NOAM CHOMSKY, MIKE DAVIS and RICHARD HORTON (Lancet editor) on COVID-19

Forwarded to Mike Davis, who posted Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 4:37 PM

Hi, You may be interested in this: Covid Crisis Reading ListIn the plethora of commentaries on the present crisis these writers stand out:

Dr. Richard Horton:

‘Scientists have been sounding the alarm on coronavirus for months. Why did Britain fail to act?’ (The Guardian)

‘The editor of the Lancet speaks out on Corona Virus’ – Labour Briefing

‘In defence of Richard Horton (and Karl Marx)’ – Labour Briefing

For unknown reasons they waited. And watched’– Lancet editor exposes devastating government failure on Coronavirus’ – MediaLens

Mike Davis:‘The Coronavirus crisis is a monster fueled by capitalism’ (In These Times)

‘Mike Davis on the Politics of Coronavirus’

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 (Jacobin). In this video, Davis makes these crucial points: 

Social distancing: yes! But not at the price of protest. There’s no reason that a single line of ten people holding picket signs, standing three metres apart, is endangering anybody’s life. …

[We need] to take leadership from unionized frontline medical workers. … Nurses are the social conscience of this country …  We have to broaden the definition of who are frontline medical workers because it also includes nursing home staff, janitors, people who pick up garbage. It includes the Amazon warehouse workers without protection. 

These people are not only our heroes right now – we should broadcast in every way our solidarity – but as Marxists, as socialists, we should recognize their historical agency. They’ve become an immensely powerful progressive force, working-class force, for change.

Dr. Yaneer Bar-Yam: ‘The UK’s coronavirus policy may sound scientific. It isn’t (The Guardian)

 ‘We need an immediate five-week national lockdown to defeat coronavirus in America’ (USA Today)   

Nat Dyer:‘Complex modelling fuelled the financial crisis. Now it has delayed action on COVID-19′ (openDemocracy)

Noam Chomsky:

The coronavirus is serious enough but it’s worth recalling that there is a much greater horror approaching. We are racing to the edge of disaster, far worse than anything that’s happened in human history. And Donald Trump and his minions are in the lead in racing to the abyss.

In fact there are two immense threats that we are facing. One is the growing threat of nuclear war, which the US has exacerbated by tearing up what’s left of the arms control regime. And the other, of course, is the growing threat of global warming.

Both threats can be dealt with, but there isn’t a lot of time. The coronavirus is horrible, and can have terrifying consequences, but there will be recovery. While for the others there won’t be recovery. It’s finished. If we don’t deal with them, we’re done. …

Bear in mind that with current tendencies, if they persist, South Asia is going to be unliveable in a few decades. The temperature reached 50 degrees centigrade in Rajasthan this summer – and it’s increasing.

The water’s running out, it could get even worse. There’s two nuclear powers [in the region], they’re going to be fighting over restricting reduced water supplies.

I mean the coronavirus is very serious, we can’t underestimate it, but we have to remember that it’s a fraction, small fraction of major crises, that are coming along. They may not disrupt life to the extent that the coronavirus does today, but they will disrupt life to the point of making the species unsurvivable – and not in the very distant future.

So we have many problems to deal with: immediate ones, coronavirus is serious, it has to be dealt with and much larger ones, vastly larger ones, they’re looming. …

We have handed over our fate to private tyrannies, called corporations, which are unaccountable to the public: in this case, Big Pharma. And for them making new body creams is more profitable, than that of finding a vaccine that will protect people from total destruction. …

This coronavirus epidemic could have been prevented. The information was there to be read. In fact it was well known in October 2019, just before the outbreak.

There was a large scale simulation, high level simulation in the United States, in the world, of the possible pandemic of this kind. Nothing was done. Now the crisis was then made worse by the treachery of the political systems which didn’t pay attention to the information that they were aware of.

On December 31, China informed the World Health Organisation of pneumonia-like symptoms with unknown etiology. A week later, some Chinese scientists identified it as a coronavirus. Furthermore they sequenced it and gave the information to the world.

By then virologists and others who were bothering to read World Health Organization reports knew that this was a coronavirus and they knew how to deal with it. Did they do anything? Well yes, some did. The countries in the area – China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore – began to do something and they have sort of pretty much, it seems, contained at least the first surge of the crisis. In Europe, to some extent, that’s happened. Germany … [has achieved] a reasonable containment.

Other countries just ignored it. The worst of them was the United Kingdom. And the worst of all was the United States, which happens to be led by a lunatic who says, one day, ‘there’s no crisis, it’s just like flu’, the next day, ‘it’s a terrible crisis, I knew it all along’, the next day ‘we have to give in to business, because I have to win the election.’

The idea that the world is in these hands, is shocking. But the point is that it started with a colossal market failure [and] fundamental problems with the socio-economic order, made much worse by the neoliberal plague. And it continues because of the collapse of the kinds of institutional structures that could deal with it, if they were functioning.from the interview: 

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