This transcript appears in the April 10, 2020 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.
Systems Are Manmade: You Can Change Systems When One Breaks Down
This is the edited transcript of the Schiller Institute’s April 1, 2020 interview with Helga Zepp-LaRouche, by Harley Schlanger. A video of the webcast is available.
Harley Schlanger: Hello, I’m Harley Schlanger from the Schiller Institute. Welcome to our webcast with our founder and President Helga Zepp-LaRouche. It’s April 1, 2020.
We’re clearly in the midst of one of the most profound crises in modern history with the combined effects of a financial system that’s blowing out and the expanding pandemic of coronavirus. It’s clear that the old way of thinking no longer works. So, Helga, what’s your assessment, especially with the situation in the United States seeming to be heading out of control?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: It is an unprecedented crisis, and I think none of us has experienced anything like this in our lifetimes. Maybe it was like this in the world wars. I think the seriousness of its reality has dawned on some people in Europe and the United States belatedly, but unavoidably. It will really be extremely bad for the developing sector. We will come to that in a second.
Let’s start with the United States. Yesterday’s White House coronavirus taskforce meeting, which was given by President Trump and his health advisors Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, was really completely sober and sobering. What they said is that if everything is done right, now, maybe the number of deaths can be held to 100,000 to 240,000. But if things go wrong, it may be 1-2 million. Right now, it does not look like this is going to be an easy job.
In hotspots like New York and New Jersey, with the highest infection rates increasing exponentially right now, it is quite desperate. Despite New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s attempts to get sufficient ventilators for the outbreak, he has only been able to secure 2,500, and those are expected to arrive from China two weeks from now, leaving New York short by 15,000. All the other states in the United States were in a bidding war to get ventilators until the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) took it over, and is now organizing it centrally. Ventilators are needed in the critical phase of a coronavirus infection, when the ventilator is the life saver. If there are no ventilators, then these people will just die. It is a very serious situation.
For an industrialized country, the pandemic has unbelievable social consequences. For example, they have released some prisoners jailed on Rikers Island. Many have no other place to go, so they are now spending their time in New York’s Penn Station where they get food deliveries from the Guardian Angels. Then, you have 114,000 homeless children in New York City alone, who used to get their meals in the schools.
So, you have all kinds of social consequences which really show the underlying problem of the lack of infrastructure investment, the privatization and dismantling of the health system over the last decades; all of that is now really coming to a point of complete crisis.
There are incredible efforts being made to retool some of the industries. An “air bridge” has been established with many planes coming in from China and other Asian countries—50 planes all together. Yesterday, the first Russian cargo airplane, filled with medical supplies, landed at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, New York. So, there is an incredible mobilization going on, but it is also very clear that this is a pandemic, and America will experience mass unemployment. Some are saying that the unemployment in the United States may go up to 30%; so this is really an unbelievable crisis.
The Coronavirus in Africa, India, Indonesia
Schlanger: Helga, you talk about the crisis affecting the United States, and how desperate it is. What about the countries of Africa? India is in total lockdown; Indonesia is now in the midst of a developing crisis. This is obviously much more dangerous in the developing sector.
Zepp-LaRouche: The United States is a very well-industrialized country—or at least, it used to be. In Africa and other developing areas of the world—supposedly developing, not so developing—it will be really very bad. Lagos, Nigeria, without a robust health system, is already completely overwhelmed. Other infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis are rampant, not to mention the prevalence of systematic malnutrition and outright famine. This is really a powder keg.
Dr. Tedros, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that both in the United States and in Africa, the next two weeks will tell how bad the crisis will be. But so far, there has been a certain delay factor for Africa. Because of the limited transport connections of the African continent to the rest of the world, COVID-19 arrived relatively late. But now it’s there, with the absolute danger that it will spread.
Half of the world is now in de facto lockdown; that’s incredible! India, a country of 1.3 billion people, in lockdown. But that obviously is relative, because many day-workers—people who just work for a day’s pay in big cities like Delhi—are now all fleeing these big cities, because they can no longer earn any money, and have no savings. You have perhaps seen pictures of poor people getting on crowded buses, where they are in no position to keep the required social distance, rushing home in the rural areas. But there is no health system. Despite the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had quite some success with the “Clean India” campaign, and “Modicare,” through which he tried to improve the healthcare system, it is all not enough.
Jakarta, Indonesia—10 million people in one city, half of whom have no access to clean water. A similar situation exists in many developing countries, including Mexico, including Peru.
