Y No Testing

Some jurisdictions outside the global power/COVID-19 metropoles have had the capacity to switch to mass testing. Mass testing would reduce uncertainty, permitting appropriate, targeted policy across institutions. Yet these jurisdictions eschewed mass testing. Examples:

1)

Manitoba, Canada has a very long, harsh winter that keeps the population indoors, and thus, with normal, high levels of human interaction, it is annually afflicted with severe flu outbreaks. Having had a working-class semi-responsive NDP government, Manitoba maintained contagion-managing infrastructure, including 200 ICU beds, a public testing facility Cadham Laboratories, and further testing capacity in the public university. The province had ample time to increase testing capacity, because it turned out that its isolation reduced COVID-19 transmission to and within the province. At one point, Cadham and the UM labs did increase testing capacity; but leaders allowed testing to dwindle as it became apparent that there would be few COVID-19 cases in the province. However, this low impact did not mean restoration of social and economic institutions. The conservative provincial government elected to suppress testing in favor of manipulating the global emergency discourse and fear within a context of low COVID-19 impact. Low COVID-19 impact provided the conservative party the time, space, and a plausible threat (disease and mortality) to implement their pre-existing austerity goals.

The result has been, as elsewhere, the widespread popular diffusion of population mentality, and in particular in Manitoba, a strong willingness to embrace austerity and institutional dismantling in fear of a “Second Wave” contagion.

2)

Minnesota’s health official in charge of testing managed to secure an arrangement with Mayo Clinic and the University of Manitoba to increase testing capacity. In April they announced that they had achieved the capacity to test 20,000 Minnesotans/day. But  political leaders thereafter soon decided to abandon mass-testing in favor of maintaining the population policing and economic-suppression biosecurity strategy. By late May, as with other regions outside the hardest-hit COVID-19 core metropoles, the biosecurity strategy was somewhat relaxed in Minnesota to allow for more economic activity, but as elsewhere, women’s unemployment and economic damage were both severe.

3)

Influential UK epidemiological strategy teams (including the Imperial group) ran models of various responses to SARS-CoV-2 transmission from January through March. These models have avoided geographic, population density, and transit centrality variables, so would not represent the uneven distribution of COVID-19. But in late January 2020, the NHS told the strategists to stop modeling mass testing, because they did not have mass-testing capacity at the time, and the UK government decided not to devote resources to mobilizing mass-testing capacity. Though they eschewed mobilizing testing capacity, they embraced the isolation and immobilization biosecurity approach, which was then likened with a war-mobilization effort. Authorities have declined to explain this choice. However, a reasonable hypothesis is that Anglo-American countries, among others, had heavily built up policing, military, and surveillance infrastructure, so it seems likely that their response favored their pre-existing commitment to coercive population management and their pre-existing ideological discounting of working-class (including particularly female) economic contributions. In another biosecurity capitalism win, extending and celebrating as TINA (There Is No Alternative) isolation and immobilization practices would maintain a susceptible and fearful market for for-profit private drug companies to sell vaccines to at some point in the future.

4)

Hawaii will prove an interesting case because the economy is dependent on tourism, the continuous introduction of new population that expects at least a minimal “All-Inclusive” level of human-accommodating freedom in an expensive visit. Moreover, Hawaiian tourist infrastructure is largely not developed for more-carceral All-Inclusive tourism. The suggestion was floated in May that mass testing at airports could permit the resumption of tourism without unappealing tourist incarceration. However, Hawaii has little scientific infrastructure, and, also a military outpost, had thrown in with heavy, National Guard-amplified biosecurity, instead of developing any testing capacity through the first half of 2020. From where Hawaii would import tests, how they would process those tests, and at what expense, is not clear. It is possible that Hawaii’s patriarchal militaristic tradition is more compatible with the expenses of retrofitting tourism to a more carceral “All-Inclusive” standard.

 

 

The Public Must Be Compensated

Political partisans have been trying to claim that Sweden’s Public Health authority, fronted by Anders Tegnell, is unique in pursuing a “cruel” herd immunity goal. It is a bald lie. Herd immunity to COVID-19 is the end-game for all decisionmakers in public health, including in the authoritarian-coalition NPI (Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention, AKA mass, indefinite Isolation and Immobilization) response designed by Biosecurity experts (See the FOIA’d Red Dawn emails in the New York Times).

The difference from Sweden’s democratic-scientific approach to the pandemic is that the authoritarian coalition’s NPI Mass Isolation & Immobilization approach allows the security state to practice implementing population lockdown (Red Dawn emails discuss this goal, along with testing the internet.), while technocratic epidemiologists are thrilled to be using societies as laboratories (See https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/opinion/coronavirus-pandemic-social-distancing.html). All the “early”/”late” implementation discourse in the media is scientistic nonsense typically used to sell Biosecurity indefinite mass house arrest, as opposed to a testing-forward, selective-isolation policy that no coalition has emerged to champion within the authoritarian societies.

But we must start focusing on the bait dangled by the authoritarian-coalition strategy. The avalanche of economic, social and health costs it unleashes cannot be worth the golden carrot swaying before the manhandled public: an immunization crafted over 18 months for one (1) version of coronavirus, where novel coronaviruses develop repeatedly. (A new avian flu, the Red Dawn biosecurity experts noted, had developed in China early this year even while COVID-19 was taking the spotlight.)

The people must rise together and demand compensation from the state for their epic sacrifices to the authoritarian coalition’s social-control practice and universal-lab conveniences.

For A More Humane Pandemic

April 2020 revision

Including the US, many countries’ public health authorities, their virologists and hospital workers, have coalesced with politicians, citing mortality risks to the immune-compromised, and prioritizing support for health care professionals in a time of ramping demand in many jurisdictions. Together they have instituted an isolation and immobilization policy upon a great, crude swath of the people, now designated “non-essential workers.”

Eager to protect and serve, people have embraced the virologist’s statistical conceptualization of people as disease vectors. People have embraced a sort of altruistic policy, suggested by public health officials for indefinite implementation. We can see this collective enforcement everywhere, as people impose self- house arrest and dutifully sew their own face masks. Police have expanded checkpoints from DUI to immigrants and now the entire population of disease vectors. Parks are closed, corporations and states furlough and fire employees, New York epidemiologists call for Americans to “freeze in place,” and the only people allowed to move their bodies in plague-riddled Milan are people who own dogs.

 

There is a greater good at stake. It’s just not the greater good we think. While we admire the brand of selfless cooperation, there is also a very strong element of inhumanity in our approach to the pandemic. It is very much rooted in a fundamental, Malthusian premise: Our humanity is the problem to be eradicated. To follow expertise means faithfully following whatever lab-coated technocratic policy crushes humanity while, thankfully for the politicians (some of whom liquidated their vulnerable investments before policies were implemented), maintaining and augmenting economic inequality. The issue here is that indefinite detention, for example the prohibition of walking, the preference for indefinite isolation and immobilization, is also torture in a walking, communicating species, which is what humans are. Both policy confining people to cell-like apartments and mortality are distributed very unequally, afflicting people who live in public infrastructure-poor areas and in the US, particularly long-beseiged African Americans.

Yet if we agree with population management experts in law, that isolating and immobilizing criminals and migrants in prisons is a necessary cost, logically we must agree to the similar recommendation of population management experts in health:  immobilizing disease vectors long-term in their homes is a necessary cost. We have a specific model for how we address problems, optimizing the variables of masculine policing employment, maintaining the medical system as -is, reducing deaths among the immuno-compromised, and maintaining the state-mediated intergenerational transfer of wealth from the working class to business owners and top managers. Applied to the COVID-19 pandemic our “health” and “epidemiology” concepts are narrowly technocratic and political;  nonetheless when we say it’s all for health, we think of our mortality and feel deeply.

Governments have offered trillions to compensate businesses for the economic depletion accompanying extended shut-down of all but “essential” work– primarily hospital and guard work. When life is on the line, most people are pleased to pitch in, particularly helping to police and abnegate themselves. In Canada, a Globe & Mail thought leader posed himself a Pandemic Mr. Rogers, affirming that Canadians are “helpers,” and that what helpers do is isolate and immobilize themselves.  But there is more to being a responsible member of a human society, even in an emergency.

 

A better approach is possible in many places. In Vo, an Italian town where an early COVID19-related mortality occurred, the government instead tested everyone and isolated the 3% of the population that proved to be infected (80% of whom were asymptomatic). In a mere two (2) weeks, the blanket-testing and selected-isolation approach eradicated COVID19 from that population. Iceland is a prominent exception to the technocratic-political refusal of mass-testing. It has been mass-testing and select-quarantining to stop the virus in Iceland within a couple of weeks. With its high public health capacity and systematic incorporation of humane criteria in public policy, Sweden has pursued a testing-forward, selected isolation policy to maintain a socio-economy where federal transfers don’t facilitate business to loot the paychecks of future generations. With its high public health capacity and systematic incorporation of humane criteria in public policy, Kerala has responded to the crisis with effective disease suppression balanced with humane supports and democratic freedoms. As the Wall Street Journal recently observed, countries such as Germany, that are conceptually able (via corporatism) to recognize the contribution of their working class to their economy, soon moved onto increasing their testing capacity, toward a testing-forward approach that allows them to minimize population isolation and immobilization. Minnesota has the capacity to mobilize a testing-forward approach, and save its diverse working class and the economy that depends on human thriving.

