MARXISM AND SCIENTIFIC METHOD: IDEOLOGICAL AND POLITICAL FIGHT IN THE NEW PANDEMIC PHASE
Bringing class interests and the defense of collective health back to the centre to get out of the emergency and open up new perspectives.
A year and a half of pandemic has laid bare the crisis of the capitalist system.
The evident failure of the containment measures – always partial and late – implemented by the European, North American capitalist countries and, in general, by the vast majority of OECD countries that follow neoliberal doctrines (together with the growing consequences of a prolonged tactic of half-measures on the most affected economic and social activities), have caused disastrous effects on public health, in a fluctuating climate of distrust and uncertainty.
In the context of the slow cultural massacre of the system of public education and in the ideological disorientation of many, the most imaginative theories have made their way.
In this environment, – while infections, hospitalizations and deaths were increasing- an uncontrolled infodemic of “news” has spread, often exalted, decontextualized as well as manipulated (and difficult to verify by most people).The pseudo-information has multiplied through a swarm of click-catcher blogs and a confusing mainstream information often calibrated to the immediate economic needs of some dominant groups.
In this context, the activities of new sects and other reactionary groups have had an easy game, often oriented by campaigns cleverly constructed and transversally conveyed in different cultural, social, economic and political spheres. The most varied and imaginative conspiracy theories about the real existence or genesis of the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic or in relation to the nature and alleged danger of vaccines have become more and more popular.
INSOLVENT MANAGEMENT IN CAPITALIST COUNTRIES
For a year and a half we have been denouncing and condemning the management of the pandemic, in the Western capitalist world in general and in Italy in particular, which has been often contradictory and studded with sensational errors, starting with the missing red zone of Alzano and Nembro (Bergamo) and the unforgivable delay in the tracking strategy in 2020,up to the complications of the first phase of mass vaccination with the defaulting pharmaceutical companies, without any serious response from Europe, and the sclerotic and confusing management of the Astrazeneca affair.
This bad and contradictory management, however, is not evidence of conspiracies, as some believe, but the result of the inability of bourgeois institutions to guarantee the “common good”.
The governments of the capitalist countries, squeezed by the industrial lobbies that have imposed not to stop production after the first partial lockdown under Conte’s government, and which have criminally delayed any containment initiative, precisely in the phases of exponential growth of infections (think of the second wave of last October), have chosen the path of the so-called “coexistence with the virus”, giving priority to the defence of their own interests rather than public health.
It is the inability to support the general interests that Marx himself had understood since his early writings and that, unfortunately, is not clear to many militants and entire organizations.
In all evidence, the latter, despite calling themselves communist, are not able to gain sufficient and necessary autonomy and ideological and political independence from the influence of the ruling classes yet, making their own revolutionary proclamations decidedly sterile and unrealistic.
Political institutions, increasingly discredited because of their inability to manage,(the inability of a political class of ruffians and navigators on sight rather than a ruling class), are not able to provide effective communication, fuelling scepticism and lack of trust that pervade a segment of the population that is certainly wider than that of the “ideological anti-vaccination”.
The pandemic increasingly affects the latter, among which, at present, we find not only a lot of intensive care patients, but also layers of the unprotected population, especially due to disinformation and the inability of bourgeois governments as well as for the wide spreading of a reactionary propaganda that has made inroads or disseminated doubts even in environments traditionally distant from the most extreme right.
THE REACTIONARY DESIGN OF THE NEOCONS AND THE DISPLACEMENT OF THE CLASS LEFT
In different countries, from Latin America to Eastern Europe, up to Italy, with the news of recent days, we are witnessing the spread of anti-scientific and irrational ideologies and positions, at the base of mobilizations of clearly reactionary matrices.
Unfortunately, these tendencies are widespread not only among organizations of a conservative nature, if not openly neo-fascist, and in the sectors of the low-middle bourgeoisie (in many cases among the small businesses) particularly affected by prolonged half-measures, but also in the areas of “critical thinking” and a certain social activism. However, among the large masses of the population – despite the ineptitude of the ruling classes – a clear adherence to the vaccination campaign,which currently touches about 73% of the population (with the impressive number of almost 44 million people who so far have joined the vaccination campaign in Italy) has prevailed in Italy.The orientation and tendencies in various ways anti-scientific – albeit minority and apparently residual – are crossing, in a transversal form, every political formation and every organized social sphere, affecting most of the political and trade union organizations of the class left, both in the militant base and in the leading groups.
