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Covid-19 Exposes Underlying Problems of Western Civilization

Ben Warner relates the coronavirus pandemic to the wetiko disease, what Jack Forbes calls “a spiritual sickness with a physical vector”—the disease of colonization.


By Ben Warner

A virus has been infecting humanity for centuries and it threatens all life on earth. This virus of selfishness is named Wetiko by many indigenous Americans. It is a form of psychosis, an infection of the mind and spirit that allows the creation of this cannibalistic culture often called Western Civilisation.

“Now, were Columbus and his fellow European exploiters simply “greedy” men whose “ethics”were such as to allow for mass slaughter and genocide? I shall argue that Columbus was a wétiko, that he was mentally ill or insane, the carrier of a terribly contagious psychological disease, the wétiko psychosis. The Native people he described were, on the other hand, sane people with a healthy state of mind. Sanity or healthy normality among humans and other living creatures involves a respect for other forms of life and other individuals, as I have described earlier. I believe that is the way people have lived (and should live). The wétiko psychosis, and the problems it creates, have inspired many resistance movements and efforts at reform or revolution. Unfortunately, most of these efforts have failed because they have never diagnosed the wétiko as an insane person whose disease is extremely contagious.”

– Jack D. Forbes, Columbus and Other Cannibals

Although Covid-19 is not “the cure” as some misanthropes claim, it does expose some truths, allowing us time to identify the real problems and reflect on ways to build an effective resistance to solve it.

What kind of culture needs a virus that attacks the respiratory system to force it to make behavioral changes that reduce levels (in China, the UK, Australia and worldwide) of nitrogen dioxide, a gas that increases the likelihood of respiratory problems? The decline of air pollution over China is estimated to have saved 77,000 lives.

What kind of culture needs a respiratory virus to save people from choking to death on the poison it produces? A wetiko culture.

While reports of nature and dolphins returning to the ancient city of Venice were exaggerated, why did the tweet that started it become viral? Why did so many people love the idea that nature might be reclaiming one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations?

It is likely that globalized capitalism caused this pandemic. What other form of human organization would lead to a marketplace selling highly-stressed animals, thus creating the conditions for a virus to cross the species barrier? Even if the virus originated in America, as some claim, it was spread by globalized transport. What other system would create the trade links and transportation to allow this virus to spread rapidly? 

There is a strong likelihood of more viruses emerging with every bit of nature we destroy. Industrial civilization is the only human culture that extinguishes biodiversity at such an unprecedented level that it makes mass pandemics almost inevitable.

In a sane and healthy culture families forced to stay at home due to a disaster would not fear violence from members of their own household. In the Wetiko infected culture we have already seen an increase of men inflicting domestic violence (worldwide, France, the UK, the USA, South Africa) on the women and children they should be caring for. This culture of dominance is one we should all reject. By objectifying every being and viewing them simply as resources to be consumed; women, forests and all of wild nature become resources to be used, abused, tortured and killed.

Medical experts predicted this crisis. Governments and the ruling class knew what was coming, but did not meaningfully try to stop it. They simply planned the best way they could extract capital from it. They asked themselves how they could turn the virus and its consequences into a resource. This neoliberal cabal, includes the World Economic Forum (an organization which only represents leading global companies) and, which is now in partnership with the United Nations and World Health Organization. The response to this crisis is being controlled by global corporations. Do you think they care about you, or their profit margins?

The global elite tell us “we are all in this together.” If that is true then why did Prince Charles and Boris Johnson get tested when displaying mild symptoms?  Meanwhile our nurses and doctors remain untested. The authorities are using this pandemic as an excuse to take away our rights and force us to comply with their agenda. How exactly have the authorities provided the services you need?

Consequences of Economic Shutdown

The community-strengthening sectors such as; arts and culture, local markets and small businesses have been forced to close and are unlikely to survive. They could be taken over by multinationals or simply disappear. Sectors that serve capital (finance, big tech, mining, construction, energy, industrial agriculture etc.) either continue unabated with their destruction or will be revived and bailed out when the lockdown ends. In fact promises of bailouts have already started

Working class people cannot work from home. They have to work to stock the supermarket shelves and make sure we have food to eat. Most of these people are women, so once again, poor women will suffer the most. The majority of the global poor do not have access to healthcare and are starving to death amid food shortages (the Philippines, India)

It is likely that after this pandemic, governments and the global elite will implement the green new deal. This will not benefit the environment nor will it benefit poor communities. It will benefit the corporate sector. What is happening currently may have far reaching implications; we may never return to normal. We are already seeing countries pass laws to force medical treatments on patients who do not want them. In some countries (e.g. Sweden) there has already been microchipping of people. It is voluntary at the moment, but for how long? Elsewhere there is evermore increased, intrusive surveillance. People are being fined thousands of dollars for simply leaving their homes. Some medical professionals are advocating for infrared-visible tattoos for those who have been vaccinated—a procedure with unknown effects on health and privacy. Could we see governments make this compulsory?

It is hardly surprising that with at least 200 species going extinct each day we are fast approaching the 6th mass extinction. What else can we expect from a culture ruled by psychopaths?

