“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx
Nov 22, 2021
The following article is the editorial from The SPARK’s workplace newsletters, for the week of November 15, 2021.
As the world settles into a possible fifth upsurge of Covid, there is no let-up in the fight over vaccination. Republicans pose as defenders of “liberty” and “civil rights.” Democrats step forward as champions of “science.”
Both lie. And their squabbling hides the enormous culpability of the capitalist system—and their own—in the spread of Covid. Both parties continue to feed into capital’s drive for profit which has stripped bare the public health system. Draining money from public health, they left society with no way to organize a real response to the virus, just as they left roads and other public services to rot, just as they left education for working class kids to decay. Both parties reinforce the pharmaceutical industry’s grip over health care.
Vaccination was an enormous advance in its time, giving human society the possibility of escaping from the spread of contagious diseases, some of which wiped out whole societies.
Some of the vaccines against Covid also seem to be a big advance, based on new discoveries about the structure of viruses. Of course, no one can know for sure what lies ahead.
Some people said they were worried because this vaccine was developed so rapidly. In fact, they weren’t exactly wrong. Others said they felt like a guinea pig. They also weren’t exactly wrong.
But we face this reality: a contagious virus is spreading. To do nothing in the face of danger is a mistake. So we have to choose. The vaccine seems the least bad choice. It may even be very good.
How good is it? Time will tell. But we have to act right now. We do have to choose. And most scientists with experience in contagious diseases chose to take this vaccine. This is why the militants who work with SPARK chose to be vaccinated. It is how they explain their choice to other people.
Having said this, it’s important to say that the vaccine is not the end-all-be-all. To put all our hope in vaccinating just this country ignores the reality of how Covid spreads. The Delta variant should have made it very clear: until Covid is controlled in the whole world, it won’t be controlled anywhere.
The virus is able to spread because so much of the world is impoverished, and poverty is an invitation to the virus to come right in. But poverty itself developed out of the way that capitalism divided up the world. In the middle of this epidemic, too many people have no access to the vaccines, to medicine and to medical care. It’s true in the world, and it’s true in this country.
The pharmaceutical industry shows what the hold of capitalism means. The vaccines and new medicines, which ought to be used to benefit humanity, instead are being used to benefit the profit line of big companies, and of the banks and investment companies that lie behind them.
The vaccines themselves were developed in facilities that were publicly funded. Yet Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson were given control of them for their own benefit.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans propose to take control of those vaccines and medicines away from the three companies.
Neither party proposes to cut ALL funding to big corporations and the wealthy class that owns them. Neither proposes to give that money instead to public health, public education, roads, water systems, forests, bridges, tunnels, etc.
This latest squabble between the two parties shows they offer nothing to working people. Why should any of us line up behind either of them? That’s a fool’s game.
Working people have to organize to take on the problems we face, starting with the lack of decent jobs and adequate pay. We need safe workplaces, safe schools for our kids. We need training for young people so they can qualify for “modern” jobs. We’ll touch none of this until we prepare to fight—that is, until we start to organize.