The Covid-19 pandemic: “Their inconsistencies and ours”
Since its onset at the end of 2019, the Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to seemingly disorderly, even chaotic, management on the part of all governments, whatever their options, which have moreover often changed. This is generally attributed, as the case may be, to their inexperience, their amateurism, their lack of foresight, their carelessness or even their cynicism, all factors which have indeed combined to varying degrees most of the time. However, the very generality of this situation leads one to suspect the presence of more structural factors: some solid contradictions whose roots plunge into the heart of capitalist relations of production.1
The art of making waves
From the start, in their management of the epidemic, governments were caught between the imperatives of continuing economic activity and those of protecting the population. On the one hand, they had to ensure as much as possible the first, guarantor of the production and distribution of the basic goods and services necessary for social life and for life itself, without which, above all, capital cannot preserve its reproduction: its valorization and its accumulation. Because, like a vampire, the dead body of capital can only keep itself alive by constantly absorbing living labour, and above all the dose of surplus labour that it contains.2 But, on the other hand, governments have not been able to avoid the need to protect their populations from the risks of contamination by SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus responsible for the pandemic), not so much out of compassion or greatness of soul as out of fear of the social unrest which could result from a skyrocketing morbidity and mortality in the absence of any protective measures. And, above all, to definitively protect the social force without which the precious living labour would be in danger of lacking: in order to have living labour, it is necessary to be able to have workers who are alive.
While waiting for the group immunity (or collective immunity) threshold to be reached, under the effects of the progress of contamination, of those of vaccination or of the two together, this first contradiction was managed through repeated appeals: respect for the famous “ barrier gestures ” (physical distancing, wearing of masks, regular hand washing, use of tracing in the event of symptoms, etc.), coupled with insistent incentives for vaccination as soon as it has been available. But once the health situation deteriorated too much, it was necessary to resort to teleworking, to slow down or even to stop certain economic activities, and also to adopt measures restricting public freedoms to varying degrees: limitation or even prohibition of gatherings, limited access to or even closure of certain places and public spaces, curfews, confinement, etc. One parameter has constantly served as a regulatory index for all these measures: the capacity of the hospital apparatus to deal with the most serious cases of contamination, in a context of restriction of this capacity due to decades of budgetary austerity in the general framework of neoliberal policies.
Such extraordinary measures are obviously untenable in the long run, both for the aforementioned reasons and because of their unbearable nature for populations locked up in dwellings, which are usually already overcrowded or uncomfortable, deprived of social life, and sometimes purely and simply of part of their income. Hence their necessary relaxation after a certain time, as soon as the health situation improves or seems to improve, a relaxation which, in the absence of any resolution of the basic problem, can only lead to a further deterioration of this same situation. Which revives previous restrictive measures, etc.
And this is how we have gone and continue to go from “wave” to “wave”: we are on the fourth, while waiting for the following ones. This term is perfectly misleading. in that it suggests a sort of periodic ebb and flow of the pandemic, like the tide, whereas the pandemic only continues on the scale and at the rhythm pf contacts within the contaminated population.3 It is not the coronavirus that produces waves but the stop-and-go policy supposed to fight its progression, the alternation of protective measures by restricting the movement of people and the lifting of these same measures. This alternation has its origin in the contradiction that we have already pointed out.
Convince or coerce?
The rulers can only hope to get out of this visual navigation, which periodically forces them to postpone the day after tomorrow the measures taken two days before, until the day when the famous collective immunity threshold is reached. Whatever their cynicism, none of them dared to opt solely for the progression (in fact the devastation) of the pandemic to reach this immunity: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Narendra Modi and even Jair Bolsonaro, just like Stefan Löfven, had to turn back after having at first started more or less far down this path. Therefore, the only way open to them lies in mass vaccination of the population, at least if they have the means in terms of health apparatus and budget, and while waiting for the continuation of the application and respect of "barrier gestures".
To achieve this, two avenues are open to them. They may seek to convince the population through information and “communication” (propaganda) campaigns of the need for and the benefits of vaccination, as the vast majority of them have, moreover, done. In a more or less skillful and efficient way. Or, faced with hesitation, reluctance or even more or less resolute opposition from part of the population, which slows down the progress of vaccination or even risks preventing it from reaching the collective immunity threshold, they may resort to more or less restrictive measures, ranging from simple pressures, combining restriction of freedoms and stigmatization, to the legal obligation of vaccination for certain categories or even the entire population.4
It is in this last direction that the French government committed itself in mid-July, by making vaccination compulsory for medical personnel, in the broadest sense, and by instituting a health pass for the access of the entire population to a large number of public places. Since then, there has been a series of rallies and demonstrations to protest against these measures, bringing together opponents of vaccination, but also citizens anxious to defend individual liberty and public freedoms that they consider to be threatened in these circumstances, who denounce a "health dictatorship".
