Abstract As capitalist society remains incapable of addressing climate breakdown, one measure is waiting in the wings: solar geoengineering. No other technology can cut global temperatures immediately. It would alleviate the symptoms of the crisis, not its causes. But might it be combined with radical emissions cuts? This essay, the first instalment of two, scrutinises the rationalist-optimist case for geoengineering: the idea that soot planes in the sky can shield the Earth from the worst heat while society rids itself of fossil fuels. A more likely outcome is that they encourage business-as-usual to continue, while negative side-effects from geoengineering itself pile up. The logic of the enterprise points in the direction of a catastrophic termination shock. A subsequent, second instalment will subject geoengineering to a materialist psychoanalysis and argue that it represents a fantasy of repression, setting itself up for a dreadful return of the repressed.
The collapse of several banking institutions in the United States over the past fortnight has started sending shockwaves through the international banking system. NewsClick spoke with tech expert Bappaditya Sinha on what the data says about systemic problems within the US banking system, which have contributed to these collapses.
What are workers? Are they human beings? Do they have only a bundle of muscles but, no brains? How do they feel and how do they think? Do they think at all? What do they face in their life – in factories, in foundries and other shops, in assembly lines, in unions?
Workers’ answers to the questions above differ from the response the workers’ masters present. The factor that draws the delineating line is, in short, class position, which is often blurred while discussing issues of life and work, be it related to workplace or economic program, politics or social initiatives, charity, cooperative, ideology or culture.
The Biden Administration stealthily hiked Medicare premiums to their highest prices ever while simultaneously pushing to funnel even more money into the private health insurance industry, further privatizing the government insurance program. It’s also important to note that Biden took around $47 million on legalized bribes from health care executives during his 2020 presidential campaign. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss on The Young Turks.
“Last week, the Biden administration quietly reaffirmed its decision to enact the highest Medicare premium hikes in history right before this year’s midterm elections. At the same time, President Joe Biden is endorsing a plan to funnel significantly more Medicare money to insurance companies and further privatize the government insurance program for older Americans and those with disabilities. In effect, the higher premium increases will subsidize the larger payments to — and profits for — private insurance corporations. This comes after Biden raked in roughly $47 million from health care industry executives during his 2020 campaign. The Biden administration announced on May 27 that due to “legal and operational hurdles,” Medicare recipients won’t see their premiums lowered this year, even though that rate was originally hiked last November in large part due to the projected costs of paying for a controversial Alzheimer’s drug that Medicare now says it generally will not cover. The administration’s announcement comes as Biden officials move forward with a jolting 8.5 percent hike in payments made to private insurers operating Medicare Advantage plans next year.”
“The failure lies in the fact that Western Liberal Democracy simply is not a democracy, in the sense that neither majority rule nor the supreme rule of the people is ever achieved…”
(This is the fifteenth chapter in a new book, France’s Yellow Vests: Western Repression of the West’s Best Values. Please click here for the article which announces this book and explains its goals.)
People often do not realise what a historically recent concept this is in human society – the primacy of the people and not just a person.
Perhaps the biggest change for the average Frenchman in the changeover from Charles X of the Bourbons to Louis-Philippe of the House of Orleans in 1830 is that the latter accepted to be the king “of the French” instead of the king “of France”. This brand change did nothing on a practical level but it reflected the legacy initiated in 1789: the people’s newfound sense that only they bestow legitimacy, instead of a claimed divine theocratic right. Louis-Philippe would be the last unelected royal in France, but it took World War I to wipe away arrogant, unelected royalty in most of Europe (12 monarchs still reign in Europe, which has about 45 nations). Thus the change from millennia of a falsely divine monarchy is a very historically recent one, and much this book aims to remind that the cultural traits of autocracy – for those who cannot divine it in the governance style of Emmanuel Macron – is pernicious and pervasive today, still.
According to a report published by Wealth-X, 2020 witnessed the largest growth in billionaire individuals since they started recording this data. The United States has the largest share of the world’s billionaires with 29%. China and India had the highest percentage growth of billionaires at 19.9% and 19.5%, respectively.
The growth in billionaires over the previous year was largely attributed to “expansive government support measures [which] propelled a dramatic rally in financial markets, after an initial pandemic-driven collapse.”
The report also suggested an increasing centralization of privately-held wealth, with billionaires representing 1% of the population of ultra-high net-worth individuals yet holding 28% of the cumulative wealth.
