“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx
Aug 2, 2021
Biden—with Republican governors beginning to line up behind him, with the CDC riding shotgun alongside him—reproached unvaccinated people for causing the virus to spread: “...the unvaccinated are putting others at risk and endangering a fragile economic recovery.”
The media rushed to weigh in. The New York Times observed that the majority are “frustrated with the consequences of a minority that fails to get vaccinated.” The lead article in the Los Angeles Times more crassly joined the chorus: “Bring on the crackdown: The unvaccinated must be held accountable.” The Washington Post says those “selfish” unvaccinated are “hindering the rest of us from going back to live normal lives.” Even Fox News—which until very recently had characterized Covid to be little more than a cold—repeated Biden’s statement: “If, in fact, you are unvaccinated, you present a problem to yourself, to your family and to those with whom you work.”
It’s a holy crusade, an agreement among all those mouthpieces for the capitalist class to stir up the vaccinated part of the population against the unvaccinated.
To blame the unvaccinated shifts the focus of the problem away from where it rightly belongs, which is on an economic system that from the beginning made no effort to organize a collective response to a growing epidemic.
These new vaccines could be a step forward, something that might offer some protection to the population—if they weren’t produced by and under the control of pharmaceutical companies, which exist primarily to make profit. Today, the pharmaceutical companies control the vaccine patents, preventing their information from being openly shared. This is why there is no widespread production of them, no way to use them—other than by paying an exorbitant price to the companies. But opening up these patents so the rest of the world could be quickly vaccinated is the simple, obvious step that would be taken by anyone committed to stopping the spread of the virus, which cannot be controlled except on the scale of the world.
The incapacity of this system extends far beyond the vaccine. The CDC often seems to be running around like a chicken with its head chopped off, spouting contradictory messages, building people’s mistrust. No surprise. The CDC has been starved, deprived of the funds and facilities a real public health system would need, many of its functions assumed by private, for-profit pharmaceutical companies; by private, for-profit pharmacies; and by hospital systems run by private equity’s “day traders.”
Do people mistrust the CDC that pushes the vaccine? Yes, and mistrust runs deep—from black working people in Detroit and Chicago to immigrant workers in Texas and Los Angeles and the California fields, to white laboring people in rural areas in large parts of the country. But behind the vaccine, behind the CDC is a system, the capitalist system, which not only brought an uncontrolled pandemic, but brings new disasters each year: uncontrolled fires, uncontrolled floods, broken bridges and tunnels, widespread utility shut downs—and an economy that limps from one financial collapse to the next.
Today, the political class that stands fully behind capitalism is pouring blame on the unvaccinated, threatening to cost them their jobs or paychecks, making their work lives intolerable. The threat to make them pay is a weapon that will be used against the whole working class—and all the more easily if other workers fall in line in this latter day Salem witch-trial.
If there is anything working people should know by now, it is that we cannot organize to defend even our simplest gains if we line up with our enemies against our fellow workers.
Yes, someone needs to be “held accountable” for the disastrous spread of Covid. That someone is the capitalist class. Its continual drive to put profits ahead of the needs of the population is what creates disaster after disaster.
The working class has the numbers needed to weigh on the situation, when it brings those numbers together. Its position in the center of the economy, the fact that even today it makes everything run, means that it could put the collective interests of the whole population ahead of capitalist profits.
Key is the collective organization of our forces, and the common realization that we are one class, that we have the same enemy, and that this enemy is the capitalist class.