stretch isn’t it?

      Should the West standby while Russia invades the Ukraine, annexing it as it did the Crimea?

      Should the West standby while China invades a free people?

      It seems you are quite happy to see a people’s right to self determination taken away from them by violent means. I think that is appalling.

      “We support dialogue between cultures, religions and civilisations as an important instrument for forming a unifying agenda and building up trust in relations between states and societies.”

      This extract from the Russian statement you linked is a unbelievable and hypocritical given Russia has amassed a large invasion force on its border with the Ukraine.

    10. I’ve read many books on the subject Henry.

      I don’t get my education from CNN or the BBC.

      There’s several sides to a story not just what is pumped out by the Western media. You only ever hear one side of the story. Why not try a couple of Pulitzer prize winners before they were forced out of their profession for writing the truth Henry. Why not start with Chris Hedges and John Pilger ?

      Both have written about American aggression across the world for decades. Throughout South America with their 800 military bases around the world. Chris and John have written extensively about what is actually happening in Ukraine.

      Or start with Michael Hudson who has written several books about it when he worked for state departments. Have you read super imperialism ? Michael has just brought out the 3rd edition which I’m getting as a Xmas gift. Michael was there on the coal face and tells you all about it. Michael doesn’t do second hand tittle tattle he was there and worked for these people.

      Michael has written about Ukraine on many occasions

      Then move onto other books after that.

      The reason I know it isn’t a stretch apart from all the books I’ve read on the subject. Is there is absolutely nothing George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato can do if Russia and China decided to take Ukraine and Taiwan this weekend.

      They wouldn’t lift a finger to help the people of Ukraine because George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato know it would mean complete nuclear annihilation. So they will hold a UN council meeting impose sanctions and try and win the propaganda war.

      Because they know with a conventional war they can’t win George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato are trying desperately to provoke Russia and China to act first. By encircling them, encroaching on their borders and getting missiles on the ground that can reach Moscow and Beijing. Which is a Russian and Chinese red line.

      If Ukraine become a member of NATO the missiles will be put on Ukraine’s territory then all bets are off.

      They want to provoke Moscow by all means available to exercise “Russian aggression”, resulting in a lightning fast war that will be a highway to hell for Ukraine, but with zero casualties for George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato. Unleash a tsunami of fresh sanctions, especially financial; and try to shut off all economic links between Russia and it’s allies.

      It’s all about Minsk – Kiev simply refuses to respect the February 2015 Minsk Agreement.

      The deal stipulated that Kiev should grant autonomy to Donbass via a constitutional amendment, referred to as “special status”; issue a general amnesty; and start a dialogue with the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

      Over the years, Kiev fulfilled exactly zero commitments – while the proverbial western media machine incessantly pounded global opinion with fake news, spinning that Russia was violating Minsk. Russia is not even mentioned in the agreement.

      Moscow in fact always respected the Minsk Agreement – which translates as regarding Donbass as an integral, autonomous part of Ukraine. Moscow has zero interest in promoting regime change in Kiev.

      This charade has come to a point that – diplomatically – is quite unprecedented: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lost his Taoist patience.

      Lavrov was forced, under the circumstances, to publish 28 pages of correspondence between Moscow on one hand, and Berlin and Paris on the other, evolving around the preparation of a high-level meeting on Ukraine.

      Moscow was in fact calling for one of the central points of the agreement to be implemented: a direct dialogue between Kiev and Donbass. Berlin and Paris said this was unacceptable. So yes: both, for all practical purposes, destroyed the Minsk Agreement.

      Lavrov did not mince his words: “I am sure that you understand the necessity of this unconventional step, because it is a matter of conveying to the world community the truth about who is fulfilling, and how, the obligations under international law that have been agreed at the highest level.”

      So it’s no wonder that the leadership in Moscow concluded it’s an absolute waste of time to talk to Berlin and Paris about Ukraine: they lied, cheated – and then blamed Russia. This “decision” at the EU level faithfully mirrors NATO’s campaign of stoking the flames of imminent “Russian aggression” against Ukraine.