 

While blanket testing takes state organization and costs money up front, it can be more efficient and effective–and useful in the long run, and will cost less than shutting down the entire society and economy, and indefinitely treating most people inhumanely as nothing more than disease vectors, a variant of criminals, as the technocratic-political population-management model must do.

 

Different conditions require different interventions. The testing-forward approach is not appropriate in urban concatenations, such as Milan, London, and New York City-Connecticut, where for specific reasons of age demographics, culture, and global economic network and transit centrality, COVID19 has raged throughout the population, and spread outward. In those metropoles, selected testing and blanket isolation & immobilization makes sense. Just as Wuhan was transformed into a “dystopia,” in the first week of May New York’s Governor Cuomo announced that New York City would become a surveillance and policing city as its response to its convulsive, central COVID-19 experience. Because NYC is a capitalist metropole, this will create a commercial export industry in antihuman infrastructure. This antihuman policy and infrastructure will be heavily promoted, but must be resisted outside these capitalist criminalized, disease-vector population cores.

Blanket testing/selected isolation would work best in regions with a lower incidence of transmission. The virus has been spread with the travel of business elites. Yet even in seemingly highly-infected Colorado, playground for the rich, testing has shown that only 1% of the population is infected. Regions less central and disadvantaged under global capitalism could move into a forward economic position, diminishing global inequality, if they were permitted to take advantage of their more moderate COVID-19 exposure, by instituting universal testing rather than the debilitating and interminable blanket isolation & immobilization approach that looks best on computer simulations preserving the existing parameters that produced the crisis.

 

Unfortunately, in countries like the US, policy flows from its financial metropoles. In a pandemic, this subsidiarization is not beneficial. It is a lack of regional-appropriate capacity. While global centers have the resources to manage morality throughout, including solidarity with the afflicted, distinctive high-capacity regions like Minnesota have a different responsibility, to always recognize that that the authoritative status of population management and policy expertise not only reflects their wonderful technical knowledge, but is also conferred by experts’ and politicians’ attunement to optimization at the hearts of the global system—misconstrued, in technocratic conceptualization, as universal welfare. Favoring “freezing” the hinterlands, metropole expertise will argue that the virus and antibody tests are not perfect. Yet if the virus and antibody tests are not perfect, in humane-policy jurisdictions like Sweden, Iceland, and Kerala, they have been shown to be sufficient to allow for efficient, targeted virus suppression and eradication—without incurring other forms of mass health devastation, economic collapse and exacerbated, multigenerational inequality.

 

We need to be able to recognize when and where population management detaches from the human, becomes inhumane, so that we can instead support policy alternatives more effective and efficient for circumstances in our part of the world, connected to but also distinct from people in other places. Doing like Sweden, Iceland, and Kerala, and following not just the virological disease-vector population framework and the politician’s population-communications framework, but incorporating Enlightenment sociological and developmental biology perspectives can help us keep our eyes on what it is to be human and what we need to make to support humanity.  In this pandemic, a cost-forward blanket testing/selected isolation approach would cost some percentage of the trillions governments are working to transfer from workers to business elites for generations, where such problems as coronaviruses are caused by already-excessive discounting of workers’ human needs and welfare (Wallace, Liebman, Chavez & Wallace 2020). It would require immediately building testing capacity under state direction. It would require an organized mobilization, redeploying many of the out-of-work legions in the work of testing, or bringing into testing the armies of frustrated altruists within the military. It would be stridently opposed by metropole expertise, because it would be an expenditure of collective resources, and the global financial metropoles will not benefit from either mass testing or the diminishment of socio-economic inequality.

A testing-forward turn would also reduce the runaway risks and costs of universalizing blindness to the multiple conditions humans need to thrive and survive. For all their hopeful public recitations, none of the potential upsides of the crisis will materialize if we are not able to recognize these conditions, and act upon them now.

 

Mid-March reporting held that Minnesota state and private (eg. The Mayo corporation) labs did not have sufficient supplies to do mass testing. This “shrug” reporting was quite common in the US and Canada at the time, and there was little interest in how the state might fund and organize testing in these jurisdictions.  Throughout the US the main interest in this story was exhibited by political partisans, who used it to bicker over which party was to blame for the poor testing capacity. This diversion is part of the problem with dependency on antidemocratic political leadership temporarily patronizing virologists. By contrast, Sweden averted politician leadership problems by having long ago built up an independent public health bureaucracy. Politicians have little say in public health policy there, though there was some attempt by politicians to intercede. Without politicians able to jump into manipulating people’s fears to keep policy choices within inequality-preserving parameters (eg. using police and commercial tech to institute a vast prison landscape), Swedish public health experts could take into account the significantly-deleterious mental and physical health impacts of treating humans as little more than population network nodes, and instead design epidemic interventions that preserve human health. While the US and Canada shrugged at their own incapacities or gave room for politicos to carp at their political enemies, governments such as Germany’s began to fund and organize mass testing capacity.

Mayo is among the private corporations that raced to produce immunization, as, with both state and private markets, immunization is expected to be more lucrative than testing. It could be that Mayo’s for-profit requirements mean that Minnesota, unlike Iceland (which state has more independence from New York), does not have the public-private-sector incentive to produce the testing that could end the epidemiological threat far more quickly than more-profitable immunization. This for-profit medical preference will be devastating to human health and the economic viability of the working class and capitalism itself in the short, medium, and long-term. Did Minnesota public health authorities have the capacity to intercede and redirect efforts? In April, Minnesota announced its public health officials had convened Mayo and the University of Minnesota to produce 20,000/day swab (molecular/RNA) coronavirus testing capacity. Yet the governor of Minnesota continued to prioritize isolation & immobilization policy, barring the public from parks and recreation.

Are we blinding ourselves to our humanity in order to prevent us from “squandering” our wealth on making less-central regions viable, in order to reserve our wealth as back-end compensation for the disruption of existing centers of overaccumulation? Minnesota’s economic and political elites are well connected to the US financial metropole; but because Minnesota also has working class people, from farm workers to small business owners to furloughed managers, following an isolation and immobilization program is not in this region’s health or economic interests. Ultimately, even our friends in New York can benefit from Minnesota pursuing a humanist testing-forward approach, and preserving health, social, and economic integrity in the US.

Our problem isn’t insufficient mobilization. Our problem is that we are already excessively subordinated, as our swift lockdown makes evident. Prioritizing policies that keep the wealth in overaccumulation centers, stubbornly discounting life outside centers of overaccumulation, will reproduce the crisis conditions, because those crisis conditions inhere in dehumanization and inequality. This pandemic, like the epidemics before it and the crises that will come after it, has everything to do with how capitalism in a dense human-population world smashes its giant, necessary, global working class into no economic choice but to reproduce themselves by living off of what awkward combination of commodified and, especially, uncommodified goods and services they can access and cobble together (Katharine Moos, 2019; Wallace, Liebman, Chavez, and Wallace, 2020). Capitalism separates wealth from the working class, but the population is needed to grow wealth. The wild game must be supplemented by poultry. The development must sprawl into field, forest, and watershed. While we clutch our pearls and claim that our expert antihuman policies are for the “health,” the frontline nurses and doctors, the grandpas and people of color, in fact we are living in a time in which a sinister Malthusian presumption undergirds our expertise: In our disposition to maximize the augmentation of dehumanization and inequality both in our everyday and our emergency policies and institutions, we continue to discount the humanity of working people, to discount their economic contribution, to take more and more from them, to immiserate, stunt and weaken them around the world and cut short their lives, our lives. How can we develop feelings about the foundation of our pandemics, so that we can stop reproducing them? Do well-educated Minnesotans have the capacity to break with the antihuman population management models? Can Minnesota put its weight behind testing rather than freezing humanity?

 

For supporting articles, follow Mara Fridell on Twitter.

References

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix:

 

Anglo-American Health Authorities Prescribe Indefinite Isolation/Immobilization:

‘How long will we need to practice social distancing? “For now, it’s probably indefinite,” Dr. Marrazzo said.’ —New York Times, March 17, 2020.

 

‘How long, then, until we’re no longer behind and are winning the fight against the novel coronavirus? The hard truth is that it may keep infecting people and causing outbreaks until there’s a vaccine or treatment to stop it.

“I think this idea … that if you close schools and shut restaurants for a couple of weeks, you solve the problem and get back to normal life — that’s not what’s going to happen,” says Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and author of a book on how outbreaks spread. “The main message that isn’t getting across to a lot of people is just how long we might be in this for. As Kucharski, a top expert on this situation, sees it, “this virus is going to be circulating, potentially for a year or two, so we need to be thinking on those time scales.’

Vox, 3/17/ 2020, Coronavirus Lockdowns.

