unHerdof Immunity

In their first and last analysis, the fundamentalists of the free market reduce all the conditions of democracy, liberty, progress, to a single condition: choice [except when it involves women exercising that “choice”]. Nothing is closer to their little mercantile hearts than that, because “choice” is supposed to be both the source and realization of exchange value.

“Individual choice” is supposed to replace need and banish history, both of which are collective products. So the mystery of the capitalists’ homage to choice, except when women want to exercise that over their reproductive processes, dissolves: the exercise of that “choice” is intrinsically the recognition of collective need. Sisterhood may be more or less powerful at any given time, but it is always sisterhood.

“Choice” is the mythology of “free individuals”– “entrepreneurs”– swapping, bartering, trading their ways to success, wealth, and fame as acts of will, when in reality “choice” is the veil draped over the force and compulsion deployed in the labor process, converting it into capital accumulation. In its everyday, chronic, version, choice is an ideology; in its acute, critical, version, it is the practice of violence. In both chronic and acute versions, choice is its own tipping point; the determination and negation of bourgeois “reason.” It is the transition from the “rational” to the irrational.

So infused into capitalist society is this notion of individual choice, is the belief in its indispensability to the creation and preservation of private property, that the most basic principles of social responsibility are deemed an existential threat. Wearing a mask during a pandemic symbolizes an attack on the liberty of others to spread disease. Restricting religious functions known to spread infection is a satanic conspiracy.

Rationality is irrationality. Freedom, the freedom of property, depends on it.

Sure enough the dominant ideas of a period are the product of the material conditions, which tells us that once the transition from rational to irrational has been initiated, there is, and can be no return to normalcy, because those material conditions cannot “repair” themselves. Panic, fear, terror, conspiracy become the currency in the market-places of ideas.

And that’s where we, in the United States, are right now, in that conversion of the rational to the irrational because the material conditions of accumulation are…..impaired; de-composing; dis-integrating.

What’s left? Religion, superstition, conspiracy, terrorism. The sacrifice of workers at the work place to a disease, while the shopkeepers, the petty capitalists, and their manipulators deny the disease itself. That’s the place we are.

So infused is capitalist society with this notion of “choice” that the panic, superstition, ignorance, denial, and paranoia of the petty capitalists is mirrored by the petty “socialists.” The infection exists, we’re told, but the serious threat is confined to the elderly. For the remaining “95 percent of us,” it’s less serious than the flu. Odd isn’t it, that 100% identify with the 95 percent of us, and no one ever wonders exactly who belongs to the other 5 percent?

Well, the optimism is worse than unwarranted. It’s criminally deceptive . In New York City, during the peak infection period the fatality rate for those between the ages of 45 and 65 was about 216 per 100,000, or 21 times the fatality rate for influenza in 2018.

But to these expert amateurs, there is no second wave: “What’s really happened [in the UK, Europe, and the US I guess] is a damn sight more testing.” For others it’s “false positive” test rates that exceed false positive rates for any testing ever.

Yes, testing has increased, but so has the rate of positivity, which cannot be a result of increased testing. The seven day rolling average of daily hospitalizations in the US, Europe, and the UK has tracked upward, as has the rolling average of daily deaths. This is not a made-up pandemic, and this is not a made-up second or third wave.

The real sacrifice of the lives of workers, in agriculture, meat-packing, food processing, transportation– forced to labor without minimal protections–says all that needs to be said about the benign nature of the infections.

In the US, the immediate history to the pandemic is the history of reducing hospital beds, nursing staff, and the number of hospitals in the attempt to increase the profitability– getting us to the point of insufficient staff and insufficient resources to meet the public need.

Of course petty capitalists and petty socialists share the common ground of conspiracy theories. The common claim is that the actions taken by the capitalist states are designed to hone the weapons of social control. The closing of bars and nightclubs, the curfews, all that and more are actions of a “new Taliban.” This conspiracy of professional epidemiologists, professional virologists, public health professionals, allied with governments of, by, for “elites” [obscuring the class basis once again] must be resisted. The actions taken by the bourgeois state are not designed to interrupt the transmission of this somewhat benign infection, but are designed to isolate, and control, the “people;” to prevent action against this conspiracy of professionals.

Look, if a serial killer is on the loose, “we” — Marxists, radicals, anarchists, neo-quasi-semi-situationist/syndicalist/socialists, don’t have to support anything the capitalist state and its police do to apprehend the killer. We can claim the killer is the product of a sick system. We can expect that the state and its police forces will use the opportunity to thump for more weapons, more money, more police. We can know that strengthening the police will necessarily be turned against “the left.”

We can know all that. And none of that justifies NOT taking the steps necessary to protect each other from the actions of the serial killer, or worse, pretending the killer doesn’t exist.

Which gets us to “herd immunity,” that scam of scams, the epidemiological equivalent of the market fundamentalists’ invisible hand. It doesn’t exist. There is no herd immunity without widespread vaccination of the population. Smallpox, polio, measles, rubella never generated herd immunity in a population prior to the deployment of vaccines.

To advocate the generation of a herd immunity by allowing massive exposure to deadly infection is like, is more than like, is the same thing as keeping concert-goers confined in a stadium with an active shooter, waiting until the shooter runs out of bullets

S.Artesian

October 28, 2020

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