Covid-19 provides the privileged with a frightening glimpse of what many face in the present and what we are very likely to face on an increasing scale in the future. Panic buying, mass migrations, starvation, reduction or complete loss of civil freedoms, social unrest and nations switching from fake democracies (inverted totalitarianism) to outright dictatorships. As species extinction, soil depletion and climate change continue to accelerate we could all face a more extreme version of this.

What Can We Do?

In this culture, there are people who value (and hold) power and money over relationships and love. By taking a bird’s eye view we can remember the importance of building communities and take decisive, effective action. Those of us who value relationships and love rather than money and power need to prepare ourselves. We need to help others prepare. While the media propagates panic, we need to organize collectively.

We must engage with every form of effective resistance. We need to talk with each other. We need to be united. We must collaborate with others whenever we share a common goal. Here are some specific examples.

Go On Strike

In late 2019 and early 2020, striking French electrical workers cut off the power to major corporations, including Amazon and government agencies. Previous French strikes have seen transport workers park trucks across the entrance to oil refineries and ports, shutting them down. We can learn from the French workers’ unions. A strategic general strike could shut down whole industries.

Build Community Defense Networks and Practice Discipline and Skills

Neighborhood organizing. The military and the police serve the interests of the ruling class. We should keep them out of our neighborhoods by forming our own defense forces and patrols. Emphasizing community safety and mutual aid. We should confront, record and prevent racist policing. This is one way to  create a sense of neighborhood sovereignty. Refuse to report on your neighbors, instead help each other out. Defend small business and community infrastructure, drive out industries exploiting neighborhood land and labor, and resist corporate takeover.

Engage in Rent Strikes and Debt Strikes

The economy doesn’t need our labor, as evidenced by, the UK government paying people not to work. To continue the economy needs us as consumers. We could stop paying rent and paying off our debts. We could boycott the economy altogether and provide for our own needs from a land base. We have the collective power to take down the economic system.

Create Mutual Aid Systems and Local Food

We could grow food together, providing for others in our neighborhoods. Get to know neighbors in person. We need to abandon any belief that the government will provide for us and start providing for ourselves. As millions of people lose their jobs, they will see that the money economy does not serve us. This could promote opportunities to explore localized economies that do not depend on money and the global economy. 

Learn and Teach Practical Skills

Offer skill shares such as food production, permaculture, maintenance and repair, crafts, direct democracy, local culture, arts and healing. All these skills can be learnt and taught. Learning together strengthens community and supports neighborhood well-being.

Raise Awareness About Political Issues and Revolutionary Analysis

Increase understanding about where political power is held, and how it is being exercised. It is in globalist institutions (World Economic Forum, World Bank, United Nations, International Monetary Fund) and Big Tech. It is not in regional, national or local governments. Power is being exercised electronically, including through surveillance, it need not be exercised overtly.

The more organized we can be in building resistance, in localizing economies, the easier it will be for everyone. Global economic collapse is inevitable. Bringing it about and/or supporting transition is important work. We can find vulnerabilities in the structure, as the French Union workers did. We can start conversations to consider the possibility of life without electricity as an option. Without it the ruling class have fewer ways to extend power over us. We could support direct action to target the electricity grid and shut down the energy industry.We could be at the point in history when revolution to overthrow capitalism is inevitable. We need to be ready.


Ben Warner is a longtime guardian with DGR, a teacher, and an activist.

Disclaimer: This article was based on information and evidence available at the time of writing. The situation is changing quickly. Please, post links to anything you believe is relevant in the comments section, so the article can be updated as necessary. The links and questions in this article invite you to seek answers for yourself, engage critical thinking and investigate. You may not agree with everything. However, now more than ever, we need to collaborate and unite for revolutionary change, whenever and wherever we can.

10 thoughts on “Covid-19 Exposes Underlying Problems of Western Civilization”

  1. I agree with most of this essay, but Ben Warner’s anthropocetrism comes out when he couldn’t resist insulting people who claim that the coronavirus is the cure. The reason those people are wrong is not because the virus isn’t doing the Earth good by greatly decreasing human economic activity and lowering human population, it certainly is. The reason they’re wrong is that the decrease in human activity will only be temporary, and that diseases never remove enough people to help the natural environment.

    You need to differentiate between humans killing other humans and something natural like a virus killing them. (There is an issue about whether these zoonotic viruses in humans are natural, because if we had remained as hunter-gatherers, these diseases would not occur in humans, but that’s another issue.) There is nothing wrong with saying that natural population controls like diseases — which BTW humans have circumvented since they started using agriculture — are good and necessary things. This has absolutely nothing to do with advocating people killing other people.

    You need to stop viewing the world as if humans are the most important thing, because they’re not, both clearly and objectively. Considering the coronavirus from a nonhuman point of view, this can only be seen as a good thing, albeit a temporary one.

  2. Your lack of compassion for other humans is rather nauseating. “diseases never remove enough people to help the natural environment” means other people, not you, I suspect. Diseases are not “good and necessary things”. Would you say that to a child dying of a virus?

