Some Initial Notes on What We Confront—Contours, Contradictions, and Crises



Editors’ Note: We are publishing these initial thoughts and reflections, from a member of the National Revolution Tour, about the COVID-19 pandemic. This draws from our coverage, accessible on the Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page, even while it goes further and a lot is rapidly changing both in the knowledge of the virus and the impact of the disease and measures to combat it. We anticipate broader interest for this, even while it is rather detailed in sections, and the goal is to spark further grappling, reader correspondence, and ongoing analysis about what is shaping up to be an unprecedented “jolt” in the world, with far-reaching implications—to better enable the movement for revolution to rise to the challenges of this moment.

As a matter of orientation, at this moment of great flux and uncertainty, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for a comprehensive analysis of the current situation, which is evolving with a range of possibilities, and potentially strategic implications. At the same time, it is necessary to get the process going to more systematically outline the broad contours as they develop, key contradictions as they crystallize, and crises as they further break out and open, with a tenseness to potential pathways for wrenching freedom for strategic objectives, as part of a more strategic approach in achieving key and relatively medium-term objectives under the dramatically new and continually changing and heightening circumstances. This is meant to provoke thinking and ferment on “what IT is” that we confront—the pandemic, the measures being taken, and their implications—with some of the “why,” so that we can grapple further with and start to formulate strategic approaches on “what is to be done,” including and in parallel with learning curves in actually carrying out KEY initiatives.

On the latter, BA and BAsicsScience and Revolution, screams out as what is most needed at these times, the approach of Science, the reality of Revolution, and its synthesis in the New Communism. The ongoing ferment in society may concentrate potential to advance strategic and more proximate goals for the Revolution, but this requires applying ourselves and hard work, experimentation and practice, on our part to figure out the ways to realize this: not only with the digital web presence, with its pillars of the website ( and the YouTube channel (with its signature RNL Show), interlinked with social media, but also applying the dynamic of accumulate-impact-accumulate In Real Life (“IRL”) to the MAXIMAL degree possible (even as fluid, in constrained and changing conditions), all elements of which involve a very sharp learning curve at this moment, both on content and form.

Questions pose themselves: How does “TINA” (There Is No Alternative, dominant ceilings, and blind spots in society on imagining a different world) get shattered with the New Communism when people are “sickened” by the current system? What are overall vanguard responsibilities, what does contending Revolutionary Authority look like, how does it manifest at a moment like this and plant a pole? As “progressive” people are driven to and spontaneously gravitate to figures like New York governor Andrew Cuomo, nostalgically evoke FDR, and yearn for the boring “normalcy” of Joe Biden, how does the reality of what Weimar (liberal bourgeois democracy) represents get out in society, especially and including concentrated in the case made in recent BA model works? One of the hardest challenges is accumulating and organizing forces for revolution at a moment like this, and we—on the Tour—need a LOT more wrangling and experimentation on this dimension, posing this question to and among masses we meet and work with, to solve this vexing contradiction.

A Basic Point of Orientation and Materialist Approach

As a fundamental matter of orientation and basic materialism, the following from BA’s work, “Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity,” is critical and decisive:

It is true that, with communism, human beings will be consciously interacting with nature, and with each other, in a qualitatively greater way than at any previous time; but they will still be dealing with constraints and the transformation of constraints. You will always be dealing with the basic principle that Marx enumerated about the foundations and the driving contradictions of human society. No matter how far ahead you go into communist society, you will still be dealing with necessity which presents itself as something “external” to you, which you have to act on and struggle to transform—and, in doing so, bring forward new necessity. The contradictions between the forces and relations of production, and between the base and the superstructure, are still going to be the things defining and driving forward society. And it will be a question of more and more consciously grasping this—but never having anything approaching complete freedom in this regard. [Emphasis, italicized and bolded, mine]

The basic and fundamental materialism of this, and the dynamic dialectic of necessity/freedom are critical overall orientation, and at this moment. Some of this is acutely posed right now, grappling not only with what would be different under socialism—and eventually communism—but also how this particular “external” necessity of the COVID-19 pandemic (which is accidental, even while the broader origins of comparable pandemics may well be rooted in the overall dynamics of system) is interacting with the current level of productive forces and relations of production. This is particularly acute in what IS possible now—for example, with the science and technology of vaccine productions—versus in past epidemics like the Spanish flu, or some other past historical period. What is therefore possible and expectednow—stands in sharp contrast with how this is playing out, and bringing the further needlessness of this outmoded mode of production, with its relations of production, to the fore. The contradiction between the capitalist-imperialist relations of production, as a fetter and constraint, and the forces of production (first and foremost, people, with level of science and technology), is finding a certain conspicuous expression and manifestation—with horrific and needless suffering in tow. BA has put this plainly and pungently in his recent article, “The Deadly Illusion of ‘Normalcy’ and the Revolutionary Way Forward”:

This crisis with the coronavirus has brought into sharp relief the reality that the capitalist system is not simply out of step with but is in fundamental conflict with, and a direct obstacle to, meeting the needs of the masses of humanity.


This crisis with the coronavirus has brought into sharp relief the reality that the capitalist system is not simply out of step with but is in fundamental conflict with, and a direct obstacle to, meeting the needs of the masses of humanity. Here, families in Syria, in desperate need of water, have no ability to perform basic hygiene against coronavirus.


For all the historical analogies of plagues and pandemics being mentioned in mainstream and “left”-discourse, what is expected of rulers and governments is different than what it was in the past, and this overall can inform and bring into being potential questions of legitimacy, even while perhaps manifesting and concentrated around other particular contradictions.

These sources of potential legitimacy crisis—a sense that the bourgeoisie is “not fit to rule”—could include: a medical story/stories that concentrates the whole, as in those from Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, NY, or a family or celebrity death, amidst mounting and escalating crises in the hospitals of America, with daily screaming headlines and social media stories; the economy in free fall with people going hungry, sudden shocks of mass unemployment and distress not seen since the Great Depression, as prefigured in recent unemployment filings (10 million in the last two weeks, 20 times the average); genocidal program in prisons, or at immigrant detention camps, with mass infections and the critically ill left to die; repression against protests and rebellions, as pre-emptively anticipated in Attorney General Barr’s DOJ filings to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation”; fascist/vigilante pogroms of blame against already vulnerable communities; unsustainable disruption and dislocation, with the very real possibility of canceling elections, including in the context of Trump sensing a loss of support and potential electoral loss; U.S. going to war with Iran in the midst of this, etc., etc.

At the same time, “muddling through” this jolt on the part of the bourgeoisie and fascist sections remains very possible (albeit, at social cost in lives, and perhaps even with small eruptions)—given a lot of what represents and dominates in underlying U.S. society, ideologically, and politically—as, for example, analyzed in recent works by BA, including but not only Hope for Humanity on a Scientific Basis, i.e., even as severe a jolt as this is shaping up to be in shattering “normalcy,” can’t “bank on this” spontaneously breaking the underlying ideological and political “sound barrier” on its own—with this system ultimately “dealing” with this pandemic, even if at great cost.

