Ramin Mazaheri and Jeff J Brown – for The Saker Blog
We can’t always find it but there is always a tipping point. Last week I crunched the data and suggested it’s May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops.
Maybe I’m a few days off, but not many more: This bubble-popping is precisely why Trump is not wearing a mask, planned to end the corona task force and keeps talking about reopening; this is why 300 US CEOs and the Department of Defense sent Mexico’s president a letter threatening that they better reopen now and not screw up corporate supply chains.
But what is absolutely certain is that getting the West back to work requires some sort of propaganda campaign to do so – what will that media effort look like?
When I recently asked What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? readers pointed that many politicians are dug in way too deep to climb out. Yet, whether they claim to be “wrong” or “right” – climb out they must:
There has never been a vaccine for a coronavirus; neoliberalism is predicated on constant growth and wage-earning; The New York Times’ irresponsible rebroadcasting of 1.1 million US deaths in “a best-case scenario wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on – the West has to end the Great Lockdown.
But Americans aren’t going to go back to work until their media stops scaremongering, as their scaremongering line is slavishly followed by European and Western media: polls show more Americans fear getting sick from the virus than economic hardship, and despite all the data showing only the elderly and medically-vulnerable are at risk (thus they are the healthy ones who should be quarantined).
The New York Times now despises Sweden for their corona-sovereignty, but even they can’t help but admit Sweden shows the only way out of the Great Lockdown: “But what about the economy? The choice is not between indefinite shutdown and Russian roulette. A transition needs to occur that balances the risks at play. From that perspective, Sweden is the future.”
The first step is talking about it – how will the West do that?
I have said from the beginning that the West’s arrogance is that whatever China can do, they can surely do: The West is employing quarantining, control methods and collective-over-individualist concepts used by Asian nations, but without having similar cultures of government economic intervention nor widespread trust in their governments, and amid their economic Great Recession on top of it all.
But can the West use the same media persuasion techniques as China?
To find out what worked for China I posed the question to Jeff J. Brown, author of the most important book on China in decades, China is Communist, Dammit! Brown lived in China for many years and realised he had to refute with data and analysis the Western absurdity that China’s rise has come via capitalist methods.
“There is always lots of debate in China, especially facilitated today with all the electronic social media platforms. There was a lot of discussion in China about citizens having more say in the mainstream media, to increase the flow of useful information during the lockdown. There were forums of every stripe, airing grievances about rules being too strict to measures being too lax, to forums on using TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and old fashioned remedies to prevent/treat Covid.”
This is quite a contrast from what I dubbed The West’s middling, middle-class corona response, which inherently assumed that everyone has a comfortable home, job and savings, even though since 1980 the West’s middle-class has been blown apart. This response was designed by well-paid doctors, professors and epidemiologists, and trumpeted by well-paid Mainstream Media mouthpieces.
In Brown’s book he relates how the Chinese Communist Party is essentially the world’s largest polling agency, constantly querying public opinion on matters big and small. Frankly, if I was forced to select a single trait which separates China’s government from the West’s it would be this one, as it explains their government’s success & efficiency, the obvious & justified basis for the CCP’s popular support, and the bottom-up nature of socialist democracy as opposed to the top-down, technocratic & aristocratic model of Western liberalism.
“There were lots of differing opinions aired in neighborhood, village and town meetings. The red line to not cross is suggesting the overthrow of China’s communist-socialist system of governance, which is no different than the West, where it is verboten to demand an end to capitalism.
(FYI, when I asked Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? I related how right up there with Iran’s “Down with England, America and Israel” chants is, “Down with those who oppose (the political principle of) the guardianship of the Islamic jurist.” Socialist-inspired revolutionary nations make it crystal clear that a return to capitalism-imperialism or a tolerance of Western-style fascist speech will never be permitted.)
Mao’s mass line continues to this day in the form of millions of surveys conducted among the people, to air concerns and catch the popular zeitgeist. It is all about learning from the bottom up. Then and now, you grab a banner and protest publicly, when all these other avenues of communication have failed. There are an estimated 300-500 public protests a day in this country of 1.4 billion citizens. China haters take this as a sign of weakness. Baba (Father) Beijing sees it as a source of strength.”
The 21st century Western reality is that taking to the streets usually makes one a far-right neo-fascist or an irresponsible anarchist: we see that in the treatment of the Yellow Vests or the recent anti-Lockdown protests in Michigan, which I immediately supported – of course, as I support democracy – in, We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? Brown relates how China’s state is far superior in perhaps the most important thing in politics: incorporating public opinion into public policy.