      Hitting a satellite with a missile at 650 km high is a sure demonstration of very real escalation dominance. Russia showed the West that it can take out all of George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato military satellites within 5 mins of a war starting leaving them blind on the ground.

      At least some of the adults in selected rooms are talking. The CIA’s Burns went to Moscow to try to extract some assurance that in the event NATO Special Forces were caught in the cauldrons – Debaltsevo 2015-style – that the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, with Russian help, will concoct, they would be allowed to escape.

      His interlocutor, Patrushev, told Burns – diplomatically – to get lost.

      Chief of the General Staff, Gen Valery Gerasimov, had a phone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen Mark Milley, ostensibly to ensure, in Pentagonese, “risk-reduction and operational de-confliction”. No substantial details were leaked.

      It remains to be seen how this “de-confliction” will happen in practice when Defense Minister Shoigu revealed U.S. nuclear-capable bombers have been practicing, in their sorties across Eastern Europe, “their ability to use nuclear weapons against Russia”. Shoigu discussed that in detail with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe: after all the Americans will certainly pull the same stunt against China.

      Russia just want the Minsk Agreement put back in place and China will never accept Taiwan independence. They don’t want to invade but are definitely going to put a stop to the encriclement by
      George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato. They have painted their red lines that can’t be crossed. Or George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato are going to pay the piper.

      George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato care as much about the Taiwan and the Ukraine people as they did about people in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen. Cannon fodder for geopolitical purposes. There is nothing George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato can do if Russia and China did want to take Ukraine and Taiwan and everybody knows it.

      The thing is everybody knows they don’t they just have red lines not to be crossed and George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato push closer and closer to the red lines everyday. Thousands of more lives will be lost if Russia and China react only for the West to win their propaganda war. Smash up all the alliance’s created in the Belt and Road initiative and stop the Gas flowing into Europe and buy it from the US instead.

      There are some people who have written about this for years think a war in the Donbass as (almost) inevitable

      http://thesaker.is/why-i-see-a-war-in-the-donbass-as-almost-inevitable/

      Make your own mind up but the situation is getting very dangerous. Let’s see what the Western war council comes out with after their Orwellian Summit for Democracy on December 9th.

      MMT is the antithesis to the neoliberal globalist project. So don’t expect anything to change whilst George Armstrong Custer is in charge.

    11. Ukraine was, since WWII, accepted as the buffer state between East & West.
      Since 2014 the “U.S. assistance to Ukraine since 2014 totals over $3.7 billion, plus three $1 billion sovereign loan guarantees.” (from US Embassy source).
      This fuelled the civil war in the Ukraine and resulted in political mix of Oligarchs & Nazis running the country.
      I would expect the Russians to run regular military exercises along their borders under these circumstances.
      A comparison would be if Russia funded a coup in Mexico and you then complained about US troops being stationed near the Mexican border.
      Propaganda is a 2 way street.

    12. Here’s a vivid example of how far humanity has fallen during my dwindling lifetime. When this geezer was a sickly child, one of my doctors was a Dr. Sauer. It turns out he was responsible, in large part, for the development of the whooping cough vaccine which saved the lives of so many children. When he was later congratulated by the media for this accomplishment and asked how much money he made from it, Dr. Sauer was insulted. According to the news story, he replied along the following lines: “You do something like this for humanity, not for money. I wouldn’t have cheapened it by taking a dime.” Today, would it not be UNTHINKABLE for someone in Dr. Sauer’s shoes to do what what he thought was the natural and right thing to do…and not to do? Yes, my younger friends, such a world once existed.

    13. Ucumist,

      “I would expect the Russians to run regular military exercises along their borders under these circumstances.”

      Why?

