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Our latest anonymous contribution is a blazing hot anarchist analysis of the mainstream worldwide “anti-vax” movement and the conspiracies that animate it — as well as a survey of some REAL conspiracies brought about during the pandemic.
First let me say: I do not blindly support science as it is known in the world today. Science has been used repeatedly throughout history to rationalize genocide and oppression. I also do not blindly support state mandates regarding the coronavirus.
Having said that, there is only one excuse I can understand when it comes to vaccine hesitancy: fear of the unknown. Anything unprecedented can trigger fear, including the pandemic as a whole. I have complete sympathy with such fear; it’s understandable. However I want to confront the conspiracy theories driving the right-wing element of the global anti-vax movement, as well as the opportunistic ways right wing and/or fascist groups are using this fear.
There are many evident and real “conspiratorial” events that governments and economies have conducted across the world under the cover of this pandemic. This article will name a few. What is interesting to me though is that rather then recognizing these real conspiratorial events, events tragically predictable under broader systems already in place, many on the right prefer to fabricate absurd theories to defend the free market, dismiss the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on certain communities, and push conspiracies intended to further their heinous antisemitic/racist ideologies.
If we look at the right’s approach to the vaccine and pandemic-related mandates we can identify why their approach is catching on primarily with religious fundamentalists, police, and New Age types.
— Teacher Dude (@teacherdude) July 29, 2021
There are theories about Bill Gates and microchips, some about testicles and or nipples, and many about George Soros. Let your mind dwell on these for a moment and you’ll likely be able to come up with a few more.
All these theories are absurd and designed to play on fear of the unknown. More notably, they also avoid questioning the very institutions and systems that have introduced this pandemic into global society– the institutions and systems that have used this pandemic to consolidate power even further within class society and, although it hardly seems possible, increasing the wealth for the already disgustingly rich.
Fascists, religious fundamentalists, and new agers are coming together around these theories. These demographics, at least in the west, have generally experienced privileged lives within the existent, or at least felt personal contentment was possible amidst such an awful society. Based on that, these groups coming together to challenge a vaccine mandate is not such a surprise.
The anti-vax movement has been strong for some time around the world, but I think it is an interesting coincidence that at least in the USA it seemed to coalesce once Trump realized that the virus disproportionately affected poor people and people of color, demographics who lack easy access to health care and are more likely to live in conditions that make social distancing difficult or impossible. I might peg April 2020, when Trump asked Fauci if the virus could just “wash through” the country, to be the dawn for this wider joke of a movement.
This “movement” is really just another instance of America’s ridiculous culture wars gone global; it’s uniquely American in the sense that it is bitter and rancorous without being tangibly political. Maybe this is a continuance of historically protestant narratives designed to keep people distracted fighting one another while refusing to look up at those benefiting from all the suffering. If they can’t blame Jews, however, the right-wing anti-vax movement doesn’t seem interested in such a framework.
What’s clear is that the main thrust of the anti-vax movement originates from a worldview that seeks to defend the free market regardless of loss of life, and its strongest voices willfully refuse to understand what constitutes systematic or targeted oppression. What is also clear is that while it does make me laugh at times, it is not a fucking joke.
Regarding the anti-vax movement’s conspiracy theories, why is it that with obvious opportunism by governments and economies to use the pandemic to further consolidate power or restructure society, most anti-vaxers fabricate absurd theories rather then confront the rampant tragedies that are already happening?
Simply put, I think these people don’t want to accept that their precious state and capitalism have and continue to use the pandemic to preserve the status quo, increase the wealth of the richest, and further consolidate power amidst one of the most intense global crises in generations. To recognize such truths would require introspection and a real, material critique of society as it’s currently constituted, which are not common traits of those on the right or who are drawn to the right as a result of this unprecedented moment. To the contrary, most reactionaries desperately defend and believe in their deeply unjust society, which they think is “#1.”
