The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Biden’s Mandates, Republican Opposition—Both Serve the Capitalist System

Oct 3, 2021

Nine Republican governors issued executive orders penalizing cities or school districts that implement vaccine or mask mandates.

They pretend to oppose mandates in defense of “individual freedom”—millionaire politicians who hog freedom only for their own class. Autocrats who stomp on the civil rights of millions of people—they call it a “civil rights issue”. They claim they are protecting the rights of everyone “to choose for themselves what is done to their own bodies”. Yet they push laws making it increasingly difficult for women to control their own bodies.

Hypocrites, every one of them. Every one of these nine governors is vaccinated. Most rushed to get the vaccine as soon as it came out, even cutting in line to get it first.

Playing politics with the mandates, they reinforced the spread of false ideas about vaccines. Looking for an issue for the next election, they were ready to damn those who would listen to them to death by Covid. And deaths aplenty there have been: almost 700,000 in the U.S., almost five million in the world.

Vaccines and masks are a very inadequate protection. But in the midst of this medical disaster the capitalist system let loose on us, they are the only ones this system has left us with. They seem to protect most individuals AND eventually may stop the spread of the disease.

Years ago, the possibility of this kind of viral epidemic was already widely known by medical science. But the medical system continued on as before, organized around the most efficient way to make profit for pharmaceutical companies and other suppliers. More hospital systems and nursing homes became for-profit enterprises. Public health funding was slashed, and slashed again.

When the virus struck, the population—and people working in the medical system—was left without protection. Medical supplies and protective equipment hadn’t been stocked. Production facilities for those supplies weren’t prepared. Drug companies got billions to develop vaccines, but little money was put into clinics that could reach the whole population. People with medical and public health experience were not trained and hired. Most decent public hospitals and clinics were gone.

All of this was the result of a capitalist system whose priority is profit and not human need. It’s the same reason workplaces are not made safe—even though technology exists to do it. It’s the same reason weather has been allowed to become more extreme—even though science knows what causes climate change, and what remedies are needed. All the basic ills we face within this capitalist system come down to the same issue.

The capitalist drive for profit did not create the virus, but it guaranteed Covid’s spread.

The mandates pushed by Biden and Democratic governors are directed against working people, whether in rural areas or in big cities. The penalties attached to the mandates threaten our livelihood, that is, our lives.

The mandates ignore the responsibility of the capitalist class and so does Republican opposition to them. They hide what the politicians of both parties have done to the public health system for decades, making it almost useless for organizing a response against the virus.

Under the pretext that vaccination is “good for you”, the mandates accustom the population to obeying orders coming from a government that is not theirs and does not serve them. And Republican opposition gives us no way to intervene ourselves in our own class interest.

The capitalist system long ago outlived its usefulness. Whatever was progressive in it has turned into chains that imprison us. But capitalism left us with one important force. In the words of Marx, capitalism created its own gravedigger, the working class, the class that has the capacity to get rid of capitalism and build a socialist society.