If anything will be an argument for centralisation over federalism – and central planning over neoliberalism’s “invisible hand… guiding us all towards corporate fascism & neo-imperialism” – it will be the corona-return: it’s clear that the US is wasting a tremendous amount of time, energy and efficiency by having a central government whose suggestions can be and are being totally ignored at the state level.
“Public campaigns like this are done at the neighborhood and private/public employer level. These entities would get their instructions from city/town/village government units, which in turn, working up the hierarchy, got theirs from county, provincial and national level bodies. As is true in socialist countries, the national government may set the tone, but democracy devolves down to the local level, allowing for reasonable adaptation, according to needs on the ground.”
Imagine the amount of discussion – which could have gone to relating the needs of the lower classes and the Mom and Pop shopkeeper/proletariat – which the US wastes daily in political sniping and Trump Derangement Syndrome? The Eurozone common currency will be similarly hindered by disunity, which is the last thing needed in a crisis.
China was stunningly running at 75% economic capacity around February 10 because they are coordinated and united. Some US governors may even, unthinkably, play politics and delay their reopening with November election goals in mind. Americans haven’t had a war on their soil for 150 years – they just don’t know what a crisis is, and that helps explain their lack of unity in this crisis. They think that their preferred politician not taking office in November constitutes a crisis – the building historic economic catastrophe should recalibrate their realities.
Socialist-inspired nations already made the necessary changes, but the Western liberal & economic model cannot
So Brown has surprisingly shown how – as a result of their model of socialist democracy, and not liberal democracy – China really didn’t need a multi-week media campaign like I envision the West needing because there is so much communication between the people and their pubic officials, as well as such an awareness of what is going on, what is needed and what is to be done.
That makes perfect sense when we realise that socialist democracy is based around discussion-based consensus and not the unilateral decree of Western “liberal strongmen” like Emmanuel Macron nor the individualist “great man-ism” personified by Ayn Rand’s blowhard protagonists. In places like Iran and China everything is done by committee (and the CCP and Basij are essentially two huge committees, after all) because these are not only two new systems, but also systems which have inspired massive Western sabotage campaigns: these bureaucrats know that they cannot be high-handed and aloof, but instead must be receptive, responsive and always trying to keep as large a proportion of the population on the side of their socialist-inspired revolution as possible. In short: they cannot risk wasteful mistakes, but why would they even want the system the West has, especially in a few more months?
Of course, there will still be huge health concerns on May 17, especially in the US, but Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus. Of course, the “Western economy” is not at all synonymous with “global economy”, a rather vital point to Iranians, Chinese, Cubans, etc.
Western politicians, none more than state of emergency-loving France, keep reminding us that this is a war: a war necessarily needs heroes, and the West now needs ones other than nurses and rich doctors. A media campaign of, “Go back to work to save grandma’s social security (and our consumer, unplanned economy)”, is thus logical but would obviously be a complete 180 from the editorial policies and public stances of countless Western media and politicians. Such a campaign is probably only feasible for socialist-inspired nations, where collective and not individual action is lauded.
Trump says he views Americans as ‘warriors’ amid coronavirus and he got roundly mocked for it… but I don’t know what the top US public servant can do otherwise, really? America’s bureaucrats thus know the obvious truth of this article – Westerners will need some sort of inspirational campaign to get them back to work. Westerners are culturally prone to fearing others and wanting to stay at home alone even in good times: Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’?
Westerners will thus likely stay hunkered down, as for months their private media has been ravenously gobbling up the higher ratings they have gotten via pounding fear into their viewers.
You can say I am underestimating the virulence of corona, but about this I am sure: in the Western Mainstream Media there has been basically zero space given to objectively giving so-called “contrarian” views which could possibly calm people’s fears. It as if I am a bad journalist because I am not scaring people?!
I am a bad journalist for immediately waving the red flag that a Great Lockdown is actually a forced suicide march for the West’s abandoned lower classes? It is not my fault that the neoliberal & neo-imperial system of the West refuses to take care of their elder class, and Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism actually contains an immediate answer to the economic chaos caused by the Great Lockdown.
Only time will tell if the Great Segregation/Lockdown was necessary, but we definitely know much more about how to handle coronavirus than on January 1 or even March 1: protect the vulnerable, isolate the sick, take personal responsibility actions in public, population-dense regions need extra precautions, and… get back to normal before the Western double-bubble economy pops.
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!
A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020
If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020
Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020
Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020
The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.