The right-wing’s notion of “body liberty” applies only to themselves and is full of disgusting contradictions. Most of these right-wing bastards, with few exceptions, couldn’t give a shit if a woman died during a botched abortion after being forced to seek underground medical care. It’s also why the same police who refuse to give tickets over violations of Covid lockdown mandates don’t hesitate to chase and even murder someone for shoplifting food when they’re starving.
Don’t get me wrong, I fucking hate the government telling me what to do; this is a vital element of my perspective on the world. Yet every time I leave the grocery store with less money in my pocket, it is because I am being told by the government if I don’t comply I will be put in jail. Even if I am starving, the government is telling me that there is an unwritten contract, and that without their money I must continue to starve.
I also would like to do many things everyday I cannot because the government threatens me with prison. So to suddenly and only take issue with something like a vaccine (when most have been vaccinated as children for various other illnesses) you are really picking and choosing your battles in a fairly superficial and limited way.
In response to the New age folks concerned about the vaccine, let us speak of cancer– the disease, not the astrological sign. Cancer, just like the coronavirus, is a product of this ratchet industrial society. Cancer kills more around the world than Covid, trailing only heart disease. Chemotherapy, a form of nuclear radiation, has been one of the only treatments for terminal cancer, and emerges from the same sciences responsible for cancer in the first place. As with the mass-produced (in the USA, often prison-produced) toothbrushes we use to scrape the scraps of shitty food out of our mouths, we have to understand that this society of coercion is, in some cases, both the perpetrator of ills and the means of surviving them.
As said before, I do sympathize with those who are struggling with the fear of the unknown. I sympathize with those who potentially suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, for example, and who cite this as their reason for vaccine hesitation. I myself was very nervous when I went for the jab.
If you look at demonstrations in places like the Netherlands or Italy, however, many of those protesting mandates from a right-wing position are literally wearing Jewish stars to resemble those worn by Jews during the holocaust.
Rechts-extremist Ben van der Kooi is vandaag ook aanwezig in Amsterdam, hij draagt een Jodenster met de tekst "niet gevaccineerd" op zijn rug. pic.twitter.com/4NV8Q4LC4v
— Oma Vaxxi's Wappiehoekje #ikdoewelmee (@wappiehoekje) October 3, 2021
They directly compare the so-called “struggle of the unvaccinated” with those whom faced systematic genocide. Here I draw a line. This is a false oppression I cannot sympathize with. Ignoring the annoying first-world factor of such a grossly exaggerated claim, this approach has also been used by the right to claim a new type of oppression that does not require recognizing racism, sexism, homophobia, or any of the other social inequities that are inherent in the society they wish to defend. Those taking this approach are literally doing everything they can to demean the struggles of truly oppressed people and demographics– very much in line with those who deny the holocaust or downplay slavery and its legacy in the USA.
Having said these few things, and humbly admitting that I likely am missing many important points, I want to list a few “conspiracy theories” that are not fucking theories, real things the pandemic has brought about.
According to the internet, the term conspiracy means two things, “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful” as well as “the action of plotting or conspiring.” A conspiracy theory is defined as “a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event.”
These three referenced definitions are without a doubt up to interpretation, but I want to survey some Covid-related conspiratorial events that have happened and for some reason are of no concern to the right wing base of the anti-vax movement. I am doing this both to give awareness to the events cited, but also point out how this joke movement fabricates conspiracy theories in order to reenforce unrelated bigotries rather then have a true concern for the social impacts of the corona virus. With regards to the following, ask yourself: why does the “anti-vax” movement predominately take no issue with these real conspiracies, and only concern themselves with the unproven?
The unprecedented economic crisis that was created by the pandemic and continues to unfold has deeply impacted much of humanity. Across the world, extreme precarity among the lower classes of society has been more normalized than ever before while inflation appears unrelenting. Central banks injected at least 9 trillion dollars to keep the economy afloat, ushering in record inflation and years of austerity to come for most of humanity. At the same time in the first year of the pandemic the total wealth of world billionaires rose from 5 trillion US dollars to 13 trillion US dollars, and it continues to soar.