This situation explains the ambiguity in political positions and indications, showing a perverse mechanism of consensus-seeking, or a misinterpretation of the mass line, rather than the construction of a political direction based on clarity and a scientific vision of reality: in this sense the lack of understanding of concrete reality is indicative of a strong ideological weakness and subordination. It is no coincidence that behind a certain propaganda there are ambiguous subjects linked to the local circuits of the North American sect “QAnon” and the extreme right. It is a dynamic that operates not only in Italy and the European Union, but also in Russia,In Bolsonaro’s Brazil, Argentina and other countries: a campaign that we have watched closely and seen grow from the beginning, and which began in the US in the shadow of the previous Trump administration. Those who share squares and slogans with these subjects must become aware that they are taking responsibility for favouring their openly reactionary design.
A muddy approach is spreading, which mixes fragments of (apparently) critical thought with anti-scientific and irrational attitudes, in a mix that indistinctly feeds distrust in the constituted power regardless of its character (bourgeois conservative, reformist, or socialist), distrust and skepticism towards any official data or scientifically based information, even reaching the open aversion towards doctors and health workers themselves.This phenomenon is producing a growth of anti-progressive thought that, instead of directing the wider masses towards the prospect of an alternative system in an anti-capitalist and communist key, sinks into rebellion without prospects or into the familist and communitarian retreat, in subjectivist and antisocial individualism, or in the polarization exasperated by social networks.
The forces that openly declare themselves neo-fascist are trying to ride and orient these anxieties, so far with rather poor results, but with increasing visibility and with the aim of fuelling confusion and diversion from the class struggle, a dynamic favoured by the media spotlight, diverting attention to a polarization that is actually sterile and useful to the classes that are still dominant today but less and less leaders
THE NEED TO CLARIFY VACCINES
It is time to clarify some aspects, central to those who have not abandoned a dialectical and historical-materialistic vision of the world, a scientific vision of reality (as well as the necessity and possibility of its transformation), and who have no intention of replacing it with an empty unrealistic rebellion.
In the early stages of last year, 2020, immediately before the first lockdown, it would have already been necessary to claim the implementation of net containment measures, massive and free tests and anticipated measures in order to prevent the epidemic’s second wave in October, following the Chinese experience “covid zero” (instead of that “coexistence with the virus” of OECD countries, with few exceptions).These initiatives would have avoided the health disaster and an interminable period of half measures, instead of legitimizing – as some did– mobilizations opposing to an already late and insufficient containment measure. In the same way, those who today pursue anti-vaccine or variously reductionist mobilizations only add confusion instead of clarifying, diversion rather than direction compared to spontaneous movements.
Stop with the ambiguities, trivializations and clichés: on vaccines we need to clarify!
With regard to the vaccination campaign, and the pandemic in general, it is necessary to carefully observe the data, the numbers, and the results of initiatives to contain and spread vaccination in different countries. An evident fact is the protection from the most serious forms of infection of the vaccinated population, consolidated in recent months and in relation to the use of all vaccines in circulation, whether they are of Western capitalist production or not. Excellent data in Uruguay, for example, with a very high coverage of the population achieved in a short time with mass vaccination, largely immunized with the Chinese sinovac vaccine (vertical collapse of positive cases, serious cases and deaths).
If the data on protection at a clinical level in each country is to be observed over time, the appearance and relapse of vaccination on the epidemiological level requires careful evaluation where vaccination has reached high percentages of the population.
It is a matter of considering a lot of variables, knowing that vaccines are not miraculous magic wands, but powerful tools to be combined with a punctual health surveillance, with massive tests available to everyone and tracking, with the development of a public health system and with the development of specific treatments for this type of pathologies
Those who delude themselves to solve the problem with only early care show that they do not understand what an epidemic of this type is and its consequences without measures to contain and mitigate the effects, so disastrous to overwhelm any health system, even the most evolved.