The contrast between the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives and livelihood of the working-class population and the soaring profits of big pharma companies in the corresponding period is abhorrent.
Despite the huge jump in revenues during the global crisis and a forecast for the continuation of the good run—owing to an assured market for vaccines, drugs and diagnostics in the years to come—big pharma is reportedly lobbying against the proposed global deal on tax overhaul. Last month, about 130 countries agreed to the US call for a global minimum rate of corporate tax of 15%.
Authoritarianism in China? A place that nipped Covid in six weeks and ended poverty in 2020? Let’s turn the camera, shall we? And let’s fix it on the Western/capitalist bloc. Do you see any recrudescence of BOURGEOIS AUTHORITARIANISM in examples from recent times?
1. Slovakia: passes law on 1 Dec 2020 designating Czech and Slovak Communist parties “criminal organizations.”
2. Poland: the anti-communist hysteria is well established in the persistent “witch hunt” against the communists that for decades has characterized the Polish bourgeois authorities on a dangerous undemocratic and reactionary ridge, with the complacency and encouragement of the EU. In fact, the persecutions, restrictions and criminal proceedings that have been conducted for years against the Communist Party of Poland (KPP), its daily “Bzrask” and their members are known “for the promotion of totalitarian regimes”. Furthermore, among other things, we remember the interruption of scientific conferences on Karl Marx organized by universities, the use of public institutions such as the National Memory Institute (IPN) for the dissemination of anti-communist propaganda and the establishment of a dangerous legal framework for communist persecution which includes the 2017 “decommunization law”
“The old Greek philosophers,” Frederick Engels wrote in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, “were all born natural dialecticians.”1 Nowhere was this more apparent than in ancient Greek medical thought, which was distinguished by its strong materialist and ecological basis. This dialectical, materialist, and ecological approach to epidemiology (from the ancient Greek epi, meaning on or upon, and demos, the people) was exemplified by the classic Hippocratic text Airs Waters Places (c. 400 BCE), which commenced:
Whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly, should proceed thus: in the first place to consider the seasons of the year, and what effects each of them produces, for they are not all alike, but differ from themselves in regard to their changes. Then the winds, the hot and cold, especially such as are common to all countries, and then such as are peculiar to each locality. We must also consider the qualities of the waters, for as they differ from another in taste and weight, so also do they differ much in their qualities. In the same manner, when one comes into a city to which he is a stranger, he ought to consider its situation, how it lies as to the winds and the rising of the sun.… These things one ought to consider most attentively, and concerning the waters which the inhabitants use, whether they be marshy and soft, or hard, and running from elevated rocky situations, and then if saltish and unfit for cooking, and the ground, whether it be naked and deficient in water, or wooded and well-watered, and whether it lies in a hollow or confined situation, or is elevated and cold; and the mode in which the inhabitants live, and what are their pursuits, whether they are fond of drinking and eating to excess, and given to indolence, or are fond of exercise and labor.…
For if one knows all these things well, or at least the greater part of them, he cannot miss knowing, when he comes into a strange city, either the diseases peculiar to the place, or the particular nature of common diseases, so that he will not be in doubt as to the treatment of the diseases, or commit mistakes, as is likely to be the case provided one has not previously considered these matters. And in particular, as the season and the year advances, he can tell what epidemic diseases will attack the city, either in summer or in winter, and what each individual will be in danger of experiencing from the change in regimen.… For with the seasons the digestive organs of men undergo a change.2
PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost) — Revolution. The working class is increasingly bereft of rights, blocked from forming unions, paid starvation wages, subject to wage theft, under constant surveillance, fired for minor infractions, exposed to dangerous carcinogens, forced to work overtime, given punishing quotas and abandoned when they are sick and old. Workers have become, here and abroad, disposable cogs to corporate oligarchs, who wallow in obscene personal wealth that dwarfs the worst excesses of the Robber Barons.
In fashionable liberal circles there are, as Noam Chomsky notes, worthy and unworthy victims. Nancy Pelosi has called on global leaders not to attend the Winter Olympics, scheduled to be held in Beijing in February, because of what she called a “genocide” being carried out by the Chinese government against the Uyghur minority. New York Times columnist Nick Kristof in a column rattled off a list of human rights violations overseen by China’s leader Xi Jinping, writing “[Xi] eviscerates Hong Kong freedoms, jails lawyers and journalists, seizes Canadian hostages, threatens Taiwan and, most horrifying, presides over crimes against humanity in the far western region of Xinjiang that is home to several Muslim minorities.”