The number of billionaires in the world population grew by 700. This is by far the most dramatic surge of both individual billionaires and overall billionaire wealth in human history, all while one of the most dramatic and confusing economic crises unfolded in our lives. Did these banks simply inject money into the markets to reassure the super rich of their future homes in space? Or is that even in crisis, capitalism will do everything possible to preserve the status quo and those whom benefit from it most?
From Israel to South Korea to Greece to China, contact tracing, digital certificates, and various other unprecedented surveillance methods have been rationalized in order to “contain the virus.” The use of crisis in order to rationalize what typically would be shocking government interference, historically seen in instances such as the Patriot Act in the USA, is now in full effect across the world. We now must show our personal medical records in order to leave the home. Especially in places such as Greece, where investment in police, military, and surveillance technology far outweighed investment in hospital and medical expansion, one could see this as simply an attempt to further a long-term “Big Brother” apparatus under the guise of short-term emergency protocols.
These techniques will likely become normalized, opening the doors for various other forms of invasive surveillance previously rejected or legally banned in European countries specifically. This type of opportunistic use of the pandemic to increase and normalize surveillance is setting the framework for an even more coercive world.
Why Covid and not heart disease or cancer?
The coronavirus is still the number three killer in the world of humans, lagging far behind heart disease and cancer. So why is it that healthy food is not subsidized or at least more affordable? Why are some communities still subject to the waste of mining and chemical facilities injecting cancerous toxins into their air and drinking water? Why don’t governments take the same extreme actions they’ve taken in response to COVID-19 to address the two biggest killers of humanity?
It may very well be that heart disease and cancer bring about slow deaths, and disproportionately kill poor people who can’t afford healthy diets or homes distant from carcinogenic environments. Note that with the slow deaths brought on from cancer and heart disease workers still go to work, and likely experience in many cases the terminal period of these diseases far later in their lives when much of their “labor value” has already been used up. Is it possible that world governments and economies are concerned only with losing workers en masse due to the swift death accompanying severe Covid cases, rather than being concerned with the actual health and safety of humanity?
The vaccine rollout itself could be considered a conspiracy, one to kill off much of the so-called third world and the poor. “Vaccine nationalism,” which is really just rich countries and people claiming their positions in the front of the global line, is undoubtedly an act of classist passive genocide. Ironically the anti-vax people may be so wrapped up in their bubbles of first-world entitled “struggle” that they may not even be able to wrap their heads around this. Looking at vaccine scarcity in India or Haiti, or much of the continent of Africa, we have to wonder: are the ruthless bureaucratic obstacles by major world powers to prevent vaccine information sharing a conspiracy to kill off large numbers of the “undeveloped” world? Is this even a conspiracy, or simply a description of what is actually happening?
A smaller-scale example of this took place when the first vaccines were approved in Israel. Israel at one point had the highest vaccination rate in the world, while Palestinians were deliberately denied access to the vaccine. The disproportionate rates of vaccinated Israelis vs. Palestinians constitutes a deliberate medical assault on a targeted community by the Israeli state.
We see this also in Brazil under their fascist leader Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro is currently facing allegations of genocide by various indigenous rights groups, and even some official courts. Upon his ascent to power, ranchers and fascists immediately seized swaths of the Amazon and waged war on its defenders and those whose survival depended on it. Those looking to raze the Amazon at first took to direct violence and simultaneously set endless fires to clear land for development and ranching. Once Covid came about, however, Bolsonaro realized the potential of its effects on indigenous populations who were more susceptible to such illnesses and also lacked sufficient access to conventional health care.
Like his brother Trump, Bolsonaro embraced the realization that the virus disproportionately affected excluded and marginalized demographics. Preventing adequate vaccine distribution and expansion of medical support in the Amazon became and continues to be a new method of Bolsonaro’s war on indigenous communities and the Amazon itself. It’s a modern manifestation of the classic colonialist genocide tactic of spreading diseases to Native communities. So, while the anti-vax movement is crying about the vaccine, maybe it could be said the lack of access to the vaccine is itself a conspiracy.