 

Testing Data

COVID-19 Testing Data: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing

 

 

Humanist Approach: Global Testing, Selected Isolation & Immobilization

Alternative to Inhumane Selected Testing, Global Isolation & Immobilization Policy

As public health authorities cite mortality risks and prioritize repressing demand on critical care beds, people have embraced the public health researcher’s statistical conceptualization of people as disease vectors. People have embraced a sort of altruistic policy, suggested by public health officials for indefinite implementation. We can see this collective enforcement everywhere, including in certain cities around the world where COVID19 rages. Today and for some indefinite time, the only people allowed to move their bodies in plague-riddled Milan are people who have dogs to walk, recalling the days when the only people allowed to take breaks at work were smokers.

 

While we admire the brand of selflessness, there is also a very strong element of inhumanity in our approach to the pandemic. Though doubtless dogs are better for health than cigarettes, the issue here is that indefinite detention, the prohibition of walking is also torture in a walking species, which is what humans are. Yet if we agree with population management experts in law, that immobilizing criminals and migrants long-term in prisons is a necessary cost, logically we must agree to the similar recommendation of population management experts in health:  immobilizing disease vectors long-term in their homes is a necessary cost. In both cases, there is a greater good at stake. It’s just not the greater good we’re thinking of.

 

In deference to the public health model, the Trudeau government and provinces are stepwise imposing extended mass quarantine and immobilization. The federal government has offered $85 billion to compensate businesses and individuals for the economic depletion that will accompany extended shut-down of all but “essential” services, apparently such as, looking out my home office window, issuing parking tickets to the quarantined. Most Canadians are pleased to cooperate with trusted authorities, and they certainly show themselves to be a beautiful people in their cooperative attitudes. One Globe & Mail thought leader posed himself a Pandemic Mr. Rogers, affirming that Canadians should be “helpers,” and that what helpers do is isolate and immobilize themselves.  But there is more to being a responsible member of a human society, even in an emergency.

 

Another approach is possible in many places. In Vo, an Italian town where a COVID19-related mortality occurred, the government instead tested everyone and isolated the 3% of the population that proved to be infected (80% of whom were asymptomatic). In a mere two (2) weeks, the blanket-testing and selected-isolation approach eradicated COVID19 from that population. While blanket testing costs money up front, it can be more efficient and effective, and likely costs less than shutting down the entire society and economy, and indefinitely treating all people (but especially those without vacation homes) inhumanely as nothing more than disease vectors, per the technocratic statistical population-management model.

 

The blanket testing/selected isolation approach may not work in cities, such as Milan and London, where for specific reasons of age demographics, culture, and global transportation centrality, COVID19 rages throughout the population. For those cities, selected testing/blanket isolation & immobilization is considered the most appropriate policy. But blanket testing/selected isolation would probably work best in places like Manitoba, and most of Canada. It could well be that regions disadvantaged under global capitalism could move into a forward economic position, diminishing global inequality, if they were permitted to take advantage of their more moderate COVID-19 exposure, instituting a universal testing rather than the universal isolation & immobilization approach.

 

This is not the only policy area in which governments in Canada treat Canada and a region like Manitoba with policy better suited for Milan or London. While global centers have the resources to manage morality throughout, including solidarity with the afflicted, we have a distinctive responsibility in our region to always recognize that that the authoritative status of population management and policy expertise not only reflects their wonderful technical knowledge, but is also conferred by experts’ attunement to the conditions at the hearts of the global system—misconstrued, in technocratic conceptualization, as universal welfare.

 

We need to be able to recognize when and where population management detaches from the human, becomes inhumane, so that we can instead support policy alternatives more effective and efficient for circumstances in our part of the world, connected to but also distinct from people in other places. Incorporating Enlightenment sociological and developmental biology perspectives can help us keep our eyes on what it is to be human and what we need to make to support humanity. In this pandemic, a cost-forward blanket testing/selected isolation approach would cost some percentage of $85 BN, yes. It would require redeploying many of the underemployed in the work of testing. It would also reduce the runaway risks and costs of universalizing blindness to the multiple conditions humans need to thrive and survive. For all their public recitations, none of the potential upsides of the crisis will materialize if we are not able to recognize these conditions.

 

Are we blinding ourselves to our humanity in order to prevent us from squandering our wealth on making less-central regions viable, in order to reserve our wealth as back-end compensation for the disruption of existing centers of overaccumulation? What is Canada’s interest in this?* Our problem isn’t insufficient mobilization. Our problem is that we are already excessively coordinated, as a one-week lockdown makes evident. Prioritizing policies that keep the wealth in overaccumulation centers, stubbornly discounting life outside centers of overaccumulation, will reproduce the crisis conditions, because they inhere in dehumanization and inequality. This pandemic, like the epidemics before it and the crises that will come after it, has everything to do with how capitalism in a dense human-population world smashes its giant, necessary, global working class into no economic choice but to reproduce themselves by living off of what combination of commodified and, especially, uncommodified goods and services they can access (Katharine Moos, 2019). Capitalism separates wealth from the working class, but the population is needed to grow wealth. The wild game must be supplemented by poultry. The development must sprawl into field, forest, and watershed.

 

If we cannot remember our humanity, and pursue the appropriate policy approaches that allow us to thrive, we have nothing to look forward to but more crises. You could see how that would happen, and be celebrated as morally just, within the framework of capitalism. But it isn’t solidarity if it only ever sacrifices one way.

 

*It turns out that what Canada is interested in is what it has always been interested in: extractivism, rah, rah. The government is intent on reserving its power to socialize costs for subsidies to twilight oil rentiers. So it doesn’t want to pay up front for comprehensive testing, and preserve any hope of having an economy not in decline, let alone implement policy on behalf of humans. Instead, it’s forcing the Canadian people, from their home-detention sentence, to suckle the bloated, near-moribund corpse of trash oil capitalists.

 

Anglo-American Health Authorities Prescribe Indefinite Isolation/Immobilization:

‘How long will we need to practice social distancing? “For now, it’s probably indefinite,” Dr. Marrazzo said.’ —New York Times, March 17, 2020.

 

‘How long, then, until we’re no longer behind and are winning the fight against the novel coronavirus? The hard truth is that it may keep infecting people and causing outbreaks until there’s a vaccine or treatment to stop it.

“I think this idea … that if you close schools and shut restaurants for a couple of weeks, you solve the problem and get back to normal life — that’s not what’s going to happen,” says Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and author of a book on how outbreaks spread. “The main message that isn’t getting across to a lot of people is just how long we might be in this for. As Kucharski, a top expert on this situation, sees it, “this virus is going to be circulating, potentially for a year or two, so we need to be thinking on those time scales.’

Vox, 3/17/ 2020, Coronavirus Lockdowns.

 

Testing is Being Deprioritized

COVID-19 Testing Data: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing

Iceland is the exception, is mass-testing and select-quarantining to stop the virus in Iceland by mid April.

Iceland’s relative sovereignty makes me think that what contrastingly distinguishes an unspoken Anglo-American social contract is that the people of the hinterlands must always disgorge themselves to the overaccumulation centers. That’s what makes the Anglo-American model tick.

Remembering the Humanity of the Population

Population management can be humanist or antihuman.

 

Contrast 21st century children’s experience to late 20th century children’s experience. 21st century children in the West have been hit by crisis wave after crisis wave. In the late 20th century US, the world I grew up in had one chronic crisis, and it was, in our experience, simple bullshit. Sure, some people (comms & cops) in particular places (DC) built jobs and job networks on the back of the perma-crisis. But for most of us, the experience was annoying and laborious, but we had control. Even as children we were required to constantly labor over the private, internal work of holding the discursive construction of that “crisis” at bay. “I hope the Russians love their children too,” Sting steadied us. For most of us, our problem was to avoid manipulation. The Red Menace would never disrupt us working-class people in the core.

The initiation of the first crisis, a real disruption to working people’s lives, was misconstrued at the time as a private crisis. But I was there, sitting next to it on the bus, joking with it and listening with it to its beloved Jon Bon Jovi tapes. In high school, my best friend and, really, my partner, the shooting guard to my point guard, was a refugee from the state repression of the Hormel strike. Her large Catholic family had been blown apart by the state sending in the troops to put them all down, at the beginning of the dismantling of American labor organization. She was the last child, the one child who could fit in the trailer by the river her parents were reduced to when they lost their manufacturing careers. As a 1980s teenager I didn’t probe into my friend’s trauma, and at the time I didn’t understand this was the initiation of the mass crisis cycle in the West. All I felt was really lucky to have such a great friend show up in town at the beginning of my high school years.

