By Melanie Best
Recently many lefty friends have chastised me for my research on Covid – aside from reflex name callers who have to imagine that I’ve gone to the dark side (and these tend to be CNN watchers, who use that narrative/frame to characterize any challenge to the MSS/MSM narrative as being grounded in stupidity and support for Trump) I have well meaning friends whose mistake lies, I think, in believing two contradictory and mutually exclusive things at once, and using an outdated and ideologically useful (to the Powers that Be) economic lens to view current issues and problems.
The disgusting, greedy, power hungry frat boy immoral oligarchs thrown up into obscene realms of arrogance and power by fascizing neoliberal capital, and their snake oil dispensing charlatan spokesmodels (that is, politicians, or the old hand/glove) are resetting the global economy as we speak. Just as manufacturing jobs will not magically return from China, that somehow stole them (ha ha), the economy as we knew it is being dismantled and rearranged – using Covid19 as the excuse, and as the thing in the left hand that hides the Wizard of Oz mechanics behind the curtain on the right. Read the World Economic Forum’s website, the stuff on the 4th Industrial Revolution. The WEF and BlackRock and Gates (and all of their subsidiaries, shell companies and network of interconnected banks, NGOs, foundations, charities and think tanks) – they have an economic analysis, and this analysis anchors and shapes the changes they have made and are making to legal, social, medical, monetary and government policies – that is, to our lives – right now.
Many Lefties assume there’s still a functioning economy to go back to, or to delay going back to. They assume two contradictory things simultaneously – that the oligarchs who shape the economy and the legal framework which allows indemnity for systemic theft, and distribution of risks (to us) and profits (to them) somehow means that 1) the oligarchs and politicians (as someone recently told me on FB) want us to go back to work, without regard for the risk to us in doing so. That is, returning to work or calls to return to work mean that we will be sacrificed for (and die from Covid) to increase corporate profits and yet they also believe 2) that these same oligarchs are working to come up with a way to allow us to go back to work safely – ah, the vaccine, let’s sit home (if we still have one) and wait for our benign corporate overlords to produce it.
These contradictory beliefs are based on an outdated model of exploitation of labor, in which our *labor* is profitable to the PtBs, and that they need us for their profit margins. If you still think this, look at the vortex of wealth concentration and profit the ‘virus’ has catalyzed as unemployment rises astronomically and small and medium sized businesses are wiped out. This economic model ignores, and cannot account for financialization, or modern forms of simultaneous monetization of poverty and institutionalization of forms of technocratic control.
Poverty is profitable in two important ways at this moment: the global poor are the units in government contracts and corporate experiments (think prisons, vaccination programs, bank and utility fee collection and debt peonage generally), and once the poor are hooked into systems of data mining, surveillance and control, they become not only more manageable (and remotely, at that) but sources of profit that are divorced from our former economic function (in the former iteration of capitalism) as labor, as workforce.
So lefties believe that ‘politicians and oligarchs want us to go back to work because they only care about profit’ on the one hand; and yet the same people believe that the oligarchs and politicians are acting in our best interests when they institute lockdowns and tell us to stay home (if you have one) until a vaccine is ready for global distribution on the other. And they believe that the Covid vaccine being developed is, unlike all other products produced by capital, in no way constrained by or answerable to the usual profit driven production and distribution frameworks and requirements; and that the government’s role in coerced market creation in regard to vaccines generally does not apply in this, oh so new, novel, case. In short, and on the other hand, they believe that the vaccine producers are producing a vaccine because they care about humanity, and only want us to be able to go back to work safely.
Under the aegis of this narrative (as if the narrative itself were utterly disconnected from the forces of monopolization, from the power that the incredibly wealthy and getting wealthier by the second have to shape and control both ‘science’ and the media), lefties, of all kinds, liberals, progressives, Marxists etc. believe that ‘politicians and oligarchs want us to go back to work because they don’t care if we die’ and that they’re working on a vaccine so we can go back to work at some future point, where our jobs and former lives will be waiting for us, and happiness, health, and safety will prevail (until the next pandemic). This belief shapes our responses to current events, it shapes our organizing, it shapes our challenges to fascizing neoliberalism – that is, to capital, the PtBs.
