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To Invent Our Way Beyond COVID, We Need Open Science

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/09/17/invent-our-way-beyond-covid-we-need-open-science

Medicare for All legislation needs to include revised drug research and distribution regulations.

Interesting that we are talking about “OPEN science” considering that the GOP has been sparing no expense to push ALL forms of science back to the dark ages at least since Newt’s contract on America a quarter century ago.

Pharmaceuticals, and science in general, is just one key are where colonization / privatization of knowledge and data, or land and “resources,” is outrageously detrimental to public good.

i appreciate the sincerity of every organizer, activist or professional who advocates for stronger regulation of private / corporate interests, or for specific rollback and re-commoning of areas that have been colonized / privatized.

But we need to recognize that the entire paradigm of colonization / privatization, and of designing the economy around colonization / privatization / profiteering, is detrimental to public good.

We need a paradigm shift. We need to dis-empower the entire colonizing / privatizing / profiteering sector which dominates “the economy” and from there dominates politics and society.

We need to literally de-colonize the economy. We need to abolish the limited-liability investor-owned corporation, and reform and democratize the wealth that has been concentrated through this model into the hands of the looting class.

If we do not – if we continue (at this extremely late date) to tinker around the edges of regulating capital, and fight a thousand uncoordinated battles over specific instances of colonization / privatization / profiteering / looting, while we allow the paradigm to remain intact and we allow the concentrated looted wealth to remain in the hands of the tiny, tiny minority of humans who presently “own” it – then all our efforts will always remain subject to ongoing assault by the looting class, while society and ecology continue to deteriorate at accelerating rates.

We need everyone who is involved in specific battles along these lines to realize that we need a unified vision of fundamental economic restructuring. We need to dis-empower the looting class; abolish the limited-liability investor-owned corporation; redistribute and democratize the accumulated wealth of humanity; and raise social accounting and ecological accounting above financial accounting as the measures of economic success.

And we need to do this in a very short time.


As long as wealth exists, these problems will exist.

No human has a moral right to nor material need for any wealth at all. Zero. My dog has no right to wealth. The birds do not have a right to wealth. The wild animals do not have a right to wealth, to take and take and take beyond their real needs. Humans do not have a right to wealth. It does not exist.

Reality, for our purposes, is biological. Life is not a human intellectual construct. It’s a biological phenomenon. There is no wealth in biology, although there is great abundance, and if left to itself, the planet creates a wealth of Life.

We have stolen that Life to feed to our creativity and insanity and our made up supremacy. We don’t live in reality. In our reality humans are more talented, more intelligent, and more moral than in real reality. In real reality we’re just another animal, just like all the other animals. But we have an ability to lie to ourselves that I haven’t found in other animals, so far.


I don’t even know what “invent our way beyond COVID” means.

If science had any answer, we wouldn’t be in an environmental crisis at all. People who aren’t scientists don’t listen if it benefits them to ignore the science, as humanity has done for the past 120+ years in connection with global warming.

The idea that we can invent or devise a process or a system that will save us from our own behavior is magical thinking. “Open science” is one of those magical systems or processes or agreements that make sure that all people benefit from collective, societal efforts. We have given public health science a special new label that will stop big pharma from their evil, because we’re all going to agree to it and it will happen.

This guy makes me feel really, really old. I mean really.


Both you and the author raise good points. I’d argue for Solidarity Science - which is the process of engaging in science with grassroots community groups, in a way that breaks down power dynamics. The key to Solidarity Science is to recognizing the need to address social, political, and economic dynamics as part of the process.

There is one comment, the author makes, that I strongly disagree with:

The Patent Act should also be reformed to require patent owners to disclose more useful information

Knowledge should never be privatized. Remember Jonas Salk statement that “the People” own the patent to the Polio Vaccine? _https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erHXKP386Nk#:~:text=When%20asked%20who%20owned%20the,used%20worldwide%20to%20this%20day.

A big Fcuk you to the notion that the private sector has anything to do with medical research. By the way, Salk asked who owns the sun? An even bigger FCUK YOU to the notion that there is any role for the private sector in Solar or any form of energy production.


Funny thing–insofar as it is not open, it is also not science. You cannot have public cross-checking and reproduction of private results.


There is no special way to “share.”

We don’t share. That’s what the author is saying. We give everything to the already wealthy at the expense of ordinary people.

I trot this one out all the time; it was written 250 years ago.

The Care and Labour of providing for Artificial and Fashionable Wants, the sight of so many rich wallowing in Superfluous plenty, whereby so many are kept poor and distressed for Want . . . all contrive to disgust [the Indians] with what we call civil Society. — Benjamin Franklin, 1770

There is no special process for sharing or for taking. In fact, both require living in current context at all times. Native Americans were egalitarian societies, sharing with everyone, the stupid, the sick, the old, the orphans, the widows, and they did it for thousands and thousands of years, as did indigenous people all over the world.

This culture is stratified. By definition, it does not share. We will never devise a process to make people just share. There is no way to do it. Doing it is the way to something else, to a better world.