 

Forged in Crisis: The Archipelago of the Hyperreal & the Barbarity

For most people in the West, however, the crises started a few years later with AIDS. AIDS initiated what was to become a fatefully, geographically-split experience of mass crisis. AIDS anointed and launched a new archipelago of disrupted life. With every subsequent crisis, the archipelago drifted away, increasingly alienated from vast socio-geographic blocs of private experience only disrupted secondarily, by its tethering–as a population–to the Archipelago of the Hyperreal. Experiencing suffering, death, and disruption, the moral, social-psychological community life of the metropole was reforged within the passion of a thousand suns. People in cities with high AIDS rates lived through a collective experience that pressed their faces together into the matters and terrors of life and death. They became for themselves a hyperreal people managing with moral conviction the advent of a new population imaginary. Their positionality gave them sanctified knowledge of what was truly important in this world. And they knew also that there were mobs, barbarians in the distance who had not been baptised by this fire, this crisis, this confrontation with the underlying reality. They knew that it was their sacred moral duty as the hyperreal people to impress upon the inchoate mob its new identity as a population, a duty  sacralized by technocrats, not just economists with their iffy idealist models, but now also public health authorities, prophets of the hyperreal.

Convinced they were part of the AIDS epidemic, the population nodes marched dutifully, in mortal terror, to the testing centers, where, in not too long, they encountered eye-rolling technicians and were sent home, confused and officially pronounced HIV-negative. It wasn’t quite an experience of relief. It wasn’t an experience of togetherness. We were never supposed to talk about it: It wasn’t just a sub-real experience. It was also an immoral experience. We were reduced from humans to disease nodes; but we weren’t subsequently restored to humanity: Then we were nothing. Humanity had moved on to the hyperreal.

 

Antihuman Population Welfare Coalition

Within the Archipelago of the Hyperreal, leftists embraced a new coalition, positive that the combination of moral fervor and technocratic power would combine to bring the mob to heel at the throne of the real, stark life and death. It would finally subjugate the individualist and racist Western mob to a population framework. A hierarchical coalition of the rational and moral–liberals, left-liberals, and in their orbit, communists–would politically advance when the mob was disciplined to the exigencies and morality of technocratic population management.

Once we were historical materialists. Great humanists roamed the Earth. Democratic Enlightenment ideas about who we are and how we should live were shared from the global adventures of the motley crew, as described beautifully in the works of Herman Melville and later, historians Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh. These Enlightenment humanist notions were embedded in Marxist philosophy at its Greek materialist roots, and they infused socialist and communist population-welfare ideas. It’s why, as late as the early 1980s, much of core working class (excluding African-Americans, who were still deprived of assets and exposed to policing) was still protected from the disruptive crises that capitalist allies bombarded developing countries with. For the protected core working class, crisis was mainly a discursive social construction, struggling to prepare the way for the global end of Enlightenment materialist socialism, and its replacement with a global antihuman population management regime befitting expropriative capitalism. The great project of our financialized era was certainly not the progressive symbolic and material advancement of the motley crew, but the “equitable” restoration of the antihuman imaginary, subhuman status to the entirety of the globe’s working class. If conservative political parties did this directly, like a boss, liberal political parties accomplished it thoroughly, through metropole managerial meritocracy and technocratic population management. The US slavers’ South, idealist Britain, surveillance China, and modern-slavery Saudi Arabia were at the helm, steering right social thinking and institutional and policy development.

In the neoliberal Late Monopoly Capitalist era, ideas about who we are and how we should live seeped out sideways from a deep well of antihuman population-management ideas. Capitalist economists crafted population-welfare models in their basements. Their morality was to blackbox what it is that humans are, centering the welfare of a marginal peoples, the capitalists, as expressed in economic growth indicators. Public health authorities fretted with them over population pyramids, arguing that population welfare would decline if the pyramids were not pyramid in shape. Even the humanities and social sciences were steered by linguistic philosophy into arguments for the moral centrality of certain positional knowledges, against understanding comparatively and scientifically the range and possibility of humanity. [TBD: Discuss Lyotard here.] The motivated democratic Enlightenment curiosity in the range of human expression and human limitations was nearly wiped out.

 

Redistributed Capitalist Crisis, Hyperreal Moralism, & Antihuman Population Welfare

We turned the corner to the 21st century bracing for the crisis rollout. Y2K, which was to disrupt us all, failed to materialize. But the planes hit New York City’s Twin Towers not much later, on 9/11, and again the Archipelago of the Hyperreal recoiled and bunkered from the barbarians. The experience was the hyperreal crisis of humanity; it required the imposition of (antihuman) population solutions like securitized travel and borders and military disruption of the more democratic oil countries; and all who failed to submit to the slate-wiping gravity and necessity of our hyperreal mortality were abjected as monsters.

Wall Street crashed in 2007-2008. The experience was the hyperreal crisis of humanity; it required the imposition of antihuman population solutions like Quantitative Easing and carceralism for the advancement of economic, political, and social inequality; and all who failed to submit to the slate-wiping gravity and necessity of our hyperreal crisis were abjected as monsters.

In 2020, population health experts registered a new flu epidemic, Coronavirus, COVID19, ripping through some populations, flooding medical systems, and ending the lives of people with fragile health, including especially aged men. The population health technocrats turned to our institutional hierarchies, and with astonishing, breathtaking speed, together they reduced humans to population nodes, disease vectors.

The experience was the hyperreal crisis of humanity. It required the imposition of antihuman population solutions like the gendered discounting of labor (“Inessential” feminized work enclosed in home arrest), universal, mandatory immobilization and isolation, the shut down of all our institutions accommodating human requirements for sociability and bodily movement. All who failed to submit to the slate-clearing gravity and necessity of our hyperreal crisis were abjected as monsters.

Surely, the universal reconceptualization of humans as population disease-vector nodes–requiring total institutional reformulation to obliterate humane approaches to population health, such as maintaining rather than shuttering childrens’ and community sports and social infrastructure–was the only way to secure health.

Surely, as an emergency strategy, this antihumanism in service of population welfare is a temporary modification.

Surely, all who fail to submit to the slate-clearing gravity and necessity of our hyperreal crisis must be pilloried and abjected as monsters.

 

Reproducing The New Crusades

“Pragmatically” Setting Aside The Idea of Humane Population Welfare: Generalized Crisis, Socio-Geographic Alienation & Capillary Regulation Reproduce Mass Dehumanization

While certainly much of the hinterlands complies with, internalizes, enforces, and moralizes the inhumane population welfare measures, what the barbarian multitude out here has also learned to do throughout the ratcheting crises is to undertake the stressful work of balancing: We struggle to balance cooperating with the increasing imposition of inhumane population welfare policy and infrastructure with carving out and maintaining ideas and practices that allow us to continue to express ourselves as humans. So for example, in the current imposition of immobilization and isolation, we try to figure out private ways to live healthily, to move and socialize, like humans.

We struggle to figure out how to balance living as healthy humans with cooperating with the notion that we need to be immobilized and isolated as disease vectors. This struggle is not the hyperreal of immediate life and death. But in its own lesser reality, it is terrible and depleting work. We are subjected to self-appointed inhumane population welfare bullying if pieces of our monstrously-cruel observations about statistical logic or ideas about humane population welfare drift into the public sphere or unwelcoming private spheres. We weep in disappointment, frustration and anger, and we lose sleep–not just for ourselves, but for others caught in antihuman population management–because we remain secretly human, though we are now only recognized as disease vectors.

We must acknowledge that it is obviously an extremely-compelling moral argument, that everyone collectively submit to (inhumane) population welfare logic and institutionalization. It is clearly even morally persuasive to suggest that in particular the barbarians, with their subreal experience of merely accommodating crises without passion, need to be cut down to disease-node size, require discipline and silencing. These conceptualizations have the virtue of resonating with political parties’ antidemocratic populism theories. But their real power depends on a wild assumption we are asked to embrace: That the “emergency” dehumanization will at some, reasonable point cease, and the “normal” will return. What is the evidence for accepting this assumption? Who can point to inhumane population welfare policy that has been rolled back after the previous crises?

It is the increasing scale of dehumanization that is reproducing crises, epidemiological, social, political, and economic. Because we’ve selected almost all of them for their competence in the various tasks of bulk dehumanization, there are precious few to no responsible, on-message “Adults in the Room” who can or will switch the tracks. Humane population welfare is off-brand, off-message, and not in the budget.

 

Could We Imagine Population as Human?

Marginal, remnant messaging suggests that even the prioritized beneficiaries of antihuman population welfare policy might be better served with a more humane population imaginary. The critique of elder isolation, the centerpiece of a brave recent movement toward humane population welfare within Anglo societies, is reduced to a lone, ghostly protest whisper on the edges of the emergency antihuman population welfare mobilization.  It is the only intimation that we could imagine an alternative and humane population welfare. The humane population imaginary no longer has much of a social coalition behind it.

What kind of society, what kind of social welfare would we be making, if we instead recognized–in say, a democratic-developmentalist Epicurean materialist sense such as inspired Marx–that humans have a characteristic range of capacities and have limitations, and that our ideas, policies, institutions, and practices of population welfare could and should be oriented humanely to these, even in an emergency?

It is outrageous, unthinkable to suggest in this neoliberalized era of crisis, population management, and institutional reform–let alone in the midst of this crisis– that moral and technocratic authorities, and hyperreal people, go so far as to consider antihuman population welfare measures as themselves a monstrosity, in which perspective people struggling to balance the statistical social good and our own human expression and development flips morally, becomes a moral good instead of a sign of evil. We are no longer Melville’s motley crew. We have been made into a drastically-divided, hierarchical world: the Hyperreal Men cohered in crisis and the barbarians.

