Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 04, 2020

The MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2020-79

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Julian Assange:

Syria/OPCW:

Covid-19:

The pandemic can be described in percolation theory terms. Low incidence in a population keeps the growth rate low (currently in Germany). But after a critical incidence rate is passed (due to super-spreading events) the growth rate suddenly jumps upwards (currently in Spain, UK and elsewhere). Speaking colloquially: When there is sufficient shit flying around some of it will eventual hit the fan.

Leading the world:

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b on October 4, 2020 at 13:33 UTC | Permalink

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As much as this militant atheist loves what the current pope has to say in the encyclical, and particularly the quotes provided by suzan @292, and as much as it sounds like the encyclical is a criticism of neoliberalism, it sadly remains neoliberal at its core. The criticism of capitalism/market-dominated economics is just that we are not "moral" enough to make it work right, and so we just have to become more "moral" and that will fix everything.

Other than a bit more heart-bleeding and hand-wringing, this is not so different from juvenile randroid "Objectivist" nonsense. The underlying assumption is that "The Market™" (hallowed be Its name) is pure and faultless, and it is human fallibility and corruption that spoils it (how Catholic!). The primacy of "The Market™" is treated as a natural law like gravity and not even questioned beyond "...[putting] human dignity back at the centre...".

The fundamental problem of trying to address the shortcomings of "The Market™" with a moral argument is that the moral argument always yields to the pragmatic argument. This is why democratic socialists and social democrats always back down when push comes to shove and never deliver what they promise. They cannot deliver because fundamentally they still adhere to capitalist ideology, so when they make their proposals for a morally more just society they are confronted with the quants and accountants who point out that the proposed policy will result in X hundreds of thousands of layoffs, a Y% decline in income for workers, and Z% decline in the currency on the foreign exchange. The numbers are always unassailable so long as you buy into the initial premise of the primacy of "The Market™". If you don't embrace that initial premise then that means you must be a communist and thus your proposals are dismissed out of hand.

The moral argument against capitalism/market-driven economics is a dead end, and remains so even after hundreds of years of good-intentioned moralizing on the subject. The effort to realize a more just society necessarily begins with replacing capitalist/market ideology with an ideology stringently based upon the scientific method. This is necessary so that the pragmatic arguments from the capitalist side can be met with even more sound pragmatic arguments rather than flimsy moralizing.

The works of Marx are the starting point for this... or I suppose you can reinvent the wheel.

[Aside: There are those who will protest "But ideologies are bad! I don't have one! I don't want one!" Unfortunately these people do indeed all have ideologies, but have never practiced deep enough introspection to identify it. They have the default ideology of the society that they exist within, which for most here that is capitalism.]

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 7 2020 11:48 utc | 301

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 7 2020 11:48 utc | 305

All I can say is that Marx was influenced by German idealism and in his narrative of capitalism the end of all the fights will be the ability of people to form relationships free from economic necessity.

Talking about economic wars, the US seem to have lost the ability to set the technological standard.

The fact is that America’s action against Huawei has left the door open for Russia, and the company now has little to lose. As U.S. sanctions have escalated, Russia’s own tech sector and industrial base has gained in appeal. China is racing to un-Americanize its supply chains and higher-end industrial capabilities, engaging with Russia will be a benefit here. Russia is also one of the main countries selected by Huawei as a hub to attract local third-party software developers into the ecosystem.

The fact that China and Russia—the two countries most feared by Washington’s cyber defenders—are collaborating on a would-be global mobile operating system and a mass influx of new apps and services will be lost on no-one. Least of all Washington’s policy makers who may even find themselves exploring options to sanction those looking to replace Google with a Huawei alternative.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 7 2020 12:34 utc | 302

Chinese Citizens Are Already Receiving a Coronavirus Vaccine

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 7 2020 12:48 utc | 303

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 7 2020 12:48 utc | 307

add

Financial Times

Owing to the lack of positive cases in China, its vaccine developers have been forced to carry out phase 3 trials overseas and some of these agreements include pledges to distribute vaccines in the host country. Sinovac, for example, has promised to supply 40m vaccines to Indonesia by March 2021.

:-))

Posted by: somebody | Oct 7 2020 13:25 utc | 304

somebody @306: "All I can say is that Marx was influenced by German idealism and in his narrative of capitalism the end of all the fights will be the ability of people to form relationships free from economic necessity."