  3. “Please, post links to anything you believe is relevant in the comments section”

    I’m trying, but my link is not getting published…

  4. There is little argument among serious environmentalists that civilization is responsible for pandemics. Our agricultural and industrial practices are a blatant attack on nature, and it only follows that — one way or another — nature will find a way to fight back. And the mere existence of cities, with their filth and population density, give pandemics both the catalyst to take hold and the fuel to grow.

    But there is also a strong tone of conspiracy theory to Warner’s article, which undermines the credibility of the entire movement against civilization. Statements such as the following, for example: “Governments and the ruling class knew what was coming, but did not meaningfully try to stop it. They simply planned the best way they could extract capital from it.”

    Evidence, please? This pandemic hurts everyone, from the poor who can’t fight it to the corporate executives who are losing billions in revenue. And the few who benefit could hardly have planned (or wanted) this kind of temporary good fortune.

    Statements like the above do nothing but give the mainstream another reason to dismiss the Deep Green movement as a lunatic fringe. We have plenty of solid facts to make our case, without inventing claims that the industrial class plans and controls disasters like this for profit.

    As for Jeff’s argument, it is an unfortunate truth that the world would, on balance, be far better off without the human race — notwithstanding the relative handful of indigenous peoples who live in balance with nature, and (in some cases) may even enhance it. It is with no pride or lust for self-annihilation that I have often said that if there were a button I could push that would instantly and painlessly vaporize humanity, Muhammad Ali in his prime wasn’t fast enough to keep me from pushing that button.

    I also believe that love is the only thing of real value in life, and that the preservation of life is, in general, something worth fighting for.

    Contradictions? Not really. If any other species had caused 1% of 1% of the damage mankind has done to the earth, there would be a mobilization to exterminate it that would make us proud to be human — with stiff penalties for any bleeding heart who tried to save the few vermin that might not be destructive.

    Humanity is causing a great extinction — something few would have thought possible, as recently as 1950. Indeed, the mere thought of a single species doing that out of its own lust for greed and power conjures thoughts of a monster like nothing seen in the scariest horror movie.

    Like Jeff, I would welcome the current situation being permanent, as opposed to the situation a year ago. And I say that on full knowledge of the fact that (as a 72-year-old with chronic bronchitis) I am well into the high risk group. It is far from the perfect solution to civilization. But 60 million annual dead is a small price to pay to shut down the mania of globalization that has wiped out several entire species in the time it has taken me to compose this rant.

    That’s the deal, humans: Destroy your cancerous lust for perpetual growth, or nature will destroy you. Live in balance with your planet, or face the extinction you so thoughtlessly bestow on the innocents who truly deserve to live here — salamanders, salmon, bees, bears, coral, mangroves, sequoia, rats, crows, cockroaches, spiders, crabgrass, and thistles.

    There isn’t a species on that list or beyond that doesn’t make an infinitely better case for its own survival than our own. Worse yet, we know better — and still we go on destroying.

  5. Thank you. This is a bit frustrating, I’ve tried every possible way to share it…

    www [dot] thelastamericanvagabond [dot] com [slash] top-news [slash] all-roads-lead-dark-winter

    This is some further reading on the hypothesis that Covid-19 came from a US military lab. It also presents evidence suggesting that US intelligence predicted the outbreak, and that the same lab was responsible for the 2001 pandemic simulation known as Dark Winter.

  6. @SRH
    Your lack of compassion for everything not human is appalling, disgusting, and totally immoral, despite it being normal among the vast majority of humans.

    Please don’t project your personality onto me. I’m not so self-centered that I exclude myself from being subject to disease and resulting death. Viruses were the first living things on Earth and have every bit as much right to be here as you or the entire human race do. If I die because of the coronavirus or any other disease, that’s fine. We’re all going to die, you need to accept that fact.

    And it is a FACT, not my opinion, that diseases are natural population controls for all species. I suggest learning some basic biology, maybe you skipped that class in high school. One of the main causes of epidemics and pandemics is overpopulation, and humans are certainly grossly overpopulated.

  7. @Mark E Behrend
    Thanks for the support Mark, I appreciate it. We’re totally on the same page on that issue.

    However, Ben Warner’s claim that the ruling class and world leaders knew this was coming and did nothing substantial to mitigate it is almost certainly true. I think Ben overstates it a bit, but scientists have been warning about major pandemics for a long time, and there have been books, movies, and TV shows made about this. The only way that the rich and powerful couldn’t have known this was coming was if they’re completely ignorant idiots, which some of them may be, but the majority certainly aren’t (they’re immoral and totally unwise, but that’s different).

  8. First of all, I do not think it’s likely (in the short term anyway) that a Green New Deal will be implemented.
    Having said that, it is the GND of the DEMOCRATIC PARTY that has the handprints of the global elite on it, yet you link the GND of the Green Party. The Democratic Party lifted our terminology, but their deal is not the same thing. The Green Party, for instance, would include closing US military bases abroad and reducing military spending by 50%. It may not state that specifically on the GP’s GND page, but it is elsewhere in the platform. Unlike the GOP and Dems, the GP refuses corporate/PAC moneys.

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