Stepping back from the U.S., there is in this COVID-19 global pandemic, shock and necessity with little precedent in nature and scope, at this specific moment of capitalism-imperialism—affecting the whole world in very short time frames with potential for mass suffering; an uncertainty, unpredictability, and disruptiveness not seen in modern times, with its gulfs of inequality and global supply chains, complex worldwide networks and processes involved in the production and distribution of goods and services, involving people, sweatshops and farms, mines and oil fields, shipping and trucking, design and retail stores, etc. crisscrossing the globe; a heightened role of accident amidst discrete but closely related and interacting contradictions at many different levels, which include but no means completely exhaustible, going from macro/global to U.S./particular, highly concentrated and broad strokes—all opening up further questions, lines of inquiry, etc:

Some Key Contradictions and Relations

The dialectical relation between the pandemic and the underlying system of capitalism-imperialism, its mode of production and superstructure that configure and shape society, historically formed with different strata and classes of people:

What is currently setting terms is the actual disease and its progression, the pandemic, with all manner of uncertainty—and its social effects, and HOW it is being responded to is necessarily molded and ultimately determined in line with the workings and dynamics of the underlying system, in conjunction with conscious policies of dominant sections of bourgeois ruling classes in different countries. This means that all class forces must respond to the necessity imposed by this virus and this will be so unless and until a vaccine or cure is developed or the scope/intensity of the pandemic is in some other way qualitatively diminished, or perhaps an even greater crisis emerges. Here, I attempt to examine some of the ways in which that necessity seems to pose itself.

Necessary measures to be taken for the pandemic—“pandemic measures” henceforth—are hindered by and distorted through, while further intensifying, among other things:

  • the prisms of the driving contradictions of anarchy/organization (organized planned production within an enterprise, and anarchic relations between enterprises, driven by competition) and competition among blocs of capital and nation states, as in the supply of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment needed by medical personnel), the development and production of vaccines;
  • a “country-first” instead of world-first approach, with hindrances to sharing of expertise and knowledge not mainly by scientists but governments, etc.;
  • anti-scientific approaches and the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the masses of people, which have assumed fascist form in many countries instead of responding on the basis of the most advanced science, and mass mobilization to educate, contain, mitigate, and actually contribute to health care, etc.;
  • the intensifying immiseration—in the form of outright illnesses and deaths, and the devastating impact on already vulnerable and destitute sections of the people across the world, i.e. necessary material sacrifice is taking expression as immiseration and the heightening of pre-existing inequalities/oppressive relations This is being acutely felt, to further worsen in the near to medium term. In significant parts, these are utterly needless and result from the workings of this system, if not conscious policies of ruling strata of this system, including fascists.


The intensifying immiseration – in the form of outright illnesses and deaths, and the devastating impact on already-vulnerable and destitute sections of the people across the world - is being acutely felt and worsening. Here, a restaurant employee in Brooklyn leaves the closed restaurant with her last paycheck, March 19. (Photo: AP/Mark Lennihan)


What is more sharply coming to the fore is the intertwining of this pandemic with capitalism-imperialism, the needlessness across the board of the suffering from this “medical Katrina.” Some particular aspects for further review:

a. Broader and deeper, if not proximate, roots of this pandemic in capitalist-driven ecological devastation, urbanization, and globalization.

It is still far too early and much more needs to be understood about the origins of this virus and pandemic, but the practices and consequences of agro-industry in a broader imperialist-global-social framework set the context as a key contributing factor to these types of outbreaks at this moment, even with the likely role of accident in particular origins. There is an increasingly aggressive agro-economic industry, which devastates ecosystems, deprives wild animals of their habitat, and places them in proximity to humans, pushes intensive livestock breeding, and expands urban suburbs with high population density and poor sanitation. In technical terms, COVID-19 and other viruses are zoonotic diseases—that is, diseases transmitted directly or indirectly from animals to humans.... “Ecological devastation therefore facilitates the interaction between pathogens previously kept at a distance by ecosystems with complex biodiversity, and human communities on the margins of perishable ecosystems. The pathogenic elements emerge from remote or proximate territories, affect urban suburbs and start traveling quickly along the routes forged by globalization.”1 (There is a whole history of zoonotic pandemics linked to capitalist expansion, from the Industrial Revolution onwards.) With the recent history of SARS and MERS (and Ebola), epidemiologists and public health scientists have felt it was a matter of “when, not if,” in relation to a global pandemic of this scale and scope.

b. Preparedness and vulnerability, under this system

We often think about preparedness mainly in regard to supplies of PPE, ventilators, hospital beds, etc., which is necessary, but more fundamentally, it has to do with scenarios and planning for pandemics of this nature. In the U.S., while Trump cut CDC budgets and de-mobilized governmental pandemic task forces, Obama shares the blame,2 which more fundamentally flows from the workings of the system—in pandemic planning and prevention, vaccine research and prep, etc.

For example, talking about preparedness needed, Jason Schwartz, from the Yale School of Public Health said about the de-funding and disbanding of SARS3 vaccine research in the early 2000s, as SARS waned, “‘Had we not set the SARS-vaccine-research program aside, we would have had a lot more of this foundational work that we could apply to this new, closely related virus’ ... [L]ong term government investments matter because creating vaccines, antiviral medications, and other vital tools requires decades of serious investment, even when demand is lowMarket-based economies often struggle to develop a product for which there is no immediate demand and to distribute products to the places they’re needed.” [Emphasis added.]4 This is part of why pharmaceutical companies are compelled to move away from certain vaccine and medical research and production—and now, scrambling, the world may be nearly a year away from an effective, safe, and tested vaccine, a real and decisive limiting factor in expediting progression to the tail-end of the epidemic curve, reducing its devastating harm with widespread immunity.

The already vulnerable are even more at risk. While it is still too early to conclusively say what are the co-morbidity factors (i.e., pre-existing conditions that heighten the effect of the COVID-19 virus when it hits), they seem to include respiratory and cardiac (lung and heart) diseases that disproportionately hit those with poorer standards of living, lack of access to needed and timely health care, etc. For hundreds of millions in the congested and desperately poor slums and shanty towns of the Third World, necessary social distancing measures are tough and often simply impossible since basic sanitation such as clean water, soap, and toilets are out of reach, a factor also applying in large part to sections of people in the U.S., like the incarcerated.

In terms of the pandemic itself, the virus and the disease, there is a lot that remains unknown and a mystery, with the virus being a novel virus and new in humans, including its specific functioning and how it variably progresses in different infected individuals, why the disease is severely harmful and deadly in some individuals while being asymptomatic in what is estimated by some to be as high as nearly half of infected cases, what that potentially has to do with initial dosage of viral exposure interacting with the underlying biology of individuals, what the other factors are that worsen the disease, etc.—even while scientists do know some things, and are racing to catch up with research, and with relatively high levels of cooperation so far among the scientific community internationally.

On the science of the virus and the pandemic, what I have below is largely what I have been able to discern and sum up from open-source scientific articles and mainstream coverage of this. There are many known-unknowns, and unknown-unknowns, and this is in constant flux, as medical scientists and others learn more and advance our knowledge. We truly welcome and appreciate correspondence from scientists, readers, and others, to refine, correct, update, and further scientifically understand this phenomenon which is plaguing humanity at multiple levels.

While the main Johns Hopkins chart below (available live on the The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page of provides updated static snapshots, the main aspect is the dynamic motion and development captured in the accompanying charts, and there remains a lot of uncertainty and variability, even while in pre-peak mode globally, with the second chart showing continued growth globally. The epicenter for the moment, major transmission complex, has shifted to the U.S., even while countries like Italy, Spain, and Iran remain severely affected—and most countries (except for China, South Korea, etc.) are still in pre-peak phase.


