PANDEMICS II 3-Pack
It should be abundantly clear that part of the president’s m.o., almost an article of faith, is never accept responsibility when things go wrong. It’s always someone else’s fault: Pelosi, the media, the WHO, Obama, China, immigrants. And if you criticize the leader expect retaliation. Just ask Rick Bright, a top government scientist who was removed from his job he says because he opposed the president’s touting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, as a coronavirus treatment. He has filed a whistleblower complaint. The president has called him “a disgruntled employee.” These are Rick Bright’s words of warning, "Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a nationally coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities. Without clear planning 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history."
The standard narrative about the current crisis is that the coronavirus pathogen triggered an economic collapse. But what is crucially ignored is that neoliberal capitalism was already weak and stressed out, a pre-existing condition, if you will. That systemic weakness went into freefall when the pandemic hit. In its long history, capitalism has produced many booms and busts but this period, particularly since Reagan, has produced spectacular inequalities in wealth and income. Tens of millions, if they even have a job, live paycheck-to-paycheck. We're all in this together? Right? That's what the signs say. But not the rich. They have their country estates, yachts and island retreats to shelter in place. The big question is: Once the crisis abates are we going to go back to business as usual, or will there be fundamental change?
What will tomorrow bring in the age of COVID-19? There is so much uncertainty. Arundhati Roy sees an opportunity. She writes, “Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
Noam Chomsky, by any measure, has led a most extraordinary life. In one index he is ranked as the eighth most cited person in history, right up there with Aristotle, Shakespeare, Marx, Plato and Freud. The legendary MIT professor practically invented modern linguistics. In addition to his pioneering work in that field, he has been a leading voice for peace and social justice for many decades. Chris Hedges says he is “America’s greatest intellectual” who “makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.” He is Institute Professor Emeritus in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Haury Chair in the Program in Environment and Social Justice at the University of Arizona. At 91, he is still active; writing and giving interviews to the media all over the world. He is the author of scores of books, including Propaganda & the Public Mind, How the World Works, Power Systems and Global Discontents with David Barsamian.
David McNally is the Cullen Distinguished Professor of History and Business at the University of Houston and director of the Center for the Study of Capitalism. He is the author of Global Slump, Monsters of the Market and Blood and Money.
Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist and columnist, is the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers University. She is author of The Shock Doctrine, This Changes Everything, No Is Not Enough, The Battle for Paradise and On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal. Her articles appear in The Intercept, Rolling Stone, The Nation and The Guardian, She is co-founder of the climate justice organization The Leap.
Arundhati Roy is a world-renowned writer and global justice activist. The New York Times calls her, “India’s most impassioned critic of globalization and American influence.” She is the author of the novels The God of Small Things, for which she received the Booker Prize, and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Her book of interviews with David Barsamian is The Checkbook & the Cruise Missile. Her books My Seditious Heart and Azadi: Freedom, Fascism, Fiction are both published by Haymarket.