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Wake Up Call: How can the Current Crisis move people to go from critics to creators?

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Coronavirus: the need for a progressive internationalist response

This pandemic health crisis exposes the injustices of the global economic order. It must be a turning point towards creating the systems, structures and policies that can always protect those who are marginalised and allow everyone to live with dignity.

Reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic by TNI staff

Courtesy:  Transnational Institute

This analysis is a result of a collective discussion by TNI staff on the many dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic drawing on the wisdom of many allies and friends. We hope it helps join some of the dots of this complex and still unfolding health emergency and supports the movements fighting to protect the most marginalized and to build a more just world.

This pandemic health crisis impacts a world already in crisis. It will have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable in our society and particularly in the Global South unless we mobilize and demand a just response to the pandemic. It is a wake-up call that the current capitalist economic system is not fit to protect the health of us as individuals or as societies.  We must learn the lessons to defeat COVID-19, address the multiple crises we face―from accelerating inequality to the climate crisis―and build the just sustainable society we all desire.

Immediate priorities – protect those made vulnerable by the global economic order

The pandemic is unfolding in a world that is deeply unequal and already facing a multi-dimensional social and environmental crisis. Billions of people are already in highly precarious conditions because of the unjust global economy and therefore have neither the good health nor the economic possibilities to deal with either the virus or the wider economic and social disruptions that have resulted. For the majority of people in the Global South, this pandemic is likely to be particularly devastating given the ongoing legacies of colonialism, decades of debt and structural adjustment and unjust trade relations. This legacy has left health and social systems drastically underfunded, weakened and privatised and even less equipped than the overstretched health systems in the Global North to cope with a pandemic.  We therefore must fight to ensure that every public policy today is directed towards supporting the most vulnerable and marginalised rather than just further rewarding the wealthy and powerful.

These could include immediate measures such as:

  • Bailing out those losing jobs and income rather than bailing out industry.
  • Taking over hotels, private hospitals, corporations that provide luxury services and purposing them to serve critical social needs.
  • Preventing pharmaceutical giants from profiteering from drugs and medical devices needed during the pandemic.
  • Conditioning any support to business to improved working conditions, practices, labour rights, environmental practices, increased worker participation and climate action.
  • Prioritising public support and health services for homeless and marginalised communities, especially communities who have long endured criminalisation and exclusion, such as people who use drugs, sex workers, and undocumented migrants.
  • Dignified living wages for all those on the frontlines of responding to the crisis – healthworkers, careworkers, sanitation workers, cleaners and the peasants/farmers, agricultural workers, fisherfolks who continue to produce our food.
  • Redirecting resources from military spending and corporate subsidies towards meeting critical social and public health needs.
  • Support for local and territorial food systems based on minimum land access, agroecology practices, food sovereignty and the production of healthy food.
  • Ending detention and criminalisation of refugees and militarising of borders, focusing border controls on public health needs rather than repression.
  • Urgent emergency measures to protect the health and human rights of vulnerable peoples including refugees, stranded migrant workers and internally displaced people.
  • Supporting small businesses who are struggling to survive because of the crisis rather than the giant platform corporations such as Amazon who are already profiting.
  • Urgent amnesty for political prisoners and non-violent offenders including people facing charges linked to illicit substances, to reduce disastrous impacts of the virus in prison populations.

 

Globally, this should include among others:

  • Ending all economic sanctions that disproportionately affect poor people in countries like Iran and Venezuela.
  • Cancellation of debts so that countries can redirect resources towards addressing the health crisis.
  • Increased aid (grants rather than loans and without neoliberal conditionalities) for countries in the Global South on the frontline of the pandemic.
  • Suspension of ISDS and other unjust trade measures that impose a financial burden and undermine countries’ capacity to prioritise public needs.
  • Prohibition of patents and intellectual property rights for  vaccines/drugs.
  • The crisis exposes the failures and injustices of the global capitalist system

 

COVID-19 has exposed the massive vulnerabilities and injustices of the global capitalist system. It is critical that we understand these in order to prevent future pandemics and to learn how we can address other future crises, such as the climate crisis. COVID-19 exposes:

  • a dangerously unequal world where millions are made particularly vulnerable based on their class, race or gender and an unjust global economic order where countries in the global South are ill-prepared to deal with pandemics.
  • a capitalist industrial agriculture whose practices, including ever-increasing infringement on forest and other vulnerable ecosystems, have led to the arrival of ever more dangerous pathogens into human environments.
  • a global supply chain predicated on maximising corporate profits rather than ensuring secure and resilient provision of essential goods.
  • a very weak and shredded social safety net unable to support those, such as people with disabilities, affected by the disruptions of the pandemic.
  • a crisis of precarity as billions without decent or formal work, for example in the so-called gig economy in the North and informal economy in the South, are left with no income and almost no safety net as customers disappear.
  • a crisis of homelessness, where millions are threatened with loss of services and are at risk due to chronic health conditions.
  • a health system that has been systematically weakened by austerity and privatisation, where health is not accessible to all, and where workers are gendered and racialised.
  • a pharmaceutical industry that, driven by profits, has failed to invest sufficiently in vaccines and drugs to treat and prevent viruses.
  • social isolation caused by neoliberalism that means that many people face this pandemic alone and without existing systems of social support.

 

We must be vigilant to those reactionary forces who will seek to profit from this crisis

  • Every crisis has those who seek to profit from it – and we must be vigilant to expose them and prevent their capitalising from this social crisis.
  • In particular, we must stand against the corporations that seek to profit, such as the pharmaceutical giants and private health service providers.
  • We must also stand against the reactionary racists and politicians that are using this moment to blame the Chinese, migrants and other ethnic minorities and to enact reactionary, xenophobic agendas that deprive people of their human rights.
  • Finally, we must not let this moment normalise the use of surveillance, military actions or authoritarian measures that undermine freedom and democracy. Surveillance and restrictions on movement must be combined with mechanisms of democratic accountability to independently assess whether it’s necessary and to ensure it is repealed when possible. Military involvement should be strictly under civilian medical and public health control with military resources and equipment diverted to public health needs. Any collection of personal data in an environment of unprecedented coercive state measures should be limited, temporary and strictly tied to health needs.
  • Various restrictive emergency measures being enacted right now may be appropriate as short-term responses to a public health emergency, but must not be allowed to become the new norm after the immediate crisis is under control.
  • Our response to the crisis already shows that there is a people’s alternative to neoliberalism and global injustice

COVID-19 shows that neoliberalism has led far too many to accept the dogma that there is no alternative, depriving us of key tools and policies needed to confront injustice and today’s systemic crises. COVID-19 has shown that dramatic policies are both needed and can be implemented in the face of a crisis. The fact that states have dramatically enacted policies considered politically impossible within hours shows it is entirely possible to address the climate crisis with bold and ambitious policies by 2030 as science demands. They are also going to be absolutely necessary to protect people’s livelihoods in the face of an economic crisis that will result from this pandemic.

Various policies and practices already enacted show our potential to address myriad crises we face today:

  • Guaranteeing income and insurance shows we can have a stronger social safety net.
  • Stopping evictions and cut-offs from key utilities shows how we can uphold basic human rights to water and other public services.
  • Instructing companies to produce ventilators, and the efforts of entrepreneurial, independent, and DIY operators to modify and adapt existing technologies to save lives,  points to the possibility of a green industrial revolution and the possibility of new intellectual property regimes that create technology and knowledge for the public good, rather than private profit.
  • Spain’s temporary takeover of  private health care providers demonstrates that publicly- controlled and universal health care is both ethical and rational.
  • Solidarity shown by Chinese and Cuban doctors offering help to Italian doctors shows the power of transnational solidarity compared to the efforts of Trump to secure the  vaccine for Americans only.
  • Local and agroecological food providers and cooperatives in France and Spain offering solidarity food deliveries for those who can’t leave their house demonstrates the ability of territorial food systems to adapt and help care for those most in need.

We must remember that despite the scale and impact of this particular emergency, there are many existing health crises that never receive sufficient attention or a priority. TB kills 1.5 million people annually in Global South. More than 800,000 people die from lack of clean water and sanitation each year. Around the world at least 137 women are killed by a member of their family each day. We must dedicate the same level of commitment to tackling these ongoing social and public health crises.

COVID-19 also shows that despite decades of neoliberalism, peoples’ inherent sense of solidarity and compassion is very much alive. The millions of people worldwide setting up mutual aid groups, finding out ways to support their neighbours, meeting online to pressure for public policies for the most vulnerable show that a different world is indeed possible.

Let’s make this moment and experience of solidarity a permanent one – creating the systems, structures and policies that can always protect those who are marginalised and allow everyone to live with dignity.

Solidarity is the cure. Justice is the vaccine.

