The Russian hackers are coming! Again! They’re about as bad as capitalists as they were as communists, ain’t they? What now? There it was in the headline: Russia accused of a plot to steal vaccine research. Britain’s National Cyber Security Center director denounced the “despicable acts” and a Silicon Valley intelligence analyst warned, “The whole pandemic is absolutely riddled with spies.” Any surprise that China and Iran are also accused of the like? The motive behind this hacking of Britain, Canada, and of course the U.S.? Apparently the Russians are trying improve their own Covid-19 vaccine research and avoid vaccine dependence on Western countries! What do we pay the National Security Agency for if they can’t stop from the Russians from improving their Covid-19 vaccine?
We ask ourselves on a daily basis what the post-pandemic world will look like — if, in fact, there is to be such a thing as a post-pandemic world. Dare we dare hope that this situation could actually have an impact on global intelligence, that is real intelligence in people’s minds, not the NSA/Silicon Valley kind?
We do know that even when it comes to matters of the nation’s health, Washington’s dense and bought have remained steadfastly dense and bought, maintaining their opposition to covering the entire nation with health insurance, to this very day. Could we hope that a global pandemic might be enough to shake the consciousness and/or conscience of a few of them? Unfortunately, a lot of those folks are just not that much into the rest of the world, except maybe bombing them.
But perhaps if we will substitute invaders from another star system for the pandemic, the absurdity of the plot of this science fiction film we’re actually living though might stand out more clearly.
The threat arrives, seemingly from nowhere. Do the earthlings unite? No, they argue about who’s going to pay and who’s going to get protected first. “There’s money involved here. We’re not about to let those damned Russian commun — er — capitalists get the benefit of our hard earned dollars.” Meanwhile, the invaders know and care nothing about this money thing and they roll over these foolish, bickering earthlings.
Back in the world without the space invaders, I don’t know exactly who’s making out among those dastardly Russians, but there appear to be at least five major American pharmaceutical corporations in the race to produce a vaccine. Three of them are receiving government research funding. Two of those have pledged to do it on a non-profit basis and I suppose that’s something — even though corporations are well known for crossing their fingers when claiming to do anything on a basis other than profit. The other government-funded corporation explicitly declined such a pledge. And the other two companies are going entirely free market. What will the vaccine cost the individual and who will get it? Well, as we know, the dense and the bought believe these things are matters to be settled between individuals and their pharmaceutical companies.
The call for an alternative to replace capitalism has generally, and understandably, focused on the inability of a system based on profit to treat everyone fairly. But there is, in a sense, an even deeper argument — competence. There is simply no reason to believe that reliance on the search for corporate profit represents anything like a sensible strategy for dealing with problems affecting the entire globe.
The pandemic has already been a teachable moment, that has already stretched to a teachable semester, for millions around our globe. Whether the dense and the bought of the world’s capitals will learn much of anything remains to be seen.