Should we therefore continue to seek to convince rather than to coerce? As a matter of fact, this is perhaps not the most relevant question. Should we not rather ask ourselves why it is necessary to convince or to coerce in this matter? Because both operations ultimately aim at the same thing, although by different means: overcoming an initial reluctance or resistance to vaccination. But where and from what does this come? And how is it that, even among the vaccinated or supporters of vaccination, some people protest against the more or less imperative obligation to be vaccinated and declare their support for the demonstrations against the government measures that exert pressure for vaccination?5
In France, this is undoubtedly explained in part by the profound discredit of the rulers resulting from the conflicts of previous years (from the mobilizations against the various " labour laws " to that against the attack on old-age pensions, not forgetting the movement of the “yellow vests”) and the calamitous management of the pandemic since its beginnings6 , not to mention more distant memories of the implementation of neoliberal policies. This widespread discredit has led some opponents of these policies towards the idea that the measures taken to try to contain the pandemic (in particular the successive confinements) were only a pretext and a means to break the dynamics of this persistent conflict, by developing a whole apparatus of biopolitical control of the population and by instituting a kind of permanent state of emergency (in this case concerning health). In short, the continuation and amplification of the strategy deployed over the last few years under the pretext of the fight against “Islamist terrorism”. But oppositions, some violent, to similar anti-Covid measures have developed in many other countries, in very variable political contexts and often well before those which appeared in France7 . This should lead us to downplay the importance of political factors specific to the French context.
Among the resolute opponents of anti-Covid vaccination, we find a bit of everything: “antivax” in principle, as there have been since Jenner8
; circumstantial “antivaxers”, suspicious of vaccines developed too quickly and in the secrecy of pharmaceutical companies primarily concerned with their profits9
; "corona-sceptics" who have repeated since the start of the pandemic that Covid-19 is no more dangerous than ordinary flu, that it only seriously threatens people with other potentially fatal diseases or that it can be prevented or that you can treat it yourself with a few more or less miraculous practices or remedies.
These are so many elements of discourse, moreover, used by the rulers themselves, at one point or another of their chaotic management of the pandemic. We also find people whose scepticism extends more broadly to the whole of science and scientific process, again maintained and reinforced by the way in which, to hide or justify their powerlessness and their palinodies, the rulers have instrumentalized scientists and experts , moreover by finding relays, complacent or accomplices, among the latter, availing themselves of the authority of science to silence any contestation of the choices made by the rulers.10 We even have conspirators convinced, for example, that messenger RNA vaccines contain microchips that will allow Bill Gates and his ilk to take control of our brains via 5G (or other delusions of the same kind); and, for good measure, a few populist politicians taking advantage of the windfall to try to garner votes.11 Often linked to each other via digital social networks that consolidate their positions, all of them experience the obligation to be vaccinated as a real violation of their bodily and psychic intimacy, hence the virulence of their reaction, going as far as the destruction of vaccination centres. In this they are joined, in part, by vaccinated persons or supporters of vaccination who believe that this should be essentially a personal choice and that the vaccination obligation is an intolerable attack on individual freedom.
They therefore presuppose that health is above all an individual matter, subject to decisions and choices of individuals in terms of behaviour, hygiene of life, recourse (or not) to health care systems (and therefore to vaccination). ), etc., insofar as all this brings into play the relationship of each and every person to their own body. A presupposition that ignores or totally denies the essentially collective dimension of health, which makes it a public good depending first of all on the physiological state of the entire population, itself a function of the ecosystems in which it lives, the public hygiene of the spaces it occupies, its living conditions (work, housing, leisure, etc.), its access to the social health care system, the progress of knowledge and medical practices resulting from policies of research, etc. So that ultimately the state of health of each and every person depends first of all on the state of health of all the others, before depending on their own decisions. Something that the pandemic situation in which we have been living for eighteen months illustrates every day.