This is the interactive Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases Chart from the Coronavirus Resource Center, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.


To get a sense of where we are at in the game, trend-wise, the number of “daily increases” in infections continues to grow globally, VERSUS declining (post-peak); and confirming this growth mode, the log chart below shows that after steep near-exponential growth, followed by a brief relative plateau (of what seems linear growth) from around February 10, the growth rate is rising again, to not-quite-but-relatively-more-exponential again (patience with the math):


Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases Chart – Daily Increase, from the Coronavirus Resource Center, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.


Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases Chart – Logarithmic, from the Coronavirus Resource Center, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.


The variability of the rate of infections, deaths, etc. by country is really stark with factors being initial response, the nature and scope of measures, underlying health infrastructure, etc. For example, China has officially reported around 80,000 cases. Even if only 10 percent of cases were diagnosed in China, and the true case number is closer to 800K, this represents a very low attack/infection rate from a population of almost 1.4 billion people—0.06 percent. This is remarkably lower than what models predicted, or for example, the 60-70 percent figure initially floated out by Chancellor Angela Merkel of potential expected infections in Germany through the course of the pandemic. On the other hand, the majority of people in China reportedly remain uninfected and susceptible to the infection, and an undetected transmission event anywhere in the country could begin a new epidemic chain of transmission. There are also now a growing number of skeptics on whether the Chinese government5 is being open or transparent on new infections since the initial outbreak.

Death rates continue to vary across regions, not mainly due to different strains of the virus, but measures and preparedness of commensurate health care infrastructure, demographics, and co-morbidity factors that are being researched. The global average of case fatality rate (deaths in proportion of confirmed cases) is around 5 percent, skewed VERY disproportionately by Italy and Spain whose rates are about 9-12 percent (contrasted, for example, with Germany, whose case fatality rate is slightly in excess of 1 percent), and which has accounted for nearly half the deaths, thereby skewing the global average. Mutations and strains, high since RNA has relatively low fidelity (or high errors) in replication and COVID-19 has one of the longest RNA sequences among viruses, are in danger of being over-interpreted, according to Science magazine (and COVID-19 seems to be more effective than other viruses in correcting errors in replication). Efforts to find other factors in the genetic predisposition of niche populations in Italy/Spain are also in early stages. While the actual mortality rates of deaths in proportion to infections (not just confirmed cases validated through testing) globally are estimated to be about or less than 1 percent, with some estimates significantly lower, more reliable data by demographics still continue to confirm alarmingly high death rates for older people (over 65/70), especially from data from Europe. In this context, Social Darwinism being advocated by some of these lunatic fascists in the U.S., such as the Texas lieutenant governor has to be taken very seriously.6

The mathematically modeled pandemic scenarios are both extremely sensitive to assumptions and parameters, with varying underlying probability distributions—and most critically, to societal intervention in terms of measures, i.e., the interaction of subjective/objective, the subjective being the extent of non-pharmaceutical measures taken to contain/mitigate, such as social distance, shelter-in-place, lockdown, etc. aiming to “flatten the curve” (see diagram) and slow the progression of the disease, and the objective being the “stage” of a priori play-outs of the disease, in infection and deaths, based on starting reproduction number—average number of people an infected person will pass the infection to, which in the case of COVID-19 is high, recovery and mortality rates, incubation periods, asymptomatic proportions of infected but infectious, etc. This is further complicated with dynamics of geographic spread and restrictions, compliance of the population with those pandemic measures and restrictions, changing and likely growing immunity against the virus, and ranges of mutation and potentially likely attenuation (or weakening) of the virus, etc., all of which also have underlying probability distributions. The “objective” therefore are ranges of “do nothing” scenarios—with underlying probability distributions of less/more likelihoods of different scenarios, including “worst case,” and different durations of peaks and valleys.7

These are widely varying, based on assumptions, historical experience, etc. Because of this being the early stages and the lack of scientific rigor and prevalence of political truth by the governments, there is a lack of empirical data informing these models, with varying estimates of key parameters such as reproduction rate, actual infected numbers, etc. Uncertainty is often part of the scientific process in assessing and understanding new and complex phenomena, such as this pandemic, while proceeding from what is scientifically determined and can be learned from, such as the structure, functioning, and progression of related viruses and diseases, for example, the related SARS coronavirus, measures ascertained to be necessary and successful by epidemiological public health scientists to contain and mitigate the pandemic, etc.

What IS known and is scientific consensus is that, absent and pending effective vaccines, in terms of bringing the pandemic under control, and bringing reproduction rates down to below one8 where the spread declines and eventually “dies out,” there is little non-pharmaceutically that substitutes for social distancing, shelter-in-place, quarantine, and ultimately lockdown, given how contagious and how high the starting base reproduction number (which also may reduce over time with increasing immunity). The chart below is an example of the expected effect of such measures in the UK, based on epidemiological modeling. Despite a delayed start, which did spread this, ruthlessly following this in China reportedly has helped slow its spread to world. So one path is the China model of extended lockdowns in major transmission complexes like the province of Hubei, and forced quarantining on selected travel. The other model is South Korea’s massive “test and trace,” of testing and tracing those whom infected individuals may have been in contact with, which has also reportedly corralled the disease and kept new infection and case-fatality rates low. With social control and surveillance as social cost, consensus of best practices seems to be a hybrid model: “Lock down clusters of the virus. Test like crazy, and isolate/quarantine the traced.”


Lockdowns Keep Infections at Bay, Nature, April 2, 2020.


It is important to note that while there appears to have been some serious short-term mitigation in countries like China, South Korea, and Singapore, given that much is not known about the virus—and in the case of China there are questions about the reliability of reporting—it may be too early to conclude that these are “success stories.” But it is clear that quarantine, social distancing, mass testing, and contact tracing are important elements in containing the spread. Also, these are highly repressive and surveillance-based societies, and the measures implemented are not the only ways possible.

With the pandemic still setting terms, far from contained/mitigated globally but actually exponentially growing, the delayed response across the board, especially in the U.S., questions remain uncertain on “length.” These include time periods of necessary restrictive measures like shelter-in-place and lockdown, with most going into several months depending on how the pandemic develops—absent political/economic considerations, but just what is medically necessary. Vaccine production is going to take nearly a year as per most estimates, as do corresponding estimates of “herd immunity,”9 with cost of illnesses and deaths. Reports of vaccine trials starting are super-optimistic, as the vast majority doesn’t make it either due to harmful side effects or relative ineffectiveness. A few of those now being expedited are based on genomic sequencing of COVID-19, either building directly from instruction or enhancing immune response off the protein spikes of the virus which it uses to enter lung cells—as opposed to traditional methods of weakened or inactivated virus. On the former, to my knowledge, no vaccine like this has been approved so far, mainly due to unintended consequences—and there are no tested protocols and assembly line like annual flu vaccines.

