there is a crack in everything

As the pandemic emerged in 2020 I sought credible information and advice first from institutions and authorities and later from a network of expertise — encouraged to do-your-own-research — in view of growing misinformation and disinformation, even from authorities like the CDC and WHO. I am not the only person to turn to a networked solution — Twitter pandemic list — for my sensemaking in this pandemic.

The People’s CDC is a networked alternative source of credible information that bypasses the corridors of institutional power.

What emerged was the People’s C.D.C.: a ragtag coalition of academics, doctors, activists, and artists who believe that the government has left them to fend for themselves against COVID-19. As governments, schools, and businesses have scaled back their COVID precautions, the members of the People’s C.D.C. have made it their mission to distribute information about the pandemic—what they see as real information, as opposed to what’s circulated by the actual C.D.C. They believe the C.D.C.’s data and guidelines have been distorted by powerful forces with vested interests in keeping people at work and keeping anxieties about the pandemic down. “The public has a right to a sound reading of the data that’s not influenced by politics and big business,” Fullilove said.

No one is in charge of the People’s C.D.C., and no one’s expertise is valued more than anyone else’s. The problems of “the pandemic and its response are rooted in hierarchical organizations,” Mary Jirmanus Saba, a filmmaker and one of the volunteers, told me … The organization has nearly twenty thousand followers on Instagram, and it prides itself as a resource for various groups, including people who are immunocompromised and want to find a way to protect themselves and activists who are trying to lobby their local government for more COVID restrictions. —The New Yorker 2022-12-28

A major factor in the decreasing effectiveness of our institutions is the power of the market form, currently financial capitalism.  Dee Hock, founder of Visa, saw the inability of our organizational structures — e.g. “Governments that cannot govern, and
Economies that cannot economize.” — to deal with this pandemic.

“The Covid-19 virus emerged and has spread very chaordicaly, and clearly illustrates the futility of our simplistic, mechanistic, command and control concepts of organization when it comes to managing an ever more diverse, complex society.” —Dee Hock 2020-06-15

Dr. Henry Madison put it even more clearly. Our market economy cares not one whit about public health.

Why don’t governments protect us from Covid? Because market economies replaced societies, and they don’t have a public. Only individual consumers. No geographical or ethnic or any other identifier for people, except as customers of a global market … The reason modern governments decided to ‘live with’ a lethal virus, is because that’s what they’ve always done, when it was other countries. And now the globalised market (as they see it) is reaching its apogee, the distinctions between rich and poor countries are reproduced *within* rich countries as well … Look at how often conservatives say ‘move to where the jobs are’, and how transport infrastructure is one of their greatest passions. The hyper-mobilisation of humanity, nobody should ‘work from home’, because their home now is increasingly their job. Their identity is as an employee. You’ll be treated like a citizen in a developing country now, because to the market economy, that is in fact what you are. What all of us are. This is the endgame of neoliberal and libertarian politics, where it was always going to arrive. —Twitter 2022-06-02

The People’s CDC has shown the emerging power of a networked commons. So has the growing participation on Mastodon, moving online conversations from single owner platforms to collective covenants. Let’s hope the cracks in the market economy will let in more light.

One Response to “there is a crack in everything”

  1. Harold Jarche

    Some of the best information is now coming from the market, as the pandemic is starting to affect their bottom line:

    “We’ve reached the point in the pandemic when guidance from financial institutions about COVID is better than what we get from our public health institutions.”

    “According to @CDCgov , #Omicron #XBB.1.5 cases have almost doubled in the last week. The variant is now 40% of new #COVID infections and is highly evasive. There are solutions, but they will require immediate action to prevent another dark #Covid19 winter”


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