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Great Covid-19 Crash

Quarantinis anyone?

Today not only saw the greatest daily increase so far in number of cases and of deaths (each day will be greater and greater—that's the nature of geometric functions, "exponential growth"). It's also the day when President Trump refused to follow the CDC's recommendation to wear masks. None of this makes any sense and begs the question of how the oligarchy which owns this country would knowingly turn the government over to a ridiculous solipsistic ignoramus who would staff it with incompetents like his son-in-law Jared, who didn't know that the National Stockpile had to do with the states: "It was for us," he told reporters and the Boss backed him up. So did the people who changed the website to agree with that shithead from New Jersey, my home state.

It's also the day when it became apparent that the only way the federal government could distribute the much-needed emergency and protective equipment was to establish a market exchange where states would bid on the material. That's actually what Jared was talking about. He's probably in on the take. An awful lot of people are.

The papers are full of people stories, and so are web aggregators. Not quite as much on the news channels, but that'll come in time. The New York Times seems to be in the lead on "Public interest," though I'm sure there's an awful lot of stories out on the web. So many people suffering, not just the medical workers, but the people who have to clean the hospitals and stores and offices working at $10/hr cash and their husband has lost his job and is undocumented to boot; or the construction workers forced to crowd into freight elevators with 34 other guys all sniffling and blowing shit around; or the restaurant workers out of luck. Millions suffering one way or another.

I'm suggesting that we need a new thread, one that will lead toward Strategy for how to gain power and reorganize the government.

Then there's personal stories appearing, of those who are enjoying the isolation, people like myself who have spent too much of our lives running around, the light-hearted with our Zoom cocktail parties serving Quarantinis, the retirees, those with enough money and few enough expenses to ride this through no matter what. Add to that the thrill of seeing this whole freaking system crash! I'm having by far the time of my life. I'm so glad I lived to this point. If I were to get sick tomorrow and buy the farm, these last two weeks would have been worth it.

So, I'm suggesting that we need a new thread, one that will lead toward Strategy for how to gain power and reorganize the government, starting now and lasting for the rest of everybody's lives, even if you happen to be eight years old. How to build the new world.

Notes Toward a Sociology of the Great COVID-19 Crash of 2020.

To get to strategy we need a sociological analysis, knowing who's who? who's benefiting, who's being hurt? Whose interest is being served? Eventually this will have to lead to a Power Analysis to gauge the relative strengths of the conflicting parties, including defining who "we" are and what are our strengths (and weaknesses).

We'll be taking on these questions:

  • Who are our allies? How can we build coalition with them?
  • Who are our opponents? How can we split them apart to weaken them?

Out of this will come Strategy (capital S). If we don't find good strategy I know exactly how this is going to end: Trump will die of the virus and Ivana will be crowned Empress of the West.

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Who's hurt? Who's helped?

It seems that there are three broad groups of people:

First are those who are horribly and irreparably hurt by the collapse: Of course everyone in the health world who is dealing with the medical crisis daily; those who serve the medical world, such as cleaners, workers who provide services. Then there are all the workers of the "necessary" businesses—the delivery people, the store clerks, the construction workers, those who have to deal with the public.

In this grouping are all wage workers who have been or will be laid off; all small business owners who lose their businesses; all unemployed; and all people who are economically living on the margin—the poor, the elderly, the immigrants, the infirm, those who subsist on disability and/or charity. Millions of people's lives have already been turned around.

Next are the people like myself, a retired government employee with a pension, social security, plus family money put away. My whole extended family and many of my friends have been living pretty high on the hog, but are pretty secure in weathering any storm. We don't owe that much—and can live on much less than we do—plus staying home has many positive sides. This includes people who can ply their careers and trades from home. For want of a better word I'll call this group the Professional Class. I'd put the journalists of CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times and Washington Post in this category too, since their work and voices are enhanced in the crisis. Many professionals fit into this group, including the medical people who are on the front lines.

Never ever discussed in mass media are the third group, those who benefit from the crash. The short sellers who increase their fortunes; the traders and speculators and brokers in personal protective equipment; the owners of corporations that are as we speak are BUILDING THE WALL!; the super secure who have left their midtown Manhattan 60th floor floor-through apartments, let them go dark and empty in a city with a humongous homeless problem and are luxuriating their isolation on an island or guarded estate, with lots of workers to keep them happy and satisfied. They're studying how to make a buck out of the chaos of the coming months.

Who has agency?

As of now, only two of these groups have agency, meaning the ability to turn their needs into some semblance of power. And they're not equal in power.

Those who are terribly hurt by the collapse have no agency. They are not organized into any political party. Certainly not the Republican Party, which advocates more suffering. The Republican Party at its base level is merely ideological, nothing more. Its voters will not benefit at all from more of the same. However, they will have the satisfaction of sticking it to the second group, the Professional Class of the Democratic Party. The existing Democratic Party could swing toward "helping" these people, if its leadership had courage and a provable progressive base. But the people on the bottom generally don't trust the Democratic Party, so they don't vote reliably if they vote at all.

But the Democratic Party is the means by which the Professional Class attains agency. Or is attempting to gain agency. Here in New Mexico, we are the active base of the Party: we run many of the county parties; we keep the wards and precincts going (if they function at all); we are poised (finally) to win both houses of the legislature. The Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisholm, though a corporate Dem to the core, has to satisfy us a percentage of the time. We're coming up. Same nationally, with Warren and Bernie's candidacies, despite the fact that the corporate Dems had more primary voters. We have our voices in Congress, not a lot, just enough to keep alive.

The other group that has agency, through the Trump administration and Congress, is, of course, the third group, the Billionaires and their kleptocratic minions and flunkies. The traders and brokers and hustlers; the defense contractors preparing for the coming wars over migration, water, and other resources, the medical manufacturers.

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Those are my first two notes. Please join the discussion on Facebook.

Mark Rudd