We must never get tired of repeating and emphasizing what follows:
- Here and now the vaccine is indispensable and essential, but should not replace other measures. Other general prophylaxis measures are not an alternative to mass vaccination, but are complementary to it. The “informed consent” is not a release and still allows the request for compensation for the very rare cases of consequences from adverse reactions, as confirmed by the judgment of the Constitutional Court, which equates mandatory vaccines to those recommended by state and regional institutions.
- public health and its strengthening, in the future, should not be considered an “expense” to be cut, but public investment, also indispensable, for the improvement of the living conditions of the population.
Regarding the adoption of this or that vaccine by the different regulatory bodies (EMA, FDA, etc.), each country makes its own choices, but it is necessary to denounce the different ways of validating the different vaccines by regulatory bodies, although considered valid by the WHO (like the Chinese vaccines).
The lack of recognition by Italy and the EU (but not by other member countries) of vaccines not of Western production has no health reasons but only geopolitical.
The non-recognition of these vaccines, used in dozens of countries, has negative consequences in economic, social and cultural relations between people, as well as negative consequences for Italian communities abroad (for example in Latin America where the use of vaccines of Chinese or Russian production is prevalent) and for foreign workers residing in Italy. The same applies to the recognition of Cuban vaccines around which there is great attention from the world scientific community and from a lot of governments. At the moment there is great interest in the Cuban vaccine Soberana, the Chinese Sinovac and Sinopharm which were developed for vaccination in pediatric age too.
Given therefore that the vaccine does not make miracles, we are not sure that this elementary truth, which with a minimum of historical knowledge of the subject should be evident, is clear to the governments of the bourgeoisie.
Especially in the capitalist countries of the OECD area, in fact, governments have produced an exaggeratedly optimistic communication on the imminent exit from the pandemic, once the vaccination campaign has been completed, which perhaps falls within the dream book of the bourgeoisie and its business committees to allow an immediate return to the pre-COVID-19 economic situation.
CONTRADICTIONS WITHIN THE GOVERNMENT OF CAPITAL
Every day Capitalism has to deal with the contradictions that it has created and even in this case it cannot get out of them.
The bourgeois governments, squeezed on the one hand by the defence of private interests such as those of the pharmaceutical companies, on the other hand by the impossibility of getting out of the pandemic with this overall picture, are beginning to realize the need to allow vaccination even for the inhabitants of the poorest countries, not for ethical reasons, of course, but in the interest of the imperialist countries themselves.
Months ago even Biden hinted at the need for a temporary suspension of patents, showing us once again how reality is dialectical and capitalism is forced to venture into unknown lands to seek solutions to insurmountable problems.
So far capitalism has only contributed to exacerbating and making more evident the difference between the poor and the rich, between the oppressed and the oppressors, even on this vital aspect, and we cannot forget the criminal blockade and sanctions against the Cuban people, against Syria, Iran and too many other countries that in the middle of the pandemic cannot even buy medicines.
The data of early September 2021 tells us that more than 40% of the world population has received at least one dose of vaccine, with over 5.5 billion doses administered. The atrocity of inequality strikes countries oppressed by imperialism: less than 2% of these countries have received one dose of vaccine, against 65% of the EU countries and 54% of North America. Despite declarations of ethical principles, in reality imperialistic countries are greedy to grab vaccines on the “market”.
AN INTEGRATED STRATEGY AGAINST COVID-19
Measures such as the suspension of patent licenses would therefore be fundamental for a quicker exit from the pandemic, as do research and the strengthening of public health, which would allow states not to depend on big pharmacies and which looms as a strategic aspect necessary for the same economic-productive infrastructure.
From this point of view, Cuba, which is a small but socialist country – a not insignificant qualitative difference – under embargo and continuously boycotted by the US imperialist bloc, shows us how such a solution is not only possible but far more effective, due to the ability it had to patent, produce and distribute-at least on its territory- fully public vaccines, and to promote collaboration for the production of vaccines in other countries. This also demonstrates the strategic superiority of countries with persistent elements of socialism in dealing with pandemic threats. All this confirms and reinforces in us the granitic certainty that humanity has a future only in the socialist organization of society.