That sure sounds nice and morally satisfying, but Marx never really discussed the end result of history except in very vague and general terms. He always considered that the exact form of that society would be determined by the people who ended up building it. In general we can guess that such a society would be one in which all of people's material needs would be satisfied, if that is what you mean by "free from economic necessity". Freed from concern over material needs, humans can then focus their energies on developing and expressing themselves as creative beings. Unfortunately, that in itself is not a good enough argument to counter the imperatives of market economics. You need to come up with arguments for why a non-market approach results in improved productivity. We need that improved productivity before we can get to that society where people are freed from concern over material needs. That necessitates pragmatic arguments.


Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 7 2020 13:34 utc | 305

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 7 2020 6:19 utc | 295

Your list of why nots imo answer themselves given the institutional constraints at play. They deserve a louder voicing imo.

I an not a monotheistic nor a theist. I do, however, understand the importance of listening to others and valuing what can contribute to building a better world.

Posted by: Suzan | Oct 7 2020 14:45 utc | 306

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 7 2020 13:34 utc | 309

Whatever. This is the guy himself:

Communism as the positive transcendence of private property as human self-estrangement, and therefore as the real appropriation of the human essence by and for man; communism therefore as the complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e., human) being – a return accomplished consciously and embracing the entire wealth of previous development. This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man – the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectification and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 7 2020 14:51 utc | 307

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 7 2020 11:48 utc | 305

“The moral argument against capitalism/market-driven economics is a dead end, and remains so even after hundreds of years of good-intentioned moralizing on the subject. The effort to realize a more just society necessarily begins with replacing capitalist/market ideology with an ideology stringently based upon the scientific method. This is necessary so that the pragmatic arguments from the capitalist side can be met with even more sound pragmatic arguments rather than flimsy moralizing.”


While I agree with your abstracting description, how history unfolds is not so lineal. Arguments are infertile if they are not grounded in human experience. This is messy and involves matters of the heart/mind of not only indiivuals but also their collective relations. A market in one historical phase of capitalism is not the same as in the next as we who listen to Marx’s words understand. How to get there from here depends on human relationships grounded in solidarity something capitalism is so efficient at uprooting and destroying.

Posted by: suzan | Oct 7 2020 15:08 utc | 308

Trump has been erratic for some weeks now, he knows he's losing:

The Race Tilts to Biden

I've had the idea for some time that the reason Biden is the nominee is 1.) He's "safe" 2.) He can win, and 3.) most important he WANTS it.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 7 2020 15:18 utc | 309

Crap, well at least the link works.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 7 2020 15:19 utc | 310

SARS-CoV-2 is a stitched together entity
that so far appears to exist only in theoretical viral databases rather than in real life. The deeper one goes down the COVID rabbit hole, the more bizarre and surreal the scamdemic becomes, and the more obvious it becomes that the New World Order (NWO) conspirators have conjured up a giant magic trick out of nothing. Well, perhaps not nothing; it would be more accurate to say they are demonizing humanity itself and turning every person into ‘the enemy’, as I alluded to in an earlier article The Eerie Similarities Between the Coronavirus and Climate Change Hoaxes. In that piece I talked about how the NWO is following the Club Of Rome directive to make mankind itself the enemy, and in the case of corona, they are doing that by re-diagnosing and re-classifying part of our immune system as a pathogen (see the article Deep Down the Virus Rabbit Hole – Question Everything for the background on exosomes). It is accurate to say that the dreaded SARS-CoV-2 is, in fact, a stitched-together Frankenstein virus containing sequences of human DNA.

Posted by: Jimmy | Oct 7 2020 15:46 utc | 311

@ suzan... thanks for your many fine and thoughtful posts! i don't know if i have said that to you before, but i appreciate them....

i too tend to see it much like @ psychohistorian | Oct 7 2020 6:19 utc | 295... maybe his comments are self answered... something has to change...

Posted by: james | Oct 7 2020 15:56 utc | 312

somebody @311

Yep, as I said, pretty vague and general. Marx was a scientist, not a prophet.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 7 2020 16:00 utc | 313

Bemildred @13
Trump has been erratic for some weeks now, he knows he's losing
__________

That is what we were told last time
When trump is reelected will it be just another unplanned accident?

Posted by: jinn | Oct 7 2020 16:29 utc | 314

"Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks and answers to questions during the meeting with members of the Association of European Businesses in Russia, Moscow, October 5, 2020," were quite direct and honest as usual, carving a path through the swamp of EU lies, distortions and double dealings during his long review of the situation; this excerpt epitomizes his substance:

"We regret that trade and economic cooperation is becoming increasingly politicised. I have just cited some examples. Trade and economy have always been viewed as a safety net in relations among nations. Nowadays though, things seem to have shifted into a somewhat different phase. I remember so well that in 2014 German businesses called on the European Union and its agencies not to place politics above the economy in its approach to Ukrainian affairs. At the time it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said that there are cases when politics must be above economics. This is regrettable."