Source: Transnational Institute

 

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A note from the Publisher

New Report by National Academy of Sciences (USA): Social Media is Hazardous to Your Health

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Why some biologists and ecologists think social media is a risk to humanity

At a time of information overload, when most people can’t decipher truth from fiction, when our world and corporate leaders bow down to the corporate interests that are destroying all life as we know it for their short term personal gains, there are billions of social media accounts attached to mechanisms that continue to amplify misinformation and corporate propaganda. All of this inflicts tremendous damage to all life and our life support systems.

The report is attached below.  In Summary, it states:

Collective behavior provides a framework for understanding how the actions and properties of groups emerge from the way individuals generate and share information. In humans, information flows were initially shaped by natural selection yet are increasingly structured by emerging communication technologies. Our larger, more complex social networks now transfer high-fidelity information over vast distances at low cost. The digital age and the rise of social media have accelerated changes to our social systems, with poorly understood functional consequences. This gap in our knowledge represents a principal challenge to scientific progress, democracy, and actions to address global crises. We argue that the study of collective behavior must rise to a “crisis discipline” just as medicine, conservation, and climate science have, with a focus on providing actionable insight to policymakers and regulators for the stewardship of social systems.

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Editorials

Everything Connects

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For the sake of planetary and personal health, business will have to change.

Special Presentation: Sarah Savory

Our existing systems of media and education provide a limited worldview. This reductionist worldview limits our ability to see and exist in the world properly, effectively and in total health.

For us to truly thrive as a species in harmony with the natural world, we will need to see the world as ONE LIVING BREATHING ORGANISM, and our part and place in the world as a part of this organism.  This will require a shift in our thinking, in our action and in the ways we make our decisions.  This very forward-thinking conversation will clearly identify where we are at, how we arrived at this point, what needs to happen, how we get there, what are the obstacles and how will we overcome these obstacles.  And yes, business will have to change.

As Bucky Fuller said: “Nature is a totally efficient, self-regenerating system. If we discover the laws that govern this system and live synergistically within them, sustainability will follow and humankind will be a success.”

But humans don’t know how to manage the complexities of our world. The increasing social, economic, and ecological disasters we are experiencing across the world are the mounting symptoms of our not considering the whole and managing our societies, economies, and nature in isolation of each other when they are an inseparable whole – no person or nation on earth can have physical or financial stability without ecological health.

Sarah Savory has worked alongside her father, Allan Savory who created the Holistic Management Framework. In this exhilarating conversation, we’ll discover a new and improved decision-making process to enable us to manage and balance the inseparable complexity of human societies, economies, and nature. Remember, we’re all in this together

Sarah Savory

Sarah Savory is the single mother of 2 young children, Luke and Mika. She is the youngest daughter of Allan Savory, world-renowned ecologist and developer of Holistic Management (a decision making process which successfully guides us through the complexity we manage by ensuring simultaneously socially, financially and ecologically sound decisions.)
Sarah is following closely in his footsteps and has become a very successful Holistic Management Consultant and Educator in her own right.
In an effort to simplify the framework, she has written illustrated, educational children’s books on Holistic Management and has also broken new ground by teaching HM as a subject in Zimbabwean schools, with demand for education and educational materials growing rapidly and is now writing the first school curriculum for Holistic Decision Making and Ecological Literacy to be taught as a subject in schools.
She is a part of Africa Centre For Holistic Management’s new training and education team and she is part of a new, global policy task force which is focusing on breaking through in government policy. Sarah and her father recently met with President Mnangagwa to begin talks about working with the Zimbabwean government to develop the first ever agricultural policy using the Holistic Management Framework.
Sarah spends the rest of her time writing articles, giving presentations and being interviewed both locally and internationally.
A personal note from Sarah to our youth – you are the key to the future:
Holistic Management involves introducing people to new scientific insights that will not only help them to better understand the incredibly complex social, economic and ecological connections in nature and how earth’s ecosystems function, but teach a new way of managing which makes sure our decisions flow with the unpredictable, ever-present and constantly changing variables of that complexity.
Managers learn how to make decisions or develop polices in a way that guarantees they never lose sight of the whole picture and the fact that our physical and financial security and stability are intricately connected and entirely dependent on the health of our environment – the only economy that can ultimately sustain any nation is one based on healthy soil and the plant’s ability to turn the sun’s energy into food because everything we use or consume comes from the land.
When it comes to making a change and adapting to new knowledge and thinking, history shows us that most adults and institutions are almost incapable of it. I truly believe the key to the future lies in educating our children, rather than pinning all our hopes on the possibility of “old dogs learning new tricks.”
Let’s give young people the solutions and show them how vital it is to look at the whole picture and to focus on and address root causes instead of symptoms.
If we can have school leavers going off into the world ecologically literate and capable of successfully managing and balancing the unavoidable social, financial and ecological dimensions of their decisions, rather than being stuck as we are now, on a hamster wheel reacting or adapting to the inevitable and increasing symptoms of our current management, they will be proactively making decisions in a new way that will bring about the physical and financial stability we all want, reversing the current problems and preventing any more knock-on symptoms further down the line. When we do that, it will change everything.