Anti-Enlightenment and anti-Marxist Cold War messaging lied. Capitalism’s victory did not vanquish population management. On the contrary, it produced waves of disruptive crisis and the global excretion of unfettered antihuman population management. We need to recover the ideas that recognize the human in population.

 

Other Views:

Agamben on public health and bare life: http://www.journal-psychoanalysis.eu/coronavirus-and-philosophers/

Sotiris’ Foucauldian response to Agamben: http://criticallegalthinking.com/2020/03/14/against-agamben-is-a-democratic-biopolitics-possible/

Oleg Komlik sees formal national-level cultural differences which obscure lived regional experiential differences. The relevant factors for understanding Coronavirus response from a national-cultural framework include: “the state’s realization of its role and degree of responsibility towards society, the extent of citizens’ trust in the state’s institutions, the tension between individualistic and communal values, the social and civic motives versus business and economic interests.” A national-cultural perspective obscures how individualistic and communal values are identical in some regions in the geography of capitalism, but require work to balance in others.

 

Relief in dark times:

Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite

Ezra Furman’s Restless Year

 

 

Materialism & Cultural Anthropology

Anderson (1968) cites Britain’s two areas of home-grown intellectual expertise (as opposed to importing White Emigre intellectual hit men) as literary criticism and Anthropology. [Revise: Metaphysics were esoterically permitted within literary criticism, as long as there was no scientific acknowledgement of the metaphysics.] Anthropology had imperial utility for Britain. How has Anthropology, as an imperial tool of surveillance, fit into the larger British avoidance of political-economic and classic sociological contribution to Enlightenment knowledge?

“…(C)laiming culture as foundational, anthropology approached mind and body alike as social constructions, and knowledge practices as phenomena of symbolic exchange. Culture represented a totality of symbol-systems…The imposition of meaning (was the) condition of human existence…Knowledge was a matter of an encompassing, collective, public and shared cultural context…Geertz concluded that while ‘becoming human is becoming individual‘, we nevertheless ‘become individual under the guidance of cultural patterns'” (Nigel Rapport, 2010: 9). Geertz and Evans-Pritchard built Anthropology in deference to White Emigre Wittgenstein’s imperial-friendly linguistic reduction and dismissal of time and change (Rapport 2010: 10; Anderson 1968).

Two Unreconciled Strivings; Two Warring Ideals in One Dark Body

Pagden (2013) shows that Enlightenment knowledge has always emerged from a community of philosophers launching social science, in order to know, via comparison, the range and associated contexts of human capacity, disposition, and institutions–for the purposes of establishing the possibility of and conditions for institutionalizing distributed sovereignty and freedom, or democracy (though not in its conservative-degraded sense). We recognize that Enlightenment philosopher-cum-human scientists were naive, their understanding was developing, and they relied on commercial ventures to span out across the world and gather comparative knowledge. We also recognize, per Melville, Rediker, & Linebaugh, that internationalist “motley crews” contributed to the advancement of the most valid Enlightenment knowledge.

When Rapport describes cultural-determinist Anthropology, he is describing a collective of both Enlightenment and anti-enlightenment scholars, constrained by anti-enlightenment parameters selectively augmenting and quieting voices, and at best wholly substituting the Anthropologist-interpreted insights afforded by (often bunkered and imperially-constrained) research subjects in place of the important, corrective insights of the autonomous, internationalist motley crew. In conceptualizing knowledge as “a matter of an encompassing, collective, public and shared cultural context,” the status work of the Anthropologist in an anti-Enlightenment social context was to make culture systems legible to imperial intervention strategists.

Losing the Enlightenment, Staying Paid

Subsequent collective efforts to maintain status while containing Anthropology’s imperial surveillance function have resulted in failed projects to serve indigenous communities, as where Anthropologists retained imperial cultural-determinism but dumped out Enlightenment social-scientific knowledge, with the Ontological Turn. They reasoned that cultural-determinism without humanism corresponds to a radically-parochialist aspect of contemporary, colonized, Christianized cosmology within some indigenous communities, and adding their academic voice to amplify that separatist cultural construct, Anthropologists testified ineffectively for already-imperially-culturally-interpellated indigenous communities in colonial court and parliamentary contests over territory and resources.

Anthropologists dropped the humanist Enlightenment aspect of knowledge within a context in which the cultural-determinist mode remains steadfastly, primarily useful to imperial-commercial power. It is useful to commercial-imperial power when their expropriation target does not have the capacity to inform ideas about made connections and making reconnections in relation to the flow of pleasures (and pain) over time, across Earthly life–when their target does not have the capacity to clarify what is at stake and ignite coalitional interest in building toward human institutional and dispositional possibility. Anthropologists romantically failed to grasp imperial centre-periphery history, power distribution, and political-economic relations, as overdetermined by the culturalism conferred by prestigious imperial-function constraints.

Materialism, in Anthropology and Beyond

Nigel Rapport (2010: 2) cites Kantian cosmopolitanism, as the combination of local diversity and global commonality, to legitimate his proposal that Anthropology adopt a materialist conceptualization of human nature as species capacities and liabilities.

Rapport cites a physiologist to describe how to undertand humans not via identity or idealism, but as a specifiable kind of process. “An organism is not made distinctive by the existence of a boundary, a skin, animal physiologist Scott Turner explains (2000), but by way of what its boundary does: exert an active, adaptive control over the flows of matter and energy such that the organism’s internal state is regulated in the face of changing external conditions” (Rapport 2010: 2). I would add that the external conditions may also change so that sufficient adaptation, sufficient control over the flows of matter or energy, sufficient internal regulation is no longer possible. Or the adaptation may itself impose limits, precluding further regulation, control, or adaptation, in which case inherent/internal change reaches its limits. In either case, the animal suffers or even dies. I am saying that a liability or capacity of humans is that we are not infinite or gods.

Rapport cites the organism’s boundary interpellation with its environment to emphasize not our susceptibility to having our dispositions reorganized, but rather more masculinely, to emphasize human control over an external environment. “Regulating the flows of energy and matter across its boundary effects an orderliness in nature such that the generating organisms may be described as ‘architects and engineers of their environments’ (Turner 2000: 7). To be human is to have the capacity to attend to the world in a particular way, to direct that traffic..Human beings have unique capacities to become; they can be uniquely fulfilled and thwarted” (Rapport 2010: 2).

At this point, Rapport digs materialism into a comfortable idealist, capitalist pit for his anthropological audience, arguing in purple-tinted prose that humans are specially gifted, in that their environmental “engineering” is “uniquely subtle, complex and flexible,” and more importantly, in that humans are infinitely “becoming,” adaptable (fortunately, for neoliberals and their expropriative masters). However, Rapport’s romantic reversion to imperial Great Chain of Being logic, as well as his romantic intimations of the posthuman (Do I smell the restoration of private-property slavery upon the wind?), are unnecessary and inimical to socio-materialism or historical materialism.

It is enough and better to say–and perhaps from a more-responsible sociological perspective, easier to notice–that human capacities and limitations exist within definite ranges (observable by comparative methods, and subject to organization and disorganization), within which humans are observably plastic, developmental–and their development can be appropriated and stunted. Of interest to Enlightenment human science, human capacities include communicative and  organizational capacities, interventionary cooperative and boundary-setting capacities, and a limited range of senses as well as technological capacity to augment those senses; and human limitations include non-omniscience.

Components of the National Culture

Notes from:

Anderson, Perry. 1968. “Components of the National Culture,” New Left Review 1/50.

Anderson introduces themes he will visit again in “The Intransigent Right” (1992, LRB): The Right, or conservatives or the enemies of the Enlightenment, can be recognized by their rejection of Enlightenment comparative methodology. Anderson focuses on the conservative rejection of both historical-comparative knowledge and contradiction as producer of change.

Task: Use “Components of the National Culture” to map styles of Anglo anti-enlightenment argumentation, including their consistent components, like anti-comparativism. Follow Anderson’s method in categorizing thinkers by discipline, origins.

Extend this map of antienlightenment thought. Use:

  • Anderson’s “The Intransigent Right” and “The Origins of Postmodernism;”
  • Ernest Gellner’s Words and Things (1959); “Enter the Philosophers,” Times Literary Supplement April 4, 1968.
  • Robin’s The Conservative Mind
  • Piereson’s “The Right Ideas.”
  • Pagden on Enlightenment human sciences, Lyotard as antienlightenment exponent.
  • Barton (1985) on the effect of Enlightenment ideas on upper class confidence and cohesion in Sweden;
  • C.B. McPherson’s Enlightenment method: Re-insert theories into their intellectual context, thereby illuminating theoreticians’ relation to their class. Remarry politics & economics (Anderson 1968: 28).