    14. Derek,

      Russia signed various accords back in the 1990s safeguarding the territorial integrity of the Ukraine. These didn’t seem to count for much when Russia invaded and annexed the Crimea.

      “…spinning that Russia was violating Minsk. Russia is not even mentioned in the agreement.”

      Russia was a participant in the negotiations and the agreement was signed by a Russian ambassador.

      Your ideological predilections seem to colour your perspective on the situation. And I am sure you will read what confirms your beliefs. The situation is complex and can be cast in many ways to suit the interests of whoever.

      “They don’t want to invade but are definitely going to put a stop to the encriclement by
      George Armstrong Custer and his horse Nato. ”

      This is just patent nonsense. Xi has said Taiwan will be returned to China, if not peaceably, by military invasion.

    15. the girondins and the mountain sat on the left of the royal tennis court and the royalists on the right
      hence the terminology at least according to schama’s book on the revolution (strongly recommended)

    16. To explain my admiration for Bill I will describe how I became a avid everyday reader of this blog.
      As a life long (42 years) Labour supporter and small business owner I believed in equality and social responsibility. (i.e. good wages minimal exploitation). I had accepted the prevailing economic ideology as voiced by the Labour Party.

      Then came 2009 and I realised that what Brown had been saying was total nonsense. For the first time I started to research monetary economics. The majority of available info’ directed me to fractional reserve banking as an explanation for the collapse. Initially I rehearsed this argument and tried to use it to expand my understanding. By 2011 it had become obvious that the commentators I was reading had little foundation for their theories and were mostly interested in getting punters money and gambling it on their financial bets.

      I happened to find Neil Wilson’s blog (thanks Neil) and although I struggled initially to make the intellectual jump I could see the logic in this, new to me, argument.
      This led me via the links to Mosler, Kelton, Keen and Mitchell. I studied Warren’s 7 Deadly Frauds, read Kelton, watched Keen’s brilliant Copernicus analogy and ended up reading Bill’s blog every day for 2 years until I had a genuine understanding of MMT. This was about 2017/8 and I still see the merits and truth in these arguments.

      With the rise of Corbyn I rejoined the Labour Party but the local members were only interested in getting back in the EU and blaming wasters for the unemployment figures. Trying to explain the need to reform economic ideology was met with disapproval. I had to leave as my political compass has always been socialist. Unfortunately all the Socialist and Marxist parties seem locked in the past. The closest to my views is the Resist Movement but they have a lot to develop yet.

      What is missing is open public debate on alternative ways to run society. Say a true mixed economy with all big companies run as co-operatives. Everything is polarised, only right wing, leftists, fascists and Marxists but all with neo-liberal views.

      This leads on to the MMT bugbear of that we all have to suffer. Endless hedge fund and financial ‘experts’ commentating on MSM with no challenge. The public debate is stifled because non of our heroes are allowed to participate.
      Now I extend this same problem to the Covid debate. There are many respected and eminent virologists and immunologists who disagree with the single ‘Covid & vaccine’ narrative truth. A truth that has stopped scientific debate. If equal scientists and doctors don’t agree with the presented ‘science’ then they are not only labelled as a liar but also banned from many public platforms and even lose their employment.

      Geert Vanden Bossche (PhD degree in Virology) and Dr Robert Malone (the inventor of mRNA vaccines) have both been blocked from public debate. They both agree with vaccinations and that Covid is a virus that has to be dealt with. They have a video where the two of them discuss the merits of vaccination and Covid control that is worth watching. (I can’t put a link because last time my post was taken down).
      Science must be argued in open debate because there can never be one truth. As Dr Malone explains, vaccines have never been allowed in the past to be given to whole populations en-mass because it was always known that if they are ‘leaky’ like this one is, then a virus will be prompted to mutate 100 times faster inside a mRNA vaccinated person who can catch and transmit the disease.