Part of this is true – population has been a problem for capital since the end of industrialization and territorial expansionism. See Richard Rubinstein’s Cunning of History for an economic analysis of fascism – he saw fascism (at times) as growing inevitably out of capitalism, and as being a rational (with respect to capital) way to solve Capital’s population problem. Rubinstein argued that there is a tendency within capitalism itself – not just for the powerful to pressure wages below subsistence levels – but for capital to coopt the state, and use it to institute modern technocratic forms of slavery that rely on treating humans as (unpaid) exploitable, disposable resources in themselves.
We are now, functionally, from the POV of capital and the system, livestock.
So do Cuomo and Gates (we’ll use them as our representative politician and oligarch) want us to go back to work, no matter the risk, as my lefty friends maintain? No, not at all. The plans to “reimagine education” without brick and mortar colleges (for the poor) proceed apace, just as the plans to ‘reimagine’ health care for the new digital surveillance and control state proceed apace. (Note: if you read WEF, or Gates Foundation or BlackRock documents you will find that their plans, the ways they ‘reimagine’ our lives and the economy preceded the virus. So they looked at face to face learning, or face to face doctor visits, as “legacy programs” that we have to be weaned from long before the advent of Corona*. Look at the way Cuomo used the pandemic to intensify his control over the NY State legislature and budget, and to (continue to) cut spending to education and health care – that is, this represents both escalating, fascizing neoliberalism *and* the implementation of new programs for – yes, total – and profitable – digital data mining, surveillance and control of the world’s population.
Neither Cuomo or Gates wants people to go back to work. ‘Work’ and the economy are being re-imagined right now, using the virus as an excuse. There are risks and procedures the narrative hides, that don’t come from the virus per se, but from how the oligarchs and PtBs are using it to legitimate and implement their agenda.
The difference between, broadly, us, and them is that they understand the economy, and the shift in relations that Artificial Intelligence, robotics, nano-tech, block chain etc. entail and allow. In this new world, we are fundamentally unnecessary. They don’t need a large pool of unemployed people to keep wages down, they don’t need an educated workforce, they don’t need the children of the poor to be socialized or educated. The family is unnecessary, higher education (for us, for the most part) is unnecessary; even, we’re seeing, production and consumption on the scale we were used to is unnecessary.
Just as debt replaced formerly wage constrained consumption when capital had to finesse the underpaid labor can’t buy the goods produced problem, and became a source of profit in itself, now we are seeing a massive shift in the shape and function and nature of the economy itself.* This kind of analysis and way of framing the problem – that the ‘politicians and oligarchs want us to go back to work because they don’t care about our health & safety’ – leads directly to us advocating for what is actually their (yes, final) solution – not going back to work, (and let me repeat, those jobs, as we know them, will not be there after we’ve injected the vaccine and nanotech switches, internal monitoring devices, and gene code rewriters). This frame conditions us to go along with “reimagined”, digital health care, digital ID, health passports and vaccination programs – things that they have designed and implemented as means to their ends, part of their agenda.
To use that frame for analyzing current phenomena is both counter factual – Gates and Cuomo (our representative examples) are not trying to go back to the last or previous iterations of capitalist wealth creation and social control – and it functions to simultaneously legitimate and cover-up what is actually going on.
Finally, this kind of analysis also relies on an outdated model of the economy, and misses what the WEF and BlackRock and Gates and Cuomo know, but we do not (I’m using ‘we’ for the educated precariat): and that is that the *driver* of the economy is no longer human labor (industrial production) or consumption, but rather AI based ‘data mining for capital markets’ (I’ll link below) and state coerced consumption of vaccines and other pharma products that are themselves monetized mechanisms of surveillance and control.
They – our oligarchs and their politico spokesmodels – do not need human labor the way that industrializing capital did; they certainly do not need, and do not want to pay for**, an educated workforce. In short, we are minute, impersonal, disposable units in the population problem, and they will take care of us using the fascist mode, updated for the digitized AI age.
**Just like the PtBs, to think *they* are paying for education. We go along with this as they make us all beggars, ‘print’ and inject trillions in wealth for themselves, inflate the value of their stocks, steal our hard assets like houses, and attach the minute and inexorable forms of both medicalized and AI digital modes of social coercion and control into every form of social, economic and political relation.
Whether we follow Rubenstein’s analysis, or the typical definition of fascism, where the state serves the interests of capital, that’s where we are now, and neither the political spokesmodels or the oligarchic elite or any of their products offer any way out.