Antienlightenment themes & methods:

  • Reductio ad absurdum of Enlightenment science:
    • Wittgenstein (see Popper’s, Gellner’s critiques);
    • Popperian positivism;
    • Latour: Micro studies of commercial science labs
  • Anti-comparativism
  • Antienlightenment knowledge requires funky, idealistic reconceptualizations or evasions of time
    • time removed (Wittgenstein);
    • time without change;
    • infinite recursion;
    • Historical knowledge as minute descriptions (Namier), meant to circumscribe democratic knowledge of why or how dispositions and institutions are created in context.
    • Short-term time (Keynes).
  • Show how conservatives methodically (assuming universal, uniform social hierarchy) confuse the (eg. Sahlberg’s) distinction between accountable and responsible.
    • Responsibilization theory
  • Morgue & Truculent” style on behalf of capitalist imperial power:
    • Wittgenstein, Popper, Namier (Anderson 1968: 20);
    • Berlin’s know-nothing coverage of Hegel
  • Modification of enlightenment theory, reorienting it to conservative justice telos (inequality and inegalitarianism):
    • Hobbes: equality, freedom, social contract–>monarchy/oligarchy
    • Burke: “social contract” with the dead
    • Berlin & Popper: imperial conservatism is the true heir of “freedom & reason.”
  • Distinctive strategies of White Emigres in stopping Enlightenment in England v. US:
    • England
      • opposition to ideas, change, classical sociology & Marxist political economy, and working-class (“mob”) leadership;
      • fetishization of sedimented language, eg. as model for the human condition.
    • US: White Emigres organize US capital to fund conservative ideas development, diffusion, and institutionalization.
  • Expression of working-class leadership:
    • Aborted in utero in England by Aristocratic-bourgeois coalition; v.
    • Employed in revolutionary US and instrumental in Trente Glorieuses policy development, but repeatedly dismantled by revivification and resurgences of the slaver-banker coalition.
    • Political and policing repression of working-class leadership;
    • Working-class leadership managed out with deportation, emigration, & immigration;
    • Conservative theory rejection of working-class leadership;
    • Relationship to economic development and, in its absence, maldevelopment (Fourier: social waste).
  • Ideas:
    • Ideas are reduced in Anglo conservative thought to emotion, vulgar psychology (Burke, Namier). This allows Anglos to dispense with explanatory power, and instead focus pragmatically on manipulating the feelings of the disorganized mob;
    • German-Franco conservatism: Ideas are conceptualized as exceptional, esoteric knowledge to be managed by experts (eg. philosophers) on behalf of princes (per Nietzsche, Schmitt, Strauss, Foucault);
    • US conservatives: White Emigres organize US capital to fund conservative ideas development, diffusion, and institutionalization. Ideas are recognized as prescribing & proscribing conceivable action within a social network.
    • v. Enlightenment human sciences: See Pagden; Marx; democratic Enlightenment sociologists: C Wright Mills, Veblen, Lester Ward, Du Bois, Bourdieu, Domhoff, Kimmel, Lamont. Ideas are thought to develop in relation to epistemology. Democratic epistemology is collectivist, comparative, scientific, and oriented toward democratic norms. Part of the social scientist’s work is to explain elite knowledge and power to nonelites.
  • Permanent conservative opposition to French Revolution: How does this work in France? How does it impact French philosophy?
    • Romantic philosophical reaction: If, in his successful effort to organize French philosophy’s restoration against Sociology, Canguilhem showed the development of scientific ideas in context (per Anderson 1968), how does Foucault’s “balanced,” conservative, “marginalist” fear of the mob, use of Nietzsche’s genealogical method, avoidance of comparative method, and separation of economics and politics create social-scientific concept-origin stories that conform to Wittgenstein’s reduction of science to a traditional language community?
  • French v. Anglo-American philosophical/theory literacy, as it permits tactical degrees of freedom: Case of Iraq War, where conservative econ dogma merged with imperial Morgue & Truculence to reduce Americans’ tactical agility.

Use this framework to advance the following thesis question:

How does conservative imperial-capitalist thought handle changing elite networks?

 

The View from Political Science

The Political Science consensus in Canada holds two hand-me-down electoral strategy theories, the first older and derived from the US Democratic Party experience of mid-20th century African American internal migration, and the second newer and reflecting the financial- metropole (Wall Street-based and City of London-based) liberal national parties’ effort to theorize why following the first theory seems not to produce expected results (votes) today.

1a) Political parties should continue to focus on policies that appeal to the hypothesized interests of suburban voters, in particular conservative-liberal immigrant blocs, because of the theory that “The party that durably binds these rapidly growing groups to its coalition will dominate in the long term” (Zach Taylor, University of Western Ontario, 2018).

1b) The suburban-voter interests that parties and Political Scientists project include public provision of car-based infrastructure and the withdrawal of the state from supporting rival urban infrastructure.

Some theorize that core and suburban voters favour different parties because they have different policy interests. Core areas are dense and therefore support much lower automobile use in favour of transit and active transportation, and they feature a mix of land uses, housing types, and housing tenures. In postwar suburban areas, lower-density, single family detached housing tends to predominate, and home ownership and automobility are the norm. Homeowners have a stronger interest than core-area renters in preserving property values. At the same time, the individualist experience of detached-home ownership and automobile commuting has been correlated with lower political support for redistribution and collective benefits in Canada and other countries. The characterization of the suburbs as politically conservative derives in part from the lifestyles generated by physical environments and associated mobility systems (Fischel 2005; Moos and Mendez 2015)” (Taylor, 2018).

Thus, political-science/political parties’ older populism theory can be recognized as the Suburban Strategy.

By way of neutralizing the naturalizing elements of the structural analysis of suburban populism, I should note that in my government experience, what political parties and political scientists recognize as inevitable suburban “preferences” are demands marketed to suburb residents by suburb developers, as where developers’ communiques advise a suburb’s residents to take their experiential dissatisfaction with suburban life (as it falls short of the nuclear-family empyrean that was sold to them) and direct it into demanding exclusive public investment from politicians. It’s wise to seek out the underlying feudal ties in all conservative manifestations; identifying these permits strategy development (by which I certainly do not mean electoral tactics).

2) The spatial segregation of winners and losers produces liberal progressivism v. populism. “Neighbourhoods and regions in decline are found to be more supportive of defensive populist agendas, while the geographic winners of globalization and post-industrialization are generally more supportive of collective benefits, open trade and immigration (Inglehart and Norris 2017; Rodrigues-Pose 2018; Gest 2018)” (Taylor 2018).

Above I have highlighted some of the core hypotheses of these influential Political Science theses, including to underscore their logic hiccups. It seems clear that Political Scientists and the political parties that subscribe to and act upon these political theories will struggle to produce expected results, due to both spatial indeterminacies and changes in relevant variables.

Logic Hiccups:

  1. If Losers are Populist as theorized, and if the number or percent of Losers is declining or in equilibrium as liberal theories would suggest, how does today’s populism undercut the Political Science theory of growth-population political and policy pandering, the Suburban Strategy, where Political Scientists and parties had treated the Suburban Strategy as the main natural law of politics and policy?
    1. Might it be that the Suburban Strategy theory was itself a populism framework, and an excuse for prioritizing decidedly anti-populist FIRE interests? (See also research results showing that young people in suburbs have preferences unexpected in suburban pandering theory (Moos and Prayitno in the same volume, 2018).) In that case, “populism” is not new or resurgent. “Populism” is always the political party theory; political party theory only distinguishes varieties of populisms that diverge or converge with FIRE interests, and thus populisms which parties are variably geared to cater to.
    2. If the amount of Losers is not declining or in equilibrium, but is increasing, is there a problem with the effectiveness of the political system?
      1. Liberal theorists will answer 1.2 above with the Hobbesian theory that Today’s Losers are Racist White people whose pernicious impact on politics is outsized, due to their illegitimate, holdover White Privilege. It is a population that, morally, deserves a moderating comeuppance–citizenship reduction, per Hobbesian theory. Restoring the validity of the Suburban Strategy requires reducing the voice and collective action capacity of today’s Losers.
        1. This Antiracist TM antidemocratic political agenda, citizenship reduction, also reinforces expropriative FIRE interests.
        2. We note that while antidemocratic strategies to reduce the voice and collective-action capacity of today’s Losers are amply discussed by today’s Winners, there is no effort toward reducing the patently antidemocratic institutions— such as Houses of Lords (Senates), court systems, gerrymandering, electronic voting manipulation, unbounded marketing, unbounded private property legal innovation, international hoarding/tax avoidance institutions, and the electoral college–that would be amplifying right-wing populism. Nor has using wealth to build pro-democratic public institutions (public libraries, public schools, public research, public media, public transit, public planning capacity, tax enforcement, democratic property law reform, etc.) been on the liberal agenda for a couple generations.
  2. How are Winners both more supportive of “collective benefits” and “open trade and immigration”? That sounds like an unwarranted projection of contradictory preferences, or at best the preferences of a very tiny population: professional political scientists, or of the people not connected to Anglo-America’s baroque, anti-democratic political institutions–like young adults not connected to the primary system in the US.

