The Spark

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

Mandates, Vaccines, Masks
—We Need a Remedy for the Capitalist System

Sep 27, 2021

Nine Republican governors issued executive orders penalizing cities or school districts that try to implement vaccine or mask mandates in their localities.

They pretend to oppose these mandates in defense of "individual freedom"—these millionaire politicians who hog freedom only for their own class. They call it a "civil rights" issue—if you can believe that coming from politicians who have stomped on the civil rights of millions of people for years. They claim they are protecting the rights of everyone "to choose for themselves what is done to their own bodies"—these misogynist men who act to make it impossible for women to control their own bodies.

These nine governors know full well that vaccination and masks are the only real option we have today. This capitalist system, which has always refused to devote the resources needed by public health and the medical research tied to it, has let loose a deadly pandemic on the world’s population.

That’s why every one of them is vaccinated. Most rushed to get the vaccine, and to get it for members of their families, as soon as it was available. In fact, when the vaccines first came out, many of them cut to the front of the line, getting shots before nursing home residents did, before front-line medical personnel did, and before their states’ elderly population gained the vaccines’ protection. They were not the only ones, either. New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, pushed himself ahead of vulnerable New Yorkers, even while masquerading—on TV—as a protector of the elderly population.

We shouldn’t find ourselves caught in a situation where vaccination is our only real option for combating the spread of the virus. Years ago, the possibility, even likelihood, of this kind of epidemic was already widely known by medical science. But plans weren’t made, medical supplies and protective equipment weren’t stocked. Nor were more efficient masks developed, or inexpensive production facilities prepared. Medical personnel were not hired. As for vaccines, research was not widely paid for—not only for the vaccines themselves, but for setting up the facilities that would allow the whole population to be reached. Not nearly enough people with medical and public health experience were trained and hired.

None of this was done, for the same reason that workplaces are not made safe—even though technology exists to do it. None of it was done, for the same reason that weather has been and still is being allowed to become more extreme—even though science has long known what causes this, and what remedies could exist. All the basic ills we face today within this capitalist system come down to the same issue: profit takes priority over human need.

Yes, the virus is infectious and even tricky as it mutates, but it is the capitalist system which is deadly. At least one out of every eight people in this country has been infected, almost 700,000 people killed. On the scale of the world, the World Health Organization estimates the number dead at almost five million—a very incomplete picture of the medical disaster in countries ravaged by imperialism. The “coronavirus scoreboard” testifies to the failure of the capitalist class which leads this country—economically, politically and socially—and dominates the world.

The mandates pushed by Biden and Democratic governors put the obligation to respond to the virus onto the population itself, instead of on the capitalist class, whose drive for profit guaranteed the spread of this deadly virus. To the extent that anyone believes the false assumptions that underlie the mandates, they serve to hide the reality of which class is responsible. They hide what the politicians of both parties have done to the public health system for decades, making it almost totally useless in organizing a response against the virus. And, under the pretext that vaccination is “good for you,” these mandates serve to accustom the population to obeying orders coming from a government that is not theirs and does not serve them.

These mandates are directed essentially against working people, whether in rural areas or in big cities—the very people most deprived of access to decent medical care. The penalties attached to these mandates threaten the livelihood of working people—that is, their lives.

Yes, many working people distrust the mandates. Yes, they are suspicious and angry. The nine Republican governors, like many other right wing politicians, try to play on people’s frustration, frustration that existed long before the pandemic, but enormously increased with the virus and the lockdown, which was a throwback to the Middle Ages.

Getting themselves vaccinated, these nine hypocrites play on the edges of the issue in a way that encourages many people not to get vaccinated. Hoping to build up a voting base for themselves in the next election, they are ready to damn those who would follow them to a death by Covid, something that apparently is more likely for the unvaccinated than for the vaccinated.

This whole issue, with all these politicians carrying out policies and making propaganda that serves no one but the capitalist class, gives a vivid picture of the capitalist system. Stop focusing on the vaccines—consider what would be involved, what the working class would have to do to throw out the whole capitalist system.