      As to the above blog I struggle with Bill’s unusual lack of critical appraisal. Many scientists involved in the political policies can be linked to the pharmaceutical industry. After multiple lockdowns, masks, border controls and billions vaccinated the case numbers continue to rise.
      “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”

      In my mind accepting the use of troops on the street, changes to laws to make protesting illegal, using rubber bullets, shooting dead protestors in Rotterdam, 262 days of lockdown, mandating vaccines under threat of fines or job loss which is contrary to human rights and the Nuremberg rules, along with many other restrictions are all authoritarian actions.
      So if you aren’t going to challenge at least 2 of these then you could not possibly be far south of the black line on the political compass. (maybe the questions are now out of date).

    17. Hi Henry
      There is no why.
      If you don’t accept that the US orchestrated a coup in Ukraine then obviously no matter what I say, you will disagree with me. We will have to differ on this one.

      Keeping the world in monochrome is probably a lot simpler for ones sanity.

    18. Ucumist

      “If you don’t accept that the US orchestrated a coup in Ukraine …”

      Where did I say that? The US had a role in supporting the popular uprising that eventually led to the ousting of the Yanukovych regime just as Russia had a role in propping up the Yanukovych regime and continued to stoke insurrection in the east. (Just as Russia is propping up the Lukashenko regime in Belarus despite the overwhelming will of the Belarus people.)

      The Ukrainian parliament voted unanimously to oust Yanukovych and set up the May elections which the anti Russian party won convincingly in the first round.

      The idealogues on both sides seem to forget it is not about the West, Russia or China. It should be about the will and desires of the Ukrainian, Belarusian and Taiwanese people. Doesn’t this matter?
      And, as it happens, these peoples have overwhelming rejected Russian and Chinese interference in their affairs. But this does not seem to matter to leftist idealogues.

    19. What’s revealing Henry is Trump was painted as a raving war monger. The propaganda machine ran 24/7.

      The ” Russia gate ” strategy to try and bring Trump down failed and no wonder it failed it was a crock of shit. Not one inch of it has been found to be truthful. It was a conspiracy theory created by war mongering inc that Alex Jones would have been proud of because war mongering Hillary didn’t win. Given a choice between war mongering Hillary and Trump I would have voted for Trump.

      Biden has done more in 6 months to make the world a much less safer place than Trump ever did the whole time he was there. Trump tried to build bridges and make peace and they hated him for it. War mongering Inc tried everything they could to get rid of him.

      Trump consistently attacked The globalist agenda within Europe and America The whole time he was there. Before you knew it Bush, Bill Clinton, Obama, war mongering Inc were doing photo shoots together attacking Trump. The globalists in Europe were crowding around his desk in that famous picture.

      The American people are about to show you what they think of Biden and his foreign policies. He’s finished he will be a one term president after the midterms a one term president without any power.

      You’ll see.

      The Democrats and Republicans are 2 cheeks of the same war mongering arse. For the first time in my life time the American public can see it and see it clearly. In the same way here in the UK voters on the left and right can now see clearly for the first-time the lib,lab,con. The con for what it is.

      The only people who can’t see it are the liberals who will defend war mongering Inc to the very end. They can’t figure out why they just about lose every election and when they do lose they blame Russia. Say Russia hacked into the election which is quite frankly absurd. Rather than admit voters are turning their backs on neoliberal globalism in their millions, war mongering inc say Russia hacked into the servers. Who are the idiots that believe this shit ?

      The far right are sweeping up the votes because of it Henry, because voters know what is really going on the voters know the truth. They saw ” Russia Gate” for What it was – Bullshit !

      Thomas Fazi hits the nail on the head.

      “Amidst growing popular dissatisfaction, social unrest, and mass unemployment (in various European countries), political elites on both sides of the Atlantic responded with business-as-usual policies and discourses. As a result, the social contract binding citizens to traditional ruling is more strained today than at any other time since World War II – and in some countries has arguably already snapped, as testified by a series of electoral uprisings that, despite their differences, all share a common target: globalisation, neoliberalism, and the political establishments that have promoted them.