Both Thailand and Greece used the pandemic to restrict people’s right to assembly. Various reports expose Greece’s use of the pandemic to assault social movements and quell unrest. Thailand has one of the biggest gaps between rich and poor of any country in the world, and has experienced huge student uprisings against the status quo and monarchy the last few years. The Thai government, like many around the world, found in the pandemic a pretext to restrict and punish all assembly, using the excuse of a medical emergency to do so. This was and still is a trick used by many of the world’s authoritarian regimes. The anti-vax movement tends to place focus on their gyms not being open due to government “oppression,” but it actually is quite true that many governments in political crisis were delighted to welcome the virus as an opportunity to mask their repression of dissent.
The 4th Industrial Revolution
With billions of humans staying home and not being able to work, some industrial and automated societies have still been able to put food on plates. Is it possible this showed industrialists, capitalists, and technocrats the potential for an even more automated world? Is it possible that automation is being accelerated due to the coronavirus, at the expense of people’s livelihoods, and setting a precedent for an even more dystopian and feudal future for most of humanity?
We saw a huge increase in algorithm-based delivery apps and streaming services recycling outdated sitcoms. The world has become more isolated and alienated than ever before… but somehow still a world. Did the rulers of this world discover new potentials in the threshold of misery that society can endure? Did the coronavirus set a trajectory for our humanity that lowers expected standards of living, a trajectory favorable to preserving the power of those pulling the strings? Historically, plagues were the basis for various developments in industrialization; what is different today?
So, there we have just five conspiracies. There are so many state-sanctioned conspiratorial events that have happened, and continue to happen around the world, but fascist, new age, or religious fundamentalist anti-vaxers seem to only want to complain about the Illuminati seen in memes rather then the real elite holding positions of power.
The “covert or influential” organization mentioned in the dictionary definitions of conspiracy could be the existing governments and global capitalist economy that is institutionalized, in place, and systematic– rather than one or two specific individuals or a “Jewish conspiracy.” The right will fixate on a face and ignore the heart in order to preserve the misery of the entire body’s being. The anti-vax movement we confront here is as superficial as it is racist, and simply ca not come to terms with the fact that the real conspiratorial acts taking place due to the pandemic are a direct result of the existing societies they cherish. They will scream about the virus originating in China because it enables their racism, yet they don’t mind unsustainable human exploitation over the earth or industrial animal agriculture, the true origins of all this mess.
Anarchists have responded to the pandemic by supporting rent strikes, creating mutual aid projects in order to help those affected by job losses and crumbling economies, or started mental health projects in order to support people during these troubling, isolating, and scary times. We have also questioned mandates that do not make sense such as those in Greece, Israel and Hungary.
While showing important respect and consideration for the health and safety of society’s most vulnerable, anarchists are forced to constantly find a balanced analysis of state behavior and safety during the pandemic.
While we attempt this, the right is punching and threatening flight attendants, teachers, and doctors. The liberal establishment is shaming anyone frustrated with mandates without considering the elements of how such things affect people differently in terms of class or other privileges. Anarchists reject the shameful submission to state mandates by the liberal and left establishments on one side of this culture war, but also militantly reject the racist death cult on the other. Finding and reifying this balance as a movement is essential as life under pandemic becomes a persistent and ongoing new reality.
We saw this pandemic help expose class divisions and the absurdity of how our labor value is determined. The pandemic helped fuel uprisings around the world, from the USA to Thailand, where finally people understood the absurdities we are forced to accept in this stratified society. As anarchists, our response has to be to support each other, both mentally and physically. Governments around the world continue to cynically use the pandemic as cover for their agendas of control, simultaneously gaslighting their populations over government failures. We must be there to recognize this and prevent the right, new-age hippie scum, and religious fundamentalists from playing on the fears of society and distracting the discontent from the root causes of both this pandemic and its consequences.
Let us reject the entire theatre of politics, both the liberal establishment’s garbage defence of all mandates and the right wing’s cowardly opportunism.