So, we are really looking at an unprecedented world crisis. The danger is that this will overwhelm the health systems; there is not enough production possible. Winter, which is just eleven weeks away in the Southern Hemisphere, will favor the spread of the virus. Many millions will probably die. I think this makes it very clear that we urgently need a completely different system. Nothing will be like it was before.
Mass Mobilization for a Great Power Summit
I think we have to go into a mass mobilization internationally, which the Schiller Institute is already engaged in, to establish a new world economic order. We have called for that for a very long time, but immediately in this situation it requires a summit of the most important, most powerful countries: China, Russia, India, the United States. They have to establish a new system. What we need is a completely new system.
All the rules of the liberal economy, of the neo-liberal model, the cheap labor markets, the outsourcing, all of that has to be replaced; and it has to start with the immediate building of a world health system where a decent health system is being built up in every single country. That must be the beginning of an industrial revolution for the whole world. Nothing short of that will do. That means we need a New Bretton Woods system, and a new credit system to finance it. If you agree with that, then help us in this mobilization, because what is at stake are the lives of many millions of people, and maybe yourself.
Schlanger: Over the last few days, President Trump has had discussions with President Xi Jinping of China and President Putin of Russia. Do you see this as a positive step towards a summit? These are bilateral discussions, but so far we haven’t seen a response to your call at the level needed.
Zepp-LaRouche: I think they are steps in the right direction. The fact that Trump and Xi Jinping re-established contact, that there were discussions between the health ministers, that the United States started to accept this air bridge, that Trump started talking with Putin again. All of these things are very positive, but they do fall short.
Also, the proposal by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), for a $2.5 trillion coronavirus aid package for building up the health sector in the developing sector, is a step in the right direction: $1 trillion is for debt write-off, $1 trillion is for Special Drawing Rights from the IMF, $500 billion is for a Marshall Plan for health recovery. That is very positive, but when it’s all added up, it’s still the proverbial peanuts, because to build up a world health system needs much more than $500 billion. That’s for all the developing countries, not just for one country. It’s for the entire 180 or so developing countries; if you divide it, it’s just not enough.
LaRouche Warned the World
Schlanger: There’s a lot of talk about the time-lag in doing the emergency mobilization, getting the equipment, and other things. To me, the real time-lag is the almost 45 years since your husband first sounded the warning in 1974 that a shift in the financial system to a neo-liberal new kind of colonial system would lead to this kind of pandemic. People obviously weren’t listening. The idea that there was no warning is completely false, isn’t it?
Zepp-LaRouche: The first memorandum stating that the economic and financial policies of the IMF and World Bank would lead to pandemics, he issued in 1973. Then in 1974, he initiated a Biological Holocaust Taskforce, which presented the findings of its study at the end of 1974. I was just rereading an EIR Special Report, Economic Breakdown and the Threat of Global Pandemics, published in 1985, which is one of several large studies which absolutely predicted that this would happen and why.
There is a connection between the biological sphere—the biosphere—and the economy. If you lower the living standard and the energy of the system of society, then lower forms of life in the biosphere just take over. In a very fitting image for today, he said that the cheap labor orientation towards the developing sector and keeping development down in the so-called Third World, has to be compared to the Schachtian economics of the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. He said a lot of deaths in the concentration camps came from forcing the people in these camps to do hard labor. They would have to do work requiring 2,000-3,000 calories per day, but would only get about 1000 calories. It was just a matter of time before they died of starvation.
That is a fitting image, because as the living standards in the developing countries have been unnecessarily driven down by denying them infrastructure, like the World Wildlife Fund did in all their campaigns to ruin the prospects for dams, for industrial development, just blocking development with phony arguments of ecologism, the ability of those people to withstand diseases is also reduced, and their weakened immune systems make them susceptible to pandemics. This is exactly what we are witnessing today. That was clear then; we discussed it then in no uncertain terms. He said, then, that such policies would have more devastating consequences than the genocide of Adolf Hitler.
I absolutely want to repeat that. Some people today are indifferent, who say “I don’t care. What do I care about Africa? What do I care about Latin America?” Such people are morally the equivalent of Nuremburg criminals. At the Nuremburg trials after World War II, the judges convicted the accused on the principle that they either knew or should have known, about what was going on in the Third Reich.
