Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/06/coronavirus-and-banality-evil
This is why the word “regressive” is more accurate than “conservative” when discussing the infestation of governmental idiocy that has plagued the west for decades. Losing ground has become the status quo for the majority of people–that is not conservation, that is hemorrhaging.
What happened in the UK, is similar to what happened in many other nation states. I am not sure that it should be attributed to ‘negligence and incompetence’ - too naive of an explanation for me. What happened during the epidemic, just took the mask off from a meticulously and intentionally designed society. There was a lot of calculations going on that were not related to incompetence, but to competence. The issue is that the calculations were to optimize big financial interests at the expense of human life. And, of course the media is always there to support the case…gushing over BoJo in the UK’s case, rather than making him and the rest accountable.
A few bullet points not addressed under the title of this joint essay Coronavirus and the Banality of Evil:
Institutional corruption (including but not limited to corporate capture of state regulatory systems and enforcement agencies)
The normalization of homelessness and the related financialization of real estate values
50 years of Wage Stag-Nation in the U.S. service economy concurrent with the spread of financialization as the main driver of economic growth
The disproven while policy prevalent ‘Zombie Economic precept’ of any state’s much less the global market’s adherence to Supply\Demand structure. Demand\Supply structure in action has emptied so many shelves of staples in U.S. big box grocery stores often dominated regionally by vulture funds like Cerberus Capital Management (a few years ago bought up Safeway and Albertsons’ each of whom like Kroger had been on anti-competitive buy-out binges regionally) after decades of market consolidation sans Anti-Trust Enforcement. Along with Neo-Liberal E-CON doctrines like early 20th Century Mass Production mavens such as Taylor who Taylorized Ford then inspired the Bolshevik Revolution to tighten up their mass production in their Workers’ Utopia!
Maximize effieciency via global supply lines championed for 4 decades by once Harvard E-CON wunderkinds like Larry Summers (unrepentent) and Jeffrey Sachs (repentence in action). I work for near minimum wage in a Kroger store whose empty shelves remind me of the Washington policies of ‘Making their economy scream’ while seeking to destabilize or topple often democratically elected governments for their social safety nets and democratic socialist systems that put people before profits. Wasn’t the gray propaganda during the Cold War Industry days always pointing to the empty shelves and long lines in Communist countries where workers had to brave the elements and eat up their un-productive and minute free time waiting to buy scarce necessities? Or, like today’s barely reported starvation level empty shelving in resource-rich nations like Venezuela or Iran where Washington has similarly sought to organize via coercion global banking and supply chain sanctions to starve change into robber baron models of democratic social systems? See the former nation states of the USSR…
Austerity and concentrations of investor wealth into increasingly untaxed and idling non-auditable capital via the world’s reserve currency, along with that reserve currency’s resort to Quantitative Easing on multiple occasions leaves open whether the next Great Depression will result from the (cue newsreels of German citizens between the wars rolling shopping carts full of value-less money to buy a single loaf of bread; cue the newsreels of U.S. hobo encampments called Hoovervilles and the soundtrack of “Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?” to illustrate Wall Street’s collapse after refusing to invest in national infrastructure like the interstate highway system left to General Turned 2-term President Eisenhower’s National Security concerns after the late U.S. entry into WW II.
The monopoly rail yards of the U.S. Great Depression were not primarily for people whose life styles didn’t consider working for a wage that could shelter them from the elements and stave off hunger while providing access to higher education and dreams of an easier life for their children. Common parlance has labeled and a tiny sector proudly wears the label of “BUM.” Those Hoovervilles of homeless like today’s beneath every crumbling overpass or lining our refuse strewn freeways were primarily filled with the desperate unemployed traveling the country seeking a paycheck. Like the Hooverville camp of indigent workers that President Harry S. Truman was forced to sleep in while employed if underpaid in Kansas City working as a legal clerk because he couldn’t afford the cost of even a tiny single-occupancy room or the cost of completing his legal studies and working for a better wage.
The servicing of the financializers who produce nothing but ways to game laissez faire speculative and often self-regulated markets for their own short term gains.
All of these considerations factor into any discussion of the decline of Public Health as a National Security Concern across the political spectrum.
Musings on the banality of evil or parsing of personal or political intentions in dogmatic adherence to doctrine when humanism cries out for pragmatic fixes to stave off even more tragedy, such musings are even more banal whether evil exists merely as a situational human construct or as an element of nature.
Dear Professors Rottenberg and Yuval Davis. If you are going to try and apply the late Professor Arendt’s much disputed concept and her own intentions for its utility to the plague du jour as a causal agent why not fix the label to such international verities as the Kissinger Dictate of Political Science that “States do not have enemies or friends. States have interests.” Who determines what is in the state’s interest and what is in the private sector client of a state actor’s interest with benefits kicking back to the state actor? Some such corrupt state actors like the Dulles Brothers have vast airports serving the nation’s capital named after their contributions to state!
There, we are back dealing with how to measure institutional corruption. This ain’t a parlour game. In the name of Neo-Liberal E-CONomic doctrine of socializing costs and risks while maximizing and privatizing profits we have seen the quantification of the greatest concentrations of wealth into the fewest off-shored or bank secrecy protected and non-audited personal accounts in human history.
Mitch Ritter\Paradigm Sifters, Shifters and Song Chasers
Lay-Low Studios, Ore-Wa
Media Disc-us-sion List
You do this well. It’s amazing how even distinguished essays get distinguished dissents around here. What a tough crowd! Okay, how about this one: Future, Past, and Present walk into a bar. It was tense. (rim-shot…)
But seriously, folks, I like the idea of bringing up Hannah Arendt. I don’t know enough details of her framing “banality” in the context of authoritarianism. I know Arendt has been a leading light in the historical stream of thought. In the right hands, Arendt’s Banality could be a fruitful vine for harvesting, imho.
You could include Johnson’s valet treatment as a virus victim that his actions and inaction effectively deny to most every other Briton.
A complete copy of the mentality ru(i)ning the USA.
Hard to tell the difference between Boris Johnson’s UK and Trump’s US and Bolsonaro’s Brazil.
This has absolutely nothing to do with incompetence, in either the UK or US. The oligarchy is doing exactly what it wants to do, and is accomplishing its aims, through the tools of the corporate duopoly. Seeming incompetent is their cover; while denying it, it gives them deniability, plausible at least to those who want fascism.
This is not all conscious, meaning like almost all people they’re 90%+ unaware of their motivations and the psychological, ecological and other causes and effects of things, but it’s as intentional as anything people do.