Related Stories:

Barry Dossenko interview with Allan Savory

Allan Savory: How to effect meaningful transformation to address the global climate crisis.

For a healthier planet, management must change

 

https://mobilized.news/a-timely-message-for-world-leaders-from-holistic-management-pioneer-allan-savory-of-savory-global/

 

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Arts

Chautauquas and Lyceums and TED Talks, oh my!

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Our future is in OUR Hands

We are aiming with Mobilized to create a vibrant forum for ideas.  “Big deal”, you might say, there are already places for that.

Well, you’re not wrong.  There was, in the earliest days of the web, a loose and wild forum called The Well.  The great and powerful Google had as it’s mission the goal of “bringing all the knowledge of the world to every person”… before it pivoted to a new goal of just making money off of what it knows about us.  That change was a real pity.  There have been sites such as Wiser Earth, which aimed to be a global directory of people and non-profit organizations so that collaboration could happen on a larger scale than ever before.  It lasted about two years, sadly; not long enough to create a legacy.  Huffington Post had a good run in its’ early days, sharing ideas widely and helping to boost its’ contributors in the public’s mind.

What’s important to know, is that as of this writing, there is not really a widely recognized forum online or in ‘meat-space’.  There are print publications such as YES! magazine, Tikkun, The Sun Magazine, and The Utne Reader, all of which which reach a population of hundreds thousands.  Great, but their reach could be even more broad, in my humble opinion.  Within social media sites there are plenty of good ‘groups’ but they also don’t reach enough folks outside of their own memberships.

Probably the most popular comparable live events right now are the TED talks, which do serve a valuable purpose.  Sadly, they also tend toward the ‘Gee-Whiz‘ and the ‘Shiny New Buzzword‘ in their contents.  Mobilized really wants to focus on the proven, the existing, and the hidden.  There are already, all over, groups doing wonderful work, but too many of them are laboring in obscurity.

So, how do we do that?  Well to begin with, we’re not trying to be a technology startup.  There is no secret sauce, no fancy algorithm at work here.  Almost all the underlying code behind Mobilized is made with off-the-shelf parts, such as WordPress.  There is zero reason to re-invent the wheel, and frankly the notion that one must do so has tripped up several earlier attempts at building a successful progressive community.  We take the approach of using the tools at hand to build our house.

Secondly, we are going into the future with an eye firmly on the past.  And that leads us to the point of this essay, a look at how America became America.  We can take many lessons from the past.  One of our best ideas as a nation was the Chautauqua movement.   It had it’s heyday from the 1870’s right up until the beginning of World War II.  In part, it helped spawn a Lyceum movement, the Vaudeville traditions in the theater world; and had an effect on the earliest days of the motion-picture industry.  Here’s why it was so popular: the average person, anywhere in the land, could go to a Chautauqua when it came to their town, and engage in spirited discussion with the brightest minds of the day.  It was direct, person-to-person, and offered a mix of local and national ideas and people; presented on a rotating basis.  So ideas could be hashed out and spread rapidly.  And they did.  In no small part due to these two movements, the Robber Barons of the Gilded Age were defeated.  The Great Depression was tackled too, and along the way no less than Susan B. Anthony, Teddy Roosevelt and Mark Twain became huge fans.  No part of society could, or wanted to, ignore the notion that average people could teach other average people.

Mobilized aims to help bring that back into common understanding.  In the present era, there may well be a place for tents and lecturers setting up in farmer’s fields.  There certainly is a crying need for an educational platform that is accessible to the masses.  And now, there exist enough robust tools for us to re-create the ethos of a Chautauqua on the internet.

We, the people, when it really mattered and the stakes were high, collectively taught ourselves how to better ourselves.  Now, in every corner of the world, the stakes are once again pretty high.  It is time for a new Chautauqua movement, and this one will be truly global.  So step right up, come on inside our virtual tent.  Welcome to the show.

 

 

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