Concerning the conditions in the developing sector today, the exact same thing can be said. The people who are pushing no development, who are more concerned about a little snail in some corner than millions of people, these are people who are criminal. That criminality absolutely has to stop! We have to start rebuilding the world. And every life in Africa, in Latin America, and in Asia is as precious as any child in Germany, or in the United States or any other place. I am consciously using this rather stark language, because this complacency and this arrogance of the Euro-centrists, or the America-centrists has to stop.
A Moral and Economic Breakdown
We are at the point of a moral and economic breakdown crisis of the whole world. We need a new system, and that has to be mobilized, and it has to be gotten through. If we don’t do that, we are risking our humanity either physically—because it is not yet clear if it doesn’t lead to war as a consequence of conditions of a breakdown crisis—or it leads to our moral demise.
I really think that we have to absolutely change this. We have to allow industrial development in every single country in the world, and we have to have a decent living standard. It is very easy, because China has shown the way, that you can bring infrastructure development as the precondition for general development to every country. It is up to us in the so-called Western countries in Europe and the United States to absolutely change our ways.
Schlanger: In the early 1970s Lyn’s warnings identified particular individuals who were committed to population reduction, who knew this would happen. Some of these anti-human comments are being made today, as you mentioned before: People saying, “Oh, isn’t it wonderful! There are now blue skies!” There are people who are cheering on the demise of the elderly and the so-called “useless eaters.”
Zepp-LaRouche: The flagship magazine of the British Empire just came out with that line today—The Economist. They say, “Isn’t it wonderful that the economy is coming to a grinding halt? No CO2 emissions! We just have to make sure that after this crisis, we are not going back to normal.” There are some other criminals who call themselves economists, who are saying that when the coronavirus crisis stops and is over, the economy should be rebuilt, but based on climate protection. We have discussed the reasons why the Green ecology is exactly what caused this crisis; and if we were to go back to those policies, we clearly do not have the moral fitness to survive.
First Ever Schiller Institute Youth Web Meeting
Schlanger: Helga, you’ve been talking about rebuilding the whole world health system. You had a web meeting yesterday morning with young people, during which you called on them to take responsibility for the organizing process to do this. What is your sense of the ability to mobilize youth today to take on this task?
Zepp-LaRouche: I think the meeting was very encouraging, because this was our first such international youth call. About 70-75 young people from all over the world attended from the United States, Mexico, Peru, Pakistan, Africa, Europe, and China. I think the discussion really reflected that these young people are morally absolutely committed to make sure that they have a future. The idea that every country has the right to have a decent health system is obvious. They are committed to bringing this message to a lot of other young people, to the universities. They are committed to spreading it to other organizations, especially in the developing sector.
All of them are really tuned in to the approach that the leaders of the most important countries need to change the system. I think this is important, because people have not really thought about it. No one can sit out this crisis; you cannot just wait until it’s over. This is a pandemic, and it may come back in waves. It has intersected the breakdown of the financial system, the collapse of the physical economy.
The only way to get out of it is to put in a completely new system. Most people have not spent much thought on whether that is necessary or possible, or they say, you can’t do that. Yes, you can! Systems are man-made; they are inherent parts of the physical universe. They are man-made, and mankind can change the system. If the old system is not suitable for the common good of the people, then it has to be replaced.
We have specified many times what that must look like: A global Glass-Steagall banking separation; an end to the casino economy; protection of the commercial banks; creation of a national bank in every country; connection of these national banks in a New Bretton Woods system that provides cheap, long-term credit for clearly defined development projects. International cooperation and coordination.
I think among young people in particular, the notion that cooperation has to replace confrontation, is very easily understood. Several young women attended this meeting—which made me especially happy, because I’m all for woman-power—and they especially emphasized that the passion which needs to be mobilized for that is agapē. The change which has to occur must be based on a love for humanity.
Out of our discussion came an inkling of what the kind of new system will be like; namely, that the geopoliticians will be out. Those who think it’s okay to have endless wars just to make profit, are clinging onto an obsolete idea, one of troglodytes. The future must belong to young people who organize the world in different ways, in the interests of each country. It was actually a very hopeful discussion, and I would urge people to get in contact with us to see how they can join it.
Schlanger: Speaking of troglodytes, look at what’s going on in Europe with the European Union; the battles that are going on around the continuation of the neo-liberal policies. This is in complete contrast to what you’re discussing with the young people, the complete absence of agapē. Catch us up a little bit on what’s going on in the EU.