So how is it that this truth is not more widely shared than it already is? This is because, in a healthcare system in the hands of private interests or in the grip of successive waves of privatization, from local doctors to multinational pharmaceutical companies, including analytical laboratories, clinics and hospitals, private insurance supplementing or replacing social insurance, not to mention the investment funds that loom behind all this undergrowth. Goods and medical services are commodities that everyone is encouraged to consume, depending on their means and its choices in terms of how to preserve and enhance their “health capital”. A “capital” for which everyone would therefore be solely or primarily responsible.
Having become predominant in the discourse dealing with health12 , this curious notion of “health capital” has for decades presided over the implementation of neoliberal health policies. Starting from the idea that it is first and foremost for each and every person to take care of their “health capital” - by taking responsibility (by “choosing” to monitor or not their hygiene of life, for example) and insuring themselves (by contracting a private health insurance policy according to their “choices”: of the risks that they are ready or not to run - in fact according to their monetary resources, in addition to or in replacement of public health insurance) - these policies have reduced the latter, thus leaving the field open to private or mutual insurance, not without ensuring that they are duly placed in a situation of “free and undistorted competition”, while favouring private clinics in preference to the public hospital, etc. We can therefore measure the extent of the turnaround to which the rulers were forced by the pandemic, forcing them to decree confinements, to make compulsory or to normalize certain kinds of behaviour in the public space, to put pressure on to oblige people to be vaccinated, all measures which constitute a de facto recognition of the public nature of health services. Without obviously taking the blame themselves or, above all, going back on their previous financial asphyxiation of the public hospital, which the pandemic will also have revealed, thus proving the warnings launched long ago by the demands and mobilizations of hospital workers.
The notion of “health capital” is in fact one of the key oxymorons of neoliberal newspeak, that of “human capital”, itself in solidarity with a fetishistic conception of individuality.13 According to the latter, understood as an autonomous or even self-referential entity, who can only count on himself or herself and at best those closest to them (relatives or friends), the individual must behave as a kind of self-entrepreneur, who must seek to valorize as well as possible in their relations with others and with the world in general their own person and their talents (real or supposed) in the manner of a capital. It is therefore up to them and them alone to make the decisions and the choices that they deem most appropriate for this purpose, by arbitrating between risks and opportunities.
Such a conception of individuality is in fact deeply linked to the actual situation imposed on individuals by capitalist relations of production. The founding process of these relations, the expropriation of producers, liberated (more or less) individuals from pre-capitalist relationships of community or personal dependence to make them “ free workers ”: individuals dispossessed of everything except their labour power, therefore of their subjective capacities, which they are required to valorize as much as possible on the labour market, by being put in competition with each other; assuming that they find a way to sell their labour power, it is still through the market that they will have to obtain their means of consumption (the goods and services which will ensure their subsistence), while ensuring there once again to do the best to advance their own personal interests. Now, what is a market if it is not a system of relations which socializes individuals (it puts them in relation with one another, it makes them co-producers of the legal conventions which govern their relations, it makes them in this sense and to this extent mutually objectively interdependent on each other)? This takes place in the very movement that privatizes them (places them one against the other as separate entities, opposed, mutually competing; it forces them to dissociate themselves subjectively from each other , to treat each other only as pure means in the service of their own ends).
The capitalist mode of socialization is therefore simultaneously a mode of desocialization which, by transforming the members of the same social collectivity into private individuals (private owners even of themselves, subjects of private interests and rights, endowed with a more or less modest home and a more or less solid sense of self), tends to make imperceptible or even incomprehensible to them what they have in common beyond the little that they put in common in market relations. In a world governed by the principle “Everyone for himself and the market for all”, there are voices that try to make it understood that we are all united beyond what constitutes us as individuals; for example, it is necessary in a situation of pandemic that everyone is vaccinated as much for the others as for themselves just as the others are vaccinated as much for him or her as for themselves. Unfortunately, these voices remain in part without an echo.