I have zero confidence that we will ever just start sharing and creating that better world. We still think it’s intelligent to get all intellectually creative and make up new special labels for the same old failures. Like thinking about it all a different way will change sociopaths.


Sad to say, a lot of science today, is not freely available to the public. The practice embraced by the STEM community is to put knowledge behind a paywall that only the wealthy can have access to. Its a Barbaric practice.


Hi Birchie,

I’d add some nuance to your statement. The communities that I do Solidarity Science with in the US, are the marginalized segments of the US culture - Black communities, Latinx communities, unauthorized migrant communities, formerly incarcerated. My collaborations are with folk who are inventing non-monetary based economies where the core principle is sharing. There is a lot of positive happening. It’s very hard, and we need revolutionary change. For now, the model of social change people are using is one of interstitial change that comes from the Quilombo/Cimarrones.

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Indigenous cultures were and are brilliant. North American tribes were so Zen, and so mystical. Love them!

What we have, in general, is corporate socialism and private businesses(of those socialized corporations with govt acquired taxpayer monies)where we are paying for research and then they in turn jack the price of, say, an important drug to unaffordable levels. Many modern life saving drugs follow in that category. If more people knew this was happening they’d be screaming for CEO’s blood in the streets. The same goes for other industries like banking, finance, insurance, energy corporations, with subsidies, etc.
So when the President says we will never be a socialist country he is lying. His rich asshole buddies are living high on our hog by not paying their fair share of taxes. They are effectively socialized by our taxes by not paying what they should. In the case of billionaires about 90%. Instead of competition between drug makers for profit if the magic vaccine is found, scrap the profit, work together and find the magic formula. Include the Cubans, Russians, and the Chinese in the mix. Work together foe a change. Cuba already has the best anti-viral for the SARS-CoV-2 virus but because of stupid hostilities by our fools in office we’ll never see it here. Open source science worldwide is needed. Dissolve borders and work together for the common good for all.

Our culture is diseased with Weitko, a Native term for greed, hubris, murder. Change the culture and we change the world for the better. The how is the tricky part because the wealthy are especially diseased in this regard.


Absolutely. Our culture is diseased. It is twisted, and tortured, and way out of balance. It is a lie.

Really bad choice of words there, I think. The Atlantic ran a breezy moodish article about how, though this pandemic seemed to land on us like a ton of bricks (for me, on Friday, March 13), it will not depart as suddenly as it arrived, if it departs at all.

It’s a coronavirus and nobody knows what “beyond” might mean. The current confusion over privateering titans racing to complete phase three would be laughable were it not so deadly – inspiring confidence in practically no-one.

Back in the day, when I was working on server-side internet software, our world largely revolved around open-source projects such as Apache & Mozilla. The leverage of so many hands contributing nearly bulletproof, professionally unit-tested code resulted in unrivaled product quality – especially where anything to do with security was concerned. It might be a popular misconception that extra-secure code has to be secret. On the contrary: you can only expect to block all the vulnerabilities if every line is open-source for the whole world to probe.

We thought we had a good thing going, in the open-source community. Styled ourselves digital rebels, maybe three or four acquisitions ago.

COVID may very well be with us forever. Two individuals have tested positive for two separate strains of COVID, one in Hong Kong, and one a 26-year-old American. The first time the American was sick it was a very mild case. The second time, which occurred only two months after the first time, put him in the hospital, and it was not a mild case. We may develop more effective treatments, hopefully, as time goes on, so as to increase survival and decrease the worst effects.


What we really need is a giant paradigm shift from the capitalist ideology that humans need pharmaceuticals to live healthy lives. We have to shift the billions of tax dollars given to big ag and big pharma to millions of community and backyard farms and gardens, and STOP eating the garbage that causes so much “disease” in the first place. EVERY child in school should be taught to grow their own food, and the value of eating real food instead of the crap they serve for school lunches these days.
The capitalist model, that creates and perpetuates totally preventable diseases, must be eliminated. We do not suffer from pharmaceutical substance deficiencies. We suffer from vitamin deficiencies and TOXIC FOODS! Billions of OUR tax dollars go to make us sick so big ag and big pharma can profit obscenely from the preventable illnesses we create by eating the toxic crap we begin feeding our babies right from the beginning. Soda is toxic! Fruit Loops are NOT part of a healthy breakfast! The low-fat diet fad created far more disease than it prevented! Our bodies need good fats and fresh, organic food to be healthy. One rule of thumb is, “If man made it, don’t eat it!” Don’t even get me started on GMOs, the scourge of the Earth!
We need open science about the dangers of the American lifestyle, that is now killing folks all over the globe. Johns Hopkins did a report stating that the medical industry is the third largest killer in America. Add the 120,000 Americans or so who die every year from properly prescribed and taken pharmaceuticals, and you have the biggest killer in the nation being the medical industry itself. Doctors get ZERO TRAINING in nutrition! Bottom line -You are what you eat, and if you eat sick “food” you’re going to be a sick human.

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