    It seems like Political Science is optimistically aggregating distinct social groups with distinct interests, and distinct electoral behaviour (“Go away, Bernie Sanders, AOC, Ilhan, and Jeremy Corbyn. Won’t someone please bring back our beloved Clintons and Biden, our dearest Blair and Giddens“), into an ersatz liberal-virtue bloc that it then terms “Winners.” Shady. That’s not social science. That’s not even economics. That kind of wishful self-delusion is going to continue to produce unexpected electoral loss. Again, however, if electoral success is only an exoteric goal, always evaluated within a framework of probability given by unacknowledged variables, then perhaps we should notice that framework: It looks like the true goal, the framework, is simply ongoing polity support for FIRE asset expropriation. If political scientists can’t clear this up, then they have been too colonized by political parties to be recognized as scholars.

For example, here is an argument for de-democratization forwarded through the Washington Post by a Marquette political scientist (Azari, Julia. 2020. “Fix Primaries, Let Elites Decide.” Washington Post, February 18.)

Where are the Geographers?

It seems to me that Political Science, and parties, are bad at geography, which shouldn’t be surprising. They seem to use it more for justification than for valid analysis.

winnipeg growth is suburban

Despite the fact that Winnipeg’s “Active Core” is affordable and not densely-settled, 77% of Winnipeg’s population growth from 2006-2016 was in areas that require car transportation.

 

Note: The euphemism ‘preserving property values’ is doing some crazy-heavy lifting in Taylor’s litany of distinctive suburban interests above. This formulation needs to be separately deconstructed for its misleading neoclassical bias. When urban people vote for urban amenities like human-scale transit, infrastructure, quality public space, and greenspace, it’s not an altruistic irrationality induced by their lack of ownership. When urban people vote for public urban amenities, they are increasing both their own private welfare and others’ private property values (such as real estate value around high-speed transit stops), even at delayed cost to renters’ financial interests–so much so that urban property values are usually much higher in population centers than in their exclusionary, individualist suburban incarnation. Those are non-excludable goods, son. Recognize. They secretly feed the predation we lovingly call capitalism. This is a heterodox hint that economies are social– There is society, Maggie; and while capitalist law works to make value monopolized and scarce, everyone contributes to wealth.

What the economistic framework means by suggesting that suburbanites’ inferior property values are more salient to their politics is that these property values are exclusive, private smallholding goods, and so fit into neoclassical economic theory/mythology.

Why urban property values are high is because people require and want the non-exclusive public amenities on and about them, an obvious fact that a neoclassical economic framework struggles to apprehend. Economists should be troubled to explain why renters vote for public amenities that increase landlords’ property values–But at that point, all of a sudden, we’re in terra nullis outside of the orthodox econ explanatory schema: we’re apprehending capitalism as an imposed, coercively-reinforced framework permitting the exploitation and expropriation of life. So instead we remain quiet and befuddled.

But suburbanites don’t uniquely vote to increase property values. In Political Science and political party theory, suburbanites vote to maximize the inferior goods they share across their little, expensive kingdoms: car spaces, and, with political parties on their side, new public services, including light and airy new public schools. If you recognize inequality, it becomes clear that, not unlike socially-subsidized ranchers, suburbanites (are encouraged by developers to) view urban dwellers as rivals for the public investment that bolsters property value in human communities. The urbanites’ public-goods “head start” thus tends to be repressed and gutted by political parties. Especially in North America, cities without geographic advantages tend to be underdeveloped, endowed with insufficient, skeletal public goods and services, following the slaver-society model, and the built environment is in a constant state of expansionary neglect and rot.

When political parties pander to the developer-orchestrated suburban game of outrunning and outgunning urban development and property values, as they long have, they are privileging wasteful behaviour, in both post-war commercial-White Power and post-1980 commercial-multicultural incarnations. Polity players are redistributing wealth geographically to incentivize not uncertain “Baby Bird” voter imprinting, but to prop a predatory, inegalitarian theory pretending that non-commercial nonelite welfare does not contribute to value, and thus, environmental degradation, de-democratization, and social inequality are moral, fair and just.

Manufactured Political Illiteracy in the US

“The left-to-right political spectrum is a construct born of seating arrangements during the French Revolution.” Whereas in the substantive absence of democracy, the salient “impulse to define oneself in relation to an in-group — and opposition to an out-group — is a survival strategy…(Thus) political elites have enormous power to dictate ideological terms to their rank-and-file supporters. For a healthy chunk of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, the “liberal” and “conservative” position on most issues is whatever their party leaders say it is. Donald Trump’s success at redefining conservative voters’ consensus views on free tradeAmerican policy toward Russia and the relevance of personal morality to effective political leadership offers a particularly vivid illustration of this phenomenon.

When we look past ideological self-identification to polling on discrete public policy questions, America appears to be far more center-left than center-right.” –Eric Levitz, 2017

The Dem Party exists to manufacture popular political illiteracy, in order to herd the public to support FIRE interests.

Conservative Sovereignty & Freedom in Migration Politics

At the end of the Trente Glorieuses, Nepalese society did not have significant outmigration. That changed in the 1980s, when labor out-migration began to grow. India and Malaysia are the primary recipients of Nepalese labor migration.

At first patriarchal policy suppressed female labor migration. While in the 1980s-90s, Nepal male or parent guardian consent was required for female labor migration, labor migration was liberalized in the 21st century.

Piling oil rents in the Gulf states have led to high demand for domestic labor. Because affluent women do not work outside the home in Gulf countries, this domestic labor is recognized not as reproduction work, but as an entitlement of wealth to a luxury, slavery. Nepalese labor policy has continually shifted, responding to both domestic and international economic pressure for female Nepalese migrant labor, and the high individual costs incurred in highly-vulnerable, low-skill feminized labor in the Gulf States, which maintain a kafala labor policy that combines low wages with abusive slavery conditions for immigrants serving an inegalitarian oil-rentier population. In 2010-11, Nepal actively facilitated women’s labor migration to the Gulf States. At the peak in 2017, women comprised over 12% of Nepalese migrant labor, which in total remits about 20% of Nepal’s GNP. By August 2017 a Nepalese parliamentary committee traveling throughout the Gulf and studying the treatment of Nepalese domestic workers ordered the government to stop sending male and female Nepalese domestic workers to the Gulf countries.

Since then, the international community, with the cooperation of social scientists, has pressured the Nepalese government to lift its ban on domestic labor export to the Gulf societies, citing “discrimination” against women (though more Nepalese men than women are domestic workers to Qatar), and backing that charge by recalling Nepal’s 20th century patriarchal permission policy. Because of its post-1970s drift into remittance dependence, economists tend to reduce Nepal to its labor-factor supply role in the global economy, evaluating the rationality of Nepalese actions on that fetishization. More recently, economistic migration advocates have romantically invoked the metaphor of detention, charging that the Nepalese ban on domestic labor tours of kafala duty in the Gulf is the central moral hazard, responsible for “trapping” Nepalese women.

In February 2020, migration advocates cited two cases of female Nepalese workers who had sneaked into the Gulf against the ban. When the two young women’s preference structure somehow inexplicably flipped, and they found themselves surprised to discover that kafala slavery was not to their preference after all, they sought to escape their kafala contracts and leave their employers and the Gulf states. One of the women took out a loan to fly home to Nepal, and the other asked the Nepalese government to pay for her flight back to Nepal.

The Nepalese consulate used its state power (inferior to Kuwait’s) to negotiate a short (9 day) prison sentence for the escapee, and for the Kuwaiti government to pay for the woman’s flight back to Nepal. It thereby used state power to assist the woman, while preserving a commitment to not use scarce Nepalese resources to subsidize slavery in rich Gulf societies. International migration advocates responded to Nepal’s intervention approach with indignation.

21st c. Moral Economy: Efforts to Mobilize Factors of Production v. Antislavery

It has become clear that migration is an essential element in the world economy. Sending countries benefit increasingly from remittance payments and the return of skilled migrants, receiving countries benefit from younger workforces, and migrants themselves find new opportunities through their move to a new country. Migration redistributes wealth at the world level and plays a central role in development and poverty reduction. Moreover, within the current globalization process, which favours an increasingly free circulation of goods, information and capital, it is worth considering including free movement of human beings as well.”–A. Pecoud, Universite Paris, paragraph 3 in Migration without Borders, 2007.

Because of the economistic reductions of workers to a factor of production, and  democratic sovereignty to consumer sovereignty, as well as the resurgence of the classic conservative (per Hobbes 1651) opposition of freedom qua movement to democracy, the capacity for neoliberalized subjectivities to recognize injustice in slavery has been drastically eroded. This is an interesting development, given that economists’ role is to justify and support capitalism. It looks like there is room in conservative economics for conceptualizing slavery as consistent with capitalism, a la Hobbes in the era of global chattel slavery (1651).

Of additional interest:

  • Single-column accounting: Economists are not concerned with the costs to the sending country associated with managing the outcome of abusive labor contract. There has been no attempt to conceptualize or measure the costs to the Nepalese state and society of rescuing and reintegrating abused workers. Those costs are simply black boxed as irrelevant to the economics of labor mobilization. This is a good indicator of what dogmatic apologists conservative economists are.
  • Migration Justice Warriors support slavery where it is consistent with labor “mobilization.”