In the U.S., even with Trump having extended his initial Easter deadline to ease and even lift pandemic measures by three weeks, doing so within four to six weeks is not scientifically founded, with risk of “big, short, sharp shock” of infections to potentially follow the easing. Scientists are advising measures in place for at least two-three plus months—wherein, even while the vaccine is being developed, lots more would have been hopefully implemented and learned on accurate testing, what triggers severe symptoms, illness and risks, who is infectious, who is immune, a fuller and more accurate picture of the spreading, etc., but all of this is highly dependent on measures in place being successful, and a significant slowing in the progression of the epidemic. Given that it is already spread across the country, the possibility of outbreaks, sporadic and prolonged, is heightened for the course of the year and beyond, until safe and effective vaccines are in place and widely implemented.



On the delayed response by Trump, it is important to note that in most exponential-growth processes there are inflection points10 beyond which the growth is hard to deal with. Trump’s delay has cost lives—and now public opinion is being prepared and expectations are being set by Trump, the White House, and its task forces, of deaths in the range of 100,000 to 240,000. While very hard to accurately project and predict, the delays potentially can cost a whole, WHOLE lot more lives, as the overall U.S. curve is still sharply ascendant (see picture below, in comparison to other countries even while they, too, fiddled with initial denial and were delayed in response).

This is criminal negligence of the highest order, crimes against humanity warranted by nature and scope! Because things are moving so fast, the overall history and reality is sometimes forgotten, such as Trump’s initial non-response and active denial, and even his initial measures after the turnaround. Remember the Google site? The latter is not in the news headlines anymore, even though the whole thing is an even bigger farce, with Google’s subsidiary Verily restricted to three counties in California, and Google releasing a mere static Corona Resource page, a joke! To further any potential legitimacy crises, along with acting/impacting, we have to keep reminding folks of the full movie and how we got here, to deepen spontaneous sentiments that these people are “not fit to rule,” intensifying the snapshot outrages of the day that may have provoked the legitimacy crises in the first place.


Number of confirmed coronavirus cases, by days since 100th case, as of March 26, 2020 Vox.


The dialectic between the pandemic and the specific moment, with part of the current context and backdrop being ascendance of fascism globally.

What the long-term effects of this pandemic are on this and other aspects of social and political phenomena, are both uncertain and yet to be determined. But in an immediate sense, how the pandemic is being handled by the different bourgeois governments and fascist regimes will influence, but by no means completely determine, how COVID-19 develops, the nature and scope of potential social ferment/unrest and economic disruption, the continued consolidation or the “slowing/braking” of fascism in some countries, the potential resurgence of reactionary ideologies like Islamic fascism and its likely taking root in newer countries like India, etc.—and potentially give rise to new situations and configurations that shatter the normalcy and normal workings in such a way as to open up radical possibilities, legitimacy crises, and even revolutionary situations—depending on what conscious forces do to come from behind.

Regardless, this is a jolt with long-term effects, likely representing a conjuncture in the spiral.

Taking the fascist spectrum for a moment, there is a wide divergence in response from Modi’s total lockdown to Bolsanaro’s approach of laissez-faire,11 with Trump fascists in the U.S. divided and contending, and Trump himself manifesting a schizophrenic approach rhetorically verging more towards easing restrictions and “opening up the society/economy” but then pulling back practically. Thus, while there is necessity posed from the cold, hard science, giving ear and voice to that section of the ruling class which is broader and includes the likes of Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist and representative of mainstream liberal-imperialist thinking and others articulating that “the cure is worse than the disease,” referring to pandemic measures that cause economic contraction, a line and approach that has a material basis, spontaneity, and backing among not only sections of the ruling class (like those seriously concerned about recession), but also other sections—those who say, “I’d rather risk getting sick for a week than go without a paycheck for months,” as the cashier at a food store told me last week.

The contradiction between ruling classes and masses internationally is heightened, with suffering, illnesses, and deaths, a lot of which is needless and products of this system, disproportionately targeting the most vulnerable; social control and surveillance measures qualitatively advanced, openly manifested and rationalized as “good,” even normalized in places like India, China, Singapore, South Korea, Israel, etc.;12 economic hardship and social dislocation exacerbated; pandemic  measures and long-term effects including the further closure of borders to refugees, migrants, and immigrants (the Schengen Area of the EU has moved to close all borders to non-EU citizens, grabbing freedom out of this necessity).

Factoring in measures in countries like India, and non-measures in countries like Brazil, but taking the whole world into account, including the U.S., it is no exaggeration to say that, under this system of capitalism-imperialism, billions face stark conditions and “choices”—hunger and destitution, infection, and lack of health care.


These nurses with surgical masks in Hyderabad, India, March 6, are among the healthcare workers who have raised concerns about the shortage of supplies such as masks, coveralls, gloves, gear that will protect them from contracting COVID-19. It is no exaggeration to say that, under this system of capitalism-imperialism, billions face stark conditions and “choices”—hunger and destitution, infection, and lack of health care. (Photo: AP)


This is concentrated in “how are people supposed to self-isolate, shelter-in-place, or lock down for 14-21 days, if they live on subsistence levels, gig or daily wage labor, paycheck to paycheck?” On top of what is already horrific, suffering is immense: for example, 90 percent of India is in the informal sector, 1 billion+ people, for whom there is no working “remotely,” no minimum wages, no social security or savings, etc., with migrant laborers walking hundreds of miles to make it back home. This is some of the material basis for the AMLO13/Bolsonaro line, leaving aside the anti-science of both the fascists and the “left populists,” an aspect of “they have NO ANSWER”—except at/with tremendous social cost, needless suffering, and deaths.

Concentrating this reality, BA has said in the recent article “The Deadly Illusion of ‘Normalcy’ and the Revolutionary Way Forward”:

Despite the dedicated efforts of many well-meaning people, even if the immediate crisis with the coronavirus is resolved, this will be done on the basis of intensifying the contradictions built into this system and the suffering of the masses of humanity who are already exploited and oppressed under this system. [Emphasis mine]


Despite the dedicated efforts of many well-meaning people, even if the immediate crisis with the coronavirus is resolved, this will be done on the basis of intensifying the contradictions built into this system and the suffering of the masses of humanity who are already exploited and oppressed under this system. Above, healthcare workers wear trash bags for protection and to make a statement about not having adequate protective gear. (Photo: Criselle Cruz Bermas)


The inter-imperialist rivalry is intensifying with COVID-19, not lessening, especially as concentrated in the rise of China and its threatening dimensions to the U.S.—with Trump and Pompeo’s insistence that the virus is “from China,” lack of any real knowledge-sharing or coordinated response between the U.S. and China (which Trump consciously cut off going into escalated trade wars), the reported news that once China’s manufacturing and supply chain for face masks and other PPE was re-started, they were first exported to the EU and other countries, not the U.S. (though current news indicates this supply chain has restarted), etc. While it is not clear what the long-term effects will be, China’s growth rate, already significantly slowing in recent times, is stunted and it has reportedly been extremely hard for supply chains to restart. Is it sufficient as a medium-term “brake” on China’s ascendance that was immensely concerning to the U.S. bourgeoisie? As some have noted, “The spike which the virus put into the otherwise triumphant China growth story was even greeted with glee in certain circles of the Trump administration.” At the same time, one possibility is that looking back, a year from now, China’s success with its regimented response and the U.S.’s failure at dealing with the pandemic inverts competitive advantage and affects balance of power—especially with China now being seen as having more knowledge and experience in public health.