Fortunately, there are some counter-tendencies in the form of places, environments, activities, practices, etc., which generate socialization based not on separation and competition but on cooperation and solidarity. Otherwise it would not be possible to understand why a part (which may even be the majority) of the population could escape the ideological and practical consequences of desocialization resulting from market socialization. We can and should think here first of all about work. Although it is first and foremost a socialization constrained and instrumentalized for the purposes of domination and exploitation, the socialization of labour processes involving wage labour gives rise to cooperation and solidarity (both objective and subjective ) which can directly serve the practices and organizations that allow workers to resist their domination and exploitation, to fight to reduce and transform them and, even, to consider suppressing them. Kinship, neighbourhood, affinity relations and practices and the networks and organizations (mainly associative) to which they can give birth, obviously without counting the organizations giving themselves political objectives (in the broadest sense of the term) are all additional crucibles. of such socialization based on cooperation and solidarity. As a result, we can form the hypothesis (which however requires verification) that opposition to anti-Covid vaccination also finds a favourable terrain among all those who, for various reasons, have only limited experience. of such solidarity. All the more so since the various crucibles previously considered have been affected by the desocializing consequences of the neoliberal policies of recent decades.
Health apartheid within the global village
Put into circulation by Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s14 , the metaphor of the global village has never ceased to be used to designate the effects of contraction of the space-time in which capitalist “globalization” makes us live. A contraction that the Covid-19 pandemic will have illustrated in a spectacular way: appearing in central China (Wuhan) in the last weeks of 2019, the coronavirus which is responsible for it only took a few weeks to spread (unevenly, however) on all continents, at the scale and speed of the contemporary movement of goods, capital and people. This illustrates the truly planetary dimension today acquired by the public good that is human health.15
Therefore, in all rigour, the fight against the current pandemic supposes that collective immunity is acquired in this same dimension, in other words that the major part of humanity can benefit from vaccination, unless we again cynically count on the effects of the pandemic itself. To tolerate that only part of humanity is vaccinated, or even that the progress of immunization at the global level drags on, would run a double risk. The least danger would be to lose part of the benefit of vaccination: the virus being perpetuated in unvaccinated populations and playing with borders, especially since these must remain porous so that current affairs can continue ( business as usual”), the pandemic would periodically resume its course among populations undergoing vaccination; in short, it would be the re-edition of the scenario of successive “ waves ” but at a planetary level. Much worse still, by perpetuating the circulation of the virus in this way, we would multiply the variants of the latter and, with them, the probability of the formation of variants that are even more contagious and/or more virulent than those already appearing, some of which could possibly thwart completely the protective effect of vaccines. In short, it would be playing Russian roulette.
And yet it is in this deadly game that the governments of the central states of the planet are engaged. Having largely funded the development of vaccines16 , they were also the first to be able to make their populations benefit - if they wanted to. These populations have been the first and for the moment the only ones to benefit. Because, despite their contrary commitments on this subject, which are regularly renewed, their contribution to the provision of vaccines for the benefit of populations on the world's periphery through the Covax system, set up by the WHO in collaboration with the NGO Gavi, has so far been notoriously insufficient, to the point that vaccination is still almost zero: “vaccination remains, for the time being, a privilege of rich countries. A quarter of the 2.295 billion doses administered worldwide were administered to the G7 countries, which are home to only 10 per cent of the world's population. Only 0.3 per cent were in low-income countries, according to the WHO (…). At the current rate of vaccination, it would take fifty-seven years for low-income countries to reach the same level of protection as that of the G7 countries,” underlined the NGO Oxfam.17
There are obviously solid reasons for the establishment of this health apartheid at the global level. The first is financial. This is because vaccines are expensive and the public finances of these states, already undermined by the neoliberal-inspired budgetary policies pursued for four decades, have been further degraded by the support measures made necessary by the pandemic. There would certainly be the possibility of forcing the pharmaceutical groups producing vaccines to deliver them at cost price, which is very much lower than the market price.18 There is no lack of arguments in this direction: in addition to the state of necessity in which the world’s population finds itself, the central states could argue that they have largely financed the development of these vaccines, in order to suspend or cancel the patents. which currently allow these groups to make sumptuous profits. But the few voices (including the hypocritical one of Biden) which went in this direction provoked a unanimous outraged retort from Johnson, Macron, Merkel, von der Leyen and others: contracts must and will be honoured! A way of reaffirming their attachment to the sacrosanct principle that, although we socialize the costs, the profits can only be privatized. This adds a new contradiction to the previous ones: if health is a public good, this good is today in the hands of private interests, and not the least powerful ones, which can only compromise it, at least in part.
