by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ March 4, 2020
Let’s take a little closer look at the pivotal shock triggered by COVID-19. Recently I discussed the complicated situation resulting from the entanglement of a dangerous, coronavirus pandemic, the effect on a distorted and shaky late-capitalist economy, the pending, long term climate disaster, and the sudden collapse of Trump’s political con job in the US. There is more going on here than the usual pundits can understand.
This situation is a massive economic and political disruption with long term cultural implications. Pivotal shocks are seismic historical events that directly change the human social structure. In a highly complex planetary paradigm, this is the nonlinear chaotic event equivalent of the butterfly in Brazil that causes tornadoes in Iowa. So don’t be surprised.
What we are beginning to see is the range of these unanticipated consequences. The combined effects are impossible to predict near, medium, or long term. Within the world context, these things are ramping up and producing different feedback loops.
At this point, no one, with analytical and scientific knowledge, can do more than guess at what is happening. The only safe thing is to ignore anyone who makes broad statements and that this activity by several politicians is also a triggering event that will destroy many of those people.
The leadership of critical nations is edging into hysteria as things spin out of control. The traditional governmental structures have been under growing stress for forty years. Once things break, it becomes impossible to restore the old systems. As an example, in the US, Trump and his cohort have irreparably broken most of the US system. That is what is happening now on a planetary scale. We cannot say exactly how things will break or precisely when but break they will.
Humans, as social creatures, act as a herd when things become unstable and threatening. Without clear leadership, people try to follow anything that may help. But, if I am correct, this is a fundamental rupture, and the reference points are disappearing, and the usual lies and excuses based on those reference points are failing. As more people realize this, their actions and reactions will become more extreme.
Looking at an increasingly chaotic situation means looking at a diverse set of occurrences and reactions. Here are some immediately visible.
The lowering of the US central interest rate to counter stock market losses illustrates this. After a massive market crash on Monday, the interest rate cut, loudly announced as the salvation of the market produced a fifteen-minute rally followed by another substantial loss and bonds falling below 1% for the first time. Biden’s success in Super Tuesday produced another wild bounce.
Underlying this chaotic reaction is the realization of the size and interconnection of all the factors above, as well as the knowledge that the US federal interest rate is only 1.5%. Europe is already at negative interest rates. This low-interest rate makes for too small a tool to be useful within the traditional economic model. The result will be a race into negative interest rates by several economies.
Biden does not warrant a positive bounce as he represents a return to a nonexistent status quo. That realization will dawn and be amplified by COVID-19’s rapidly rising death toll and growing economic disruption. The market’s wild swings result from increasing chaos.
Dealing directly with COVID-19, the level of confusion is far higher than is being admitted. This confusion is not a conspiracy in the public health and epidemiology system but an indication of the complexity and difficulty of coordinating international data analysis. Corrupt and incompetent governments greatly complicate this.
The public statements giving the mortality rate of 2.4% based on the Chinese Center for Disease Control analysis of Hebei data appears to be incorrect. This percentage of deaths from COVID-19 is merely taking those affected and dividing that into those who have died. That is far too simple. This data needs to be tracked by demographic cohort correcting for the lag between exposure, symptom appearance, and mortality or recovery.
We know from the Chinese data that there is a significant difference in mortality by age. This data also needs to be corrected by ethnicity, location, and general health. A separate analysis of the Hebei province data attempting to consider existing cohort data produces nearly a 5% mortality rate. But the number of unknown cases and unknown deaths resulting from that can mover this number up or down. We don’t know the exact numbers and will not until all of this is over.
To make this clear, the difference between 2.4% and 5% average is very large in projections of the effects of COVID-19. All analyses of COVID-19 are extremely tentative at this stage. People want facts and answers that we can understand, but that is no longer possible without high sensitivity to complexity.
Politically the sudden collapse of the Trump regime into wilder incompetence in the face of this virus is yet another illustration of a fundamental disruption. The disastrous decisions destroying the US pandemic tracking office and substituting political stooges for professional health personnel followed by the utterly inadequate response to the arrival of COVID-19 will mean an unknown number of US deaths. These deaths will be fully visible, and continued lying will not hide that reality.
How this will play out concurrently with the COVID-19 pandemic is another unknown. Trump and the US Republican Party cannot survive the growing spread of the disease with deaths at a higher rate than now projected. These deaths cannot be swept under the rug or ignored. With the most significant primary election completed narrowing the Democratic field to an aging symbol of the failed oligarchy and an aging symbol of past, successful social democratic governments make this another complex and nonlinear process.
An important point to consider is that the old systems are crumbling by the day and the mass populations difficulty of seeing any difference between the former Republican Party and the current leadership of the Democratic Party makes any effort to remain the same an impossible task. The desperate attempts by the establishment in the Democratic Party to undercut the most popular candidate and prevent fundamental change is another indication of the chaotic situation.
We have a replay of the failure in 2016 that lead to a crude, authoritarian usurpation. But even with extensive Russian help, this is not likely to work again without severe consequences.
Using the ruling elites’ choice of Joe Biden to keep things as they were will not answer any of the fundamental questions that the mass population has been asking. Success in this quest to remain in control will produce another much larger disaster soon.
Substituting someone such as Biden for Trump would return the US to the 2016 status that was already unsustainable. By removing a criminal, mentally ill, racist, and neo-nazi aberration from power without significant revolutionary change will extend the disaster into the future. That has been building for forty years.
We are in a rapidly evolving disaster with growing instability. The brutal reality of a pandemic at a serious mortality rate may well be only the leitmotif of a far darker story.