The European Union and the Federal Reserve
Zepp-LaRouche: It’s almost a question of the past to talk about the EU. Right now, it’s really a question mark as to how long this construct will remain in place. There is no solidarity; there is a big feud right now between Germany and Italy, France, and the other southern European countries. It’s a little bit on the wrong issue; namely, this issue of Eurobonds, which I think is not a good idea. It’s still in the realm of banking bail-out.
Just to mention in parentheses, the Federal Reserve just yesterday opened its repo credit facility to all other central banks. That means basically that they intend to help each other to bail each other out. The Federal Reserve earlier had allocated $4 trillion for the bail-out of the U.S. banking sector, which was characterized by Republican Congressman Thomas Massie as the biggest transfer ever of wealth from the ordinary people to the very rich and the bankers. This is part of the Eurobonds, so I’m not in favor of the Eurobonds.
The conflict that has arisen between Germany, Holland and Austria on the one side, and these other countries on the other side, pertains to a real issue. And that is that the countries of the South—especially Italy and Spain, and increasingly also France—are really suffering an incredible exponential growth rate of this virus, and they have demanded some finance mechanism organized by the EU, which was blocked by Germany in particular and Holland and Austria.
These countries are saying that this is the ugly face of Europe. The tone becomes quite nasty. For example, the Italian media, and I think also Prime Minister Conte, were saying that if this had been the attitude of the other European countries at the 1953 debt conference in London—where half of the German debt was forgiven, which obviously was an extremely important factor in the reconstruction of Germany after the Second World War—if that had not been done, then Germany would still be living on garbage piles. So, the tone is becoming nasty, and everybody—Italy, Spain, Serbia—all say that they got more help from China, from Russia, and from Cuba. Even the small country of Albania sent thirty health personnel to Italy to help. You can really see who’s your friend, and who is motivated by completely different reasons.
I think the anti-China campaign coming from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, from Foreign Affairs magazine, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, who are all still in this absolutely vicious campaign against China, will vanish. Because people in this crisis see who is helping, and who is not. In a week or two, when we talk again, I think the situation in Europe is such that by then the EU may not exist.
That’s not a bad thing, because it was a bad construction from the very beginning. It could not work. It never existed. There is no “European people.” There are many nations and many cultures, but the European bureaucracy is an evil structure which is not in correspondence with the interests of its own members. The sooner it is replaced by something else—either a Eurasian alliance of sovereign states from the Chinese Sea to Vladivostok to Lisbon, or some other kind of new alliance of sovereign republics working together for a new world economic order—the better. That does not mean that European countries cannot work together, but they should not be under the tutelage of some supranational structure.
I think we will see big changes in this coming period. It requires the active intervention of as many state citizens as possible. So, please get in contact with us and help us to try to change the agenda on a large scale.
Schiller Institute International Conference
Schlanger: Toward accomplishing that goal, the Schiller Institute is going to have an international conference, April 25-26. Just give us a little bit of a sense of what you hope to come out of that conference.
Zepp-LaRouche: We had to shift that conference, which was planned for April 25-26, to the internet, because physical conferences are impossible at this point. But therein lies also an advantage; namely, that you can reach much larger audiences. Therefore, people should start to register for that conference, because then you will be also supplied with additional information and materials you can read ahead of time to be prepared to participate as a more active person in this conference.
We will try to discuss the issues at that conference that we think should be taken up by the large country governments. We will try to inform the population on the needed changes in the strategic alliance, the needed cultural changes, the need to go to a Classical renaissance of art and music. We will discuss the frontiers of science; what is necessary to defeat not only the coronavirus, but to really get a completely different sense of space medicine, of breakthroughs in optical biophysics in redefining what life is, what we need to know to be able to combat such problems much better. And naturally, the principles of physical economy upon which we intend to rebuild the world economy.
So, you should definitely get in touch with us, register for the conference, and be part of it.
Schlanger: I would encourage everyone to join this mobilization with a very simple act. Share this webcast! Pass it around! Get your friends to watch it. Then, go to the Schiller Institute website and the LaRouche PAC website and study the ideas presented there. Those ideas, generated by Lyndon LaRouche beginning in the 1960s and 1970s, are not only valid today, but represent universal principles. It’s through a return to those kinds of principles that we can restore mankind.
Helga, thank you very much for your comments and for joining us today. As you always say, hopefully we’ll see you next week.
Zepp-LaRouche: Yes, let’s do something to move mankind in a better direction.