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You are here: The Platypus Affiliated Society/Essential workers of the world, unite!

Essential workers of the world, unite!

Keith McHenry

Platypus Review 147 | June 2022

THE COVID POLICIES OF FEAR, with their divide-and-conquer strategy, may have been the first shot in the latest effort at creating the centralized global economy that the Left has been protesting since the Bretton Woods Conference of 1944 in New Hampshire, where delegates from forty-four nations initiated the founding of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the system now being advanced by central banks all across the world.

I have spent my life organizing against corporate plunder and exploitation. I helped organize protests against the policies of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and, yes, the IMF. The pandemic created conditions in which those institutions have been rushing to implement what the financial oligarchs call “stakeholder capitalism” and their Build Back Better corporate dystopia that my Left friends and I have spent the last fifty years protesting against.

But just as the decades of resistance should be ramping up its efforts, many of my old colleagues in the anti-globalization movement have been frightened into switching sides and have become aggressive supporters of the policies of corporate power, promoting the experimental products of global pharmaceutical corporations — the very same global corporations, along with their billionaire owners, that they had denounced as dangerous profiteers before the cyclone of propaganda was unleashed in 2020.

A little over a month after Ronald Reagan placed his hand on the Bible in the shadow of the Capitol dome during his inauguration as the 40th President of the United States, my friends and I hosted a theatrical soup line below the Federal Reserve Bank on Atlantic Avenue in Boston. I had invited a couple of dozen unhoused men seeking warmth at Boston’s Depression-Era shelter on Pine Street to participate in our protest against the investment policies of the Boston Fed outside the bank’s March 26, 1981 stockholder meeting.

In the early 90s I traveled to Germany on a speaking tour. I stood on the frosty lawns of the Hofgarten in Bonn with tens of thousands of European Leftists, labor organizers, and environmentalists to protest the Maastricht Treaty and the introduction of the Euro and the EU and their threat to economic security, the environment, and the civil liberties of those across the continent.

I walked the streets of Milan during that transition. Signs in store windows showed prices in both the Lira and the Euro. My hosts complained that wages had been rounded down, while rents and other necessities had been rounded up.

I participated in the protests against the ravages of NAFTA and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. I was arrested and charged with my first California “three strikes” case the day I held a “Viva Zapatista — No NAFTA” sign outside San Francisco City Hall on January 4, 1994.

I printed thousands of copies of the “McLibel” flyers that resulted in a lawsuit of censorship against environmental activists Helen Steel and David Morris and their fact sheet against the exploitative practices of the McDonald’s Corporation. Their struggle inspired me to help organize the participation of Food Not Bombs in the annual October 16 protests outside the fast food restaurants. I’ve shared vegan meals outside McDonald’s in Utrecht, Zagreb, and Istanbul.

Food Not Bombs volunteers supported Ronnie Cummins and the Organic Consumers Association in the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign and the patenting of genetically modified life.

European anti-globalization activists inspired me to help organize the UnFree Trade Tour of 1997, speaking in sixty communities in North America encouraging people to participate in protests against the policies of the WTO.

I attended the founding conference of the People’s Global Agenda in Geneva, Switzerland, where I first visited with scholar and environmental activist Vandana Shiva and joined thousands in organizing against the centralized global economy. My friends and I spent several years organizing the blockade of the first WTO summit in Seattle.

A Food Not Bombs organizer was one of three activists shot by police at the 2001 anti-globalization protest during the EU summit in Gothenburg, Sweden. I saw South Korean farmer Lee Kyung Hae climb the fence surrounding the WTO summit in Cancun and stab himself to death in protest of the horrors of the globalization of the economy that were destroying the livelihoods of farmers everywhere.

Left anarchists, socialists, environmentalists, human rights activists and labor organizers have participated in huge protests against the annual meeting of the global elite at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland for years. Regarding the latter, on January 25, 2001, the New York Times reported:

To its critics, these claims for an expanded role — made, they say, by nonelected, unaccountable people operating behind closed doors — are troublesome, particularly because the forum has been controlled almost completely for three decades by one man, Klaus Schwab, a Swiss business professor. “The forum is trying to privatize decision-making processes to allow business interests to affect public priorities,” said Jolanda Piniel, a spokeswoman for Public Eye on Davos.[1]

A Reuters article from January 31, 2009 reported:

Hundreds of people rallied in Geneva and Davos on Saturday to protest against the World Economic Forum, saying the elite gathered for its annual meeting are not qualified to fix the world’s problems. … Protester Alex Heideger, a member of the Davos Green Party, said these were the people to blame for the economic mess. “It’s the same people who came last year and said the world economic situation is fine, and now we’re in a financial crisis. Now it’s the taxpayer who has to solve the whole problem.”[2]

But the fear of the global pandemic allowed governments all over the world to set aside their legal processes and constitutions.

When the Coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions started to bankrupt businesses and force people out of work and into greater poverty, Republicans started to take up the anti-capitalist mantel, and the Left began aggressively supporting the interests of global capital and the corporate dystopia of Build Back Better “stakeholder capitalism.” Anti-lockdown protesters swinging AR-15s — probably encouraged by their FBI infiltrators — frightened and confused the Left, hardening their support for pharmaceutical products that were yet to be tested on human subjects. Well-meaning anti-capitalists suddenly believed in the altruism of billion-dollar industries, the secretive military program Operation Warp Speed initiated under Trump, and closeted bioweapon developers in programs funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Transnational pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, who had been the target of the Left because of their history of releasing dangerous medications, testing deadly products on unsuspecting communities in the global South, and price-gouging, suddenly became trusted corporations to be promoted on social media and protected from scrutiny.

