This will sound incredible—and, indeed, it might indicate how the size of Boeing's present crisis is under-appreciated—but none other than Jason Rantz, Seattle's market-loving warrior, is so confounded by Boeing's ever-mounting problems and bad press that he has fallen into a state of despair.

But let's step back for a moment and ask a major question. What exactly is despair? And, furthermore, what makes it different from, say, hope? A precise answer can be found in Spinoza's Ethics, which George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) translated from Latin around the middle of the 19th century.

Spinoza, by way of Eliot's English:

Hope is nothing else than an intermittent pleasure arising from the image of a past or future thing, concerning the issue of which we are doubtful; fear, on the contrary, is an intermittent pain also arising from the image of a dubious [doubtful] event. If the doubt connected with these emotions be removed, hope becomes confidence and fear becomes despair...

This is the dark zone of feeling that Rantz has entered. One where all doubt has been removed from fear. This is his despair: 

And this: 

And this: 

Korean Air Lines Co. passed over embattled Boeing Co. — typically the carrier’s top aircraft supplier — to order 33 Airbus SE A350 wide-body jets in a $14 billion deal as it seeks to streamline its fleet ahead of a merger with Asiana Airlines Inc.

Yes, things look bad. But I think Rantz's despair has another and deeper cause. He lost all sense of doubt, both as hope and fear, because the only acceptable solution to this crisis is the market. This institution is supposed to do everything imaginable with great success: provide jobs, fix the environment, reward innovations, and so on, and so on. But five years after Boeing planes started falling out of the sky, he knows that market-awesomeness can't save the company. Indeed, the market might actually offer nothing but the final nail in its already-stuffed coffin. What's left for Rantz? The apocalypse: "Now is the time to wonder what the state of Washington would look like if Boeing started losing orders."

Of course, the solution Rantz cannot contemplate but that would certainly restore hope (the source of Spinoza's confidence) for many who can is that the government seizes control of the company and, over a long period of time, rebuilds the foundations it lost when its focus became not the production of safe planes but the maximization of shareholder value. And the longer the government takes to do this, the worse the situation will become.

Now, what exactly is Marxism about? Not socialism, sadly. That's a misconception. Marxists have nothing to say about a society that operates outside of the economic conditions that are historically specific to capitalism. This point was repeated again and again by one of Japan's top mid-century economists, Kozo Uno. A Marxist with something to say about economics outside of the system that privileges above all income in the form of profits is saying something else to you.

A Marxist is first a structuralist, a purist. Next, they connect the structure with empirical results. Lastly, these results are related to or identified with a historical development. That's the beginning and the end of it. 

With this understanding, what can a Marxist expect to see in the world of events and things (the airplane market) from what Uno calls "pure theory" (the structure of capitalism)? Boeing's rivalry with Airbus was probably settled five years ago, and the latter will likely dominate the market for a decade if something is done by the US government now and much more or permanently if the government sits on its hands. Why? Because if Boeing's plan had succeeded, if it managed to sell lots of crappy planes and satisfy shareholders, Airbus would have been forced to do the same.

As a consequence, what the pure theorist of capitalism cannot doubt is this: The tremendous commercial success of the pre-crash 737 Max certainly set Airbus in the same direction around the middle of the previous decade. If it didn't do so, then it would have been history. The market would have punished it. But those plans (crappy planes for the many/happy shareholders for the few) were probably dumped when it became vividly clear that Boeing was in real trouble. What this means, upon a closer consideration guided by theory, is Airbus has been working on building product-confidence for half a decade while its competitor's state of confusion increased year by year, month by month, day by day.

Update, March 22 at 10:15 am: And in fact, just this morning, NBC news confirmed my speculation. Airbus CFO Thomas Toepfer told the outlet "the situation had made Airbus 'obsessed by the thought' of ensuring it does not happen on one of its own aircraft." 

In short, the culture needed to make great planes has strengthened in Europe as it has evaporated in the US.