What will the effects be on the U.S. and world economy from the recent slowdown and potential upcoming recession, the $2 trillion stimulus notwithstanding? The circuits of capital accumulation are now global and highly intertwined, and it is very likely that the spiral of expansion since 2010-2011 is to slow and significantly contract, especially with key sectors of the global economy directly affected by pandemic measures—from the global supply chains to sectors that grew in recent times. International tourism doubled in the last decade, with massive growth of airports and airlines, hotels and restaurants, theme parks and cultural events, etc.—and the same for concerts, cultural festivals, sports, etc.—all of which employ a very large number of “gig” and other workers, directly and indirectly, through other services like Uber/Lyft, etc. In the U.S., particularity of pandemic measures, not only lockdown but social distancing will hit these sectors, and the world economy really hard. Even after pandemic measures ease, in the absence of vaccines or cures, what will be the desire of masses of people to sit in middle seats on crowded airplanes, or attend concerts and sports events?

On other contradictions like Iran and the Middle East, the assessment of necessity/freedom to advance imperialist strategic objectives—as perceived by sections of ruling classes in the U.S. and EU—is also changing while sharply in contention, as evidenced by the New York Times articles on this.14 Iran has been particularly hard hit, exacerbated by U.S.-led sanctions and lack of availability of medical supplies, with potential weakening of the regime and mass opposition. In the U.S., Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, both Iran hawks, sense openings on beating back Iran and its proxy militia in Iraq, and applying more pressure on the theocratic Iranian regime, while sections of the U.S. military and others in national security have serious qualms: i.e., even while contended, the potential for conflict with Iran may heighten, with sections of the fascist ruling class circling like vultures for regime change.


Iran has been particularly hard hit, exacerbated by U.S.-led sanctions and lack of availability of medical supplies, with potential weakening of the regime and mass opposition. Here, a person who died of COVID-19 in Iran is carried to the cemetery by medical workers. (Photo: AP)


It is still too early to fully comprehend the effects of COVID-19 on the world trajectory as it was shaping up and developing as 2019 drew to a close. There are, however, some key contradictions that are evidently shaping up sharply within these United States, including:

* The necessity the regime—and the bourgeoisie as a whole—faces, or the contradiction between pandemic measures scientists advise as medically necessary and what its consequences are in economic slowdown, recession and depression, and secondarily, potential loss of political support for the fascists. There is real and dire necessity confronted by Trump and the fascists, with constantly shifting approaches and sharp contention, with NO EASY ANSWERS.

What is looking likely with the U.S. becoming the major transmission complex, or epicenter, of the pandemic is that with premature easing of restrictions and measures like shelter-in-place, illnesses and deaths will potentially soar, overwhelming the available medical infrastructure, as the curve escalates and accelerates. The U.S. becoming the leader in confirmed cases, officially projecting deaths in the 100,000-240,000 range itself is the result of both initial Trump denial, of leading Fox fascist stars labeling risks of the pandemic as “hoaxes” similar to the Mueller investigation, impeachment, etc., and policies of “do nothing,” instead of mass testing, quarantines, shelter-in-place where needed to contain, etc.—until Trump reversed himself almost overnight, from one listless address to the nation to a press conference two days later, bringing in scientific heavyweights like Anthony Fauci, the head of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The latter itself poses new necessity were Trump to effectively completely “dump” them and their scientific opinion and recommendations in the midst of rises in and spread of infections and deaths. There is a very dangerous situation with Trump building up the fascist base and extending reach, the fascist foot soldiers including on the web mobilizing and targeting Fauci with baseless conspiracy theories accusing him of undermining Trump, etc., while people like him and other scientists, seemingly with apparent genuine concern and awareness of the enormity and unpredictability of the pandemic, seem to see themselves as having to work to both maximize influence on this regime and modulate accordingly to “stay in the game.”

Conversely, with measures remaining in place, extending to other areas in the country, the economy goes into further free fall with effective slowing and lack of economic activity (circulation in Marxist sense) in vast sectors including physical retail, services, travel, hospitality, manufacturing, etc. a disproportionate share of the U.S. economy. With COVID-19, “monopolization,” a defining feature of capitalism-imperialism, is likely to heighten in the near term.

We can expect many financially strapped small businesses in different sectors of the economy to go under or get bought up, while certain large firms further extend their reach, like Amazon. But this crisis is also going to hit large firms as well, especially in hard-hit sectors like airlines—especially those that don’t have the capital and cash reserves to weather these storms, with some facing bankruptcy or being bought out (as happened during the 2007-09 financial crisis and recession). In other words, a “shake out” of the economy that can have highly disruptive and dis-locative effects while leading to higher levels of market and wealth concentration—and mass layoffs in the offing.

Overall, with the global supply chains and national state competition—anarchy, domestically, there is an inability of this system to actually treat the interconnectedness of socialized production-distribution systemically.

All this has an effect not only on the relative position of the U.S. in the world capitalist-imperialist system, posing necessity to all sections of the bourgeoisie, therein the stimulus bill, but also more proximately on the legitimacy of the Trump fascist program among sections of their social base. (Trump’s loud trumpeting of the “Trump-bump” in stock market eroding and in downfall, wiping out savings of sections of the middle class and a reservoir of his broader support.)

Current proposals from Trump of threading the needle and navigating between Scylla and Charybdis, like initial Easter deadlines (now postponed to April 30) for America to “get back to work,” “open for business,” etc., classifying counties into different categories, etc., is unlikely to work, manifesting too much of the “whack-a-mole” approach—and has little scientific support, with bourgeois liberals horrified, media asking “how many lives is economic growth worth?” A range of voices from arch-fascist Liz Cheney to bourgeois economists have come out saying that the path to a better economy goes through public health. Part of the uncertainty lies in whether after six to eight weeks of severe “hammer” measures, then easing up in the form of less severe and more limited “dance” measures, is feasible, or will further stricter measures be needed, extending to months and months—and there are cold calculi being made on the part of some in ruling circles that despite up to 60 percent being infected, with one percent mortality, the social costs can be absorbed for the normalcy of life and economy, and not overwhelm hospitals. But this abstract argument can get visceral real soon if implemented.

Differing approaches, with lack of clear directionality atop, are sharply contended within the fascist regime, its social base, and its propaganda organs. This is bound to sharpen until resolution, interacting with an insane anarchic and competing patchwork of state governors and local efforts, as Trump increasingly agitates for ending the (barely begun) major efforts to mitigate the epidemic through dramatic “social distancing” measures, because these measures are hurting the economy—even while “praising” Fauci, et al. in extending periods of restrictions and pandemic measures. Trump’s position on wanting the U.S. “opened up and just raring to go” is shared by significant ruling class forces (the Wall Street Journal, the former head of Goldman Sachs, some of the red-state governors and senators, among others). But virtually the entire scientific and public health community believes that this would just lead to a new and more devastating wave of infection—and despite the uncertainty inherent in the scientific process, there is relative consensus that this would be potentially horrific, playing with people’s lives. For example, Singapore, which was one of the early success stories in containing the epidemic, has now implemented another “circuit breaker” lockdown in the event of new infections. The struggle over which road to take in dealing with the epidemic is playing out in public. Any approach is most likely to come at even more of a tremendous cost, whether of deaths or massive unemployment, and spectrums within.

