In 1981 I saw the film D.O.A. – A Rite Of Passage by Lech Kowalski at a cinema in Morristown, New Jersey. When the possibility to own films arrived with Beta and VHS cassettes, I made several attempts to purchase it, but it was not to be found. Then came DVDs and BluRay discs, but still, no luck. A year or so ago I found a seller in Japan on Amazon offering the DVD but at an unattractive price.
Recently I was looking for something unrelated on Amazon. While on the site I revisited my wish list and noticed the old entry for D.O.A. – A Rite Of Passage. There was good news; more options at better prices are now available, with a catch; there are complaints that some of the soundtrack has been manipulated, songs replaced. It would not be the same film I saw at the cinema years ago.
No order was placed by me, but then I got the idea to do a search on YouTube, and sure enough, there it was, the trailer, the full ninety-minute film, and with the original soundtrack. Unadulterated. I just finished watching it in its entirety during vacation leave this morning, while much of the world is in lock-down due to a global pandemic.
A failure of capitalism: I paid nothing to watch a film that I might otherwise have paid quite a bit to watch.
Why is the film titled Dead on Arrival? The punk scene sure wasn’t. It has flourished. It appears to have longevity. Punk music is now used to sell cars and toothpaste. It is mainstream. The focus of the film, the Sex Pistols, became legendary, spawning many more punk bands, inspiring dozens of films, and its members, except for the dead one, continued with music, reunited for some reunion tours and concerts. Far from dead on arrival.
By definition ‘dead on arrival’ does not actually mean ‘la mort subite’ or sudden death (by the way, Cafe Mort Subite is the best cafe in Brussels). It only means that the patient was dead at the time they arrived at the hospital. Not every patient is taken to hospital, some are just left to die where they are, if anyone happens to be around to make such a decision.
Communism was not dead on arrival. It died under its own weight, and no one attempted to save it. Ironically, the same greed and corruption that killed communism is now killing capitalism.
Fascism was not dead on arrival, but rather it was killed. Some Americans are now sadly embracing its corpse, seeking to revive it, many unwittingly, others consciously.
Meanwhile, capitalism has been dying a slow death. There might have been a time when it was healthy. A time when the owners of industry like Henry Ford had some compassion and shared their wealth with the workers. A time when workers took home a living wage. That time has passed. Today this scenario only exists in socialist countries (thriving, by the way) where the people, the voters, force the owners of industry to share their wealth.
Socialism is thriving while capitalism is dying. Capitalism is intubated like so many victims of the coronavirus. Propped up for a bit longer with the taxpayers’ money in the form of bailouts. Bailouts in 2009, Bailouts in 2020. In 2009 such ‘stimulus’ money, or ‘disaster relief’ was used not to assist the workers, but rather to protect the investments of the shareholders. The funds were used to buy back stock, to keep the stock values artificially high, to postpone a stock market correction. To hide the truth that capitalism is a failing system.
The patient is now at the doorsteps of the United States Federal Reserve Bank, the United States Congress, the White House, gasping, dying, as close to dead on arrival as a patient can be, and likely to obtain yet another temporary remedy, a bridge loan to cover the time between now and flatlining. The slow death will continue.
No, not even a bridge loan. Just a handout. No strings attached. No conditions. Just a shitload of money.
You don’t buy it? Really?
Have you not seen people, except for essential workers, ordered to stay home? Businesses closed? Flights grounded? Taxis hunting for fares? Empty shopping malls? The ghost town atmosphere interrupted only by people fetching food and solitary runners?
Some people are kept busy working from home, thinking that all is well as long as they can do so. But is their work really needed? For the workers, yes, surely, as a means to generate income, but is their work really contributing anything towards the health of the planet, the welfare of their communities? Would the world or anyone in it suffer if telecommuters switched off their laptops and instead just meditated? It is clear that the work that was done by people sent home who cannot telecommute is not needed. The places where they spent their days are shuttered. There is no need to save these companies. All we need to do is ensure that the people who once worked there can continue to obtain food, healthcare and shelter.
With industry in a globally induced coma, the air we breathe is cleaner. Pollution of the skies and seas has fallen. There are more birds singing. Now in April 2020 there have been few evictions, few foreclosures (yes Steve Mnuchin, we are watching you). What will happen if the situation changes?
Residents of socialist countries are less worried about the financial consequences of falling ill, even if they lose their jobs because socialist countries have universal health coverage. Yes, there may be waiting lists for some treatments, but seriously ill patients receive prompt attention.
In the Mecca of capitalism, the United States, the workers fear that unemployment will bring with it a loss of health coverage.
The coronavirus pandemic should be teaching the people of the world many lessons. There is no need for intercontinental travel. Cruise ships will ensure that one diseased passenger will infect everyone on board. The aircraft ferrying people throughout the world not only distributed the virus, but they have dirtied the air we breathe. There is no need to toil at jobs which serve no real purpose. There is no need to commute to an office when the work (if it does serve some good purpose for the world) can be done at home.
Most people already have way too much stuff.
We all can become truly essential workers. Once it is safe to venture beyond the boundaries of the home, we can all get involved with the production and distribution of healthy foods. We can support the work of health care workers (hospitals also need cleaners). Teachers and professors can continue to teach the skills of these professions. Singers can continue to sing, writers can write, actors can act, musicians can fill the air with an infinite combination of notes, painters can paint, athletes can train and compete.
All this and more can continue with a passion, and not one dollar would need to change hands.
And capitalism can finally be dead, long after its arrival.