Vaccines therefore represent, from a health point of view, the cornerstone of an integrated strategy that combines territorial medicine (which, unlike the anti-vaccine ideology, does not oppose mass vaccination to it), tracking, prevention and public research.
On the tracking front, it becomes essential to have free swabs, antibody tests and all analysis aimed at fighting COVID-19.
THE “GREEN PASS” AND THE LEGAL OBLIGATION
In a situation of collective hysteria, a contingent and temporary measure like the “Green Pass” becomes the imaginary Gothic line that divides two opposing sides. The polarization that follows configures in substance another weapon of mass distraction. Therefore, we are faced with a policy that does not decide, but shifts its responsibilities to the population, opening a rift between the workers.
Although vaccination is gaining a very wide support, there are sectors with a significant number of workers still sceptical, who risk paying the highest price in terms of both health and measures resulting from the lack of vaccination.
The practical consequences of this (not) choice are ambivalent: if on the one hand this tool encourages mass vaccination, on the other it creates the very dangerous illusion of “Covid-free” islands, which unfortunately in reality still cannot exist.
The most advanced solution would be to convince the still disoriented part of the population to get vaccinated through serious and effective communication: at the moment we find that this perspective is very far away and that the choice of the government is oriented to an extension of a de facto but not legal obligation.
GENERAL STRIKE OF 11 OCTOBER 2021
We consider this appointment fundamental, which must keep as a central aspect the fight against sacking and not that against the “Green Pass”, which confindustria is certainly trying to use to its advantage, exactly as the bourgeoisie and its governments have always done for every event in human history and for every consequential measure. However, we reiterate that the central theme of the clash between capital and labour at this stage is that of redundancies, which after the very heavy foretaste of these months (as shown by the cases of Whirlpool and GKN), will show all its drama once the layoff period is over.
In addition to the fight against the unblocking of redundancies, a massive commitment of trade unions is essential to guarantee safety conditions in the workplace, with strict compliance with anti-Covid-19 protocols, and in public transport, which are essential for reaching workplaces and places of study and which must necessarily be strengthened as well as investment in safety and working conditions in the public sector (in particular health, school and university) and in research.
We cannot forget the 621 workers infected in the workplace, who died due to Covid in the first months of 2021, or died from accidents at work, as requested by the social security institutions.
We consider that the Covid-19 pandemic has definitively laid bare the crisis of capitalism and the inability of the bourgeoisie to govern the world, evidence that emerges with even greater force in the presence of adverse events such as the pandemic (which some prefer to define as ‘sindemiC’, emphasizing the overlapping of natural aspects with others of a systemic type).
- We denounce the toxic effects of information interested only in clicks and not in public health.
- We condemn the disastrous management of the pandemic by a political class that is not at all authoritative and incapable of directing clear and effective communication.
- We express all our concern for the reactionary design of the majority component of the anti-vaccinationists by ideological principle and our disappointment and disagreement with the progressive and communist components that adhere and join their campaigns, sharing squares and slogans with declared neocons and neo-fascists.
- We loudly demand the need for rapid mass vaccination in countries oppressed by imperialism, the recognition of all vaccines freeing them from geopolitical games, the suspension of patent licenses, the free swabs and all the useful tests to combat Covid-19, as well as the massive funding for public research by evaluating the possibilities of producing public vaccines following the example of Cuba
- We believe that the “Green Pass” is a half-measure that offloads the responsibilities on citizens, encourages vaccination but creates the very dangerous illusion of “Covid-free” places. Everything under the sky has its hour and the time has come to overcome the all too often hypocritical “half measures”.
- We call on workers to the general strike of 11 October 2021, against the unblocking of dismissals, for adequate measures to combat Covid-19 in the workplace, in schools and on public transport.
- We appeal to the comrades, present today like us in different spheres or organized groups, to openly support a battle of clarity that is necessary in order to get out of the emergency and the fogs of controlled polarization, rebuild a political and ideological autonomy and open new perspectives of revolutionary transformation.
National Committee “Clarity on Vaccines”
Marxism and the scientific method in the new pandemic phase
September 8, 2021
First individual adhesions