      Trump sacred the the life out of war mongering Inc , politicians and commentators worldwide by announcing – and implementing – a series of protectionist measures. Attacked globalisation and tried to make peace.

      In this sense, Trump’s victory, Brexit, and the rise of populist parties ‘are but epiphenomena of momentous shifts in global political economy and international geo-political alignments that have been taking place since the 1970s.

      Simply the fact that right-wing forces have been much more effective than left-wing or progressive forces at tapping into the legitimate grievances of the masses disenfranchised, marginalised, impoverished, and dispossessed by the 40-year-long neoliberal class war waged from above. In particular, they are the only forces that have been able to provide a (more or less) coherent response to the widespread – and growing – yearning for greater territorial or national sovereignty, increasingly seen as the only way to regain some degree of collective control over politics and society, in the absence of effective supranational mechanisms of representation.

      Given the globalists war against sovereignty, it should come as no surprise that ‘sovereignty has become the master-frame of contemporary politics.

      The hollowing out of national sovereignty and curtailment of popular-democratic mechanisms – what has been termed depoliticisation – has been an essential element of the neoliberal project, aimed at insulating macroeconomic policies from popular contestation and removing any obstacles put in the way of economic exchanges and financial flows.

      In this sense, neoliberalism and globalisation have not entailed a retreat of the state vis-à-vis the market, as most left analyses contend, but rather a reconfiguration of the state, aimed at placing the commanding heights of economic policy ‘in the hands of capital, and primarily financial interests, it is only natural that the revolt against neoliberalism should first and foremost take the form of demands for a repoliticisation of national decision-making processes. ”

      Farage now has his own TV show on the British version of FOX news. Called GB news Henry.

      Look what is going on in France Henry – Hard-right French MP tops Les Républicains party’s presidential primary.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/dec/02/hard-right-french-mp-tops-les-republicains-partys-presidential-primary

      The rise of Éric Zemmour shows how far France has shifted to the right

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/dec/01/eric-zemmour-france-right-presidential-candidate

      Italy isn’t finished with The globalists yet. They are re grouping working on a new strategy.

      The next time they vote the American voters are going to show you what they think about it. The US has never been more divided since the Civil War and war mongering Inc will try and shoe horn Russia and China into it and blame them for it. War mongering Inc have lost the American voters Henry. American voters no longer believe a word that comes out of the White house no matter who is sitting in the big chair. They’ve been lied to way too many times.

      The exact same process is just starting to play out here in the UK. The only question is will it look like Lord Of the Flies or Animal Farm when it is all over ?

      I’m in my 50’s with no children, I can get the popcorn out and watch the complete and utter madness from the sidelines. With no skin in this game of insanity.

      As crazy as it sounds and I can’t even believe I’m writing it. History could end up being kind to Trump and Trump could easily turn out to have been America’s last chance to stop world war 3.

    20. Henry writes: “But this does not seem to matter to leftist idealogues”.
      Personally I think men are too dangerous, driven as they are by irrational self-interested (greedy) survival instincts – to be entitled or even trusted with “freedom”.
      It’s time to be done with national sovereignty, and for nations to submit to a UNSC without veto, in effect de-legitimizing war as a means of dispute settlement between nations – including ideological groups within or without nations – thereby setting up a true international rules-based system. I think Doc Evatt was correct.

      Then all the ideologues, Right or Left, would have to get on with living their lives in peace (gasp), rather than planning the next war with their preferred enemies.

      Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to China, with its definite goal of achieving common prosperity, to become powerful enough to order the Pentagon to dismantle all its overseas bases, without firing a shot. Because I’m convinced China too would be prepared to submit to a UNSC without veto…..the last thing China wants is a nuclear arms race. Its task of successfully governing 1.4 bilion people, to achieve universal sustainable prosperity, is already demanding enough.