With all of the uncertainty, absent horrendous waves of mass calamities/deaths, it is likely that most measures will continue, to flatten curves, not nationally but regionally, given U.S. structure, in wave-like and uneven fashion across the country, of intensifying/drawing back as infections and transmission flare up.

In sum, what is stark is the very real, substantive and antagonistic contradiction between economic activity and taking the measures necessary to deal with a health emergency of this magnitude. But it CANNOT be solved in the right way under this system: where the health sector, pharmaceutical development, etc., are organized around and subordinate to profit—in a larger profit-based economy, which is NOT oriented towards the needs of the people. In a genuine socialist economy (see the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by BA), the health needs of the population would be a fundamental priority and obligation of society, and the economy would be serving the needs of humanity. There would not be profit-based hospitals and drug companies. So there would not be this antagonism, this disconnect, between public health and the economy. (See Communiqué #4 from the Revcoms.) And in a crisis like this, any resumption and redirection of economic activity would prioritize the well-being of people, both the population at large and those with tasks in the economy. Total opposite to what we see today!!!

Some Further Brief Thoughts

* The sharpening contradiction within, across, and between all sections of the pyramid of power. These include, as major aspects:

  • Sharpening contradiction between the fascists and the masses of people, the potential intensifying of the 5 Stops, and the advance/consolidation of fascism overall.

Despite some initial rhetoric—and real bourgeois necessity—of “we are all in this together,” and the fact that the pandemic necessarily infects across social and class divides, the effects manifest existing societal topography—the multi-leveled, multi-layered map—in a perverse way in this society.

A key thing to take note of is the sharpening IMPACT ON THE NATIONAL QUESTION in this social formation, concentrated but not restricted to the vast prison and incarcerated population, mainly Black and Latino masses, the immigrants especially with continued ICE raids in the midst of this, etc. With more than 50 percent minority in the prisons, and the potential of these to become a genocidal epicenter of the pandemic within the U.S., because of crowded conditions, lack of basic sanitary facilities and health care, this is an explosive contradiction—and Weimar, including liberal hero Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio in New York, are doing ABSOLUTELY nothing commensurate in response, even with reported infections in the hellhole of Rikers or the upstate prisons. Perversely, in the midst of this, Cuomo is taking legislative bail reform measures that heighten the risk of explosive spread, and Trump is throwing gasoline on the fire with his statements opposing the release of prisoners, hammering nails into coffins, metaphorically if not literally. (See “Local Jails Are Keeping More Than 1/2 Million People in Conditions That Are Spreading Coronavirus – and Most Haven't Even Been Convicted of a Crime!” at

This is heightened by the overall vulnerable status of Blacks, Latinos, and immigrants, including lack of wealth to weather through the economic crisis, lack of health care, and overall being at the bottom of most health/social indicators including other diseases like asthma and respiratory diseases, etc. This is now spreading like wildfire in majority Black cities like Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, and Greenwood.

But this is also not without contradiction. Spontaneously, the system-fanned Black-immigrant contradiction can potentially worsen, as does broader anti-Chinese racism. There are also those in the social base, those at the bottom of society, feeling like Trump is “on their side” either with proposed loosening of restrictions (especially those believing in or susceptible to conspiracy theories that COVID-19 is a hoax), or susceptible to being bribed with relief checks, even if relatively paltry. The ideological effects on the masses of people is a highly contradictory mix, and we should not be naïve on any linear economist thinking or reification,15 as it is entering into and interacting with terrible epistemology and conspiracy theories, me-first parasitism and individualism, etc.

For example: What is the effect of the lockdown, economic contraction, relief checks, corporate bailouts, etc. in the midst of medically necessary pandemic measures—will it further ferment on questioning the system or close in narrowly to “me first,” will it potentially fuel revenge against scientists advocating extending pandemic measures or even health care workers constrained in providing care? How does a “humanity first” morality and collective ethos find expression in the context of pandemic measures that with social “distancing,” potentially worsen individualism, and deepen what is already widespread societal atomization and alienation? And what is to be DONE about this, critically.

In this midst, the Christian fascists are trying to advance their agenda such as denial of abortion in the red states under pandemic measures of restricting nonessential services. This is also on the docket of the Supreme Court.

Health care workers are a vulnerable population. We need to give more attention to the outrage/condemnation of pitiful preparation response and forms of self-mobilization among sections of the health and medical community, especially at the front-line emergency levels; their health and their role—and straining against the confines of the system in general and fascist lunacy, blindness, and contempt. A rolling, developing, potentially major contradiction that bears on how this crisis will unfold, issues of legitimacy and, looking at things more strategically through a HWCW lens, how to bring forward embryos of “alternate REV authority.” We have to think about ways to reach and influence—and at some point issuing statements and appeals to that community. The Phil Rice interview in the RNL! YouTube show debut shows the potential in this context.

One dimension of health care workers in the spotlight thus far is the modeling of a different morality and the spontaneous pole this has become (including thousands volunteering, coming out of retirement, etc.). The contradiction around contending moralities, one more rooted in cooperation and self-sacrifice for the greater good vs. the dominant me-first-ism taken apart in Hope for Humanity on a Scientific Basis, will itself be an important social fault line, with the need for revolutionaries to boldly model and contend. This will enhance importance of the Points of Attention.

Especially in the South (I learned this recently) another is the nursing home and assisted care industry which warehouses 2.5 million elderly Americans—most of them on Medicare—which has apparently been a national scandal, especially facilities’ neglect of basic infection control procedures and resulting deaths. In the South, it is far cheaper to pay fines for sanitary violations than to hire additional staff and provide them with proper training.

On the fascist advances and rule of law front: What is emerging as a current, albeit not in the news as much, are attempts by Attorney General Barr and others to further their assault, to advance consolidating fascism, through making moves to allow authorities to arrest and detain people indefinitely without trial during “an emergency situation.” Some measures will likely sync with Weimar’s potentially advancing repression in the name of pandemic measures, like suppressing protest in the name of social distancing, etc., especially if unrest erupts.

Specifically: The DOJ requests cover several stages of the legal process, from initial arrest to how cases are processed and investigated. The DOJ is proposing that Congress give the attorney general power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.” Top judges would also have the authority to pause court proceedings during emergencies. This would be applicable to “any statutes or rules of procedure otherwise affecting pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial procedures in criminal and juvenile proceedings and all civil processes and proceedings.” The draft request by the DOJ asks Congress to pause the statute of limitations for criminal investigations and civil proceedings during national emergencies, “and for one year following the end of the national emergency.”

Responses to the pandemic among the fascist social base has largely tracked Trump, with differences generally reflecting shifting differences atop the fascist powers that be and their propaganda organs like Fox and its hosts, which has undue sway, but as conditions worsen—medically, economically, socially—the necessity this poses on Trump changes/increases, and may potentially advance a more ruthlessly, nakedly fascist program in favor of some combination of big backers and heartland social base. While highly unlikely, it is also possible that Trump may lock down for a longer while, and then attempt to jump-start the economy, passing a massive “populist” stimulus bill on the magnitude of the New Deal, even collaborating with Democrats on this, and riding this wave to re-election.

  • Sharpening contradiction within—and between—fascists and Weimar. COVID-19 has had a number of unexpected consequences in the political configuration atop the pyramid of power.