Moreover, contrary to the idyllic promises of its neoliberal cantors, capitalist “globalization” has no more today than yesterday or the day before given birth to a smooth and peaceful world. On the contrary, the world market which tends to homogenize (unify and standardize) the world tends in the same movement to fragment it into distinct political units (foremost among which remain the nation-states), whose rivalries constantly alternate between conflicts, compromises and alliances, generators of unevenness, dependence and ultimately domination, in short, hierarchy.19
The logic of “privatization” inherent in market socialization is also exercised at this level. In other words, the global village remains divided into distinct and rival neighbourhoods, each of which jealously watch over their own interest and know how to defend it in multiple ways, including to the detriment of those of their neighbours, when necessary. At the start of the pandemic, did we not see the rulers of European states, all of them, however, members of the eminent “civilized” and “civilizing” institution that the European Union is supposed to be, arguing like fishwives over batches of sanitary masks in a situation where there was a shortage of them? Can we expect it to be any different today with batches of vaccines, when they have to choose between their populations and those of the rest of the world, especially when it comes to what used to be called the Third World?
Finally, today more than ever, the world periphery (i.e. the suburbs or even the confines of the global village) is the seat of relative overpopulation, which serves as a reserve army for capital.20 In fact, the latest phase of capitalist “globalization” consisted, through the liberalization of the international circulation of capital, involving in particular the relocation of segments of production processes from central formations to peripheral formations, in considerably extending the dimensions of this reserve army, by means of the expropriation of hundreds of millions of peasants in the Asian, African and Latin American countryside, so as to subject the proletariat of the central formations to their competition and to force it to accept stagnation or even lower wages and deterioration in employment and working conditions. The operation has been so successful that the central capitalist leadership can today lose interest in the fate of the bulk of these neo-proletarians as well as of their older class colleagues, as they are now overabundant. As a result, they can give free rein to their class contempt for them, exhibiting a cynicism that is here undoubtedly coupled with racist overtones inherited from the colonial period.
If a Macron can think and say that “A (Parisian) station is a place where you meet successful people and people who are nothing,” what idea can he have of the Chinese internal migrants employed in the sweatshops that have opened in the special zones of Guangdong or Fujian, or Mexican women serving as meat for profit in the maquiladoras of northern Mexico? That, in doing so, he creates the conditions for a future boomerang effect of the pandemic at the planetary level, which will once again thwart his scenario of “exiting the crisis”, illustrates how much he remains a prisoner, like his foreign counterparts, of the contradictions inherent in the relations of production of which they all want to be zealous managers.
The absence of a just solution to the previous contradictions and some modest proposals to begin to overcome it
The malignant joy that one can feel in thus underlining the contradictions in the midst of which the rulers are struggling in their management of the pandemic, which at times give it the appearance of politics of a village idiot, quickly fades with the bitter observation of the inability of the opposing camp - our camp, in principle - to take advantage of this situation. More broadly, moreover, while the beginnings of the pandemic had seen the “Hundred Flowers” of anti-capitalist criticism flourish21 , there is reason to be surprised at the sluggishness, even the silence, of this criticism over the last few months. Are we no longer capable of conducting “concrete analysis of the concrete situatio“ created by this pandemic, in order to detect not only the contradictions at work but also the potentialities and opportunities that they open up for emancipatory action? In short, do we ourselves have nothing more original to say on this subject?
Failing to be capable of proposing to resolve immediately the preceding contradictions, which would imply working for the revolutionary transformation of the capitalist relations of production which are the matrix, at least we can put forward proposals of demands and actions that make it possible to take even just a few steps on the road to that solution. I will only retain here the following ones, inspired by the preceding developments, in the hope that their insufficiency, of which I am well aware, will give rise to others, more numerous and more relevant.
- In and from our respective associative, trade union and political organizations, which are places of socialization of individuals according to a very different principle from that which governs the market, a principle which favours cooperation and solidarity between individuals and which establishes them as the means and the end of collective action and social emancipation, conduct a campaign to have the nature of health as a public good recognized, based on the existence of a health service that must be placed outside the reach of private interests.
- Argue in favour of the generalization of vaccination to the whole population, by presenting it as an ethical obligation with regard to the status of health as a public good and as the counterpart of the collective assumption of responsibility for individual care.
- Exert pressure on the rulers to abandon their incoherent current strategy, combining the call for individual action against a backdrop of hypocritical obligation imposed through restrictions on freedoms and threats of sanctions in terms of loss of wages or even employment This should be replaced by a systematic vaccination campaign mobilizing all medical and social personnel in the field, accompanied by the necessary explanations, targeting in particular sections of the population that have so far been excluded from vaccination. The fight against the current pandemic must be conceived and carried out as a public health operation and not as a police operation.
