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Travis Cunha

Mar 26, 2024

Yet Another Capitalist Crisis

Boeing, known for aircraft manufacturing and military weaponry, has faced public scrutiny and drawn attention from the FBI after numerous safety failures, including several deadly crashes.

New questions have been raised ever since March 9th, when 32-year veteran employee and quality manager John Barnett's abruptly "committed suicide" during his deposition revealing Boeing's allegedly dubious safety protocols.

Boeing, a company emblematic of monopolistic dominance, faced a crisis over safety failures, and Barnett's questionable death has only raised further suspicions of internal wrongdoing and attempts at cover-up.

The recent uptick in mechanical failures and the death of whistleblower John Barnett has led to the Boeing CEO, Dave Calhoun, to step down from his position. In his resignation letter there is of course no mention of Barnett’s death; he merely addresses the Alaskan flight fiasco as a “watershed moment.” That sounds a lot better than a potential crime being investigated by the FBI. Another CEO who will most likely never be charged with his crimes and face justice as passengers are endangered by the planes he is responsible for.

Rather than analyzing these as isolated tragic incidents, we should follow a dialectical approach in zooming out to undertake a fuller analysis that yields a clearer explanation.

Potential Tragedy Reveals Wormhole of Misconduct

On January 5th, an Alaskan Airlines flight departed from Portland, Oregon, bound for Ontario, California. A standard flight became a nightmare for passengers as just thirty minutes into the flight, a door blew off and forced the pilots to return to Portland for an emergency landing. Remarkably, all 171 passengers landed safely, though they lost phones and other belongings in the process.

In the following days, United and Alaska Airlines conducted intensive investigations of their Boeing planes and uncovered many issues on multiple planes. United Airlines said, "Since we began preliminary inspections on Saturday, we have found instances that appear to relate to installation issues in the door plug – for example, bolts that needed additional tightening. These findings will be remedied by our Tech Ops team to safely return the aircraft to service."

Boeing has a long history of manufacturing issues that they have been able to overcome to continue business as usual, but the most recent mechanical problems arose just as a former employee publicly pushed back against the aerospace titan. John Barnett, an employee at Boeing South Carolina, had been fighting Boeing ever since he filed suit in 2017. 

A redacted version of the lawsuit released by his attorneys and obtained by WCSC, a local news station in South Carolina, alleged “that throughout his seven-year tenure at Boeing South Carolina (BSC) [Barnett] made numerous ethics complaints about a deep-rooted and persistent culture of concealment at BSC in which he and other quality personnel were pressured by Boeing upper management to violate Federal Aviation Administration Standards and Regulations, as well as Boeing’s processes and procedures by not properly documenting and remedying defects."

A resident of Louisiana, he traveled to South Carolina to provide evidence for legal proceedings in his defamation lawsuit against Boeing. He alleged that Boeing deliberately destroyed his career and reputation after he had revealed serious safety violations on the company's aircraft production line.

Barnett had initially planned to drive back to Louisiana on March 8th, but Boeing lawyers requested he stay an extra day to meet with them, soon after which he was found dead. When the whistleblower failed to reappear, his lawyers called his hotel and requested a welfare check, which led to hotel staff finding him deceased in his car. Police determined his cause of death to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Boeing and, due to their significant relationship, the U.S. government expect us to believe that a man who had dedicated the past seven years to this case, decided to commit suicide the night prior to a highly important testimonial. Yet Barnett had also warned a friend before his deposition "if anything happens to me it's not suicide." We are supposed to believe he killed himself during the culmination of his quest for justice, when media scrutiny of Boeing was at its height.

Barnett's untimely demise conjures up the similarly tragic cases of San Jose investigative journalist Gary Webb, found with two gunshot wounds to the back of the head in what was absurdly ruled a “suicide,” as well as of Terrance Yeakey, the brave policeman who saved multiple people during the Oklahoma City Bombing, and whose mutilated body was later found and also deemed a suicide.

Webb was found dead after exposing that the CIA had sold cocaine to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. Yeakey was found dead after embarking on own investigation into the OKC bombing. Before their deaths, both men had complained of surveillance and witness intimidation by federal authorities in response to their search for truth and holding power accountable.

Typical Foul play under Monopoly Capitalism

The United States government is beholden to its donor class; monopolies who control and shape the economy to their liking, and will resort to any extreme measures to preserve their place at the top. Bourgeois media has been forced to offer an explanation for the negative economic and technological consequences of monopoly capitalism and imperialism, but it was Vladimir Lenin who put it more clearly and concisely.

In “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism” Lenin wrote, “In order to prevent competition in such a profitable industry, the monopolists even resort to various stratagems: they spread false rumors about the bad situation in their industry; anonymous warnings are published in the newspapers…Monopoly hews a path for itself everywhere without scruple as to the means, from paying a “modest” sum to buy off competitors, to the American device of employing dynamite against them.”

This final phrase is perhaps the most relevant in explaining the fate of Barnett. Lenin correctly noticed in 1916 that monopolies will resort to nefarious actions to maintain dominance. And Boeing, one of the largest weapons contractors in the United States, indeed appears to have a license to act with utter impunity. 

We can therefore add John Barnett to the long list of people who should be considered true American heroes, like Webb and Yeakey, who sacrificed their lives trying to bring the truth to the American public. As his own lawyers wrote, "Barnett refused to bend to the pressure and continually raised issues that needed to be properly documented and addressed.” 

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