While the differences between the fascists are in flux, and it is not clear yet how this is going to play out in resolution, on the Democratic side, some features are worth noting:

On the national level, major Democratic leaders—Biden, Schumer, Pelosi—have far less of a profile/visibility than Trump. Biden, while trying to seize initiative, has been somewhat relegated to background noise and mainstream liberal concerns that he does not look sufficiently “presidential” and in command. It is not clear regarding Biden’s low profile if it’s his flaws or what the handlers are proposing and thinking. There has been the fight over the stimulus bill, which has been really in the weeds of Washington “wonk-dom,” as is likely with the next stimulus bill being proposed. Pelosi is much more up-front and center, with both open criticism of Trump and calling for national unity. On the other hand, Democratic governors and mayors have been out there in a pretty big way—Inslee in Washington state, Newsom in California, de Blasio in New York City, and especially Cuomo in New York state, the latter “rising to the moment” in the eyes of the liberals and mainstream media, attempting to project that this could be handled better, and a modicum of empathy, drawing a contrast with Trump. At the same time, this often takes on the character of a complicated dance or symbolic theater designed to extract concessions from Trump by a mix of snarls and submission gestures.

While relatively lately muted in criticism of Trump, the progressive—Bernie/social-democratic—wing feels this is their time, and a moment to seize. It is important for us to have some sense of how this section is approaching this moment, and concrete measures they are taking. As the Atlantic suggests,16 they are “eager to use the coronavirus crisis to convince Biden—and millions of other Americans—that major reforms are necessary,” going on to quote non-profit honchos close to this movement, including the head of Sunrise Movement and Working America, saying effectively “Now is our time.” The article states that:

“Sanders, who still hasn’t dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination, has effectively converted his presidential campaign into a coronavirus-messaging apparatus, and he is holding regular broadcasts with other progressive lawmakers, including Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) and Pramila Jayapal, to explain how the current crisis demonstrates the need for Medicare for All. ‘As we do everything possible to grapple with this crisis ... it is also appropriate to ask ourselves how we got here and what this says about the financial and economic structure of our country,’ Sanders said in a live-streamed video Wednesday night. ‘People are understanding that there is something wrong that we are the only major country on Earth not to guarantee health care to all as a human right.’

“For its part, the Democratic Socialists of America says it has seen a spike in membership since Super Tuesday, some of which the group attributes to the pandemic. ‘We saw one of the largest ever number of attendees for an online DSA call last week on the topic of COVID-19 organizing,’ a DSA spokesperson told me...”

In a remarkable demonstration and living example of BA’s statement “If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are,” AOC, even while continuing to be part of the Bernie “thing,” is rapidly shifting stances.17 Whoever her current handlers are, and given her original positions (prior to being recruited and groomed by the Justice Democrats), she is moving so quickly to the Obama center that it is dizzying in pace. Starting with firing staff from the Justice Democrats, to cozying up to Pig-losi (“Mama Bear,” as she affectionately called her recently), to refusing to endorse most of the “progressive” primary challengers this season, to labeling Bernie’s tactics too “conflict” oriented, hiring Kamala Harris’ people as chief of staff, etc., etc. Even getting anointed by one of the main gatekeepers, according to Politico, Neera Tanden, president of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress and a longtime Hillary Clinton aide, called Ocasio-Cortez’s shift “a sign of leadership.” Even while this is evolving and disputed, and there is a Charlie Brown/Lucy football situation with illusions and hopes springing eternal, it is worth noting and time to start bringing people’s attention to this—illustrating the larger lessons, BAsics 3:12.18

Without being in a position to make comprehensive analysis or synthesis, it seems that there is shake-up and reconfiguration that is going to impact the political scene, but this is all contended and in motion, as the Democratic convention has been postponed, and Bernie is not dropping out of the presidential race. The Weimar program and reality, the yearnings for return to normalcy, need to be hit really hard per recent BA article on this!

At the same time, while there are sharp divides within the fascists on ways forward in the face of necessity, two points: (a) economic dislocation often spontaneously lends itself in bourgeois society to further moves to the right, especially in this period in which the post-World War 2 liberal ruling consensus has largely disintegrated and come under fierce attack, especially from the fascists; (b) their basic fascist program continues, and there is the possibility of very sharp escalations—including the cancellation of the presidential election, following postponed primaries; more of Democrats collaborating and actively facilitating the fascists in the name of “national unity,” “in this together,” which further lays the basis for fascist advances and consolidation, anti-immigrant measures escalated in the name of anti-pandemic cleansing, etc.

  • Sharpening contradiction between science and anti-science, pragmatism and other non-scientific epistemology: The battle over epistemology has sharpened across all strata of society, with profound implications not only for immediate health, but also ideologically and politically.

As discussed earlier, this—the battle over epistemology—finds expression at the highest levels among the fascists both in the anti-science of the Christian fascists who dominate the Trump regime and were instrumental in Trump’s delayed response to COVID-19, and therefore crimes against humanity, as it is among the Ayn Rand economic right ideology that constitute another major strand of the Trump regime. Fox fascist hosts like Hannity, Ingraham, and others concentrate and propagate an uber-fascist-instrumentalist epistemology of defining truth in relation to whatever is politically necessary and expedient at any moment.

It—the battle over epistemology—finds expression in Weimar epistemology that in the service of liberal bourgeois democracy papers over the essence and crimes of the U.S. (Sean Penn example of the U.S. military, or Cuomo’s address to National Guard in New York calling them to service on the basis of their great historical role, liberals including government scientists evoking the “resilience” of America, etc.) All of this then finds spontaneous expression lower down the pyramid among different sections, including those in the middle strata of the left side who “yearn for return to normalcy,” striving to come under the wing of this section of the bourgeoisie, with blinders to the reality of what this ACTUALLY means, in the horrors for humanity inflicted by this system.

In another expression—of the battle over epistemology—what is troubling, but expected, given how this system functions and keeps people ignorant and anti-scientific, are the raft of conspiracy theories among the basic masses of people. From this being a weapons lab invention to a hoax perpetrated by the government to a plot to kill off Black people, to leaving this in god’s hands... all manner of theories of anything but science—of a pandemic, which naturally occurs, interacting with this system/society. These are coupled with a generally righteous profound distrust of the U.S. government, the lack of reliable news sources, and susceptibility to conspiracies on social media—and an overall lack of approach to “what is true,” to evidence-based scientific methods.

In context and contrast, as I revise these notes, I want to end by highlighting the following from Ardea Skybreak, in Science and Revolution, referenced and quoted in BA’s recent works, “Conspiracy Theories, Fascist ‘Certitude,’ Liberal Paralysis, OR A Scientific Approach to Changing the World: Short Version: The Simple and Basic TruthLonger Version—The Truth Elaborated”:

Without science you are at the mercy of being manipulated, of having your thinking manipulated and not being able to tell what’s right from what’s wrong, what’s true from what’s false.


Whether you’re talking about the material reality of a disease, of a natural ecosystem, or of a social system that human beings live under, science allows you to analyze its components, its history, how it came to be the way it is, what it’s made of, what are its defining characteristics and underlying contradictoriness (and we’ll come back to that) and therefore also what is the basis for it to change, or to be changed, if your intent is to change it. Whether you want to cure a disease or make a better society, you need that scientific evidence-based process.