    21. Henry
      I am sorry that you feel this way.
      I said that we will have to differ on this one because from my experience further discourse (baiting) usually leads to unnecessary erroneous defamatory name calling, as in leftist ideologue. (Please note not idealogue although I must admit to having lots of ideas).

      I object to all super power states, Russia, China, EU (UK) and US participating in geopolitical aggression, the sanctioning of other nation states and uninvited military incursions.
      In my ideologue there is no right or wrong, all of the above nations are WRONG.

      You have no right to label me as I explained in my earlier post, I have been a capitalist small business owner for most of my life who never the less would prefer a world were there was no starvation, no wars, reasonably equal standards of living (even if this means my standard has to drop) and universal respect for the environment.
      As I stated I now do not agree with any political party, be socialist, marxist, fascist, liberal or the financial corporatist control that taken over capitalism and currently has the power. They all want hegemony.
      Humans have and can run their societies in a myriad different ways, good & bad and to assume that there is a best way is to deny history. My preference is to divest ourselves of the prevailing Roman philosophy of war, (Christ tried but failed), progress something like the Celtic Co-operative philosophy but still respect individual nations cultures.
      If that makes me a Leftist ideologue in your eyes then carry on fighting for your hegemony. I do not know your personal circumstances or influences so I cannot give you a Label.

    22. Anyway to return to the article above.
      Last night as I was going to sleep Groupthink popped into my conscious. I was introduced to this idea by Bill in one of his blogs. Since then I have strived to examine all sides of an argument even if it meant reading stuff by people who I had previously shunned. Bill was right one must know the fallacies of all sides to avoid being isolated in a ‘bubble’.

      I realised that there was a disconnect in this blog that was bothering me.

      Bill wrote ‘ I also know people in science, obviously, and they would never sign up to a conspiracy about state control etc and are smart and know how to interpret data and research findings.’
      ‘I also don’t subscribe to the view that data from national statistical agencies and health departments are forged. I also know a lot of statisticians in different countries and they would blow the whistle if the governments started dictating what data is published.’

      So I looked back to blog ?p=41823 where I realised why I was sceptical about the political policies applied using science based on a single narrative. it meets all characteristics or traits that defined the pattern of group behaviour.
      Scientists don’t have to sign up to state control only get trapped in groupthink as a necessity for their careers. Statisticians can manipulate data to whatever the power requires, this has always been the case. A current example is Ed Humpherson of The Office for Statistics Regulation admonishing Emma Rourke of the ONS for misleading use of data. (again no link in case of exclusion)
      In this same blog the struggle of biologist Joseph Altman is described. Science without debate and Groupthink excluding the research from alternative scientists is applicable now as it was then.

      I accept Covid as a pernicious respiratory virus that has to be attenuated. I disagree with the political policies being used to supposedly fight it. These are knee-jerk solutions that are not co-ordinated. There are plenty of scientists and virus experts out there who want to help but have been excluded from the debate. These are not deniers but experts who have well constructed methods on how to best tackle a pandemic.
      To accept the prevailing scientific political policy path on the basis that you don’t believe the scientists and statisticians chosen could in your ‘view’ be wrong is to deny Groupthink.

      There are plenty of whistle blowers but like Altman they are being ignored or discredited. Virologists and immunologists who have always been in agreement with the previous WHO policy of not using mass vaccinations on whole populations, due to the dangers of viral immune escape, deserve to have their theories debated. I don’t know if they are right or wrong as I am not a scientist but the possibility that a catastrophe of this magnitude could happen must be a part of the debate and research.

    23. Ucumist,

      “You have no right to label me as I explained in my earlier post”

      It seems to me you outed yourself:

      “I had to leave as my political compass has always been socialist. “

    24. Neil,

      “Because I’m convinced China too would be prepared to submit to a UNSC without veto…..the last thing China wants is a nuclear arms race. ”

      And its daily threatening Taiwan with invasion adds to its credentials as a peace loving nation.