And here, Lavrov lays the wood, so to speak:

"Before concluding my opening remarks, I would just like to say a few more words about the main subject on our agenda today: as we have already seen more than once, economic interdependence can be both a boon and a bane. I don’t really think that anything good will come out of this if the EU continues to see its partners as some 'appendages' of the Eurocentric world. The world that was based on the central role of Europe has become history, not regrettably or happily but objectively. The drivers of economic growth and political influence are now in the East. The new polycentric reality calls for new approaches in politics and the economy. The 'leader-follower' relationship is no longer tenable. What we need now is respect for the fundamental principle of equality." [My Emphasis]

That principle was mentioned by many nations at the UNGA. Those nations tied to the apron strings of the Outlaw US Empire need to cut them and become free to reengage with the new reality; otherwise, their demise will come by their own hand. The first question Lavrov gets I'd term as hostile, but I'll let the reader read Lavrov's long detailed response that firmly makes the correctness of Russia's position very clear. He clearly makes the case for placing the EU into the same category as the Outlaw US Empire: Not Agreement Capable. In other words, this is a very important meeting based on what Lavrov stated. He's doing his best to awaken his European guests to the gravity of the situation, but it appears the EU gang's strings are held by the Outlaw US Empire's Deep State, and relations will further deteriorate.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 7 2020 16:52 utc | 315

"When trump is reelected will it be just another unplanned accident?

Yes, I think whatever happens it will be an unplanned accident, I haven't seen any of our plans work out for some time now. Remember "We're an empire now, and we make our own reality"? So, is this the reality those fuckwits set out to create? I don't think so. Are the current crop of big shot planners any smarter than Bush the Lesser's boys? No, if anything worse.

Bah.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 7 2020 16:56 utc | 316

Bemildred @320--

What'll happen next is an excellent question. I have an answer: Continuation of Chaos as the government continues its assault on the nation. For an explanation of what that means, take 27 minutes to watch this. Then, read this to arrive at some conceptualization of what's to come regardless of which Duopoly candidate wins. Given all the Neocons lining up behind Biden, Traitor Trump might be the best of a clearly negative outcome, just as in 2016.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 7 2020 17:17 utc | 317

@ Posted by: somebody | Oct 7 2020 14:51 utc | 311

As your quote well elucidates, Marx never developed a theory of Communism. In fact, he died before he could even publish his theory on capitalism (Das Kapital).

Communism is a theoretical abstraction for an end (a true end, not Fukuyama's farce) of History. It is a theory of History in essence.

P.S.: the excerpt you quoted is a materialistic - not idealistic - definition of communism. Yes, Marx was raised in an idealistic school of philosophy (Subjective Idealism), but, by the time he begun to publish his stuff (even the "young Marx" stuff), he had already transcended idealism.

--//--

Some daily news on China:

Chinese citizens see larger income growth

The pro-employment policies implemented by China during the last five years [N.A.: 13th Five-Year plan, 2016-2020] were a solid support for the income expansion of Chines residents. Last year, the per capita disposable income of Chinese people for the first time exceeded the 30,000-yuan mark and hit 30,733 yuan. The country’s per capita disposable income in comparable prices expanded 96.6 percent in the 2011-2019 period, with the income-doubling plan nearing completion.

And all of this happened not with raising taxes - but actually lowering them:

“I earn 700 yuan more each month, and I’m also exempted from the individual income tax, which helps my gain 3,000 yuan more every year,” said Gao Yantao, an employee of Wenrui Machinery (Shandong) Co., Ltd., adding that he’s planning to buy a new dish-washing machine for his family. Many of his colleagues benefit from the country’s tax reduction, he told People’s Daily, saying it has further enhanced their mobility to work.

China revised its individual income tax for the seventh time in August, 2018. According to statistics, reductions to individual income tax total 460.4 billion yuan when added in the special additional deductions policy and the carryover effect from the policies introduced on October 1, 2018 to raise the individual income tax threshold and optimize the tax rate structure. These reductions directly benefited 250 million taxpayers, with an average saving of 1,842 yuan per person.

China can do that because, in opposition to the Western European social-democracies, its government owns the strategic means of production (market socialism), which enables its government (owned by the CCP) to absorb much of social wealth through other means. Furthermore, as it owns the strategic part of the economy (including all land), it can command its economy (including the private sector) in order to direct it to even more growth, which in turn increases its own wealth, which enables it to lower even more taxation over its working class. The Chinese government, therefore, is not dependent on taxation to survive.