Science and Revolution, On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, Ardea Skybreak


1. Covid-19 as symptom: Notes on the production of a virus, by Fabio Vighi, Monthly Review, March 24, 2020.  [back]

2. There are numerous examples of coronavirus vaccine production being defunded and de-prioritized once the SARS epidemic had waned in 2003, caused by an earlier coronavirus similar to the one now sweeping the globe. For example, scientists at Baylor headed by Dr. Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, had developed vaccines to test on humans in 2016, for which they could not secure funding. According to NBC News, “That was a big missed opportunity, according to Hotez and other vaccine scientists, who argue that SARS, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, of 2012, should have triggered major federal and global investments to develop vaccines in anticipation of future epidemics.” Scientists were close to a coronavirus vaccine years ago. Then the money dried up., Mike Hixenbaugh, NBC News, March 5, 2020.  [back]

3. From “SARS-CoV, which causes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), originated in horseshoe bats, but jumped to humans in South China in 2002, eventually infecting more than 8,000 people and killing almost 800 before it was quelled by lockdowns, quarantines and other measures. SARS-CoV-2, a closely related coronavirus that causes COVID-19, first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. Much more infectious than its viral cousin, it has led to a pandemic, causing far more cases of illness and fatalities than SARS.” (from Clues to COVID-19 coronavirus’s vulnerability emerge from an antibody against SARSScienceDaily, April 3, 2020) Scientists at Scripps Research have published a study in Science that indicates that an “antibody ... produced in response to an infection of SARS ... cross-reacts with the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2” indicating potential vulnerabilities of the virus and potential pathways to a vaccine or cure.

I found this helpful from the New Yorker: “SARS is closely related to the new virus we currently face. Whereas common-cold coronaviruses tend to infect only the upper respiratory tract (mainly the nose and throat), making them highly contagious, SARS primarily infects the lower respiratory system (the lungs), and therefore causes a much more lethal disease, with a fatality rate of approximately 10 percent. (MERS, which emerged in Saudi Arabia, in 2012, and was transmitted from bats to camels to people, also caused severe disease in the lower respiratory system, with a thirty-seven per cent fatality rate.) SARS-CoV-2 behaves like a monstrous mutant hybrid of all the human coronaviruses that came before it. It can infect and replicate throughout our airways. ‘That’s why it is so bad,’ Stanley Perlman, a professor of microbiology and immunology who has been studying coronaviruses for more than three decades, told me. ‘It has the lower-respiratory severity of SARS and MERS coronaviruses, and the transmissibility of cold coronaviruses.’”  [back]

4. Quoted in Coronavirus: a disaster of capitalism’s making, Ben Hillier, Monthly Review, March 4, 2020  [back]

5. China is a capitalist state, despite characterizations to the contrary coming from not only the Chinese government but also mainstream intellectuals, media, and others. For more, see You Don’t Know What You Think You “Know” About...The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future, an interview with Raymond Lotta., April30, 2014.  [back]

6. Social-Darwinism is a discredited ideology justifying “the survival of the fittest” based on thoroughly unscientific interpretations of Darwin’s theory of evolution and attempting to apply those to human societies and individuals.

In this context, commenting on the heightened risk to the elderly from COVID-19, and the economic slowdown from the measures to contain the pandemic, Dan Patrick, the Christian fascist lunatic lieutenant governor of Texas, announced on Fox News that “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in” then going on to say that other “grandparents” would also die for the economy, saying “I just think there are lots of grandparents out there in this country like me ... that what we care about and what we love more than anything are those children.”  [back]

7. To get a general sense of one example of such modeling, you can read this coverage from NatureSpecial report: The simulations driving the world’s response to COVID-19, by David Adam, April 2, with correction on April 3.  [back]

8. The basic reproduction number (R0) is an indication of the transmissibility of a virus, representing the average number of new infections generated by an infectious person in a totally naïve population. For R0 > 1, the number infected is likely to increase, and for R0 < 1, transmission is likely to die out. While estimates for the R0 for COVID-19 have varied in different regions and during different phases of the pandemic, currently it is estimated to be between 2 and 3.  [back]

9. Herd immunity is an epidemiological concept where “if the virus keeps spreading, eventually so many people will have been infected and (if they survive) become immune that the outbreak will fizzle out on its own as the germ finds it harder and harder to find a susceptible host.” For COVID-19 this is estimated to be about 60-70 percent of the population, but would be disastrous and dangerous as the spike in sick people needing hospital or ICU care will overwhelm hospitals and increase deaths.  [back]

10. While it is a precise mathematical concept that refers to changes in the slope of a curve, here the general reference is to a qualitative turning point, marking significant changes.  [back]

11. See A Gathering Tsunami of Pain in a World of Savage Inequalities,, March 30, 2020.  [back]

12. The much-vaunted negative-right of “privacy” of the individualist-oriented bourgeois era has eroded to long term effect with new technology, and now heightened in leap with fascist-led pandemic-measures.  [back]

13. AMLO, or Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is the president of Mexico, a bourgeois “left”-populist who has taken a profoundly anti-scientific approach to this pandemic. See “A Gathering Tsunami of Pain in a World of Savage Inequalities”  [back]

14. Pentagon Order to Plan for Escalation in Iraq Meets Warning From Top Commander, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, New York Times, March 27, 2020.  [back]

15. In this instance referring to their coming to truth and understanding of their highest interests because of their oppressed position.

Reification of the proletariat in general refers to “taking the general phenomenon of the proletariat (and other oppressed groups) and reducing this to how it supposedly resides in individual proletarians or individuals from other oppressed groups, as though, once again, they have (to invoke the parlance of the times) a special purchase on the truth, that there is something inherent in this or that oppressed group that enables people from that group to spontaneously arrive at the truth, or at least a “narrative” that is an acceptable replacement for the truth.” From Breakthroughs, The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, by Bob Avakian, November 2019.  [back]

16. What Do Progressives Do Now?, Elaine Godfrey, Atlantic, March 28, 2020.  [back]

17. “AOC breaks with Bernie on how to lead the left,” Alex Thompson and Holly Otterbein, Politico, March 2020.  [back]

18. “If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.” Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:12.  [back]

“You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics.”

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America
(Draft Proposal)

Authored by Bob Avakian, and adopted by the Central Committee of the RCP

Read and Download (PDF)

How the Revolution Would Deal with Health Care, Including Epidemics

Excerpt from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America

Read more

The principle “serve the people” guided medical work in revolutionary China, 1949-76.

See also:

A health crisis like COVID-19 in a genuinely socialist society:

The Needs of Humanity First, Not the Drive to Profit and Capital Accumulation

Read more

See also:

The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page

  • What IS the Corona virus COVID-19 and what do scientists know about this?
  • How is the capitalist-imperialist system making the effect of the Coronavirus worse than it has to be?
  • How do the “savage inequalities” of the system play out in the way this virus affects different sections of people? Who does it come down the worse on, and why?
  • How would the revolution handle the coronavirus or similar epidemics if it held state power?

Read more

The RNL Show—Revolution, Nothing Less!

Episode 2 of The RNL Show—Revolution, Nothing Less! is now available on YouTube. Featuring: What Is an Actual Revolution; Covid19 and Immigrants; Bob Avakian on "Why Do People Come Here from All Over the World?"; Special post-script from host Andy Zee.




Get a free email subscription to

Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.