- In the management of the pandemic, impose on the rulers as a first imperative the protection of the health of the poorest sectors of the population, starting with those among them who, by their working conditions and more broadly their living conditions, are the most exposed to contamination by the virus.
By using the argument of the glaring deficiencies of the health system revealed by the pandemic, support the demands and struggles of hospital medical staff, who are still placed on the front line after eighteen months of receiving the most serious cases of contamination, in terms of budgetary allocations (hiring of additional staff, reopening of closed establishments and services, increase in salaries, etc.). More broadly, propose as a horizon for these demands and these struggles the integral socialization of the health system, from local medical services to transnational pharmaceutical companies.22
- Without waiting to have been able to expropriate the laboratories and pharmaceutical groups holding patents on anti-Covid vaccines, demand and impose the cancellation of these patents and the delivery of these vaccines at their cost price. On this basis, demand and similarly impose on the rulers of the main central states the financing of the rapid and large-scale vaccination of all the populations of the peripheral states.
More broadly, we must prepare for an increasingly chaotic course of the capitalist world under the effect of its internal contradictions, which its rulers have more and more difficulty in regulating and controlling. Among the chronic crises which result from this, the planetary ecological catastrophe in which the capitalist modes of appropriation of nature have committed us is obviously not the least important. Climate change with its attendant extreme episodes (drought and gigantic fires on the one hand, excessive rainfall, storms and tornadoes on the other), which are more and more frequent, against a background of continuous degradation of land and sea ecosystems, is the macroscopic counterpart of the microscopic mutations generating repeated zoonoses.
And it is unnecessary to recall how much these processes will exacerbate the latent tensions and conflicts between the main powers (United States, European Union, Japan, China, Russia, etc.) as they affect the mainsprings of their power, from the state of health of their population and the yields of their agriculture to the immediate conditions of the valorization and accumulation of capital, by increasing all production costs.
This increasingly chaotic course will encourage or even force the bourgeoisies and their rulers to harden the conditions for their exploitation and domination of the popular classes, all the more so as the space of the latter will tend to shrink. But it can also force them to take charge, in part, of certain immediate interests of these classes, if only because they must be kept alive in order to be able to exploit and dominate them, while obviously subordinating them to the interests of the dominant class that they represent.23
Faced with such prospects, we urgently need clearly to define a set of demands and objectives capable of specifically defending the interests of the popular classes, that is to say of the vast majority of the world population, in particular, modulating them according to the different contexts and events in which these interests will have to be defended, and to mobilize as widely as possible around them.24 But the exacerbation of the internal contradictions of capitalism still requires from us a much broader but also more exhilarating task: to actualize the revolutionary project of abolishing capitalism, in other words the communist project, as well as reflecting on the possible forms of its realization under the present conditions.
15 August 2021
- 1Thanks to Yannis Thanassekos for his suggestions, which made it possible to improve an earlier version of this article.
- 2Cf “Le vampirisme du capital”, https://alenco… posted on May 4, 2021.
- 3It is not the only fallacious term in use in ordinary discourses dealing with the pandemic. Thus, we commonly speak about "circulation of the virus " as if the virus were an autonomous agent spreading by itself. However, it is not the virus that circulates but the people carrying the virus who, through their circulation and the contacts it generates, contaminate others. Hence precisely the effectiveness of containment and distancing to slow down the pandemic.
- 4So far, only three countries have made vaccination compulsory for their entire adult population: Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and… the Vatican.
- 5In an opinion poll conducted by Harris Interactive for TF1 LCI at the end of July, 40 per cent of respondents said they supported these movements in France.
- 6This management was just one long series of inconsistencies which made the rulers say and do the opposite of what they said and were still doing the day before, declaring for example that, successively, masks, tests and vaccines were useless… before making them compulsory, all in an attempt to hide their carelessness and their lack of control over the situation. They have thus largely contributed themselves to the discredit they now face.
- 7A presentation, necessarily partial, can be found on the following page: https://fr.wik…
- 8Edward Jenner (1749-1823) was the British physician who developed the first smallpox vaccine in the years 1790-1800. At the same time, he demonstrated the prophylactic virtue of vaccination which, since then, has led to undeniable successes against a number of infectious diseases: smallpox (which has been eradicated), tuberculosis, polio, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, etc.