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U.S. trade policies toward China fail: scholar

The USA strategy right now (i.e. since Trump) is to Sovietize China, i.e. force it to economic isolation. This isn't working, and I recommend you to listen to Carl Zha's last podcast (available in his Twitter) with "Mr. G" - specially the first part (first 35 min. aprox.).

--

What pandemic? Crowds swarm Great Wall of China during holiday week

This is a true show of confidence - not that clown show Trump is doing right now.

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The truth behind the lies:

Amazingly this is also a list of countries threatened by prc move into a higher end manufacturing and services

It's not that the peoples of the First World countries are mad at China's "lack of democracy"; they're worried China will "steal their thunder", i.e. end their super-exploitation of the Third World, which bring their respective countries extra surplus value, which, in turn, finances their lavish lifestyles.

The rise of China will, hopefully, end this farce called Social-Democracy (Social-Fascism).

China, by the way, in fact doesn't care:

Western public opinions cannot stop China’s progress, happiness

--//--

The end of Japan:

Japan’s Lost Generation Is Still Jobless and Living With Their Parents

Over the years, I read stories about the travails of the so-called lost generation. Faced with limited job prospects, many ended up single and childless. Japan’s 2015 census revealed there were 3.4 million people in their 40s and 50s who had not married and lived with their parents.

3.4 million is almost 3% of the Japanese entire (!!) population.

I don't think Japan is a freak case. It's just ahead of the curve. Soon, other Western European countries + USA + Asian Tigers (minus Vietnam) will follow. Majestic Taiwan (which is not a country), for example, already has an even lower (much lower, in fact) birth rate than Japan - and has been growing just half the rate of the Mainland's rate. But please, keep depositing your hopes on this failed island.

Posted by: vk | Oct 7 2020 17:29 utc | 318

Bemildred @320

So, is this the reality those fuckwits set out to create?
________________________________________________

No it is the reality that Trump and a few lackeys set out to create and it has gone pretty much according to their plan.

The fuckwits hired trump to run this circus and as far as i can see trump was given free rein to run it as he sees fit. The fuckwits are happy with the results so far and will likely make sure his contract is renewed for four more years.

I don't believe that covid was planned, but trump has now turned that into another nothing-burger so its no longer interfering with the plan. Russiagate and Ukrainegate went exactly as planned.

As far as Bush&co, things went pretty much as they planned. Did you think they planned to bring Democracy to Iraq?


Posted by: jinn | Oct 7 2020 17:31 utc | 319

Cynthia Chung has a lovely article at Strategic Culture that I found fascinating. It explores Game Theory, and incidentally the Austrian economics based on its modeling, and shows how utterly false the entire set of notions are that establish human selfishness as the prime motivator of effort, when even RAND's experiments on the Prisoner's Dilemma theory showed empirically the widely observed "human bias towards cooperation".

Cooperation beats competition - and without even competing! Sounds almost Taoist, and certainly Chinese in this modern age.

I admire Cynthia Chung and she frequently writes too intelligently - I confess it - for me in my scattered and hurried life to settle in and read. But this piece I found very digestible over lunch:

The Curse of Game Theory: Why It’s in Your Self-Interest to Break the Rules of the Game

Posted by: Grieved | Oct 7 2020 17:59 utc | 320

Lavrov: "The world that was based on the central role of Europe has become history, not regrettably or happily but objectively. The drivers of economic growth and political influence are now in the East."

For "East" read "China." Launched in 2013, China's Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) was initially planned to revive ancient Silk Road trade routes between Eurasia and China, but the scope of the BRI has since extended to cover 138 countries, including 34 BRI countries in Europe & Central Asia (and 18 countries of the European Union). By early January 2020, 2951 BRI-linked projects valued at $3.87trn were planned or underway across the world. More BRI info here and here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 7 2020 18:12 utc | 321

318 Cont'd--

During the Q&A, Lavrov provides the following appraisal and mentions a new film, The Wall, which sounds like a must watch. I share his concerns:

"But, of course, besides the economy, we are deeply concerned about the military and political situation. It is not improving in Europe and, on the contrary, it is becoming more disturbing. By the way, there have been many reports, analysis pieces and articles recently marking the anniversary of the German reunification. Russian television filmed a two-hour documentary, The Wall, which came to a rather sad conclusion: the Berlin Wall was never destroyed; it simply became virtual and moved to the East very close to the Russian border, despite all the promises and assurances. I will not comment on this film right now. I hope you watched it. If you did not, I recommend it because you will understand a lot about the current conditions for the Russia-Europe relations, how the Russian leadership and Russian people remember the times when – and we all know this very well – Russia played the decisive role in the German reunification, by making a huge sacrifice. I am not exaggerating. The withdrawal of our troops was conducted in absolutely cruel and inhumane conditions. We know the real (financial) cost Germany paid for this. We also know that, not that our Western colleagues tried to persuade the Soviet leaders against it but they asked whether they [the Soviet leaders] had thought carefully and whether everybody needed a united Germany. You know the outcome. I find the manner used by some representatives of the German leadership in communication with the Russian Federation not only unacceptable but fully indicative of the fact that the era everybody considered a historic victory of Germans and Russians and eventually the victory of the entire Europe is now completely forgotten." [My Emphasis]

I must again emphasize the importance of this interview.