Hobbes, 1651, argues against Enlightenment democratic freedom, instead advancing a naturalistic, conservative conceptualization of freedom, consistent with tyranny, as simply pertaining to the physical movement that powerful social actors permit:

Liberty or freedome, signifieth (properly) the absence of Opposition; (by Opposition, I mean externall Impediments of motion;)…(W)hen the impediment of motion, is in the constitution of the thing it selfe, we use not to say, it wants the Liberty; but the Power to move…(W)hen the words Free, and Liberty, are applyed to any thing but Bodies, they are abused; for that which is not subject to Motion, is not subject to Impediment. And therefore, when ’tis said (for example). The way is free, no liberty of the way is signified, but of those that walk in it without stop. And when we say a Guift is free, there is not meant any liberty of the Guift, but of the Giver, that was not bound by any law, or Covenant to give it…Feare and Liberty are consistent…Liberty and Necessity are Consistent…(T)he liberty of men would be a contradiction, and impediment to the omnipotence and liberty of God. And this shall suffice of that naturall liberty, which only is properly called liberty…For if we take Liberty in the proper sense, for corporall Liberty; that is to say, freedome from chains, and prison, it were very absurd…for men to demand as they doe, that Liberty, by which all other men may be masters of their lives. And yet as absurd as it is, this is it they demand; not knowing that the Lawes are of no power to protect them, without a Sword in the hands of a man, or men, to cause those laws to be put in execution. The Liberty of a Subject, lyeth therefore only in those things (…) the Sovereign hath praetermitted: such as the Liberty to buy and sell” Hobbes, T. 1651. “XXI, Of the Liberty of Subjects,” Leviathan.

Migration advocates are the contemporary exponents of the Hobbesian opposition to democracy.

Foreign Born Population

To do:

I. Quantitative analysis of home preference

  1. The pro-migration political coalition systematically ignores policy intervention options that make home more habitable. The conservative equilibrium economic theory undergirding the pro-migration political coalition is that labour will inevitably drain to higher wage regions until wages equalize globally. While there is occasionally some marginal investigation into stickiness resulting from transaction costs, the core presumptions are that a) repairing home, other forms of (Bourdieusian) capital, can be ignored as a rational-actor option; and b) no distinction should be made between sovereign movement and non-sovereign mobilization. Investigate the validity of this conservative economic theory supporting and naturalizing migration as the preferred working-class management policy (v. democratic policy).
    1. In what historical and present cases or statistics do we find evidence of resistance to economic migration, despite wage differentials?
    2. What is the comparative role of disruption and disorganization in promoting migration?
      1. War-driven migration
      2. Environmental crisis-driven migration
  2. Discuss findings relative to: How does the demise of Rousseuian social contract democracy, and the law-assisted dominance of governance for cosmopolitan capitalist interests, impel migration management as working-class policy instead of democratic institutional development?
    1. 3rd rail welfare state: Fortification against Hobbesian social contract?
    2. Suggestions for distinguishing sovereign movement from non-sovereign mobilization.

II. Survey economics & international human rights recommendations to preserve slavery. Classify (and compare with historical versions) rationale types, eg.:

  1. Worker (immediate) preference for slavery conditions;
  2. What is Slavery Even?” discourse;
  3. Prohibition against slavery is “discrimination” against natural slaves;
  4. Prohibition against slavery is “discrimination” against women;
  5. Hobbesian All Physical Movement of Individual Bodies = Freedom;
  6. Oligarchs as Protectors of the Marginal;
  7. Migrants with good jobs in countries with systematic labor abuse won’t be able to visit home and return to the employer;
  8. Migrants Prefer Jobs that Locals Don’t Prefer;
  9. Globalization: Circulate the Factors of Production;
  10. Migration = Global Wealth Redistribution;
  11. etc.

gni v life expectancy

There is no reason to believe that nonelites would want to voluntarily leave a society that had passed the ~$12,000 GNI/capita epidemiological transition in economic integration. If the life expectancy is over 70 years, there are enough regional resources to address basic social problems. Something else must drive mass emigration, like inequality and inegalitarianism, or global inequality in the form of, for example, US military imperial disruption and destabilization.

Notes & Bibliography

Badger, S., G. Cafiero, & Foreign Policy in Focus. 2014. “Kingdom of Slaves.” The Nation. https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/kingdom-slaves-persian-gulf/.

Global Slavery Index. “Arab States.” https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/regional-analysis/arab-states/

Global Slavery Index. “Canada.” https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/country-studies/canada/

HRW. 2012. https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/14/nepal-protect-dont-ban-young-women-migrating-gulf. New York.

Lainez, N. 2017. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/beyond-trafficking-and-slavery/modern-vietnamese-slaves-in-uk-are-raid-and-rescue-operations-appropria/

A. Pecoud, 2007, Migration without Borders.

Shantz, Jeff. 2015. “’Slave-Like Conditions’: Abuse of Foreign Workers in Canada.”Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal. Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 233–23.

 

Shrestha, M. 2017. “Push and Pull: A Study of International Migration from Nepal.” World Bank Social Protection and Global Labor policy working paper 7965.

Nepal’s 2020 population: 29M. 3-7% of Nepal’s population, over 900,000 Nepalese emigrate, mostly to India and Malaysia. 2-12% of (20,000) labor emigrants are women. Remittances comprise 20% of Nepal’s GDP (UNICEF 2013).  https://esa.un.org/miggmgprofiles/indicators/files/Nepal.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/feb/14/how-nepals-migration-ban-traps-female-modern-day-slaves-in-the-gulf

 

The Apartheid Democracy Disposition

Directly opposing democratic Enlightenment theory, institutions, and practices, Apartheid Democracy is a conservative reconstruction of the democracy concept. An historical- provisional variant of Herrenvolk Democracy, Apartheid Democracy abjects democratic development institutions and dispositions, such as suggested by Rousseau, Dewey (1915), socialist-backed social democratic theory, inter alia.

In the 21st century, Apartheid Democracy inheres in and is exported by the US and Israel. Rooted in a coalition of slavery institutions and partisanship (including within the US polity and military), colonial Lebensraum theory, the post-Holocaust rejection of the European Enlightenment, and strategic Schmittian “Enemy” and Straussian exoteric politics theories, partisans of Apartheid Democracy are disposed to conceiving of all interactions with even tangential democratic implications as crucial win-loss contests. They have learned from the history of slavers’ US Civil War loss and the Holocaust that the Enemy, democratic Enlightenment, must be ruthlessly attacked and where possible destroyed. There can be no compromise. Capacity enhancement resources must be monopolized by the community, the enemies of the Enlightenment.

Thus, the Apartheid Democracy disposition readily tends to–overrelies on–bullying and lying in interactions with perceived Enemies.  Breaking down the opposition is not just policy, but also the interactional goal, directly opposed to practicing the democratic-development skills of exchanging information, ideas and grievances, permitting collective capacity growth across difference and change, and materializing collective objectives enhancing distributed sovereignty and human development.

While the Apartheid Democrat’s self-professed brand may be as a political realist, in situations where the partisan of Apartheid Democracy does not possess coercive power, the reflexive disposition to bully and lie through interactions can backfire, reducing the Apartheid Democrat’s capacity to achieve her objectives. Apartheid Democrats are highly sensitized to indicators of democratic alignment. By reflexively attacking Enemies regardless of the strength or probability of the democratic threat, the Apartheid Democrat cuts off paths and blows up bridges that could divert Enemies to mutually-acceptable alternative outcomes. The Apartheid Democrat’s realism is confined to situations where she possess monopoly control over the means of coercion. Branding aside, Apartheid Democrats are idealists deeply engaged in a war of position.

Moreover, by indiscriminately, too frequently shifting into belligerent gear within an institutional network she inhabits, the Apartheid Democrat reduces her own credit and cooperation linkages within that institutional network. Other network members may come to occasionally or even methodically constrain her capacity to disrupt the institutional network. The Apartheid Democrat will practice an exoteric politics of self-branding as apolitical to reduce constraint.

Neoliberals, by contrast, specialize in perceiving options that can divert Enlightenment democrats toward inegalitarian conservative objectives.

Corollaries & Hypotheses:

  1. The US military is the absolutely essential condition for Apartheid Democracy.
  2. While Anglo-America/Israel can aggressively dominate and subordinate jurisdictions without coercive power, clashes between Anglo-America/Israel and Europe likely produce fewer wins for the Apartheid Democracies than would otherwise be possible if they used a more varied (eg. neoliberal) tactical repertoire.
    1. Thus, a Trump presidency is suboptimal for US strategy and power relative to Europe. Discounting the relationship with Europe may be an effect of post-Cold War, reduced European-theatre US military interests, where Apartheid Democracy centers the US military.  As well, the US may be assigning EU relations to the UK.
  3. Individual Apartheid Democrat dispositions are best constrained by Europeans and Europeanists.
  4. Politically-mobilized neoliberals and other conservatives enable and supplement Apartheid Democrats where they do not possess control over the means of coercion.