Last November, Reuters reported that Pfizer “expected 2021 sales of the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with German partner BioNTech SE to reach $36 billion and forecast another $29 billion from the shot in 2022, topping analyst estimates for both years.”[3] This is the same corporation that, for example, in 2009 plead guilty to a felony violation of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and agreed to  pay $2.3 billion for having fraudulently marketed Bextra as safe.[4] Could it be possible that they were also lying about the safety and effectiveness of their COVID vaccines? Would the first two doses stop the spread and protect the vaccinated as they originally claimed?

After decades of seeking to silence voices that challenged the virtues of capitalism, the Republicans began to rail against censorship while progressives shamed anyone who questioned the COVID policies, questions about the possible biological-weapons origins of the pandemic, or inquiries into the claim that vaccines would stop the spread of COVID. Most progressives and anti-fascists started to support the online campaign of censorship directed by CIA-staffed foundations like the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder or the Atlantic Council. Those of us who thought to question the official message were labeled “Nazis” or “Trump supporters.” The natural desire to do things for the greater good of the community resonated with the Left, blinding them to the possibility that they were being manipulated by the very institutions that the Left had been protesting against for decades.

But the divide-and-conquer goals of the COVID crisis might not be the most concerning aspect of the current rush to the “stakeholder capitalism” of the WTO, G7 member nations, or the international corporate sponsors of the WEF and the BlackRock corporations of the world.

Like with the 2008 housing crisis and the Troubled Asset Relief Program bank bailout that inspired the Occupy Movement, the response of the U.S. government to the pandemic economic downturn was to transfer trillions of dollars in the CARES Act to international financial institutes while letting America’s small businesses and essential workers struggle for survival. Over 40 billion dollars in rent relief sits unused in a program that has failed to save many of the 40 million Americans facing eviction. Entire neighborhoods of single-family homes have become investment properties for global hedge funds which are able to use their profits from the CARES Act to pay cash, driving up home prices and making it nearly impossible for Americans to afford to buy a home, while pushing rent out of reach for millions.

As predicted by people otherwise tagged as conspiracy theorists, the COVID crisis was followed by war and there will be moves to eliminate paper currency and replace it with a digital wallet tied to your vaccine passport. In a January 20, 2022 press statement, the Federal Reserve Board announced that it had released a discussion paper examining the  pros and cons of a potential U.S. central bank digital currency. When it later announced the release of the discussion paper on Twitter in March, the Fed said, “While the Federal Reserve has made no decisions on whether to pursue or implement a central bank digital currency, or CBDC, we have been exploring the potential benefits and risks of CBDCs from a variety of angles, including through technological research and experimentation.”[5]

The U.S. central bank is not the only monetary system moving towards a central bank digital currency. On July 14, 2021, The Governing Council of the European Central Bank launched the investigation phase of a digital Euro project.[6] India’s finance minister announced in late January 2022 that their central bank will launch a digital version of the rupee as early as this year.

While we watched in horror the news of people in Ukraine fleeing the terror of war, Biden signed an executive order to develop central bank digital currency and investigate methods for “regulating” crypto currency.[7]

On February 9, 2022, Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, spoke to NATO’s think-tank the Atlantic Council in a speech entitled “The Future of Money: Gearing up for Central Bank Digital Currency.”[8] In it, Georgieva stated,

These are still early days for CBDCs and we don’t quite know how far and how fast they will go. What we know is that central banks are building capacity to harness new technologies — to be ready for what may lie ahead. … If CBDCs are designed prudently, they can potentially offer more resilience, more safety, greater availability, and lower costs than private forms of digital money. That is clearly the case when compared to unbacked crypto assets that are inherently volatile. And even the better managed and regulated stablecoins may not be quite a match against a stable and well‑designed central bank digital currency.[9]

Before Georgieva dove into the details of this global program, she reported, “All told, around 100 countries are exploring CBDCs at one level or another. Some researching, some testing, and a few already distributing CBDC to the public.”[10]

The Canadian Trucker Freedom Convoy highlighted the danger of eliminating paper currency in a CBDC future where those who object to the policies and actions of the authorities can have their bank accounts frozen and online fundraising confiscated.

It looks as if our freedom will rely on the resistance of those who have been out making sure we can still eat: the essential workers like the truckers, farmers, and retail workers who never had the privilege to quarantine. I sure hope my comrades from the pre-COVID anti-globalization movement return to the front line, or we could be doomed to that digital slavery dystopia whose implementation we are witnessing in the corporate censorship, propaganda, asset-seizures, and CBDCs. |P

[1] Elizabeth Olson, “Davos Forum Is Braced For Round of Protests,” The New York Times, January 25, 2001.

[2] Laura MacInnis, “Protestors rally against World Economic Forum,” Reuters, January 31, 2009, available online at <>.

[3] Michael Erman and Manas Mishra, “Pfizer expects 2021, 2022 COVID-19 vaccine sales to total at least $65 bln,” Reuters, November 2, 2021, available online at <>.

[4] The United States Department of Justice, “Justice Department Announces Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement in Its History” (September 2, 2009), available online at <>.

[5] Federal Reserve’s Twitter account (@federalreserve), March 29, 2022, available at <>.

[6] European Central Bank, “Eurosystem launches digital euro project” (July 14, 2021), available online at <>.

[7] See Hunton Andrews Kurth, “President Biden Issues Executive Order on Digital Assets,” National Law Review 12, no. 73 (March 14, 2022), available online at <>.

[8] Available online at <>.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.