Putin also gave a brief interview with Rossiya 1 TV that adds a bit to the above.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 7 2020 18:16 utc | 322

Grieved @323--

I hope you were able to read Crooke's latest, "The Double De-Coupling". I just arrived at the Chung article in my daily reading list and will comment later.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 7 2020 18:26 utc | 323

@ Posted by: Grieved | Oct 7 2020 17:59 utc | 323

In ecology, there are four types of species interaction:

1) competition (both parts loose; -/-);

2) cooperation or mutualism (both parts win, +/+);

3) commensalism (one part wins, the other part is indifferent, +/0);

4) amensalism (one part loses, the other part is indifferent, -/0);

5) parasitism (one part wins, the other part loses, +/-).

The last three may or may not be part of symbiosis (i.e. when the relation is essential to the very survival of at least one of the species involved).

All of these relations are natural. They happen all the time in our biosphere. There's no enigma here.

The homo sapiens is a super predator (apex predator). Super predators do kill each other for territory and resources, but they are not natural predators to one another. That's why socialism/communism is only achievable in a world of abundance (extreme stage of the development of the productive forces). Indeed, that was the main problem of the USSR: it didn't have enough in abundance for everybody (because it was isolated and contained by the capitalist world), so, instead socialization of wealth (communism), it did socialization of misery (primitive communism).

Species are egotistical - but only at a species level (i.e. in inter-species relations). Intra-species (i.e. between specimens of the same species) there can - and must - be cooperation; otherwise, most species would cannibalize itself to extinction.

Posted by: vk | Oct 7 2020 18:33 utc | 324

@325
Lavrov: "I find the manner used by some representatives of the German leadership in communication with the Russian Federation not only unacceptable..."

Of course that comes courtesy of Washington, which needs Russia as an enemy in order to sustain the US control of Europe via NATO, and to rationalize the continued "need" for a half-million strong army ground force (no need for an army in the new Indo-Pacific theater against China).

Plus imperialism is stirring in Germany. . .from M. K. Bhadrakumar here.

To illustrate the change sweeping over the German ideology, in an interview with the weekly magazine Die Zeit in July, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (who is also the acting chairwoman of the ruling Christian Democratic Union party) stressed that it is “high time” to discuss “how Germany must position itself in the world in the future.”
She said Germany is “expected to show leadership, not only as an economic power”, but it also concerns “collective defence, it concerns international missions, it concerns a strategic view of the world, and ultimately it concerns the question of whether we want to actively shape the global order.” Plainly put, the German voice is no longer the voice of pacifism. . .Suffice to say, seventy-five years after the end of World War 2, German imperialism is stirring — and, once again, targeting Russia.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 7 2020 18:48 utc | 325

"German imperialism is stirring — and, once again, targeting Russia."
Yes and I see that The Ottoman Empire is stirring again.
Do the sharks smell US blood in the water already?

Posted by: arby | Oct 7 2020 19:17 utc | 326

From the article What Pandemic?" that VK posted above:

"The Golden Week holiday -- the longest in China along with the Lunar New Year holiday -- has traditionally seen middle-class Chinese travel abroad in large numbers. But this year, visa restrictions, quarantine requirements, a lack of international flights and the ongoing danger of Covid-19 means that Chinese travelers are looking domestically for travel instead."

"In just the first four days of the holiday, 425 million domestic tourist trips were taken in China -- generating more than $45 billion in tourism revenue, according to data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism."

European and American businessmen are staring hungrily at that stack of cash that they won't get any of. That's about two weeks worth of tourism revenue for the US back in the "good ol` days" before the covid. If Americans had the discipline and wisdom to mask up and lock down for real and the community resources to actually test and contact trace for real, then some of those $45 billion would be being spent in the US right now. Ignorant fucknuckle Americans cannot be trusted to do anything right these days, though.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 7 2020 19:48 utc | 327

Nobody here will shed a tear if king donkey rear .org retires one of its personae.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 7 2020 23:44 utc | 328

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