- 9This suspicion is undoubtedly also fuelled by the memory of the series of scandals involving health authorities (governmental or not) which have regularly surfaced over recent decades: the case of PIP breast implants, then textured breast implants, Chinese heparin contamination, over-prescription of opiates (especially in the United States), etc. To which were added in France the case of growth hormones, the case of contaminated blood, the case of pregnancies under Dépakine, the case of the Mediator, that of Levothyrox, etc.
- 10Let us recall that, contrary to what scientism, which is only ideology, claims, science in no way possesses absolute Truth, which does not exist; at most it gives us partial and often only provisional truths, which are only “ rectified errors ” (according to the happy phrase of Gaston Bachelard) and… potential future errors (again partial) which will perhaps have to be themselves, if necessary corrected. What is indisputable is not this or that current truth, the fruit of a scientific process, but this process itself, precisely capable of constantly calling into question its own previous results.
- 11A recent article by Jérôme Fourquet and Sylvain Mantenach illustrates this profound heterogeneity, while providing elements of analysis supplementing those presented here. See https://www.je… posted on August 9 2021 and accessed August 14, 2021.
- 12The promoters of the concept of health capital often misuse the definition of health given by the World Health Organization (WHO) for their own ends: “ Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and does not consist only of the absence of disease or infirmity ”. Indeed, nothing in this definition authorizes the conclusion that this state would result exclusively or even only primarily from individual behaviors and choices. On the contrary, by recognizing a social dimension to health, it draws attention to the collective conditions of possibility of this state.
- 13Cf. the articles "Capital humain" and "Individualité" in La novlangue néolibérale. La rhétorique du fétichisme capitaliste , second edition, Page 2/Syllepse, 2017.
- 14Marshall McLuhan,The medium is the message , London, Bantam Books, 1967 (French translation Paris, Jean-Jacques Pauvert, 1968).
- 15This dimension is further reinforced in this case by the zoonotic character of Covid-19, calling into question the interactions between the human species and the rest of living species. Note, however, that this thesis is questioned by those who think that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus could not have a natural origin but result from an accidental leak outside a laboratory in Wuhan in which “ increased viruses ”, primarily for military purposes. The Grenoble-based collective Pièces et Main d'Œuvre has published several articles defending this alternative thesis, articles posted at the following address https://www.pi… , without however being able to make more than a plausible hypothesis.
- 16The research which allowed the development of the messenger RNA technique was carried out in the 2000s by the Hungarian-born biochemist Katalin Kariko at the University of Pennsylvania, therefore on public funds. . And tens of billions of dollars in subsidies and pre-orders from central states (the USA and members of the European Union in the lead) have made it possible to exploit this technique to rapidly develop the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Ditto for the AstraZénéca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, not to mention the Chinese and Russian vaccines. Even a newspaper as neoliberal as Les Echos has had to recognize how much the development of these vaccines owes to public funds ; cf. https://www.le… posted on November 28, 2020 and consulted on August 6, 2021.
- 17https://www.le… posted on June 8, 2021 and consulted on August 6, 2021.
- 18According to a study by Imperial College London, published last December, the cost of producing a dose of Pfizer vaccine is $0.60 (€0.51); the additional costs of conditioning, packaging and quality control would bring the price to $0.88 (€0.75). See https://www.le…. html posted on June 9, 2021 and consulted on August 6, 2021. Remember that Pfizer sold its dose of vaccine to the European Union at a unit price of €15.5 before recently deciding to increase it to €19.5. The difference rewards the so-called investments in research and development and especially the shareholders.
- 19Cf. the article "Mondialisation" in La novlangue néolibérale , op.cit.
- 20For a brief account of these concepts, cf. “La surpopulation relative chez Marx”, in the review ¿Interrogations? , n ° 8, June 2009 [online], http://revue-i…
- 21Demonstrated, among others, byCovid-19. Un virus très politique, Syllepse, 2020.
- 22For the details of such a programme, cf. https://alenco… posted on March 18, 2020.
- 23Which corresponds to the second of the three scenarios considered in https://alenco… -output-from-crisis-ii.html posted on April 18, 2020.
- 24For a presentation of some of these demands and objectives, cf. the third scenario outlined in the previous article as well as http://alencon… posted on May 20, 2020.