    25. Ucumist:
      Regarding Covid, I recommend you go to the Naked Capitalism blog for its ongoing discussion. The people who run it are very careful researchers and support everything with relevant references. My career required I do this as well so I appreciate their conscientiousness. With respect to Bill’s blog I spent three months studying monetary operations of the central bank, etc., with a prof specialising in monetary economics before I was convinced by MMT. In my defence I can only say I had a mainstream Master’s of Economics that I had to recover from.
      At Naked Capitalism, they often call out people who bullshit over various issues. Bill tends to be more tolerant on this score on his blog as can be inferred from some of the propaganda comments that appeared on the thread today (not yours).

    26. Henry, no nation is “peace loving”; that is the point of my post.

      Which was written in memoriam of the young Iraqi woman who drowned in the English channel last week, an horrific happening *for which we are all responsible*. because (IMO) our conception of personal freedom, vis a vis other individuals, is flawed, as explained in my post.

      I note Bill places himself at the extreme Libertarian level on the Left (in the diagram); I suppose (without checking) I’m on the extreme ‘authoritarian’ level on the Left.
      Certainly I think free markets need to be drastically subsumed to planning, in a global economy pushing up against the planet’s ecological limits.

    27. @Ucumist

      It is an interesting argument on the Covid-19 in your last comment.

      In your view, based on what you have researched, synthesized and conceptualized so far, how would one fight the pandemic best, if groupthink can be an issue, if what governments are doing, like what you said – multiple and mass vaccinations, constant masking, border controls, lookdowns and etc. don’t work and sounds authoritarian?

      I am quite interested to know, otherwise your ‘groupthink assumption” could be just that – an assumption.

      (I understand there are “excluded” experts out there, lot of info and alternative theories around that I can go find and read, but must admit that needs lots of time to sift through, but as you might have done some/most of the reading already, it would be interesting to know what it is. I mean, the other side of the groupthink that you are talking about that needs to be brought into the debate). Thanks!

    28. To sort of get back to the topics of this post- I believe Russia and China both developed vaccines and approved them for general use earlier than the USA did. Whether there is much trust in those vaccines may be a different story though. In any event it shows a certain amount of state power. Whether that is left or right I am not sure and probably don’t care in this instance.

      The US also developed several vaccines with subsidies and guarantees from the government. This was under Donald Trump whose administration I would classify as somewhat wanna-be authoritarian and often, but not always, right-wing on economic issues. Said he was for workers but acted for the rich. Either way it is an example of state power used to get something needed done.

      But I am confused that people would classify supporters of Putin’s Russia or China under Xi as leftists. Russia since Yeltsin has not been very democratic and has moved away from socialism towards plutocratic capitalism. And China seems to have moved towards an autocratic state-run capitalistic system which I don’t know how to classify except by saying it isn’t very liberal.

      “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” was one of the questions on that political compass thing. I’m going to guess that many who express support for those countries are falling into supporting that statement. But they should not be described as leftists because they (and those countries) are not supporting anything of the sort anymore- they are just opposed to something they see as a greater threat.

    29. Trump MAY have been less likely to start WWIII (ignoring for a moment his emotional instability) but he was pedal-to-the-metal on continuing to max out capitalism. Since this entails slow death by ecocide, rather than fast death by nuclear war, how could anyone argue that Trump was the answer to anything? I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either Trump or Clinton, knowing that both posed life-threatening problems. Doesn’t productive political discourse BEGIN here, with this obvious and ominous observation?

    30. Jerry,

      “But I am confused that people would classify supporters of Putin’s Russia or China under Xi as leftists.”

      It is difficult to fathom but visit any socialist blog and you will frequently find commentators still calling Russia and China socialist.

      And they condone their behaviour just because they see them as antagonists to the West.

    31. Dear All

      I have closed comments on this post. The post was designed to put my view on the public record not to host a discussion that can quickly be taken over by anti-vaxxers etc. That last sentence should not be taken to mean that they were already offering comments.

      best wishes
      bill

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